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“Azealia Banks’ career allegedly hangs in the balance and Perez Hilton’s remains firmly intact. She’s now regarded as the ratchet, violently homophobic black woman. …This isn’t two wrongs make a right, but rather, one wrong is minimized, and the other, pathologized.”

BOOM.

The Crunk Feminist Collective

Guest Post by Edward Ndopu

Recently, the media has exploded with news of a Twitter battle between rapper Azealia Banks and gossip blogger Perez Hilton. After Hilton inserted himself in an altercation between Banks and fellow female rapper Angel Haze, taking Haze’s side, Banks denounced him as a “messy faggot”. She then went on to say that she used the word to describe “any male who acts like a female”. Rumours have since abounded that Banks is being dropped from her record label as a result of her speaking out against Hilton. Rather than taking sides, I believe it is most important for us to examine the context within which this media escalation has happened. Instead of writing off Azealia Banks, herself a queer woman, as homophobic, we should instead be exploring the femmephobia and racialized sexism at play in the public’s response to this debacle.

The public spat between…

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I’ve been thinking about Y2K a lot lately. Thank goodness that we made it through 2000, so that we could greet 2011. In just one more year it very well might be the end of the world… drink up!  I made three liters of mulled wine a few weeks ago to store for the upcoming 2012 apocalypse. So, cheers to a good year ahead!

On that note, for the past month I’ve retreated from my work in order to play. Now that it’s January, I figure I should wrap up vacation in a few bullet points:

  • A new word:

Eidolon– In ancient Greek thought, which has influenced modern literature and Theosophy, an eidolon (Greek εἴδωλον: “image, idol, double, apparition, phantom, ghost”) is a spirit-image of a living or dead person; a shade or phantom look-alike of the human form. If of a dead person, the phantom can appear under certain conditions to survivors of the deceased.

  • Three of my best friends and I started a production company called the Lipschtick Collective. We have a website, but don’t look! There’s nothing on it yet.
  • A bunch of us (Julia, Becky, Gelly, Marcella and I) took a bus for $16 to New York. It was cute, everyone fell asleep at the same time and woke up at the same time. On the ride back this loud Bostonian woman woke the entire bus while talking on the effing phone. Embarrassing for her, annoying for those that were asleep, and entertaining for me:

You have to understand, my father only wants to feed his chickens. My mother wants to be alone, my father wants to be alone. It’s a compulsion. He’ll take his money and spend it all on his chickens before his kids. Duh!

  • I have only two resolutions for the next year: “To think and produce work more often” and to wear glitter as often as possible. The first I wrote when I was less than sober.
  • This Mary Oliver poem:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

  • Watched a truckload of movies. Black Swan, which is pretty damn predictable. Who knew violence against women could be so sexy?! Everyone. Everyone knows, Darren. Your movie is poop. But then I saw Nora’s Will which is a cute little film about an older Mexican Jewish couple and their family. The wife commits suicide and her bitter “ex” husband has to pick up the very neat mess she left for him. It was a touching film, really. And then I saw Sex and the City 2 because I hate myself. I wonder which film is worse for women, Black Swan or Sex and the City 2. It’s a toss-up for me. If sexual violence, eating disorders, suicide and exploitative lesbian sex scenes don’t trigger you, then maybe Islamophobia, classism and racism will! When having to choose between the two, I choose neither.
  • Melissa Harris-Perry on Rachel Maddow talking about the DADT repeal. I know it’s a little after the fact, but it’s worth your time if you haven’t seen it.
  • I went to a Gogol Bordello concert. My friends and I hung out near the middle of the crowd, bouncing off each other and jumping into the air the whole time. We were on the outskirts of the mosh pit.  Every time someone bent over to tie their shoes, crowd members circled around to protect whoever it was from being trampled. And Eugene was in full swing with his big bottle of red wine and 100% kicks-ass mustache. After the second encore he yelled to the audience, “We are here to party, after alllll!!!!!!” and he started singing and strumming again.

Anyway, you’re all perfect and don’t you forget it over the next twelve months!

Some recent happenings:

  1. “Temple Beth Avodah, a Reform Jewish synagogue in Newton, has abruptly canceled an event with the president of J Street, a lobbying group that supports liberal positions on Israel, because of vociferous objections from some members of the congregation about J Street’s politics.”
  2. The ADL has posted a top ten “anti-Israel” groups list. Among the names, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.
  3. Some members of Netanyahu’s audience respond violently to young Jewish protesters during Jewish Federation General Assembly in New Orleans two weeks ago. A barometer:

So it seems pretty timely that for the past few weeks I’ve been planning an event with a friend at Hampshire titled “What’s so wrong with Zionism??” We have not received any institutional endorsement for this event, but it is not for our lack of trying. We have been in conversation with two different offices on campus, both of which have been too concerned with the “structure” of the event to offer outward support. Here’s our description——>

An Open Discussion on Zionism from Jewish anti-Zionist Perspectives

Want to participate in a candid discussion about Zionism, its history and the baggage that comes with this conversation?

