Posts tagged ‘LGBTQ’

Wildin’ at WAM!

This weekend I had the privilege of attending the Women Action and the Media Conference sponsored by the Center for New Words in Boston. It was a great opportunity to hear about feminism from a global perspective, but more importantly, I just loved hearing the voices of some of my fellow women of color activists, mothers, organizers, and social media mavens loud and clear. Here are the highlights:

Keynote: Women at the Global Frontlines

Iraqi Journalist Huda Ahmed talked about her experiences with reporting on the Iraq War here in the states. She told us a story of how, while working as a translator for the Washington Post, the very first question reporters wanted to ask Iraqi citizens were, “Are you Shi’ite or Sunni?” ” Why was that always the first question?,” Huda thought. She explained that it is not a common question in Iraqi culture, but American reporters “had to know.”

She talked to us about being passed up for stories in favor of male journalists, and her experience with McClatchy (formerly KnightRidder): “They treated me as a journalist, not a woman.” She had the opportunity to write for a woman at the Baghdad Bureau, which she says was one of her best experiences as a reporter.

Next, Jenny Manrique Cortes tells her story about reporting on trauma survivors in Colombia. She has interviewed terrorists in Colombia as well as rape and kidnapping survivors. “Women are the first victims in this war, and in the worst way,” Jenny explained. She also discussed covering  a story about mothers looking for the corpses of their assassinated sons, and the importance of mental health assistance for trauma reporters.

Peta Thornycroft gives us an picture of Zimbabwe. She chose to stay in the country to give hard news reports on the political and social landscape in Southern Africa. “Zimbabwe is looking for how they can survive each moment, how they can buy even half a loaf of bread.”  Since November, 4,000 Zimbabweans have died of cholera, a preventable disease, and yet  foreign press has not done anything.  In the excitement over the 2008 election in America, “[Foreign press] failed to tell the story,” she said.

“It is that other kind of war. Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate, and yet no streetlights.”

I will say that I loved the keynote presentation by all of the journalists, but I do wish there was a native Zimbabwean woman there to tell her story…Perhaps this can happen at next year’s WAM!.

Keynote 2: Cynthia Lopez, Vice President of PBS American Documentary | P.O.V.

Cynthia Lopez gave some incredible statistics about women working in TV and Public Broadcasting:

  • In 2008, 37.6% of women worked in the newsroom 14% of them were women of color. How many men were deciding the news of the day? A whopping 62%.
  • Radio: 22.7% of women work in radio
  • Entertainment and Primetime: Women over 40 account for less than 10% of all program, and yet they are the largest demographic for money and income.
  • Our 5 major media organizations in public tv are run by women, including NPR (Vivian Schiller) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (Pat Harris).
  • Oh and by the way:  PBS is the most trusted news source, followed by CNN and Fox News (!) respectively.

When hearing these stats, I couldn’t help but think about my own sorors, friends and colleagues who work in the newsroom, most of whom are women of color.  How many of them will be passed up for a man when it comes to who will write that next big story?

I also couldn’t help but think about my mom, a fly woman over 40, who can barely find a woman besides Angela Bassett on ER who really speaks to her own experiences on primetime television.

Blogging for the Man: Challenging the Commodity of Online Communities

Joanne Bramberger of PunditMom, Veronica Arreola of Viva La Feminista and media analyst Diane Farsetta discuss how to manage PR people when they want you to, in essence, sell a product on your blog. They talked about the ways in which corporations become “part of the community.” The Walmart Mom model was discussed as an example of how mommy bloggers were targeted by PR representatives .  Joanne discussed the importance of creating campaigns that are socially conscious and then finding bloggrs who write about related topics.

So what happens when you do agree to review, say, a new eyeshadow from MAC or Sephora? “You can be honest, but be careful of panning a product completely,  Joanne explained. “Give the company a head’s up if your review is going to be [a bad one].”

Feminist Blogging during Election 2008 and Women in Political Media

Cyn3matic discusses her experiences group blogging with PFLAG and Feminists for Obama along with Veronica Arreola. Jenn Ponzer from Women in Media and News discusses the way that mainstream media perpetuated the tensions between gender, race and a lack of attention to intersectionality.

Lisa Stone of BlogHer and Salon’s Rebecca Traister talk about the lack of women in political media and what the media talks about when they talk about women before, during, and after the 2008 Election.  They discussed the lack of influence of women on our major news networks and Michelle Obama’s stigmatization as an “angry black woman” at the beginning of the campaign.

