Month: March 2014

I #StandWithJamilah

If you were away from the internet and television (and by TV, I mean specifically Fox News, which for your sake, I actually do hope you abstained from viewing) over the last 24 hours, you might have missed what went down between Ebony Magazine Senior Editor and writer, Jamilah Lemieux, and Raffi Williams (wait…who?). Actually, more like what went down between a bunch of misinformed RNC-supporters and racist trolls (often one and the same, from what I see), as they spewed a lot of hatred at Jamilah. There was also, as one would expect at this point, a lot of “you’re racist!” being thrown out by people who clearly have no concept of what racism is. One of the more creative definitions I saw was from Moira Fitzgerald who explained racism was “an obsession with race even when race is not at issue.”

Once again, conservatives, mostly white, took something and made it about them. They were offended. Gee, this sounds familiar. Suddenly, Jamilah was “racist” because she was denying a white man his opinion.

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Slut-Shaming: Wendy Williams, LiLo and Beyoncé

8677427 Last week, I happened to catch a segment of New York Live and Wendy Williams was their guest. Their discussion piqued my interest so I left it on. Wendy and the show’s hosts were talking about Beyoncé being called out for her new album and live performances of its songs. I was in full agreement with what the hosts and Wendy Williams had to say, they supported her freedom of expression. It’s been gross to see people come for Beyoncé.

For starters, Beyoncé is a grown woman. She can wear what she wants, sing songs about whatever she wants, and never deserves to be dragged for it. Don’t like the lyrics? Turn the song off. Her performance makes you uncomfortable? Change the channel. Simple. (more…)

A Measles Primer

[This is an edited version from a piece I wrote in April 2008 regarding measles. Following this latest report, I felt it relevant to repost here. I don’t blame McCarthy exclusively for the rise in measles or other diseases preventable by vaccines. People were claiming vaccines caused autism before her, and the anti-vax movement was in full force before she started speaking out and writing books. However, she brought the anti-vax agenda to the mainstream, her television appearances and interviews were widely seen. She lent her celeb status to campaigns that otherwise may not have received airtime or funding. McCarthy does have some responsibility in the rising rates of these cases, and in persuading those who’ve been convinced to not vaccinate because of unfounded and false autism connections.]

“Give my son the measles. I’ll take that way over autism any day.”

“In a heartbeat,” she adds later on. [That’s an actual quote from Jenny McCarthy when she was on the Larry King Live show in 2008] (more…)

On Drunk Drivers

I Refuse to Shame Drunk Drivers

I wrote a response (link above) to those who are taking to Twitter to trash the driver in the horrible SXSW crash.

But you don’t get to shame this individual because you don’t know their lived experience. Are they self-medicating their mental health issues? Are they a binge drinker or an alcoholic? Are they grieving from a tragedy and using alcohol to numb themselves? Have they struggled to get sober? You don’t know any of these things. Save your judgement. Use the emotion you feel to help others. Donate blood. Speak to family members and friends about getting sober. Talk to your kids about the ramifications of drinking. Take action. Sitting around disparaging another human being, who made a mistake -even one that cost lives- doesn’t do a damn thing.

My heart goes out to those who were killed and injured in the crash. I cannot imagine what their family and friends are going through. My thoughts are also with the driver, who now has to face criminal charges and his own conscience. They may have a struggle toward sobriety ahead. I wish them all the luck. It is not easy.

If you find yourself reflecting on your drinking and want to get sober, please seek help. You cannot do it alone. Here are two links to start with:

NCADD

Alcoholics Anonymous

Rape Victims Aren’t “Breaking Buzz”

[CN: rape, sexual assault]

If you are going to write about sexual assault, and particularly publish first-person accounts of the intimate details about one’s assault, you’d better do it right. I read The Root’s coverage on the hundreds of responses to “what were you wearing when you were assaulted?” last night on Twitter. I felt they did a tasteful job and noted that Christina Fox (@Steenfox), who led the discussion, was interviewed for the piece. Desmond-Harris’ writing reflected her concern for the victims, and ensured their privacy while still telling the story. I read the Buzzfeed* one next, and it just didn’t feel right. It was presented, like all things on Buzzfeed in a list-format. Throwing tweets on top of sexual assault stats, it was really awful.

Worse still, were people’s claims they did not give permission to have their tweets published. I’m not here to argue that, other people on Twitter are doing a better job explaining the ethics involved if that is the case. Whatever permission may or may not have been given, the Buzzfeed piece was slapped together and published while people on Twitter were still sending in their responses to Fox! I would like to think that hundreds of sexual assault and rape victims having such an important and relevant discussion would be seen as more than buzz-worthy. Buzzfeed was far more interested in publishing their click-bait before anyone else could profit from it. That is disturbing. The Root piece has substance and opens the discussion further to its readers. This is a vital part of the dialogue we must be having in order to end rape culture. The Buzzfeed one carelessly spit a list out. There is a time and a place for “breaking buzz,” last night was not one of those moments. (more…)

Giving Myself Credit (And Side-Eye to Jenny McCarthy)

Excuse me while I toot my own horn, and that of all the other writers who quietly sit and write, sometimes to no one. We keep at it, impassioned by our pens and keyboards, most of us write for no other reason than we couldn’t imagine not doing it. Some of us get honorable mentions, full-time gigs with publications, a few even get a book deal. Whether we receive any nods, we all have important things to say. This is my reminder, to myself and to you. Stay writing. Your voice matters.

I started a little blog called Stop. Think. Autism. shortly after my daughter was diagnosed with autism. (more…)

Cyborg & Wonder Woman Are On A Cereal Box: Why It Matters

Honey Nut Cheerios with DC Comics

Breakfast of diverse superheroes?

At the grocery store with my 9-year old this weekend, we scanned the aisle for cereal and she exclaimed, “this comes with a free comic!” Part of me was as delighted at the thought of a free comic as my child, but the other part, the responsible-Mom one, was saying I shouldn’t make a food choice based on product placement. (There is always an exception though, like when I had to buy cereal for the free Star Wars pen!) My ultra-picky kid actually likes Honey Nut Cheerios, and it’s one of healthier choices in the cereal aisle, so we bought them. Yay free comics!

I really didn’t need another reason to appreciate the Cheerios brand, but I now have a couple more. This morning, we opened the box of cereal, my daughter inspecting the box and finding her free comic inside. She gleefully pointed out Wonder Woman on the front and then Cyborg on the back, adding: “See? This is what he looks like for real.” She recently has become obsessed with Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go! show and Cyborg in particular. She read her Walking on Fire comic, featuring Cyborg as the main character, while eating her breakfast. Not a bad way to start a school day; she was quite happy.
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