"What can be done? Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope. It’s done so for me and I have to keep rediscovering it. It has profound importance in my life. Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world. Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to.
This is from E. E. Cummings: ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.’ The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind. “
“I think the sheer fact of women talking, being, paradoxical, inexplicable, flip, self-destructive but above all else public is the most revolutionary thing in the world.”— Chris Kraus, I Love Dick (via hazelcills)
"Self-destruction for love is a particularly Durasian obsession. "You destroy me. You’re so good for me," repeats the woman in "Hiroshima Mon Amour" to her lover. I ask her today why sex and death are always entwined for her.
"It’s difficult to articulate. It’s erotic." She takes a deep breath. "I had a lover with whom I drank a lot of alcohol." She pauses, staring straight at me. Her face is expressionless, her dark eyes are absolutely still. "I’m acquainted with it, the desire to be killed. I know it exists.""
“My advice is this: Find the women. Surround yourself with women, read women, and meet up in person with women. Beauty myths will go BOOM! And suddenly, you’ll look to them for not just advice but ways of seeing and beauty, too, will shift.”—Durga Chew-Bose, http://adult-mag.com/ugly-sexy/ (via et—cetera)
AMY ROSE: How did race inform (a) the financial realities of your class, (b) your perception of your class, and/or (c) the class-based ways others treat or treated you? Coming from a white family, I quite obviously had tons of privilege even when we were at our poorest. My mom recently said something to me about how she felt like it was necessary to “dress black” when she was applying for welfare/aid, and it made me really upset. I love her a ton, and she stays admirably open to and receptive of discussions about race, class, and culture, but my family sometimes conflates race and class in a way that makes me so angry. TOTAL HONESTY, Y’ALL. I KNOW THIS KIND OF THING IS RAGE-INDUCING AND HARD TO TALK ABOUT, but it’s so necessary.
SUZY: It’s not just limited to white people! Many members of my family have adopted racist rhetoric in the hopes of better assimilating into white American culture. The idea that rich people have what they have only because they worked hard for it—the “bootstraps” mentality—does not work for everyone. Many CEOs have what they have because they had a team of low-income workers to support their businesses. And many businesses are set up so that none of those workers ever move up, no matter how hard they work.
JULIANNE: My mom’s personal class shame was also tied up with the racism she experienced when she was young. She often acted like she was ashamed to be Mexican. She was never racist against other races or other Mexicans, but she definitely hid her culture and did not speak Spanish at home with me. Being poor and being Mexican were one and the same to her, because basically every Mexican immigrant that she grew up with in Wyoming was poor and treated like garbaggio.
JENNY: There’s been a long history of pitting Asian folks against black folks with the myth of Asians as “model minorities,” and I know that there have been a few studies that have shown Asians in the U.S. to be the most likely to hold racist views, particularly against African-Americans. When I first got to the U.S., my parents took me to Harlem and said, “These are the poorest of the poor,” and then we drove back to our single-family home that we shared with three other families. My dad literally came to America with a broken broomstick in his suitcase—because he thought he would never be able to find one in America—and $50 that his sponsor back in Shanghai gave him that was stolen from him by a shitty customs official at JFK, so he had to borrow $20 from his academic advisor at NYU to get through the next two weeks. That said, he was still coming to the U.S. as a grad student which, of course, affords one many opportunities down the road that someone who did not go to college will never have.
CHANEL: I had a weird mix of experiences with race and class growing up. On one hand, as a black girl, there were definitely some assumptions of how I was raised and that I was probably low-income. I remember that this white kid in one of my classes laughed at me because I was reading Candy (that book about heroin addiction) and he said of course I would read something like that, since most black people are lowdown drug addicts. My mother didn’t really raise me to see characteristics based on race, even though she had it rouggghhh growing up in the ’60s (there was a “slave day” at her high school and she participated in a sit-in because of it, because she’s a badass). On the other hand, I often got flak that because I was in band and wrote for the literary magazine and stuff like that, I wasn’t “black enough” or part of “the black community.” Even my own family mocked the way I talked because it was “proper” and I came off as “affluent” (which is like, get the fuck outta here). So I guess you could say I didn’t really have a class to fit into, since people were giving me different definitions of my own life/actions/background/race, LOL.
I. Psychic Peaches Stevens Scammed Florida Woman Out Of $136,000
I’m not gay, but in Florida I’m a faggot. I’d heard the word spit at me in New York City, too, but every time it took me back to Chevron and Chick-Fil-A and hot pavement and pick up trucks, standing dumbfounded but eventually laughing with my faggot friends, our faggot pants, our music and our faggot long hair. We’d seen it coming.
At 24 with a haircut,I thought I’d outgrown the slur. But Misty, my psychic, smelled it on me.
Cassadaga is a small town without a school, known only for a Tom Petty song, a Bright Eyes album, and its spiritualism, summoned from the soil by overpriced mediums and psychics and gift shops whose signs say “book store.” On the second floor of the Cassadaga Hotel, Misty held my hands. “If you’re not feeling like we’re connecting, stop me,” she told me — after I’d handed $55 in cash to a “Gold Dust”-type woman at the gift shop. Pyrite dust, maybe. “We really do have a reputation here at the hotel,” said Misty. “If we’re not connecting, it’s because you’re supposed to be with someone else.” I was supposed to be with someone else — one of eight other psychics in the hotel, or forty-four mediums within a mile — or else not there at all, but I went with it.
