firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
I made this post on a mailing list, but it got rejected for being off topic (which was reasonable) so I thought I would recycle it here for the benefit of the choir. :)

Context: Someone announced a dating event. Some people criticizing the event because it was open only to people looking for opposite sex dating partners (plus the original announcer didn't mention this). Then other people called the criticizers PC. One of them complained that many people these days go out and look for things to be offended about, and they don't pay attention to intent, and intent is what really matters.

So I said,

Intent isn't as important as you think it is. And neither is offense. You are confusing "assuming malicious intent and taking offense" -- an individual response to an individual behavior -- with the broader situation of trying to change societal norms that are wrong and harmful.

If something is normal but harmful, then a person don't need to feel malicious in order to cause harm. They just have to go about their business, unaware of the harm they are causing. In order for society to change, people have to be made aware of harm they are causing and bepersuaded to change. That's uncomfortable because no one wants to change unless it was their idea. But if you believe that a fairer society is a good thing, then it is necessary.

Also, a person who calls out a pattern of harm isn't necessarily offended. They might just be trying to do their part to make society fairer.

Just to make it crystal clear: It is no big deal that this particular event excludes queer people. But it is part of a larger pattern where queer people are excluded from other things that matter a lot, such as marriage rights. It's a good thing for people to stand up and say "Hey, look at the pattern," when they see it. Because otherwise a lot of people won't realize it's even there.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
via [personal profile] piglet

http://www.womensmediacenter.com/feature/entry/leaning-in-can-get-you-laid-out

It's really good that people are talking about women's health and the effects of perfectionism, stress, poverty, and race. But I think this article conflates too many things and ends up being more on the "victim blaming" or "pitying" side and less on the "critical of society" side than it might intend.

It starts out by giving examples of privileged women who try to be perfect for their children and end up becoming sick. Then it goes on to say "The health risks associated with being a woman who does too much are even more pronounced for women of color." But the studies mentioned to support this claim didn't look at "doing too much." They seem to say that the poorer health of women of color is due to stress and poverty. Granted that a woman can cause herself stress through perfectionist tendencies, but if you're poor or a person of color, you don't have to be perfectionist or "leaning in" to be subjected to lots of stress. Society is capable of doing that to you even if you're trying to reduce stress in your life.

Then the article goes on to mention that women have more autoimmune diseases, depression, and anxiety than men. This might be partly due to biology (lower androgen levels, theorizes the president of the American Institute of Stress), but the article doesn't mention that there are likely diagnostic biases involved, or that women are more likely to seek medical care than men.

The author of this article has written a book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How Perfection Is Harming Young Women, which is about eating disorders. The first edition of the book was called Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/06/21/the-new-elite-attributing-privilege-to-class-vs-merit/ (emphasis in the original)
sociologist Shamus Khan...argues that new social mandates to diversify elite education may have some pernicious negative effects. A generation ago, when most students who attended the high school came from rich backgrounds, St. Paul’s students knew that they were there because they were members of the privileged class. Today about 1/3rd of students do not pay full tuition. Students, then — both those on scholarships and those who aren’t — learn to think of themselves as individuals who have worked hard to get where they are.

The problem, as Khan articulates it, is that identifying as a member of a class acknowledges that privileged individuals are lucky and may owe some gratitude to a society that has boosted them up. Thinking of oneself as a uniquely talented individual, in contrast, encourages a person to attribute all of their privilege to their own merits, so they not only feel no gratitude to society, but also fail to notice that our social institutions play a part in disadvantaging the disadvantaged.
The first comment is really insightful (emphasis mine):
EXACTLY! This process is alive and well in many institutions of higher learning. In law school, the same process is at play. Class privilege brought many of the young lawyers to law school, but the 3 years of hard work (which is fetishized) transforms that class privilege into something 'earned' - something that the individuals have to hide.

