State of Israel Devises Ethnic Cleansing of Ethiopian Jews and Palestinians

Ayelet Shaked is a parliament member and lawmaker in Israel, the settler state built on Palestinian land, who remarked that all Palestinian mothers “have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists,” appearing unaware that her agenda and occupation of Palestinian land breeds the “terrorists” intent on re-securing their homes and human rights. Although Shaked supposedly represents only the politically far-right of Israel, the rest of the occupying state actualizes her vision, as more than 425 Palestinian citizens have been killed and over 3,000 are injured. At least 100 of these are “terrorist” children.

At Shifa Hospital, a girl who looked about 9 was brought into the emergency room and laid on a gurney, blood soaking the shoulder of her shirt. Motionless and barely alive, she stared at the ceiling, her mouth open. There was no relative with her to give her name. The medical staff stood quietly around her. Every now and then, they checked her vital signs, until it was time. They covered her with a white sheet, and she was gone. A few moments later, a new patient lay on the gurney.

On the side of the occupiers, 18 soldiers are killed, and 2 citizens.

Basically sums up your author's position.
Basically sums up your author’s position.

The tactics of the occupiers to target women to prevent the birth of children are unsurprising, given both the widespread implementation of ethnic cleansing throughout the history of any illegal occupation as well as Israel’s obsession of producing a nation of non-black Jewish citizens in order to maintain the majority. Not only have Bedouin women been aware for decades of the shifty atmosphere,

But the hospital also inspires troubling rumors, the most alarming of which involves a general distrust of Caesarean sections owing to fears of un-consented sterilization. Other rumors suggest that hospitals “use Bedouin women’s placentas for all kinds of experiments and even sell them.”

but these “rumors” are supported as Israeli officials admit that Ethiopian Jewish immigrants are forcibly sterilized. The immigrants themselves have verified this claim.

“They told me if you don’t take the shot, we won’t give you a ticket, so I took the shot, but I didn’t know that it would prevent pregnancies. I didn’t know,” one woman told RT correspondent Paula Slier.

The vaccination, Depo-Provera, forcibly sterilized 13,000 impoverished women, half of whom were black, in the U.S. state of Georgia as a cruel human experiment during which several of the women were unaware that their bodies were being used for immoral scientific advancement. A great many of them died. Consequently, white women were provided with safe methods of birth control.

The same injection has been forcibly used for several years on Ethiopian women in the settler state, a strategic method to curb a population it views as inferior. Forced sterilization, under the guise of “birth control” campaigns, has been paraded by several United States organizations (as well as employed in US-backed Israel) throughout non-white countries, carried out by even reputably benevolent organizations, such as the Peace Corps. As Frances M. Beal writes in “Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female,” “[…]what the authorities in charge of these programs refer to as “birth control” is in fact nothing but a method of outright surgical genocide.[…] Under these circumstances, it is understandable why certain countries view the Peace Corps not as a benevolent project, not as evidence of America’s concern for underdeveloped areas, but rather as a threat to their very existence. This program could more aptly be named the Death Corps.” In the United States, Beal notes, “Threatened with the cut-off of relief funds, some Black welfare women have been forced to accept this sterilization procedure in exchange for a continuation of welfare benefits.”

Following suite after its unrelenting sponsor the United States, the Israeli settlers of Palestine have denied Ethiopian Jewish women relief (apparently you’re not promised the Promised Land by God if you’re black?) unless they accept a vaccine that will sterilize them. In traditional Judaism, sterilization is illegal.

Imitating the Appearances of People of Color

I’ve been thinking about appropriation–not just cultural appropriation, but of a variation of appropriation that is equally if not just a little more sinister: the appropriation of appearance. This is something that is bodily, involves policing the autonomy itself of women of color, and results in valuing the woman wearing the imitation more than the woman whose body inspired it.

There is, in other words, a kind of appropriation that is merged with white supremacist ideals of beauty, and how, in order to remain the standard, these ideals have relied heavily on disparaging physical features of people of color that are otherwise “objectively” attractive. For example, the first thing that comes to mind are caricatures of black women’s/men’s lips as drawn by racist white artists. Because these lips are stereotyped to be fuller, they’ve been exaggerated in political and cultural cartoons/”art” to ridicule the entire black race.

But fuller lips are more appealing. And as a feature, they are not just appealing on women; they’re equally as appealing on men. I would even be so brazen as to argue that people who are attracted to men tend to prefer full lips on men–if not for the aesthetic, for the sensation. It’s bizarre then that this was one of the features chosen to be mocked. To be a little more impudent, I would go so far as to allege that it’s jealousy.

