Afro-Dominicana. Author of Hija De Mi Madre & Odas De La Mujer De Miel. Birth Doula. Midwife in Training. Dancer. Artist. Lover. Dreamer. Warrior.
People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.― Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography (via florxdexrebeldiax)
The Malala you won’t hear about
October 16, 2014
Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani activist, has won a well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize, putting her and her amazing, tragic story back in the spotlight. Per usual, nevertheless, the corporate media has taken this positive development and exploited it in the service of U.S. imperialism.
The corporate media loves talking about Malala’s remarkable bravery and strength in standing up for girls’ rights to education, and the brutality of the Taliban forces that tried to assassinate her on her school bus. Such coverage fuels its orientalist, neocolonialist narrative about “backward,” misogynist Muslims and their need for “white saviors,” thereby legitimizing Western imperialist interests in South and West Asia.
Malala’s Nobel victory can be appropriated by the U.S. political establishment to “prove” that its invasion, occupation and destruction of Afghanistan has “helped” its people. (As for the hundreds of thousands killed and injured in the process, well, those inconvenient exceptions aren’t part of this narrative.)
As Michael Parenti points out, while most people who win the Nobel “Peace” Prize do so for war-mongering and crimes against humanity (Henry Kissinger boasts one, for example, along with Barack Obomba himself), Malala actually deserves hers. This makes the exploitation even more grotesque.
Malala has devoted her life to fighting for education for children—a most noble and important cause. When she implored at the United Nations, “Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen, can change the world. Education is the only solution,” the Western intelligentsia ate it up like a voracious canine gobbling up its kibbles (on second thought, perhaps a vulture would have been a more apt choice for this simile).
Everyone can agree that education for children is a positive goal. By emphasizing that education is the only solution, the West can draw attention away from the very realmaterial concerns facing the vast majority of the world.
This oversight is by no means the fault of Malala. In that same speech, just before the above excerpt, she spoke of “a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism.” Two of these three things are endlessly emphasized throughout the corporate press. You can guess which one is excluded.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Malala Who Opposes Global Poverty
Roughly half of the world still lives on less than $2.50 per day. Around one-quarter of people live in extreme poverty, less than $1.25 a day. UNICEF estimates that 24,000 children under the age of five die each and every day because of poverty, meaning that “every 3.6 seconds one person dies of starvation. Usually, it is a child under the age of 5.” And, in many countries, poverty is getting worse.
Education certainly has a role in the fight against poverty, and it’s important that one learns, say, basic chemistry. (Malala was sitting in chemistry class when she was informed she had won the Nobel Prize.) But learning basic chemistry does not provide billions of impoverished people with food, clean water, and health care. That takes material, collective action.
Malala understands how poverty creates and perpetuates the very social and political ills against which she is fighting. She continuously stresses the importance of not just spreading education, but of directly combating poverty. Yet these calls fall on the selectively deaf ears of the Western media.
The press picks and chooses which of Malala’s messages are amplified—and which are silenced. It can hardly get enough of her insistence on the importance of “the philosophy of nonviolence I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa.” The Western intelligentsia positively salivates upon hearing such messages, despite the fact (or because of it?) that Gandhi was a virulent racist and Mother Teresa had ties to Central and South American dictators.
Interestingly, many of the same people lauding the Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her advocacy of nonviolence also happily cheered on the violence of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The utter hypocrisy does not strike them. After all, it has always been much more useful to advocate a philosophy of nonviolence for individuals and oppressed groups than hegemons and states.
As much as it highlights Malala’s words on education and nonviolence, the U.S. corporate media never mentions the side of Malala that it doesn’t like, the side of Malala that doesn’t serve but rather challenges Western imperialist interests, the side of Malala that overtly opposes not just U.S. drone strikes but capitalism itself.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Malala Who Opposes Drones
On October 11, 2013, Malala met with Barack Obama in the Oval Office. The press could hardly have lauded the president more for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet the 16-year-old activist, and for bringing his family with him.
What went much less reported was that at this meeting, Malala warned that U.S. “drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people.”
The White House, which, given its supposed investment in fighting terrorism, would presumably not be interested in spreading it further, left these comments out of its official statement.
Just a few weeks after this meeting, another Pakistani girl visited Washington to testify before Congress, and received much less media attention. Nabila Rehman was 8 years old when she was out in a field picking okra and her grandmother was eviscerated before her eyes by a U.S. drone strike. Seven children were also wounded, including family members.
Nabila’s brother Zubair, a 13-year-old who was injured in the US drone attack, told the five congress-people decent enough to show up, “I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. Drones don’t fly when sky is grey.” The Rehman family’s story was so dreadful that the translator burst into tears while telling it to Congress.