It is a way of laundering class privilege. And just like money laundering - turning the ill-gotten proceeds of crime into legitimate business ventures - the appearance is fundamentally altered. Instead of rich brats who had everything handed to them; they become bright, hard-working, intellectual go-getters who earned everything they have. Brilliant.
I'm not sure I like the implication that scholarships are responsible for the loss of understanding of class privilege. (Because then it's too easy to say "Let's do away with scholarships.") But the "laundering class privilege" metaphor strikes me as very powerful.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Wiscon panel report: Class, Culture, and Values in SF&F
Tracks: Reading, Viewing, and Critiquing Science Fiction (Power, Privilege, and Oppression)

Description:
Class isn't just how much money you have or what work you do; it also involves cultural beliefs, values, and attitudes that are expressed in how you talk, what you do in your free time, and all sorts of less tangible elements. (See Barbara Jensen's book Reading Classes: On Culture and Classism in America, due out in mid-May.) The SF&F writing and fannish communities are mainly middle-class folks, which makes the class values of SF&F works mostly middle class, too. What works and creators explore classes outside the mainstream, white, European, middle-class value systems? What class markers tend to show up most, or least, often? Do these works show the non-middle classes positively? negatively? realistically?

Panelists:
Moderator: Debbie Notkin
Eleanor A. Arnason
Alyc Helms
Danielle Henderson
Rose Lemberg

[My notes aren't a complete transcription and may represent my own language rather than the actual words of the panelists. I welcome corrections. I did not identify all audience commenters by name. If you said something I paraphrased here and want your name to be used, please comment or send me a private message.]

[The book mentioned in the panel description, Reading Classes: On Culture and Classism in America by Barbara Jensen, is available at http://cornellpress.cornell.edu/ For a 20% discount use promo code CAU6.]
Read more... )
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Body Acceptance: From All Sides
Track: Feminism and Other Social Change Movements

Panel description
Body love movements have been gaining momentum recently, but for many people on the margins, the discourse needs to be expanded. The current movement of body love fails to account for persons with disabilities, people of color, trans and gender nonconforming people, pregnant and postpartum people, and fat people, among many others. We aim to discuss how (and in some cases, whether) body love and acceptance apply beyond a purely gendered analysis and expand to nonnormative bodies.

Panelists:
Julie Hayes
s.e. smith
Tanya D.
E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman
Mary Ann Mohanraj
Moderator - Annie D Chen

Twitter hash tag: #BodyAcceptance

I have a paraphrased transcript of this panel, and will post it on request, but that doesn't seem like the most helpful way to present the good stuff about this panel. 

I also tried to write it up by making a list of all the inappropriate assumptions mentioned that people make about each other's bodies and attitudes, but that just depressed me after I had gotten to 22 items (which wasn't all of them). 

So here are my general thoughts and notes.
Read more... )
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
http://www.socialjusticeleague.net/2011/09/how-to-be-a-fan-of-problematic-things/

One could also describe this post as "how to be a fan of things that have problematic elements, without necessarily being a fan of the problematic elements themselves." And/or "how to be a fan of what you're a fan of without attempting to defend it as perfect and without badgering other people to consume it if they have decided they don't want to."
Liking problematic things doesn’t make you an asshole. In fact, you can like really problematic things and still be not only a good person, but a good social justice activist (TM)! After all, most texts have some problematic elements in them, because they’re produced by humans, who are well-known to be imperfect. But it can be surprisingly difficult to own up to the problematic things in the media you like, particularly when you feel strongly about it, as many fans do. We need to find a way to enjoy the media we like without hurting other people and marginalised groups. So with that in mind, here are my suggestions for things we should try our darnedest to do as self-confessed fans of problematic stuff.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
via [livejournal.com profile] moominmuppet

"How Unpaid Internships Perpetuate Rampant Inequality in the US," by Anna Lekas Miller

Excerpt:
Recent graduates, disturbed by the dearth of job opportunities, began to take internships as a last resort to stay competitive in the labor market. Although an internship used to be akin to an apprenticeship—a temporary stint of unpaid, hands-on labor resulting in an eventual job offer—the explosion of both college students and recent graduates taking internships no longer guarantees a paid position. Instead, as more and more young people demonstrated they were willing to supply an unpaid labor force so long as it was framed as an “internship,” internships have become a means for companies and non-profit organizations to re-package once paying jobs and cut corners in a tight economy.

