The Mystification of Poverty: Or the IMF and World Bank’s Poverty Monster

September 24th, 2011

Dear IMF and World Bank,

I saw this on the side of the World Bank yesterday and I had to take a picture of it and pose a few questions to you.  Why is it little girls’ responsibility to fight the “poverty monster”?  And you do realize that poverty isn’t a monster, right?  It’s real.

Why are you mystifying the processes of economic exploitation and colonialism–the things that produce poverty in the first place–through the production of this type of imagery?  And why do women have to do everything?  Are men going to take up some responsibilities now that women and girls are going to school?  Where’s that campaign?

Am I suggesting that little girls shouldn’t have access to education?  No, I’m not.  I’m just asking if you really think that more Westernized education does anything for them other than make them better resources from which to extract labor and capital in this global economy where the wealthiest 1% tell us where, how, and what to do to make them more money.

Poverty is not a hairy four eyed monster and no amount of reading can cause it to end if the people who help to perpetuate it, like yourselves, don’t stop making it out to be this thing that we can just end with through the “power of our minds.”

I’m not Jean Grey or Professor Charles Xavier, and neither are little girls in Sudan.

We can’t make people do things with the power of our minds.  As many people of color who are continually discriminated against in the workforce (and in comic books) can attest, it doesn’t always matter if you graduate from college (or have super powers), you can still be unemployed, disempowered, and completely disillusioned in the current global economy.  A systemic shift in the way that capital and labor are distributed needs to be the way to end poverty because little girls of color, they aren’t superheros.  They can’t make it rain…

Only Storm can do that… and she’s not real.

One Love,
“Doctor” Lane

P.S. A poverty monster? Who came up with that?  Bad idea.

The Curious Case of Judge Lynch

September 22nd, 2011

America claimed the life of another Black man at 11:08pm on September 21st, 2011.  The NAACP’s call that there was #TooMuchDoubt was unheard by the United States Supreme Court who upheld the decision of the Georgia Supreme Court to execute Troy Davis.  On the heels of a Republican audience offering a thunderous applause at the mention that Texas Governor Rick Perry has signed 234 death warrants, his lips forming to say that the death penalty is the “ultimate justice,” Troy Davis, a Black man is dead at the hands of the State.

“It’s a sad day. There’s nothing to rejoice,” said Joan MacPhail-Harris to the Associated Press describing how the family can now start to heal…  What type of healing?  Another man dead doesn’t bring MacPhail back.  And I would put my life on it, that the MacPhail family doesn’t feel better now, and they will always feel a deep and profound sense of loss because what they lost can’t be brought back.  “Grief is the thing left over after grievance has had its say” says Anne Anlin Cheng in The Melancholy of Race.  What they lost is gone, forever, but it will always haunt them.  Their grievance answered in the State’s murder of Troy Davis; his blood, on their lips… now the ghosts come to fill in that empty space.

And since revenge prompts the MacPhail’s healing process, what would healing look like for the family of this man?

George Meadows was lynched at Pratt Mines (in Jefferson County) Alabama January 15 1889

Or this one?

A postcard with the picture of the charred, castrated corpse of Jesse Washington, Waco, TeXas 1916

Or this one?

Leo Frank, Marietta, GA 1915

My argument against the death penalty is simple:  MY country, with its sadistic history–Salem “Witch Trials”, Slavery, the Trail of Tears, the Klu Klux Klan–has no right to claim that it can offer an “Ultimate Justice.”  The State and its laws have been the source of injustice, the tool of it.

Emmett Till’s body. His mother insisted on an open casket.

Yet (if we are to follow the logic of the Social Contract) that the State can set itself up in the case of the death penalty to determine that it can kill the very individuals whom are supposed to authorize its existence, its citizens, then that’s just illogical.

Finally, let the record reflect that I don’t care whether or not Troy Davis killed MacPhail, or if there’s #TooMuchDoubt.  That’s irrelevant to the fact that THE DEATH PENALTY/LYNCHING is the Ultimate Injustice.

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No Thanks… I don’t need The Help

September 12, 2011


Grade: D+


Oscar performances for sure (the plus+), but as maids though (the D)? What the hell man?  Didn’t we already do this once?  Gone with the Wind?  Hattie McDaniels as Mammy?  Can’t we do better?

Why I don’t need The Help

Am I happy that Black women were in a movie that got significant attention? …No.  Should I be?  Do I feel some type of way toward the Black actresses who lent their talents to the film?  No, because they need to eat and they were amazing and they deserve to play in movies where they get to display their talent, but I would happily go the rest of my life without watching an “Oscar worthy” movie produced in Hollywood where Black women play maids.  That these roles among a few others (singers, dancers, and criminals) continue to be the only way that Black women can be taken seriously in Hollywood film is something to be angry about, not thankful.

The point is: Women of color, in fiction and in real life, continue to carry the burden of teaching white people about racism, or in the case of The Help, how mean they were back in the ’50s.  Racism shouldn’t be reduced to mean girls and absent white men (did anyone notice that the white men in the movie always disappeared when the white women were doing something mean?).  Racism was and remains structural, meaning it is violence built into law and practice and thought and action; it is terrorism.  It is lynching.  It is unlawful imprisonment.  It is economic and labor exploitation.  Matter fact, Melissa Perry-Harris says it better than I could ever.

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Deeply White: Rembrandt Promises to “Whiten on the inside and out”

September 8th, 2012

I found this commercial at best, simply an ill-thought out attempt to be clever, and at worst, a complete and utter lack of consciousness about the still very present and active processes of ethnocentrism and racism which seek to stamp out difference; both literally and figuratively, whiten.

Then again, maybe it’s just a commercial… right? Maybe it’s really not that deep.

But cultural products take place within very specific contexts and social forces.   To say that this is “just a commercial” is to not recognize that all symbols, all choices of representation and presentation are just that, choices.

Graffiti is often associated with social ills.  Gangs.  Dark bodies.  Vandalism.  Young, scary dark children destroying property.  The commercial adopts the view of graffiti as a problem.  As vandalism.  As something out of place and wrong.  Dark and disorderly, and in need of being cleaned up, like plaque.

To not recognize that graffiti only works in this commercial when you imagine it in this way, is to not recognize that whiteness as pure, perfect, and devoid of all color; without stain or impurity, still reigns as the dominant ideology within the American visual lexicon.  They suggest their toothpaste, in an especially charming civilized British accent, as the solution to not only rid oneself of the stains on the outside of the tooth, but to fix it at the core as well.

To others however, graffiti is the artwork of disenfranchised youth in urban centers, and artwork which blossomed during the “Golden Age of Hip Hop”.  From this perspective, you can react with wonder when you see 10 feet tags on the craziest and hardest to reach places around the city and think on those kids who just want to be recognized and noticed as being and existing.  You can applaud them for their talent and resourcefulness, and be thankful that it’s not your garage door they tagged.

And if you have this perspective, then you know that Rembrandt and ever other toothpaste is full of crap because teeth just aren’t white.  They’re more of an eggshell.  Off white.  A shade of tan.  No matter how much you brush.  And those people who do have freakishly bright smiles?  They cheated.  They had some fancy procedure done that most of us can’t afford.  White teeth, like pure and unstained white bodies, do not exist in nature.  Certainly not after you eat that peppery salad for lunch, because you are going to have some green and black in between a couple of your teeth no matter what shade you are.  And those are the breaks.