Sunday, November 30, 2008

Talks of India at The Kitchen Table

I know I've highlighted a lot of posts from The Kitchen Table since I discovered it, but that is because I am continually moved by the topics being discussed there.

Yesterday I was reading the responses to the events in India and was struck especially by this passage:
I know many will use the events of Mumbai to justify more violence. Already there are many calling for tighter access to public spaces. Many will want more profiling of supposed outsiders and new restrictions on our borders to keep out "dangerous foreigners." Bigger, stronger, more impenetrable borders and barriers seems like the only way to keep ourselves safe. But what if we followed an entirely different path?

Hannah Arendt claims that totalitarianism exists by generating terror and that terror is created through the production of human loneliness. Loneliness locks human beings in isolation and hampers social intercourse. The only solution to this terror-producing loneliness is to grab hold of one another, to open ourselves to each other, and to be vulnerable. More openness. More communication. More contact. Fewer barriers. More permeable borders. Obviously the courageous Indian commandos who ended the siege were doing the right thing. We cannot stand by idly in a crisis of violence, murder, injustice, and destruction. But we also can't govern or live in a state of constant siege. Our humanity is too fragile for that.

It is so hard to open oneself when they are already feeling vulnerable, but Melissa is right here, it's the only way to counteract the effect of terrorism. It is the only way we can move forward into a better world.

"Best Hidden Gem"?

I've never done something like this before but hey, if you like my blog go vote it up for The Best Hidden Gem in the 2008 Weblog awards. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Joss Whedon

I've seen it asked many times what feminists see in Joss Whedon. He's human, flawed, and imperfect like the rest of us, and his work is far from beyond critique. But what do we see in him?

Well, he says things like this:

There is so much misogyny that is just unspoken or even unknown, among the most civilised.

Even on the drive up here, the driver was telling us about the history of the place, and he says, "In this square, this is where people were hanged, and the women were burned at the stake - they would burn a woman at the stake in the Sixteenth Century just for saying no to a man - wouldn’t it be great if we could do that today?" And instead of just thinking it, I said, "Actually, no, it wouldn’t, and it’s a little bit creepy that you just said that."

In a world filled with MRA's and almost-MRA's, people who could give a shit less about their representations of womanhood and deny misogyny even exists... He is a breath of fresh air. Not an uncomplicated breath. Not fresh air lacking all pollutants. But air in a suffocating industry.

I'm sure I'll be sharing more thoughts in the coming two weeks, I'm writing a paper on Dr. Horrible for Women and Media. But I had to share that quote.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jay Smooth on the Economy

Finally someone said it. I was starting to think I was the only one who's brain feels like it's being talked at in Martian when people start discussing the economy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving and the National Day of Mourning

Thanksgiving is a complicated holiday for me. When my parents got divorce we split up the holidays. Dad got Thanksgiving because we'd usually celebrated it with his family, Mom got Christmas so we could keep waking up on xmas morning in our beds and going out to find our stockings, etc. Keep the routine as normal as possible. Plus dad's side of the family went a little more nuts for food. We had this in common. A holiday celebrating food and being thankful for the ability to do so was always a big thing for me.

The national mythology never really resonated with me. We all knew the pilgrim line was mostly bullshit, so my family appropriated the holiday and made it our own. But as my political consciousness raises, as I learn more about this history of this country, I feel the need to bring into the forefront of my mind the stuff we knew was bullshit and to be conscious of the truth behind it. When the prayer goes around the table this year I will be thinking about those mourning at Plymouth Rock, and if I can find the words to express what I am feeling, I will voice them.

Below is a statement I found especially moving.

C/O Renee

Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England have organized the National Day of Mourning observance in Plymouth at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, hundreds of Native people and our supporters from all four directions join us. Every year, including this year, Native people from throughout the Americas will speak the truth about our history and about current issues and struggles we are involved in.

Why do hundreds of people stand out in the cold rather than sit home eating turkey and watching football? Do we have something against a harvest festival?

Of course not. But Thanksgiving in this country—and in particular in Plymouth—is much more than a harvest home festival. It is a celebration of pilgrim mythology.

According to this mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, the Indians promptly faded into the background, and everyone lived happily ever after.

The pilgrims are glorified and mythologized because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in Jamestown were frankly too ugly (for example, they turned to cannibalism to survive) to hold up as an effective national myth.

The pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus “discovered” anything. Every inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland.

They came here as part of a commercial venture. They introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and -gay bigotry, jails and the class system to these shores. One of the very first things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod—before they even made it to Plymouth—was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians’ winter provisions of corn and beans as they were able to carry.

They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the Indigenous peoples here. And, no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression which we are proud to say we buried in 1995.

The first official “Day of Thanksgiving” was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Conn., to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children and men.

About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several years in “New England” were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands and never-ending repression. We are either treated as quaint relics from the past or are, to most people, virtually invisible.

When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history of the European invasion, we are often told to “go back where we came from.” Our roots are right here. They do not extend across any ocean.

National Day of Mourning began in 1970 when a Wampanoag man, Wamsutta Frank James, was asked to speak at a state dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrim landing. He refused to speak false words in praise of the white man for bringing civilization to us poor heathens. Native people from throughout the Americas came to Plymouth where they mourned their forebears who had been sold into slavery, burned alive, massacred, cheated and mistreated since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.

But the commemoration of National Day of Mourning goes far beyond the circumstances of 1970.

Can we give thanks as we remember Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was framed up by the FBI and has been falsely imprisoned since 1976? Despite mountains of evidence exonerating Peltier and the proven misconduct of federal prosecutors and the FBI, Peltier has been denied a new trial.

To Native people, the case of Peltier is one more ordeal in a litany of wrongdoings committed by the U.S. government against us. While the media in New England present images of the “Pequot miracle” in Connecticut, the vast majority of Native people continue to live in the most abysmal poverty.

Can we give thanks for the fact that, on many reservations, unemployment rates surpass 50 percent? Our life expectancies are much lower, our infant mortality and teen suicide rates much higher than those of white Americans. Racist stereotypes of Native people, such as those perpetuated by the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves and countless local and national sports teams, persist. Every single one of the more than 350 treaties that Native nations signed has been broken by the U.S. government. The bipartisan budget cuts have severely reduced educational opportunities for Native youth and the development of new housing on reservations, and have caused cause deadly cutbacks in healthcare and other necessary services.

Are we to give thanks for being treated as unwelcome in our own country?

When the descendants of the Aztec, Maya and Inca flee to the U.S., the descendants of the wash-ashore pilgrims term them “illegal aliens” and hunt them down.

