Wednesday, August 18, 2010

re-mapping our (his)Stories

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Monday, August 2, 2010


it kills me the most that the biggest down fall of my community as I see it is that we allow drama to create walls and borders between us which prevents us from uniting as a whole, as a community. For all this talk about communities and building strong communities I consider it a tragedy that we allow ourselves to be divided in this way.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


The L Word, Season 2, Episode 3-
(This is an extreamly brief background) For weeks now Jenny and Shane’s roommate, Mark, has been secretly recording the girls every move via hidden video camera (in the living room, kitchen, bedrooms) under the guise of “making a documentary” he has been collecting footage (While attempting to receive funding from a sleazy porn company). Jenny accidentally discovers the tapes one day and confronts Mark:

Jenny: “Do you have any sisters?”

Mark: “Yes, I have 2 younger sisters…”

Jenny: “I want you to ask them a question, and the most important thing is that you really listen to their answers, I want you to ask them about the very first time they were intruded upon by some man or a boy-.”

Mark: “What makes you think that my sisters have been intruded upon?”

Jenny: “Because there isn’t a single girl or woman in this world who hasn’t been intruded upon, and sometimes its relatively benign and sometimes its so fucking painful that you have no idea what this feels like.”

“Im going to decide when you can get those rapey cameras down, now get the fuck outta my room”

My relationship to Jenny on the L word is strenuous at best and yet there are times in which I can’t ignore her. The crudeness of the statement that there isn’t a single woman or girl in this world who has not been intruded upon by a man was strangely validating to me when I first heard it at maybe 17 years old, freshly out of the closet I spend a summer watching the L word with my girlfriend. Watching the same clip now 4 years later I am concerned with the lack of nuance in that statement and yet I feel part of me slipping away even as I write the former statement.

I do believe that there are power structures that function off of our socially constructed but mentally ingrained capitalistic society that emphasizes competition for “scarce” resources which creates the necessity of in-equality a battle which has been dominated by the straight, white, rich able-bodied, gender conforming etc. etc. etc. male.


It is no wonder that in a world such as this the male takes a dominating position in history that ignores the roles of those who are not the straight, rich, WASP, male; specifically, within this country. This dominance thusly solidifies the role and the gaze of the male for centuries so long as it continues to be taught.

What is changed when a man is in control of the story, how does that lens modify/ignore the lives of those who are not male?

At a crossroads to understanding how to change the course of history for future generations it is necessary to learn history, real history, her-story, (his)story, my-story, your-story because together these narratives can show us errors and unite us as we fight the powers that create inequity.

Crucial to this project is my belief that through reclamation of histories communities can find space to strengthen, empower themselves and take ownership over the future. While this is not a systematic change it is my belief that gradually if people are able to re-frame the way that they see history it will change what is taught, thus creating greater systematic awareness and ability to fight the system.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Long Time, No Update: Detroit June 2010

I am sitting on the campus of Wayne State University as shady campus police slowly drive by. I am brought here by a convergence of amazing events soon to end in the 2nd United State Social Forum. The Allied Media Conference is in its 12th year. Every year amazing media makers converge on this campus and collectively create, inspire and explore the issues that we all fight for. Yesterday I did a workshop in street art, computer building and then took an incredible tour of economic injustices in Detroit. Starting tonight there is also the Assembly of Jews Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid, the first convergence of its time. People started rolling into town last night, its sure to be an amazing time! Then the last 4 days of my trip here will be consumed by the 2nd United States Social Forum. The USSF is based on the model of the world social forum and is not a conference but an opportunity for people to come together and work to create real change within their communities.

Getting here was a journey in itself, after a cancelled flight and a cancelled van ride I got on a greyhound bus at midnight wednesday night and 16 hours, 3 busses and 1 taxi later I found myself at the Allied Media Conference. AMC is incredible and inspirational and whatever happens in the next week I'm ready for it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ashkenazi Privilege Checklist

Ashkenazi (ashkenazi - is a term primarily used to refer to jews of eastern european descent) Privilege Checklist

This checklist was developed by members of the Jewish Multiracial Network online discussion group, 2006–2009. You are welcome to distribute this checklist, use it in workshops, and add to it.

Please check all that apply to you.

