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so long and thanks for all the fish

“Ugliest” Woman in the World Given Proper Burial More Than 150 Years After Her Death


Artist Laura Anderson Barbata stands beside the coffin of Julia Pastrana, a nearly one hundred and eighty year old woman whose husband exhibited her body as a sideshow attraction even after her death at the age of twenty six from complications in childbirth. Barbata’s eight year campaign to rescue Pastrana’s mummified body from basement of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Oslo came to an end: her remains were given a dignified burial near her birthplace in Mexico just this Tuesday.

Pastrana was born in 1834, suffering from two diseases that were undiagnosable at the time and still rare today, gingival hyperplasia, which causes thickened teeth and gums and in her case, two rows of teeth; and hypertrichosis lanuginosa, a disorder that causes abnormal hair growth. At the age of twenty she was sold to a circus, eventually marrying a man who exhibited her as the “Bearded and Hairy Lady” and “The Bear Woman.” Her notoriety led her to be examined by numerous scientists of the age, who were interested in proving and disproving all kinds of awful hypotheses like whether she was actually human, if one of her parents had been an Orangutan, or to see if she was of African or American Indian descent because… because gross, disgusting racism. And before you take a sigh of relief that at least nobody thinks that ugliness and inhumanity correlates with dark skin any more, and there certainly aren’t a lot of people who’d become invested or interested in scientific proof of the idea, well, don’t.

After she and their child died in 1860, her husband had their bodies mummified and exhibited them alongside his new wife, another woman of similar appearance that he’d found in Russia. After his death, their remains continued to be exhibited up until the 1970s. In 1976 they were stolen. Pastrana’s body was recovered by Norweigan police and eventually positively identified as hers in 1990. In 1994 the Norway Senate suggested that her body be buried instead of kept, but the Minister of Sciences decided to keep it for research. In 2003, after helping her sister present a play about the life of Pastrana, Laura Anderson Barbata began her quest to have the body released and buried in Mexico.

Petitions to the University as well as Norway’s National Committee for the Evaluation of Research on Human Remains, placing an obituary for Pastrana in an Oslo newspaper, arranging for a mass to be said for her came and went before Mario López Valdez, governor of Sinaloa, Pastrana’s birthplace, joined the petition and enlisted Mexico’s ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland to act as an intermediary with the university. This was the impetus the school needed to recognize Barbata as some one who would be held accountable for Pastrana’s remains, and not merely “someone who would ask for them.”

“I felt she deserved the right to regain her dignity and her place in history, and in the world’s memory,” Said Barbata, “I hoped to help change her position as a victim to one where she can be seen in her entirety and complexity.”

(picture and story via The New York Times.)

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  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Her husband sounds like the mayor of the land of assholes. I can think of no other person he could be. “Marry me, my circus needs a new act!” WTF.

  • rtuko

    …wow. Following up on the Satoshi Kanazawa racism hooraw, it turns out that he didn’t lose his job at LSE, he wasn’t even sanctioned. After an apology the school just banned him from publishing in non-peer-reviewed outlets for a year.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    “…or to see if she was of African or American Indian descent because… because gross, disgusting racism. And before you take a sigh of relief that at least nobody thinks that ugliness and inhumanity correlates with dark skin any more, and there certainly aren’t a lot of people who’d become invested or interested in scientific proof of the idea, well, don’t.”

    *Just Looked At The Other The Mary Sue Article*

    Ewwww, gross, disgusting sexism (Did that study you just link only talk about ‘black WOMEN’ and not ‘black PEOPLE?’ Bad either way, but it’s ‘worse’ that they’re not even treating ‘everyone’ in certain racial groups the ‘same.’) AND racism…

  • shan

    Good on Barbata for actually doing something about it. I’ve heard similar stories about Australian Aboriginals trying to get their great-grandparent’s remains back from the British Museum.

  • Brian

    He did manage to get them pregnant, though… He seems like an interesting guy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    I think you got the comment you did because you’re treating racism and sexism as if they are completely separate forces, when in reality, they intersect, just like homophobia, transphobia, abelism, etc. People can face the brunt of multiple injustices at once, and in fact, the intersection of these injustices can create entirely new experiences.

    So the study focused on black women-it was a bullshit piece of ‘science’, anyway, so ignoring that and focusing instead on how you phrased this:

    “Did that study you just link only talk about ‘black WOMEN’ and not ‘black PEOPLE?’ Bad either way, but it’s ‘worse’ that they’re not even treating ‘everyone’ in certain racial groups the ‘same.’”

