they are not shocked

They are no ‘outraged’ because they are not ‘shocked’. There is nothing shocking about racist violence perpetrated by police because it is normalised. It is seen as legitimate violence. It is this legitimate violence that was not only used to steal the country and assert white dominance but also maintain it through the oppression of Aboriginal people.
source

Bunya pines and murri knowledge

There are a bunch of bunya pines in Ashfield park, and a huge one up on Charlotte Street. The pine cones are epic huge. HUGE. And edible.

They only grow wild in Gubbi Gubbi, Waka Waka, and Yuggera country, places which have been called South East Queensland since invasion.
A story about Bunya Dreaming festival.

Queensland is a huge state, and the land it covers now is the country of a whole host of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Bunya Pine grows in only a small part of this territory, in country cared for by three people (Gubbi Gubbi (aka Kabi Kabi), Waka Waka, and Yuggera.
I used the AIATSIS map and the The Australasian Virtual Herbarium map to figure this out.

There are other stands of Bunya Pines in other parts of Australia, but they are much smaller.
Bunya pines fit into the ‘bush tucker’ family of noms, and I know my local Sydney foody friends have been experimenting with using their nuts to make pesto.

This website is a useful tool for learning about agreements treaties and negotiated settlements in Australia.

Landrights in Western Australia and the Yindjibarndi people

Some very good news.
The High Court has upheld the Yindjibarndi people’s native title rights to their land.
Fortescue Metals Group applied to appeal these rights, and got a big ‘nope’ from the High Court.

The Yindjibarndi people live in what has been called Western Australia since invasion, but has been black country for 40 000 years. If you look it up on this great map, you’ll find them in blue on the far left of the continent, above the most eastern most bit.

You can read about the Yindjibarndi languages here, on this epic good map.

Languages are important, because you can trace who lived where by the languages they speak. A people will share some linguistic elements (and languages) with neighbouring people.
Language is culture, and the number of people speaking a language can tell you about that people’s history.
The Stolen Generations interrupted the transfer of language and culture between generations in many areas. Reconciliation Week is supposed to be (in part) about making amends for the Stolen Generation.
You cannot understand Australian history without reading the Bringing Them Home (1997) report.
Please note: this Report warrants a Content Warning for sexual violence, neglect, persons who are deceased, and so on. If you are an Australian, particularly if you are not a Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander Australian, you should try to read this Report.

What is Native Title?

Useful things to think about in regards to native title today:

  • water rights (who owns them, who can buy or sell them);
  • mining (who has access to land to mine);
  • continuous occupation of land (and proof thereof, including rock paintings and burial grounds).

    Note: native title is determined by the High Court. There are 7 High Court judges, 3 are women, none are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. It’s worth noting that one of them, Justice Virginia Bell was a volunteer at the Redfern Legal Centre in the 70s, a centre that provided legal support for the 1978 Mardi Gras protesters (the first mardi gras march), for local Aboriginal community members, and other civil rights activists.
    Read more about the Redfern Legal Centre here.

Mervyn Bishop and Vincent Lingiari

I like to think of Frankie Manning’s birthday as the day we white people kick off a week of deep diving into supporting black civil rights. Here in Australia, it’s reconciliation week. This land is home to the oldest culture on earth. And some of the most persistent and terrifying racism.

If you don’t have the stomach for reading about the horrors of black history here and in the US, focus on digging out and supporting black artists, thinkers, activists, workers. Be the person who clears a space so they can stand. Still your voice so they can speak.

This iconic image is by aboriginal photographer Mervyn Bishop. He composed and shot the image.

…on 16 August 1975, he covered a historical event at Wattie Creek in the Northern Territory. This significant moment in Australian history followed a nine-year strike over the working conditions and request for traditional lands to be returned to the Gurindji people. This photograph captures Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pouring soil into the hand of Aboriginal rights activist, Vincent Lingiari on the occasion of the successful passing of the revolutionary act of parliament.
(source)

-> land rights + labour rights + black civil rights
Useful topics to follow up:
– Wave Hill Walk-Off (1966-1975)
– Gurindji people
– Vincent Lingiari
– Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act (1976)

Queer black men

I really like the way this story is reframed to focus on a queer black man as hero by this queer black jewish man*.