___ I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me as outsider.
___ I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me as exotic.
___ I can walk into my temple and feel that my children are seen as Jews.
___ I can walk into temple with my family and not worry that they will be treated unkindly.
___ I can enjoy music at my temple that reflects the tunes, prayers, and cultural roots of my specific Jewish heritage.
___ I can easily find greeting cards and books with images of Jews who look like me.
___ I can easily find Jewish books and toys for my children with images of Jews that look like them.
___ I am not singled out to speak about and as a representative of an “exotic” Jewish subgroup.
___ When I go to Jewish bookstores or restaurants, I am not seen as an outsider.
___ I find my experiences and images like mine in Jewish newspapers and magazines.
___ My rabbi never questions that I am Jewish.
___ When I tell other members of my synagogue that I feel marginalized, they are immediately and appropriately responsive.
___ There are other children at the religious school who look like my child.
___ My child’s authenticity as a Jew is never questioned by adults or children based on his/her skin color.
___ People never say to me, "But you don't look Jewish," either seriously or as though it was funny.
___ I do not worry about being seen or treated as a member of the janitorial staff at a synagogue or when attending a Jewish event.
___ I am never asked “how” I am Jewish at dating events or on Jewish dating websites.
___ I can arrange to be in the company of Jews of my heritage most of the time.
___ When attempting to join a synagogue or Jewish organization, I am sure that my ethnic background will not be held against me.
___ I can ask synagogues and Jewish organizations to include images and cultural traditions from my background without being seen as a nuisance.
___ I can enroll in a Jewish day school, yeshiva, and historically Jewish college and find Jewish students and professors with my racial or ethnic background.
___ People of color do not question why I am Jewish.
___ I can send my child to Hebrew School/Young Judea camp without him/her being subjected to racist slurs from other children.
___ I am not discriminated against in the aliyah process as a Jew of my particular ethnicity.
___ I know my ethnic background will not be held against me in being called to read the Torah.

I was directed to this checklist via Facebook and I find it seems to fit rather interestingly with my observations/studies regarding judaism and ethnicity.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Artist Statement?

here it is- (hopefully, revisions to possibly come...)

The Trek Project is the culmination of a journey. For me this project has been an experiment, an investigation, an interrogation. Creating this project has sent me into some of the most uncomfortable places in my soul; time spent interrogating systems of oppression that I have both opposed but also supported. Examining all of this I repeatedly asked myself what is my stake in all of this? Who am I to create this story?
It is a question that this movie does not answer, rather it pushes it further, complicates the lines of borders, travel and story. I created this project to give back to an organization that has given me endless opportunity and perspective. What I give to you, the viewer, is a piece of this, a piece of the journey and a chance for perspective. What will you do with it?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dear Parent:

A letter to parents dealing with talking to your kids about puberty and bodies.

Perspectives from a young, queer, genderqueer, disconnected, late blooming, female body:

OK, so I am writing this letter to talk to you about how girls develop shame around their bodies and the way that girl’s bodies are thrown even more into the spotlight as they begin to develop. I am sure that most females out there understand for the most part what I am talking about but I think that it is extra important to re-iterate this especially as you prepare to talk to your child about their body changing. I’m writing this in the form of a letter because I think it is the best way for me to share with you my own experiences with my changing body and what I wish my parents had known, or atleast expressed understanding/support of. Growing into my female body, especially as a late bloomer was always strange for me. I think the Pussycat Dolls, while they perpetuate the images that often oppress young women, do make a good point about growing up in the song “When I Grow Up”-

When I grow up,
I wanna be famous,
I wanna be a star,
I wanna be in movies
When I grow up,
I wanna see the world,
Drive nice cars,
I wanna have boobies
When I grow up,
Be on TV,
People know me,
Be on magazines
When I grow up,
Fresh and clean,
Number one chick when I step out on the scene