Art, Activism, and Motherhood

Jeannine Cook, founder of Positive Minds, discussed balancing being a mother with the work she does in interactive media literacy with Philadelphia youth. “I make my kids a part of my work.” What a great example Jeannine becomes of her son and daughter, who will no doubt grow up to become change agents in their own right.

Sasa Ynoa, a registered nurse and doula  talks about homebirth as an option for women of color and poor women. “Feminism has not tackled motherhood as a choice and as something that should be framed as a healing experience, as empowerment.”

Women of Color and Social Media

Where are all the women of color social media mavens? Chances are she’s right in front of you. Shireen Mitchell and Glennette Clark discuss the importance of a social media policy in the workplace and the factors for the lack of women of color in Top 50 and Top 100 listings of the best and brightest social media professionals and developers. “[Women of color] should be masters of social media because we are experts at community building,” said Shireen, who also pointed out that our offline behavior and attitudes should not be much different from what we do online.

For instance, if I write about Black women in the media (which I do) then offline I should be doing work that reflects that (and in fact, I do!). Many people on Twitter for instance have thousands of followers but never engage with them online….@iamdiddy anyone?

Thus, many of the “social media experts” are white males. Through sometimes pompous self-promotion, they position themselves as key influencers. Glennette and Shireen explain that women, especially women of color, don’t do this as often as we should. There’s no reason why Corvida Raven shouldn’t be on next year’s Top 50 list. Shireen and Glennette also launched SocialMediaWOC, an online community that will highlight the great work of women of color in social media today.

And finally….

Tweets is Watchin: Of course no wrap-up of mine would be complete without the conference Twittter Feed (#wam09) for those who want to join in.

I had an absolutely great time. For those of who you I had the pleasure of meeting…good to see you. For those who weren’t there, I hope you can make it to WAM 2010!

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On: Prop 8

I’m going to make this as short as possible because there’s already been so much said. Hopefully, I don’t repeat so many other bloggers on this issue and if I do, I apologize.

I lead with the video of Wanda Sykes, who just recent came out as a lesbian and spoke out against Prop 8 this past weekend because I want people to realize that the fight for gay marriage rights is not just one fought by gay white males. Yes, there are several LGBTQ people of color who stand up for this issue, and I applaud them for their work. One of the first gay couples to get married in California in June was a black lesbian couple, but their faces are rarely shown in mainstream media…the first images we saw were ones of white gay males getting married.

So not only do you have a lack of LGBTQ Blacks and Latinos at the forefront of this fight, but then you have the backlash of White gays blaming black people for the passing of Prop 8. Adele Carpenter at Racialicious said it best:

I believe all communities need to be held accountable for their homophobia and transphobia. I want to acknowledge the suffering and hardship that the passage of Proposition 8 has caused for LGBT couples and families. But, while the media casts blame on communities of color for the passage of Prop 8, it is imperative that we struggle against the logic that tells us that struggles for LGBT civil rights and racial justice are separate—that we re-examine our strategies for advancing LGBT civil rights and gay marriage and, in particular, look at places where LGBT communities have failed to align our struggles for civil rights with ongoing struggles for racial justice.

Finally there’s the issue of gay marriage as a whole. I was raised in a Christian home, but I still see the need to give gay people the right to get married. To paraphrase Keith Olberman, everyone regardless of their sexual orientation has the right to be a little less lonely in the world. I ask opponents of gay marriage, how would gays getting married really effect your way of life? No one can ever give me a real answer to that. In America, we are supposed to have the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If your pursuit of happiness is to marry a woman, and your a woman, what’s it to me?

Wanda Sykes said it best. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married. And that’s exactly how I feel.

As for the comparison to Jim Crow Laws…are they the same? No. Are they very, very similar? YES. Without a doubt in my mind.

There isn’t an exact difference between this and Supreme Court vs. Loving. Afrobella brought this up in her recent Prop 8 post, Love, not H8:

As someone who’s in a marriage that would have once been deemed illegal, I find the parallels between this country’s attitude towards interracial marriage and same-sex marriage to be dismaying and disheartening. And I am not alone — the late Mildred Loving felt the same way, and spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage before she passed away this year. “I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry… That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about,” she declared.

But how can you say that this is NOTHING like the Jim Crow Laws? My man and I, who love each other very much, can get married whenever and wherever we want. However, our two good friends who are gay and lesbian respectively cannot marry the partners they love so dearly. And that is an example of social injustice and inequality.

No matter how you slice it, this is an issue of great importance and one that minorities should not be blamed for nor shun. And I hope we can cultivate some good healthy dialog about how important this issue is for us.