Kids React to… Racists

While being too lazy to actually back up my claim here, I’m pretty sure at least 12% of what I post about here is sweet and funny kids making me cry. Or maybe that’s just the content of my internet browsing.

So either way, you’ve been warned! This is a video that will make you cry and laugh, and it’s NINE MINUTES. Now, listen to me: I can’t even watch piglets playing with kittens for a quarter of that (my kid’s really into both, so I’ve watched almost all of the baby animal videos on Youtube and am VERY AWARE of my patience levels with them). But I watched all of this and wanted to watch it again as soon as I finished.

So, curl up and get ready to want to kiss/hug/otherwise embarrass a bunch of sincere, smart, and as-of-yet-uncorrupted kids. And maybe keep the tissues close.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VifdBFp5pnw%5D

PS I’d like to say that as a kid, I was an Olivia, the eloquent, moved girl at the end (who seriously is like two years away from being a runway model, yes?), but of course, I was totally a Dylan, the goofy Asian kid who is already versed in the ways of sarcasm and mocking. “What is this country for? It’s something… starts with an E… oh! Equality, okay. So, why do you do that?” Preach, Dylan.

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Maurice Williamson


A couple of months ago, New Zealand passed an amendment to an existing marriage act, now clearly stating that same-sex marriage was legal. The language was short and a bit dry:

This bill seeks to amend the Marriage Act 1955 to ensure that its provisions are not applied in a discriminatory manner. The bill aims to ensure that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose.

I remember at that time being happy about the news, but not feeling all that affected. I’ve visited gorgeous New Zealand, and have some friends who live there, but frankly didn’t give it much thought.

Then today, I had the pleasure of coming across a speech given by Maurice Williamson, a member of the House of Representatives, right before the final voting. He’s funny, touching, self-deprecating, honest, and seriously: so, so funny. I’m not sure how that dude behind him keeps such a straight face throughout his speech — maybe, as Williamson belongs to the center-right party (which makes this even more amazing), the guy behind him just REALLY disagrees with him, to the point where he’s actually lost his funny bone?

It’s a complete treat, and I can’t even imagine how amazing it would be if a member of the US Congress was this entertaining and incisive (or are they? I don’t watch a lot of C-SPAN):
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCDEiaoEP2U%5D

And if that wasn’t enough, when the final vote was read in favor of the amendment, they let in observers, who started singing Pokarekare Ana, a traditional New Zealand love song. The politicians join in, and it’s just an incredibly touching moment… which means, yes, I cried:
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW4DXOAXF8U%5D

Listen, as my friend Josh pointed out last night, there’s a lot of depressing shit going on right now. Sometimes, we could stand to focus on some of the amazing things that happening worldwide too. Happy Thursday!

PS the Rep who submitted the bill (she’s the one being hugged by everyone in the second video), Louisa Wall, was a national netball and rugby player before becoming a politician. She was on the 1998 women’s rugby team that won the World Cup! Overachieve much? 🙂

(Photo courtesy of Maurice Williamson’s Twitter)

What is feminism in 2013?

One of the most common topics that it seems society grapples with over and over again these days is gender equality. Do we have it yet, should we really be striving for it, what does it look like, when will we know when we’re there, and of course, is there even any merit in continuing to ask these questions? You’d think that the sheer resilience of the obsession would definitively answer that last question, but no, there are always those who are ready with the classic response, “UGGGGH, are we still talking about this? BORING.”

I feel like, in very recent times, there’s been even more attention being drawn to the questions of what it means to be a woman these days, and separately, what it means to be a feminist. Whether it’s conversations (deliberately focusing on the positive here and not the vitriolic name-calling from trolls that can result) about working mothers, changing one’s name when getting married, feminist fatigue, or women’s responsibility to other women, it’s obvious that we’re all still grappling with these questions and not finding answers that satisfy us, at least not enough to move on.

And that’s honestly okay.

One thing many folks don’t know about me is that I have a master’s degree, and while it’s technically in Communication, in my mind, it’s also in Gender Studies, since the overlap between the two was the bulk of my academic interest. I mention this primarily to underscore that — while I no longer ask anyone to refer to me as Master Abby — I do have a strong, abiding interest in the theories and questions of modern feminism, and I’ve read (at least the introduction and conclusion to!) quite a large amount of feminist literature.