*Michael Twitty is a cook and scholar who focusses on the black jewish food traditions of America and the African diaspora. He has a book, goves good twitter, and could tell you exactly what ingredients were in a cake walk prize.


I want to keep sharing photos of black men like this, rather than bad white people, because they are an antidote to the bad news. ❤️✊🏽

And this is why we need queer histories of jazz dance. Without them, it’s too easy for white people to position themselves as saviours ‘reviving’ the black dance of a doomed or negligent people. “Black gay men have incomparable strength and courage.” White people, it is not ok to position ourselves as ‘preserving’ black culture. Just get out of the goddamm way.

If you’re interested, queer black men’s experience in dance under slavery is one of Tommy DeFrantz’ research interests. His book ‘Dancing Many Drums’ has some good bits on this tooic.

Sorry Day

Today is world lindy hop day and Frankie Manning’s birthday. But it’s also Sorry Day.

For me, Sorry Day is the more important occasion. But I think that Frankie would be down with that: apologise, remember the past, move forward with hope and good will.

[edit 10 minutes later]…maybe do a bit more than ‘move forward with hope and good will.’ Me, I’m adding ‘Do what you can, when you can. Because life is short, and we should take care of each other. And take care of the music.[/]

Cook: crap

So, after Kate asked for an actual source for James Cook raping people, I’ve been doing some ‘light’ research trying to find the original twitter thread where I read about this.
This thread was between a few first nations women (Australia, Hawai’i, NZ, etc), and they dropped some sweet links.

Anyway, I can’t find the original twitter thread (😭) but I have read a lot of interesting things.

Key was that Cook and his crews knowingly carried disease (TB, syphilis, gonorrhea, and lots of other lovely things) to the people of the pacific region (NZ, Hawai’i, Australia, Tahiti, etc). They knew they were sick, but they still had sex with local people. They also stole stuff, beat people, raped people, and were generally shitty guests. Eventually the people of Hawai’i had jack of Cook and his bullshit, and killed his arse.
There are lots of primary sources (journals, stories, drawings, paintings, etc) about this. It wasn’t a secret.

– Cook was a bad person. He did three major voyages, getting progressively more violent and aggressive, and eventually getting killed on the final voyage (12 Feb 1779, Hawai’i).

– His violence was expressed through increasingly violent (and quite horrific) ‘punishments’ for indigenous people who broke his ‘rules’, and for his own crew.

– His crews were allowed to interact with various villages as they travelled, including sexual relationships.

– Cook declared Australia ‘terra nullis’. He knew that people were living here, but because he didn’t count anyone who wasn’t European as a human, he decided that no ‘people’ lived in Australia.

– The people of Hawai’i (and other places) got increasingly shitty with Cook and his crew. They’d pass through their harbours to restock water and food, and to do some R&R. At first the Hawai’ian people were ‘yeah, ok’ and because women were considered sexually and socially autonomous people, they would have a root with the visitors. For fun. And also for economic gain. Sex work (giving sex in return for things like european goods) was culturally ok at the time. But after a while Cook and his mates became less fun. And they were riddled with disease.

– Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa (a scholar from Hawai’i) explains that Cook and his men brought TB and STIs like syphilis to the people of Hawai’i. Who were NOT impressed by these dirty europeans. Cook also had sex with local women.

– Eventually Cook got got by the Hawai’ian people for trying to kidnap the aliʻi nui (king/god/leader) Kalaniʻōpuʻu. He and his marines laid hands on Kalaniʻōpuʻu, and tried to drag him away, in punishment for the theft of a jolly boat.
The especially bad bit of this was that Cook disrespected the aliʻi nui body and spiritual/god status of Kalaniʻōpuʻu by laying hands on him.

