InVisible Ink: A new dawn, a new day for District 1

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jaisonleo
[Originally published in LEO Weekly]
 

Now that the dust has settled on the District 1 Metro Council race where Jessica Green ousted incumbent Attica Scott, I am inclined to do a little ranting about the race.

I have known Green and Scott for many years and consider them both to be dear friends. Green and I attended Central High School together and were close friends back then. We co-captained the award-winning Mock Trial team there, and I spent a significant amount of time hanging with the Green family during my high school years. I have a fondness for the late Dr. Judy Green and many of the Green siblings. Jessica and I remain in contact via social media and always share a friendly hug and conversation when we see one another.

Scott and I have been community activists for many years, advocating for various social justice causes. I worked for her briefly at Kentucky Jobs with Justice about 10 years ago. I voted for her when she ran for school board, and I supported her appointment to D1 after Judy Green resigned.

I intentionally avoided publicly endorsing either woman prior to Election Day, partly because I was afraid of offending either friend by endorsing her opponent, but mostly because both women are talented, passionate and qualified individuals. Now that things have been decided, I feel at ease offering some observations of their race.

As reported by LEO and WFPL, Green sent a campaign mailer that criticized Scott as supporting “illegal immigrants” in Arizona over jobs for District 1 residents. Besides being inaccurate, the mailer was extremely offensive for its use of the term “illegal.” I am more than disappointed in my friend Green for this fear-mongering, race-baiting mailer.

As if The Man doesn’t already do enough to keep blacks and Latinos beefing, here we have a black woman using brown folks as political pawns. Green is a black woman with both LGBT and special needs family members, so surely she is aware of the power of words to hurt and harm. Green is an educated woman who surely has learned that people are never illegal, just undocumented. Her use of the “i” word should be embarrassing and troubling to all who supported her candidacy, and she should apologize.

Green has spoken much about her mother’s legacy during the race, but I am positive that mailer was not one that would make Dr. Green proud. As an adoptive parent, Dr. Green welcomed and loved all, even those whom others deemed unworthy. If Jessica desires to continue her mother’s legacy of service to others, I highly suggest she begin by embracing the undocumented citizens of this community, including those who undoubtedly live in District 1.

Scott has done some wonderful things during her three years in office, but frankly, this was a popularity contest. The Green family is well connected and well respected throughout west Louisville, and that advantage was something Scott simply didn’t work hard enough to overcome in this race. To her own demise, she remained too much of an activist and not enough of a politician.

In an ideal world, one’s record would speak for itself. Scott has championed many issues that overwhelmingly affect black people, like Ban the Box, the restoration of voting rights, raising the minimum wage, vacant and abandoned properties, and illegal dumping. But in this time and place where few folks read the newspaper or remain politically engaged, many in D1 were easily persuaded about who to vote for. That is not to say that those who voted for Green did so without reason, but rather to say that anyone who did not vote for Scott in spite of all she did for the black, brown and poor white people of this city has done a shitty job of explaining why she didn’t deserve your vote. It was indeed a campaign of personalities, and Scott just didn’t come across as likeable enough to retain her seat.

I wish Scott the best of luck. She’s been one of the best council members this city has ever seen. Hopefully there is a Mayor Fischer political appointment for her somewhere. As for Green, I also wish her the best of luck. As I recently wrote, I think it is great to have a young person on Metro Council. I hope the Jessica I know uses this opportunity to bring fresh perspective, ideas and innovation to the city by picking up where Dr. Green and Attica Scott left off in creating a district and community that is truly for everyone — young and old, rich and poor, and the documented and undocumented alike.

Detroit Water Update & How to Help

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In a previous link roundup, we told you Detroit is in the process of shutting off water to 150,000 residents who are delinquent on their bills. Here’s an update: The U.N. has now said shutting off water to those who can’t pay “constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.”

“Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying. In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, the expert on the human right to water and sanitation.    

