I appreciate comments saying that someone's race is not something you should put on as a costume when depicting characters they played - that in and of itself is a good point, and an interesting one.
But I feel that simply calling what the woman did "blackface" fails to really connect most people to some of the wounds that are at play here.
Largely because current/younger generations, especially white people, have little-to-no awareness or concept about how pervasive blackface minstrelcy was, to what purpose it was used, and how it has continued to influence how characters of color are depicted in theater and the media, and also how people of color are perceived on the street.
If you are confused by the level of emotion invested in the backlash directed at this white cosplayer, I encourage you to read Let Black Kids Just Be Kids, a recent and very relevant New York Times Op-Ed by Robin Bernstein.
Berstein draws a very credible connection between the practice of blackface minstrelcy and the current patterns of perception that contribute to tragedies like the death of Trayvon Martin and the daily overpolicing and underprotecting of black kids in America.
Bernstein goes on to explain, "only white kids were allowed to be innocent. The more that popular writers, playwrights, actors and visual artists created images of innocent white children, the more they depicted children of color, especially black children, as unconstrained imps. Over time, this resulted in them being defined as nonchildren."
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” one of the most influential books of the 19th century, was pivotal to this process. When Harriet Beecher Stowe published her novel in 1852, she created the angelic white Eva, who contrasted with Topsy, the mischievous black girl.
Stowe carefully showed, however, that Topsy was at heart an innocent child who misbehaved because she had been traumatized, “hardened,” by slavery’s violence. Topsy’s bad behavior implicated slavery, not her or black children in general.
The novel’s success prompted theatrical troupes across the country to adapt “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” into what became one of the most popular stage shows of all time. But to attract the biggest audiences, these productions combined Stowe’s story with the era’s other hugely popular entertainment: minstrelsy.
Topsys onstage, often played by white women in blackface, were adultlike, cartoonish characters who laughed as they were beaten, and who invited audiences to laugh, too. In these shows, Topsy’s innocence and vulnerability vanished. The violence that Stowe condemned became a source of delight for white theater audiences.
This minstrel version of Topsy turned into the pickaninny, one of the most damaging racist images ever created. This dehumanized black juvenile character was comically impervious to pain and never needed protection or tenderness.
Other Blackface Minstrel characters created or perpetuated equally damaging stereotypes of black people, almost all of which were used only as comic relief, and young white people today are largely ignorant about those characters and performances, which continued into the 1970s in some places.
Heck, most of us don't even know or think about where the term "Jim Crow" came from.
Sometime around 1830, a white NYC ctor named Thomas D. Rice learned a popular African-American song-and-dance routine, based on the myth of a trickster figure, an escaped, possibly physically disabled slave named Jim Crow, who would dance and boast. His face blacked out with burnt cork, Rice perfected the act and sparked the tradition of the minstrel act. At first the blackface character was actually a smart and sympathetic one. But as time went on, the minstrel show took on a more racist tone.
Blackface Minstrelcy was very popular in the US in the 1830s and 1840s, but it continued to be practiced well into the 1900s and its legacy continues in the lack of African American characters of content who have primary roles in mainstream US media (books, film, plays, tv shows, etc). This legacy has caused an implicit bias in almost all of us, too little acknowledged, and is very hard to address with counter-cultural re-programming, especially while white people continue to dominate the production fields of those media.
If you think people are over-reacting to white people who darken their faces to portray people of color, please take a step back and learn more about why they are reacting the way they are.
On the topic of depictions in film and theater, btw, I highly recommend you read the historical fantasy novel Redwood and Wildfire, by playwright Andrea Hairston.
"Turmeric magnificently illustrates the benefit of the great culinary traditions, in comparison to the consumption of isolated substances. When researcher in Taiwan tried treating cancerous tumors with turmeric delivered in capsules, they discovered that it was very poorly absorbed by the digestive system. In fact, when it is not mixed with pepper or ginger -- as it always has been in curry -- turmeric does not pass the intestinal barrier. Pepper increases the body's absorption of Turmeric by 2,000 percent. Indian wisdom has thus been far ahead of modern science in the discovery of natural affinities between foods.
