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BlackLivesMatter

Originally posted Mar 24, 2021.

Inclusivity is something I learned from my bio Mom, Dr. Sandra Ellen Colombo-Stempien, and it was from growing up in a mixed racial family that I learned what love is. Love is accepting, acknowledging, and celebrating your differences. I also learned this lesson from a second Mama, Mrs. Cynthia Murray Cook Brassert Bowman Burgoyne. It was from this amazing woman, who could not bear children of her own, and adopted all of her children including myself and biological sister after my Mom’s untimely passing when I was eighteen years of age. Both of these women had flaws, one with flaws that are extreme and an inability to work on our relationship, and the other was from a deep fear of losing more of ones she most loved in the world. Each, in their own way shaped the woman I became today. Growing up in a multi-lingual and multi-racial family, although I myself am white presenting, enabled me to truly see that love knows no bounds when we recognize and celebrate our differences, and love one another as human beings. This is one of the major reasons why I have been so outraged by the hate crimes that have occurred, particularly towards Black individuals, indigenous persons, and other people of color (BIPOC), as well as my fellow LGBTQIA+ community (I am a proud member of as a Cis-Gender Female Bi-Sexual).

The racism that has been allowed to go unchecked due to our ex-president’s past four year racist, misogynistic and fear mongering reign has continued, and escalated, long standing racial division and has embolden many to engage in hate crimes against women, BIPOC individuals, and people of the LGBTQIA+ community. This got me thinking about the Feminist Lens, as well as Feminist writers, and how this literature could possibly help bring some healing to you all. As such, I decided to write this blog post for all y’all out there (you know who you are) looking to learn, grown, and become better humans. I also write this to honor all those of color, multi-cultural, multi-racial backgrounds like myself, and my hope is that in doing my part to continue to speak out and continue this conversation partly fueled by my honest rage at these heinous crimes….but mostly from my heart wanting people’s pain to be healed and racism to be eradicated that I am able to make a small contribution to the #AntiRacist movements currently on-going. So here goes….

NORNSLIFE ART | DACD, MFA, Untitled Portrait, March 2021

Ien Ang’s 2001 essay, I’m a feminist but… ‘Other’ Women and Postnational Feminism, brings an interesting perspective to the bilateral unity of what it means to be two different races, some white/caucasian mix, and differential thoughts of the races. Ang believes firmly that her being a Chinese American woman enables her to voice her opinions in a way that opens up the acceptance for all Chinese American Women. “As a woman of Chinese descent, I suddenly find myself in a position in which I can turn my ‘difference’ into intellectual and political capital, where ‘white’ feminists invite me to raise my ‘voice’, qua a non-white woman, make myself head.”(Ang, Pp.394) This statement rings true, is extremely intriguing when considering my sense of self coming from quite a mixed background, knowing that every woman comes from a different situation, and has different uniquely lived experiences in our own social atmospheres. The belief that women are united through a global sisterhood solely because we all share the same anatomy falls short. Every woman’s racial, cultural, and sexual background is unique, which brings to question if the whole rationality that we are bonded by our plumbing extremely controversial, as some women are born with the wrong genitalia, and so I think that this set of thought processes needs to be updated to today’s vastly different personification of what gender, and womanhood is.  The short answer is that it doesn’t. The idea that our differences and similarities can’t be solved through the action of discussion is also one of Ang’s statements, which in the end is circumstantial due to our own lived experiences, and backgrounds. There are a ton of highly educated white Women that are racist and misogynistic as fuck because they felt they had to conform to the patriarchy in order to get what and where they wanted to in their lives. 

NORNSLIFE ART | DACD, Untitled, How Loud Do I Have To Be?, Self-Portrait, December 2016

I believe that the only way to truly unite women is to be able to look at all of our differences and recognize the intersectional layers of oppression that exist as a result of those differences; through acceptance, through love, and the unification of this shared pain should come in the fight for #EqualPayNow, #EqualPayForWomen, and total equality within society at all levels. The unification of women comes in our coming together to fight for our rights including the right to control our own bodies, which is the most important, and is utterly disgusting that we are still having to fight for this right solely because we aren’t men/identify as male. The lenses, historically, that society were taught to see through were dictated by the misogynistic patriarchy that historically have fought to suppress women on all levels, make us feel, believe, and act less-than. Unfortunately, these historical taught values are laden full-up with prejudices, influenced by generations of racist white hatred, bigotry, and upbringing. Luckily, what was taught can be unlearned, which is an essential undertaking, and would facilitate a world that could grow from kindness and acceptance. 