There’s historical evidence for this being a petulant act of jealousy. The hair of women of color, which tends to be thicker, more voluminous & abundant, and has the ability to hold a variety of styles with less effort, is constantly under attack as “frizzy”, “unkempt,” and altogether “unprofessional.” Consequently women of color are compelled to change our hair, sometimes at devastating (financial and personal) costs. And because most salons charge extra (typically an extra $10) to the list of provided services for women with “more hair,” not measured only in length but thickness (read: mostly just women of color) we’re not just driven to appeal to white standards of beauty but simultaneously discouraged from “raising our statuses” with these additional costs. But as Cassandre explains, black women were banned in the 1800s from showing their hair in public–not because it was unsightly but because it was too attractive:

Apparently, women of color were wearing their hair in such fabulous ways, adding jewels and feathers to their high hairdos and walking around with such beauty and pride that it was obscuring their status. This was very threatening to the social stability (read: white population) of the area at the time. The law was meant to distinguish women of color from their white counterparts and to minimize their beauty.

While women of color are discouraged from wearing their hair without flattening, thinning, chemically treating, or otherwise travelling great lengths to force it to comply with the settled string-yness of white hair, white women meanwhile seek out all means possible to thicken their hair–because, of course, white people quietly know what is actually attractive, and a function of institutionalized racism is convincing women of color that they aren’t, while white women transform themselves to have these very features. The shelves of any store selling shampoo are lined with products promising to provide volume. It doesn’t stop at hair either, of course–the descendants of white artists who parodied the lips of black men and women in outrageously racist cartoons are the first clients for lip injections that imitate the very feature they publicly disparage.

Black women have constellations in their hair.
(Click images for source.)
Black women have constellations in their hair.
Black women have constellations in their hair.

And a woman (most likely a white one) might angrily and defensively claim that I’m stretching it by including this, but, I kid you not, a white woman once tackled me in a drug store because I had picked up the last jet black mascara.

She was blonde.

So were her eyelashes. I was 17 at the time and aghast at the fact that I had just been tackled. Why do blonde women insist that their eyelashes have to be full and voluminous and jet black? Stunned as she flew out of nowhere into my vision and pried the mascara from my hands, I cried, “That doesn’t even match your hair!” It was a cruel thing to say, I realize. But by the mercy of all that is heavenly, she just, like, physically assaulted me. For mascara.

It’s characteristic of both women and men of color to have fuller and longer eyelashes, but that’s something desirable, that isn’t as prominent as hair or lips, and is thus never attributed to race. There’s a lot about “the problems with Asian hair” or “the problems with Black hair” but never about “the problems with white eyelashes.” White people, you’ve got to stop tackling me at Rite Aid with your eyelash issues, seriously.

She's a threat alright. Who wouldn't want to look like that?
She’s a threat alright. Who wouldn’t want to look like that?

One of the (obvious) reasons it’s so irritating that white people will often reply with, “But light skinned women tan their skin all the time!” in response to black women bleaching their skin and using harmful lightness creams is that a white woman who has tanned her skin to be the same color as a woman of color’s natural skin will be valued more highly for her beauty–even though it’s only an imitation. I don’t mean to sound all, “But are they REAL?” about this, but it’s a clear and disturbing indication of how harmful cultural appropriation, especially when it comes to appearance, is when a white woman attempts to thicken her hair, tan her skin, inject her lips, and assault a woman of color for her eyelashes and still walk out considered more beautiful. This phenomenon has all of the symptoms of a kind of appropriation: when these features/customs are worn/practiced by a white person, it’s “stylish, worldly, and beautiful”; otherwise, it’s something that needs to be altered and suppressed at all costs.

Update #2: here take my ideas

A few months ago a very, very good friend of mine, at the prospect of having a Mormon for president, revealed a sentiment along the lines of, “I know it doesn’t matter to you, Nahida, but it feels kind of sad and strange not to have a president who’s not your religion for the first time.”

No, in fact, it did not matter to me at all. I did not care about his sadness.

Okay, I kind of cared. (I experienced for a moment an amplified sense of unbelonging and felt an unprecedented rush of empathy. Don’t ask me why. I do not understand my heart or why it breaks.) But I didn’t really want to care. Let’s just pretend I didn’t then.

Dear readers, I have my Bachelor’s at the end of May, and I’m pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in the coming Fall, and I am working part-time at a job that both pays a little more than I expected and is delightfully flexible.

And I am somehow unhappy.

