Hey Asshole, Your Racism Is Showing

So. One of the maintenance guys was out back, picking up after the stray cats, so that the painter can finish painting the deck and fence. Apparently he didn’t like working around piles of cat shit, and who could blame him? The maintenance guy, that’s who. His exact words: “That little Messican always has something to complain about.” Um, wow. Unlike Mr. Maintenance, who was complaining to a TENANT about having to do his JOB. (And the painter is actually Ecuadoran and is taller than Mr. Maintenance, just for extra FAIL. Not to mention that he’s college educated and way over-qualified to be painting decks, but, you know, it’s a job.)

I am gobsmacked. And I wonder if it’s just because I’m white that Mr. Maintenance felt comfortable sharing his racist little rant, or if he’s totally oblivious to the fact that he’s a racist, or if I’ve ever done or said something that made him think I’d be sympathetic to his asshole beliefs.

Art, Collage, Crankypantsing, Journals, Ladybusiness, Poetry

Hemp Bound Journal

Hemp Bound Journal:  PWT

This page was an off-shoot of the discussion about the phrase “poor white trash.” I finally spoke up, and called the original poster on her demeaning comments. After having gone to great lengths to describe what she meant by “poor white trash,” and her qualifying how she is supperior to “them,” she had the nerve to reply that she hadn’t really meant it as a slur, because, hey, it’s all a matter of semantics. Um, no, it’s not semantics, not when you’ve precisely qualified and quantified your position. She made a lame attempt at claiming that there were all sorts of meanings for the word “trash” and that “poor” is a state of mind. Neither of those points, even if they were true in this context, addresses the fact that she’d spent umpty words describing a certain group of people, and how they are inferior to her. I had to laugh at her parting shot, though, that she’d suffered discrimination, too, when she was younger, because she had been called a poor, little rich girl. Now, that takes brass ovaries!

Because I thought the “it’s just semantics” defense was a laughable cop-out, I decided to consult Mr. Roget for alternate suggestions. The column spacing sucks, which is one of those things that unreasonably vexes me. I’ll probably add something else to the far right margin of the left-hand page at a later date, just for visual balance

I’d totally forgotten that the phrenology model was on that page, because the coat of gesso makes it blend into the background. It used to be thought that you could judge a person’s character by the structure of their skull. This theory was used as the basis for racial discrimination, as well as for the theory that you could tell just by looking at some people that they were wrong ‘uns. I guess some prejudices die hard, eh?

Hemp Bound Journal:  Backbone & The Direction of Last Things
Backbone & The Direction of Last Things

Hemp Bound Journal:  Letter from a Muse
Letter from a Muse

Hemp Bound Journal:  Vessels

No matter how much I think it’s wrong to kill another living being–and I do–I cannot get past the fact that we do not legally require one person to save another’s life. It makes no more sense to mandate that a woman must carry a baby to term than it does to force people to give over their kidneys or bone marrow or livers for transplants. I can certainly choose to be an organ donor, but I cannot be forced into it. But, some people think it’s okay to force a woman to carry a child to term against her will.


Guilt By Association

Concerning last night’s rant, I think I’ve figured out the vague feeling of discomfort. It’s the same feeling I got as a child, when the kid next to me behaved badly. The possibility that I would be assumed to be complicit in the behavior was upsetting. On the one hand, I didn’t want to be associated with what had happened, but on the other, I felt powerless to stop it, because of some stupid unspoken kids’ code. It’s a matter of peer pressure. “Don’t rock the boat, or your life will get even more difficult.” As I learned yesterday, that sort of bullying is not just child’s play; adults do it, too.

And, to be clear, I don’t have a problem with Christmas itself. I was raised nominally Catholic, and my family still celebrates the holiday. However, I don’t take that as a license to smack other people upside the head with my personal holiday fetish. It bothers me when others do it, because it seems manipulative and unsportsmanlike. Or maybe it’s just ignorance. I dunno, but it seems to be born of the same urge as the chipper “Happy Yom Kippur!” blessings that obviously non-Jews wish to Jewish folks. Nice try, but it’s so close, and yet so far. I assume the effort is appreciated, but the end result only underscores the lack of any serious interest in understanding another point of view.