Ang jumps from racial wars, unknown placement of mixed women, to Madonna’s ability to use her sexuality as a tool to dominate men and rape; essentially using her body and it’s various levels of nudity in performance to take back Female Power from the patriarchy and society’s historical view of the Woman’s body for something to consume or own (ancient dowries brought with women in marriage and women seen as mere property without rights comes to mind as an archaic example). It is quite baffling that most people wouldn’t connect Madonna wearing her lingerie on the outside purely to take power back from the male. Further more, “the slogan does not speak to men (who are commanded to take ‘No’ for an answer), but also implicitly summons Women to take up the fight, to join together in this fight that states when a Woman says ‘No’ she means No when she says it.(Ang, Pp.398) This brings to question, male artists historically using the female body, the female form in their own art to gain notoriety within the art community, and gain immense amounts of wealth once successful. The women, who sat for the these men for hours, were often subjected to sexual harassment and received no royalties as the art world was and remains a male dominated forum. Female artists work four times as hard, have to put up with sexist misogynistic bullshit, we get paid a fraction of the amount as men for our work, and we are lucky to end up in the heavy hitting galleries or museums even if we use our own naked bodies within our art. This makes me think of the awesome badass Japanese female photographer Yurie Nagashima. Nagashima once one of the few women in the 1990s who were able to fight their way into Japan’s traditional photography world, which historically and then, presently was dominated by men and their male masters.(Aperture 225, Pp.72) Nagashima was one of the few Japanese Women Photographers that blatantly confronted the historic gender expectations of the Woman as had been previously established by male Japanese photographers. Her self-portraiture assisted artistic reality photographs were and are still ground breaking, using her own body, nude, and clothed to grapple with her own female identity and continue to speak out for the rights of the Japanese Woman. She is a total badass and y’all need to check out her work!

Yurie Nagashima, Self-Portrait (the problems of ‘B’), 2002

Yurie Nagashima, Self-Portrait, 1993

Yurie Nagashima, Self-Portrait, 1993

A woman’s femininity, frail qualities, which are often overlooked in men due to #ToxicMasculinity upbringings is usually used as a justification for rape, hate crimes, and is absolutely bullshit! It doesn’t matter how feminine, tiny, and or beautiful a women is or what she is wearing. No means NO! It is egregious, when a Woman or any human says no to sex and is raped. These toxic men that partake in ignoring the ‘No’ to deserve to be imprisoned for life. These men fear Women, they fear what will happen once we all recognize, and believe what has been true all along; WE ARE NOT INFERIOR. We deserve equal pay, equal rights, control of our own bodies, and to not have to deal with the bullshit of to the toxic masculine gaze any longer.

NORNSLIFE ART | DACD, Untitled, Are You Listening?, Self-Portrait, Fall 2016

Get it together America and END THIS RACIST* BULLSHIT! *and, while we’re at it, the misogynist, ableist, classist, homophobic, every other -ism/-ist.

#EndThisRacistBullshit #EndSexistBullshit #StopAsianHate #BlackLivesMatter #WomenSupportingWomen #EqualPayForWomen

Sincerely,

NORNSLIFE ART | DACD, MFA

Bibliography:

Ien Ang, “I’m a feminist but… ‘Other’ Women and Postnational Feminism,” in Kum-Kum Bhavnani, ed., Feminism and ‘Race’ (Oxford University Press, 2001), 394-409

Simone de Beauvoir, “Introduction,” in The Second Sex, translated by H. M. Parshley (New York: Vintage Books, 1949, 1952), xxv-xlii. 

Steiner, A. L. “On Feminism.” APERTURE 225 (2016): 72-77.

Originally posted Feb 9, 2021.

A Cognitive Processing of The Writings of Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa & Ruth Frankenburg

Daniella A. Colombo-Dougovito, Untitled Self-Portrait, 2021.

Daniella A. Colombo-Dougovito, Untitled Self-Portrait, 2021.

Since this country’s founding under British Colonialist rule to post American Revolution when the United States of America was formed, our country—throughout it’s history—has been dominated by a seemingly impossible divide among socially constructed races due to the egregious slave trade, and deeper rooted classism, misogynistic, and patriarchal divisions. This divide has made the discussion of a created US Third World Feminism essential to broach an academic and progressively open dialogue about the essential necessity for feminism and acceptance of all humans no matter their gender or race. “I urge each one of us to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lies there” (Moraga, Pp.xlvii). It isn’t until we truly acknowledge the injustices that have occurred against women and BIPOC that will are then readily able to recognize these injustices—in all places of our government and country—the division and segregation that deeply divides our countries inhabitants; yet, there is hope that these old fashioned notions will be abolished. This was most recently demonstrated with this past year’s #BlackLivesMatter movement. This essential hope continues to exist through our democracy not failing in the 2020 election with the election of the first female Black and Asian Vice President, Madam Vice President Kamala Harris. For the first time in our country’s 200+ year history, a woman has finally been elected to one of the highest offices in our government, thereby paving the way for future women to continue to hold and dominate in positions of power.