Internships are the new entry-level job—the same duties and basic experience, only this time without compensation or benefits.
Unpaid internships were common when I was in college in the early 1980s, but I refused to take one. I had an idea that it was important for me to work for a paycheck. Nevertheless, my parents and I paid for my first career job in three ways: (1) I got a bachelor's degree (my parents paid my tuition); (2) I went to the Denver Publishing Institute summer program (my parents paid my tuition); (3) I took an entry level publishing job that paid $10K a year to start, which didn't cover my expenses (and my expenses didn't include student loans). However, the job did have health benefits.

I see that the long and venerable tradition of paying for entry into a career path continues, although it sounds like it's somewhat worse than it used to be. Another excerpt:
It's becoming more and more expected for college students to have had at least one, if not several, internships by the time they graduate. Students that come from a privileged background, with parents who are willing and able to finance sometimes serial internships, are able to survive in internship culture financially unscathed. Eventually, they intern for long enough to make the connections necessary to break into the white-collar world. But students from lower- or even middle-income backgrounds feel financially stressed taking on unpaid work, but many do anyway to compete with their more privileged peers in the job market.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
This was painful to read but I thought it was worth it. And the writer is correct with respect to me—I had no idea that's what he did.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/29/1011562/-Most-of-you-have-no-idea-what-Martin-Luther-King-actually-did

Excerpts (emphasis in the original post):
...this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

I'm guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing "The Help," may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.
violence trigger warning )
firecat: gorilla with arms folded looking stern (unamused)
My willingness to use flying as a form of transportation was drastically reduced when the TSA instituted rules limiting the amount of liquids through the security checkpoint. Originally, empty beverage bottles were not allowed through the checkpoint either. That was a boundary for me because I consider it a basic need to carry a lot of water with me when I travel, and I consider it an unreasonable burden to be required to purchase an overpriced bottle of water after clearing the checkpoint. (I can't find any rules about empty bottles on the TSA site right now and I've had reports from people who fly that they were able to bring empty bottles through the checkpoint, so maybe that rule has changed.)

As a person with medical conditions, I am exempt from the rules about liquids, but it offends me that the rules are imposed on other people. It also strikes me as pointless to have rules that people can exempt themselves from just by saying they have a medical condition.

So for the past several years I've flown very rarely.

The fact that I need to buy two seats to be comfortable also contributes to my choice to limit flying.

The new rules about full-body scanners and more intrusive pat-downs strengthen my resolve to limit the amount of flying I do. I don't have a lot of body modesty and don't fear sexual harrassment, so I don't think I would be personally harmed by going through the scanner or being manually searched.

But I believe people have a right not to be subjected to invasive searches without probable cause, and I'm not willing to relinquish my right.

I am privileged and fortunate that I have a choice whether to fly, and I am not making any recommendations for other people.

This mainly affects my likelihood of going to Wiscon. Theoretically I could drive to Wiscon and I'm not ruling that out, but I looked into it once and it seemed like it would be more driving than would be enjoyable for me. I'm not making any decisions about flying now, because a lot of things could happen between now and May, but I'm somewhat less likely to go if the scans and invasive searches become standard.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
This list by John Scalzi is a good start for understanding what it means to have privilege. Quite a few of the comments are good too (as of right now there are 155 comments).

