Friday, July 24, 2009

The Day after Theory Thursday Links and Opinions

Good morning, all--I just moved and was too tuckered out yesterday to really make any progress on anything writing or reading related. So here's what I was reading this morning...

  • The British Government released new tips for pregnant women to avoid H1N1 flu. Considering that I've been watching The Tudors on Netflix the past few days, H1N1 flu seems to be the new sweating sickness.
  • Questioning Transphobia reports about the Leticia King pre-trial hearings.
  • NPR has an interesting article up about the underground movement for women pastors in the Southern Baptist church. A bit from it:

    "Burleson says Jesus treated women as equals, and if Southern Baptists ignore his example, the denomination will shrivel. Burleson believes there's a quiet underground movement within the convention to rethink women's roles."

    Like the Church of Christ that I grew up in, Southern Baptist churches are very critical of women being pastors. In the Church of Christ, women are not allowed to serve the Lord's Supper, pray in front of adult men without their permission or during any large assembly, or even lead singing. Not that you can conflate the two denominations, but they have very similar principles.
  • Here's a round up of posts about Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s arrest. I want to add that Henry Louis Gates has been doing tireless work to bring American Black women writers into a very white scene. My thesis is on American women writers in the 19th century, Maria Susanna Cummins in particular, and without Henry Louis Gates we wouldn't have The Bondwoman's Narrative or Harriet Wilson's work--and she wrote the first African-American novel. To me he is an extremely important man without whom the field that I might enter would be even more blank--read "white" and "male." Obama comments on Gates's Arrest. BoingBoing's reporting on the ordeal. Jack and Jill Politics Link Round-Up. There is of course a ton more interesting reading out there than this.
  • And now for another round-up--this time on Harry Potter! I haven't seen the movie yet, but soon I will contribute my 8.00 to the millions they have already made. There is some great stuff out there about the movies and a few about the books, including: Less about Harry Potter and more about YA Lit--Racialicious had a great post awhile ago about "Writing what you know" and what that means in the extremely white world of YA literature. RaceWire Goes to the Movies: Harry Potter Edition. And the amazing Anusuya Sivaram's Racial Justice Guide to Viewing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Read the whole thing, but here are her bulleted points:

    "Themes of Racial Justice that appear in the 6th book specifically (and will hopefully come up in the movie):
    -The portrayal of terrorists/criminals. In the magical world of J.K. Rowling, Death Eaters, who are predominantly “purebloods” use terror tactics, as opposed to the pluralistic “Order of the Phoenix”, who don’t. In contrast, our mainstream media gives more airtime to terrorists and criminals who are people of color, rather than white domestic terrorists/criminals. It’s an interesting reversal that perhaps needs to be contextualized more, given the allegory. It’s also an interesting historical shift as well.

    -Structural racism. The Ministry of Magic’s regulations on magical species (Centaurs, House-Elves, etc) that prevent them from using magic is analogous to structural racism in our Muggle World. Though this only plays a small role in Book Six, it’s interesting to see the reversal that takes place—from campaigning against the societal position of House Elves and other magical creatures, Harry and his friends start rely on these creatures (Dobby, Kreacher, Firenze), and seem to espouse their subordination as long as they are treated benevolently.

    -Merit based achievement vs. Favoritism. This is especially important with the arrival of Professor Slughorn (the formation of the “Slug Club”, which rewards the privileged). Also the fact that Muggle-borns often have to work harder for everything than purebloods (Hermione Granger, though brilliant, simply doesn’t command universal respect like I think she should.), should be of some interest to us. This is also relevant under structural racism, as minorities (Muggle-born wizards) don’t have well-established avenues to recourse in the magical world (there’s limited infrastructure for Muggle-borns being introduced to the Magical world for the first time), and must rely on the benevolence of wizards. Harry’s status is also questioned—he’s just lucky, not talented, but reaps the benefits of his position, intentionally or not.

    -The origins of racism/discrimination. Tom Riddle (Lord Voldemort) and his origins are a major plotline in the novel. Rowling's theory of discrimination mainly discusses individual racism, while structural racism is what ARC concentrates on eliminating. Also, Rowling emphasizes love as a way to combat intolerance (Dumbledore says this is the reason why Harry isn't like Voldemort)--you can interpret this to mean pluralism is better than purity. Still, it’s important to recognize that while Rowling’s magical world is amazing (who DIDN’T want to go to Hogwarts when they read the books?), it’s still stratified, and faces the same problems of equity and pluralism that our world does."

I want to add some things about Harry Potter (book version) that I found troubling/intriguing. I think that Hermione's dedication to helping House-Elves riddled with the same struggles that many anti-racists fall into. She assumes she knows what House-Elves need, thinks that only removing the obvious issues they face will change everything for the better, and generally botches things up with her activism every day. On the other hand, Harry and Ron, who both don't like House-Elves being treated poorly, make fun of Hermione for being an activist and while they wouldn't call themselves racist they are oblivious to the oppression that House-Elves face.

Of course, I am concerned that Rowling decided to couch her racial arguments in magical allegory rather than actually having more than just token characters of color.

And finally--Cake Wrecks on Harry Potter!

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About Me

I'm a young trans person living between two states, trying to make ends meet, both intellectually and monetarily.