In sum, Cook did not consider people of colour ‘human’, and if you don’t consider someone human, you don’t believe they have bodily autonomy, and therefore cannot give consent to sex. By this logic, if they can’t give or not give consent, they can’t be raped.
This sort of logic isn’t new, and I’m not the first person to draw these connections; there’s other (better) research about this stuff. But we can see these sorts of patterns of behaviour today in sexual offenders: men who regard women, girls, and children as less human and less important than their own desires, and do not respect their bodily autonomy*.

But I haven’t yet found specific primary sources detailing Cook’s sexual assaults. Mostly because I couldn’t read any more about him without feeling sick.

Here are some sources:

– Catherine ‘Imaikalani Ulep, ‘Women’s Exchanges: The Sex Trade and Cloth In Early Nineteenth-Century Hawai‘i’
(https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/62478/2017-05-ma-ulep.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3YmGPe8ZC7YZ7Rm6h6oFw5BLO4WgmhHnVWjfD_wiRck7-3x02FaNo2pZE)

– Kerri A. Inglis, ‘Kōkua, Mana, and Mālama ‘Āina: Exploring concepts of health, disease, and medicine in 19th Century Hawai’i’
(http://ulukau.org/elib/cgi-bin/library?e=d-0hulili05-000Sec–11en-50-20-header-book–1-010escapewin&a=d&d=D0.18&toc=0)

– Accounts of disease in Cook’s crew, and on the population of Hawai’i before and after his visits are plentiful. You can find zillions with a google search, from his crew’s journals to oral histories from Hawai’i people and so on. It’s not a contested idea; it’s a fact.

*’bodily autonomy’ is the right to make choices about your own body, what it does, how it looks, how it works, and who gets to touch it. It’s a useful phrase and concept for talking about sex, reproduction, imprisonment, and health. It’s also a powerful phrase for talking about children and their rights.

Ease is a matter of privilege

“‘The difficulty is the point’: teaching spoon-fed students how to really read” by Tegan Bennett Daylight

I gave up a career in academia about ten years ago. It was a difficult decision; i love teaching, and i’d loved working in a place all about thinking. But over the previous ten years i’d been working in universities in Qld, Vic, and NSW, things had changed. Some changes were good – student cohorts had burst into diversity and were a heap more interesting. Some changes were not – the pay had gotten shit, and we couldn’t give students the contact hours or libraries or time they needed.

This article is good. It echoes some of the things i saw. But at the same time, it’s bad. I remember a moment i had teaching intro cultural studies at VU. The first generation of families to finish high school, let alone go to uni. Mothers, refugees, kids who’d used TAFE to get into the university system. So different to the privileged young people at UniMelb or UQ I’d taught.
With these students i noticed i was suddenly talking about critical thinking as a tool for dismantling disempowerment. I could see them leap onto Stuart Hall – black, migrant, working class – and his thinking as a weapon. They ate him up. They saw how he was useful to their lives in the working class suburbs of western Melbourne.

I’ve never seen students work as hard as these. Nothing they were doing was easy.

Grey recently asked on fb ‘Ok, Feelings on bell hooks?’
And I got caught up in my response.

bell hooks was really important for me as a young feminist in the early 90s. At that stage, most of published women’s studies literature was by white women, and the women of colour who were getting published (primarily in journals, then in books), really shook up my thinking about class and identity. At the time, it really made me understand the intersection of class, race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, etc, though at the time it wasn’t called ‘intersectionality’. I was a young, white woman in a working class suburb of a politically corrupt state. People like hooks just blew my brain. It was thrilling.

I remember reading her work, and the work of Ruby Langford Gibni (Aboriginal Australian woman), Audre Lorde (black american feminist), Rita Mae Brown (American lesbian), and then Stuart Hall (queer black British cultural studies king). They were essential to my understanding of identity politics. Because I was a cultural studies person, I was also really influenced by film makers like Laura Mulvey (white British feminist), Lizzie Borden (black American radical), Tracey Moffatt (Aboriginal Australian artist), and by a bunch of authors.

