Archive for the ‘ Political ’ Category

Danzy Senna on Identity Politics

I’ve already talked about the book To Be Real a few times. One of my favorite essays was the introductory piece by Danzy Senna, also titled “To Be Real.” In it, she talks about trying to find an “authentic” identity to maker her real. She explored the search for a “neat culture box.”

She writes:

“I was left with only questions. To Be or Not to Be: black, Negro, African-American, feminist, femme, mulatto, quadroon, lesbian, straight, bisexual, lipstick, butch bottom, femme top, vegetarian, carnivore? These political identities let me into the maze of American identity politics, and hopefully out the other side.”

I’ve been trying for months to come up with something clever to say about this essay I very much enjoyed. I’ve been searching for some intelligent discourse on the appeal and danger of identity politics. Something about how we are always more than we seem. How we each exist at the sum of all of our identities. Something about how making the boxes too small pushes others out.

I’ve been thinking about this more today, 9 years after the September 11, 2001. With a lunatic threatening to burn Korans and American up in arms over the place of Muslims in American society, it seems more important than ever to remember that people are more than symbols, or labels, or movements.

Needless to say, I still haven’t formed my coherent thoughts. Instead, I will just share the concluding part of her essay.

“…it is not my “half-breed” lipstick-carrying feminist muddle that is too complicated, but identity politics which are too simplistic, stuck in the realm of the body, not the realm of belief and action. I have become suspicious of kente clothe and womyn symbols, the sale and mass consumption of cultural artifacts. My yearning to be real has led me in circles, to red herrings called identity, those visible signifiers of liberation that can be bought and sold as easily as any other object. Breaking free of identity politics has not resulted in political apathy, but rather it has given me an awareness of the complexity and ambiguity of the world we have inherited- and the very real power relations we must transform.”

Update on the Prom Madness

In yesterday’s post, I shared how a Mississippi school had canceled prom after a lesbian student asked to attend wearing a tuxedo with her female date.

Anyways, backed by the ACLU, she is now suing the school, asking for a court order that will force the school to hold prom (via AP). I’m thinking the school will give in. While plenty of people agree that homosexuality is wrong, this is just too much bad publicity, even for Mississippi.

One of the things I love about the interwebs is how quickly information can spread. The other thing I love is how quickly this information can lead to activism.

Blogger Jesse James of “just like jesse james” has posted the e-mail addresses of the principal, superintendent, and school board members. Let’s give them a piece of our minds, respectfuly and articulately.

Meanwhile, Autostraddle has started a gallery of prom pictures featuring readers who went girl/girl to prom. I’m thinking about submitting my own picture, or two, or three. (What can I say? I went to a few proms.)

Fans of Ellen (yes, the famous talk-show Ellen) are asking her to organize a prom for these Mississippi kids.

Finally, New Orleans hotel owner Sean Cummings has offered to transport the students in buses to the New Orleans and host a free prom at one of his properties (as discussed in prior linked AP article).

It makes me feel a little better to know that people are standing up against this close-mindedness.

Canceled Prom and Second Class Citizens

A school in northern Mississippi has canceled prom after a lesbian student requested permission to attend in a tuxedo with her girlfriend, also a student (as reported by the AP). Rather than directing responding to Constance McMillen’s request, backed by the ACLU, the school simply canceled prom.

Banning same-sex couples from prom is pretty hateful. But canceling prom altogether seems much more dramatic. I’m pretty sure a lot of upperclassman are hating McMillen right about now. Even if I was homophobic, I’d rather go to prom with a gay couple there than not have a prom at all. Itawamba County school board, way to go!

In case anyone forget, here’s a political cartoon to remind us of where gay people stand in America: