“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”—Frederick Douglass, Independence Day speech 1852 (via amnasaeed)
“It wasn’t that they didn’t give a damn. It was just, I suppose, that like most people they didn’t want to get involved to the extent that they might have to stand up and be counted. If it ever came to that. Then another thing. They thought they were safe, special. After all, they had grown up in the North, most of them, and so had escaped the Southern-style prejudice….”—Paule Marshall, “Reena,” in Toni Cade Bambara’s The Black Woman: An Anthology, (1970, 2005), 26
“I must learn to love the fool in me- the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.”—Theodore Isaac Rubin (via kari-shma)
Today I did my “big” group lecture on Black Womens Bodies and Rap Music, using Nicki Minaj as a unit of analysis. Moya say this and tweeted me a video of the poet Jasmine Mans. What follows is a discussion about her work vs. Nicki’s. And then @Kismet4 Joined the convo.
“Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilise, bring order and democracy and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn’t trust the evidence of one’s eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest ‘mission civilisatrice.’”—Edward Said, in the Preface to Orientalism (via trastorn)
Dear Sister primarily seeks letters but will accept poems, prose, essay, and drawn art that can be scanned for entry. Maximum word count is 1000.
Deadline for submission is November 1, 2010.
Individuals of any race, creed, background, citizenship or non-citizen, ability, and identity are encouraged to submit their words and work to uplift others in the healing stages of post trauma and violence. Both English and Spanish are accepted. All questions can be directed firstname.lastname@example.org
Rape and sexual violence thrive in the silence of our homes and communities. Outreach must be wide and intentional if we are seek to hear from those who are silenced. Please forward this to as many individuals, groups, organizations, listserves, websites, and agencies that come to mind.
New York State will spend an extraordinary $170 million this year on 21 juvenile facilities. The system has more than 2,000 employees to oversee fewer than 700 children.
This would be monumentally wasteful under any condition. The fact is that these facilities are disastrously mismanaged, and as many as 80 percent of the young men who serve time end up committing more crimes within a few years of their release.
New York should close down as many of these facilities as possible, preserving only the few it needs to hold genuinely dangerous young offenders. Low-risk youths — those found guilty of crimes like shoplifting, trespassing and petty theft — should be sent to community-based programs that do a much better job of rehabilitation and are far less expensive to manage. These treatment programs can cost as little as $15,000 a year, compared with the estimated $220,000 to house a child in a state facility.
To make that rational choice, Gov. David Paterson and whoever succeeds him will have to finally stand up to the labor unions that have pressed to keep these facilities open, no matter the cost to the state or its children.
Decades of research show that keeping young offenders locked up far from their families is a sure way of turning them into career criminals. Preliminary data collected by the New York City juvenile justice system suggests that recidivism for children handled through the city’s largest community-based program could be lower than 20 percent. Instead of locking up a child, the Juvenile Justice Initiative provides intensive counseling and services to the family, with the goal of helping parents better manage the child’s behavior.
That program and similar ones run by nonprofit groups have helped the city cut the number of youths it sends upstate by more than 60 percent since 2002. With other communities making similar choices, the number of children in state facilities has dropped from more than 2,300 in 2000 to about 680 today. Gladys Carrión, the commissioner of the state’s Office of Children and Family Services, has closed more than a dozen unneeded facilities over the last three years. It has not been easy. The politically powerful unions that represent juvenile facility workers are fighting to keep facilities open no matter what the cost to children or the state.
The unions’ biggest, and most counterproductive, triumph was a 2006 law that requires the state to give a full year’s notice to workers before shutting down a juvenile facility. In January the state ordered the closure of the Tryon boys’ facility in upstate Fulton County. The facility — which gained national notoriety after a mentally ill 15-year-old boy died there in 2006 — has been empty of children since June. It still has a staff of 80 people working there and will only officially shut down in January.
Faced with a ballooning budget deficit, Governor Paterson has ordered reductions in the state work force by the close of the year. He can save money and cut unnecessary jobs by ordering the shutdown of a half-dozen more juvenile facilities that are standing half empty, but fully staffed. That is just a start.
One of the original Stonewall rebels, 68-year-old Raymond Castro, passed away from stomach cancer Saturday in Madeira Beach, Fla.
According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Castro was inside Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn on June 27, 1969, during “the first night of the uprising and is documented as the only person arrested that evening who was known to be gay.” After being led out of Stonewall by two officers, Castro pushed against the patrol wagon with both feet and knocked the two officers to the ground. He was detained but later released without charge.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Castro moved to New York at age 5 and spent his career as a baker and wedding cake designer. He moved to Florida with his husband, Frank, after the Stonewall uprising. Castro traveled to New York in June to celebrate the 41st anniversary of Stonewall and to attend the 40th annual gay pride parade.
