Category Archives: Activism

Review: ‘Incognegro’ by Mat Johnson

After hearing a very interesting NPR interview with Mat Johnson, I decided I simply had to read Incognegro.  Mr. Johnson’s lives and experiences are clearly an inspiration for the superhero known as Incognegro as well as inspiration for his other writings. He describes himself as “mulatto”, being the son of an African-American mother and an Irish-American father.  The struggles of growing up being seen differently by different people is a struggle which I personally often thought about, even though I’m as Western European-American as you can get. As you may know, I’m an Adult Reference Librarian who maintains the adult graphic novel collection at a large urban public library.  You may also know that I’m a self-described geek and anti-racist and a family historian.

I’d seen the graphic novel come and go off the shelves.  My reading list was so long, I told myself I’d get there eventually.  After hearing that interview (linked above), I moved it up the list.

This graphic novel places us in the 1930s where a light-skinned journalist, Zane, goes undercover as a white man in the American South to investigate lynchings for a newspaper based in Harlem.  His newspaper publishes his work under the name ‘Incognegro’.  This means he goes without recognition outside of the office, which is something he grapples with.  He wants people to know that he’s the writer known as Incognegro.

Throughout the graphic novel, we are faced with uncomfortable realities about race in America, past and present. I find the straight forward unapologetically honest tone of this graphic novel refreshing.  The writing is grounded and the black and white artwork, done by illustrator Warren Pleece, doesn’t try to blunt the honest tone.

“Race doesn’t really exist,” Zane says.  “Race is just a bunch of rules meant to keep us on the bottom.  Race is a strategy.  The rest is just people acting.  Playing roles.  That’s what white folks never get. They don’t think they have accents.  They don’t think they eat ethnic foods.  Their music is classical. They think they’re just normal.  That they are the universal and that everyone else is an odd deviation from form. That’s what makes them so easy to infiltrate.”

Grade: 4.5/5

Other works by Mat Johnson:

  • Drop
  • Hunting in the Harlem
  • Hellblazer: Papa Midnite
  • The Great Negro Plot
  • Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story
  • Pym
  • Right State
  • Loving Day

-The McNabbist

Advertisements
Tagged , ,

‘Star Trek’ cast and crew takes a public stand against Donald Trump — Unhinged Group

‘Star Trek’ cast and crew takes a public stand against Donald Trump http://ift.tt/2dHZDJA ‘Star Trek’ cast and crew takes a public stand against Donald Trump Image: Trek Against Trump By Adam Rosenberg2016-09-29 20:43:56 UTC Donald Trump would never make it in the Star Trek universe. The amassed former and current cast and crewmembers of various […]

via ‘Star Trek’ cast and crew takes a public stand against Donald Trump — Unhinged Group

While I understand why some Trek fans would rather those involved in Star Trek would’ve not associated the franchise with their personal political views, I disagree with those that say Star Trek isn’t political.  To those, I’d say, please watch the episodes again.And, while I don’t personally think Hillary Clinton is a great candidate, personally I do think she’s a bit better than Donald Trump.

If you want to know more, you can visit the links above.  If you don’t, I understand.

Tagged , ,

My White Privilege

She’d gotten pregnant at 15, had her child just three weeks after her 16th birthday, dropped out of high school, and got married.  A few years later, she was divorced and on her own with a three year old little girl.  She got her GED and worked jobs as she could find ones that would fit her schedule as a parent.

One day in mid-1980s, this struggling single mother decided to try her hand at creating a house-cleaning business.  Her knowledge of the emerging technologies of the time was limited.  She couldn’t afford printed advertisements.  Instead, she went door to door in some of the wealthier neighborhoods in the metropolitan area, greeting each person that answered the door with a smile, a flyer, and a description of the services she offered.  It was a rough start, but after a couple of years, she found her services in demand.  In 2016, her business had expanded to pet sitting, elder sitting, babysitting, and professional organizing and she can’t keep up with the demand!  While this woman is by no means wealthy or upper-middle class, she was able to buy a home for her and her daughter in 1987 and has since paid it off completely.

My mother’s story sounds like the stereotypical “American Dream”.  Anyone against any odds can make it in the United States of America!  However, that isn’t the whole story.  My mother is Caucasian.  Going door to door in these wealthy neighborhoods in the 1980s would have turned out differently if they’d been met with an African-American single mother in her twenties.  I do not doubt that some of them would have hired her regardless of her skin color; however, I am not quite sure that all of them would have.

