Grace Lee Boggs, the 97-year-old feminist, activist, and philosopher, was born in the United Stated in 1915 to Chinese immigrant parents. Boggs earned her PhD in 1940; these credentials were no shield against discrimination based on her Chinese ancestry. When Boggs married African American activist James Boggs, over a decade before the Supreme Court of the United States invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage, she made the choice to add his name to her own. Their marriage would last until James Boggs’ death 40 years later.
In observing debates around the politics of naming, especially when it comes to gender, I often think of Boggs. Someone who knows little of her life and politics, or of intersectionality, might judge Boggs’ last name as an acceptance of a patriarchal naming tradition that privileges men. But is it?
The argument could also be made that by adding the last name of her black husband to her own Chinese name Boggs was putting into personal action the political solidarity between people of color traditionally pitted against one another by white supremacy. Perhaps her acceptance of the name was even a revolutionary act that flew in the face of the laws of a country that said race must determine whom you choose to love?
Or maybe, in 1953, a deeply political Chinese American woman marrying a black man simply had bigger fish to fry than worrying about her last name? Of course, these arguments are just as much speculation as the first. Still, I’d argue it is Boggs’ life-long record as a thought leader in the labor, civil rights, women’s rights, and environmental justice movements that actually defines her identity.
Boggs put into action hooks’ concept of ideas over identity long before the rest of us even started talking about it. That’s an example that could do us all some good."
What does casual racism look like in LGBTQ spaces? A lot like casual racism everywhere else.
Casual racism thinks mixed race people are “exotic,” penis size is determined by race according to “some studies” that probably don’t exist, black women are aggressive, and just about every other common racial stereotype under the sun.
Really, stereotypes fuel casual racism in all its forms.
Casual racism also thinks that LGBTQ people have transcended all responsibility for dealing with racial issues.
For example, if you’re a queer person of color who wants to vocalize a racial concern in a predominantly white queer space and casual racism rears its head, you could be accused of being divisive (extra irony points if you were pointing out divisiveness that actually exists).
Sometimes casual racism masquerades as inclusion or open mindedness. For example, there are some gay people who go out of their way to date someone of another race just to say they’ve done it.
Such gays then receive the Congratulatory Cookie of Open Mindedness from people of color for letting us sleep with them.
But not really, because dating someone because of their race is as ridiculous as rejecting someone because of their race.
The same applies to predominately white gay groups that go out of their way to snag token people of color (oblivious to the fact that these spaces don’t always feel inclusive to the people of color in question).
Tokenism may seem progressive on its surface, but it’s really just another form of othering.
So if you see casual racism, remember it. And talk about it.
Notice if you’re ever guilty of it and, if you are, take responsibility for it.
I would say explain it to other white LGBTQ people, but it’s frustrating when it takes a white person saying the same thing people of color have been saying for ages to convince other white people to change their actions.
Instead, tell them to take the race related concerns of LGBTQ people of color seriously – as in listen to us.
As LGBTQ people, we get silenced all the time, told we’re too sensitive, told not to flaunt our sexuality.
Sexual minorities of color can find themselves silenced further when their concerns about race are dismissed by the predominantly white, mainstream LGBTQ community.
Let’s keep working to change that."
— Jarune Uwujaren, “How White LGBTQ People Can Be Inclusive Of People Of Color,” Everyday Feminism 2/5/13
Fatwas have caught the fancy of the people worldwide and is popularly used by media, to project Islam as a misogynist religion with impractical restrictions. Zakir Naik, in his speech on the subject, explains why Muslims or Ulemas should not be giving so much importance to Sania Mirza’s dress code. Naik speaks about the importance of “diluting” the global effect of labeling Sania Mirza’s dress code as Haraam for the sake of a positive representation of Islam in the media. He further says that she is a “lesser sinner” than Muslim male cricketers who do not offer Salah at all. However, he also mentions her world ranking is “only” 34th and doesn’t deserve all the attention it is garnering.
In another related article, Dr Mookhi Amir Ali, while stating that he has better work to do than follow Sania Mirza’s career, goes onto say that she should have used her stature, as a successful Muslim woman, to question the short skirts and bring modesty into the game. She also should have worn a wrap right after the game was over, or chose not to wear the tennis dress, in all the advertisements she was featured in–the very advertisements which chose to feature her because she was a tennis star. The only attribute which will make her a good Muslim, according to him, is if she brought about any changes in the accepted “dress codes” for women in professional tennis.
Sadly, in the Islamic world, a Muslim woman’s piety is often closely related to her dress code. If she misses a prayer or a fast, not many go berserk as they would if she doesn’t wear a hijab. Does being a good Muslim woman begin and end with a hijab? Are Muslim women defined only by their modest dress codes alone? By mentioning that she is a “lesser” sinner, and by repeatedly saying that “at least” she offers Salah, Naik, while diluting some of the hype around her clothing, still suggests there’s a sense of shame in Sania Mirza being Muslim."
— Muslimah Media Watch’s Izzie wrote this great post on tennis star Sania Mirza and what she “means” to both the tennis world and to Indian Muslims! Check out the rest of it on the R today!