Archive | politics RSS feed for this section

Don’t be the “Good” White Person

17 Nov

It’s true that if we got to know each other better I could find something to like about you. I’m a sex worker and I find that skill is essential to my business model. Besides, I think most people are at their core good, even your kind.

I’m not taking new applications for white friends. You are a plague. We can’t avoid you, your path of destruction, your wake of suffering. You go everywhere and everywhere you go you bring your manmade curse: greed, hubris, and inhumanity. I know a lot of white people by necessity because I came to work for them or fell in love with them, nurtured a friendship, went to school with them or got virulently spit on by them at a dance club in freshman year.

You built your way of life on the unscrupulous protection of white women. However distasteful they may be, the pasty and tepid Abbi Fisher’s and Hilary Clinton’s, they are your modes of reproduction in the absence of many lasting cultural contributions to the world in the way of art, science, philosophy, or good food. Without Becky your people die, to the benefit of everyone else here on earth, except you.

You institute an era of lynching largely fueled by the white women’s claims of rape by Black men, which carries the duel humiliation of death and fabricated attraction to the white women. She Devil. The one who changes the name of Black children from Trayvon to Superpredator, expresses a concern for the threat of lurking Palestinians, and proclaims when it is politically expedient that marriage is between man and woman.

You enslave us to wet nurse her babies and sew her ungainly garments, subsequently sold back to all of us at a markup as a foundational element of your economy. This model you call the Manufacturing Economy steadily fails under the inefficiencies of its violence. Rather than meet this reality at eye-level your people flail into a panic over your fledgling way of life. A vocal minority of you vote for a candidacy that would keep out Muslims, commit war crimes, and build a wall. All measures that will do nothing to keep you safe from yourselves and your waining fraternity with the community of Earth.

Out of this swamp of toxic white supremacy comes you: The “Good” White Person. You are evolved. You know you are The Problem. It was a while ago that you figured that out. Since then you’ve been earning your ally cookies. Showing up to our meetings and our protests, shining your pretty white smiles for the cameras, and having your voice heard. Because it’s obvious that the only way we will fix white supremacy is to look for the solutions amongst the very people who caused it. That’s a thing, right?

In any case, eventually you gained the official title of White Ally, and a few years later you received your nomination for promotion to White Accomplice. Upon review by the People of Color High Council of your resume of success in art and activism built on the backs of our suffering and the short list of community members that you have personally abused with your racism and oppression, your nomination was accepted and you were subsequently proclaimed White Accomplice.

It took a lot of hard work for you to get there. You mastered the rhetoric of dismantling white supremacy while taking stunningly few practical measures to actualizing it in your daily life. You mastered the telling of our stories. You mastered the profiting off of our narratives. You mastered tone policing and otherwise taking up space in our movements. You mastered insidiously centering yourselves, your intrusive feelings and opinions, in our dialogues. Everywhere, you call yourself Master.

Nietzche said, “Morality is just a fiction used by the herd of inferior human being to hold back the superior men.” Under this logic you construct Jim Crow and the War on Drugs, criminalize sex work and migration, instruct the state apparatus to genocide us. You erect an ethic that relies on our existence and survival as a danger to yours.

You, The “Good” White Person, transcend all of that. In the vacuum created by your lack of overt racism you create the non-profit industrial complex, an industry premised on the monetization of socio-economic justice. You create manarchism, a fusion of misogyny and political chaos. You create bourgeoise socialism, a school of thought remaining just out of reach from the imagined and revered contemporary proletariat.

Here’s a thought: don’t be The “Good” White person. Instead, be a good white person. Give us your money. Eschew leadership. Yell at other white people upon our request. Give us your money. Marry for purposes of citizenship and insurance privileges. Use humility and proactive corrective action as your currency among us. Assign a dollar value to your white guilt, donate triple. Refrain from organizing a mission, cultural exchange, or delegation to our homelands. Stay home, give us your money. Stare into a mirror and repeat “Yes all white people.”Believe survivors of your white terror. Also, money.

Advertisements

Re: Thank You for Making My Bday Fabulous!

18 Oct

Dear Birthday Celebrator:

While i did appreciate the lovely company last night and I am somewhat relieved that your birthday was not ruined by the ugliness of what happened – i do want to share that i find this email disturbing in the context of my experience, my night was far from fabulous and i wish the fabulousness of your night included a safe space for all your friends you invited to attend.

I get that you can’t control what happens when you bring people together and that you don’t necessarily know how to best respond. It feels pretty messed up that you would include me in this mass email knowing that I was forced to leave last night because I felt the space was not safe. It’s tough but understandable that you didn’t take any action to address the situation, instead asking that everyone just forget about it and move on, but sending this email that completely erases my traumatizing experience feels like insult to injury.

At the table last night I overheard two of the people talking about sex work in a very problematic way. I engaged them to talk about how i am a former sex worker, a sex worker activist and leader in the community, and that what they were saying was problematic and does violence to our communities. Perhaps the most upsetting and problematic of the assertions made about sex work was the idea that  many poor people are “trafficked into sex work”.

