As summer stretches its legs in the Pacific Northwest, Nikki McClure's calendar is helping me count down the months. The cut paper artist seems to be everywhere now: on bookshelves, greeting cards, and fabulous retrospectives in museums opening this fall. McClure is known for her dramatic etchings of everyday life, resistance, and celebration. As Cinders Gallery puts it, "Armed with an X-acto knife, she cuts out her images from a single sheet of paper and creates a bold language that translates the complex poetry of motherhood, nature, and activism into a simple and endearing picture." She's been doing it for over a decade, and despite age, fame, and maybe a little fortune, seems to be as true to her roots as before. And that's what's so inspiring: a continuous evolution of radical art-making that doesn't sell out after life changes like having families or getting older.
Cristy C. Road, a Miami-raised, Brooklyn-based, Cuban-American illustrator, writer, and of course, total dreamboat, is no stranger to DIY, punk, queer, zine, and activist communities all over the place, and certainly no stranger to the pages of Bitch magazine. You might recognize her work from covers of books such as We Don't Need Another Waveand The Revolution Starts at Home, or maybe you've caught her on tour with Sister Spit The Next Generation when they rolled through your town, or perhaps you've flipped through an issue or two of Green Zine, or you stole your ex's copy of Bad Habits, or you saw her band play in someone's basement, or maybe you've never heard of her at all, but basically, she's a big deal, not to mention a badass. This is what happened when I sat down for a chat with her on a sunny Friday morning, pajamas on, and breakfast in hand. Cristy shared her feelings about everything from her art, to astrology, to racial dynamics in radical communities, to cats and brunch. It's all here for you to read, so let's get started!
"Transnational feminism" is given a lot of weight—negative and otherwise—and most said it couldn't be done, 'til Playing with Fire came in 2006, that is. A quick introduction: Playing with Fire was originally a collective diary that seven NGO workers in Sitapur, tucked away in North India (Uttar Pradesh), kept while they worked as Sangtins (a Sangtin is a term used by a woman to refer to her companion who sees her through life's struggles) with the State-funded project called Mahila Samakhya (MS). The seven writers, along with Richa Nagar, documented their journey through Sitapur, an act that was enough to enrage their superiors at the Mahila Samakhya UP Branch, and eventually that got the Sangtins fired. The Sangtins flaunted their diaries fully aware of the risks they were taking, in publishing a book that critiqued the very organizations that fed them, as well as revealing intimate details of their lives.
The crux of my confusion lies in the way that people who agree on the basic premise that social inequality exists and needs to be addressed sometimes fracture themselves by fighting about how to accomplish this goal, while the seeming majority blithely naturalizes inequalities, perpetuates systemic prejudices, and authorizes the erasure of difference—all while throwing out phrases like "that's gay" with impunity. As an activist, I'm not really sure where I fit into all this, or what my purpose is.
Anyone else have perspectives on these tensions? I have so many more questions than answers.
I'm an affectionate person, almost everyone I've dated or been friends with commenting on that. But whenever I am out in public with my fiancée, I become self-consciously affectionate. Not because I'm concerned about what nasty thoughts people might think about seeing such queerness, but because of what they fail to think.
This post is about what I consider to be one way of being the change I want to see. I think of it as a small public education intervention that I do almost every day.
So I was watching Glee the other night, waiting desperately to see if Brittany and Santana would show some sign that they were still together. As I tried to peer into the minds of Glee's creators and discover their subversive intent in having the lesbian character Santana dance to a song with romantic lyrics about boy/girl love with the gay-in-real-life Ricky Martin, it hit me: TV is not activism. I mean, critiquing TV can be activism, but TV programming itself exists, by and large, in the service of profit, not activism. In recognition of TV's persuasive powers over "impressionable youth," there is a long history of the "after school special" and the "very special episode" of family sitcoms. But the structural inequalities and relations of rule responsible for the most urgent cultural problems of our time run way deeper than the politics of media representation.
Fighting for social justice doesn't need to stop when you give birth. In fact, in my opinion, we should fight even harder if we have to raise a kid or two in this world. Also, by continuing our activism postpartum, we'll set kick-ass examples for our children. It's win-win all around.
Prison-rights activist and black feminist Angela Davis was arrested forty years ago this month for accomplice to conspiracy, kidnapping, and homicide. Celebrate this iconic woman who has never stopped or been silenced by checking out a new documentary featuring her alongside fellow activist Yuri Kochiyama and a full-length segment on Democracy Now! More after the jump.