I am not fond of being exhaustingly aware. I’ve had a sense of detachment my whole life that I’d attributed simply to my nature. (I don’t doubt it really is.) I simultaneously feel very deeply. The unfolding compassion of my childhood resulted from a belief that everyone was this way. The increasingly defiant silence of the years that followed resulted from a slow discovery that they are not.

Let me tell you how to teach your classes. Are you at a loss of how anything like sex, or race, could ever be a question as grand, as impactive, as universally poignant a statement on the human condition, as the literary analysis of life and death, of monstrosity, of virtue and its loss, of good and evil, of the injustice of justice?

Discuss the ways in which the individual is lost to history.

You can have it, really. You can have all of it. I don’t care anymore.

Anais Nin writes, “Had I not created my whole world, I would have certainly died in other people’s.” Apply.

After all, as they say, it was never mine.

Malala Yousafzai

I’m not back yet. I just want to say that I half-heartedly intended to write some sort of post and I never did. Because I have just become angrier and angrier.

And quite frankly, I don’t want to write a post about Malala. I don’t want to write about a 14-year-old girl shot by the Taliban because she wanted women’s education to a Western audience from the only Western perspective I can write. Everyone can just STFU about Malala. I want every Western asshole pretending to give a damn about who she is, or what she fights for, or what she deserves while disrespectfully erasing her identity and categorizing her as ‘one of us’, claiming she doesn’t belong with those Pakistani savages and should move here so you can treat her like a pet and insult her ethnic heritage, to stop using her as a political toy for your sick imperialist colonialist agenda. You can all go fuck yourselves. She’s allegedly a Marxist sympathizer. Did you know that? Do you fucking know anything about her? Of course not. She’s just a tool to you; it doesn’t matter who she is because you can just modify her identity to your convenience. And she can hang around as long as she flatters you with pretty little things against inferior people like herself, until she accuses you of being just like those she’s challenged. She’s a woman after all. She’s a woman of color. It’s only a matter of time until you’ve decided she’s a little too smart for her own good.

Pamela Hall Should be Arrested for Assault (And Why She Wasn’t)

The woman in this video is Mona Eltahawy. She is vandalizing an ad. The woman who runs up to the poster with a camera and assaults her is Pamela Hall.

[I placed the ad Eltahawy was vandalizing here but have removed it because frankly I don’t feel like looking at it. I’m sure you know to which one I’m referring.]

Clearly racist. I am not concerned about addressing the ad in particular, though it’s a very telling backdrop, or about the question of vandalism, but about the initial response to Eltahawy’s spray-painting with Hall in the way and the simultaneous deliberate refusal to acknowledge Hall’s assault on Eltahawy.

It was Pamela Hall, not Pamela Geller (Pamela Geller is the one who made the ad, which is why Eltahawy asks her if she is Pamela Geller), which made me resent Pamela Hall significantly less than the first time I watched the video. It means she’s not batshit enough to have made such a racist ad, and it means she did not in fact lie about her identity, which would render her a coward who didn’t want to own up to her actions. That does not change the fact that she committed assault. She forcefully pushes Eltahawy away from the poster. It does not change the fact that she got away with it while Eltahawy was arrested for Hall stepping into the way of the paint. Because let’s be clear: that was why the police arrested Eltahawy, not because of vandalism. They decided on the vandalism charge later. In the video one officer says, “Why didn’t you stop spray painting?” in response to Eltahawy inquiring about her arrest. There was in various articles mention that the police were concerned the paint could have damaged Hall’s eyes. They had arrested Eltahawy immediately because Hall stepped into the spray paint and Eltahawy did not stop–not immediately because of vandalism–yet Hall was not arrested for PUSHING Eltahawy when she recounted to them what happened. The policemen should be fired for blatant favoritism and neglecting to arrest someone for assault and for not reading Eltahawy her Miranda Rights.

And here’s why my reaction is so strong: Pamela Hall is white. Pamela Hall is a white woman who stepped in front of spray paint and was seen as some fragile martyr protecting a system defending racism that treats her exactly like some fragile martyr who could be hurt by spray paint (by someone who wasn’t even aiming for her) but who can’t possibly in turn hurt a woman who is not white if she happened to push that non-white woman into the tracks or prodded her away with a monopod. Especially if that woman is so damn uppity and has the nerve to employ civil disobedience! Against a delicate white woman? Against her patriarchal establishment that treats her like a princess among savages? No way!

Pamela Hall stepped in the way of paint; Eltahawy continued painting around her. Unlike Hall, who aimed to push Eltahawy, Eltahawy was not aiming to harm.