We object to the “Pilgrim Progress” parade and to what goes on in Plymouth because they are making millions of tourist dollars every year from the false pilgrim mythology. That money is being made off the backs of our slaughtered Indigenous ancestors.

Increasing numbers of people are seeking alternatives to such holidays as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. They are coming to the conclusion that if we are ever to achieve some sense of community, we must first face the truth about the history of this country and the toll that history has taken on the lives of millions of Indigenous, Black, Latin@, Asian, and poor and working-class white people.

The myth of Thanksgiving, served up with dollops of European superiority and manifest destiny, just does not work for many people in this country. As Malcolm X once said about the African-American experience in America, “We did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” Exactly.

Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I read this story late last night and didn't post so Nezua beats me to it, but that's ok, we still like him. ;) With the sorrow of TDoR I found the Muxes celebration a refreshing sigh of relief.

THERE ARE FEW THINGS as refreshing as the sensation of a stereotype being exploded before your very eyes. Here today to apply a brilliant shade of eyeshadow to the often-referenced machismo of The Latino and Mexicano Male iconry are l@s muxes straight from Juchitan:
JUCHITAN, Mexico (Reuters) - Attaching flowers to a ribbon headdress, pulling a lace slip under an embroidered skirt and draping a necklace of gold coins over his head, Pedro Martinez puts the finishing touches on the traditional costume of Zapotec women in southern Mexico.

“When I get all dressed up like this my father always says, ‘Oh Pedro! You look just like your mother when she was young,” beams Martinez, 28, gluing on fake eyelashes in front of a mirror.

Martinez spent two hours in the hair salon he owns getting ready for this weekend’s festival of the “muxes,” indigenous gays and transvestites in the town of Juchitan who have found a haven of acceptance in Mexico’s macho society.

The muxes (pronounced moo-shes), mostly of ethnic Zapotec descent, are widely respected in the southern town where a dance and parade that crowns a transvestite queen and celebrates the harvest has been held annually for the last 33 years.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Doctor Assaulted Suicidal Transgender Patient

Can I get a wtf?

A Melbourne Doctor has been found guilty of performing an indecent act upon a suicidal transgender patient only a day before International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

In June 2007, 53-year-old Sulieman Hamid was accused of touching a suicidal transgender woman in a Sunshine Hospital. Hamid was also accused of raping the woman back at her home the following day. Earlier in the trial the court heard that the woman propositioned Hamid, whilst he was treating her for a slashed wrist. The patient has a long history of suicidal tendencies and is also suffering a borderline personality disorder.

The victim told of how she remembered propositioning Hamid but also said she was not thinking straight and wanted to leave the hospital so she could “run in front of a bus.” Hamid told her he was not able to have sex as he was working according to the victim. “He started to touch my neck, my breasts, my lips (with) his fingers,” she told the court.

She was released from the hospital and returned home to sleep but was awoken by a phone call from Hamid asking if she was alone. She let the doctor come over hoping to get drugs from him. Once he arrived he began touching her. He was also accused of digitally raping her. At one point she testified that the doctor left the house to purchase condoms before returning to rape her.

Who fucking does that??

Full Story

Old News - Green Day Cover and Amnesty International

Am I the only one who missed this when it came out? I've had this song on my ipod for ages and ages (cuz I love it) but I didn't know they did some sort of Amnesty International benefit with it? Anyway, the official video for Green Day's John Lennon cover: "Working Class Hero".

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Special Mentions

I have two special mentions for you today, as usual please follow the link to see the whole story.

One comes to us from Feministe:
Joe Arpaio bills himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Many prisoners have died on his watch; now he can add a baby to the list.

Arpaio is the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, and he has instituted a series of changes in Maricopa jails to make sure that inmates are treated as harshly as legally possible. Food costs have been cut to 30 cents a meal, and inmates are fed only twice a day (and they’re often fed rotting food). Arpaio reinstituted chain gangs, wherein inmates are chained together while they perform hard labor — a practice that has faded into obscurity everywhere in the U.S., except in Arpaio’s prisons. He dyed inmate underwear pink as a way to humiliate prisoners, and eventually introduced pink handcuffs, socks, towels and other items. He held webcasts of pre-trial detainees — people who had been arrested but not yet convicted of a crime — in an effort to “deter” future crime (at the cost of humiliating and violating the privacy of people who hadn’t yet been convicted of any crime; the practice was eventually found unconstitutional).

He’s also hugely anti-immigrant. Using an anti-human-smuggling law as cover, he has instructed his deputy sheriffs and his civilian “posse” (no I’m not making that up) to arrest illegal immigrants. He told the Washington Times, “My message is clear: If you come here and I catch you, you’re going straight to jail. [...] I’m not going to turn these people over to federal authorities so they can have a free ride back to Mexico. I’ll give them a free ride to my jail.”

The other comes to us from Womanist Musings:
Socially there is an imbalance in knowledge. For the sake of survival POC have had to learn about whiteness and how to negotiate it; whereas no such knowledge has been necessary for those that are white. They can freely go about their days seeing whiteness reflected everywhere as good and positive. Open a history book and you will be immediately astounded by the achievements of whiteness. Our knowledge of you is unavoidable, whereas yours is conveniently reduced to the month of February and the obligatory shout out to MLK.

Even in our so-called conversations about race we usually discuss how it impacts bodies of colour and ignore the degree to which whiteness is an active participant in maintaining racial hierarchy. Oh sweet don't get white people riled up with the idea that they continually benefit from racism. Make sure to walk on egg shells because it will be assumed that no matter what you say, you are calling all white people racist, or suggesting that there is no hope for change. Hell why even talk about this negativity in the larger social sense at all...feelings might get hurt.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Transgender Day of Rememberance 2008

Yesterday was the TDoR. I was in school and didn't manage to get to a computer to make a post, but I would like to do so today. I would like to believe that the argument against Trans Murder Apology I wrote was a good memorial, but the dead deserve to be remembered too.


*Warning, some descriptions of cause of death below*
Remembering our dead:

Kellie Telesford
Location: Thornton Heath, UK
Cause of Death: Strangled
Date of Death: November 21, 2007

Brian McGlothin (Liked to dress in women’s clothes)
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Cause of Death: Shot in the head with an automatic rifle by Antonio Williams who is serving a six year sentence. Brian was 25 years old.
Date of Death: December 23, 2007

Gabriela Alejandra Albornoz
Location: Santiago, Chile
Cause of Death: Attacked and stabbed
Date of Death: December 28, 2007

Patrick Murphy (Found Dressed in Women’s clothes)
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Cause of Death: Shot Several times in the head
Date of Death: January 8, 2008
Patrick was 39 years old.

