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Links for the New Year

Hey you all! Hope those who celebrated holidays in the last few months enjoyed it, and those who didn’t had some good days!

Lots of stuff has been going on in the world, I see. Lets have a closer look, shall we?

Al Jazeera English has the most complete coverage on the Uprising in Tunisia that I have seen Go thou and learn. And in case you have no idea where and what Tunisia is…Wikipedia is a good starting resource.

Another Food Price Shock is in the pipeline:

Latest Food Crisis Brewing for Months

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 10, 2011 (IPS) – The United Nations, which is trying to reach out to nearly a billion undernourished people, some living in perpetual hunger, is anticipating another food crisis later this year.

And the signs of impending trouble have been there for some time.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned last week that world market prices for rice, wheat, sugar, barley and meat will remain high or register significant rises in 2011 – perhaps replicating the crisis of 2007-2008. MORE

And its not always a matter of producing food. Its a matter of distribution.

Worldwatch report highlights how lopsided discussion is about Africa, food, and biotechnology

Via jhameia we have The Pursuit of Harpyness ruminating on: The Pressure of being expected to know: Reflections on sexual fluidity

The thing is – as a culture, we’re suspicious of people whose sexual attractions and identities appear to change over time, crossing gender boundaries or causing them to adopt new language to speak about themselves. There is pressure to interpret the past in light of the present — and with a strong heteronormative bent — so that women who have been in same-sex relationships but are currently partnered with men often experience the loss of lesbian fellowship and find that their families and friends are eager to understand their previous partnerships as a “phase” or “experimentation” that they have since “gotten over.”

Women who shift from straight relationships to same-sex relationships, conversely, are often expected to interpret that shift as a “coming out” experience in which they discover, acknowledge, or embrace an aspect of their sexual identity (or a more authentic identity) that has previously been kept a hidden, shameful and secret. This has, indeed, often been the case, historically, and continues to be today as people wrestle with internalized homophobia and social contexts in which being openly non-straight is hazardous to one’s health.

The problem is not with what actually happens in women’s lives. Rather, the problem lies in how those experiences get explained through the lens of our understanding about how human sexuality works: i.e., that who we are attracted to (particularly the gender of the people whom we desire) is not only fixed but knowable. And that it fits within the context of the gender binary: one is either attracted to “men” to “women” or to both women and men. And from the time you are aware of your sexual yearnings, you know which category you now and forever fit into.MORE

Abortion & Sons Of Anarchy

Reflecting On MTVs ‘No Easy Decision’

This one is was posted in the middle of last year but I only recently stumbled on it.Tour Diary Day Four: Rock and Roll is Dead by Amy, who is: 1. guitarist and violinist of rock band Titus Andronicus. .2. singing her own psych-folk songs under the name Solanin. 3. in a two-girl noisy rock band called hilly eye with my friend Catherine. 4. blogs about all this and more.

Inside the truck stop, it smells like old hot dogs and gasoline. The guys browse the contents of the tiny magazine rack, which seems to be mostly made up of porn. I see them poring over the cover of a magazine with a naked woman on it, and look away, instinctively feeling that this is not my scene. However, my curiosity gets the better of me, and I walk closer to see what’s going on. My suspicions are confirmed: There’s a naked woman on the cover. But it turns out that I’m wrong in assuming the guys are looking at porn, because the magazine is Rolling Stone.

After the guys have gone back to the van, I peruse the pages of the latest edition. I see a lot of photos of guys playing guitars, and ads for guys who play guitar featuring other guys playing guitars, and a photo of Lady Gaga wearing pasties and not much else. I begin to feel increasingly alienated by this magazine. Once again, I’ve got a suspicion that’s rooted in the back of my mind—that the issue will not contain a single image of a woman holding an instrument of any kind. Perversely, I want to see if I’m correct. The sensation of knowing what I will find is already sad. It’s like discovering a letter in which the guy you’re crushing on declares his love for some other woman, and still, inevitably, reading the whole thing down to the last painful line.