My mother didn’t have it easy growing up and as a mother.  I need to give credit where credit is due. She had an emotionally and economically abusive father growing up.  She had an anxious, introverted daughter to raise, mostly on her own.  I’m not denying the sheer strength of my mother.  She is a force to be reckoned with.  She’s ambitious, doesn’t take no for an answer, and will never let a man rule her life.  If she wants something, she gets it!  She has one of the strongest work ethics I’ve come across. If she sees someone being nasty to another, she steps in. She’s also one of the most loving and giving people that I know.  So, Mom, I’m not trying to detract from the awesome things you have accomplished or from how wonderful of a human being you are.   YOU ROCK.

But, let’s return to the point of this blog post.  My mother had not only an incredibly ambitious drive and a very strong work ethic, she also had her white skin and I’m convinced this is part of the reason I had a mother who could support me.  She couldn’t afford to send me on the overseas trips my fellow students took when I was in middle school, but we had a home and when I went to university, she paid for my books and assisted here and there as she could.  So, I am privileged not only by my own skin color and a strong work ethic, but of being the daughter of a woman who was able to make it easier for me to get the education I needed to get a good job.

We need to stop lying to ourselves about the idea that everyone in this country has the same opportunities.  There is no level playing field.  I want to make it clear to my fellow white Americans, I’m not saying that having white skin automatically means you’ve had an easy life.  There are many ways in which we as individuals can be oppressed, mistreated, and hurt.  Admitting white privilege doesn’t deny this basic truth, but it does admit that our skin color gives us a benefit, both historically and currently, that makes a level playing field impossible until we begin to address the systemic racism in this country.

We are products of our past and present.  We can’t divorce ourselves from this truth.  We can, however, challenge ourselves (our misconceptions, our attitudes, our biases), and work towards a better future.

Thank you for taking the time to give consideration to my views on my own white privilege.  Thank you for your patience with my average writing skills. I’ve probably forgotten to say important things or wrote this in a way that shows my own privilege. I’m still working on becoming a better human being.  It’s a lifelong journey.

-The McNabbist

P.S.  I initially began writing this post with much stronger words. However, I decided that I wanted those white Americans who rarely discussed this issue or had never understood how privilege worked to read a less confrontational article.  It is my hope that to those for who this is a new and/or uncomfortable topic will find this a more educational and eye-opening read than if I’d worded it differently.  My feelings are very strong on this topic, but I felt it better to approach it in this way.

Tagged , , , , ,

Grouchy Trekkie

***SPOILER ALERT***

 

Ok, I admit it. I’m a grouchy Trekkie. I didn’t think Star Trek Into Darkness was all that great. What with the plot holes, the lack of originality, the stupid relationship drama, the new cure for any ailment, the ability to skip starships now that we can beam across the universe, and the absolutely gratuitous Carol Marcus almost-nude scene, I just didn’t feel it. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate it. I give it a B-/C+. I couldn’t decide which grade to give it. It seems to change by the day.

Here we are with a whole new timeline. They could take it in ANY direction. Khan, really? Also, many people have interpreted the message the same way Wil Wheaton has (see below), but when Kirk is giving his speech at the end of the movie, it almost seems like he’s parroting our American Presidents hopeful speeches about peace and the future (while they rarely mean it). Maybe we’re supposed to think that Kirk is better or that Kirk will keep his word. However, for me, his words were too eerily similar to those of our warmongering politicians. I was also really bent out of shape by a J. J. Abrams interview I read right before the movie came out. Abrams admits that he was never a Star Trek fan because it was too philosophical for him (This isn’t the link, but he still admits it here too: http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-talk/j-j-abrams-star-trek-too-philosophical-192548775.html. If I come across the other interview, I’ll update this blog post). Why was this guy hired again? That is WHAT Star Trek is!

Having said all of this, most people that I know that have seen it liked the movie. Then again, most of those most aren’t Trekkies. I’ve only met two Trekkies that really liked it. TWO.  Though not perfect and wrought with its own issues, I still think the first reboot movie was better than this one.