The experts have been informed that a large-scale water shut-off for non-payment is happening in the City of Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been disconnecting water services from households which have not paid bills for two months, and has accelerated the process since early June, with the number of disconnections rising to around 3,000 customers per week. As a result, some 30,000 households are expected to be disconnected from water services over the next few months.    

Because of a high poverty rate and a high unemployment rate, relatively expensive water bills in Detroit are unaffordable for a significant portion of the population.    

Leilani Farha, the expert on the right to adequate housing, expressed concern that children are being removed by social services from their families and homes because, without access to water, their housing is no longer considered adequate. “If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African Americans they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the US has ratified,” Farha added.

A group called the Council of Canadians is planning to send a convoy to deliver water to Detroit on July 24th, saying, “Our water is their water.” A volunteer-led group called Detroit Water Brigade is working to provide emergency relief in the form of bottled water, water coolers, jugs, rainwater catchment barrels, filters, and other supplies to Detroit families. You can buy water to be sent to Detroit via their online registry. The high temperature in Detroit today was 88°.

Tempted by the Fruit of Another: Link Roundup!

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Here’s what has our attention this week:

  • This article, “Should Black Professors Hide Their Credentials from the Police?” looks at the viral video of a black female professor being clotheslined and body slammed to the ground by a white campus policeman during an arrest for jaywalking. “Announcing that you’re a professor, especially in the Obama era, often triggers the ire of white police officers. It’s almost like adding the proverbial ‘uppity negro’ to an intersectional analysis.” —Shannon King, history professor at The College of Wooster.
  • The Louisville Forum planned a discussion on “Growing Up Transgender” …with no transgender people on the panel. Lots of people weren’t too happy about it (including Auntie-to-the-Show Monica Roberts). After initially doubling down & saying the panel was well thought-out & they thought the mother of a trans person would be able to talk about trans experiences, they have now amended the panel. The mom is off, and her son will speak for himself instead.
  • The View is revamping its panel, and adding a male co-host for the first time in its history: former Sex and the City actor Mario Cantone. Are they abandoning their all-woman philosophy? Suggesting a gay man might as well be a woman? We’re not sure, but it probably couldn’t have gotten much worse than the panel already was.
Maya Peterson: Our Hero

Maya Peterson: Our Hero

  • What Happens When a Prep School’s Black Student President Mocks Her White Male Classmates:

    One day last March, Lawrenceville School Student Body President Maya Peterson donned L.L. Bean boots and a Yale University sweater to pose for an Instagram photo depicting what she described as a typical ‘Lawrenceville boi’: white, Republican, and cockily holding a hockey stick. Peterson, who graduated in June, added hashtags like “#romney2016,” “#confederate,” and “#peakedinhighschool” before posting.

    Administrators at Lawrenceville, the most expensive high school in the country, forced her to resign as student body president. Peterson, who is also an out lesbian, and basically is just our hero, period, had ruffled some feathers already, what with her efforts to make the school more welcoming and accessible for those who aren’t of the rich/male/white/cis persuasion. One of her first acts as president was to institute a “diversity representative” on the student council board. She also lead a push for gender neutral bathrooms. Neither initiative was particularly popular on campus.

    She had a few things to say about the whole affair: “I understand why I hurt people’s feelings, but I didn’t become president to make sure rich white guys had more representation on campus,” she said. “Let’s be honest. They’re not the ones that feel uncomfortable here.” And, “Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging, openly misogynistic Lawrentians. If that’s a large portion of the school’s male population, then I think the issue is not with my bringing attention to it in a lighthearted way, but rather why no one has brought attention to it before.”

    (Photo of Maya is from We Are the Youth, which you should also check out ’cause it’s a cool series of portraits and profiles of LGBTQ youth, in their own words.)

Tempted by the Fruit of Another: Link Roundup!

