the habitual rebranding of non-white people/queer people/women fighting for their own rights as “SJWs” and then attacking this now-genderless/sexless/orientationless/raceless and therefore inoffensive, impersonal mass of humanity is one of the more ingenious forms of bigotry i’ve seen people get away with
Q:My brother is a middle school teacher and I put him on to your blog. He smiled and said he's seen a ghost. Said in education, thinkers like you are almost extinct
This is probably one of the most strangely flattering messages I’ve gotten.
Because that’s probably exactly how I would feel if I came across this blog rather than running it.
In the last 15 years or so, American culture has seen a massive shift toward the conservative that i think shocks a lot of people from my generation. Thinkers like me in education are almost extinct, because we have been driven out by financial, social, and political pressures trickling down from the top of the food chain, so to speak.
It’s no secret that the quality of American education has, in general, been plummeting, along with drastic increases in censorship, pearl-clutching, and the tendency to reframe resistance movements as persecution of the people in power by those who have none.
In response to this, you’re seeing more and more marginalized people taking advantage of social media to critique, educate, and converse with these shifts in culture….and ushering in a new age of actual accountability that hasn’t really been seen before; at least, not in my lifetime.
My tone and methods are actually very similar to those of my own high school teachers. Books that I remember doing entire-class projects on, I find out have since been banned. There are many who find me aggressive, unprofessional, and a lot of other adjectives that invoke a sense of “respectability” versus “unprofessionalism” that makes me feel pretty shaken by the insight to the state of what’s going on in many classrooms across America.
My hope is that with the next ten years or so, we can try and swing the pendulum back towards an ACTUAL center, instead of this false center that’s been artificially created in favor of conservatism, censorship, and erasure.
Give your brother a hug for me, he’s doing one of the most important and most difficult jobs I can think of.
I highly recommend following medievalpoc!
Bear in mind that medievalpoc writes about /medieval European/ history from a completely /modern american/ standpoint using modern american definitions of who poc are … she ends up erasing a lot of ppl … like entire races and stuff …. from her accounts like basically only showing ppl she considers poc from her modern american perspective rather than taking into account historical and geographical context and showing all the people who were in that kinda category at the time . Thats her angle
Which, you know. Would be a lot more of a thing if it was my fault that American education teaches European history at all, much less the WAY it does. But, you don’t care about that. you care about me, and my reaction to the situation, which you apparently feel needs a “warning”. About my “angle”.
Because the literal exact point of this blog is that Europeans who are VISUALLY considered people of color
by modern educators
according to modern definitions of race
are excluded from European history by modern educators
because they look like people of color according TO and BECAUSE OF “modern American perspective”.
The bottom line is, you think I’m DOING the thing I’m actually fighting against.
I’m fighting the erasure of the people who are BEING erased from history. I’m responding to a situation that is already happening, I’m not creating that situation by talking about it.
I’ve said a million times, this isn’t history in its OWN context, this is history as WE experience it in OUR context.
This is about history BECOMES history, and WHY.
Like, absolutely if you want like literally everything about various European racial and ethnic groups and how they were constructed in their historical geographic area, that’s NOT what you’re getting here. Like, we might touch on it, but it’s not the purpose.
I didn’t invent the erasure of people who are being EXCLUDED right now in classrooms because of HOW THEY LOOK TO AMERICANS.
THAT is the situation that I am addressing.
By all means, feel free to do other things elsewhere.
I just don’t see why you’re so interested in warning people about what I’m doing here, or seem to think there’s something wrong with that.
The persistent, almost willful, misunderstanding of what medievalpoc is doing is nowhere near as infuriating as the actual circumstances related to race, education, and history that make her project necessary in the first place, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t infuriating at all.
I’ve recently started following the blog, and I’m trying to articulate why it’s so important for me as a medievalist (literature and history of ideas, not art history), when I work as a researcher and instructor. I’ll be talking mostly about how I see her work as a prof of medieval lit. in the context of the American university system, and as an instructor specifically.
