In the busy lives we lead, it is easy to forget about some of the things that make us actually smile or laugh out loud. At the Atlas Performing Arts Center, I have found just the key. The Intersections Festival is an amalgamation of dance, theater, music, creativity and audience participation that pulls together artists from around the world to around the corner. The festival performances questions the bounds of many of issues in society, from racial issue to gender to norms about passion and compassion. Moreover, there are several sessions either before or after performances in which the audience can talk and participate in workshops led by the artists.
Content Note: today we’re talking about eating disorders. There will not be any detailed descriptions of disordered eating.
Between the ages of thirteen and twenty, I watched my close friend deal with an eating disorder. In many ways, she was lucky – she’s alive and healthy, for one. She was never hospitalized at 90lbs, because she never got there. Luckier still, given what put her in danger – she had what is known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Not quite anorexia, not quite bulimia, but rather an intermittent mix of the two. Unless she told you, you’d have no idea.
I can count the number of people I care about who have had eating disorders on more than one hand – and those are just the diagnosed cases. There are a few more friends that I’ve suspected of disordered eating, and still more who deal with the legacies of their mothers’ eating disorders. Two of those friends required hospitalization, but – thank goodness – all of them are alive.
This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and the theme this year is #ihadnoidea. In keeping with this theme that so powerfully resonates with my personal experiences, I want take the opportunity to highlight 4 common misconceptions of eating disorders and outline a few ways you can seek help for yourself or someone you love. Continue reading
Hello rainbow children, as I may have mentioned I study SNL like’s it’s the stock market, so I am very attuned to the comedic progression of the various cast members. One such cast member has been getting funnier and funnier over the past couple of years and it is her hilarity we are here to celebrate today.
Aidy Bryant had like the most normal childhood ever, which makes it even more amazing that she’s such a comic genius. After graduating from Columbia College, she toured with the musical improv group Baby Wants Candy. She has performed with iO Chicago, The Second City and the Annoyance Theatre.
Bryant made her debut as a featured player on Saturday Night Live on September 15, 2012. She was promoted to a repertory player during her second season, AND I LOVE SHOUTING HER NAME AFTER THEY SAY “FEATURING” DURING THE IMPOSSIBLY LONG SNL INTRO! True story.
In 2014, Bryant, Eli Bruggemann, Chris Kelly, Sarah Schneider, and Kate McKinnon were nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the “Home for the Holiday (Twin Bed)” but I personally think “Back Home Ballers” was better.
My favorite things about Aidy Bryant:
2. Her insults.
3. Back Home Ballers.
In my social network, the furor over the treatment of black people in America seems to have died down. There seems to be this feeling that okay, we got mad about it, we spoke up – time to move on.
No. Not time to move on, because racial disparity in the United States is going nowhere unless we create a sustained, long-lasting campaign against it and to keep discrimination against people of color in our personal and communal consciousness. To contribute to that effort, I’m going to share a #crimingwhilewhite experience that happened to me last Wednesday. Continue reading
Most glorious day, it’s Audre Lorde’s birthday!
Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was an amazing intersectional Black feminist, poet, lesbian, and activist superhero. Her legacy continues to inspire young feminists driving us to be more thoughtful, more intersectional, and to act out our convictions in meaningful ways. Disrupting Dinner Parties derives its name from a passage from Sister Outsider, specifically her essay entitled “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action.” Wondering how best to live out Audrey Lorde’s legacy? Here are some ways to do that: Continue reading
I seen some cheesecake in the window. I went in there and said please, I’m crazy about cheesecake. Everybody stopped and looked right at me. I said, “I don’t wanna go to school with ya. I just wanna piece o’ cheesecake!”
To young me, Moms Mabley was a funny old lady whose voice was the soundtrack to random occasions: cleaning the kitchen, a road trip to Georgia, a lazy Saturday afternoon. I didn’t quite catch all of her jokes as a 90s kid. I didn’t know she was a pioneer, breaking ground for basically every woman after her who dared to be a stand up comedian. I didn’t know she was a lesbian. I didn’t know she was a survivor of sexual assault. And I definitely didn’t know that when she dropped the character of “Moms,” a lascivious elder in a frumpy dress, she was probably the most dapper woman for a hundred miles.