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As you might have noticed, we’re taking it a bit easy for the summer. But here’s a quick link roundup to keep you informed and entertained!

dapper

  • “These things go in cycles, of course: the ’80s were largely about androgyny and flamboyance, with the decade’s defining styles — synthpop, house, etc — arising out of gay culture. The early days of grunge were also characterized by reasonably progressive gender politics — its rise coincided with riot grrrl, and Kurt Cobain was famously a self-identified feminist. As someone who lived out their teens in the ’90s, being a misogynist shithead was something you sneered at the meatheads on the football team for doing. [...] By the late ’90s, though, the pendulum was swinging back.” (Read: Twilight of the Assholes: Goodbye to Dov Charney, Terry Richardson, and Hipster Misogyny)

 

Tempted by the Fruit of Another: Link Roundup!

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  • Must see clip: LaVerne Cox on Wendy Williams!
  • Check out this story of a classical pianist transwoman & how, after coming out stalled her career in the US, she found success in Canada. (Thanks to friend of the show Daniel Gilliam from sister station WUOL for sending us this story)

    Classical pianist Sara Davis Buechner played with some of the most prestigious orchestras in the United States, winning praise from presidents and capturing awards that pointed to a promising career as one of the best in the world.

    But back then, she was a man named David.

    When Buechner came out publicly as a transgender woman in 1998, the musician risked it all, lost it all and has been working over the past decade in Canada to get it back again.”

     

  • A young mom posted a college graduation picture of herself and her baby daughter to a facebook group called Black Women Do Breastfeed. breastfeedingThe internet went off and said a bunch of ignorant stuff about it.


    The woman, Karlesha Thurman, countered that her daughter was her inspiration to finish her degree, writing on her facebook, “I found out I was pregnant my last year of college, had my daughter one week into my last semester, she was my motivation to keep going, so me receiving my BA was OUR moment, so glad I captured the moment and so glad you shared it with the world so thank you again.”

  • Tennessee is now the first state where a woman can now be jailed for the outcome of her pregnancy. Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill into law (against the advice of reproductive health groups, doctors, and addiciton specialists of course) saying that if a woman uses drugs during pregnancy and it has a harmful effect on her fetus or newborn, she can be charged with criminal assault and jailed. It’s ok, though, we’re sure there are plenty of addiction recovery centers in the state that know how to treat pregnant women. Wait, no there are not. From HuffPo:

    Advocates for pregnant women say the bill will only scare women away from seeking prenatal care and addiction treatment, and that it does nothing to help low-income mothers who may not be able to take time away from their families and jobs to seek treatment. According to RH Reality Check, only two of Tennessee’s 177 addiction treatment facilities provide on-site prenatal care and allow older children to stay with their mothers.

  • Our own Dr. Story was on a Huffington Post Live panel about the return of Outkast on the festival circuit this summer. They’re coming to Forecastle Festival in July and we can’t wait!
  • R. Kelly’s 14-year-old son has been outed as trans, and some in the media are getting it all wrong - especially a site called Naturally Moi, who posted a very poorly-informed piece with the headline “R. Kelly’s Daughter Is Now a Boy,” speculated on whether the child’s mom’s divorce caused his trans identity, and used the wrong pronoun throughout the article. We won’t give it link traffic, but google if you want – it’s as bad as you expect. For the record, here are GLAAD’s guidelines for reporting on trans people, used by the AP, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and others.
  • The American Medical Association says trans folk should be able to change their birth certificates and other documentation regardless of whether they have surgery (Thanks to friend to the show T Gonzales for posting this link). NBC reports:

    An AMA report says identification documents that are consistent with gender identity rather than anatomy is essential to basic social and economic functioning. The report also says patients deserve medical care that is appropriate to their birth anatomy even if they self-identify as the opposite sex.

  • And finally, fairness comes to Danville! The Danville City Commissioners approved the ordinance 4-to-1 on Monday, making it the 7th Kentucky city to grant LGBTQ folks protection against discrimination (along with Louisville, Lexington, Covington, Frankfort, Morehead, and our little baby Vicco).fairness danville

 

Tony Award Winner Kenny Leon on His Work & the Importance of Preserving African American Classics

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Kenny LeonFriend to the show Kenny Leon already had an impressive resume—and after Sunday night, he can add Tony Award winner. He took home the award for best direction for his work on “A Raisin in the Sun.” (which also won for best revival of a play). Leon was a guest on WFPL’s Strange Fruit last year and told us he hadn’t always planned on a career in the arts.