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/10/18/things-i-dont-have-to-think-about-today/
firecat: girl's hands holding apple on her lap (holding apple)
Here is what [profile] nisi_la wants. [profile] nisi_la is a Wiscon 35 Guest of Honor.

http://nisi-la.livejournal.com/29006.html
Meanwhile, I want everyone who was hurt or offended or puzzled or appalled or angered or infuriated or stymied or worried or threatened or in any way negatively affected by Elizabeth Moon's post to attend WisCon 35. Because when I was asked to be a Guest of Honor for that convention, you were the ones I was expecting to see there. And because I want to dance with you, and sing with you, and talk about smart stuff with you, and admire how beautiful we are, and flaunt it!

That's what I want. You do what's right for you, though. I don't always get what I want. I will miss you if you don't attend, but I love you unconditionally.
I don't know if I'm going to Wiscon, but my attendance or failure to attend isn't likely to have anything to do with Elizabeth Moon's offensive statements about immigrants and Muslims (my post about that is here: http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/688989.html). Basically, I plan to attend if my life circumstances permit.

I will attend because I know people on the concom and I care about them and want to support them. Because I see many friends there I don't see anywhere else. Because there are always interesting conversations (many of which, for me, are in the lobby rather than at the panels or speeches). Because there's so much going on that for me it's possible to ignore some of the stuff and people I don't like or agree with. Because I think the Tiptree Award is cool and important. Because a number of important organizations have been born at Wiscon (including the Carl Brandon Society and Broad Universe) and I want to support an environment that gives birth to such organizations. Because people who make Wiscon happen have been trying hard in a number of ways to increase inclusiveness for oppressed and marginalized people at Wiscon.

The inclusiveness efforts that affect me personally are: Wiscon people have acted to oppose fat hatred and promote fat acceptance. Wiscon people have tried to accommodate people with mobility difficulties. Wiscon people have tried to accommodate people who have social interaction limits. Wiscon people have not done a perfect job of implementing/supporting these things, but they've tried hard and have made real improvements, from my point of view.

I've tried to form an opinion about whether the Wiscon concom should (have) ch(o)ose(n) to rescind Elizabeth Moon's guest of honor status. I haven't settled on an opinion. I'm aware that my circumstances—as a white person, born in the US to parents born in the US, with a flexible religious affiliation (atheist Buddhist)—afford me the privilege of not having to form an opinion.

Following are some of my thoughts that didn't coalesce into an opinion:

She said something that's deeply contrary to Wiscon's policies of inclusiveness, and she has not shown in public any inclination to change her mind or apologize for hurting people by making these statements. As such it's contradictory for Wiscon to be sending the message that it honors her.

She said it after she was chosen as GOH. To what extent is Wiscon responsible for things that GOHs say after they are chosen as GOHs?

She has said similar things before, although they didn't garner the same amount of attention. To what extent is Wiscon responsible for researching the prior public statements of prospective GOHs to find out whether they've said stuff that's contradictory to Wiscon's policies?

I value the idea of responding to speech that we don't agree with, with more speech.

I value having events that are dedicated to certain viewpoints, at which people can discuss the finer aspects of those viewpoints (events with some room for non-"viewpoint-101" conversations, if you will). When people attending those events feel obligated to spend time defending and explaining the most basic elements of our viewpoints, that space loses some of its value.

When someone we invited to our event says something so threatening and hateful that people we want to be part of our event no longer want to attend or feel unsafe to attend, our community is weakened.
firecat: uhura making a scary hand gesture (uhura nichelle nicolls)
Subject line is a quote from Animal Farm by George Orwell. I'm referencing the "but some...are more equal" part, not attempting to insult any humans or any subset of humans by comparing them to animals.

I find this post upsetting: http://e-moon60.livejournal.com/335480.html
There was a lot of excellent critique in the comments to that post, but now the comments have been deleted, so I want to make my critique public. I'm only addressing a couple of bits.

Moon writes:
the business of a citizen is the welfare of the nation

I think the business of a human being is the welfare of other human beings and nonhuman life and the planet in general. (Other parts of the universe seem relatively protected from harm by us, so far.)

Insofar as the concepts of "citizen" and "nation" conflict with the above (for example, by encouraging the attitude "WE are good and THEY are bad, therefore THEIR welfare isn't worth our consideration"), I'm not in favor of those concepts.