Stacy Brown
Location: Baltimore, MD
Cause of Death: Shot in the head
Date of Death: January 8, 2008
Stacy was 30 years old.

Adolphus Simmons
Location: Charleston, SC
Cause of Death: Shot to Death (Aldophus was 18 yrs. old)
Date of Death: January 21, 2008

Fedra (a known transvestite)
Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Cause of Death: Was found lying face up in a pool of blood, cause of death was not reported.
Date of Death: January 22, 2008

Ashley Sweeney
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Cause of Death: Shot in the head
Date of Death: February 4, 2008
The age of Ashley Sweeney is unknown, she was only described as a young transgender woman in a press release.

Sanesha (Talib) Stewart
Location: Bronx, NY
Cause of Death: Stabbed to Death
Date of Death: February 10, 2008
Sanesha was 25 years old.

Lawrence King
Location: Oxnard, California
Cause of Death: Shot to death by a classmate because he liked to wear
women’s clothes.
Date of Death: February 12, 2008
Lawrence was 15 years old.

Simmie Williams Jr.
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Cause of Death: Shot to death, Simmie was found wearing women’s clothing.
Date of Death: February 22, 2008
Simmie was 17 years old.

Luna (no last name reported)
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Cause of Death: Beaten to death and tossed into a dumpster.
Date of Death: March 15, 2008

Lloyd Nixon
Location: West Palm Beach, Florida
Cause of Death: Beaten in the head with a brick.
Date of Death: April 16, 2008
Lloyd was 45 years old.

Felicia Melton-Smyth
Location: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Cause of Death: brutally stabbed to death by Francisco Javier Hollos, who said he killed her because she would not pay for sex. Felicia was an HIV activist on vacation from Wisconsin.
Date of Death: May 26, 2008

Silvana Berisha
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Cause of Death: Stabbed to Death
Date of Death: June 24, 2008

Ebony (Rodney) Whitaker
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Cause of Death: Shot
Date of Death:July 1, 2008
Ebony was 20 yrs. old.

Rosa Pazos
Location: Sevilla, Spain
Cause of Death: Stabbed.
Date of Death: July 11, 2008

Juan Carlos Aucalle Coronel
Location: Lombardi, Italy
Cause of Death severely beaten causing fractures to the head and face before being run over by a car.
Date of Death July 14, 2008
Juan Carlos was 35 years old.

Angie Zapata
Location: Greeley, Colorado
Cause of Death: She was found in her home with two severe fractures in her skull. Angie was murdered by 31 year old, Alan Ray Andrade.
Date of Death: July 17, 2008
Angie was 18 years old.

Jaylynn L. Namauu
Location: Makiki Honolulu, Hawaii
Cause of Death: Stabbed to Death
Date of Death: July 17, 2008
Jaylynn was 35 years old.

Samantha Rangel Brandau
Location: Milan, Italy
Cause of Death: Beaten, gang raped, stabbed and left for dead.
Date of Death: July 29, 2008
Samantha was 30 years old.

Nakhia (Nikki) Williams
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Cause of Death: Found near the dumpster next to her home, she had been shot.
Date of Death: August 20, 2008
Nikki was 29 years old.

Ruby Molina
Location: Sacramento, California
Cause of Death: Drowned
Date of Death: September 21, 2008
Ruby’s naked body was found floating in the American river.
She was 22 years old.

Aimee Wilcoxson
Location: Aurora, Colorado
Cause of Death: Undetermined (Police have yet to reveal cause)
Date of Death: November 3, 2008
Aimee was found dead in her bed.
She was 34 years old.

Duanna Johnson
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Cause of Death: Shot
Date of Death: November 9, 2008
Duanna was found dead in the middle of the street. She was 42 years old.

Dilek Ince
Location: Ankara, Turkey
Cause of Death: Shot in the back of the head
Date of Death: November 11, 2008

Teish (Moses) Cannon
Location: Syracuse, New York
Cause of Death: Shot
Date of Death: November 14, 2008
Teish was 22 years old.

Location: Iraq
Cause of Death: Executed (for being transgender)
Date of Death: 2008, Month is Unknown
Video of Ali before she was executed:

*IMPORTANT NOTE - There were 2 other Iraqi, transgender women who were executed at the same time as Ali.

May they rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trans Murder Apology

Where to begin?

Forums can be such catalysts for thoughtful articulations! Arguing with people has always been much more fruitful for my brain than analyzing by myself. Recently, as in, over the last two or three days, there has been a conversation going regarding the murder of Angie Zapata.

Now, any feminist who's been around the block has seen this exact same rationale leveled at women who are raped, "well if she didn't [whatever she did] then [that] wouldn't have happened to her!" And we call this rape apology.

I don't know if there is a term for this that I simply haven't come across yet, but there should be a term for the blame I see leveled at trans people for "getting themselves murdered" which is basically what I have been dealing with. In contemplating all the overlapping issues I could think of, I came up with a few things, which I'd like to share with y'all.

There seemed to be a few different concepts underlying people's responses to Angie's murder. The most prominent, which I have seen just about every time this topic comes up anywhere, is that she was "lying", she "deceived" the man she slept with, and don't we all get angry when we're lied to?!

I think it's a bit more complex than that, personally.

We have a situation where say, a transsexual (or intersexed) woman, who has not had bottom surgery, is getting sexually involved with a heterosexual, cissexual man.

Now, this woman is presenting as a woman because she in fact, is a woman. If she still has a penis in some form that doesn't make her a liar for presenting as a woman.

The cissexual man assumed this woman wouldn't have a penis, but if he got involved with a cissexual woman who had a hysterectomy he would likewise assume she had a uterus. This is because these are the typical bodily configurations of a woman. They are what we are taught to expect a woman to consist of. But they are not the only configurations of a woman. Her not telling him of her atypical bodily configuration doesn't make her a liar. She just happens to be a woman with a penis.

The real issue in any of these types of cases is with the murderer involved. It is he who is reacting to his assumptions being incorrect.

Now, there are two ways to react, assuming he is not attracted to women with intersex or transsexual histories. He can say "I'm sorry, I assumed you were cissexual and this doesn't work for me" and go on his merry way (I will refrain from getting into the latent unaddressed issues I believe such men have with their own sexualities) or a variation along the lines of "I'm sorry, I not sexually attracted to people with a penis" (I don't assign such issues to this response), OR he can go all irrationally rageful, as in the Zapata case, and beat or kill this woman for... Well, whatever exactly is going on in his head at the time. It sure seems to me like what these men really get angry about are those latent issues I mentioned earlier. Like somehow being attracted to a woman with a penis, or someone with an intersexed or male-bodied history makes you GAY, OMG.

