Since today is Father's Day, I want to take some time to reflect on my dad, and try to start giving voice to some ideas and pain and anger that have been simmering in my mind.
My dad died this past winter after a shitty and long battle with cancer (he was a life-long smoker). He was 67. Now I know this might seem like a particularly loaded way of bringing politics down to the level of personal (and thus emotional), but here's the thing. I've been doing a lot reading lately. Of books, of blogs, of zines, magazines, chapbooks, of vision statements and organizing principles of self-described radical organizations and people... I've also been doing a lot of listening. And struggling to find the language to pull these ideas and feelings out of my head/heart, thoughts about identities and experiences. Critiques of which ones are validated/politicized and which ones aren't, and which others aren't even considered as possibilities for political analysis. And I've been struggling to even speak because, who knows? Maybe I haven't considered enough. Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe I haven't been as thoughtful as I think I have. Maybe I haven't searched hard enough.
I'm back in Portland, still processing and reflecting on my trip to the Midwest. I'll be posting more about that soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share this video about displacement/gentrification in Detroit, featuring Detroit-based female hip-hop artist, Invincible. It's a beautiful example of how powerful a story becomes when different forms of media are combined.
I knew I was close to home when I started hearing corn crop fungicide commercials on the radio.
I got into Minnesota a day early, because I took a wrong turn leaving Chicago and by the time I called the folks I was supposed to meet up with, they laughed (kindly) and told me to keep heading West, as it would've taken another two hours of backtracking to get there.
Thank you, TrumbullPlex folx, for letting us use your space for Sunday's discussion. Thank you, Adele, Clara, and Jess for making the event happen here, and for getting the word out (and special thanks to Clara for the tour and history of the TrumbullPlex, a radical housing collective in the Woodbridge neighborhood of Detroit). And a huge thank you to everyone who attended. I didn't count, but I think between 20 and 25 people came. I felt honored to be in the presence of so many people committed to honesty, sincerity, openness, and creating a safe space to share what are sometimes difficult and differing perspectives.
Please join these participatory discussions about how—and whether—feminism can become a transformative, justice-centered movement for social change.
How can we drive attention to the power, privilege, and marginalization that continue to play out in feminist communities, and how can those of us with power and privilege become genuine and effective allies to those without it?
How can we collectively create a feminist/media/justice movement that doesn't rely on white supremacy, class privilege, and economic exploitation?
Can the idea of feminism shift to foreground an uncompromising, transformative commitment to systemic social change, or is it time to evolve to new language?
Here in Northeast Portland is a place called In Other Words Women's Books and Resources, a nonprofit bookstore founded in 1993. I've only lived in Portland for a year, so most of what I know I've learned from talking to people and reading news articles, like this.
A few nights ago I went to a screening of a short documentary called Moving In: A nonprofit feminist bookstore and the politics of place. The documentary, created by Dawn Jones (who's on the board of Bitch; photographed below), examines the bookstore's 2006 move, which resulted from being economically displaced from their original neighborhood, to a historically African-American neighborhood. The film is fantastic; you should see it if you have the opportunity.
A lot of discussion about WAM! is going on. Some of it's in public blogs, like here, and here, here, here, and here. (I know, that's a lazy way of linking, but I'm tired....) Also here. (OK, I promise I'll stop that.)
A lot of the discussion is also happening over email, and so it's not public. I've participated in some of this email discussion, but in the interest of being open about my perceptions, I'd like to mention some of the things I've written about in emails…
This was my first WAM! experience, so I have no direct points of comparison. In all honesty, I've outright avoided WAM! up until this year. Here's why...