Decolonize ALL The Things

The UNsettling reflections of a Decolonial Scientist in a Constant State of Rage

What Is & What Ought To Be

May 30, 2017
Shay-Akil

“The modern collapse of “Reason” & “History” into all things European represented a failure of reason & history that required self-deception regarding Europe’s scope. Put differently: Europe sought to become ontological; it sought to become what dialecticians call “Absolute Being”. Such Being stood in the way of the human being, of a human way of being. It thus presented itself as a theodicy. Theodicy (from theos, meaning god, & dikē, meaning justice) is the branch of inquiry that attempts to account for the compatibility of an omnipotent, omniscient, & good god with injustice & evil.” –  Lewis Gordon in What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction To His Life & Thought (2015:19)

Europe seeks to make Euro-Western thought & practice ontological (all that is (descriptive) & what ought to be (prescriptive) (Gordon 2015:19).  Note that in this case, Lewis Gordon discusses how black can never be white, it can only ‘imitate’ whiteness.  Toni Morrison speaks of this, whiteness just gets to “be”, everybody else has to hyphenate. But by the same token, look at how the rule doesn’t follow in reverse: black can never be white but white always has access to black.  Note, this is in reference to appropriation & the practice of emptying a subject of its complex meaning to wear it as a costume.  This is a kind of objectification that reduces an active subject (a being capable of activity) to a passive thing (what Aime Cesaire calls “thingification”).  But black cannot be white, black can only imitate, its a version, a hyphenation, the standard for all things & their meaning is first white.  Continue Reading

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Creating Healthy Masculinities

June 30, 2016
Shay-Akil

Below are slides from a workshop that I designed & presented at the 2016 BTAC conference.  The goal was for attendees to learn what gender, masculinity, and patriarchy are in relation to power dynamics in modern history.  We want attendees to be able to grapple with the meaning of gender performance and how the Trans masculine community can construct healthy masculinities that are not carbon copies of the patriarchal toxic masculinity of our current society.  This conversation aims to be accessible across demographics, so the goal is to speak about these issues in plain language rather than assuming everyone utilizes the same activist and/or academic vocabulary.  We want to try to also incorporate interactive discussions within the workshop (e.g. what are some words that you associate with the terms: man, masculine, etc.?).

Supporting documents being used to design workshop:

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Cishetpatriarchy is not community

February 20, 2016
Shay-Akil

I am Black and TransI AM A GENDERQUEER BLACK TRANS MAN.  I am racialized as Black, a Trans man, genderqueer, bi, & a descendant of stolen Africans on Indigenous peoples’ stolen land ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  I know this may be astonishing to you but none of these things are choices.  They are the social, political, and historical contexts within which I live. They just are. They don’t have a switch.  They don’t click on or off. And these contexts have shaped me but I am not limited to them.

I was socialized into the wrong gender, misgendered since my birth, and socialized into a transphobic society.  Just because I was misgendered as a cis woman does not mean that I know what its like to be a cis woman.  I am, always have been, and always will be a Black Transman.  I knew that when I was a small child, I knew that when I was terrified into having to perform cisheteronormativity.  What I do know is how cis Black women are treated.  That’s all, but that does not make me a cis Black woman, I have never been one.

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Transitioning Into A Decolonized Masculinity

November 15, 2015
Shay-Akil

Under-construction

Its been 4 months. Its been 4 months today that I’ve been on HRT. I came out to everyone else about being genderqueer about 2 years ago.  I told loved ones that I wanted to transition after the passing of my grandmother this May.  I’ve known I was trans since I was a kid.  As a child I had all senses of mystical rationales that I came up with to be “okay”.  At night I would dream that I was a baby boy in a crib and told myself that being awake was just a bad dream and in reality I was a baby boy and everything was right with the world.  I spent a large bit of my childhood and teenage years rebelling against people telling me I was a girl, telling me what women do, telling me that I need to get into place.  I stayed in trouble mostly because I was gender policed.  The majority of my troubles in school, daycare, and at home was all about me doing things that “only boys do”. Continue Reading

D.A.T.T. Freedom School Week 4 Summary – Cishetpatriarchy, Gender, & Sexuality

August 4, 2015
Shay-Akil

Liberation Circle & Reading Summaries from D.A.T.T. Freedom School

Summer 2015 – Week 4

Cishetpatriarchy, Gender, & Sexuality

The Storify for this topic’s Liberation Circle tweet chat can be found HERE.

