CFW’s 2011 Year in Review

After spending a little time this morning going through my blog and looking back over some of what I had written this year, I thought it would be fun to do a little recap of my top posts from the year.

Thus, without further ado, here are

The Top Posts of 2011 from Change From Within

10. The tenth most visited post that I authored in 2011 was one I wrote after visiting the Sand Creek Massacre Memorial in southeastern Colorado – Cultural Amnesia: The Sand Creek Massacre.  Though it is perhaps easiest to forget that we live on the lands of a genocide, we must never forget what has happened in our own back yards.

9.  The 9th most popular publication that I wrote in 2011 was in response to the oh-so-common idea espoused among White folks that because of the election of Barack Obama, we now live in a post-racial society.  I posit, though, that Post Racial = More Covert in Our Racism.

8.  The 8th post popular post on my site was also the most popular post among our White Supremacist buddy over at Unamusement Park who decided to hijack the comments section for his White Supremacist ramblings. The blog, though, was a reposting of a profound piece by Ewuare Xola Osayande in a critique of Tim Wise (and other White Anti-Racist activists such as myself).  On White Anti-Racist Activists by Equare Xola Osayande

7.  Coming in at number 7 is one of my posts that was republished at the Good Men ProjectMy Take On Sex was a response to a young man who was interested to hear my perspective on sex and relationships, as he couldn’t find many perspectives outside of the Christian one he heard in his church community.  The comments section also turned into a rousing debate on abortion, a debate that is still continuing.  I would love to see some comments from more of my readers!

6.  Rounding out the latter half of the Top 10 is a piece that ruffled some feathers locally and got some national traction in the #Occupy movement.  Occupy Denver has a Race Problem criticized the local iteration of the #Occupy movement in its lack of responsiveness to the needs of communities of color.  It posited that if Occupy Denver doesn’t work to be more inclusive, it will quickly become irrelevant, something I fear is happening.

5.  The 5th most popular post on Change From Within in 2011 is one that still saddens me incredibly.  It was my last-minute plea to join in the multitude of voices trying to stop the execution of Troy Davis.  Injustice Anywhere: Stop the Murder of Troy Davis called on my readers to join in the activism that ultimately failed to save the life of a man who was convicted of a murder he very likely didn’t commit.

4.  The 4th most popular post was another repost blog from White Anti-Racist activist Tim Wise that I posted right before attending the White Privilege Conference in Minneapolis, MN.  Tim Wise and White Privilege reposted one of Wise’s pieces where he critiques the racism often present on the American Left.

3.  It’s notable that the 3rd most visited post I authored in 2011 was only written on the 1st of December, and it holds the record for the most single-day hits on Change From Within.  Profitable Objectification: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show problematizes the perspective from which the “fashion show” is presented and how this can not only affect women’s body image but can drastically impact the way that men see women.

2.  The second most visited blog that was published on Change From Within in 2011 addressed the issue of immigration and the English-Only movement in the U.S..  Speak American” – Multilingualism and the English-Only Movement looked at the ways that English-Only as a mindset and policy is not only unconstitutional but actually works to the detriment of the United States and its citizens.

1.  Finally, the single most popular blog post of 2011 was authored January 26, 2011.  It’s Not Just Rap – Misogyny in Music looks at the way that violent misogyny is not a problem solely in rap music, as often asserted, but is actually simply a problem in MUSIC.  From Kanye West to Avenged Sevenfold, from NoFX to Trace Adkins, misogyny is rampant in our music culture, and it’s time for us to do something about that!

Thank you to all my readers for helping to make 2011 such an incredibly successful year at Change From Within.  I look forward to what 2012 will bring, but in the mean time, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Did your favorite post not make the list?  Feel free to post in the comments!


Gift Giving and Gender Socialization

One thing I will never understand is how completely wed so many of us are to traditional gender norms, particularly in the way we raise children.  Even progressive folks who would never say “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” freak out when a little boy is in a pink outfit or when a little girl is given a GI Joe instead of a Barbie.

This is never more frustrating to me than during the holidays.  My nieces and nephew (on another note, is there a gender-neutral term for my sibling’s children?) are awesome but slightly spoiled.  Each and every family member showers them in gifts to the point that they can’t decide what to play with . . . there are too many options.  Some of these gifts are awesomely-gender-neutral like the shopping carts that the kids (boys and girls alike) loved to fill with toys and push around the house.  Others were as gendered as you can get (also note their outfits):

Aiden on His "Cat" Car

Abbie on Her "Princess" Car

At one point, Aiden climbed onto the “Princess” car, and one person in the family exclaimed, “Aiden!  You can’t ride that car!  That one’s for girls!”  Then his older sisters (5 and 3) started echoing the sentiment.

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Bullying, Hate Crimes, and Mother Monster

I love Lady Gaga.  I love her bizarre style.  I love her music (Born This Way is my JAM).  I love how unabashedly weird she is.  Whenever I hear about her or something she’s working on, I want to scream, “PUT YOUR PAWS UP!”

Lady Gaga understands that we currently face a culture and climate in the United States where it is just plain not safe to be young and gay.  While the number one cause of death among teenagers in the U.S. is an auto accident, the number one cause of death among gay teenagers is suicide.

In the midst of this, I appreciate Lady Gaga’s attention to the issue.  She has a HUGE microphone, and she is able to reach a lot of people with a message of acceptance and love while advocating action to end bullying of LGBTQ teens.