“A lot of people, especially the young ones, have no inkling what Stonewall is,” Castro said to the New York Daily News at the time. “They think Gay Pride is just a big party. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for 1969.”
“Saarjite Baartman, a young Khosian woman from Southern Africa whose body was the main attraction at public spectacles in both England and France for over five years, is perhaps the most infamous case of a Khosian body on display. Baartman, who became known as the Hottentot Venus, was brought to Europe from Cape Town in 1810 by an English ship’s surgeon who wished to publicly exhibit the woman’s steatopygia, her enlarged buttocks. Her physique, particularly her steatopygic appendage, became the object of popular fascination when Baartman was exhibited naked in a cage at Piccadilly, England. When abolitionists mobilized to put an end Baartman’s public display, she informed them that she participated in the spectacles of her own volition. She even shared in profits with her exhibitor.”
"Sarah Baartman, displayed as a freak because of her unusual physical features, has finally been laid to rest, 187 years after she left Cape Town for London. Her remains were buried on Women’s Day, 9 August 2002, in the area of her birth, the Gamtoos River Valley in the Eastern Cape.
Baartman was born in 1789. She was working as a slave in Cape Town when she was “discovered” by British ship’s doctor William Dunlop, who persuaded her to travel with him to England. We’ll never know what she had in mind when she stepped on board – of her own free will - a ship for London.
But it’s clear what Dunlop had in mind – to display her as a “freak”, a “scientific curiosity”, and make money from these shows, some of which he promised to give to her.
Baartman had unusually large buttocks and genitals, and in the early 1800s Europeans were arrogantly obsessed with their own superiority, and with proving that others, particularly blacks, were inferior and oversexed.
Baartman’s physical characteristics, not unusual for Khoisan women, although her features were larger than normal, were “evidence” of this prejudice, and she was treated like a freak exhibit in London.”
“Meanwhile investigation of the subject had by no means stood still, for Sanids had begun to appear in Europe, and to allow themselves to be examined by anatomists. In 1804 there was great shortage of food among the Bushmen living in the northern part of Cape Colony, and one of them, who happened to be personally acquainted with the Governor, asked the latter to take care of his son, aged about ten years. The boy was sent to Cape Town and eventually found his way to Paris, where he was examined by Georges Cuvier. A Sanid girl of about the same age found her way to Cape Town in similar circumstances, and evidently lived there for many years. She married a Negro and had two children. An Englishman eventually persuaded her that she could make a great fortune if she visited Europe and exhibited herself, and she travelled to Paris. Here she was heartlessly abandoned to a showman of animals and exhibited under the misleading description of ‘La Vénus hottentote.’ This was in 1814, when she was about 26 years old. In the spring of the next year she had the ‘complaisance’ to remove her clothing so that she could be examined by Georges Cuvier. She was painted in the naked state on this occasion, in front and lateral views. Bushwomen are accustomed to tuck their labia minora into the vagina in such circumstances, and this is evidently what she did, for the famous anatomist did not see them on this occasion, and they do not appear in the paintings. She died at the end of the year of some unspecified inflammatory disease, after everyone who wished to see her enormous buttocks and other physical peculiarities (apart from the tablier) had had an opportunity to do so. Her corpse was made available to Cuvier for more exact study. He described her anatomy before an audience in 1817, and on this occasion took the opportunity to exhibit her external genital organs, prepared in such a way as to leave no doubt as to their true nature. He confirmed the general accuracy of Péron and Lesueur’s unpublished account, but stated correctly that the organ projecting from the vulva consisted in its upper part of the prepuce of the clitoris, while the whole of the rest of it represented the greatly enlarged labia minora. Thus the true facts were established on the authority of Cuvier. It is to be remembered, however, that Rhyne had given the correct interpretation, though with extreme brevity, 131 years before. Cuvier’s paper was republished in 1824 by his brother Frédéric and Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, at the very beginning of their enormous Histoire naturelle des mammifères. It was in Volume 1 of this book that the two paintings of the Bushwoman that had been made nine years before were at last published. The lateral view is reproduced here in monochrome in Fig. 56A.”—John R. Baker. ”The ‘Hottentot Venus’.” Heretical.com
"Bring back Saartjie Baartman," <i>Sister Namibia</i> (Jan 1996)
Bring back Saartjie Baartman. (1996). Sister Namibia, 7(5&6), 21. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from GenderWatch (GW). (Document ID: 506057041):
Bring back Saartjie Baartman
A Quena woman who was shown in Europe as a circus freak last century is to be the subject of a documentary to revive the memory of South Africa’s aboriginal people, writes Eddie Koch from Weekly Mail & Guardian.