This is why the issue really, really, never lies with the T or I person.

Yes there is baggage that comes along with ones sexuality and gender. Some guy might see my hairy legs and get instantly turned off. Fine he's not my type. We make these kinds of negotiations in establishing relationships constantly. But if I jump into bed with some guy and he discovers a much loathed hairy bush, he's not going to kill me for it.


Because it's understood that a part of dating is dealing with the fact that not everything one assumes about another person is going to be true. Ever. That is the nature of building a relationship, even a purely sexual one. Additionally, other information is routinely left out of discussion before sexual relations take place, and that discovery of that information, even important life impacting sorts of things, does not result in murder.

Taking that into account, there must be a unique element to the information of T/I history to the person hearing it, something that might cause such reactions.

I think Radha [yes she was there too] hit the nail on the head, that unique element is homophobia.

The man in this case is not upset that Angie didn't share information with him. Certainly a man you've been married to for 20 years probably IS upset at that, but that's not the case we're discussing here. The man in this story is upset because she "lied" to him, she "fooled" him into think she was a "real woman."

It's not her words or her lack of words that creates this "lie", it is her very existence, and more importantly, his response to her existence. He is attracted to her, and by his definition she is not a "real" woman, but in fact a man. Thus he was attracted to a man, in his mind. If this is what he is in fact responding to, as I'm arguing, then his resulting rage is rooted in homophobia.

These responses from these men aren't about the T/I person. They are purely about themselves and their fear of what their attraction to a person with an intersex/trans history means in relation to their self identity as a heterosexual male.

Which is why my cissexual husband wouldn't respond this way. I discussed this with him, setting up a scenario wherein he meets an attractive woman, they go home together and when things get naked or shortly before, he discovers she has a penis. I asked him what he would do. He said he would feel a mixture of "disappointed" and "terribly amused". Amused at this "oops" moment, because he is simply not sexually attracted to penis. Disappointed that he's not actually getting laid that night.

I asked him if he would feel this woman lied to him or deceived him. No, he said.

This is not to laud my husband. But it was mentioned in the thread also, that cis-men don't need to examine their sexuality in depth the way transpeople do. I couldn't possibly disagree more. In fact I think het-cis guys are the ones who MOST need to examine their sexuality, because (as my husband says too) their homophobia is directly rooted in their NOT doing so.

This is why hubby generally dislikes other het-cis guys (and actually actively prefers the company of gay men). The rampant, thinly veiled homophobia bothers him. The lack of security in their identity and sexuality grates on him. And he attributes it directly to the fact that they don't ever think about their sexuality, don't entertain the possibility that they might not be "all the way" straight. They can't even think about it because it causes how they view themselves to shift so much.

Whereas he did think about it. It occurred to him one day to be curious about the possibility and so he went out and watched some gay porn, studied it, absorbed his reactions to it. What did he discover? Did nothing for him, he envied the guys for their bodies a little bit, and then he went on his merry way.

I think if every "hetero" guy did this same thing, two things would happen. 1. There would be far fewer closeted gay men in the world (:P) and 2. us women would not be abused or murdered by them anymore (because I think misogyny and homo/transphobia are inseparably linked but that's an argument for another time), at the very least gay men and trans women in all their variations wouldn't be. No more Angie Zapata's and Matthew Shepard's and Duanna Johnson's etc etc...

Another element going on in these conversations is that they are simplistic victim blaming. I don't care if you preface your statement with "Now I'm not BLAMING this person for getting themselves murdered...BUT". Whatever follows is some variation of victim blaming!! "Don't swim with the sharks and expect your ass not to get bitten". Whatever way you try and spin statements like this you are putting responsibility for preventing crime against this woman on HER, and by it's very nature that diverts some blame from the perpetrator.

This is usually followed by "well I want people to stay safe! this is a dangerous world we live in!!"

Well, yah. Do any of us REALLY not know that though? Do we need YOU to tell us this?? Don't we as women learn very quickly what actions we need to perform, and what activities to avoid, to keep ourselves safe? Aren't those beaten into our heads on a regular basis from birth?

We are all conscious of the compromises we make in our lives to keep ourselves safe. And we shouldn't think about those compromises as anything but. I know they are, I'm sure you know they are.

And the bottom line, we shouldn't HAVE to make compromises to "stay safe". That is idealistic, I know, but letting the conversations in response to these events revolve around us and how we can stay safe we are in some ways letting abusers off the hook, when the conversation should be revolving solely around THEM and their atrocious actions.

Until there is a resounding "HOW DARE YOU" response to stories like Angie's from the mainstream I feel like I have to just yell it louder to compensate, and going immediately into "stay safe" reinforce exactly what they want...For us to continue making adjustments FOR THEM, thinking how WE can adjust OUR behavior FOR THEM, instead of insisting to be treated like human beings BY them.

When it's doing the latter, and calling men out on their homophobia and misogyny, which will eventually, gods willing, make it possible for us to live in, take up space in, the world without making those compromises.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Budget Hero!

This was terribly amusing. Who knew a Socialist would decrease the size of government?! The rich wouldn't like me very much though...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Homophobia and the Black Community

From the Diary of an Anxious Black Woman

I do think we need to consider the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality to begin to dismantle attitudes, roadblocks, and barriers that have kept marginal groups divided. After all, post-emancipation, there was a reason why the first thing freed slaves wanted to do was reunite with their families, forcibly separated during slavery, and why they married in droves. There's a reason why the romance of the heterosexual family, who in turn serve as a powerful symbol as the backbone of every community, is so powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it has become imperative for LGBT communities to fight for marriage equality today. The romance of marriage and family is the romance of acceptance and respectability, and every marginal community has fought for that acceptance and respectability because of the belief that this is the key to equality. And, there must be some truth to this for why were white supremacists so opposed to black families that they worked hard to keep them broken down? There must be some truth to this, for why are heterosexists working overtime to prevent lesbians and gays from gaining full access to marriage, and all the economic, social, and cultural benefits that accompany it?