Of course, Rolling Stone contains only one image of a “token” woman holding an instrument. It’s Taylor Swift, dressed in a diamond studded ball gown, holding a matching silver diamond acoustic guitar. Good for her! As America’s large-scale concert industry pretty much collapses around her feet, she’s single-handedly (okay, alongside Justin Bieber) holding down the fort. Other than Taylor, the closest thing I can find to a woman with an instrument in Rolling Stone is a tiny photo of Cat Power holding a microphone at Lilith Fair, the image wedged into a short write-up way at the bottom of the page. There is also a photo of two women in their late thirties or forties called the Wilson Sisters, one of whom is holding something that looks like the neck of a guitar down below her waist. The guitar itself has been cut out of the photo. Besides them, and Lady Gaga, and the naked, airbrushed star of True Blood on the cover, who incidentally, is pictured with a guy grabbing her boob, I can’t find any other women in the whole magazine. This means that Taylor Swift, Cat Power, and the Wilson Sisters are not only the only women that Rolling Stone depicts as musicians, but also the only women that Rolling Stone depicts as wearing clothes.MORE

Report: People in South TX and and Central LA are really really stoopid

Portfolio released a report in early December that ranked the “least brainy” cities in America. The cities are listed below; I added some demographics information because Portfolio conveniently left it out.

  1. Merced, CA [26.4% Latin@, 12.4% Asian (mostly Hmong)]
  2. McAllen-Edinburg, TX  [88% Latin@]
  3. Brownsville, TX [91% Latin@]
  4. Visalia, CA [40.6% Latin@]
  5. Bakersfield, CA [32.5% Latin@, 9.2% Black]
  6. Yakima, WA [33.7% Latin@, 21.97% “other races”]
  7. Laredo, TX [94.9% Latin@]
  8. Hickory, NC  [14.09% Black, 7.69% Latin@]
  9. Fort Smith, AR [at least 10% Latin@, 8.65% Black]
  10. Modesto, CA [50.8% Latin@]

Well well well…ain’t that a brown list?


According to Portfoliothis is the criteria they used to determine where all the dummies are:

  • Dropped out before high-school graduation (median of $19,405; 0.58 points)
  • Stopped at high-school diploma (median of $26,894; 0.80 points)
  • Stopped at associate degree or attended college, but stopped without any degree (median of $32,874; 0.98 points)
  • Stopped at bachelor’s degree (median of $46,805; 1.40 points)
  • Earned graduate and/or professional degree (median of $61,287; 1.83 points)

Okay. As someone who lives/works in the McAllen-Edinburg area, has a graduate degree (point #5), earns less than the median income of point #1, and teaches people trying to get to point #3–fuck knows where I fall into Portfolio‘s smartypants ranking system–I just wanted to say that this “report” really, really pisses me off.

All of the Texas areas mentioned are on the US-Mexico border.  All of them are poor. Last year, Forbes ranked McAllen-Edinburg and Harlingen-Brownsville as the#1 and #2 poorest areas in the nation, respectively.MORE

No Pleasure in the Ghetto

This morning I woke up to a local housing project’s message about canceling a workshop on safer sex. The reason? No funding for outside presenters.
Welcome to the most frustrating injustice in sex education: information access and restricted conversations.
There is a sharp contrast between sex education for the socially privileged and sex education for the socially disadvantaged. In my time as a sex educator, I’ve worked with a broad range of populations and anytime I work with minorities, youth or poor people, the only things the organizations want me to talk about are STIs and condoms.
No pleasure. No agency. No risk reduction. Simply: “STIs will mess you up, use a condom or suffer the consequences.” Meanwhile, sororities and universities urge me to broach these topics.
“Sex Toys!”, they say.
“Masturbation!,” they laud.
“Sex positivity and empowerment!,” says the choir.
And they should encourage these conversations. I think everyone can benefit from a little sexual attitude reflexivity. But not everyone is benefiting from this, mostly because of social injustices.MORE

Filipina Feminists: Firebrands and Freedom Fighters

But the country’s unsavory reputation as a one-stop sex shop for lecherous American and European men belies a robust, militant women’s movement and a centuries-old precedent of gender equality.

With that in mind, two women legislators from the GABRIELA Women’s Party are pushing for the creation of a national museum honoring “the heroism, martyrdom and achievements of Filipinas in society.”

Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus are hoping to recognize the achievements of notable women in Philippine history such as Gabriela Silang, a 17th-century revolutionary who led 2,000 Filipinos in battle against the Spanish army, as well as recognizing historic feminist organizations such the Association of Ilonga Feminists, which began fighting for suffrage in 1912.