"When I was researching information on my own cancer, I was astonished to find out that even brain tumors such as glioblastomas were more sensitive to chemotherapy when curcumin was prescribed at the same time.
"According to the Aggarwal team in Houston, turmeric's extraordinary effect seems to be due in large part to its capacity to interfere directly with the black knight of cancer we identified in chapter 4, NF-Kappa B, which protects cancer cells against the body's defense mechanisms. The entire pharmaceutical industry is looking for new, nontoxic molecules capable of fighting this mechanism of cancer promotion. It is now known that curcumin is a powerful NF-kappa B antagonist, while over two thousand years of daily use in indian cooking has proved that it is totally innocuous. Turmeric can also be eaten with soy products that replace animal proteins and provide the genistein mentioned above, which detoxifies and helps check angiogenesis. Add a cup of gree tea and imagine the powerful cocktail that, with no side effects, keeps in check three of the principal mechanisms of cancer growth."
- Servan-schreiber, D., Anticancer: A New Way of Life. Viking (2009).
- Carter, A., " "Curry Compound Fights Cncer in the Clinic," Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2008). p. djn141.
- Cheng, A.L., C. H. Hsu, J. K. Lin, et al., "Phase I Clinical Trial of Curcumin, a Chemoprotective Agent, in Patients with High-Risk or Pre-Malignant Lesions," Ancitcancer Research 21, no. 4B (2001): 2895-900
- Shoba, G., D. Joy, T. Joseph, et al., "Influence of Piperine on the Pharmacokinetics of Curcumin in Animals and Human Volunteers," Planta Medica 64, no. 4 (1998): 353-56.
- Gao, X., D. Deeb, H. Jiang, et. al., "Curcumin Differentially Sensitizes Malignant Glioma Cells to TRAIL/Apo2L-Mediated Apoptis Through Activation of Prospases and Release of Cytochrome c from Mitichondria," Journal of Experimental Therapeutics & Oncology 5, no. 1 (2005): 39-48.
* How to achieve knowledge transfer to the next generation(s) while still allowing room for/encouraging new ideas and innovation.
* How to help people develop lasting connections to other people
* How to connect people to services and activities that can help them live a healthy and rewarding life.
* How to connect people with the time, energy, and will to serve to opportunities for them to do so that fit their skills, abilities, preferences, and availability profile.
* How to build a dependable funding stream/business model as needed, as part of:
* How to help make those services / organizations be sustainable over time
(which circles around to)
* How to capture and retain knowledge of how to create and sustain an effective organization.
In my observation, organizational effectiveness tends to be closely linked to specific people, and their personal investment or dependability, as well as their connections to others. And not necessarily people with "leadership" skills, but with people who have whatever are the specific skills and interests or enthusiasm and connections needed to play their part in the organization.
And when the people who created an organization grow old and die, all too often, the history of how the organization actually came to be is lost with them, because they themselves were to busy to actually reflect upon it and capture it, and because it was so long ago no one can for sure remember, and because we as humans are not always sure how something came together - often the origin of something is as much based on friendships and other social connections as it is on a common purpose or intent.
Mentoring can ameliorate these problems, but in this case I mean mentoring with organizational intent or purpose - not mentoring just in order to serve/guide the mentee, but in order to serve the organization by facilitating the education of individuals as to how the organization actually works, in the hope that those individuals will continue with the organization and sustain it.
When funding that was previously available dries up, or a wealthy donor or organizer dies or has to retire, or there is other significant organizational change/turnover, the outside community/people who were "customers" or volunteers with that organization often have no idea what is going on, and little-to-no ability to revive or preserve whatever aspect of that organization they were attached to/benefited from.
All of this contributes to people feeling helpless or hopeless about their own community, even in a community where there is plenty of desire to *build* community. Without knowing how, people are lost, or isolated.
Here is Rosie on her last day of first grade. There was a ceremony for the lower school end of year, with singing and gratitude to teachers and the kids receiving their Summer Book, and lots of fuss for the 5th graders, who are moving up to Middle School. I never had such fuss when I was a kid. Not until High School graduation. There was just school and then no school.
