Thursday, October 27, 2011

thoughts on Occupy Wall Street protests

so here's a synopsis of whats happening with Occupy Wall Street et al. - recently, a bunch of folks have decided to "occupy"/protest certain areas of the country. there are a slew of various cities that have been occupied, such as New York City (Wall Street), Philadelphia, Oakland, Boston, etc. they all have issues with how the system is being ran, being forced to fund wars, being led to believe that a college degree will ensure economic stability when in reality it means nothing when the economy is a mess, accruing thousands of dollars of debt just by simply obtaining a degree, and other issues concerned with corporations and rich people having tax breaks and basically shitting on all non-rich people.

let me just say that all of these issues are legitimate issues to be concerned with enough for a protest/urge to change certain laws. i think it's very backwards the way this society pushes everyone to obtain a college degree, only to learn once you try to obtain it or actually succeed in getting it, that you will more an likely only be able to find a job that only requires a high school diploma or some type of non-academic training. i believe the biggest concerns are those with an unaffordable education and issues with health insurance. all of which have valid oppositions.

with that said, i don't necessarily support the OWS (acronym for Occupy Wall Street which i'll use for the duration to refer to all Occupy movements).

for one, it seems as though the protesters feel as though there is no power in being a consumer. but there is. it seems as though Americans want to be able to buy all they want, from whatever company, and then be able to tell that company they don't support their...wages, or occupation in certain countries, etc. we have to start looking for alternative ways to live in this system (with an aim of breaking it down) and those ways may not be the easiest or the most comfortable. maybe this involves learning to make your own clothes, growing the majority of your own vegetables, opting out of eating meat, buying from thrift stores and second hand consignment shops for some time/permanently (or bartering), opting out of the new video game/ipod/flat-screen tv/Jordans/Louboutins/hybrid automobile/human remy virgin yaki weave/any type of gold or diamond, finding different ways of transportation that don't rely on petroleum, using less electricity in your home, washing clothes by hand, finding other means of entertainment besides television, and the internet. we have buying power, and on a mass scale we can have a large impact. it can be done, we just have to be creative.

second, the rich are not the problem. Wall street is not the problem. predatory lending agencies and vicious student loan corporations are not the problem. Obama is not the problem. Republicans are not the problem. Democrats are not the problem. wars overseas are not the problem.
the ENTIRE SYSTEM is the problem. the design, the implementation, the maintenance, the philosophies that garnered it are ALL the problem. the more i have been learning about other cultures, with an emphasis on pre-colonial indigenous groups, the more i realize just how philosophically bankrupt this system is and always will be.

for example, the Third Genders i spoke of in the previous post are individuals that are ostracized in our society. but, in their own pre-colonial societies, they were accepted. my teacher suggested that this was a way of maintaining the balance; the well-being of the society. this person that may have been born a male but chooses to take on the role of the female is still someone that can contribute to the society; they're still humans; they're still someone's child. how can it be that our ancestors worked maybe 5 or 6 hours a day, yet everyone in the society was clothed, fed, and generally happy? there is no fixing little issues and "working within the system". there needs to be a complete breakdown and rebuilding of the system. a number of us right now are working 40+ hours a week and there's still thousands of homeless or near homeless people in our society and the rest that still need assistance to feed themselves. the issue is the ENTIRE SYSTEM.

third, i believe these protests that seem to be some universal trend, are planned.
how is it that some of the most stable nations in the world are the ones rioting as if they're the worst of the worst? Libya and Egypt, who have just overthrown their governments, with one leader shot dead, are two of the most stable countries in Africa (see charts here). the most unstable countries in the world have no OWS or protest to speak of. i hear about civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Congo, Rwanda, and parts of south east Asia, Mexico and Central America yet the US and Egypt are rioting? Mubarak and Qadaffi weren't the best, but they weren't Hussein and Charles Taylor. and BOSTON is protesting? for real? yet black folks in Brownsville BK are no where near protesting their shitty conditions?? and we now have white folks in the US calling themselves refugees. ??? come on...
if anyone in the US has the right to be protesting it's people of color living in ridiculously low-income communities. oh wait, we have been doing that and no one has given a shit about it til 20 something year old hipster white kids started feeling the weight of our mess of a system on their backs. like it has been said at numerous OWS, black and brown folks have been the 99% since the inception of this country. the black male unemployment rate is at least 10% nationwide, and white folks are coming out en masse upset at the system??