Based on all that, my incredibly informed, educated conclusion? I’m still unsure about it all. Which is as it should be. Yes, I have specific opinions, but they’re not written in stone, which is okay, because this is something we all (I shouldn’t have to specify, but yes, I mean women AND men) live every single day. And every new perspective I read, every new life phase that I enter has the chance to change my worldview to some extent. For me, the true work of being a cultural critic, besides having the pretentiousness to call yourself one, is to be open and agreeable to that change, to want to grapple with those questions, even if you never arrive at a satisfying conclusion. So, yes, it can be incredibly frustrating to see questions and issues of gender inequality everywhere, especially if you do take a dip into those aforementioned nasty name-calling areas (comment sections are just The Worst); but not engaging and not caring is the choice to work against sexism, against racism, and against all forms of inequality.

I’d never tell you what to think, but I fervently would ask you to think, and to continue doing so as you hopefully allow your worldview to be challenged. To my earlier point implying that men can (and should) be feminists: one of the privileges inherent in being in the norm (e.g., being male, being white in America) is that you can go through a lot of life not thinking about your gender or race — not because you don’t want to, but because you don’t have to. The awakening of this consciousness in those populations is absolutely vital work, and frankly, beautiful. I don’t vaunt male feminists above female ones simply because of their Y-chromosome, but because it is much easier for them to choose to keep their eyes closed, and to ignore the work that I feel we must all take on to truly change our world for the better. So when they make the choice to open themselves to this struggle, as we all should be doing, it is 100% a positive thing for our whole society.

At least, that’s what Master Abby thinks.

PS If any of you are in Seattle and want to warm the cockles of my heart, go check out my thesis. No, seriously, it’s actually a checkout-able book. It’s been nine years, but that still gives me a thrill!

(Photo courtesy of the genius XKCD, titled “How It Works”)

Two Heros and a Crush

It’s Friday — let’s swoon over some admirable folks!

  1. HERO: Sonia Sotomayor. I won’t shut up about her right now, because I am (still! Trying to savor it!) reading her memoir and realizing that she’s the insanely-accomplished woman-of-color mentor I never knew I needed. Not to the detriment of the strong women in my own life, starting with my own incredible mom, but I don’t think I realized in 2009 just how meaningful it was to see a daughter of immigrants (sorta — her parents were Puerto Rican, and so technically US citizens, but the cultural divide is the same) become a member of the highest, most powerful court in the nation. Also, how often do you hear a judge interviewed and immediately feel their warmth come through just as much as their sharp mind? From earlier this month, Justice Sotomayor on Colbert:

  2. HERO: Maya Rudolph. Mazel tov to Maya and her husband P.T. Anderson, who are expecting their fourth baby. My kudos could not be any more abundant. To celebrate Maya, one of my favorite SNL sketches ever, where she is Maya Angelou, hilariously pranking her respected compatriots:

    “I am the one who put a pie under the butt of Morgan Freeman.” I’m DYING!

  3. CRUSH: Mark Duplass (and Mindy, obviously!). Landslide, baby. Landslide.

Cory Booker

I first heard about Cory Booker, the current mayor of Newark, when Hurricane Sandy hit. As the head of a city clear across the country from me, he hadn’t really been on my radar, though he’s been touted in the last few years as a rapidly rising star of the Democratic party. Part of the reason he gets so much notice is his insane use of Twitter. It actually wouldn’t be that crazy… if he was, say, a teenager avoiding his homework or an athlete during his offseason. But for an acting chief executive of a busy city, his sheer number of tweets per day are almost unimaginable. This would hardly be cause for celebration if he was chatting about his lunch or talking trash about celebrities (you know, the stuff the rest of us tweet about) — but of course, Booker is so awesome because he uses Twitter to truly be a public servant.