My students are regularly surprised to learn that St. Augustine of Hippo was from North Africa, that St. Nicholas was from Asia Minor, that pretty much every ascetic, saint, and major theologian was born not into an insular, isolated culture, but into cultures informed by generations of conquest, assimilation, trade, and travel by foot, horse, or ship. Phoenicians, Jews, Berbers, Egyptians, Greeks, Goths, Scythians, Huns, Romans, Arabs, Indians from the subcontinent, so many more people than I can cover here made their ways through Asia Minor and Europe, the Levant and Northern Africa. As such, they double-take at icons, decorated manuscripts, and early images that depict these icons of intellect and virtue not as unequivocally white to modern American eyes, but as people whom most Americans living today would understand as people of color—as stereotypically Black or Middle Eastern.
For me, one of the most important problems that medievalpoc confronts is not only the visual erasure of people whom the modern American educational system, and those who prop it up (conservatives and liberals who should know better but either don’t or don’t care, lobbyists, pearl-clutching parents) deem not sufficiently or obviously white. It’s the consequent strengthening of the relationship between American notions of “whiteness” and intellectual and moral superiority: the visibly white becomes the self-evidently superior throughout history. It places the cultural history in which the US sees itself (and its own intellectual and religious projects) squarely in a Europe that is insular and wholly white, dominated by men as pristinely pale as their morals, ethics, and spirituality, untouched by outside influences. Their greatness, like that of the American myth of the self-made man, is entirely their own and owes nothing to other races. Moreover, it attaches to those races everything that whiteness isn’t: morally lax, physically lazy, intellectually inferior.
(Of course, we know this is tragically wrong; it would be so hilarious if its wrongness didn’t have horrific repercussions. We know Europeans didn’t categorize themselves as albi or candidi; they thought of themselves as French (or Alsatian or Burgundian), German (or Saxon or Bavarian), English, as groups defined by religion or by language, not by color. We know Spain and France had extensive and meaningful interactions with Arabs in the Iberian Peninsula, that Islamic scholars returned to European Christians much of the classical knowledge lost to them—and gave them much more besides—, that European Christian theologians owed heavy debts to Jewish commentators, as well as Ethiopian ascetics and many others.)
The investment of American education in a European past that is isolated and racially pure, a past in which “Middle Eastern” exists only as that which must be crusaded against, in which “black” exists only as that which is enslaved, in which “Native American” exists only as that which is exterminated, isn’t just some abstract problem, or a problem of historiography. It has painful personal consequences for US POC students who are told their history only matters insofar as it relates to white European-American interests. It provides a historical narrative that is not only wrong in some abstract “academics fight about this, who cares” sort of way, but in ways that have practical and dangerous consequences. It provides the basis for seriously wrong-headed justifications for racially prejudicial attitudes, for the suppression of representation of POC in popular media, for the persistence of the belief that “the races” have always been separate, that for them to cohabit in the US is a violation of some ancient law. This in turn has consequences for attitudes toward immigration, multiculturalism, the US’s interactions with the rest of the world, and of course its citizens’ interactions among themselves. And the first, most important step, in guaranteeing this separation is to reduce the visibility of people who are not white according to white American understandings of what white people look like. Out of sight, out of mind.
TL;DR: American whites in the academy and government took racial theories developed both in the US and in Europe, elaborated them, and perpetuated them for their own ends. This has led to the erasure of historical people and their accomplishments from the American educational record for the phenomenally stupid reason that their appearance wasn’t considered white—i.e. American—enough. This is a problem that exists, and is (as medievalpoc has pointed out) getting worse, and the consequences go beyond American students “just not knowing their history” or leaving vacuous comments about how in Thor Heimdall can’t be played by Idris Elba because a black man playing a Norse god is somehow less believable than interdimensional travel. I’ve talked about what those consequences are above.
TL;DR 2: I admire the hell out of this blog’s work. It’s such a necessary starting point, and I hope other academics not only follow the writer’s methodology (by making accessible that which is inaccessible) but start opening up for students new ways of thinking about history, even if it’s just understanding that people Back Then don’t think of concepts like race the way Americans think of them now. Because not everyone is American.