Moon writes:
A group must grasp that if its non-immigrant members somewhere else are causing people a lot of grief (hijacking planes and cruise ships, blowing up embassies, etc.) it is going to have a harder row to hoe for awhile, and it would be prudent (another citizenly virtue) to a) speak out against such things without making excuses for them and b) otherwise avoid doing those things likely to cause offence.

How does "a group" get defined? Moon is arguing that the proposed Park51 development is "likely to cause offence" due to the terrorist attacks in New York on 9/11/01. She defines a group called "Muslims" that includes both the developers and the terrorists. But I would guess that a lot of Muslims don't think they should be lumped into the same group as the terrorists.

The group "monotheists" also includes both those developers and those terrorists. So would it be prudent of Christians to scrap their plans for monotheist cultural centers in case the plans offend people? Is it incumbent upon them all to say "As a monotheist, I think it's wrong for monotheists to attack the WTC"? If they aren't expected to do this, why not?

Then there's the phrase "likely to cause offence." To me the wording implies that offense is an independent entity or thing. It's not. It's a human mental/emotional state, based on beliefs. Wherever you have offendedness, you have some humans who believe certain things. But note that the phrase doesn't mention which humans are offended and doesn't mention what their beliefs are.

Moon writes:
they should have been able to predict that this would upset a lot of people.

So Moon is creating a set of people and labeling them as "other," as "immigrants," and associating them with the acts of a terrorist organization. Then she is arguing that the people so labeled have the following civic responsibilities: (a) understand that some people in the country they live in lump them in with terrorists and mistakenly consider them all immigrants; (b) come to an agreement about which of those people to avoid offending; (c) come to an agreement about what behaviors will "upset a lot of people"; and (d) all avoid those behaviors.

I think those are unreasonable expectations. Especially when they are NOT paired with the expectation that other citizens have a duty either to educate themselves about the groups they consider "other," or to leave them alone.

I don't expect everyone to agree with my opinion, but since this is a sensitive subject, I expect civility in the comments to this post. I reserve the right to moderate/delete/freeze comments/threads if I think there's trouble brewing.
firecat: pink and blue triangles (bi triangle)
I'm pissed that the court did not vote to repeat Prop 8.

I'm also inclined to hope that this analysis by The Daily Kos is right and the court's decision basically amounts to "OK, you have to call it 'mawwidge' instead of 'marriage' but otherwise it's exacty the same thing." (I don't know enough to understand if that's correct. But if so it's pretty cunning.)

And I do think that by leaving the marriage rights of the 18,000 already-married same sex couples in place, they're pointing out that California is in a completely untenable position with regard to same-sex marriage.

I know full well that this will lead to at least two ballot initiatives in the near future, and I'm dreading having to go down that road again.

But since we have to go down that road again, at least the pro-marriage side appears to be better-organized now than it was during the prop 8 campaign.

If I were legally married to the OH, I would talk to him about getting a divorce in response to the court's decision. But we never did tell the government.

(However, an unmarried opposite-sex couple has more privilege than an unmarried same-sex couple, because people presume we're married unless we explicitly tell them otherwise.)

Incidentally, because it seems important to be out these days: I'm bisexual and polyamorous.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Awesome summary of what one white person has learned in conversations about race.

http://synecdochic.dreamwidth.org/313918.html

Lazy IBARW

9 Aug 2008 10:55 am
firecat: blue bubble background with text "white privilege: you're soaking in it" (white privilege)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sparkymonster and [livejournal.com profile] altfriday5 for providing me with fodder for Blog Against Racism week.