    You should never treat people’s experiences the same: that’s the perfect way to dismiss and gloss over the very real ways people’s lives diverge due to their demographics. Black men lead very different lives than black women. Straight black men have different experiences than gay black men. Straight black women have different experiences than black lesbians-

    You see my point? This is a case where observing people differently is not being bigoted-it’s acknowledging the flawed, frayed fabrics of our society that makes it so we have little to no choice BUT to lead different lives, sometimes for better, in the case of the privileged groups, and sometimes for worse, in the case of the marginalized.

    You can be oppressed and privileged at the same time. What sense would it make to lump everyone together the same way, when they don’t even experience the world identically?

    They’re all black, so they’re all the same, and should be treated the same?

    I can see why you got the reaction you did. I would do a little thinking.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    I’m really hoping you are and everyone else is misunderstanding me because I wasn’t clear enough. *Inhales*

    Sexism, racism, etc. It goes pretty deep with me. Ever since I’ve been aware of the Civil Rights Movement and the early Feminism movement, from public school, to out of school, I’ve heard all kinds of hypocrisies that can come from both groups, especially from the Racial Rights groups (Other Human Rights groups are guilty, too.) At least from MY experience.

    Just going to mostly talk about sexism and racism.

    Sexism and racism, they’re both different forms of discrimination, based on physical differences, so in a way, they are one in the same. But by the way the discrimination is done on both groups, sexism and racism become totally different extremes of harm and torture type.

    I looked up to some Civil Rights leaders (Mainly like Martin Luther King Jr.) because they gave me hope that we’re all human beings who shouldn’t be judged on physical differences. But from my experience as a female, more specifically, a mostly Mexican (My Dad’s entirely Mexican, my Mom’s some confusing “mix.”) female, I’ve honestly grown of the opinion that sexism is worse than racism because for example, it’s like no one even cares about what is sexist, but is quick to point out what is racist. As such, people are more likely to be sexist than racist.

    I’ve seen enough non-Caucasian males treat their own females as if they were “slaves (For an example, have you ever listened to typical ‘rap music?”).” What I’ve never understood is how could this very contradiction of morals and values exist after speaking of such human morals and values? This is an EVERY race fault, because sexism has to be one of the earliest forms of discrimination invented by humans, preceding racism even, which could explain why a man will complain about racism, but won’t care at the thought of sexism. Why even a woman will care more about non-sexism issues. I’ve told you my ‘theory’
    that language itself is male-orientated, which goes much further than just making ‘female-based insults’ the largest and heaviest of any sort of discriminatory rhetoric in the dictionary.

    I’ve discovered when Abolitionists were the big human rights group, people or men weren’t all supporters of women being Abolitionists and much less they were for Women’s Rights. After helping a friend with her Abolitionist assignment about female Abolitionists, I even heard that the pro-slave men were worried about freeing the African slaves, because it might bring up for them to also help out with the unthinkable, Women’s Rights (Sadly, I can’t find the article that stated that. But, I ‘swear’ I didn’t just make that up.). Mostly everyone thought girls and women were barely ‘human’ back then (or completely ‘non-human,’ depending how you view the objectification situation.) and that same attitude exists today.

    Here’s some examples of the past history I tried to quickly
    find that mention Women’s Rights Issues:

    Http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s1AB_9518.pdf

    http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/abolitn/wmhp.html

    http://cghs.dadeschools.net/slavery/anti-slavery_movement/women.htm

    I consider myself an Equalist, which I heard is a term used to mean you try to stand for every human’s rights. But I mostly call myself a Feminist because I focus mostly on Women’s Issues (Because I think the Women’s Rights Movement needs all the attention it can get. As ‘Feminism’ was made into a bad word apparently, nowadays. I hope to never contribute to that, but what can I do, if I keep miswording my thoughts?). But I don’t purposely exclude other marginalized groups when I’m speaking about Women’s Right Issues. I don’t jump in a “forum” talking about racial justice and talk about women’s justice, unless women’s justice was already mentioned. I try not be OFF-TOPIC for many reasons, with the main one, it’s just plain rude.