Jackie ‘Moms’ Mabley was a comedian, known in her day as The Funniest Woman in the World. She was one of the Chitlin’ Circuit’s most successful acts. Moms started out doing vaudeville, moved into extended stand up routines, and eventually made rounds on television and movies. She came out as a lesbian in 1921, and stayed out until her death in 1975. And people dealt with it. She was the oldest person to ever have a US 40 Top Hit, for her cover of “Abraham, Martin, and Jon,” which she sang response to the assassinations that rocked the country in her old age. She played with gender. Reclaiming the Mammy stereotype that had been used to keep black women meek and quiet and asexual for so long, Moms allowed her moo-moo aesthetic and Madea vocals to let her audience get comfortable… and then turned the tables, layering on curse words and double entendres and clever condemnations of patriarchal bullshit. Moms didn’t give a single fuck.
You tell them that Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her dog a bone. I say that Mother Hubbard had her gin in the cupboard. Jack and Jill went up the hill after some water? I tell ’em water don’t run uphill. You tell ’em that Mary had a little lamb. I tell ’em… wasn’t the doctor surprised!
Moms Mabley’s words from 1969 sounded progressive to me in 1999. I certainly didn’t hear any other women talking about their love of whiskey, making people laugh at the absurdities of segregation and police brutality and domestic violence, or describing their desire to burn to ashes husbands whom they’d been forced to marry too young. Moms was born in 1894, yet when her voice came out of my carnation pink boombox, she always seemed to be speaking from the future. The music in my house was dominated by gospel, then Oldies, but somehow Moms made it into the mix. I sometimes wonder what she would think if she knew that little queer black girls, born over a century after her, were listening to her acts on cassette and doubling over in laughter in the back of Astro vans. She’d probably say “I like to see children live, cause I didn’t have an opportunity to live!”
Here’s to Moms.
This week the DDP Editor’s circle mourns the deaths of Razzan Mohammad Abu-Salha, Yusor Mohammad, and Deah Shaddy Barakat, who were shot by a white man who likely identifies as atheist. Although the man claims to have murdered his victims over a parking dispute, it is achingly clear from the two women’s father’s accounts of the harassment that his daughter received previously from this man that this was a hate crime.
It is a sobering reminder that, as Bridie Marie wrote on Monday, violent people do not wear name tags identifying themselves. There may be a pattern of harassment leading up to violence, as occurred in the horrifying violence this week. Yet when it comes to the identify of the person committing that harassment and violence, despite what society likes to tell us, and even what we may like to tell ourselves, people who murder others do not come in any one color, religion or lack thereof, or political orientation. We must continue to be vigilant in combating Islamophobia where and when we see it, especially in its more subtle manifestations, which together create a culture that condones this kind of violence against Muslims. It is achingly clear that we are well past the point of a growing progression toward a culture of hatred toward Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world solely because of their ethnicity and religion. The time to address this is now.
To our Muslim readers, we are thinking of you. You have our support during this painful time, and we pledge to work harder to fight this animosity against you. We encourage all of our readers to join the Facebook group “Our Three Winners” to show the victims’ families that we honor their children and siblings’ memories.
Please take a moment to bear witness to the lives of Razzan, Yusor, and Deah through this photo-essay in the link below.
[This post applies to everyone, but is inspired by and directed towards the blues and lindy hop communities as we continue our conversation on how to prevent and deal with sexual assault and abuse in our scenes.]
As we plan how to make our communities safer and more just, we need to acknowledge this central fact:
The people who commit assault and abuse in our communities aren’t wearing name tags that say “Monster.” They aren’t lurking in the corners wearing a trench coat and twirling a mustache diabolically.
They are respected leaders, venerated teachers, popular and engaging dancers. They are someone everyone in the scene knows by face if not by name, someone who the organizers and regulars who form the inner circle of a scene almost certainly count as a friend.
We might have doubts about them, fleeting concerns, whispered rumors that we dismiss as malicious gossip. Or we might not. They might have spotless reputations.
So then when someone comes forward – someone we probably don’t know as well, a young woman who has only been dancing for a few months or a year – we struggle to justify their claims with our lived knowledge of this person who is our friend, our teacher, someone who we’ve probably eaten breakfast with at countless exchanges.
And in the face of that massive, shrieking cognitive dissonance, we lose our ability to process information and make rational judgments.
It’s a pitfall of human psychology; our brains seem to be incapable of holding onto two conflicting ideas of who a person is, particularly if it’s someone we trust. If it’s someone important to us, someone whose loss and betrayal would jeopardize our own identity and community, our brains will – without our conscious knowledge – shut out the information that presents a threat.