“Basically when you grow up poor in the South, your parents are itching for you to do something that they know something about,” he explained. “My choice was to be a teacher, a preacher, a doctor or lawyer, something like that—and being the first person in my family to go to college.”

He headed from Florida to Atlanta, where his involvement in the Atlanta University Center introduced him to people like Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, and LaTanya Richardson.

Soon he was teaching theatre workshops in the prison system and nursing homes, and working with and for the homeless in Atlanta. “That really rewarded me,” he said. “I thought God had put me here to have a life in the arts.”

 

Photo credit: kennyleon.com

“The New Black” Film Looks at Fight for Marriage Equality in Maryland; Cover Girl LaVerne Cox is right on TIME; Kanye & Kim Tie the Knot

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Still from "The New Black"  (Credit: Jen Lemen)

Still from “The New Black”
(Credit: Jen Lemen)

Last week we were invited by the Muhammad Ali Center to host a talkback panel after a screening of The New Black, a film looking at how LGBTQ activism, the black church, homophobia, and queer people of color affected the fight for marriage equality in Maryland.

The film was great (if there’s a screening near you, check it out), and our conversation after was quite lively, so we’re bringing that to you this week in lieu of a feature interview.

This week’s Juicy Fruit: Friend to the show Yaba Blay has won a first-place Independent Publishers Book Award Gold Medal Award for her book, One Drop! We love her!

Well? Who is cuter?

Who is cuter?

LaVerne Cox was on the cover of TIME Magazine (on her birthday!), and while the interview has its problems, it’s not entirely bad, and she looked sickening on the cover. Read it here. And speaking of, Orange Is the New Black comes back next week and we’re trying so hard not to watch it all in two days this time but we probably will.

Kim & Kanye got married, which lead us into a who-is-cuter argument regarding Blue Ivy and North West. We congratulate them, because, to paraphrase Jaison’s facebook status, “Sometimes you gotta sleep with a few Ray Js before you find your Kanye.”

And speaking of true love, Stacey Dash got a job at Fox News, and we think they’re a perfect match.

Tempted by the Fruit of Another: Link Roundup

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Sometimes we don’t have time during our Juicy Fruit segment to cover everything we’ve read this week. Sometimes we don’t wanna wait until the next show day to share them with you. So we thought we’d do an occasional link roundup with what has our attention this week in the world of race and gender online.

  • Xavier D’Leau wrote a piece for The Root about why there aren’t gay black male couples on TV. “As a person who was practically raised by his television,” he writes, “I’m especially sensitive to the fact that I still see nothing resembling my version of love.”If you’ve been listening to the past few episodes of our show, you know this is something that’s been on our minds as well. Last week, we talked about how when black people—LGBTQ or hetero—get wealthy and famous, they tend to partner up with white folks. Sometimes you even see celebrities divorce the person of color they were with before they became successful, then subsequently date or marry a white people *coughEddieMurphyJamieFoxxMichaelJordancough*.”And there’s nothing in and of itself wrong with interracial relationships,” Jai said. “I love white boys and we have friends who date interracially. But just for me, it’s another example of rich and powerful black people who are dating white folks.”D’Leau writes,

    The absence of black gay male couples in these widely publicized true love stories and in fictional storylines makes it seem that our love is not worthy of being celebrated like everyone else’s. I desperately want more for us than playing the proverbial “good gay friend” to reality-TV divas who are just as passively homophobic as we are desperate to tell our stories the way we’d like.

    Check out his whole piece, Can We Please Get Some Black Gay Male Couples on TV? And our discussion of this on last week’s show is from 11:50-19:10 if you want to listen.