I have a similar problem with films like Memoirs of a Geisha. It’s a thoroughly western movie about a non-western subject. In it’s way, it’s repackaged Orientalism: it’s objectifying, exploitative, and fetishistic. And, I can’t get past the fact that the actors are Chinese. Because, apparently, all Asians do look alike.

Art, Crankypantsing

The ATC Debacle and WTF?

On a couple of mail lists I belong to, the subject of people selling Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) has come up. ATCs were the brainchild of a Swiss artist. In the mid-1990s he came up with the idea of small (3.5 x 2.5 inch) original works of art that would be traded in person. The only stipulations were that they would be a certain size and that they would be swapped, not sold. Other than that, anything goes. The idea was that artists would meet in person and trade their small works of art. It would be a way for artists (most of whom aren’t rolling in money) to collect artwork from other artists.

So what’s the big deal? Well, quite a few folks are selling “ATCs” on eBay, which has spawned much discussion. The pro camp says, rightly, that people can do whatever they want with the art they create. The con camp says, also rightly, that selling ATCs undermines the purpose of ATCs and goes against the originator’s intent. While I would personally not support an artist who sold ATCs, it is their right to do so.

Of greater concern to me is the possibility that ATCs that have been traded to others will be sold and resold. As artists trade ATCs with the understanding that they will not be sold, I think it constitutes a breach of contract to turn around and sell an ATC that was received in trade. I think that doing so is mercenary, dishonest, and exploitative.


I also seem to be plagued by assberets who cannot read for comprehension. There’s nothing so irritating to me as making a point, then having someone respond to that point with something completely irrelevant to the point. What are they teaching in schools these days?


A few days ago, in another group, someone asked why there was a dearth of African or African-American imagery in the crafting community. I responded that I didn’t think there was a shortage of such imagery (just Google for African American quilts). I’m sure all the African American artists, artisans, and craftsmen would be surprised to know that their works don’t exist. Even more so all the artists in Africa.

But, that apparently wasn’t her real question. She actually wanted to know why more whites weren’t incorporating African or African American imagery in their art. M’kay.

I don’t feel a burning need to incorporate African or African American imagery in my own art. My art tends to be about me and my experiences. I also don’t know anything about what it feels like to be African American, much less African, so I’m not likely to address it in my art. I do use a wider variety of imagery in my gluebooks, but I consider gluebooks to be separate from my other art. Pretty much all the imagery in my gluebooks comes from magazines, books, etc. so I use what I have. (Thank you, though, to the kind soul who informed me that Egypt is in Africa. Who knew?!)

What sent me over the edge, and finally prompted me to unsubscribe from the group, was when the original poster made a comment that “we” should explore different cultures and that “we” should incorporate more design elements from other cultures in our artwork. If the concern is, as she claimed, to gain cultural understanding through exploring African American artistic styles, then that seems to me to be reducing the African American Experience (as if there’s just the one) to a design element. (Pardon me while I vomit.)

  1. She doesn’t know bupkis about me and my culture, so she can hardly know what my experience with “other cultures” might be.
  2. Why do I, as an artist, have any sort of responsibility to address cultural differences or racial issues?
  3. Talking about African Americans as if they’re from a different planet is probably not the best way to go about engendering racial harmony and mutual understanding.
  4. Reducing an entire group of people to a design element is exploitative
  5. Instead of exploiting African Americans, which is what I feel the OP was encouraging, why not first educate yourselves enough to know why the entire discussion, as it unfolded, might be offensive?

The final straw, though, was that I received an e-mail from someone wanting to know if I’d be interested in an “ancestor swap.” I didn’t answer her, because I was gobsmacked. I have no idea how to reply to something like that. My ancestors are mine, mine, mine and I’m not inclined to share them. If you want to acquire fake ancestors, buy a box of orphaned ones at a flea market.

No, I lied. The final, final straw was the way everyone went around patting themselves on the back for having such a sensitive, understanding, thoughtful discussion. Okaythen.