Black people's sexuality has been attacked for so long, that church, family, and community have been a refuge. It's a difficult thing, then, to give up the romance of the heterosexual nuclear family by supporting what has been preached to them as "sin." This "family" is supposed to protect our respectability and our acceptance. A significant number of black people whom I've come across, keep harping on how proud they are, not only that Obama was elected, but that he had his black wife and children with him. I am quite sure that unified heterosexual family portrait signaled something else for LGBT communities in California, Florida, and Arkansas (where they also lost the right to adopt children), who lost their right to marry the same night this First Family was embraced and celebrated.

And, yet, this same First Family has been on the receiving end of many death threats, despite this acceptance, which suggests that certain privileges and power - which are preserved for white heteropatriarchy - are now being powerfully contested. What is a powerful symbol for one group is a threat for another.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

As Prop 8 Discussions Continue

This post outlines a lot of things we need to think about.

As attractive as it is, let's not give into the urge to oversimplify what happened on election day. We need to move forward from here and change people's minds about things, we can't do that if we ignore their history, the context of their life as they know it.

A sample:
That is why we end up with claims like, "{Black people} know what it's like to be discriminated against. Why are they doing to us what happened to them?" White liberals are the first ones to utilize the history of racial violence to demonstrate why another oppression is also bad. "Just like segregation..." "Just like lynching..." Rights are like baseball cards that can be traded because their essential nature is the same.

But this shit is not the same. I don't have to argue that it's worse to assert that it ain't the same. The history of racial violence against Black people since we were brought to these shores to this very day is unique and wholly disturbing. There are lessons we can learn from that history that we can thoughtfully apply to other situations. There are connections between this and other trajectories of colonization and subjugation. But I'm noticing that there are some white folks that feel pretty entitled to rustle around Black history like some kind of curious anthropologist, picking out things that are convenient for them to use, often to legitimize their own experiences of oppression.

To be real, before this prop 8 stuff hit the fan, I was more tolerant of the parallel that some white queers drew between the Black Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the more recent LGBT Civil Rights Movements. I thought it might be a useful strategy. However, with all the sturm und drang of the past week, I'm beginning to see how this usage gets boiled down to a tit for tat strategy: We have your back (i.e. voted for Obama, sympathy to the story of the Black Civil Rights Movement), why don't y'all have ours? We (as of 2008) think that U.S. slavery was totally wrong, why don't y'all get that banning gay marriage is wrong? Or Jon Stewart's joke (third rich white guy) that as soon as Black people "made it" with Obama, it only took us 24 hours to use that brand new power against gay folks. Tolerance goes "both ways." "If {your people} want to call me a faggot, I can call you nigger." I'm not even picking on the fellow who gave us that last gem, I really think this is the essential point that Olbermann, Savage, and others are making. It's the same thing. A right is a right. A slur is a slur. There is no substantial difference.

While I have argued that this is the wrong way to think about oppression, I do not believe that just because something is different than something else doesn't mean that it doesn't have it's own moral weight. Just because I think not legalizing gay marriage isn't "just like" not legalizing marriage under chattel slavery (seriously, I can barely write that without making a face), doesn't mean that I don't think that prop 8 doesn't have it's own profound moral significance.


It was fun! Not a lot to tell, I was out on the street, there were many of us, two of "them" and it sounded like the rally itself was having a good ol' time but I had a hard time hearing it. I did see the beginning, where they did some smudging, which was awesome, I could smell the sage all the way at the back. And they did some drumming and then again at the end which was nice. We had two-spirit representatives as a part of that, which was pretty cool to me because it seems like transgender folks have gotten sort of elided in the fight. Overall it felt nice to be out with people, creating collective energy, and there was a LOT of honking for us. Honking from people of all ages AND ethnic backgrounds tyvm.

Oh, the sign I finally decided to go with! I got a poster board that was orange on one side and purple on the other. On the orange side I wrote "'Defending TRADITIONAL Marriage'?? Are you bringing back DOWRIES and MARITAL RAPE too?? No thanks!" On the purple side it said "Obama was AGAINST 8!" \o/ One of my favorite signs said "Don't you want Dumbledore to be happy? Let him marry!" I spent most of the time chatting with the two women standing next to me, one an obvious middle class Cali born white woman like me and the other an immigrant from Kenya who said after talking with her particular community after the voting she found a lot of them didn't really understand what they were voting for and said we really need to go into the community and educate to change that. They were both cool. The only thing that bothered me was this one older man of apparently Asian descent who kept yelling at the guys across the street "religion is the root of all evil!" That made me sad because I don't think it's true. The pronouncement did get me thinking about something I read at The Wild Hunt today though, something I think we forget in all this is that some religions are having THEIR beliefs trampled by other religions in this fight.

Overall though, good times.

*EDIT* I'm sharing pictures through my Tumblr: Rags'n'Bones as I find them!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Colbert - Savage Prop 8

Help Me!

Think of good protest signs!

So far I have:

Traditional Marriage:
Arranged by parents
Dowry/Wife is property
Marital Rape - Legal
Domestic Abuse - Legal
Why Would You Protect This?

Same Sex Couples Don't Threaten My Marriage - Bigotry Does!
other side: Who's Next?

Will My Marriage Be Illegal Next?

If a gay person threatens your marriage
it's because you're sleeping with them!

Christians share their "religious institution" with atheists and pagans why not homosexuals?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Join the Impact - Nationwide Prop 8 Protest Update!

A LOT of new cities have been added in California, I'm going to the imagine the same is true for other states, find out if there is an event close to home!! And if you're going to be in Oakland, come join me at city hall!

8:30AM Hawaii
10:30AM Pacific
11:30AM Mountain
12:30PM Central
1:30PM Eastern

Larry Summers is made of LOSE

Women's groups may have ousted Summers
Thursday November 13, 2008, 8:14 PM

Intense backlash from women’s groups may have pushed former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers off the short-list to lead Treasury for President-elect Barack Obama, according to widespread reports circulating in Democratic circles.

The women’s opposition to a possible Summers’ appointment was the explanation some Democratic sources are hearing for why the Obama transition team has crossed Summers off their list. The Obama team doesn’t want to kick off its administration with a controversy nor go head-to-head with an important constituency when there are other qualified candidates, political operatives speculate.

WE are made of win.

Us and Them

Two years ago when election season began in N. America, the immigration debate had reached a fever pitch. Talk Radio shock jocks blamed immigrants for the decline in U.S. based industries, job loss, and drain on social services. As the primaries began many candidates spoke on immigration and there were even two forums in Spanish to discuss the proposed border wall, immigration reform, and all of the social ills N. Americans had laid at immigrants feet. All of this was done against a back drop of increasing ICE Raids and burgeoning Minute Men recruitment. Both groups were also periodically implicated in racist and/or Klan activity as well as accused of various forms of violence against women. Both had been accountable for immigrant deaths before the election period came to an end at the beginning of this month as well. And yet, the conversation about immigration quickly faded from the national political platform of either candidate with Obama placing his plans on his website and giving brief sound bites about the “back of the line” for illegal immigrants and bilingual education being good for everyone and McCain running targeted ads along the border that continued to scare up fear and loathing similar to the racist and racialized campaign he and Palin ran against Obama himself.