    “You should never treat people’s experiences the same: that’s the perfect way to dismiss and gloss over the very real ways people’s lives diverge due to their demographics. Black men lead very different lives than black women. Straight black men have different experiences than gay black men. Straight black women have different experiences than black lesbians-”

    I never tried to treat everyone’s experiences the same in a way that forgets other marginalized types. What I was trying to say is that what that male theorist said was horrible enough without having to make it both a sexist and racist issue. African American women and non-Caucasian women have to deal with both sexism and racism. What’s makes the addition of sexism unique to me is that I’ve seen non Caucasian males insult non-Caucasian females for their looks, a lot, so such a ‘backwards’ theorist’s thoughts are sickly resonate to what is already considered “okay behavior” already practiced by ‘every’ race. In other words, women get more insulted for being “ugly” than racial groups of people do. And that’s what made the scenario extra horrible to me.

    I know the blow of marginalization gets worse the lower you find yourself in the social hierarchy. Which is another reason I felt extra bad after hearing all the horror story-like injustices that happened to especially, ‘female’ African slaves in America (Being ‘female’ myself, especially.). If being a male African slave is bad, because of racism, because of sexism, being a female African slave has got to be even ‘worse,’ and so on, and so on. Besides being treated like how puppy mill female dogs are today (Which I don’t support.) and the constant rape, for instance, a human practice that is oh, so, personal, Gynecology came from a sick, twisted, evil than sin, white man’s ‘experimentation’ on female African slaves’ genitalia.

    Yet, there are African American males who never empathize with African American females in similar situations of body manipulation and bias, unless it has to do with racism, because racism has to do with them, because they care only about “Male Issues.” When watching real life stories like, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” I know I sometimes forget the racist themes when people like Tina Turner’s husband kept calling her a “b*tch” and “h*e,” after beating her into submission and committing ‘marital rape.’ African American males like other non-Caucasian males are privileged for being males and have much more power to attack the female group, without much the female group can
    do to attack back (The females certainty can’t attack the males with
    sex-specific insults, unless it involves using female words as weak words to be called by. Which isn’t really much of an insult to males, imo.). And even Caucasian females only have as much power as ‘granted’ by their Caucasian males.

    http://thetruthaccordingtotrey.blogspot.com/2012/02/truth-about-history-of-gynecology.html

    I mentioned what I did in, “TODAY, CIVIL RIGHTS ICON MYRLIE EVERS-WILLIAMS BECOMES THE FIRST WOMAN TO DELIVER A PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL INVOCATION,” for the very fact the articles mentions, “FIRST WOMAN,” and you know how excluded women are as group in EVERYTHING, but NO ONE finds it tragic that Myrlie Evers-Williams, isn’t as noteful of this achievement as other people are? She doesn’t even hint much, if at all, of Women’s Issues that make you think of Feminism. But you only think of Racial Rights after reading her script. The specific form of human discrimination, sexism, an entire marginalized group, possibly the ‘largest’ and ‘oldest’ marginalized group, gets excluded in every way and it’s ‘bad’ to bring that up? Yet, I’M THE EXCLUDER? I’M THE RACIST?! I make, “black women flee feminism at massive rates.”?

    For how it can be so easily misconstrued, please know this is by NO means to be insulting to people who make racial or sexist claims, but just think, the “Race Card” is a lot hefty in ‘social value’ compared to the “Feminist Card.” Look in the comments of articles talking about ‘possible’ racism versus the comments of articles about ‘possible’ sexism, I’m not making this up.

    Women are losing the right to their own bodies, in many ways, more and more each day, all over the world, and just accepting “female exclusion” in politics is NOT helping or making women equal to men to the point both women and men face the ‘same’ problems and are therefore forced to empathize with and help each other.

    I believe sexism was partly the start of human evil (I think the abuse of actual inanimate objects and living animals had to have come first.) and it seems the end of sexism will be the end of human evil because by the time sexism is over, every other human rights issue will be over by the time sexism is over, at this rate (Maybe Feminism will just be dead last in ALL ISSUES, ‘cause PETA is certainly implied to care more for Animal Rights than Women’s Rights.).

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Going to be blunt here: I’d drop the term ‘non-Caucasian’. Seeing you use that term over and over and over and over in this comment is more than enough evidence you are not as well versed in racial issues as you think.

    ‘Non-Caucasian’ perpetuates the idea that white people are the default, and anything else is a deviation from that default. Think about it: does non-straight sound like an insulting way to refer to someone who’s gay? How about non-male? Non-thin?

    There’s nothing default about being white. Use the term ‘people of color’ instead, or POC for short.

    First off, you’re stumbling into a lot of pitfalls here. You’re insisting I misunderstood you, when I took what you said and gave you a virtual bullet-list of why each point you made didn’t make any sense, or was actually insulting. What’s to misunderstand? That I disagree?