Pamela Hall made first physical contact with the monopod. She shoved Eltahawy HARD, more than once, with her entire body, and she was not arrested.

God forbid anyone ever touches a white woman with some paint. But she can go around pushing whomever the hell she wants.

The police arrive, Eltahawy asks for her Miranda rights. She does not resist arrest. She asks for her Miranda rights continuously. And what does one of the officers do at each request? He SNEERS.

He sneers at her for asking for her Miranda rights.

And then, INSTEAD of taking the time to state the charge as he is legally obligated, he walks over to Hall and whispers something to her ear, clearly so that Eltahawy cannot hear it. Hall can be seen mouthing the words thank you in return.

Eltahawy meanwhile tells the other officer she was pushed. He tells her she kept spray painting. She insists (and we have proof) that no one was there when she arrived. Hall had placed herself in front of the paint. Unlike Eltahawy, however, she conveniently had men racing over to protect her AT ONCE.

Knights for the lady please!

“White atheists are the WORST!”: Discrepancies in Identifying Racism

I am writing this post despite the sense that the last three posts I wrote unrelated to Islam are about race and I am kind of eyeing how it throws off my usual variation here.

Before I introduce all the twitter drama, let me recount the incident to which it refers—infamously christened EG, or ElevatorGate.

Rebecca Watson, an atheist feminist and the well-known writer of Skepchick, delivered a lecture on hostility toward women in the atheist community. As she entered an elevator at a very late hour following the presentation a man asked her whether she’d come up to his room for coffee, an invitation Watson declined. Watson casually mentioned the incident in passing, denouncing that a man would advance right after she disclosed such behavior as a source of discomfort for her and advising guys to get a clue.

For this Watson was accused of hating men and received a number of death threats.

Then Richard Dawkins took it upon himself to criticize her—since she is a Western woman—for complaining about misogyny, because there are Muslim women in the world who are having their genitals cut dammit. Thus the old tactic of silencing a woman by telling her she should be grateful she isn’t being stoned to death was employed. Not only was Watson accused of misandry, but of cultural insensitivity and racism—for talking about how she didn’t go out with some schmuck. Insert gif that reads, “I turned down someone for coffee–therefore I hate Muslims” here.

That is Dawkins’s logic. Of course, Dawkins and his supporters, as racially sensitive and globally aware as they are, failed to notice that the only people making this claim were white. They also failed to notice how extremely offensive this comment was to the Muslim women (some of whom are also Western women) that these men supposedly care so much about, women who can save our damn selves and don’t need white knights like Richard Dawkins conveniently using our oppression to silence white women thank you very much.

Yesterday on twitter, as I was speaking to Ozy, one of my awesomeful friends, some douchebag decided to introduce himself to the conversation, and this happened: (he parades in at the 5th tweet)

“Primitive.” Your language isn’t suggestive of racism at all. (I take it though that he was referring to religiosity.) Opening with condescendingly informing me Islam and feminism are incompatible (thanks XY)* and that believing in God is like believing in mermaids is totally logic and not proselytizing. Geez, you’d think calling Dawkins a racist ass is equivalent to criticizing a religious leader.

Then, unable to resist, he unblocked me to tell me

in reference to my telling Ozy that I don’t need a man to lecture me about my feminism. And then he blocked me again. Because he is so in control. The best part is when he re-tweeted my tweet denouncing white atheists to his followers as an example of hypocrisy. Dude thought he struck gold. He must have pissed himself in excitement when I said that. In fact not only did he re-tweet it, he then linked it.

Awwwe, he wants to marry my tweeeeet!

The guy has class:

Oh the virgins. Yay. No Islamophobia here–move along!

Let me stop here to say that I acknowledge atheists, who are at an immense systematic disadvantage, have a lot to be pissed off about. I know I disparaged the strong reaction to my criticizing Dawkins and likened him to a religious leader, but religious leaders who mock other religions in an equally belittling manner as Dawkins aren’t met with nearly the same level of hatred as atheists who mock religions. Unlike the presumptions of this jackass, this is not about atheism. This is about racism and people not knowing what the hell that is—and not understanding the underpinnings that classify something as racist and thus perpetuate racism. And how these people are usually white. Another atheist had taken the time to ask me to clarify this allegation against Dawkins—and he had been of color; naturally the concern was understood.