Now we face the long summer. We have projects around the house, a little bit of local travel planned for hiking and sight-seeing, possibly some slightly longer trips to see relatives and friends, do some camping. Rosie will have some day camps, including ice skating camp, but mostly we can't afford those this year, so it'll be the free Tennis for Kids program, Get Outdoors York, Summer Reading Program, and whatever else we come up with, ending with a trip to Michigan in August for Rosie's 7th birthday, as she requested, to be with her cousins, grandparents, and Ann Arbor friends. What an amazing kiddo.
I told her earlier this week I think becoming her mom was the best thing I ever decided to do. It hasn't been easy, and I know there's no guarantee for how long life will last, but it's already been amazing, and I have high hopes for this one.
Looking for my college transcript in my files, I just ran across the printed report of my 1996 General GRE results. Verbal 740, Analytical 750, and Quantitative 690. (All my standardized test scores are also online, here.)
I was reminded that being better than 98-99% of other test takers in my verbal score has simply been a fact of life since... whenever it was that I first started taking them. Third grade, I think (at which point I tested at a high school graduate level) And I am remembering a conversation, walking across the Grinnell Campus, about these GRE test scores.
I was disappointed that my Quantitative score was only 690.
My boyfriend couldn't understand my disappointment. He pointed out that my Quantitative score was better than 79% percent of other people who took the GRE, which is all people applying for grad school. That was an achievement, was his point, and he wasn't wrong. I cheered up a little at the time, but I still can't shake the overall sense that I am (comparatively) weak in math.
I honestly wonder if this is an overlooked component to why perfectly smart middle school girls tend to self-evaluate as "not that good in math" at the same ability level where boys are more likely to be proud of their math skills. Boy are less likely to have had strong linguistic skills from an early age, so they don't have that portion of their own skill set and self-confidence to compare their math skills to.
I'm still processing my reaction to the museum. The outside is gorgeous. The inner lobby had a couple art pieces installed in it that just left me feeling puzzled as to their point or connection to anything else, and in talking to other members of the group, that reaction seemed shared. We spent a bunch of time on the bottom floor, which has to do with the beginning of the colonies and slave trade. I feel like I could have taken a full day to go through each floor, and still not have seen and heard all there was to see and hear. They have a couple of whole cabins that have been relocated into the museum. They have a Tuskegee airplane. There is so much. A lot of it I have already studied in the past 6 years, but some of it was still new.
My friend Serena and I spent some time in the gift shop. Lots of books. Some odd things. Like, they have a book of paper dolls of Michelle Obama and her clothes, but the representations of her and her fashion do not do either justice. I commented on that to Serena, and she agreed and felt it was clearly not the work of an African American artist. There were several odd notes like that. There were places in the historical displays were I was sorry they left things out. Only so much space, right?
I will have to go back a few times to take it all in, and plus it is going to change. There was a whole exhibit hall that's not open yet. Lots to see.
Speaking of seeing, Here are some pictures from the trip
[click on the picture to see the rest of the album]
On Sunday, June 10, 2001, I was the special guest at a brunch bridal shower hosted by some of my mom's best friends, at the home of Michael and Lucy Miller, in Ann Arbor. Then and now, I was struck by how amazing these women were, and how lucky I've been, to have had them in my life since I was little. They were not surrogate mothers, nor did I think of them as Aunts. They were, and are, the central network of my lifelong extended family, our closest friends. As long as I can remember, their homes and hearts have been open to me, and I have learned how to treat and get along with others, how to joke, play, dance, discuss, and live life, by their example almost as much as from my own parents.
(Other women who played that role in my life but were not present were Sue Downey, Gena Lovett, Martha McClatchey, Ina [Keyes] Wesenberg, Jane [Goldman] McGehee, Pat Hackley, and Ellen MacDonald. And I shall never forget Marci Gersh, who died some years ago.)
According to my journal, the hostesses were Lucy Miller, Cathie Dries, and Edi Bletcher, and guests present included myself, my mom, Anna Miller, Sandy and Anna Krecic, Penny McDonald, Tanja Vandervoo, Noel Winkler, and Suzanne Taylor. My friend Ann Cheng also attended, who had driven over for the weekend with me from Waterloo, Ontario, where I was still finishing my master's degree.