    Two, you’re spending a lot of time convincing me of your incredible knowledge of MLK and civil rights movements and classes you took, as well as insisting to me that you ‘don’t judge people based on what they look like!’ when it wasn’t *you* I was criticizing: it was a few things you said. Why are you defending *yourself* so much, when I wasn’t even talking about you?

    Three, yes, sexism is bad. Racism is bad. History has a lot of this. I don’t understand why you are emphasizing this to me: I haven’t disagreed on these points.

    You could stand to condense your thoughts a little better. I’m going to avoid a lot of these derailing points, true some of them may be, and emphasize my main criticism here: don’t say, or insinuate, or misphrase, or *whatever*, that racism is a completely separate issue from feminism. It’s no more separate than any other identity that creates women of all shapes and sizes.

    I can tell you’ve done your research, but a lot of the language you use doesn’t demonstrate it. I remember we’ve discussed the power and history of language before.

    Getting rid of the defensive diatribes and the ignorant terminology will get us on a more even page here.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    Well, it sounded like you misunderstood me, just as the other person did.

    “’Non-Caucasian’ perpetuates the idea that white people are the default, and anything else is a deviation from that default. Think about it: does non-straight sound like an insulting way to refer to someone who’s gay? How about non-male? Non-thin?”

    I used non-Caucasian because I was trying to highlight a contradiction that people of color (Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, African, etc.) talk about human rights and then marginalize other similarly grouped people (the female group), when they are very similar and therefore shouldn’t. I did mention all races are guilty of the same behavior and practice, I wasn’t trying to imply that somehow “white people are perfect angels.”

    I apologize for sounding like I was making the ‘white,’ the default, I should’ve used ‘people of color.’ I forgot how I should’ve approached this because:

    One, I personally am having difficulty coming up with proper terminology because someone else just told me that calling African Americans, “black” is racist and in my response to you I wasn’t trying to just talk about African Americans because that’s obviously not the case or else that’s racist.

    Two, I’ve just read the book, “The Heart of Whiteness,” for one of my own Ethnic Studies classes, and the author says “non-white.” In the book, the author said he used “non-white” because he wanted to remind people the “alive-and-well” racism that still perpetrates today’s culture.

    So stupid, for me to not use POC. I can’t say sorry enough for that. But, I’ll just use people of color and POC.

    “First off, you’re stumbling into a lot of pitfalls here. You’re insisting I misunderstood you, when I took what you said and gave you a virtual bullet-list of why each point you made didn’t make any sense, or was actually insulting. What’s to misunderstand? That I disagree?”

    “Two, you’re spending a lot of time convincing me of your incredible knowledge of MLK and civil rights movements and classes you took, as well as insisting to me that you ‘don’t judge people based on what they look like!’ when it wasn’t *you* I was criticizing: it was a few things you said. Why are you defending *yourself* so much, when I wasn’t even talking about you?”

    I’m going to be honest here, it’s really hard for me to sense this, because I ‘naturally’ have ‘communication issues,’ when you got into ‘detail’ about how possibly racist I was and didn’t add, “the way you put this sounds kind of racist, here’s why it sounds racist,” it really sounded like you thought I was racist. It happens out of the Internet, too, forgive me that I can’t always catch what you mean.

    “You could stand to condense your thoughts a little better.”

    Well, you may have a point there, but I guess I’m still practicing my writing and communication skills on the internet, in general. I can’t even put what I truly think and feel in a few words without coming out as possibly racist.

    Tell me, what did I EXACTLY say in the article I ‘linked,’ that comes as so possibly racist, that I’m driving the female African Americans away from a human rights group that was really meant to protect them, too? If it’s because I come on “too strong,” than I guess I’m always going to sound “possibly racist…” >_>

    “I’m going to avoid a lot of these derailing points, true some of them may be, and emphasize my main criticism here: don’t say, or insinuate, or misphrase, or *whatever*, that racism is a completely separate issue from feminism. It’s no more separate than any other identity that creates women of all shapes and sizes.”

    *Sighs* I guess this is where we may disagree, somewhat. To me, Feminism includes racial rights, same-sex rights, transgender rights, transsexual rights, disability rights (I’m in this group, actually. Though luckily for me, it’s not that extreme of a case for me.), etc. What I was ‘saying’ that depending how many marginalized groups, you may be apart of, the ‘worse’ the bigots will be to you. It’s like recognizing that heterosexual, Caucasian, cisgendered, able-bodied, rich and powerful, males have the ‘easiest’ in society.

