For the Birds will be tabling this weekend at a benefit show for Support New York, a collective dedicated to healing the effects of sexual assault and abuse.
BORN IN A CENT
SANDY AND THE RATS
(Doo-Wop-Punk realness featuring members of zombie dogs, titfit, homewreckers, carnal knowledge, snow day—first show ever!)
photo courtesy of Dragana Drobnjak
A few Fridays ago my friend (and fellow Bird) Rachel and I indulged in lots of art activities, walking from PS1 for Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair, to Prints Gone Wild in Williamsburg, and back. Saturday, we walked to Long Island City for more. I quickly bought a ticket and ran to the “Riot Grrrl: Traces of a Movement” conference session while my pals continued to check out the tables at the Book Fair.
I sat down and a good friend of mine, Dragana, happened to be sitting right next to me, camera in hand. Dragana took photos of the entire slide presentation, and when we got near the end, I gasped in surprise.
Jenna Freedman, founder of Barnard Library’s zine collection, featured selected images of the collection, tracing the history of twenty years of zines from the original riot grrrls through today. In one of her last images, she projected the caption “EveryGrrrl plans a feminist conference,” with a scan of our [For the Birds'] She-Bang pamphlet from this year. I think of DIY feminist cultural production in a continuum, something that is always in conversation with its history, present, and future. This one moment really solidified that feeling. My review of the conference might explain what I am getting at a little more.
You can read my review of the conference now at Elevate Difference, featuring another photo by the lovely Dragana.
The other night I decided to make some cornbread to go along with chili for dinner. I’d never bought cornmeal before, so I needed to get some. While making my purchase I caught a glance at the package and grimaced at the image. I hesitated for a moment but proceeded with the purchase anyhow; I was in a hurry, and there wasn’t another option.
Since then, though, I’ve felt haunted by the fact that I allowed myself to purchase an item with such disgustingly racist packaging. It’s not only the big things we do in life but also the small things that can make big differences in society. Too often, convenience comes before principle. In that quick moment when I made the decision to proceed with a purchase, many things went through my mind: “I don’t know where else to get this in time for dinner,” “it’s just a small, cheap package that no one will see but me,” “I can’t help it if this is all the store offers.” These excuses, though, are all pretty empty and ultimately selfish.
It’s tough caring all the time and always having to do the “right thing.” Yet by making such a quick and stupid decision, I effectively devalued years of work on an issue that is deeply important and personal to me. I went to Warwick High School in central Pennsylvania, home of the Warwick “Warrior”—a mascot that is the school’s depiction of an American Indian warrior. Beyond stereotyping indigenous groups and individuals as fierce and warlike, the mascot is also dehumanizing. It creates a contentious environment for American Indian students and teaches all students that it is acceptable to participate in culturally abusive behavior. My friends and I went on a public campaign to rid the school district of its racist mascot by writing letters to the local newspaper, meeting with school administrators, attending school board meetings, petitioning our peers, and educating the community. By the time I’d graduated in 2000, they had gotten rid of the actual human mascot costume as well as a few cartoonish images hanging around the school. But the mascot or school emblem didn’t change. This past summer—a full ten years later—they’ve taken a few more steps that show signs that the Warrior will eventually be phased out. There’s no excuse for the fact that it has not yet completely been eliminated (nor that it ever existed to begin with) but at least there is some hope for the future.
By writing this blog, my goal is to emphasize that work against racism is just that: work. It’s hard work and we’re all socialized to work with and for racism and not against it. As soon as we let our guard down, we’ve already messed up.
Check out this really great blog Native Appropriations that lays out all the reasons why something like this package is harmful and how buying it is no small sin.
I am excited to announce two really great events going on in New York in November. Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair will be taking place this weekend at MoMA PS1, featuring some really great panels; in particular, one about riot grrrl taking place THIS SATURDAY THE 6TH at 2:00PM. Check out the conference session description:
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Riot Grrrl: Traces of a Movement
Riot Grrrl is a feminist movement that rose during the mid-1990s and is closely associated with punk rock, radical politics, and DIY ethics. Its participants left behind a lengthy paper trail of film, photography, art, video, music, and zines, a selection of which have recently entered the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University. This panel of artists, musicians, and writers will discuss the history and cultural artifacts of the movement.
Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography presents a selection of outstanding photographs by women artists, charting the medium’s 170-year history. Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen recognizes the prominence of women who have critically addressed kitchen culture and myths. Both exhibitions are associated with MoMA’s publication Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art.
The Raincoats, formed by Ana da Silva and Gina Birch in the late 1970s, created a sound, inspired by punk and rock music, that became a significant source of inspiration for future of generations of feminist musicians. Kathleen Hanna was a founding member of Bikini Kill, co-creator of the zine Riot Grrrl, and lead singer of the dance-punk band Le Tigre.
From 8:30 to 10:00 p.m., enjoy an exclusive exhibition viewing and open bar during Kathleen Hanna’s DJ set; The Raincoats’ performance follows at 10:00 p.m.
For tickets to the event, click here.
Tomorrow evening, Thursday, November 4, there will be a reading at STOREFRONT Gallery in Brooklyn, curated by FTB member Cynthia. The event features four graduate students (3 nonfictionist from Sarah Lawrence and 1 social worker from Hunter College) and is part of Literary Thursdays, a series at STOREFRONT highlighting the work of emerging writers and poets.
Tomorrow’s event starts at 7:30pm and is located at 16 Wilson Avenue in Brooklyn.
More information on those reading at the event after the jump!
***A previous event posted on our blog, Women’s Radical Research at Bluestockings, was postponed until Monday, November 15.***