Two students… are facilitating a conversation about Zionism- what it has meant historically and what it means today for Israel, for Palestinians, and for each of us.

We will be giving a presentation on Zionism from an anti-Zionist perspective and then opening up the space for honest discussion about these viewpoints and where we all come from.

We would really love to have a diverse array of voices and perspectives so please come even if you are hesitant about it- we welcome anyone that feels they have a stake in this conversation.

This event is intended for Jewish students to have a specific conversation about how Jews understand and feel about Zionism, so please come with that in mind.”

Our intention with this event is to provide a space for Jews to have a critical discussion about Zionist politics. A space which, judging from recent events, is hard to come by. In the process of organizing for monday, I have wondered about whether we can truly create a “safe space” for this discussion. While it is certainly something to strive for, I’m inclined to say that if we are intending to have an “open” discussion, then the nature of these issues are too personal to make each one of us feel entirely safe. Perhaps this is why so often these conversations fail to happen. But we are trying! Monday will be the first of what I hope are several productive discussions between Jews on campus about the many meanings of Zionism.

So, many thoughts have been stirring in my mind lately about antisemitism, Zionism and the role of dissent. I’ve been book jumping quite a lot, and happened upon a  James Baldwin lecture from 1983 on “Blacks and Jews.” Baldwin was speaking in response to the media storm that followed an antisemitic remark Jesse Jackson had made during his campaign for office. Baldwin had begun to talk about why suspicion and bitterness had developed between Jewish and Black communities in the U.S., and his personal experience of seeing what were once far left thinkers turn to neoconservatism in their olllld ageeee. Read away:

“But these are people [the Jews] from whom I did expect something at one time in my life. And I thought they were better than that. I thought that they knew more than that. I thought that they could be clearer than that. What is behind it, in another way, has to do with something else– something else which no one ever wishes to discuss. And that is the actual role in the Middle East of the state of Israel.Whenever Israel is mentioned one is required, it appears sometimes to me, to maintain a kind of pious silence. Well, why? It is a state like other states. It has come into existence in a peculiar way. But it does not, does not, become a state because people who wrote the Balfour Declaration, or Winston Churchill, or for that matter anyone in Europe, or in the Western world, really cared what happened to the Jews. I wish I could say differently, but I would be lying if I did– it came into existence as a means of protecting Western interests at the gate of the Middle East. The British promised land back and forth, depending on which horse would be in the lead, to the Arabs and to the Jews. The English… have a policy which they are experts at, and the policy is called ‘divide and rule.’ Sometimes I think the British may be the authors of twentieth-century racism. They certainly codified it. In any case, in order to be a Zionist, it is not necessary to love the Jews… And to be a Jew is not necessarily to be a Zionist.” (Kenan, 141-142)

I practically jumped out of my seat after reading “in order to be a Zionist, it is not necessary to love the Jews.” It’s true, on many different levels. Especially considering the tendency to equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. HELLO Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL! Amira Hass was at Hampshire just a few weeks ago and, to paraphrase, said something about how American governmental “support” for Israel is really just the “assisted suicide” of the Jewish people. What do you have to say about THAT Foxman? But anyway, this “divide and rule” bit that Baldwin is talking about is particularly useful, especially when thinking about what it means to be in solidarity with the Palestinians.

On yet another separated but related note: does anyone from the greater Boston area remember when Noam Chomsky came to speak at Newton South High School?

By Rachel Lebeaux/Staff Writer
Posted Apr 04, 2007 @ 12:00 AM
Newton — A student group’s decision to invite linguist and MIT professor Noam Chomsky to speak at Newton South High School about the Iraq war next week has touched off a heated debate on freedom of speech as it relates to Chomsky’s controversial political views.

School officials, however, are sticking to and justifying their decision to allow Chomsky to speak to the South community, with Principal Brian Salzer saying that the most important factor is that the talk be “educationally valuable” for students.

Newton South’s Social Awareness Club invited Chomsky to discuss his thoughts in a talk called “A Unique Perspective of U.S. Foreign Policy: Finding Peace in Iraq.” The invitation was made and accepted two weeks ago.