My journal also makes note of the food: Cheese and bread and wine and water, and then a delicious lunch of pasta (angel hair, w/pinenuts, artichoke hearts, garlic, mini zuchini slices, fresh dill w/oil & vinegar & lemon juice), grilled turkey breast (marinated in Montreal steak sauce, grilled by Tom Bletcher over hickory & cedar chips), fancy breads, and a dark greens salad. Lucy also put out a plate of pea pods and cherries, which looked pretty, with sesame seeds scattered over the peas and the cherries around the outside. And for dessert Cathie had made a cheesecake. That was served with fresh blueberries and raspberries and kiwi on top and on the side with optional raspberry sauce.
After lunch was presents, and they had me tell everyone how I knew the person whose gift I was opening. After general presents I got a recipe book, which included recipes from people who couldn't come, like Pat Hackley. Aimee McDonald was "reportedly in Chicago at the gala opening of Davy Rothbart's new magazine and couldn't come, but she sent a card which I'll have to re-read later 'cause it made me cry."
I have been through a divorce and many moves since that lovely Sunday, and let stuff go with each of those events as well as when I merged my life with Brian's. I no longer have all of the gifts from this event, but I still have that recipe book. Including a very spicy recipe from Aimee that warns the cook to be careful not to catch the kitchen on fire with the spicy hot oil. :) As you can tell from that book, and from what I wrote in my journal, they also helped teach me a love of food, and of sharing it with others.
I am so very thankful to have all these women in my life. I simply cannot express how much it means to me.
While doing that, I updated a sort of ongoing log of my major activities, which is over at this page on how I've spent my time.
I also changed references to livejournal so they now refer here to netmouse.dreamwidth.org
If you are curious about me, because I am new to you or just in general, that page has a lot in it about who I am and what I have done.
I am actively looking for short term freelance work, part-time work, or possibly full time work. If you have any opportunities you think I should consider, please reach out. Thanks!
This is due to the recent change in terms of service at Livejournal. I have had this account here on DW for a long time, but I haven't really used it much. I am hoping there will be a resurgence of use and enough of a community here to support my being active on Dreamwidth.
I have imported my content from LJ (in DW, under Organize->Import Content) and will be cross-posting to LJ from DW automagically.
This post is partly to see if that is working.
Actually, the first day of March I was still in Michigan, on a lovely visit with my parents, but I could tell that I'd caught a cold.
The second day in March I got us packed out of there and sheparded myself and Rosie home on a fairly direct noon flight. Then I fell over, while Brian took the kiddo kite flying. I dragged myself out of bed to eat soup and go to my history writer's group, which only meets quarterly, after which I was done.
The next few days are kind of a feverish blur. I ache all over, including my eye sockets. My cough, though rare, sounds horrid, and wracks my whole body. I could tell I was still not well last night, when I took to bed early and did not read, but rather simply turned out the light and crashed.
Today I put breakfast on the table, got folks out the door, did dishes, and *then* laid down, a huge improvement.
If only I had wings and had just flown a marathon, it would provide a much more interesting story as to why those parts of my back are so sore.
Details: A few weeks ago I got a half-off coupon to try meals-in-a-box service HelloFresh for a week (two meals), so we did. Then we canceled it, and I don't recommend it.
The ingredients were, in fact, very fresh, and well-packed. Really well packed. Lots of extra packaging well packed. Didn't feel at all environmentally responsible.
The meals were mildly tasty but not anything to jump up and down about. Our recipe list came with three recipes, but we only got two meals. I tried making the last recipe as well, and it wasn't very good either.
This was not a time-saver. Each meal took at *least* an hour to prepare. If you are a foodie and already have gourmet tools in your kitchen (which we do), food prep was all do-able, but it was not simple, and it was work-intensive.
The meals were also not to my liking in terms of balance, meat-veggie-starch-wise. More rice than we needed for four servings, not enough vegetables for it to be a complete meal.
Finally, although the web site advertised you could select your recipes, _after_ I chose the family package, I found out that only with the classic package can you choose your meals. Our first two meal options were pork sliders and a beef stir-fry. I don't usually eat beef, so I wanted to swap that out, but it wasn't an option. and it didn't look possible to change our package. That was a bummer.