What is GENDER?

Gender is the range of mental and behavioral characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between and across, masculinity and femininity.  In Western societies, the accepted cultural perspective on gender views women and men as naturally and unequivocally defined categories of being with distinctive psychological & behavioral propensities that can be predicted from their reproductive function.  (The idea that women do feminine things, men do masculine things & it is just ‘natural’) (Doing Gender, West & Zimmerman, 1987:126)

What is SEX/BIOLOGICAL SEX?

Sex is a determination made through the application of socially agreed upon biological criteria for classifying persons as females or males.  The criteria for classification can be genitalia at birth or chromosomal typing before birth, and they do not necessarily agree with one another (Doing Gender, West & Zimmerman, 1987:127).  & its important to recognize that binary ‘sex’ is not supported by biology, if genes & genitalia are the criteria for binary biological sex, then even Eurowestern colonial binary biological sex is false and not supported by biological evidence.

What is SEX CATEGORY?

Placement in a sex category is achieved through application of the sex criteria, but in everyday life, categorization is established and sustained by the socially required identificatory displays that proclaim one’s membership in one or the other category.  Sex & sex category can vary independently; that is, it is possible to claim membership in a sex category even when the sex criteria are lacking (Doing Gender, West & Zimmerman, 1987).

What is SEXUALITY?

Sexuality is a person’s sexual orientation.  Many sexual orientations exist including but not limited to asexual, pansexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, and heterosexual.  (Its important to remember that sexuality is not the same as gender or romantic orientation)  Some describe sexuality as what you do or don’t do with your genitalia.

– From Patriarchy & Gender by Shay Ture (@They_berian)

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D.A.T.T. Freedom School: Summer Session

June 8, 2015
Shay-Akil

Purpose:

DATT Freedom School’s purpose is to provide political education to those who want to learn online with a variety of platforms.  DATT Freedom School is a dynamic online work study group that includes the basis of a book club, hosted tweet chats every other week, video lessons, & master posts.

Goal:

Provide people with the basics of critical thinking skills & begin their political education process.

What are we teaching?

The DATT Freedom School will teach the political foundations of Black feminism & Pan Africanism (scientific socialism).  These will be based on the intellectual legacies of Patricia Hill-Collins, Audre Lorde, Kwame Ture, Kwame Nkrumah, Frantz Fanon, Ida B. Wells, etc.. Continue Reading

Intersectional Food Politics & The Failure of SNAP Challenges

April 16, 2015
Shay-Akil

IntroductionGpaltrowSNAPtweet

Recently Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted a picture of $29 worth of food to equate to what a family on SNAP benefits has for a week with on food stamps.  She isn’t the first celebrity to do this, we’ve even seen politicians do this to make a point to fight against cutting SNAP benefits.  While they may mean well, they may think that they are helping, the end result is about the same as them not speaking or doing anything at all.  SNAP challenges are in many ways a form of problematic mockery that reduce complicated interconnected issues into single isolated problems that appear to have not too difficult fixes.  Attempting to mimic this one component of the very unfortunate inequitable lives of poor people in the U.S. is not solidarity.  In many ways intersectionally privileged people engaging in SNAP challenges comes off as some fad, especially when real help & solutions are possible. What Gwyneth Paltrow’s SNAP challenge reveals is that she really is clueless about the intersections of poverty.  If Gwyneth wants to help then that’s great, she needs to find an effective way to help that isn’t just donating to food banks which usually provide high calorie low nutrient produce & doesn’t solve the issue of poverty.  Food banks do not help combat the ultimate causal factors of poverty, so its influence is minimal & doesn’t combat the host of health problems that come along with poverty.  We don’t need band aid solutions & to be honest here, we don’t need band aid solutions from people with enough influence & power to actually HELP.  Poor people aren’t just here for you to have pity on so you can feel better about your sense of morality.  If you value these human lives then help in was that can alter the balance of power like: a living wage; shifts in workplace control; universal, affordable, quality child care; safe and affordable housing; equitable access to quality education; and universal prevention focused health care, etc..   Continue Reading