Chomsky will speak April 11 at 11 a.m. in the Seasholes Auditorium at South, during a lunch block. Attendance is voluntary.

Despite his Jewish heritage, Chomsky has been accused of anti-Semitism based on his views of Israel and, in 1979, his stated support for Robert Faurisson’s right to express his views. Faurisson wrote a number of articles and letters to French newspapers in which he described the Holocaust as a hoax, denied the existence of gas chambers and questioned whether there had been a systematic killing of European Jews.

Resident Jim Epstein said that he approached Mayor David Cohen to express his concerns about Chomsky’s impending appearance at a school “with a large percentage of Jewish students,” but Cohen would not intercede.

“I don’t agree with Mayor Cohen that it’s a matter of ‘freedom of speech,’” Epstein said. “Just because statements are protected under ‘freedom of speech’ does not mean that schools don’t have discretion to determine what should be presented there.”

Epstein said he believes the Newton Public Schools are in fact liable for not exercising their discretion, whether or not Chomsky is determined to have propagated “hate speech” in the past.

The question, Epstein said, is whether the city wants to have public schools providing such a forum to its students.

“This is ‘cultural relativism’ run amok,” Epstein said.

South parent and TAB columnist Tom Mountain also expressed disgust over the invitation to Chomsky in a column in this week’s TAB, in which he writes, “The volume of information indicting Noam Chomsky is so acute it leaves one to gasp in astonishment that any intelligent, responsible educator would invite him to address an auditorium of high school students.”

School Committee Chairwoman Dori Zaleznik said her committee would not step in either to stop the speech.

“The School Committee supports the right of a student group to invite a speaker to Newton South for a lecture,” Zaleznik wrote in response to questions from Mountain. “We trust the very intelligent and capable students at Newton South to listen to a point of view, question what they hear and form their own opinions.”

In a column to the TAB, South Principal Brian Salzer said he asked himself many questions in arriving at his decision, including whether to accept a speaker with an opposing and possibly inflammatory viewpoint; whether students would be unfairly or unreasonable influenced by the speaker; and whether he’d listened with an open mind to those opposing the presentation.

“With every difficult decision, there is a political price to pay and political capital to earn,” Salzer wrote. “It is my hope that whether you agree or disagree with the decision, you will respect the process I used to make it.”

Salzer said he expected students to “bring thoughtful questions, healthy skepticism, remarkable academic preparedness and the values their parents have instilled in them to listen to a philosopher, academician, linguist and informed scholar.”

Seating in the auditorium will be reserved for South students and staff only. Parents of current students are invited to view the lecture from another classroom area with a live broadcast of the presentation.”

I remember that the event was moved out of the main auditorium to the smaller lecture hall for fear of, well, I’m not quite sure…a RIOT? At any rate, I (along with most other students) didn’t get to see the lecture because the administrators guarding the door outside the event said that there was no space. Well now, isn’t that the problem?

Check it out!  Today was the Laique Pride March from Ain El Mraisse to the Parliament.

Read about it –>

“SECULAR WALK TOWARDS CITIZENSHIP

We are Lebanese citizens seeking to live in dignity, exercise our rights and duties with equality when dealing with co-citizens.

Empowered by rights, public and private liberties granted to us by the Lebanese Constitution, we demand:
– non intervention of religious institutions in state affairs as much as the non intervention of the state in citizens’ freedom of worship;
– independence of people’s representatives from any allegiance to religious leaders and the sectarian system;
– laws respecting human rights and absolute equality between women and men;
– a Lebanese civil code for personal status;
– reinforcement of public education to promote citizenship values among coming generations;
– securing equal opportunities in employment in the public sector based on qualifications rather than religion, race or gender;
– an independent judiciary in charge of protecting citizens’ rights in an attempt to circumvent the unhealthy predominant social habit of resorting to the power of kin-groups for backing.

On 25 April 2010, we will march for the first time for a ‘Secular Lebanon’. Let us prove our force on the ground and give a face to our demands.

During the march, the only flag raised will be the Lebanese flag.”

READ MORE
——–> BBC <———-
————–> CNN <—————-
———-> Nadine Moawad<———–
————-> Lebanese Laique Pride Blog <————

I-VOICE in studio, photo taken by Taylor Pichette and Dylan Collins

We just finished making a music video for the Palestinian hip hop group I-VOICE, one of the artists at eka3,  check it out on youtube by clicking here!

Photo by Taylor Pichette and Dylan Collins

More from I-VOICE:

http://ivoice.jeeran.com/

http://www.myspace.com/theivoicee

and soon:
http://www.i-voiceonline.com