The wretched political climate of misinformation that came from the 45th President of America has led the way for the next political, human rights, and creative movements. More people than ever came to protest for Women’s Rights, Black Lives, LGBTQIA+, and Climate Change. As long as the cyclical historical tendency for humans to forget and for history to repeat itself does not continue, we will all need to continue to work towards full equality, and acceptance of every human decent human being in not just our own country, but the world as a whole. Thinking about this makes it obliquely obvious that our country set itself up to govern by the official separation and segregation of its citizens—perpetuated by checking a box speaking to each persons individualities, which announce historically where you fall within our governments value systems. If you are a woman, you get paid less than a man; if you are Black or Latina woman, you get paid less than white and Asian women. This separation leads some mis-led and mis-informed individuals to believe that they are entitled to more privilege than others. This privilege is not only a benefit to their financial and economic standing, but seeks to gain value upon the oppression of those deemed as less than in society and seeks to further strengthen the egregious outdated beliefs of segregation of categorized or deemed as Other. The need of our government to classify race speaks to an important history that must be remembered as to not be repeated, but also perpetuates the belief in some that this gives you power of those whom look, and or are different than white and heterosexual. “In other words, any system of differentiation shapes those upon whom it bestows privilege, as well as those it oppresses. At a time in the histories of both the US and UK when we are culturally encouraged that white people should view ourselves as racially and culturally ‘neutral’ rather than as members or facially and culturally privileged or dominant groups, it is double important to look at the ‘racialness’ of white experience” (Frankenburg, p.51). It is to say that for years since the Europeans’ migrated from to the America’s that they considered themselves to be the dominant Puritan peoples, whose lives meant more than the Indigenous Americans that were seen as less than due to the Puritans ignorance, lack of knowledge, and insight into their languages, cultures, and vast knowledge of how to live on this land planet harmoniously. Have the genocide and theft of Indigenous American lands, white people then brought the slave trade to the America’s.

Prejudice is taught, but it also can be unlearned. Fear of being different, and or fear of the unknown fuels prejudices. This is why education, communication, and seeking truth through thorough researching of all historical scientific art and evidence is essential. As a child, you have simple wants and needs; to learn, grow, make friends, and play. As a child, you see others as part of your own—the human race—with unique and beautiful differences. It is not until events occur that exposed to the existence of racism, sexism, ableism, etc.—likely through an elder or peer making nasty comments—that present you with the histories of races and their place in human history. “When I was about eight or nine and walking with my uncle down the street and kind of mutually bumping into a Black woman. I just said ‘Excuse me’, and she said ‘Don’t ever say excuse me to a nigger. If you bump into them or they bump into you, it’s always their fault. And I said ‘How is it their fault if I bumped into them?” (Frankenburg, p.62-3). It is from the racial slanderous (and even some seemingly-innocuous stereotypes) remarks that children are taught prejudice. It is not that we are born prejudiced, racism is taught, learned, as Darwin said, we are a product of Nature vs. Nurture, and this is where our evolution stems from. Many people have the ability to separate their own beliefs from those of negative societal norms that push towards people conforming to societal belief systems and structures that historically were created by the misogynistic patriarchal ruling classes during the formation of governing bodies, but a great majority conforms to these beliefs for fears of hate crimes, and Otherization. As artists, we must fight continually towards the eradication of racism that Otherizes genders and races seen as anything other than white and heterosexual. “We have got to know each other better and teach each other our ways, our views, if we’re to remove the scales (“seeing when they are critical-Quintanales”) and get the work done (Cade Bambara, p.xlii).” If we allow systemic prejudices to facilitate an effect on the way we perceive different races then we miss out on a lot of life, knowledge, and understanding that enables us to gain a greater grasp intellectually of what it means to be a human being and our place in the world we live in. Lack of understanding and knowledge leads to cruelty, ignorance, injustice, and a degrading cyclical cycle of misogyny and racism.

Hannah Wilke, Marxism and Art: Beware of Fascist Feminist, 1977.

As a female artist athlete that comes from a mixed racial family, which includes persons of many different races, sexualities, and belief systems this has always instilled an innate curiosity that in turn has fueled scholarly research to facilitate my artistic practices. Learning about the world through others lived experiences, stories, my own experiences, research, and growth have been my truth. Science is truth just as much as art is truth. The purity of moments so intimate, it as if one would shy away, and yet, a perfectly imperfect encapsulated moment exists from the physical act of creation. It is feminist artists like Ana Mendieta, Hannah Wilke, and Cindy Sherman’s rawness that makes mark on the essential necessity of have conversations about race and gender. When I consider Beware of Fascist Feminism, 1977 created by Hannah Wilke, I remain cognizant of the consistent fight that must occur in myself, as well as other female artists, so that our bodies, our skin, our beings remain our own and can communicate how we see fit dependent on the subject matter in order to break down the negative societal stigmas surrounding race and gender; so as, to move forward, to grow, to listen, and to own our strengths. We must continue the conversations and not become complacent. 

Yours,

NORNSLIFE | DACD

Works Cited:

Frankenberg, Ruth. “Growing up white: feminism, racism and the social geography of childhood.” Feminist Review 45, no. 1 (1993): 51-84.

Gunaratnam, Y. “Oxford readings in feminism: feminism and'race'.” (2002): 189-190.

Moraga, Cherríe, and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds. This bridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color. Suny Press, 2015.