Let me make clear that trafficked people are not “trafficked into sex work”. They are trafficked into the sex industry. They are trafficked into slavery. Sex work is real work. Sex workers are workers in the sex industry. These distinctions are vitally important to sex workers and victims of trafficking. I mean, quite literally, these distinctions are a matter of life and death in our communities.

When I tried to explain how important this distinction is and how oppressive it was to assert this conflation of terms i was met with resistance in many different forms. There was the claim that the conflation of terms is a matter of opinion and the opinion is justified because the person making it had dated a sex worker and worked in the field of sex worker human rights. There was the claim that all capitalism is exploitation, that this was an argument over definitions. Also, they did not like my tone and I should stop picking fights with other queer women of color

When it became clear that there was a conflict happening and I was asked about it I said simply, “They’re saying fucked up shit about sex workers.” I was asked if we could all just move on and forget about it. I could not forget about it. This is my life. I am a sex worker. There is an assault on our existence. I have to fight these humiliations and violences on our dignity, on our right to exist, on our right to exist and tell our own stories – this is my every day. Forgetting about it and just moving on for the sake of the comfort of others is not an option for me. Too many of us are murdered and exploited by this refusal to speak up. These ideas about sex work make a concrete negative impact on my life and the lives of people who are dear to me and the lives of people who i never knew but that i think deserve dignity in their lives and deaths. All of this is more important to me than maintaining the polite and vapid civility that “moving on” serves.

I want you to know that i will go to bat for you if you are feeling unsafe in a space. If someone is gay bashing, or misogynistic, or racist, or otherwise oppressive – i will speak up for you. It’s more important to me than maintaining the appearance of diplomacy or figuring out who was “right” or “wrong”. I will honor you and your truth if you tell me you are not safe in the space. I will not always do the right thing, i will not always be there when you need me, but i will try because it’s deeply important to me.

Below a few resources on sex work vs. sex trafficking. For folks who think, as was expressed last night, that choice in sex work is largely determined by the class of the sex worker or that that non-sex workers are just as equipped to have opinion on sex work as those who have direct experience with the work – check out the official trailer for the Red Up Doc: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECQkCKZ9ZFg&feature=youtu.be. And, check yourself before you wreck yourself – your ignorance and arrogance in speaking on behalf of our community is violent, appropriative and embarrassing.

Friends – Your reaching out to me about this directly would be so appreciated. Whether it’s “I didn’t stand up for you and i’m sorry”, “I didn’t know what was going on/I left before this happened but would’ve had your back”, “I was willfully ignorant because I was uncomfortable and I know that was wrong”, “Do you want to vent?”, “I would like to ally with you against the whorephobia you experienced”… I will gratefully receive anything you can say with honestly and kindness about the situation.

It really is true what MLK said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Sincerely,

Retired(?) Cunty Whore

– Sex Worker Project, Human Trafficking and Sex Workhttp://sexworkersproject.org/media-toolkit/downloads/05-HumanTraffickingAndSexWork.pdf

“Confusing sex workers with trafficked persons erases the voices of sex workers, worsens their working conditions, adds to their general stigmatization and impedes discussions on ways to end human trafficking.”

– Melissa Ditmore, Sex Work, Trafficking: Understanding the Difference http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2008/05/06/sex-work-trafficking-understanding-difference/

“… treating sex work as if it is the same as sex trafficking both ignores the realities of sex work and endangers those engaged in it.”

– Ruth Jacobs, Knowing the difference between sex-trafficking and sex work – A survivor speaks http://womennewsnetwork.net/2014/01/16/difference-sex-trafficking-survivor/

“As awareness of trafficking grows, additional negative stigma is placed on sex workers because most individuals don’t understand the difference between sex work and sex trafficking.

“Sex workers are viewed by society as helpless souls who can’t possibly make healthy choices because they are victims and in desperate need of rescue. Trafficking survivors are viewed as pity cases who are incapable of doing much of anything besides art or sewing, and a pretty bedroom will solve the issues of complex trauma. Both views are wrong but it’s hard to hear the voices of sex workers and trafficking survivors through the billowing echos of the ‘voice of the voiceless.”

Prostitutes and Politicians

5 Oct

On Friday, former Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa was sentenced to one year federal incarceration and three years probation for marriage and bankruptcy fraud. At the center of her crimes was a sham marriage she paid for as a path to legal immigration. Before she was forced into resignation, Rosa was the first Dominican born woman to hold state office in New York.

Rosa, along with several former legislative colleagues, pleaded that the court consider a sentence of probation so that she could continue parenting her 16 year old son and caring for her ailing mother. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called her a phony. The judge handing down the sentence claimed leniency would do insult to all of those immigrants who pursue legal means to citizenship in this country.

Legal means to U.S. citizenship? This clearly coming from someone who has never explored these illusive legal means to U.S. citizenship. For most people, the only such legal means to U.S. citizenship is the privilege of an American falling in love with you. And, not just any American, but the right kind of American. An American who has the proper papers themselves to expand their status to you. Also, essentially, an American who is the opposite sex to yours, or at least the sex listed on your government documents.