I mean, even early medieval authors knew to whom they owed their intellectual debts. The authors of the texts I work with knew they owed writing, astronomy, translation theory, mathematics, literature, and art to the Babylonians, Jews, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. They knew they were part of a long heritage that was not European but that spanned thousands of years and miles both. They had a sense of their intellectual roots, and they knew those roots grew in lands where people didn’t look like them, talk like them, or even believe like them… and that wasn’t the end of the world.
i tried to hold it in but
i love you ok
Too many young girls don’t know how to act when someone’s being inappropriate with them. They giggle or they try to brush it off. Don’t do that. Tell them to go fuck themselves - be a bitch. If someone’s being disrespectful to you, be disrespectful right back. Show them the same amount of respect that they show you.
Q:So, this is just me being confused, but if it doesn't matter if Iris West is black, then why does it matter if Katniss Everdeen is white?
I don’t even have the energy for this shit.
Here read this if by some chance you’re not just being a dick.
Q:Hi. I'm guessing that you have heard about how they've decided to race-bend the female lead/love interest in the new The Flash show being developed by the CW. Instead of being a white woman, the casting call is asking for an "African American" woman. Anyway, I was wondering, is the race of this character (Iris West Allen) actually important to her backstory? I see people having meltdowns about it but I am not sure if they have a point or not as I don't follow the comic. Thanks.
I HAVE heard about that and it’s a really good move on their part because it is literally the ONLY thing that could ever make me watch a show about Barry Allen aka The Most Boring Flash, and Possibly Character, of All Time.
As far as your question, hahahahahahaha, Iris West’s race has literally no relevance whatsoever to her backstory. It has never in the history of the universe had any relevance to her backstory. (HER BACKSTORY INVOLVES HER BEING KILLED BUT NOT REALLY BECAUSE SHE WAS SENT TO THE FUTURE AS AN INFANT BEFORE RETURNING TO LIVE IN THE PAST.) She was white because she was invented by a racist industry in a racist society, period, the end. Furthermore, 90% of those people are angry because Iris West (and her dad) being black means that a big chunk of the DC speedster fam will also be at least part black unless they specifically write to avoid it since Iris is the aunt of Wally West (greatest Flash, good dude) and the grandmother of Bart Allen (Impulse, my precious darling).
Pro-Tip: any time you see comic book fans melting down about a traditionally white character being made into a POC ruining the character, they do not have a point. They have literally never once had a point.
Q:Pot meet Kettle. Or why someone who is also an ignorant social activist should not try to act like they are one of the educated ones.
WHY THANK YOU, misguided angry anon. While you are 100% wrong and also ridiculous, this is a really interesting topic I have some thoughts on and I will take this opportunity to write about them.
The first thing that struck me about this message is one very simple fact: I am not an activist.
I am not an activist, I don’t pretend to be an activist, and I think my Tumblr bears out this fact. You can go back a week, two weeks, a month, two months, and more and more and you would be hard-pressed to find even a single post, accurate or inaccurate, that aligns with the sorts of posts this quote was talking about.
That quote is about the HERE IS A THING HAPPENING SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD BUT NO ONE (I KNOW ABOUT) IS TALKING ABOUT IT OMG posts. The ones that are usually the poorly researched POV of an outsider and that take a little while before someone actually affected or knowledgeable steps in and corrects them.
Those posts don’t commonly show up on my blog and that’s because I’m selfish. Not, in general, but on this blog, which I use for fun and to communicate with friends, I am selfish.
I post things that amuse or excite me. I post things that are fun to me. These things are almost exclusively regarding fiction and entertainment media. This is not a statement of disinterest in the goings-on of the world, but recognition that that is just not what I use this blog for.
So, at first, when I got this ask, for a few hot seconds, I couldn’t fathom the idea that someone would honestly think that quote, the quote about reblogging or regurgitating inaccurate alarmist posts about world events, applied to me in any way. Not because I’m inherently better or smarter or more savvy than the people that do, but because I just don’t post about that sort of thing at all.