Now, I know that not every girl wants to be a superstar, but most girls are fighting against invisibility and shame in a very real way and they strive for positive attention. They have been engaged in this struggle all their lives and when a “woman’s” body begins to develop this is emphasized. Within my own history, although I began to develop shame around my body when I began to notice the differences between girls and boys. This happened around age 5, when my parents told me I couldn’t run around without a shirt on, and it started to become inappropriate for me to bathe with my male bodied cousins. While, my male cousins were learning how to take off their shirts and run around in the hot sun, when I stripped off my top to join them I was scolded. This and countless other incidents taught me that my body was something to be hidden. When puberty started to hit the other girls in my peer group, I felt ashamed for new reasons. I was flat until age 14, and didn’t start my period till second semester of my freshman year of high school. Within my peer group my development was delayed in often-visible ways and I was teased. We live in a world where society sets standards on beauty, which are often hard and impossible to reach, but girl culture does not make this easier. I spent most of my teenage years trying to fit into a cookie cutter mold of what my body should be like, at first the mold was too big, and then all at once it became to small. Female standards of beauty ask all girls to immediately embody a tall, white, blonde, skinny ideal. There are hygienic standards that must be kept to as well, legs and armpits shaved at all time, no acknowledgement of her period, or for that matter any bodily functions.
From birth our bodies are called into question and judged, when an adolescent enters puberty their bodies are judged on a whole new scale. Judgment and body talk comes from all over, parents, peers, medical professionals, teachers, the general population and ourselves. Parents struggle with accepting our changing bodies. Peers judge our development timeline. Medical professionals evaluate if we are “on track” and tell us if our bodies are appropriate or not. Teachers attempt to tell us what these changes mean, and what is “normal”. As our bodies develop the general population begins to judge our appeal, and believe me, no young female is safe from being judged by older men. And of course, we judge ourselves, as a combination of all of these other judgments and as we start to deconstruct the images that we see we build up judgments around ourselves as to whether or not our bodies are “good” and appropriate.
I know that this is not what you would typically expect to find in a packet about puberty, but I think that it is important for parents to understand the battle that girls go through, and especially those who struggle with a sexuality and/or gender identity. Puberty, and the teen years, are a time when bodies are put in the spotlight, they are emphasized by peers, parents, medical professionals, teachers, the general public and ourselves. Learning to deal with body shame is important for all girls attempting to reach 20 in one piece. I don’t have any solutions, or key lines that you can tell your children, but I think beginning to understand is important, and so that is why I wrote this letter. While there are not any magic words that I can tell you, I do think that for me I would have appreciated more support in experimenting with my body. The adjustment to a changing body is hard, it is not something that anyone should have to learn to embrace all at once, and it often takes a great deal of time to come to terms with one’s body. I would have appreciated it if my parents and other adults had not called out the changing parts of my body. They were mine to deal with, not theirs to criticize or judge. Feeling safe within the home is the first step to feeling safe within the body, so please, allow your children to feel safe within their homes and bodies.

Video Artist. Activist. Student. Life.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

go jump off a bridge

Will Phillips made national headlines last fall in Arkansas when he refused to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance on the grounds that there was not "liberty and justice" for LGBT people. When asked to stand and recite the pledge he told his teacher, 'politely', that she could go jump off a bridge.

What do we learn from Will Phillips? According to Will what he did took a bit of a risk but it was worth it in the end and he encourages others to take a risk as well. I do commend this 8 year old for standing up for others and possibly himself (that remains to be seen?), but why was he specifically thrust into the spotlight. Well, for one, he is white and male, images of him and his family evoke the prototypical "american" family aesthetic. What about the thousands, and probably hundreds of thousands of kids who refuse to stand or recite the pledge of allegiance everyday, those who are swept under the rug and forgotten?
And how does his position as a young, innocent white boy allow him to tell his teacher to "jump off a bridge" and still he is enrolled in school and now glorified for his actions (although he did issue an apology for the manner in which he talked to his teacher)? How is this boy able to take this risk and be safe within that?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

division III, say what!?

For those of you who do not know in the final year at Hampshire College students embark on a year-long massive independent study project:

Re-Mapping Our (his)Stories

This division III is a collection of stories, a preservation of lives and a reconstruction of histories. Untold stories posses the power to analyze, restructure and overthrow the systems that hold us captive. Communities must unite around stories of common history to seek the roots of oppression and fight the systems that hide those stories in the first place. Re-Mapping Our (his)Stories is a multi-media exploration of history, her-story, my-story, and your-story.
The (his)Stories project is the central focus of my Div III, other components of the project feed into and are fed by this project. The project will also incorporate a website as an online forum for showcasing and archiving the stories that are captured and created as part of the project. Additionally, this endeavor will become the first undertaking of the Midnight Media Coup, which is the organization that I will be creating throughout the course of the next year to support my work and the work of others when I leave Hampshire.
The Re-Mapping Our (his)Stories Project is an opportunity to explore the borders of our lives, and the ways we cross them; borders of technology, government and community. Those who choose to participate in Re-Mapping Our (his)Stories will have the opportunity to explore who their communities are and how the histories of those communities have been recorded. Participants will then have the opportunity to create a media history of their community; which is a cross between an oral history and a more standard interview; media histories give the interviewer the opportunity to present their interviews in multi-media formats. This project provides space to tell and re-frame these stories, which have been appropriated, misrepresented and simply untold in the past.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The following are snippets of thoughts from the past few months that never made it into full entries, its been hard to get my thoughts to that point lately, but I wanted to publish these anyway:

"lately I have found myself full of increasing anger, anger at things and systems beyond my control, anger that has prevented me from writing."

"I think that Michael Moore taught me that informational documentaries could be exciting and fun. Marlon Riggs taught me that they could be beautiful."