1. List 5 things which are basic common knowledge in your culture, which people outside are unfamiliar with. This is not about obscurity, but something everyday to you, that others go "bzuh?" at.
Hm. First I would have to know what my culture is. I was raised in Michigan as a WASP, which means that a lot of my culture of origin is pretty mainstream and people in other cultures, at least in the US, are expected to know about it. In order to get to things that others go "bzuh" about, I need to talk about subcultures that I now belong to - queer, poly, fat activist, SF fandom, geek.
--Queer: Most queer people I know are conversant with the terms "butch" and "femme," although there's certainly little agreement what the terms mean. Many folks who don't know much about the queer community don't understand those terms.
--Poly: The concept of polyamory is not really known in the mainstream. The part of it that mainstream people seem to have the hardest time with is the part where people actually know about each other's other partners, rather than the multiple relationships being kept hidden.
--Fat activist: We call ourselves fat because it is descriptive and we consider the terms overweight and obese to be offensive or misleading. People outside this subculture are confused because they think "fat" is offensive and the other terms are "kinder."
--SF fandom: In this subculture, it is considered polite and appropriate in conversation to correct another person's mistake. In mainstream culture, a lot of people consider it rude to do this.
--Geek: Glasses are considered sexy. (Kind of a lame example. I'm finding it hard to come up with a better one.)

2. What was the last book you read that was written by a person who is a different race than you? Do you seek out books written by people of other races? Why? Why not?
I recently listened to the audiobook Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. A few months ago I read Dark Reflections by Samuel R Delaney. I mostly read books by white people, but I do sometimes seek out SF&F by people of color. If they are writing about their culture, I want to learn about it. And regardless of whether they are writing about their culture, I want more authors of color to be published. Some publishers are reluctant to publish works by authors of color or who belong to (US) minority cultures, because they assume that white people won't want to read such works. There's a tendency for mainstream culture to pigeonhole such writers and assume that they will only write about how they are different and that their works will only appeal to other people like them. The former is not true, and it would be nice if the latter were not true either.

I make more of an effort to seek out movies and documentaries by people of color than I do to seek out books -- I usually really enjoy them and it seems there are a lot of really talented people of color in the film industry.

3. What did you eat at dinner last night? Would you call it ethnic food? Why?
I ate a veggie burrito at a restaurant that serves Mexican and Caribbean food. I guess burritos are considered ethnic food in the US. (At least I am aware of a concept of "American food" that includes only hamburgers, sandwiches made with bread, and meat+potatoes entrees; everything else is considered "ethnic"). On the other hand, taquerias around here are more common than McDonaldses.

4. Has your gender presentation changed over the last 5 years? Has this change/lack of change been a deliberate choice on your part?
Mostly it hasn't changed, but over the past few months I've widened the selection of clothes I wear, so that now in addition to cotton pants, t-shirts, caftan tops, and hawaiian shirts, I also sometimes wear dresses and babydoll tops. I'm mainly doing it for comfort and "lazy respectability"; that is, at home I tend to clothing that is only one step removed from underwear (bike shorts and tank tops), but sometimes I want to go out to dinner somewhere that outfit would make me underdressed, so I take off the tank top and throw on a dress. I feel like I am in drag when I wear dresses though.

5. Do you discuss race and racism in your livejournal/blog or in person? Why have you made that choice?
I participate in the discussion when other people start it. I feel I should be more proactive; I think it's an important topic of conversation. I feel like as a white person who has done some reading and thinking and listening about racism, I ought to be talking to other white people about what I have learned, so that the burden of education doesn't fall entirely on people of color.

6. Bonus question. Were you aware of International Blog Against Racism Week? Did you choose to participate in it? Why or why not?
I was aware of it and this is my participation in it for this year (somewhat late, I guess). I didn't participate more fully because for the past little while I haven't had the mental energy to initiate discussions about political issues. As a white person I have the privilege of being able to ignore the topic of racism if I don't feel like engaging in it.

Lazy IBARW

9 Aug 2008 10:55 am
firecat: blue bubble background with text "white privilege: you're soaking in it" (white privilege)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sparkymonster and [livejournal.com profile] altfriday5 for providing me with fodder for Blog Against Racism week.