    “I can tell you’ve done your research, but a lot of the language you use doesn’t demonstrate it. I remember we’ve discussed the power and history of language before.”

    “Getting rid of the defensive diatribes and the ignorant terminology will get us on a more even page here.”

    As I’ve said, I forgot the proper terminology, because I got kind of off-track after speaking with other people about it. It’s like one thing I did was okay, but than that became wrong and it’s happening again. Sorry. I’ll update my last response with that correction, at least.

    I try so hard not to be a hypocrite when my goal is just trying to bring as much light to many marginalized groups, as much as possible. I’m part of a marginalized racial group, it makes no sense for me to be racist to anybody.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    It’s good these conversations exist. They’re not always easy, not when you have to fess up to mistakes, awkward or offensive, and make concentrated efforts to change your perspective.

    I’ve gone through a lot of this myself (I’m a dumb straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied person!). I still go through it. So, I appreciate the apology.

    Firstly, I don’t see how calling someone black is any more bigoted than calling a gay man…gay. Or a woman a woman. It’s using a standard term to describe part of someone’s identity, and it’s not outdated like ‘colored’ or ‘negro’. African-American is a little more specific to someone native to the U.S.A., and, personally, I find it a little sillier than ‘black’: the double standard of white people just being called Americans, while everyone else is an ‘Asian-American’ or ‘Indian-American’ or ‘African-American’ hasn’t escaped me. Caucasian-American really isn’t that popular a term.

    Moving on: “The Heart Of Whiteness” decided to use ‘non-white’ to push forward a point…and is written by a white man. Are there white men who have broad and intelligent perspectives on the issue of race? Sure. I’m a fan of Tim Wise. But, and here’s more honesty: why do we need to keep being told about racism from people who, by definition, *do not experience it*? I find it troubling that your Ethnic Studies class pushed its education through the lens of a white person. That’s like a class on Women’s Studies constantly giving you material written by men.

    One of my main problems, following through on the ‘non-white’ issue, is that you did use an inaccurate term, and LATER explained why you used it. On my end, you can’t blame me for not being able to read your intentions. It’s like someone saying, “That’s gay!”, then turning around and going, “Well, *I* meant to use it in this context.” It’s still a bad thing to say, and people have the right to judge it at face value. If I heard someone using offensive terminology (or just flat-out slurs), I wouldn’t stick around and wonder if they’re using it for the ‘right reasons’. Would you?

    So, specifically, what you said in your comment, besides the one I already posted/went into detail about: “I know it’s Martin Luther King Day and she mostly focuses on Racial Issues, but…” That alone, right there, is problematic. There’s no need for a “But…” Suggesting that she not focus SO much on this issue, and instead focus more on ANOTHER issue, when she’s clearly doing what she can with the resources she’s acquired. I’ve been told before that I focus on racism ‘too much’. Whether or not you meant to, this is what you sound like.

    Lastly, this is where we seem to be splitting, you and I: you believe sexism is one of the worst, if not the worst, forms of oppression. Personally? I say pick your poison. I really can’t say which one is worse than the other, because they are all so extensive, deeply engrained, and damaging, with some I have never come in contact with.

    It’s hard to say which is the worst when you haven’t experienced them all.

    Curious: what is your race(s)? I’m half-black and half-white, myself. It’s true you (we, rather) can’t be racist, since racism is a defined system that only benefits one race, but you can harbor prejudices, or ignorance, of other races.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    Maybe I’ll use Caucasian-American from now on.

    So calling someone “colored” is bad, then? I would think it would be okay because of ‘people of color.’ But I guess you’d also have to say, “whited,” too. So, what about the color words, “yellow” and “red?”

    Well, I think my Ethnics Studies teacher just wanted us to see a Caucasian American’s perspective, who’s not racist. To his credit, the reading list is mostly by Minorities. I’ve also just read “Orange County: A Personal History” by Gustavo Arellano who’s Mexican.

    “So, specifically, what you said in your comment, besides the one I already posted/went into detail about: “I know it’s Martin Luther King Day and she mostly focuses on Racial Issues, but…” That alone, right there, is problematic. There’s no need for a “But…” Suggesting that she not focus SO much on this issue, and instead focus more on ANOTHER issue, when she’s clearly doing what
    she can with the resources she’s acquired. I’ve been told before that I focus on racism ‘too much’. Whether or not you meant to, this is what you sound like.”