Let’s Talk About Human Rights: The Failure of ‘Rights’ Rhetoric

April 1, 2015
Shay-Akil

INTRODUCTIONB7mmF5jCQAEPnUQ

The popular narratives behind civil rights have come to the forefront in light of the recent attention paid to extrajudicial murders of Black people by the state.  What I find most interesting is the constant references back to the civil rights movement.  Much of what has been in the media refers Ferguson, NYC, and other Black Lives Matter protests to the “new” or “next” Civil Rights Movement.  Gay marriage has been called a type of new civil rights movement as well.  There’s a number of problems with this popular narrative that reduces any and every struggle for a single type of right to being “civil rights”.  We’ve seen this happen with gay marriage, immigrant rights, and then the labeling of any new focus on a marginalized group as “The New Black”.

In her research, legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw revealed that legislation that spoke to Blackness alone and then gender alone failed Black women.  It was at the intersections that Black women suffered and civil rights legislation ignore this reality.  To call LGBTQ rights the new Civil Rights is anti-Black erasure.  It ignores the existence of Black LGBTQ as well as turns Black people into these empty signifiers for rights that our people have fought and struggled for and still do not get in this nation.  These vaccuum discussions of rights struggles manage to use Black resistance as the stepping stool for non Black peoples to utilize as part of their narrative in demanding rights.  And to do so is to demand rights at the expense of dehumanizing other people.  If we can not have a discussion about human rights that’s intersectional (encompassing all of the socio-political statuses that impact peoples’ lives) then we take the risk of erasing & ignoring the nuance & difference within each other’s experiences.  If intersectionality is at the core of our discussion about what “rights” are, its extremely important for us to understand that struggles for recognition as humans among marginalized/disempowered populations are all part of the larger goal of achieving human rights.  So this means putting things into historical, political, social, & economic contexts that do not erase people or use their history & labor as stepping stones for you to get attention. Continue Reading

“The Blacker The Berry” Is A Black Pathology Anthem

February 11, 2015
Shay-Akil

kendrick-lamar-the-blacker-the-berryKendrick Lamar recently dropped the track “The Blacker The Berry”, what has been called a “Black Anthem” that deals with the hypocritical racial self hatred in the Black community.  As a hip hop head I was hype to first listen to the song, hoping that it would say something critical, contextually accurate, reveal the true issues at hand & I was unfortunately immediately disappointed.  The song left a bad taste in my mouth, it was disrespectful, lecturing, and inaccurate.  “The Blacker The Berry” has been quickly gaining traction since its release and its for a very particular reason: Black pathology sells (H/T @thetrudz). Continue Reading

Under Construction: Decolonizing Queer Masculinity(ies) Part II – Depatriarchalizing The Body

February 7, 2015
Shay-Akil

Under-construction

Introduction

I have decided to turn my initial blog post “Under Construction: Decolonized Queer Masculinity(ies)” into a series where I deconstruct colonial notions of gender, sexuality, sex category, & the many intersections with other identities & systems of domination.  In my first blog post in this series I discussed unhinging my identity from patriarchal notions of gender & situating myself within my queer masculinity.  In this blog post I want to discuss what that is like when it comes to decolonizing my own eyes & the ways in which I view, theorize, & engage with my own body. Continue Reading

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