The rhetoric of hate transformed immigrants, particularly Latin@ immigrants, into literal targets of disenfranchised youth, police, civilian and government employed immigration industries and border patrols. As the second election year unfolded, more and more stories of immigrants being killed walking home, walking through parks, or simply walking downtown occurred with alarming increase. So many died at the hands of unrepetant youth that it was hard to keep writing their stories. And while they died at the hands of individuals, states like California worked them to death despite repeated promises that they woud stop.

Amongst the silence of the presidential candidates, the violence of industries and detention centers, the careless disregard of police officers, the racist costumes and door prizes of ICE wrkers, and the constant bombardment of anti-immigrant sentiment on the radio and conservative television and churches, the line between the sanctity of human life and the perceived humanity of immigrants was erased.

In its aftermath, came “beaner hunting,” a “game” played by youth, usually male, and young men in which they gatherin a group and look for an immigrant to beat up. In some border towns, “beaner hunting” has gone high tech with night vision goggles and laser sighted weapons. But usually it mirrors that of gay bashings in that it is carried out by a car load of drunking boys with a bat, a knife, or a “weapon of convenience” like a bottle or a pipe.

Despite the reference to this “game” in multiple hate crime attacks or during interviews in the towns where these crimes have been committed, the leaders of the nation have remained silent. Neither Bush nor Obama have spoken out about the increasing hate crimes and deaths of immigrants nor the documented “trickle down effect” that state sanctioned violence against immigrants is having on youth.

In their silence, another Latino has died.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The Kitchen Table has been putting out great posts but this one especially struck a chord for me today.

I spent valuable time yesterday trying to help ally the fears of someone who truly believes that we are about to enter a socialist era with Barack Obama at the helm. It is very difficult to get someone to see the difference between a socialist society and a capitalist society when that person is hysterically shouting that Obama wants to rob from the rich and give to the poor. I tried to explain that the collective ownership advocated by socialism is a far cry from a taxation system under capitalism that ensures we have functioning highways and schools. But alas, I failed to convince him with sound reasoning. The next time, I'm going for the sledgehammer.

I received an email from a godly woman worried about my immortal soul because I supported a candidate who is firmly pro-choice. I gently reminded her that 8 years under Bush had not overturned Roe v. Wade. I pointed her to the text of the legal decision itself, and also sent her some information about how the particular politicians in her very red state had voted in various challenges to reproductive rights. Finally, I sent her information about what she could do, at the grassroots level, to challenge legal decisions with which she disagreed. She emailed me back to tell me I was going to hell. The next time, I'm going for the sledgehammer.

And to top it off, I had a wonderful conversation with a student this morning who was offended that I had expressed joy, jubilation even, at the election results. Now Melissa, I confess that when I went to class last week after the election, I may have shared how happy I was that hope had triumphed over fear. I may have even been jubilant in triumph, but I was also exhausted and barely comprehensible. And after many years of playing sports, I have learned to be gracious in victory as well as defeat. This student told me that I had not shown enough sensitivity to those who had supported McCain and that my joy was essentially disturbing some raw wounds. I apologized, even as I reminded him that there are very real and very present festering wounds in the country already, particularly for people at the margins. He didn't seem content with my words. The next time, I'm going for the sledgehammer.

So here we are, on the brink of a presidency that will require chisels and scalpels to achieve diplomacy, lasting peace, and economic stability. Unfortunately, most of us are only familiar with the sledgehammer approach: if we don't like a country, we bomb them. If we think someone is guilty of a crime, we throw them in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp without due process. If we don't like what a particular organization has to say, we suppress their right to free speech. When we don't like when women "step out of their place" we create restrictions on their freedoms. When we don't like that charitable organizations are daring to provide sex education and condoms to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic (instead of abstinence only messaging), we yank their funding. After 8 years of cowboy sledgehammer diplomacy, we don't have the tools or the language for subtlety and nuance, and yet those are the very skills that will be necessary for America to grow and change.

Read it ALL

Monday, November 10, 2008

Duanna Johnson

c/o Transgriot

Yah pretty much

Thanks Helen

Join the Impact - Nationwide Prop 8 Protest!

Prop 8 Protest: A Call to the LGBTQ Community, Friends, & Family

I'm sure all would agree that with the election of Barack Obama, this week has been one of amazing wins in the world of equality! Still, Tuesday night was a bitter-sweet celebration. We came together to witness the first black man who will become our president, yet watched in sadness as Florida, Arizona, Arkansas, and California all voted down equal rights for all citizens. Pundits and bloggers alike have put their focus on Proposition 8, trying hard to find an explanation for the anti-gay wins in the face of a huge swell of support for equality elsewhere. Some have blamed the voters, others blame religious groups, and even others blame the LGBTQ community for not being able to mobilize on a larger enough scale. And you know what? There is truth in each argument.

On the steps of your City Hall on November 15th at 10:30am PST / 1:30pm EST, our community WILL take to the streets and speak out against Proposition 8 and all of the other pro-equality losses that we have faced in our lifetimes, in our parents' lifetimes, and for many generations before us. WE CAN'T DO THIS ALONE! WE NEED YOUR HELP! We need organizers in every major city to work with us and get out the protest! I know you're all tired from all of the work you've done for this great election year, but I'm asking for one more push! Let the country hear our voices together. Let them see that we are a strong, adamant, and powerful community that deserves equal rights, and CAN'T BE DEFEATED!

We have one week and must react to the pro-hate votes cast against us! Let's help our LGBTQ friends, families, neighbors, and each other to IMPACT this country with a demand for our basic human rights! Join the cause, join the voice, and JOIN THE IMPACT!
November 15th

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Protecting the Life of Barack Obama

Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 8:23 AM
Subject: Protecting the Life of Barack Obama

To Our Pagan Community,

We have been made aware that a clear and present danger hangs over the head of Sen. Barack Obama. Unfortunately, we still live a country where many are taught to hate and fear others based on nothing more than the hue of their skin. Our community mobilizes all the time to send healing and protection to others, and we hope you will join us in a multi-faith magickal effort to keep Barack Obama--and his family--safe from harm as he transitions into the role of our President.

