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11 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - Africa, Make Up Your M... · 0 replies · +1 points

Have you read Boy-Wives and Female Husbands? True both relationships aren't viewed by the courts in the same way (i.e. based on romantic interest), but that's not the connection I'm making; there's something to be said about gender roles that I don't think should be dismissed based on the fact that no one is calling them 'romantic' or homosexual relationships. In one case, homophobia doesn't permit any kind of relationship between women (and certainly not marriage), hence girls being suspended; on the other hand, traditional "marriages" have existed since before colonialism, so in that case it's okay for women to step outside of the binary.

It's interesting to me that the constitution's language prohibits any kind of relations between men and doesn't include women. True they aren't described as sexual relationships, but neither should LGBT relationships in my humble opinion. I believe the over-sexualization of LGBT communities (plus the westernized labeling as such) is part of the pushback we're seeing in Africa. We're a more private/conservative/resolved people and straight relationships/marriages are often discussed with the same asexuality as the Kenyan traditional marriages -- for procreation, family stability etc. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if some women in these traditional same-gender marriages became lovers / more romantically involved. But that's neither here nor there. Who is to determine what 'intimacy' looks like? There are couples today who never have sex; does that negate their union?

The distinction that the two types of marriages in the eyes of the Kenyan constitution is an important one to make but it certainly doesn't negate the fact that such varied gender roles within the same cultural context exist despite contemporary homophobic sentiment insisting otherwise. For me the main takeaway is this: as the root of homophobia is about gender roles, this tradition is proof that Africa was way more fluid prior to colonialism.

11 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - Black History Month Ra... · 0 replies · +1 points

Mary, as always, your comment boils over with empathy and insight. I found myself nodding vigorously at this: " I imagine the discrimination you get for being Nigerian comes from a place of deep pain and mourning for that which has been lost...and yet, people must break through it." YES. We should acknowledge everyone's pain, not just one group; and when we do so, we should push through it to make connections, not sever them.

11 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - Black History Month Ra... · 0 replies · +1 points

I haven't had time to respond to your comment -- I went on vacation shortly after I wrote this. But THANK YOU for making this connection between immigrant/diaspora, loss of ethnic identity, and race relations in North America regardless of race. Really insightful. Gave me something to think about.

Love this too --> "and for white people...well, I am not sure if racism can truly be combated until white americans realize that they too have heritage and culture, and do so in a way that isn't about maintaining current privileges but rather about dismantling those same privileges, since the benefits come at the cost of identity"

That statement above applies to everyone. When checked, people need to acknowledge their part in the oppressive system, not to feel endlessly guilty or incite aggression but so we can all work together in dismantling it. Thank you!

11 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - Challenging Gender Bin... · 0 replies · +2 points

Please preach it! "If you don't learn your ABC's, you will not be able to read." I definitely see gender issues as a learning block for everyone. I don't like the immediate polarization/fragmentation that happens as a result of people treating LGBT issues as a separate module without exploring the root cause / gender foundation. Glad to know I'm not the only crazy one :)

11 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - For Black History Mont... · 0 replies · +1 points

Thank you! And yes! I'll be cross-posting mainly my opinion pieces / social commentary. The news-y articles can be found at GAB. I appreciate your reading and commentary (am a huge fan of your own work!). Much love.

11 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - An Immigrant's Hallowe... · 0 replies · +1 points

Kuukua, thanks for stopping by. So glad you found me (and that I found you!). Love your blog. I\'m on Facebook -- http://www.facebook.com/spectraspeaksalot, and Twitter (@spectraspeaks). But you could also just subscribe to my blog to receive updates (Scroll all the way to the bottom, the subscribe button is on the right) :)

11 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - An Immigrant's Hallowe... · 0 replies · +1 points

Thank you all so much for your comments -- even those of you who have experienced Halloween differently (i.e. have actually enjoyed it). Some of the conversations that have been happening around this piece have been really enlightening, affirming, and hilarious. But some of it has also been frustrating -- I get the sense that a number of people (who've had positive experiences with Halloween) have read this piece waiting for an opportunity to offer a 'counter'. This is not an argument -- it's a reflection.

I'm not speaking for all women, people of color, immigrants etc. I'm speaking for me, and in so doing, many women, people of color, immigrants etc. When people choose to engage on a strictly "well that wasn't the experience for me" or "you're making it not fun" tip, I'm flabbergasted by the blatant re-centering. I'm sure there are many POC living in the US who don't experience racism (at least not in a way that they can perceive relative to their racial consciousness), as there may be many immigrants who do not also. Their experiences certainly don't negate mine, and vice-versa, so responses reiterating this miss the entire point of this post. Regardless of which side of the coin you fall, Halloween is a loaded holiday as someone pointed out. Doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be fun.

I hope we can all learn to acknowledge and affirm each other's experiences in the way we would want others to do for us.

11 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - To Hell With Mainstrea... · 0 replies · +1 points

Ophelia, I cannot express to you how deeply your comment has touched me today. I have a confession: today I doubted the impact of my work, and had a little less hope and strength than I usually do. And then I received the notification of your comment, and as I read tears ran down my eyes. I wonder if it's because I've been thinking about children myself... and how desolate the planet seems of late. I needed to hear this even if it's via cyberspace. To hear you -- a mother, who is also an activist and advocate for others who society has marginalized in some way -- say that my words have inspired you to believe that the world can be better for your children, is beyond moving; I am so deeply humbled, and I thank you so much for taking the few seconds you did to leave your so very thoughtful and generous comment.

Sending you love and light in your own journey. Today you've given me the gift of remembering that we are never alone. Thank you :)

12 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - Year in Review: Top 5 ... · 0 replies · +1 points

Thank you so much! Please stop by again! :)

12 years ago @ Spectra Speaks - Queer Women of Color S... · 0 replies · +1 points

Shelita -- your comment just made my day!

I agree, thank you, Alyssa!