In 1815 George Cuvier, surgeon general to Napoleon Bonaparte was given the body of a Quena, or Hottentot woman called Saartjie Baartman, who had died as a circus freak in England and France. The doctor made a plaster cast of the woman’s corpse before he cut out her brain and genitals and preserved them in laboratory jars.
Ten years ago these items were still on display at the Musee de L’Homme in Parismacabre icons of these `little people’ who suffered the worst form of ethnocide anywhere in the colonial period and who are today largely forgotten even though their descendants fill the ranks of South Africa’s Rainbow Nation.
Now a local researcher is spearheading a movement to return Baartman’s remains so that the woman can be given the dignity that she was denied during her lifetime. The operation dubbed `Bring Back the Hottentot Venus,’ is also designed to revive a popular memory of the aboriginal people who played a major role in shaping South Africa’s past and present. Saartjie Baartman’s early life is unknown except that she came from a clan of Quena people, better known in South Africa by the derogatory term `Hottentot,’ in the Eastern Cape. Born in the late 18th century, probably in the 1780s, Baartman migrated to the Cape Flats, where records show she was living in the a small shack in 1810.
In that year she met a ship’s doctor, William Dunlop, who persuaded her to travel to England with promises that she would make a fortune by exhibiting her body to Europeans.
Baartman sailed with Dunlop to England, where she was put on display in a building in Piccadily, exciting crowds of working class Londoners who viewed her with a mixture of morbid curiosity and malice. Like all Quena woman, she had a protruding backside and large genital organs billed by the show’s promoters as resembling the skin that hangs from a turkey’s throat.
Contemporary descriptions of her shows in London say Baartman was made to parade naked along a `stage two feet high, along which she was led by her keeper and exhibited like a wild beast, being obliged to walk, stand or sit as he ordered’.
The exhibitions took place at a time when the anti-slavery debate was raging in England and Baartman’s plight attracted the attention of a young Jamaican, Robert Wedderburn, who founded the African Association to campaign against racism in England. Under pressure from this group, the Attorney General asked the government to put an end to the circus, saying Baartman was not a willing participant in the spectacle.
A London court, however found that Baartman had entered into a contract with Dunlop, although historian Percival Kirby, who has discovered the records of the woman’s life in exile, believes she never saw the document.
In 1814, after spending four years being paraded around the streets of London, Baartman was taken to Paris and, according to the archival accounts, was handed to a `showman of wild animals’ in a travelling circus. Her body was analysed by scientists, including Cuvier, while she was alive and a number of pseudo-scientific articles were written about her, testimony at the time to the `superiority’ of the European races.
Jeremy Nathan, a South African film producer who is making a feature film on the life of Baartman, says the Quena woman excited the attention of the Parisian intelligensia at the time. Cuvier, who was at the centre of an eminent school of social anthropologists, met her on display as a naked and exotic savage dressed only in feathers at a high society ball organised by the Countess Du Barre.
`This was the time of pre-Darwinist social anthropology and Cuvier believed she was the missing link, the highest form of animal life and the lowest form of human life,’ says Nathan.
Baartman’s anatomy even inspired a comic opera in France, called The Hottentot Venus or Hatred to French Women. It appears Baartman worked as a prostitute in Paris and drank heavily to cope with the humiliation she was subjected to.
She died in 1815 of an `inflammatory and eruptive sickness’ possibly syphilis. Cuvier removed Baartman’s skeleton and cut out her brain and genitals, which he pickled in jars that were put on display at a museum in Paris for more than 150 years. Her remains were removed from public exhibition 10 years ago but are still the property of the museum.
Researcher Manselle Upham now wants these remains returned to South Africa. `Hottentots are the most dehumanised people in colonial history. Even today the term is used to designate nonhuman status and Saartjie Baartman’s remains are an icon of this history,’ says Upham.
Yet the Quena are the ancestors of a lot of people in this country, some of them marginal people out there who don’t exist in the eyes of anybody. Bringing back her remains can help to address this and stimulate a debate about aboriginal groups like the `bushmen’, Griquas and coloureds - who have been neglected in reductionist black and white versions of our history.’