Given such a horrific report, you’d think the U.S. government would express interest in learning from it to make sure random civilians are not again slaughtered by bombs falling from microscopic dots in the sky. Yet only five (out of 435) House members attended the hearing.
Al Jazeera writer Murtaza Hussein noted that, in a symbol of the “utter contempt in which the government holds the people it claims to be liberating, while the Rehmans recounted their plight, Barack Obama was spending the same time meeting with the CEO of weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.”
Clearly, stoking the military-industrial complex that creates the Predator drones that havemurdered and injured thousands of innocent civilians is a higher priority for the president of the United States than meeting the actual victims of what can only correctly be referred to as state terrorism.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Malala Who Opposes Capitalism
Last year, I wrote a brief article titled Malala Yousafzai, Spivak, Abu-Lughod and the White Savior Complex. I noted that Gayatri Spivak, in her classic article "Can The Subaltern Speak?" explained that colonialist powers justify their draconian, parasitic rule with the belief that they are “white men are saving brown women from brown men.”
In her well-known essay, "Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?" Lila Abu-Lughod situated Spivak’s thesis in a contemporary setting, explaining how the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was justified with the exact same argument—the Bush administration was a group of overwhelmingly white leaders who consistently workedagainst women’s rights in their own country but now acted desperate to “save” Afghan women from Afghan men.
In his article Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex, journalist Assed Baig explored how this racist “white man’s burden” phenomenon is still alive and well, detailing the repugnant ways in which the West has exploited Malala Yousafzai’s amazing strength and bravery to support its interests.
Absent from many of these discussions, however, is that Malala herself is well aware of this manipulation. In a statement released on October 13, 2013, she defiantly declared that she is "not a Western puppet."
When discussing the way in which the neocolonialist West exploits and manipulates those working against oppression, one should be careful to establish that this is not done to them unwittingly. We are dealing with agents, individuals who understand the implications of their actions and change them accordingly. To forget this fact is, in a less overt way, to uphold the very paternalist, neocolonialist strictures we seek to destroy.
As Spivak reminds us, the subaltern indeed speaks—and not only speaks but resists oppressors. Articulated a bit differently, Arundhati Roy insisted, “There’s really no such thing as ‘the voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced or the preferably unheard.”
The attempt to deliberately silence Malala is not only evident in the way the U.S. corporate media ignores her criticism of U.S. drones; even more insidious is its complete disregard for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s politics. In March 2013, Malala sent this message to the congress of Pakistani Marxists:
First of all, I’d like to thank The Struggle and the IMT [International Marxist Tendency] for giving me a chance to speak last year at their Summer Marxist School in Swat and also for introducing me to Marxism and Socialism. I just want to say that in terms of education, as well as other problems in Pakistan, it is high time that we did something to tackle them ourselves. It’s important to take the initiative. We cannot wait around for any one else to come and do it. Why are we waiting for someone else to come and fix things? Why aren’t we doing it ourselves?
I would like to send my heartfelt greetings to the congress. I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.
This is the Malala the Western corporate media doesn’t like to quote. This is the Malala whose politics do not fit neatly into the neocolonialist, cookie-cutter frame of presentation. This is the Malala who recognizes that true liberation will take more than just education, that it will take the establishment of not just bourgeois political “democracy,” but ofeconomic democracy, of socialism.
When the courageous activist speaks of the importance of education and nonviolence, the West shouts her words loudly from the media mountaintops. When that same activist criticizes predator drones and, that most sacrosanct entity of all, capitalism, the silence is deafening.
Only the distinctive buzzing of U.S. killer drones can be heard, watching and bombing overhead, protecting empire and “freedom.”
(via iamtheearthmother)The People's Record
The planet Saturn, August 11, 1981, imaged by Voyager 2 from a range of 14.7 million kilometers (9.1 million miles). You can also see the moons Dione (right) and Enceladus. (NASA)
(via ojo-de-venado)HUMANOID HISTORY
To help humanize the overwhelming statistics, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and senior staff photographer at Getty Images, John Moore, visited an Ebola treatment center of the organization, Doctors Without Borders in Paynesville, Liberia. At the treatment center, survivors spoke about the brothers, sisters, husbands and wives they lost due to the disease. They also spoke of recovery, stigmas they continue to face in their villages and renewed hope.
I LOVE THIS
Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.Zora Neale Hurston (via browngirlinorange)
(via blackandlatina)Black like the Atlantic Ocean
I found God in myself and I loved her, I loved her fiercely.Ntozake Shange (via afro-dominican)
(via blackandlatina)Thriving, Beautifully.
While the international community drags it’s feet on the Ebola crisis, #Cuba has sent 165 health professionals to Freetown Sierra Leone, the largest medical team of any other nation. 300 more #Cuban doctors and nurses will also go to Liberia and Guinea.