I was lucky enough to be doing my BA in a huge english department (before media studies and cultural studies existed as disciplines), and that department included a lot of politically active feminists, poc, queer peeps, etc etc. So I was able to do subjects across a range of thinking within my BA. Goddess bless Gough Whitlam and the 1980s Australian university arts degree. I remember doing a lot of multiculturalism reading (in a postcolonial context), queer reading (a library full of books about sex!), and getting access to first nations activism. We had brilliant lecturers who were also activists in a lot of cases, and were culturally diverse. Nothing gets you fired up like a koori woman pointing at you and asking you what you’re bloody doing sitting there when there’s a rally to get to?!

All these people in the 80s and early 90, and their critiques of university-based white women’s studies (which was distinct from a lot of the feminist activism of the day), helped me understand that feminism can’t just be about gender. It has to address class, race, sexuality, etc, and it has to engage with institutional patriarchy. I was also influenced by Nancy Fraser (white American feminist) and her concept of ‘pragmatic feminism’. She argued that women’s studies had to have a practical, activist component (feminism) or it was just shoring up the academy.

But that was 20 years ago, and feminism has moved on. The lack of trans voices in the ‘feminist canon’ of that second wave is particularly telling. Even queer voices were marginalised at that moment. I personally think that the rise of trans politics within feminism has been the most radical change of this wave. And that’s no doubt why TERFs have so much trouble with it.
I think that these writers are important for understanding the history of feminism and gender studies, and for understanding women and activists of that generation (who are in their 60s an 70s now). But there are problems with them as well. And the nice thing about modern feminism is that it has moved on, adding new voices and thoughts to the discussion.

As a side note, I’m getting quite interested in Hannah Arendt and Seyla Benhabib at the moment. Old school feminists, but powerful thinkers.

Black activist men:
Straight up, my most favourite thinker is Stuart Hall (queer, black, British man). His work on class, race, gender, and sexuality in culture was the most influential work I read when I was doing my MA and PhD. I love the way he wrote, and his ideas really resonated with me.
I was also influenced by Paul Gilroy (another black British thinker) for his radical black politics.

And I’m a big fan of Tommy DeFrantz (queer black American dance history scholar), who I met while I was doing my PhD. He’s a dancer and scholar, and the way he talked about black dance and media culture, as well as being a dancer himself, part of a dance community, shook me. Plus he is a kind man, and just the right influence I needed at that stage in my own work on race and dance.

I came across Raúl H. Villa and his work on the latina public sphere in LA in the late 19th and early 20th century and was fascinated (partly because it overlaps with the zoot suit riots stuff). I also got into Michael Warner (white American queer)’s work on the queer public sphere.

This then led me to another thought…

Academic journals and magazines were really important in that 70s/80s/90s moment, because they were often published by collectives, or by groups of scholars who had shared interests (and politics). They’d publish special issues, or articles with the latest thinking, and then in following issues authors would respond to those articles or issues. That meant you could see the thinking happening at the time in a particular journal.

So, for example, ‘Screen’ published Laura Mulvey’s article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (Autumn 1975) in vol 16, issue 3 (pg 6–18), but people got so worked up about it (it was influential) that the next issue was themed, and all in response to her article.

There were also some really great magazines and journals published outside universities that gave marginalised writers a voice. eg On Our Backs (a sex positive lesbian erotica magazine) was a response to Off Our Backs (a feminist mag that was often anti-porn). For more.

When I first got to uni, I remember being kind of crazed by access to so many huge libraries. I would just sit in there reading everything. So. Many. Journals. I’d never even heard of things like feminist magazines or journals.
I know there are special collections of these things here in Australia eg Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
The language was exciting: very RISE UP! and radical activist.

And of course, at this point, it’s important to point out that Grey’s research and thinking can be read in Obsidian Tea, one of the most important publications in the modern lindy hop and blues dance world.

on bodily autonomy and abortion

I’ve seen this image being circulated a bit on facebook this week.