This is not a campaign to tell you who to vote for. This is about protecting the life of another human being. We live in a society which has been taught to solve its problems with violence and murder. The gravity of this issue was brought to our attention by a Christian man who will be praying to his God, in his way, along with us. We request that the Pagan community, and others who care about life, join us in rituals, spells, and prayers of protection during three separate 24 hour periods:

1) Election night. Sen. Obama will be exposed to danger as he accepts his Presidential role. The majority of assassination attempts worldwide have occurred within thirty minutes of completing a public speech.

2) Yule/Midwinter. For those of us who are Pagan, we know that this is a time of new beginnings, a perfect time to add protection to the man who will be in the White House within the following month. (Our non-Pagan friends may wish to work together at Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Twelfth Night.)

3) Inauguration Day (January 20). Sen. Obama will take the oath of office on the portico of the Capitol Building in front of as many as 250,000+ people. He will then take a car or will walk down Pennsylvania Avenue in his own inaugural parade to the White House. There he and his family will sit outdoors and watch the rest of the parade.

Please use all your networking resources to pass along this request to as many Pagans and Pagan organizations as you can. After that, the momentum will build on its own. Leave no one out! Do not leave out Christians, Jews, or others who may wish to join this effort, assisting us by connecting with the face of the creator they worship. This is not a political issue, it is a value-of-a-single-human-life issue. If the racism situation were reversed, many of us would offer the same lifesaving energy to Sen. McCain.

And, when all this is complete, maybe we should start sending love and healing to those people living in blind hatred who created a need for this sort of mobilization in the first place. With love to all and harm to none,

Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, author and artist
Headmaster, Grey School of Wizardry
Primate, Church of All Worlds

Edain McCoy, author, teacher,
student and Concerned Citizen


Friday, November 07, 2008

IVAW's Open Letter to President Obama

We fervently ask you to use all possible political and diplomatic pressure to quickly and completely end the occupation of Iraq. Though none of us know what the future will bring, we do know this: our service members are tired of an occupation seemingly without end, and they want to return home to their families.

And when our brave men and women return home, they need to be given full benefits, and adequate healthcare (including mental health) to repair their physical and emotional wounds. They deserve no less, and we as a country owe that care to them.

We also call on you not to ignore the humanitarian crises of enormous proportion that the Iraqi people continue to endure. Over four million Iraqis have been displaced or become refugees since the U.S. invasion of their country. Iraqi deaths are most accurately estimated at over 600,000 people, with many hundreds of thousands more having suffered physical and emotional injuries. The Iraqi people will be coping with the aftermath of our unjustifiable invasion and occupation of their country for generations to come. IVAW believes that it is the duty of our country to pay reparations to the Iraqi people for the damage we have caused to their lives, infrastructure, and culture.

We acknowledge the shift in focus from the war in Iraq to the war in Afghanistan. At the same time, Afghan President Karzai is calling for a change in strategy and Afghan families are mourning the deaths of their loved ones who have been killed in U.S. air strikes. We encourage you to listen to the Afghan people and U.S. veterans of that conflict before making any decision to escalate military force there.

Just Stop

Stop blaming Blacks and Latinos and Asians for Prop 8 passing.

WE failed. Those of us working on the campaign. We didn't do a good enough job. Period.

We spent too much time preaching to the white middle class SF and LA choir and not enough knocking on doors outside of our neighborhoods and engaging with people different than us. When the Pro-8 people were knocking on those doors and telling people LIES we weren't there to correct it. It's really pretty fucking simple.

Ad after ad told voters that without Prop 8, their churches would be forced to perform same-sex unions and be stripped of their tax-exempt status; that schools would teach their children to practice homosexuality; and, perhaps most effective, that a smiling Barack Obama had said, "I'm not in favor of gay marriage." This last bit went out in a flier by the Yes on 8 campaign, targeting black households.

What did we do about that? Did we have a flier with Obama's face on it stating that he was strongly opposed to Prop 8 itself?? Or were we over-confident we could win by doing the same old thing?

Andrea Shorter, a black lesbian volunteer for the No on 8 campaign, told me that the outreach to the African-American community began in earnest a week ago. "What's happened is that there's been an outcry from communities of color, including African-American communities, who say, 'Include us!' Now there's a GOTV strategy, but for some it seems last minute," she said in an interview before the election. Another No on 8 activist, Karin Wang, told me at the City Hall rally that when Asian Pacific Islander groups went to buy ads in Chinese and Korean newspapers, they were informed that Yes on 8 had been renting space for weeks.

Learn from this Equality Campaign, learn from it and do better next time. Cuz there will be a next time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes We Did

My joy from last night is pretty well tempered by Prop 8 passing. A bittersweet election for the state of California, but I can't help still feeling good about the Presidency. I cried watching that speech last night.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Astrobarry Takes on the Elections

I have already written about the odd synchronicity of Saturn and Uranus's opposition reaching its first exact peak on Election Day (Tue Nov 4). But this is the merely the first peak among five, spanning a period of influence that extends through the middle of 2011.

In other words, we are still at the beginning of this massive cultural readjustment—and this week's election results will hardly 'resolve' anything. On the contrary, they'll be merely kicking off the impending spectacle… one that's bound to happen regardless of who's elected.

We see further astrological evidence that our collective desires for a quick and fair resolution to the past zillion months of campaigning, to our economic woes and military limbo, aren't likely to be fulfilled any time soon. Venus's current position in Sagittarius would otherwise tempt us toward embracing the notion that 'we are finally getting somewhere'… leaving the seemingly needless mounds of specifying detail and consideration by the wayside, in order to jump ahead to what really matters: hopping on board with whatever results are collectively selected, and getting to the business of rebuilding the country's self-image.

Yet, alas, this Venus in Sagittarius—enthusiastic, passionate about pursuing its philosophic ideals, impatient with the fine print and red tape—is blocked on both sides by dual squares to Saturn and Uranus, essentially preventing her from securing the easy path to justice she craves.

On the one hand, the Venus-Saturn square inhibits the Sagittarian knack for 'getting straight to the point' (whatever that is) by heightening the need for precise considerations of the rules, limits, technicalities and other facts. After all, believing in the importance of something does not free us from the practical realities governing it. On the other hand, meanwhile, the Venus-Uranus square can further incite the contrariness that Sagittarius may experience when it feels events are moving nowhere fast, inspiring some folks to act out without thinking beyond a moment's desire for some action (anything!) that'll bust the perceived standstill. You can imagine, however, the inherent problems with obeying the Uranian urge to upset at all costs… especially so, when pitting it against the Saturnian call to obey the protocol of boundaries.