So all in all? Got us to cook some different things in the week. Didn't really save us time, still cost a bit more than usual per meal, even at _half-off_. Definitely not worth it from our perspective.
We canceled our subscription immediately.
Fans of color/non-white fans, the following new free memberships are available now, first-come first serve:
- Boskone, February 17-19, 2017, Boston, MA, USA. Boskone is an annual science fiction convention, the oldest in New England. Its 2017 Guests are: Guest of Honor: Brandon Sanderson; Official Artist: Dave Seeley; Special Guest: Maryelizabeth Yturralde; Featured Filkers: The Fabulous Lorraine & Lojo Russo; Hal Clement Science Speaker: Milton Davis; and NESFA Press Guest: Ken MacLeod.
Boskone has donated two memberships to Con or Bust.
Finally, a note on gaming cons: Con or Bust is semi-regularly asked whether it can distribute donated memberships to cons solely focused on gaming. Unfortunately, Con or Bust doesn’t have the resources to expand to gaming cons, and so we’ve had to decline these generous offers. But our friends at I Need Diverse Games — newly set up as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization! — are delighted to accept donated memberships to gaming cons to distribute to POC/LGBTQIA/Disabled/other marginalized people. Please check out their assistance page for details!
That Friday her aunt Sarah flew in for a visit, so Saturday we had a sort of "family" party with some close friends, and we had a small ice cream cake with strawberries, and another round of singing and presents. And having Sarah visit was a gift in and of itself.
TODAY we have the "friends from school" chaos, I mean, party, and it's going to be here at the house as well. It would have been easier to go to Chuck e Cheese or a similar place like most of her classmates have done, but once we got a house with a pool she had her heart set on a pool party, so we have a lifeguard friend coming over as well as 8-10 school friends, and we got a Slip and Slide type slide which we still haven't set up yet, in case the pool gets boring. There's still a big pile of boxes in the living room but I worked hard the last few days getting boxes *out* of the playroom downstairs and setting it up with toys, and Brian installed the cat door to the utility room, so we can lock them out of that, so I'm hoping the kids will pretty much stay out of the living room because it's boring compared to the pool, the sun room, and the play room.
I just really hope no one sprains or breaks an ankle or anything, because the yard is full of trip hazards we haven't resolved yet. And the party starts in 3 hours and I'm still cleaning.
I'm trying not to freak out, though. Or as I imagine Chuck Wendig might write, "I'm not freaking out! YOU'RE freaking out. Just shut UP over there with your stupid 'freak-out' face."
Cupcakes are made and will be frosted once Brian and Rosie get home. I'm going to get back to sweeping and vacuuming, and then we will put up decorations.
Wish us luck!
Early this year I had to ratchet that participation way down due to other things in life, but I was still the person holding the webhosting account where the website was, so last week Pablo contacted me about helping move the website to being under a new domain name, in case we won. I already had a busy week coming up --Rosie's 6th birthday, my sister coming to visit, painting and cleaning yet to do in the new house to get ready, but there is family, and there is familia de corazon, so I stayed up late friday night completing the migration to http://northamericon17.com
I'd never migrated a Wordpress install to a new URL before. For Detcon1 we just created a new site from scratch. Thankfully Dreamhost had a page of instructions, and I'd gotten the 'this info takes time to propogate' steps done earlier. I hit a couple snags, but their online chat accessible support folk were terrific, and I got it done. Just a small cog in the wheel, but it's still nice to do my part.
I'm very pleased the convention is going to Puerto Rico and I'm proud of our guests of honor. It was both a disapointing yet also cool moment to realize we had to take Nalo Hopkinson off the long list of prospective GoHs because *she was already a Worldcon Guest of Honor* for next year. Go Helsinki. :) Despite that, our Guest list is really rockin' and I know it will be a great con.
Pablo and I are also hoping this will be a good opportunity to finally get the Latin American Fan Fund rolling, so if you're interested in helping with that, please let me know.
Did any of you try that? Or something close?
If you're still looking for things to read, there's a list at the bottom of that article, or you can subscribe to Tempest's web series on her Challenge page.
I sometimes post reviews of what I'm reading on Goodreads. I will try to make more mentions of things here.
What are you reading?
What did you read in the past year that maybe changed your perspective on things?