The museum would be the first of its kind, and an important step in recognizing the oft-forgotten contributions and struggles of women in Philippine society. The nation certainly has no shortage of feminist firebrands and freedom fighters, and today Filipinas continue to fortify the front lines of the country’s most pivotal social justice movements.MORE

Is polygamy inherently bad for women?

Texan builds artful, green homes out of trash

Worldwatch report highlights how lopsided discussion is about Africa, food, and biotechnology

Brutish Male Sexuality Myths Part 1

Brutish Male Sexuality Part 2

Malika’s Indian Trangender Blog

The Bible Belt MisEducation of Pregnant Teens

Women in Combat: The Next Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

Marsha Ambrosius Talks About Homophobia and “Far Away” to R20

Your first look at the cover art for Late Nights & Early Mornings, the much-anticipated first solo album from British soul singer and songwriter Marsha Ambrosius. The Liverpool-born artist was formerly one-half of Floetry, the English neo-soul duo which had hits with “Floetic” and “Say Yes” on both sides of the pond.

ROD 2.0: The boys are loving you for the “Far Away” video. For the first video on your solo album, you could have done the usual, bling, fancy house, hot guy. Why this?

2011_01_12_ambrosius3MARSHA AMBROSIUS: Thank you so much. One of my very good friends was going through something with his life and his relationship. I just wanted to be a good friend. It was hard to see them go through this with their lives and when they attempted suicide … it was one of the worst things possible. As far as the concept for the video, I just wanted to make it as pure and loving as possible.MORE

WARNING: Homophobia and suicide themes.

Marsha Ambrosius – Far Away

WATCH: Marsha Ambrosius Debuts “Far Away” Video on ‘106 & Park’

BET’s 106 & Park devoted its entire Thursday episode to the issue of teen bullying. British soul phenom Marsha Ambrosius was one of the guests and brought some visibility to LGBT concerns by premiering her fantastic new video for “Far Away.”  The beautiful ballad—preview and download at iTunes—is backed by an’amazing music video that presents two Black gay men in love, and explores homophobia in the black community,  gay-bashing and LGBT youth suicide.  The video has gone viral and has created major buzz.MORE

What does middle class even mean?

The phrase ‘middle class’ gets thrown around a lot, whether we’re looking at articles about the vanishing middle class, conservatives invoking the middle class as justification for some new line of fuckery, or liberals poking at the pedestrian middle class existence. It’s a word that has become so elastic that it almost seems to be without any meaning at all, as I discovered recently when I sat down to try and define it, and challenged others to join me in coming up with a clear picture of what ‘middle class’ is and what it means to be middle class. MORE

Remembering MLK: The Things We’ve Forgotten Would Guide Us

First of all, King was a radical. Not the venomous kind that promotes reckless violence against innocent people; quite the opposite. King was a radical in his criticism of the root causes of injustice, and in his brilliantly imaginative vision of a different, more just and humane world. For example, King did not just urge protesters to be non-violent, he urged politicians and governments to be non-violent. In 1968 he took a brave stance against the war in Vietnam, in a speech in New York City’s Riverside Church, that cost him some of his liberal supporters. He criticized the injustices of capitalism: persistent poverty, inadequate aid to workers and the poor, and growing wealth disparity. Let us remember he died demanding not simply integration, but labor rights for striking sanitation workers in Memphis.

Secondly, King was not a king. He was not a superhero who rushed in to singularly rescue black people from the evils of American racism. He acted in concert with others, many others, some of them with longer careers in social justice struggles than himself. There is a famous analogy in King’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, one he used many times, in which he compares his work to that of a pilot guiding a plane. The pilot is important, King concedes. However, that safe journey could not be achieved without the sometimes invisible work of a very skilled and committed ground crew. I might chose a slightly different analogy, but the point is an important one. As Ella Baker was fond of saying, “King didn’t make the movement, the movement made King.”

King understood this. We cannot build a movement for social justice by hanging our hopes on a single charismatic leader, no matter how articulate, committed, and brilliant he or she may be (not King and not Obama).

Individuals change their minds, and their loyalties. They get assassinated. Most fundamentally, individuals are only as strong as the collectives and communities that surround them, that keep them safe and honest and grounded and accountable. So, celebrations of King have to go hand in hand with celebrations of the maids and porters students and teachers who struggle tirelessly in what we now term the civil rights movement.MORE