Venus's present position as T-square apex to these two opposing planetary heavyweights, then, also serves to make the Saturn-Uranus opposition instantly personal to us all. Striking the right balance (as I previously described it) between tightening up (Saturn) and breaking out (Uranus) in different areas in each of our lives is hardly as simple an exercise as Venus in Sagittarius might hope. No matter how swiftly and slickly we might wish to iron out the proverbial wrinkles in this or that arena, we are met with a delicate mix of items to hold firm on and items to let go of… while understanding which is which, without favoring one category too excessively over the other, is a task that takes both time and concentration.

Read it all!


The Sacred Dead

Looks like my grandmother and Obama's will be rooting for him together in the afterlife.

My thoughts are with her and the family she leaves behind, and I'm glad he got to see her last week.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Feliz Dia de los Muertos

Para mi abuela Glo.

I wish I could show you a picture of my altar, but I can't find the cord that connects my camera to my computer for upload. Needless to say I have been burning incense every night for the last three nights and have a small food offering in my goddess bowl/incense holder pictured here. Also pictured are my smudging wands, two rune stones my husband and I received at my first public Samhain and the bowl of crystals and stones which our wedding guests held and infused with well wishes during our ceremony.

Each corner is dedicated to the Element roughly coordinated to the direction they inhabit, and at the back I have a white goddess candle with an essential oil blend for Spirit and a black god candle with a blend for Protection, as well as a green and gold mask my husband bought me for our anniversary. On the front but out of the picture I have a small gold plated tree of life with my birthstone dotted in the branches (peridot), and a small silver box inherited de mi abuela which contains a cross she got from her grandmother I believe, a rose petal from her passing on ceremony and a small angel with a peridot on her (also grandma's birthstone). I also have in the middle, stone sun and a moon which I inherited from her and a wood rosary I got when we met her brother in Mexico.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Wake the Dead

I read this incredible piece and just had to share it!

It's a time of straddling and blurring lines, of the constant presence of mortality. Fertility crosses into decay, and we gather a harvest, of sunlight, of sustenance, of memory. Identity blurs and stretches and we take our false faces on and off, swirled all around by falling leaves made remarkable as they flash sunset colors in their dying moments. We take stock of a summer and autumn gasping their last and prepare for the season of cold and dark and deprivation, unpacking the quilts and sweaters in the top of the closet, drawing thick curtains, looking inward. We take a long, lonesome stairway down into the anterooms of the Land of the Dead, lighting lanterns, wary of whispering spirits long ignored. Some of us erect altars to those we've lost, offering them some of the food and memories we've gathered, celebrating them in steady flames and bright colors against the increasing outdoor gray.

There's a magic to it, here as the curtains go down on the twilit remains of the day. Looking over what's ripe and what's rotten, we take in what will keep us warm and full as best we can. We look back because looking back is a necessary step in going forward. Without that harvest, we will never leave the time of masks, the place of skulls. We will never be able to move through the hallways of the living until we look at what is dying, what is dead. Without this pause at the moment of gathering darkness, when we gather our own close to us, we remain forever in that place of whispers and illusions.
There is plenty in this hour of the dead to appreciate, plenty to live for. We can put on faces that are often truer than the ones we had before, even in their transparency, be other than what we were, explode into behavior we would never feel free to enact in the sunlight. We can embrace mystery, letting shadows and bright decoration go dancing arm-in-arm. Nonetheless, it's simply not human to live forever in the liminal. It's not a place: it's the blurred line between here and there, now and then, alive and dead.

There's only one sort of creature who can live long in that borderland. Monsters are alive and well here, half-obscured, given their only chance to roam the streets unmolested. This hour of the dead is the only time we welcome monsters into our homes and neighborhoods. For once, they're celebrated, and their uncanny presence causes forbidden thrills.
It's the end of the evening, the moment of the dead, when the lines between worlds grow blurry. And monsters run free.
In order to move on into the night, we have to look them in the eye. We have to hold our monsters close. We have to acknowledge our dead. We have to look back.

There's an old story you've probably heard, but let's look back at it. Once upon a time, a God made a new being, split it into halves, and called them Lilith and Adam. That God insisted that they follow an order: that, though equals made of the same substance, one submit beneath the other. And she refused. The dialogue is simple:
"But I made you. Do what I say."
And she refused to participate in a system that marked her as less, and moved away to another place, there to couple in unthinkable ways with forbidden partners, there to set up her own way of being, there to become a mother of monsters. But there was a price, because that God had already replaced her with a newer, less proud woman, there to be a mother, too. And all Lilith's children would be taking a world they were not promised from Eve's children, you see, by simply living. The monsters would be taking human land and human food and human work away. They would suck the very blood from human infants. Teeming and multitudinous, they could not be trusted simply to thrive harmlessly, and so they were condemned. The children of the outside, of the otherworld, of pride and wrong attractions and unacceptable sex, the children part this and part that, were condemned to death. No matter how many came to this world each day, hundreds of Lilith's monster children were condemned to die daily so that the children of Eve, the planned children, the race that behaved and stayed in the lines, could thrive instead. And their mother, the defiant first woman , was doomed to an infinite and never-ending bereavement, screeching cold vengeance in the wilderness.

Generations have heard this story told as a warning, that the Mother of Monsters and her children were out there to take anyone who stepped outside the lines, outside the city, outside the rules. This is their time, the place of outsiders and border-riders, the hour of the dead. The monsters have their dead, too, after all. They loom close at our shoulders in this one moment of the year we invite them in. Some of us, given that warning as we stand on the brink of the dark, look out on our history and our dead, and we recognize that when we are systematically stamped out for competing with real people, when we are pushed out and starved and hunted for living unavoidably outside those lines, when our place at the blurring between here and there, us and them, merits a death sentence over and over...maybe we didn't have the mother we thought we did. Maybe we were simply listening to an unreliable authority who told us we belonged underneath, and needlessly complied. Maybe when the Mother of Monsters comes to breathe down our necks, the right response is take me.

It's time to look back. It's time to embrace the monster as a lineage of the defiant oppressed made powerful, suffering heavy losses but never, ever backing down.
It's time to remember our dead. And it's long past time to refuse their place, and our place, underneath. The authority that condemns us to die for our defiance of rules we never made is not an authority worth listening to, and we do not honor those who fell before us by rolling over below our so-called betters and taking it.
Once a year, the dead rise from below and speak. We ought to learn from their example.