Although Cuba is far from a “wealthy” country, it’s universal health-care system allows them to export heath workers, 50K in 66 countries to be exact. Often responding to foreign health crises (like Katrina) at an extensive rate. #kudos #afrocuban
Cuba has some of the best doctors most people in the Caribbean go to Cuba to study medicine
I think quite a few American students go to Cuba to study medicine if I’m not mistaken… I think to avoid med school student loan debt.
(via latinosexuality)BLACK AROUND THE WORLD
NEGRO: A documentary about Latino Identity Screening + Panel Discussion on AfroLatinas and beauty image and mental health with the producer Dash Harris, Carolina Contreras of Miss Rizos.comSunday, October 26th2pm-4pmLa Casa Azul Bookstore103rd St. and Lexington$10 suggested donationRSVP to firstname.lastname@example.orgPlease consider bringing a brown doll for the newly launched AfroLatino Travel’s “Brown Dolls for Brown Children - Panama” Campaign.
Gortoz a Ran, J'Attends
Meet Captain Nieves Fernandez, the only known Filipino female guerrilla leader and school teacher. When the Japanese came to take the children under her care she shot them. She didn’t hide in a closet, she didn’t put up a gun free zone sign, she shot them in the face with her latong (a home made shotgun).
She then went on to kill over 200 Japanese soldiers during the war with a group of commandos and holds the distinction as the only female commander of a resistance group in the Philippines.
In this photo she is showing U.S. Army Pvt. Andrew Lupiba how she used her bolo to silently kill Japanese sentries during the occupation of Leyte Island.
Ancient Song Doula Services
Pregnancy Kitchen every Friday from 2-4pm Free Cooking Class, Organic Produce from @goodeggsnyc and a Free Doula! Pregnant link us! Addressing #foodjustice head on. #nyc #nutrition #doula #midwife #brooklyn #bedstuy #breastfeeding (at Ancient Song Doula Services)
I want you to understand that fighting darkness isn’t foreign to your people. There are some days that dragging your body out of your bed might require some extra push and tears. That’s okay. I want you to understand that fighting darkness isn’t foreign to brown skin. This is not a sin and you should not be begging for forgiveness. So, seek help. Seek happiness. God damn anyone who ever tells you people with skin like yours do not have dark clouds. I want you to understand that fighting darkness is not foreign to your people and do not ever apologize for days it takes you ten attempts to leave the house. Seek happiness and find it. Seek happiness and find it. Do not let anyone tell you your brown skin is synonymous with enduring pain quietly. Love, you are also made of water, flowers and everything soft.
Pigmented skin also has dark clouds
Feels Just Like I Don't Try
Dear White People (x)
On my way to see this as I type
"We’re learning a lot about this thing called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This war time disease. This combat fatigue diagnosis. And we read something worth sharing. Fact, urban youth are twice as likely to get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than soldiers who are coming home from war. So tell me, what’s the difference between homicide in the streets and bloodshed on the battlefields of Iraq. […] The only difference there is between a soldier with PTSD and one of my students with it is that a soldier gets to leave the battlefield, while my kids go home to it."
(via mujeristaxicana)just call me sushi
i remember the moment i fell in love with him. it was almost painful in the sense that i felt my heart have to stretch to a new dimension to accommodate the width.
i spent a lot of today thinking about this, mourning the innocence of that summer morning when i laid naked next to his peacefully sleeping body. i got up to go get a drink of water and paused at the door. my heart leaped and tears filled my eyes as i felt the type of love one would have for the father of their children. this is where that started. I didn’t have words for it. I didn’t know how else to describe it.
i’ve been yearning to feel that way since then. it is in recent times framing my interaction with men. as i explore this emotion that i’ve buried, i am realizing how deep of a commitment i had to make to my body and vision.
asking someone to be the parent of your child is a very serious request. it is why i hated him so much after he violated me. outside of the fucked up-ness of rape, he went for my ovaries as one of the ways of seduction. it’s nearly unforgiveable. why would you bring up children if your only goal was to fuck me? as i continue to heal from this, i begin to realize that knowing that i want to feel that strongly for a man again is guiding my celibate life right now.
let me put to you like this: i hate condoms. i don’t like contraception and i do fertility awareness as the method to know when i’m ovulating. therefore, if i don’t want to use condoms, this calls into question who i let inside of me. if who i let inside of me is not open to all the possibilities of sharing bodies and energy, it’s not a good idea for them to be in my bed.
so, if a child i conceive is half of me and half of him, i need to think seriously about if he is worthy of being the father of my children. because i’m not trying to have a lifelong relationship with someone who i don’t feel honored by and ecstatic to be carrying their seed. further than romantic love, asking for the father of my children to come into my life means i have to consider if i can love and respect this person as a co-parent and stay devoted to them as a father.
what a tall order. alas, it is only fit for a queen.