It annoys me to no end when people can’t identify racism unless it’s overt. Dawkins doesn’t even know he’s racist because he’s “obscured” the essential message of inferiority behind the sentiment that Muslim women need to be saved from the heinous crimes of Muslim men, which has a thousand different oppressive implications–and this guy was doing the same racist thing. Then I blatantly state “white atheists are the WORST” and there’s outrage because that’s the only thing they can recognize as a generalization! Even when Dawkins’s and others’ wordy prejudice actively illustrates racism as a contextualized function rather than being a simple declarative. They don’t register it until it’s made frank for them and put in the simplest terms–which means they don’t understand racism at all. They just look for a formulaic sentence.

It reminds me of advice I read on tumblr. “One of the worst ways to stop someone from telling sexist jokes is to tell him the joke isn’t funny. He’ll assume that you’re humorless and that he needs to save the good stuff for the right audience. If you really want someone to stop telling sexist jokes, you need to tell him, ‘I don’t get it’ and then step back as he tries not to say, ‘It’s funny because women are stupid.’ ”

That’s just it. They can’t tell unless it’s in the simpest terms. Because they don’t really understand racism or sexism, don’t understand the dynamics of the systematic functions of oppression. They just know a formula of a sentence. They don’t understand racism is systematic, not a sentence, and therefore something like a sentence is racist when it contributes to that racist system.

I don’t know how long I’ll leave this up–it feels lowly like gossip, but I’ll keep it for at least a while to get the point across. Or edit it somehow to take out that stuff… somehow, since that’s the reference.


Race and the Other Consequence

Sometimes I wonder if I love my state more than I love my country. In fact, not even all of California–just the Bay Area specifically; the rest of the state might as well be another to me.

I suspect that I haven’t felt loved here–after all, the city is a harsh and lonely place. There is a kind of unspoken character, a confused jumble between rigorous materialism and outcries of painful poetic passion. Love is not a comforting warmth here–it flames in intervals like the passing heat waves, the “slow degrees of lazy Fahrenheit” that “cook the day, eat the night.” (That was truly written for us.) With the ocean to my left and the mountains to my right, the valley is nothing short of glorious. My valley. “It’s a beautiful day in the Bay,” announces an advertisement for morning news. And it is. An ocean breeze graces even inward cities. The summers are deep and sad.

You don’t look American, but you look Californian. Not the perpetuated vision, but strangely akin to the features of the place itself: enormous dark glossy eyes like some sort of creature of the sea, stormy hair like seaweed or onyx untamed fire, and skin the tone of warmed sand. The women here have beautiful names, names that as Warsan Shire states command full use of the tongue–names that owe no trust to those who cannot pronounce them correctly. The barista spells yours right. Salespeople converse in Vietnamese. Latina women stop you in the street to ask what shampoo you use; “Your hair is like mine,” they reach out to touch it, awed by the familiarity. They ask whether you are one of them–this time you don’t mind.

They are mournful when you answer, “No.” “You’re pretty!” they exclaim. Please be possible, had been the unspoken hope. I can’t look white but I can look like you! I know, because I see the reflection of my desires on their faces.

In the high-end shopping malls you have to dress twice as beautiful as any white woman to fend off curious borderline hostile looks. A white woman in jeans is casual and practical; a woman of color in jeans must have inadequate finances. Yet, “What beautiful hair–is that the conditioner you use?” she inquires reaching for it herself after seeing you pull it off the shelf, because she has clearly dyed her own once too many (but you are too polite to point out that this is the problem, not her conditioner). Instead you tell her when you were little you wanted to be blonde just like her. (Her eyes light up a little and indicate to you the message is received.) The reactions are so independently contrasted between suspicion and admiration it’s exhausting not to know what to expect.

But it is California and it is mine.

I will always be Californian. As disinterested as I am in sports if I do ever move I will almost certainly still cheer for Californian teams. But that’s no reason I’ll ever betray the next state where I live.

A white woman tells me something that reminds me of a moving article I have read before, “I don’t mean to be offensive, and I know how dangerous and hurtful the word ‘exotic‘ is to you, how it reinforces the colonial idea of you as not normal, but I am part Native American and I feel so confirmed when people say that in one moment by happenstance I look exotic–like I can connect with something I love, a part of my identity that has been denied to me. I would never claim it, but that’s how I feel.” And my heart breaks for her. They say white culture doesn’t hurt white people like patriarchy hurts men, but it does, it does. Just a little. After all, what conqueror can engage in such evil without feeling a dark emptiness where once was his spirit? Bound forever to appropriate from the cultures he has hated, a sick kind of love. Searching for the spirituality compromised in violence–by perpetuating more violence in this appropriation.

I would be a sick fool to mourn for a collateral backfiring for who have destroyed me–it is something similar to a kind of syndrome no doubt… but I’d rather feel it just a little, in case it isn’t, in case it is really just human.