During the terrible storm that devastated his city, Booker was absolutely tireless in personally going to people in trouble, trying to get municipal services to those in need, bringing folks food, and (SERIOUSLY) inviting those who had lost power to his house, where they could eat, rest, and charge their phones while he was out helping the rest of the city. The more cynical among us could talk about how politicians don’t do a thing if they aren’t guaranteed media attention, and it certainly is a good storyline: the photogenic, (relatively) young, dynamic, funny Twitter mayor. But the thing is, he DOES what he says he’s going to do, and more. He’s responsive to almost anyone who contacts him, even people who call their mayor “nigga” and demand Hot Pockets!!

Booker’s currently making news because he was having a political conversation (over Twitter, natch) about public nutrition with folks who held different views, and it spurred him and one of his challengers to live off $30 worth of food (the value of a week of food stamps) for one week. Mayor Booker began his week of eating as if he was on food stamps today, and will be live-tweeting the experience.

Anyway, the man is amazing and has all of my support, which doesn’t mean a lot right now, as I’m not one of his constituents. I believe Cory Booker will eventually do great things in service of our country though, and I can’t wait to see what that is.

(Photo courtesy of PAPER Magazine)

Key & Peele

Think back to the 2008 election. Even before we knew who was going to win the presidential election, there was a weird, kinda fickle, but very real worry about the exit of President Bush.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO COMEDY???

Specifically, I remember lots of musing about what the hell Jon Stewart would talk about any more, as if the only use our modern mirror on the ridiculousness of US politics and news media had was as a foil for George W. Bush.

So that worry never really panned out: partly because there’s still ridiculous shit happening every day in both politics and news media, as there will be till the end of time, and partly because, though good comedy often seems effortless, there actually is professional skill involved in being funny.

As we all wake up today — either excited or disappointed, but hopefully eager to move on from a divisive election season — let’s just remember that political comedy? It’ll be all right.

Especially as long as my third- and fourth-favorite* biracial folks, Key & Peele, exist:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX8tL3PMj7o%5D

HAMMER DANCE!

* Evan noted last night how happy he is that Zoe (favorite) will be old enough to remember Barack (second-favorite) as president. I believe so strongly in the importance of my girl seeing someone who has a similar mixed-race and mixed-culture background represented in our country’s highest office. Thanks, America.

(Photo courtesy of People)

90 Days, 90 (well, 94) Reasons

 

I am finally emerging from the maelstrom of activity that has made up my last three weeks: I’m sitting in a different house now, on the other side of the (successful, thank god) conference that has consumed my last two months, and trying to reconcile the huge child that lives in my new house with the still-babyish girl we left with grandma a week ago. I stared at Zoe intently this morning, trying feverishly to memorize her new curves and angles, while expressions wholly foreign to me passed over her face (those two above? I’d never seen them before this morning!). C’mon, seriously? It was only A WEEK. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster ride in the dark, and this was a huge, stomach-churning drop.

Of course, while I’ve been reflecting on my new little world, we are also in a time of giant change in our greater world. Hurricane Sandy has brought many lessons to the forefront, and will continue to do so as we slowly begin to gain some perspective on it. For me, what it has illustrated is how vulnerable we truly are in our little homes, our little power grids, our little cars. But I don’t find that individual vulnerability particularly alarming; instead, I take it as a reminder of how much we all really need one another. In the last week, I’ve been so heartened to see and hear how folks everywhere have been stepping up to help and support one another. We forget this in our busy individual lives, but we all depend in some way on the goodness of other people in our communities, in our country, and in our world.

I can’t stop time for Zoe, and I can’t deny this: every day, she grows incrementally less a part of me, and more a part of the world. All I can try to do is my part in ensuring that it’s a world where decision-making is rooted in the values of helping out the less fortunate, respecting others’ personal decisions, and freely pursuing knowledge. That’s the world I want to raise my girl to be a part of, and that’s my reason for voting for Barack Obama. What’s yours?

Ridiculous Paul Ryan Photos

Let me preface this post by saying that I don’t normally talk about politics publicly, which is true. The fact that I don’t though, can imply to some that I’m disaffected or apolitical, which is patently false. Even for those who feel pretty strongly, like myself, there can be a great value in keeping one’s political affiliations private. It’s rarely relevant to any conversation and usually just sparks frustrating, pointless arguments.

Then why change now? Continue reading