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Why I Won’t Boycott STONEWALL (But Will Support Indie Queer & Trans Film)

I think many of my friends may be wondering why I haven't yet commented on or shared numerous articles condemning the new Stonewall (Roland Emmerich, 2015) film or calling for folks to boycott it that have circulated in the last few days since the release of the film's trailer. It's not because I'm incredibly busy finishing my own documentary about the whitewashing of LGBT politics, history, and pride events (though that is really what I should be doing right now instead of writing this). Nor is it because I don't have any thoughts or concerns about the film. It's because... wait for it... I haven't actually seen the film yet.¬† And neither have any of the people who have written criticisms about Stonewall or called for a boycott of it, as far as I can tell. (more…)

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The Limits of Identity: Rachel Dolezal and Andrea Smith

When news reports excoriating Rachel Dolezal's representation of herself as Black first surfaced (the question of her presentation of herself as Indigenous seems to have not sparked similar interest or concern), she was almost universally condemned. The NAACP, however, for whom Dolezal worked as the President of the Spokane chapter, released several statements of support for Dolezal, saying this upon her resignation: "The NAACP is not concerned with the racial identity of our leadership but the institutional integrity of our advocacy." But few seemed to share this position, or even ask what the value of Dolezal's work as an activist, scholar, or teacher may have been. My point here is not to undermine the outpouring of grief and anger regarding Dolezal or question the forms it took. Rather, I'm interested in the questions and stakes are emerging now that a much more well known scholar and activist, Andrea Smith, has become the subject of a somewhat similar scandal. Soon after the Dolezal story broke, a series of Tumblr posts, and a dedicated page, emerged under the heading "Andrea Smith Is Not Cherokee" (see Joanne Barker's blog for a detailed chronology and analysis. Here is a statement from the author of the original Tumblr post about her motivations for writing about Smith. A Tumblr archive dedicated to outlining the issues around Smith's representation of herself as Cherokee, and calls accountability around this, can be found here). (more…)

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All I Feel Right Now Is Shame: The High Cost of Marriage “Equality”

Two days ago, an undocumented Latina transwoman risked her own personal well-being to disrupt a self-congratulatory love fest between so-called LGBT leaders and Barack Obama, an event celebrating the "success" of the inclusion of some lesbian and gays into the fold of US citizenship.¬†Jennicet Gutierrez interrupted Obama's press conference, calling attention to the abuses of the US immigration detention system, including the disproportionate harms experienced by LGBTQ people caught up in the system. This was the response of Obama and the LGBT leaders in the room: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=16&v=vv9wRNuptC8[/embed] (more…)

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CUPE 3903: We’re Winning, and Now Is the Time for Solidarity with International Students

York University is finally back at the bargaining table and addressing some of CUPE 3903's core demands. Everyone knows the writing is on the wall for York, as rumors swirl of intense pressure for the administration to settle before April 6. However, York appears to still be holding back on some key issues, especially regarding international students. I spoke at the general membership meeting the other night, where I argued that York administrators have now accepted that they are going to have to meet CUPE's core demands in order to end this strike. What seems clear, however, is that they are attempting to lose in such a manner that do the most damage to the solidarity politics of our union, which is home to three different units (one for graduate student TAs and course directors, another for contract faculty, and a third for graduate assistants and research assistants). Each of these units has different interests, and the administrators already succeeded earlier in the strike in driving a wedge between the interests of Unit 2 and the rest of the union. (more…)

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Strikes Are Not Disasters: On “States of Emergency” and Democratic Processes within University and Union Administrations

As a graduate student and member of CUPE 3903 at York University, I am currently on strike. Our fellow grad students at the University of Toronto, members of CUPE 3902, are also on strike. And as both unions go into our fourth week of withholding our labor, I'm starting to hear one word repeated more and more frequently: "emergency." (more…)