Now, I say that this confusion lasted for a few seconds. Because, well, obvious answer is obvious.
I post about fiction and entertainment media, things that amuse and excite and fascinate and sometimes infuriate me. I post and reblog about how these things make me feel. I don’t think it would be inaccurate to say that a million other people do the exact same thing on this very site.
But… I am black and a woman and mentally ill and queer and upfront about it.
So when I post about fiction and entertainment media, when I post and reblog about how they make me feel, those posts and reblogs directly address the facts that I am black and a woman and mentally ill and queer because I am discussing my POV and those are, obviously, the lenses through which I view the world.
And to some, like you, Anon, and others I have gotten in the past, this renders me a ~social activist~ and renders this a ~social justice blog~.
My talking about tv shows and movies and books while acknowledging the facts that I am black and female and mentally ill and queer somehow automatically means that I am not just another person with a blog where I discuss fandom shit.
Acknowledging my lived experiences, even in the context of teen murder soaps and urban fantasy novels and superhero comics, automatically renders me an activist.
Because to the privileged, to those higher up in the ole kyriarchy, the very existence of marginalized voices is read as activism.
HMMM WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT IS
If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”
And I think that this a huge challenge for boys, because they want to pretend they can write girls. Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliche lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight. And if you’re in a writing program and you say to a guy that their characters are sexist, this guy, it’s like you said they fucking love Hitler. They will fight tooth and nail because they want to preserve this really vicious sexism in the art because that is what they have been taught.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherfuckers.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
It’s the same way when people write about race. If you didn’t grow up being a subaltern person in the United States, you might need help writing about race. Motherfuckers are like ‘I got a black boy friend,’ and their shit sounds like Klan Fiction 101.
The most toxic formulas in our cultures are not passed down in political practice, they’re passed down in mundane narratives. It’s our fiction where the toxic virus of sexism, racism, homophobia, where it passes from one generation to the next, and the average artist will kill you before they remove those poisons. And if you want to be a good artist, it means writing, really, about the world. And when you write cliches, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, that is a fucking cliche. And motherfuckers will kill you for their cliches about x, but they want their cliches about their race, class, queerness. They want it in there because they feel lost without it. So for me, this has always been the great challenge.
As a writer, if you’re really trying to write something new, you must figure out, with the help of a community, how can you shed these fucking received formulas. They are received. You didn’t come up with them. And why we need fellow artists is because they help us stay on track. They tell you, “You know what? You’re a bit of a fucking homophobe.” You can’t write about the world with these simplistic distortions. They are cliches. People know art, always, because they are uncomfortable. Art discomforts. The trangressiveness of art has to deal with confronting people with the real. And sexism is a way to avoid the real, avoiding the reality of women. Homophobia is to avoid the real, the reality of queerness. All these things are the way we hide from encountering the real. But art, art is just about that.
this is a follow up to this post i made last night.
i was being sarcastic! but even when people pointed it out, some of you are so goddamn dense and derailed shit.
the point i was making is the fact that people will tear down woc when they dare to show any romantic/sexual interest in white men. they will attack members of fandom because oh no how dare people be interested in romance and sex between interracial canon couples or uncanon couples!
these people are usually the ones who say woc will somehow be less independent and strong if they show any romantic/sexual interest in white men which is bullshit. and often times these same people will ship white cis men together without a problem and scream about how those of us who ship het ships are homophobic because intersectionality doesn’t exist in their worlds.
i’m here to say i’m sick of seeing this bullshit. i’m sick of seeing myself and other woc being told we shouldn’t ship white men with woc because that goes against proper representation. it doesn’t.
woc are usually not afforded to be shown to be complex, flawed people in western media. the woc in my original post each have their own stories that don’t revolve around their white male co-leads. they have flaws. just because some of them are in or express romantic/sexual interest in white men doesn’t make them weak or any less interesting.