this shit is planned. i'm not saying they don't have legitimate issues. i'm saying it's very skeptical that all these protests are occurring at this point in history and all at the same time with no consensus on the purpose or objectives of these movements.

think. comment. criticize.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Third Genders

so, in my Anthropology class, we began talking about genders and the boundaries and possible objectivism concerning the ideas of gender and what not. my teacher mentioned these four different groups from various indigenous (pre and post colonial) groups that operate outside the typical western idea of gender - that is, that man and woman are determined and aligned along biological limitations.

it is often thought, especially within the black community when speaking about "gay", "homosexual", "transgendered", etc. that these are colonial/European manifestations. this is especially evident in black power and Afrocentric circles (which can be seen here at 7:40). it is constantly tossed around not only by brothas and sistahs on an informal level, but is very much a part of a number of black scholarly work (Frances Cress Welsing, Eldridge Cleaver, Louis Farrakhan and the entire Nation of Islam, to name a few, have all had some anti-"homo" element to their writings/beliefs). this is not surprising, given the overwhelming amount of religiosity existent in black and brown communities, but there also is an underlying idea that being "gay" is a white/European thing; something only whites do. in the same idea that....white folks climb mountains, swim with sharks, jump out of planes....and other nonsensical things, but that these are things black folk don't do. but is this the case (rock climbing is quite fun, i might add...)?

from what i have read, the term "gay"/"homosexual", etc. are European creations. the term and connotations surrounding these labels originated in Europe. the idea that one's sexuality or sexual interests are the largest determining factor of one's self; one's identity; one's personality are also European. does this mean, however, that same-sex relations and/or people that lived as what we would today call "transsexual"/"trans-gendered" were non-existent prior to the term "homosexual" and prior to colonialism? not at all. here are four examples that do damage to this assertion:

  • Fa'afafine - those, typically male, who identify as this third (or possibly fourth, i've read) gender in pre and post-colonial Samoan society. more informantion here and here.
  • Xanith - those that identify has neither man nor woman that are typically biologically male within Islamic societies.
  • Hijra - biological males that have a feminine gender identity from South Asia.
  • Two-Spirit -also known as Berdache, are biological males that identify between masculine and feminine genders. more information here and here.

it appears as though this idea that westerners have of "transgendered" or possibly even "gay" (considering many of these examples have sex with both sexes) have always been around, even before colonialism. the idea that gender (roles, characteristics of a person) seem to be more aligned with personal identity rather than one's genitals; gender was something fluid rather than the restrictive way in which we think of it at the present.
in some cases, it seems as though whites that identify as "gay" or "transsexual" have influenced the way in which these societies thought of these third genders, mainly in negative ways. their influence changed one's sexuality or gender to the main determinant in one's self; in one's personal and societal identity. although, i don't feel as though many Fa'afafine or Two-Spirit have viewed this influence in negative ways.

it is also very interesting how the majority of the examples i've found have been of males, with almost no speak of biological females being "third gendered". does this suggest something about the female role in pre-colonial societies? or more about the male? from the examples, this third gender is usually recognized by the parents of the child at an early age and raised as such (as can be seen in the Fa'afafine), so the presupposition is that they were born this way. if this is the case, are women not born that way? why not?
i would like to read more examples of these from Africa and ancient Europe as well....if anyone knows of any examples.

comment. think. criticize.
(first two photos are Two-spirit. last one is Hijra.)