Misty had a moon face. She wore a black blouse, with holes cut out on either side to bare her massive, fleshy deltoids. A hunk of turquoise wrapped in gold wire dangled between her breasts. (“I’m a psychic, not a medium,” she joked. “I’m really more of an extra-large.”) Her dark purple hair was pulled back, sharpening the widow’s peak hanging over her wide smile, her quickly browning teeth.
“You need to grow a little bit,” Misty said in a raspy but comforting coo that sounded on the edge of a gross cough. She chuckled, waited. We were ten minutes into her examination of my palms. “I have a girl that I feel is — is trying to create a relationship out of nothing.” Long pause. “I’m trying to figure out how to put this and not…” I bit my lip, half out of nervousness, but also in an attempt not to laugh. Misty felt less restrained. “Essentially, this is sort of like — like — like a fag hag who just won’t let go!” Exhale. “But I love you, it doesn’t matter,” she mocked, imitating the imaginary girlfriend. “It’ll work, I swear.” She sighed and shook her head.
“Be really, really, really gentle with correcting that misapprehension,” she warned. “It’s not your fault. Most likely she will tell you a story of rape at some point. That’s why she feels so completely safe with you. You are not a threat to her.” She was rolling now. “If you advertise cola and people show up and want Pepsi, you shouldn’t be surprised. If what you’re selling is tea, then that’s what you should be advertising, and you’re not.” I didn’t argue. “Do you understand what I mean by that?”
DCB: I was watching her interview when she addressed her Elle cover. And she says that she felt good that they wanted to focus on her face. I feel like women of color are forced to be their own spin doctors, but to appease the world. Like WOC are forced to focus on one good thing. Or what’s easy for others to swallow. Am I making sense?
HN: Yaasss, absolutely.
DCB: Like, as a kid it was about owning my good skin, or, like, thick hair! Or some bullshit like that. Now it’s, like, “eyebrows.”
HN: Lmaooo, yo you right — eyebrows are in.
DCB: When white girls tell me not to pluck, it’s like, I’m too lazy to pluck. My bushy eyebrows are the ones I was born with and I get a little sick when white women, unprompted, suggest I leave them the way they naturally are.
AS: Shout-out to every sperm-browed Becky who asked if I had caterpillars on my face in middle school but now spend their nights googling eyebrow implants/tints.
DCB: Exactly. Something about Mindy waxing about feeling good that they chose her face for the cover really set me off. Because I’ve done that too, my whole life.
HN: Yes, please speak on it!
DCB: Like, I had to own the compliments that were given to me rather than just feel everything I was as a whole woman. The amount of moms at soccer practice who loved my thick hair or people always tell me I should wear more color because colors look good on me.
AS: Wow, really heavy thinking about how much of that was part of my life that I just took for granted. For a long time I just assumed adults commenting on your body and touching it without your permission was just part of American culture. Only recently have I learned it’s not something I should/ever should have put up with.
DCB: Another one: dark rings under my eyes. The amount of people that ask me if I’m tired all the time. I’ve never once covered the dark rings under my eyes, and worse is when white girls are like, “No that’s in”
HN: (You can’t hear me right now but I keep just saying “Mmmm” to myself and feeling all emotional.) OMG the deep-set eyes thing!
DCB: I never get my makeup done. I also barely wear any makeup, but when someone else does it, the first thing they do is put some white stuff under my eyes and smudge.
AS: White people don’t have a frame of reference for our beauty; they wile out. Here we’re talking about growing up having white people rationalize our looks to themselves, framing their unsolicited commentary as a compliment we’re supposed to be grateful for. To be constantly put in a position to thank them for the white gaze applied to us. To be the source of their confusion is so grating; it’s dehumanization to be treated like a novelty rather than an equal.
HN: And all that time you spend being a source for their confusion really warps your mind. I remember the first time I ignored my mom and insisted that I get my hair done at a “regular” hair cuttery and feeling just so not human after I left. The fashion and beauty world in general just makes me feel so fundamentally not human.
DCB: My mom is Anglo-Indian so she’s got all kinds of bomb roots, but we look sorta nothing alike. And when people see her, they’re like, “She’s so white!” It always makes me mad. Like my roots surprise other people, like I’m just supposed to be Bollywood brown or something.
AS: A lot of the compliments I get from white people have been like when Regina George does a suspicious once-over and says, “You’re like, really pretty” and the implied “Howw whyyy?” hangs in the air. Honestly that there’s no frame of reference for WOC beauty that isn’t highly warped is so damaging because that’s why there are so many young South Asians who date white people and consider themselves lucky for being able to “get one.” Because they don’t consider themselves attractive, and learned not to find each other attractive, they so often don’t even know how to. It’s the oppression of invisibility. And the visibility is a fun-house mirror. Hollywood regularly asexualizes South Asian men, treating them as dickless jokes, while hypersexualizing South Asian women, preserving their availability for white men.
“SNP: And of course feminist magazines had and have their place. For me it wouldn’t be interesting to do that. In my writing career I’m often asked to provide the feminist perspective on an item, or a culture, and sometimes I can do that and it’s important. But I feel like we don’t really need, like, the feminist take on Chris Brown’s latest fight in a parking lot. I’m much more interested in how we can make a magazine in a less traditional way. Less hierarchical, I guess. Less patriarchal. So not patriarchal that you don’t even have to use the word patriarchal. I mean, that would be the dream, wouldn’t it?”—Sarah Nicole Prickett and Berkeley Poole talk to The Riveter (via adult-mag)