Imma be real wit y’all. If in the course of discussing race you unironically start naming random colors, I check the fuck out.
You’ve proven yourself to be someone whose opinion I don’t need to hear.
g o o d b y e
Q:you make me feel guilty for being a white, swedish woman
Yo, I don’t control how you react to the world.
I’m not sure how you expected me to respond to this besides:
Flappers shaming Miley Cyrus.
Oddly enough we could say that Miley Cyrus is following solidly in the appropriative footsteps of white flappers, who in the 1920s grabbed national attention and stirred alarmism concerning the end of civilization because they partied to Black music, wore their hair short like Josephine Baker (who fled US racism to become a superstar in Europe), and imitated dance moves from Baker and other Black dancers. The famously flapperesque Charleston was lifted from the African American dance called the Juba, which had West African roots and was danced in secret in the South and the Caribbean. The dance sped up when it reached Harlem, giving birth to both tap dancing and the Broadway hit called The Charleston, which spread like wildfire from there. White people didn’t sway their hips this scandalously prior to that era, making flappers roughly equivalent to white twerkers of the Jazz Age.is there anything that they have not pillaged and just watered down?
Because Miley’s performance last night, and the subsequent ignoring of the racial implications of what she did is just the latest incident in the long line of things that shows me as a black woman, that white feminism does not want me, or care to have me. Jezebel’s piece on the performance chose to focus on the slut shaming that has been thrown Miley’s way in the wake of the performance. All fine and good. Slut shaming is bad, don’t do it. On that we can all agree. What it didn’t acknowledge was the incredibly racist nature of that performance. So I brought it up. See the problem isn’t that they talked about slut shaming. That deserves attention. The problem is that they completely sidestepped the other glaring teddy bear in the room, and that is the commodification of black female sexuality in Miley’s performance. But it’s not a thing that white women deal with, so it didn’t warrant inclusion or discussion by the white-led mainstream feminist media.
can we please stop pretending that the young adult scene is not actual garbage right now??? can we stop kidding ourselves?? no i’m not fed up with young adult lit because the majority of the authors in the scene are women. i’m fed up with it because the scene is fucking catty, repetitive, exclusive, and, to reiterate, GARBAGE.
- yeah, okay, first off: cattiness. i recently saw a blurb for some release or other boasting that is “better than the hunger games” like what the fuck?? what kind of dirty tactics? “pitched as x classic thing meets x series” seriously?? competition is one thing but climbing all over another series just to get your shit promoted is catty, dirty, and immature. damn straight i’m side-eying a book with cross-clique blurbs because that shit is ridiculous.
- which brings me to the repetitiveness. your young adult book is the hunger games with x twist? why the fuck should i care? couldn’t you have uploaded that to ff.net and called it a day? i’m legit so tired of white authors spinning each other’s work and calling it a day, meanwhile a woc author has to turn the world inside out in order to get published, and it’s like, are you serious?
- WHICH BRINGS ME TO: exclusivity!! haha like please go to your local barnes and noble and look down the teen fiction aisle. note how many of those authors are white. note how many of the covers feature white teenagers. note how many of those white teenagers are straight, cis, able bodied, etc. and then tell me that that’s not something to be fucking fed up with. like i dare you, straight white author, to tell me, queer black mentally ill woman, to stop bagging on a genre that refuses to represent me or even acknowledge my existence as a human being. go ahead.
- so yeah, finally, the combined aspects make it all garbage to me. like, absolute trash.
i’m fucking fed up and no, it’s not on account of my ~internalized misogyny~. i’m not gonna be quiet about it because i spend my money on these books. i spend money and time going through the teen fiction section and am disappointed time after time. the whitewashing, the queerbaiting, the exoticism and racism adds up after a time and its fucking infuriating. this isn’t to say that i think every YA book on the shelf is fucking trash because that’s ridiculous. i have read some seriously amazing debuts—amazing, original, inclusive works by authors who seriously need more attention. as a whole, though? YA is trash and it’s gonna be at least a decade before i even consider redacting that statement