"It starts with the call from the police-
"yes, she is my friend, and no, I havn't heard from her lately"

he is friends with the cops and she is under 18, so when she runs away from home because he beat her again they just lock her up as a runaway, and when she gets beat up there for being gay, and butch and genderqueer, and runs away again, they put out the search warrant.

and so I call her, by now I know the protocol, hide in the woods, avoid main roads, bus stops. I get to see her for a few hours, and then she goes away again. A few days later I get a call from my friend, they got her at the bus stop, and put her back.

since when did the victim become the perpetrator. where do you go for help? "

"I wonder sometimes at night why I have never seen my future past the age of 40. Perhaps its my youth, incapable of imaging spending another 20 years on this earth, but at the same time I realize that I have almost no role models past the age of 40. I exist in a community with few visible elders, and I wonder, does 'gay' age well?"

Monday, February 22, 2010


A Review of the Book Gay LA-

What occurs to me as I read Gay LA is the way that we as gay/queer/homosomething or other in the 21st century think about and regard our history. “A group cannot be effective without a sense of urgency” (320), I fear that it is this urgency that we lack today. We “survived” the AIDS crisis and gay bashings of the past, although it is not so much survival as normalization of these tragedies. Queer youth grow up today with no attachment to the history and trauma of the past. Although the homophile movement declared that homosexuals are a cultural minority, the fact that we often disassociate so heavily with family structures that pass down cultural memory seems to lead to a youth culture of vanguardism.

"'Vanguardism had long poisoned the movements of the Left, most recently in the sixties. Casting yourself as the 'vanguard' meant that you were morally superior because you had suffered the most and had therefore gained the right to lead the much-awaited 'revolution'"

This Quote is from The World Split Open: How the Women’s Movement Changed America by Ruth Rosen. In this she describes the struggles that the women’s movement went through as it evolved over time. Often intersecting with the Lesbian/Queer movement women’s liberation can offer insight into the problems that Queer movements also face.
Since when is the vision of liberation that exists at the end of the book actually liberation. “Among the most encouraging developments for lesbians in the industry has been the comedy-drama series The L Word.” (360). The L Word does little more than thrust over sexualized rich white femmes into the spotlight. Meanwhile the lack of portrayal of women of color (or very few), working class women and gender variance excludes and hides the struggles and lives of these groups. What happened to the chapters on the struggles and great contributions of communities of color early on in the book? The epilogue seems to exist in a post-racial world of indifference where representation, any representation is positive. And yet these representations of lesbians are stabbing us in the back. They seem to empower, but really these tokenized queer characters enforce models of passivity and quell the urgency that we once had, the drive for liberation. Where is the radicalism in watching our stereotypes on TV?
Queer narratives are riddled with poor associations with birth families. Since most queer kids are not raised by queer parents they often do not have queer role models in their lives from an early age. Having no cultural role model means that queer youth grow up with out the same cultural historical memory that members of other minority groups might experience. Without these histories queer youth growing up today lack the association with the trauma and struggle that an earlier generation of queers fought through. This community of elders dealt with hostile circumstances to pave the way for the youth of today, and yet our interrogations of their identities and choices in time of crisis do not account for the context of the situation in which those decisions and identities were formed.
This failure to learn and understand histories leads us into patterns of disarray. Each new generation believes that it is the best, the vanguard, the improved model of the former. Because of this association our tendency is to disregard the histories that others have created. If only we built up the tools to unite the history of our movements with the present conditions of them. There are surely strategies from early resistances and attitudes that we would benefit from; not to mention more acknowledgment of history can help queer youth to develop a better understanding of their place within a broader less selfish movement.

Internet Pacivity

I fear that what results from this fast paced world of Web 2.0 activism, is a pacivity of sorts. It is not that we as people, as activists, etc feel as though our electronic efforts are solid and yet in these efforts are often in vein. We feel as though we make change and yet, there is no change made in the actual systems that create the oppression we feel that we are alleviating.
These new forms of activism make us feel as though we are making changes and yet as we sit back and send virtual rice or buy 'crops for Haiti' on Farmville we become rapidly blind to the systems that set Haiti up for destruction. We feel as though we can make a difference without actually questioning our lifestyles or mindsets.
Change cannot come without a change in mindset, a change in government a change in culture and lifestyle. And yet with easily accessible "change" available in the comfort of our homes, our worlds, our computers, we alleviate our guilt, alleviate the urgency we that brings about massive change.
We have become a passive audience, we think we create change behind the protection of keyboards and yet it is this distance that causes us to go about guilt free, thinking that we are changing when really we are supporting.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010