[Text reads:]
“My body, my choice” only makes sense when someone else’s life isn’t at stake.”
reply:
Fun fact: If my younger sister was in a car accident and desperately needed a blood transfusion to live, and I was the only person on Earth who could donate blood to save her, and even though donating blood is a relatively easy, safe, and quick procedure, no one can force me to give blood. Yes, even to save the life of a fully grown person, it would be ILLEGAL to FORCE me to donate blood if I didn’t want to.
See, we have this concept called ‘bodily autonomy’. It’s this…cultural notion that a person’s control over their own body is above all important and must not be infringed upon.
Like, we can’t even take LIFE SAVING organs from CORPSES unless the person whose corpse it is gave consent before their death. Even corpses get bodily autonomy.
To tell people that they MUST sacrifice their bodily autonomy for months against their will in an incredibly expensive, invasive, difficult process to save what YOU view as another human life (a debatable claim in the early stages of pregnancy when the VAST majority of abortions are performed) is desperately unethical. You can’t even ask people to sacrifice bodily autonomy to give up organs they aren’t using anymore after they have died.
You’re asking people who can become pregnant to accept less autonomy than we grant to dead bodies.

[/]

I have a few problems with this chunk of text.
The first is that it’s based on a false premise: that ‘we’ all have the same bodily rights, and that these rights are applied to us equally. I’m going to assume that the author was writing in, and about the US. And I want to state, very clearly, that even beyond the world of childbirth and reproductive medicine, we do not all have the same bodily autonomy. Women of colour, people of colour, first nations people, women, children, gay men living with AIDS… basically everyone other than straight, white, wealthy men have their right to bodily autonomy curtailed by the law, by the state, by medical institutions.
The history of the US is based upon slavery, the clear legal fact that some people can be owned by other people. First nations people were not (are not?) considered people at all by invading colonisers. People of colour are more likely to be incarcerated. Women’s accounts of their own physical pain or illness are less likely to be taken seriously by doctors than men’s accounts. Children are legally not capable of bodily autonomy.
..and so on.

We cannot talk about abortion without also talking about social context. Women and girls are not considered capable human adults or citizens in the way that white men are. We are not considered capable of making sensible, logical decisions. About anything. Let alone our bodies.

I feel that a debate about abortion is a misdirect.
Access to free, safe contraception and good sex education are the demonstrably better way to reduce abortion rates. And incidentally increase women and girls’ autonomy and social power.
By focussing on abortion, rather than sexual health, the discussion is framed as one of individualism, rather than collective responsibility. If we focus on women’s choices, we can avoid a discussion about the state’s role in health care. If we suggest that women’s bodies and their choices are the problem, the we don’t have to talk about the importance of the welfare state in caring for children. Because there, of course, we are reminded that women were once girls, and girls’ education and bodily autonomy is the real issue here.

The abortion debate is about legislating women’s bodies, but more importantly, it’s also about restricting women and girls’ knowledge of their own bodies. I want to expand from this to tie contraceptive rights to access to education generally in a more direct way.
We know that access to education – going to school – generally reduces birth rates (ie girls are less likely to have babies, and fewer babies). For a range of reasons including (but expanding far beyond) knowledge and tools for preventing pregnancy.

The thing I’m often struck by in this sort of debate is the implication that the only reason women and girls have lots of babies is that they don’t know how to stop themselves getting pregnant. Or that they don’t know penetrative vaginal sex with a man leads to pregnancy.

But we know that choosing when and how to have a baby is about more than knowing how to stop sperms get into eggs. It’s also about having a range of choices and options for employment, education, community participation, etc etc etc.
Good education isn’t just about ‘not getting pregnant’ it’s about being able to choose when and how we do have children.

An educated girl is a mighty person. She knows how to access all sorts of resources. She’s not confined to a domestic space and domestic isolation. She’s a _citizen_. This is far more frightening for fundamentalist christians and other patriarchal institutions.
As an addendum, I’ll also note that good sex ed isn’t just about how not to get pregnant or STDs. As that story about the young Swedish men who intervened in a rape in America shows, good sex ed also teaches men and boys about how to communicate with and empathise with their partners’ needs and desires. I think that this is the other thing that terrifies the patriarchy: that men and boys might begin to think of us as humans.