So, if you’re wondering what am I on about, here are a few great links that will make you laugh and provide insight about some of the issues I had with this film. The bonus for you is that they are written by people who are better writers than I am. Enjoy!

http://io9.com/star-trek-into-darkness-the-spoiler-faq-508927844

http://www.themarysue.com/star-trek-into-darkness-review/

Wil Wheaton brings up some good points in defense of Star Trek Into Darkness, but so do some of the people who left him comments. Check it out: http://wilwheaton.net/2013/06/my-review-of-star-trek-into-darkness/

Of course, we all know that I’ll buy it on Blu-ray because I’m a Trekkie.

If you saw the film, whether a Trekkie or not, I would love to hear your feedback! 1, 2, 3, go!

Tagged , , , ,

Women, Graphic Novels, and Gaming

Hey, chicas! Are you tired of hearing the (old and lame) stereotype that comic books, graphic novels, and games are for men? I know that I am. While I certainly believe that some comic book/game creators, writers, and artists need  a lesson in why sexism and homophobia suck, not all games or comic books alienate women. And, it needs to be recognized in the industry, and among male fans, that we are here, we are fans, and we would like to be respected as consumers. I invite you to write about your favorite comic books, graphic novels, and games in the comments section. I would love to hear what you love, what you’re reading, and what you think about the treatment of women in those same titles. Personally, that matters a great deal to me. I don’t like supporting writers/creators/companies economically that demean women. But, let me hear your opinions. Let’s prove that stereotype wrong!!!

Here are a few of my faves:

Comic Books/Graphic Novels (all-time faves)

  1. Earth 2 – I like the diversity in this alternate universe!
  2. Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who Crossover – This has Captain Picard in it. Enough said.
  3. The Walking Dead – While there are females that try to enforce gender roles in this graphic novel, there are also a few female characters that knowingly and regularly defy those roles. Does anyone remember the conversation between Lori and Andrea? BOOM.
  4. Umbrella Academy
  5. The Guild – About a geeky, introverted woman who loves gaming. What isn’t there to like?! Did I mention that Felicia Day is the mind behind it! (You should also check out the webseries!)

Games (all-time faves)

  1. Dragon Age: Origins
  2. Dragon Age: Awakenings (DLC)
  3. World of Warcraft – While there are plenty of sexist assholes playing on the WoW servers, there are also a lot of females running around who don’t mind (myself included) calling those assholes out.
  4. Plants vs. Zombies – For when I’m looking for easy entertainment.
  5. Mortal Kombat – This has been one of my favorite since I was a teen. I remember the thrill I would get at kicking dudes butts while playing a female character in the game. BEST.
  6. FTL – You can get a Star Trek mod for this game. What isn’t to love? You never know what to expect in this game, which is an interesting and delightful change from most games I’ve played.

I’m about to start The Walking Dead games via Steam soon. Has anyone played? Thoughts?

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Creating Change. It’s Not Easy.

If you see something you don’t like, do something about it. Things don’t change because you complain to your friends or post a comment on Twitter…or even a blog. Things change because of actions we take and where we decide to spend/not to spend our money (and then being vocal as to the reasons why). Sadly, money talks volumes in our society. It gets the attention of those in control of the purse strings.

Let me give an example. Say there is an actor that you really have the hots for and he’s in this new movie that some of your friends want to see. But, you’ve heard it is very sexist and/or racist. At this point, what you need to decide is what is more important? Seeing a movie with this hot actor with your friends or deciding not to go see it because of the content. I’m not going to sugar coat this. In my opinion, if you see the movie, you ARE condoning the sexism and/or racism in the film. The film company is looking at the tickets sales and feels validated. However, I’m not telling you which should be more important to you. Only you can make that decision for yourself.

Fighting for change has never been easy. It never will be. I would even propose that it shouldn’t be. It takes sacrifice and actions, not just words. Today, those sacrifices are minimal in comparison to our forefathers or those in other parts of the world. It might mean not having those cute shoes, shopping at a particular trendy store that is selling fur, or buying video games from a particular software company known for their ever-present misogynistic storylines. In some cases, it might actually mean attending a protest  or confronting a person about their hurtful and hateful comments toward yourself or someone else. While all of these may take us slightly out of our comfort zone, to be honest, it is nothing compared to the things that people in developing nations endure on a daily basis.

How much are we as a society willing to sacrifice to make our society a more positive and less hateful and greedy place? I wait to see what the future holds.

And….stepping off of soapbox…for now.

Tagged , ,