Gabriela Rosa used money to gain that kind of love from someone. The kind that would make them feel so close to another that they would bind themselves legally and under the watchful eyes of Homeland Security to that special person. Money has a way of inspiring that kind of love; ask any prostitute.

Despite the criminal charges against her, the guilty pleas and the prison sentence, Rosa’s citizenship is already secured. She will not face deportation. One can only hope that upon resuming life after prison her mother will still be around and that she hasn’t missed too much of her young son’s life.

She could have avoided incarceration all together by taking up the offer to wear a wire. Despite being surrounded by corruption amongst her in the New York State Legislature, she was never implicated in any of it. And, despite the temptation to avoid or lessen her criminal penalties, Rosa was not a snitch.

Meanwhile, another tearful woman, Kristin Davis, also got a prison sentence. Davis – made famous as the Manhattan Madame who supplied prostitutes to her later opponent in the race for City Comptroller, Eliot Spitzer – will get locked up for two years. This time not for prostitution but for selling prescription pills. Davis said she only ever started selling the pills after suffering for four months in Rikers for promoting prostitution.

She too, like Rosa, begged for leniency. She said, “One hour in solitary confinement in Rikers was hell.” She said she came out of the prison pretty messed up and was trying to clean up her act by pursuing a career in cosmotology. Although the judge chalked up Davis’ crimes to greed, Bharara might have agreed with Davis on this one. He’s insisting on cleaning up the infamous institution, shining a light on “A deep culture of violence” and misuse of solitary confinement, amongst other criticisms.

Yet another New York elected official, one of Rosa’s colleagues in the Assembly, William Scarborough, got busted last week charged with 23 state and 11 federal crimes. Scarborough pleaded not-guilty to all charges revolving around the claim that he collected over $40,000 in falsified reimbursements.

If found guilty he will face up to 37 years in prison although, in the meantime, he will run unopposed in the upcoming election to regain his seat in January. There he will join his colleagues in the State legislature, Tom Libous and John Sampson, who also managed to stave of investigation and indictments long enough to return to their publicly funded elected positions.

Thus further blurring the line between prostitutes and politicians in New York State.

Five questions cool peoples should stop asking

4 May

Excuses for asking wack-ass questions:

 

    1. I was just curious
    2. I’m just trying to get to know you better
    3. It’s perfectly fair to ask
    4. You’re being too sensitive

 

To some these excuses will sound reasonable. To others they sound creepy. It greatly depends on the persons involved and context. Excuses aside, there are some questions that make the room measurably unsafe for those in question. There are other questions that are plain awkward. Whether these questions are innocuous or not, there is no question, they are oppressive questions.

 

  1. What’s your citizenship/work status? Even if you’re offering me salaried employment, I prefer that you ask me this question in writing only after we have engaged in at least preliminary contract negotiations. But your drunk ass thinks it’s appropriate to slur over cocktails “So umm… you were born in Mexico??? How do you work HERE then? You gotum ah GREENcard or sumthin?” I know you understand that people die and/or are imprisoned over this very question. This is not your cue to chime in with your thoughts on immigration policy. I didn’t ask and I don’t care!
  2. What with this whole “queer” thing? Hold on one sec while I get my Queer Identified membership card so that I can read you the universally recognized definition off of the back. Oh wait, first, let me ask YOU what’s with this whole gay/straight thing? You meet a person and you think “I am SO crushing on that person’s gender representation” or after getting to know some one better you say to yourself “I would really like to pursue a relationship with that person based on their sex organs“. And don’t give this bullshit that Queer is a political identity. It’s not. It’s a way of being, it’s the way that I exist. It’s what I am, which has nothing to do with white hipster lesbians gentrifying Brooklyn brownstones and adopting Haitian babies. I am not gay, or lesbian or bi-sexual. I am queer but it hardly matters because I have no interest in fucking you.
  3. Did you lose/gain weight? You’re being fatphobic.
  4. How do you make your money? Call me an idealist but I honestly believe that the most important things to know about some one has nothing to do with how they engage with the violence of capitalism. The paid gigs that we, as poor people of color, have to take on for the sake of economic survival often range from humiliating to illegal to stigmatized and sometimes a combination of these. Of course there are many of us who work perfectly awesome jobs. But even for them, for all of us, our jobs are not who we are. Our jobs are what we do. Sometimes our jobs intersect with who we are inside and sometimes they do not. We have varying privileges as to how much choice we have in this matter. It’s a source of hurt, conflict and stress. In short, all you need to know is that I keep it tight, aight?
  5. Are you single? Wouldn’t you like to know who and under what circumstances I am fucking. If I was interested in cluing you in, I would let you know the old fashioned way of putting a part of my body inside or strategically angled on top of a part of your body. The question you should be asking is Are you desperate? and the answer is, Not enough. Also, I find this question too intense. Like, I dunno, do you mean to ask if I’m alone and what constitutes alone? Do you mean am I alone in the world? You’ve raised an existential mystery that I don’t care to resolve in the polite company of strangers.