This might seem like I’m giving too much credence to the subconscious in order to let organizers off the hook for making bad decisions. But this kind of inability to process information is actually quite common – and it’s a large part of what traps people in abusive relationships.
When we paint abusers and rapists as twisted monsters, we are harming not them, but their victims. “I love/respect/admire this person, ergo they are not a monster, ergo what they did to me could not possibly be abuse or assault. It must have been my fault”
When we paint abusers and rapists as monsters, we are providing a cover for those people in our communities. “I could never assault someone! I am respected and loved and clearly not a monster, ergo it would be impossible for me to ever violate someone’s boundaries. It must be a misunderstanding”
When we paint abusers and rapists as monsters, we are impairing our own judgment and our ability to make our spaces safer. “I know this person! We’ve shared meals and drinks and tears together! They are not a monster, ergo this must have been a mistake.”
It is not only possible but common for the predators in our communities to be our friends, our teachers, our beloved hosts and MCs. Many of the people I have known to be abusive partners come across as incredibly charming, personable and loving – as long as there are other people around.
How can someone love you and be abusive towards you at the same time? How can someone be a good friend, brother, teacher, and then sexually assault another human being? How could an actor or director whose work we love turn out to be a serial rapist or pedophile?
I don’t know how. But I know that they can and they are and they do.
These revelations, when they come up, are genuinely heartbreaking. It feels like the ground dropped from underneath us. And the confusion and the bewilderment are real, and they take time to work through. This is why, as organizers, as people who victims will come to because we have told them they can, we need to come up with a way to process claims of assault that remove our personal judgment from the situation if we are too close to the accused.
The cognitive dissonance involved in recognizing that someone we care about has committed sexual assault practically guarantees that we will make bad judgment calls. And we can’t afford to make those bad judgment calls when people who are hyper-vulnerable and already traumatized have turned to us for help and safety. We need to find away to minimize these mistakes because to not take that responsibility is a betrayal of the enormous trust these people have put in us. It is to compound the trauma they have already experienced, to make the community they loved doubly or triply unsafe for them. We create a community where the person who committed the assault continues to have access to potential victims. Which is what they counted on in the first place.
People who commit serial assaults know how not to get caught. They know how to ensure that they will face no consequences if they are caught. They have gotten to this point of entrenchment in our communities precisely because they are so good at it.
Those of us in a position to support assault survivors in our community have an obligation to recognize this dissonance and have a plan in place to deal with it. The stakes are way too high to do anything else.
Content note for police brutality against people of color
Hello dear disrupters!
Based on the DDP goal of not just writing things worth reading, but also of finding ways that we as a community can take action, we are starting a new series called “Promote a Petition.”
You would be surprised how much you can do (seriously) with the click of a button. Petitions through Change.org and other forums have helped bring about legislation to help people with Down’s syndrome become more financially secure, bring an Afghani interpreter’s family to safety, and got the LEGO company to agree to produce a series of female scientist lego-people, to name a few. Something about knowing that you are being watched makes people act more ethically — even a picture of eyes on the wall can do the trick. Signing your name onto one of these bad babies we’re going to start highlighting does just that: it sends a message loud and clear to the target of the petition that you, and the thousands of others you join your voice with, are watching. Continue reading
this is a guest post written by Lena Chervin
On January 22nd, 2015, Sarah Sullivan, a prominent teacher and organizer in the Baltimore lindy hop community published a blog post detailing her experience of being sexually assaulted by Steven Mitchell, a popular international lindy hop instructor.
Her post has sparked outrage and debate throughout the lindy community worldwide. Within days of posting, over 350 comments were made on the blog; at least four other women reported their own stories of sexual assault at the hands of Steven Mitchell; an online national panel of swing dance leaders met to discuss safer spaces; a Safe Dance Spaces Tumblr was created; and Steven Mitchell was dis-invited from teaching at several events.
Perhaps most importantly, there has been an explosion of conversation online, both in forum groups such as Safety Dance, and on individuals’ private Facebook walls.
As our community works through all this, it is vital that we recognize the role that power and social capital play in sexual violence within our communities. The vast majority of people who hold power in our communities contribute nothing but positivity. However, a select few misuse their power-whether intentionally or not. Perhaps if we recognize and understand how power is used as a tool for abuse, we can prevent sexual violence by simply taking that tool away from the people misusing it.