    For what you said earlier, I’m going to try to keep trying to improve what I say, to mean certain things, but keep in mind, it’s not easy and it’s never meant to be offensive to marginalized groups.

    As for what you just said, I didn’t mean she shouldn’t focus on racial issues. I meant to say she shouldn’t ‘only’ mention racial issues when she’s part of ‘two’ groups who both have representation issues and proper representation issues, too. I mean, you wouldn’t know she was the ‘first woman to deliver a presidential inaugural invocation’ if it wasn’t for The Mary Sue article having that in the ‘title’ and mentioning that in its ‘paragraphs.’ Women really do have problems with ‘representation’ in politics. At least a sentence with her acknowledging this achievement would’ve sufficed.

    “Lastly, this is where we seem to be splitting, you and I: you believe sexism is one of the worst, if not the worst, forms of oppression. Personally? I say pick your poison. I really can’t say which one is worse than the other, because they are all so extensive, deeply engrained, and damaging, with some I have never come in contact with.”

    “It’s hard to say which is the worst when you haven’t experienced them all.”

    I’ve only experience a bit of racism, personally, once. I possibly experience ableism, too, especially when I was younger and my case was more extreme than it is today. My parents really worked hard for me to get the proper education I needed. I have no idea how I would be like today, if it wasn’t for them ‘pushing’ me to be ‘smart (It’s kind of scares me, thinking about it.).’

    The reason I think sexism is the worst is because I seriously live in a toxic environment with kind of self-hating women who can’t go a day without calling other females, “b*tches, sl*ts, h*es, sk*nks, wh*res, cougars (I personally think chick is disrespectful, too.), etc.” and refer to females in the worst respect as possible, but are actually pretty “modern” with other marginalized groups and don’t judge them based on “what” they are, but more so, on WHO they are (I wish females were treated this way, I can tell you that much.). Television and other media is very similar to how my family acts, too, and it drives me crazy being constantly surrounded by this.

    Whatever you think is what you think, but this is how I’ve come to this conclusion.

    “Curious: what is your race(s)? I’m half-black and half-white, myself. It’s true you (we, rather) can’t be racist, since racism is a defined system that only benefits one race, but you can harbor prejudices, or ignorance, of other races.”

    I really am not certain of my mom’s side, I know she’s told me she’s part Spanish, and I know she’s definitely Mexican, too. I’m mostly Mexican because my Dad’s a full-blood Mexican. Yeah, I know, despite our best intentions, we can still carry biases and ignorance.

    Strangely enough, throughout my life some people thought I was Chinese, Middle-Eastern, Indian, and Native American (What do you think about calling Native American’s ‘Indian,’ btw?) And I can tell you one thing, I am none of those, except for possibly being just a smidge of Native American, according to my Mother. Confusing she is.

    “I’m a dumb straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied person”

    What do you mean by “dumb?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Y’know, it is a little odd that ‘black’ and ‘white’ are considered appropriate terms, but ‘y****w’ and ‘r*d’ are highly offensive and outdated (hence why I won’t spell them out in this context).

    It’s not seeing the perspective of someone who is white on racial issues that necessarily bothers me-indeed, we need to see the perspectives of everyone on any issue if we’re to progress-but I’m routinely disgusted at how much more…digestible issues of racism are when they are from the mouths of white people. Basically, they’re taken much more seriously, which makes no sense. It’s good your class had diversity in authors, though.

    I had a front row seat to ableism growing up-my mother is deaf, 100%, and her family (and sometimes friends/boyfriends) treated her like shit because of it. Of course, ableism takes many forms, and I won’t pretend it all manifests the same way. If anything, I’m no stranger to some of the difficulties that come from not being ‘normal’ as society dictates.

    Education is such an important factor that we all can really take for granted. My mother had to mostly educate herself, since her family never bothered. I’m really glad your parents were supportive.

    I have had confusions on my race as well. Biracial ambiguity adventures! People have asked me if I’m Native American, mixed Asian or mixed Latina, I had one get specific and ask if I’m Cuban, the list goes on. I’ve had some people nail it right on the head (“You’re obviously mixed.”, “You look half-black and half-white.”), which is always refreshing.

    When I say a ‘dumb straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied person’, I’m using a bit of jest to make a point-I have these privileges in society, which makes my life a little easier, and also affords me ignorance on the experiences of LGBTQ and disabled communities. Although I take measures to educate myself, there is still a lot I don’t know, and I’d sooner call myself dumb then risk arrogance and call myself ‘progressive’ or ‘smart’ on these matters.