  • Louisville attorney Joe Dunman wrote a great opinion piece this week about the need to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

    Much debate has been had over whether or not homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender identity are voluntary choices, but for the purposes of Kentucky’s anti-discrimination laws, it simply doesn’t matter. Sexual orientation and gender identity – any sexual orientation and gender identity – are fundamental to every person’s individuality whether they are conscious choices or not. And, like religion and smoking, which are protected by anti-discrimination laws despite being voluntary choices, sexual orientation and gender identity should not play any role in a landlord’s or an employer’s decision making process.

  • The shooting at UCSB by Elliot Rodgers, who left misogynist, Men’s Rights Activist inspired manifestos explained that he wanted to kill women because no woman would have sex with him, has lead to a tumblr examining how often women’s rejection of men leads to violence. It’s called When Women Refuse, and we’re sharing it here with a warning that it talks about some gruesome crimes. It’s already up to ninety-two posts, with titles like, “Man chokes, then runs over 14-year-old for refusing to have sex with him,” and, “Casper man accused of starting house fire after failed sexual advances.”
  • And The Vangenda Magazine started a hashtag to explore what tabloid headlines look like if you take the sexism out of them. Buzzfeed has a good roundup of some of the most popular entries, and the rest are on twitter at #thevagenda.
     
    vagenda

“The New Black” Screening This Thursday, Hosted by Strange Fruit’s Jaison Gardner & Dr. Kaila Story

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Join us this Thursday night at the Muhammad Ali Center for a screening of Yoruba Richen‘s “The New Black.”

Here’s a description from the film’s website:

The New Black is a documentary that tells the story of how the African-American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights. The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar—the black church and reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda.
The New Black takes viewers into the pews and onto the streets and provides a seat at the kitchen table as it tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland and charts the evolution of this divisive issue within the black community.

 

New York Times reviewer Jeannette Catsoulis says the film is full of sophisticated insights:newblackposter

Highlighting erroneous assumptions that prevented opponents of California’s Proposition 8 from cultivating black voters — for instance, that those who have been marginalized will automatically support the rights of other marginalized groups — Ms. Richen elucidates an entire spectrum of views, from actively egalitarian to reactively homophobic. Despite a seeming bias toward marriage equality, she appears to be motivated by a sincere curiosity that’s as empathetic to the concerns of religious leaders as to the pain of a young black lesbian who’s finally coming out to her beloved foster mother.

Doors open at 5:30 and we’ll start the film at 6, followed by a Q&A session with hosts Dr. Kaila Story and Jaison Gardner. This event is free, but you should reserve a spot! Click here for details, here to RSVP, and check out our facebook event where you can share your thoughts.

 

Rob Smith on Being Gay & Black in the Army During Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; Louisville High School Rethinks Policy on Trans Students

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robsmithbootsOur feature interview this week was with Rob Smith, whose new book, Closets, Combat, and Coming Out looks at life as a gay man in the military during the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell years. In November, 2011, Rob was part of a group of LGBTQ vets who chained themselves to the White House fence to protest DADT (people of color were disproportionately affected by the policy; in 2008, people of color made up 29 percent of the total military population, but constituted 45 percent of DADT discharges).

In Juicy Fruit this week we addressed Elevator-Gate, and who should whoop who or not when family disputes become physical.

We were also joined by Jake Ryan from the WFPL newsroom, who told us about a local story involving a transgender high school student. The female student had been given permission to use the girls’ restroom at Atherton High School, but Clint Elliott, a Louisville attorney, speaking on behalf of the faith-based legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, complained to the Jefferson County Board of Education about it. Atherton is now moving toward becoming the first school in the Jefferson County Public School system to adopt a discrimination policy with specific protections for transgender students. 

And Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL last week, and then kissed his boyfriend live on ESPN:

It was a lovely moment, no doubt, but it occurred to us while watching that, as we see black people (LGBTQ or not) rise in the ranks of fame and wealth, we see more and more of them with white partners. Sometimes we even see folks beginning their career with a black spouse, only to see them divorce a few years later and end up with a white person.  Is it because they’re hanging out in mostly rich white people, so that’s who they meet? Or is there a whiff of status symbol involved? What do you think, Fruitcakes?

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