How great would it be to share a dinner table with Sherman Alexie? The National Book Award winner, Spokane Coeur d'Alene Indian, and author of 24 books always has something smart to say, and his way of saying it is with a good-natured dark humor that illuminates the bad stuff of life with a warm and loving light. A week before Thanksgiving, Sherman and I talked about the holiday and how he's made it his own, imagining the traditional Thanksgiving feast as a celebration of survival.
A teen girl in the United States can walk into a pharmacy and buy the emergency contraceptive Plan B. Unless she happens to live on a Native American reservation, in which case the process of acquiring Plan B will likely be more complicated.
Here's what's on our day-after-Thanksgiving radar:
• One cool thing we can do surrounding Thanksgiving is remember and honor Native American struggles for self-determination and liberation. Red Power activists issued a proclamation to the US government when they occupied Alcatraz Island from 1969 to 1971, and it was pretty rad. [The New Inquiry]
• Many female saints were women who were radically opposed to traditional gender norms and fought against following the path they were expected to take. Here's a list of ten feminists who were canonized. [Autostraddle]
• Clyde Peterson is working on a new stop-motion film about LGBTQ youth and schizophrenia called Torrey Pines. If you're interested in any of these things, help Kickstart the project. [Torrey Pines, Kickstarter]
There's no escaping the holidays. Our only hope is to make 'em our own. This episode tells four tales of subverting the holidays.
First, we talk with author Sherman Alexie about his take on Thanksgiving. Then, we get advice from the folks behind Adbusters and the Story of Stuff project on celebrating the season without getting caught up in consumerism. From there, we talk with a vegan chef who is transforming America's most meat-centric holiday, Thanksgiving, into a vegetable feast. To round it all out, Bitch editorial and creative director Andi Zeisler reads an essay about Jewish Christmas.
Photo: A still from Young Lakota, a documentary about women's activism in South Dakota.
“Every other race of women in this country has access to emergency contraceptives as an over-the-counter, except for native women,” says Charon Asetoyer, executive director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center who is fighting to change that reality. Most press coverage celebrating recent changes to federal law around Plan B have left at least one group behind: Native Americans. That's why Native American activists are still pushing the slow-moving bureaucracy at the Indian Health Service to make Plan B available over-the-counter for women of all ages. And while progress is being made, challenges to accessing emergency contraception remain in Native communities, where high rates of sexual assault make the need particularly dire.
In collaboration with the radio journalists at Making Contact, I put together an audio story about Native women pushing for emergency contraception access. The story will be featured in our podcast coming out later this week, but you can listen to it now or read the transcript below.
I have so many thoughts on this film, and only maybe one of them is good. But I think we need to start off with this: The Lone Ranger is just a bad movie. It's 2.5 hours of a film with an identity crisis, not knowing if it's supposed to be funny, campy, dramatic, "authentic," or what. At points it was very hard to separate the stereotypical and hurtful from the bad script, bad editing, and bad character development of the movie itself.
At one point in Disney's new The Lone Ranger, Tonto turns to his companion and describes a massacre against his people, "The rivers ran red with blood." Well, so will this review, because all I felt for a two hours and 29 minutes was anger.
This season Project Runway welcomed its first-ever Native American designer, textile artist Patricia Michaels. The show raps up tonight and the Taos, New Mexico designer is one of the final three competitors.
But whether Michaels wins or loses tonight, having her viewpoint and hand-crafted talents highlighted on one of the most popular shows on TV has been, quite honestly, a welcome change from several recent factory-made fashion appropriations of Native American culture.
The same way that evolutionary psychology (or at least, bad reporting on evolutionary research) often conveniently reinforces sexist stereotypes about the role of men and women in the 21st society, genetic explanations for alcoholism tend to reinforce preexisting stereotypes about certain ethnic groups and races