She recently wrote and performed the song “Hair” after 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide because he was bullied.

However, in some of her advocacy around this issue, I think she is wildly misguided.  I’m sorry, Mother Monster.

She recently recorded this video for the students at Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto after they made a pledge to end bullying.

I was totally on board until she said, “I am going to be working as hard as I can to make bullying a hate crime.”

Now, while I find her sentiment a noble one, I find a lot of things problematic with her approach, as she tries to make bullying a hate crime.

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Whiteness: A Matter of Degree

This weekend, I attended an incredible arts and social justice youth summit in Seattle called Amplify: Tell Your Story, Transform Your World put on by The Art Affect.  As part of the weekend, we were each challenged to create a piece of art reflecting the work we had been struggling with throughout the weekend.  I personally was doing a lot of Whiteness and White Privilege reflection this weekend, so I created the following poem.  It is my response to the oh-so-common statement by White people that “my family never owned slaves, so how am I responsible for all this stuff?”


“A Matter of Degree”

My Grandfather taught me a great many things.
Like the peace only found in casting a line
And how very young an old man can be.
He also taught me how to fear.

When I was probably 4 years old,
My Grandfather demonstrated
In no uncertain terms
That I am White.

So now, if you were to take your sharpest blade
And flay my fair skin
From chin to pelvis
The way that my Grandfather taught me to flay a deer
And if you were to turn that skin inside out,
Once you sorted through the blood
And sinewy pink,
You’d find a history.

My people never owned a slave,
But we still came like a lynching,
Blood on our breath,
Greed caked into our finger nails.
Into my skin is written this story,
A story as old as the hills of West Virginia.

My people were not at Sand Creek,
But we still came like a genocide,
Blood on our breath,
Greed caked into our fingernails.
Into my skin is written this story,
A story as old as the Black Hills.

My people were not at My Lai,
But we still came like Napalm,
Blood on our breath,
Greed caked into our fingernails.
Into my skin is written this story,
A story as old as the Mekong Delta.

We came, and we came, and we came . . .

This story is as vital
As the air I breathe,
At once apart from me
And a part of me.

And I must force myself to breathe in that story,
Hold it in my lungs,
Fight through the burning,
And Recognize . . .

Recognize . . .

Recognize that that which I have
Is only mine in as much
As it was build on the backs and unmarked graves
of Black, Red, Yellow, and Brown.

So while my people
Never bought another human being,
We still bought our way
Into a system called Whiteness.
And the difference
Is only a matter of degree.

Lord “The Help” Me

Man . . . White people LOVE The Help.  I mean, I am sure some folks of Color also like the movie, but White folks are perhaps more kookoo for cocoa puffs over this movie as they were for The Blind Side.

And since the film has recently been released on DVD and is likely to be on a few Christmas lists, I thought I would offer my thoughts.

For a while I was overtly critical of The Help, but I hadn’t even seen the film, and I don’t think that’s too fair, so (like with the recent Breaking Dawn extravaganza), I saw The Help so that I could offer some critical analysis.

Now, my objections started before I even saw the film based on the author and her process. As a white woman, she did not overtly consult any women of color in the writing process, something I find extremely problematic considering she is trying (from a white perspective) to write from the perspective of black women in the 1960s. Further, she allegedly based one of her main characters (and presumably many of the others) on observation of her brother’s black maid and is now being sued for doing so.

If that is even remotely true, there is a tremendous irony considering that the main character, “Skeeter,” shares her profits from the book with the women who helped her create the book, yet Stockett has thus far refused to do so.  Stockett even justifies herself! “‘Southern women wear guilt like a piece of clothing we can’t do without. I don’t think I’ve apologized…for being White, but I very much have an apology on the tip of my tongue…whenever I think about what I’ve done. That I have written in in the voice of, really, our housekeeper Demetrie and that Ive tried to step into her shoes and imagine what she must’ve been feeling all those years. On one hand, i want to apologize for doing that and being so presumptive, but gosh, it’s so important that we do this in whatever manner.”

However, in the face of all this, I wanted to give the film a fair shake, so I went to see it.

For 146 minutes, I felt like I was taking crazy pills.

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Profitable Objectification: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

On Tuesday, 10.3 million people were united in a common cause, wrapped in attention around one very important event.  Were 10.3 million in the streets in an #Occupy or Tea Party show of people power?  Were they watching Obama give a speech about the progress of a 10-year debacle in Afghanistan?  Were they participating in a national debate about the financial crisis and its effect on the average family?

No.  They were watching this:

I hadn’t actually realized that this event was taking place until I logged into Twitter and saw the following tweet posted by my young cousin:

Though the young women who tweeted this are clearly being sarcastic, what caught my eye is that they are very much paying attention.  And how can anyone (but particularly young women) pay attention to this and not be affected by it!?


In the words of Victoria’s Secret Casting Director John Pfeiffer, “There is a very clear Victoria’s Secret woman. They all have the self-confidence, expressiveness, joy, and womanliness.”  Wait . . . what?  Womanliness?  What women does he know!? Well, it’s clear what women he knows.

But that show is in no way reflective of the “womanliness” I know and value.  The women in my life don’t look like the women in this parade.  The women in this parade project, by in large, unhealthy body standards, and they project onto women everywhere a tiny box of beauty into which the show says, “You must fit.”

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