1. List 5 things which are basic common knowledge in your culture, which people outside are unfamiliar with. This is not about obscurity, but something everyday to you, that others go "bzuh?" at.
Hm. First I would have to know what my culture is. I was raised in Michigan as a WASP, which means that a lot of my culture of origin is pretty mainstream and people in other cultures, at least in the US, are expected to know about it. In order to get to things that others go "bzuh" about, I need to talk about subcultures that I now belong to - queer, poly, fat activist, SF fandom, geek.
--Queer: Most queer people I know are conversant with the terms "butch" and "femme," although there's certainly little agreement what the terms mean. Many folks who don't know much about the queer community don't understand those terms.
--Poly: The concept of polyamory is not really known in the mainstream. The part of it that mainstream people seem to have the hardest time with is the part where people actually know about each other's other partners, rather than the multiple relationships being kept hidden.
--Fat activist: We call ourselves fat because it is descriptive and we consider the terms overweight and obese to be offensive or misleading. People outside this subculture are confused because they think "fat" is offensive and the other terms are "kinder."
--SF fandom: In this subculture, it is considered polite and appropriate in conversation to correct another person's mistake. In mainstream culture, a lot of people consider it rude to do this.
--Geek: Glasses are considered sexy. (Kind of a lame example. I'm finding it hard to come up with a better one.)

2. What was the last book you read that was written by a person who is a different race than you? Do you seek out books written by people of other races? Why? Why not?
I recently listened to the audiobook Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. A few months ago I read Dark Reflections by Samuel R Delaney. I mostly read books by white people, but I do sometimes seek out SF&F by people of color. If they are writing about their culture, I want to learn about it. And regardless of whether they are writing about their culture, I want more authors of color to be published. Some publishers are reluctant to publish works by authors of color or who belong to (US) minority cultures, because they assume that white people won't want to read such works. There's a tendency for mainstream culture to pigeonhole such writers and assume that they will only write about how they are different and that their works will only appeal to other people like them. The former is not true, and it would be nice if the latter were not true either.

I make more of an effort to seek out movies and documentaries by people of color than I do to seek out books -- I usually really enjoy them and it seems there are a lot of really talented people of color in the film industry.

3. What did you eat at dinner last night? Would you call it ethnic food? Why?
I ate a veggie burrito at a restaurant that serves Mexican and Caribbean food. I guess burritos are considered ethnic food in the US. (At least I am aware of a concept of "American food" that includes only hamburgers, sandwiches made with bread, and meat+potatoes entrees; everything else is considered "ethnic"). On the other hand, taquerias around here are more common than McDonaldses.

4. Has your gender presentation changed over the last 5 years? Has this change/lack of change been a deliberate choice on your part?
Mostly it hasn't changed, but over the past few months I've widened the selection of clothes I wear, so that now in addition to cotton pants, t-shirts, caftan tops, and hawaiian shirts, I also sometimes wear dresses and babydoll tops. I'm mainly doing it for comfort and "lazy respectability"; that is, at home I tend to clothing that is only one step removed from underwear (bike shorts and tank tops), but sometimes I want to go out to dinner somewhere that outfit would make me underdressed, so I take off the tank top and throw on a dress. I feel like I am in drag when I wear dresses though.

5. Do you discuss race and racism in your livejournal/blog or in person? Why have you made that choice?
I participate in the discussion when other people start it. I feel I should be more proactive; I think it's an important topic of conversation. I feel like as a white person who has done some reading and thinking and listening about racism, I ought to be talking to other white people about what I have learned, so that the burden of education doesn't fall entirely on people of color.

6. Bonus question. Were you aware of International Blog Against Racism Week? Did you choose to participate in it? Why or why not?
I was aware of it and this is my participation in it for this year (somewhat late, I guess). I didn't participate more fully because for the past little while I haven't had the mental energy to initiate discussions about political issues. As a white person I have the privilege of being able to ignore the topic of racism if I don't feel like engaging in it.

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