Posts tagged activism

Posted 2 years ago

The Plight of the Roma



Click the link for photos. The story from the site:

Fashion photographer Zoe Zimmer traveled to eastern Slovakia earlier this year to document the lives of the Roma people.

Commonly referred to as Gypsies, an estimated 10 million Roma are scattered across Europe. They have been persecuted throughout history, and as a result they often live in poverty and have trouble integrating into society.

“They’ve been downtrodden for so long that it’s extremely difficult for them to live normally and preserve their own culture at the same time,” Zimmer said.

While visiting Roma settlements, she saw children who attend segregated schools and musicians who struggle to afford their instruments. But she said she was struck by how optimistic many of the people were despite their hardships.

“Before I went, I thought about painted caravans and all sorts of romantic ideas of what a Gypsy is,” Zimmer said. “I hope my photographs are a more realistic portrayal of how they’re actually living and the problems they face.”

She was in Slovakia with her father, Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer, as part of a fact-finding delegation put together by his philanthropic Remote Control Foundation and the National Democratic Institute.

As a fashion photographer, Zimmer said she’s used to having complete control over everything – from the lighting to how her subjects are standing. This was her first experience with documentary photography.

“It was really great for me to learn how to work under those conditions,” she said. “It was a great change of pace.”

An exhibit of the resulting work titled “Deserve Dignity” opens in West Hollywood on Saturday, coinciding with Human Rights Day.

Remember this next time you think it’s ok to use a racial slur as a term for a fashion. Remember this next time you do a cute little photo shoot in your boho skirt with your hair full of grease and think you’re creative. That word, the one you use to describe your ‘craft,’ your ‘Majick(TM),’your ‘fashion,’ or your ‘philosophy,’ it’s a word that’s been used to slur and degrade an entire people. So fuck you.

Posted 2 years ago

"G***Y MAGIC" (aka y’all followers best be reading this right now)





so i just saw a phrase “g***y magic” and i googled it to get more sense of what “g***y magic” was referring to because it made me uncomfortable as fuck just looking at it. i found a large amount of wicca sites claiming to know the magic of the romani/dom people. i’m not familiar with wicca at all (asides from the little i remember when i was 10 and wanted to be a witch), so this whole sect of “g***y magic” really stunned me. my immediate concerns were its truthfulness and whether or not it was something that outsiders could participate in. there is a real danger of people borrowing from racist stereotypes of ethnic groups to create what they believe are “traditions” of this group or actually taking things that are not allowed. for example, a lot of people espouse philosophy that is apparently “native-american”, when it is just a made up jumble of racist stereotypes of what first nations people in the americas believe. so i’ve been looking stuff up to see whether or not my suspicions are valid and i found this post, which i will now share with you.

it is not possible for romani or dom traditions to be taught and practiced by outsiders of the culture. these traditions are passed down through family and community. and people are only considered part of these communities if they adhere to various traditional connections to their ethnic communities. just throwing things together and calling them ‘gypsy traditions’ doesn’t work – the community has to welcome you and feel that connection between you and their culture. otherwise, you are gadje - an outsider. even those brought into the community through marriage or birth may not be considered part of the culture if they are detached from various aspects that make up that culture. yes, even with romani or dom heritage, you can be gadje. on top of that, the majority of romani and dom are christian because of the (white, christian, often focusing on conversion) dominant cultures they live in. so some of the folk traditions and beliefs are beginning to slowly die out, only maintained by the few. painting all romani and dom with these traditions and beliefs ignores the slow erasure of folklore and culture through cultural assimilation.

third, the distribution of traditions painted as ‘gypsy magic’ to outside audiences en masse is a form of culture appropriation. as mentioned in the previous paragraph, the cultures of the romani and dom people are closed to those they do not welcome. taking these traditions, or even things that one labels as ‘gypsy traditions’ (even if they have no actual relation and are thus compromised of stereotypical bullshit), is appropriation of their culture for one’s own personal gain. that is stealing…

fourth, many of the traditions of ‘gypsy magic’ or tarot is based off of ethnic stereotypes, romanticizing images and ideas that are far from representative of the people these stereotypes are attached to. after all, many of those that are slandered as ‘gypsies’ aren’t even romani! folks like the pavee may even be white and have their own traditions, thus hardly the depiction of dark skinned ethnic beauties in their golden jewelry and brightly colored clothes. what’s worse, these popular depictions of ‘gypsies’ in fantasy worlds such as games, books and movies suggest that they don’t even exist anymore! like they’re some sort of magical fairies that add color and excitement (or theft and deception, like that’s so much better!) to such environments and then magically disappear from the world during the medieval times. yeah, the folks that are suffering from racial, class and cultural oppression throughout europe and various other locations throughout the world? don’t exist, apparently. those molotov cocktails being thrown into their homes and fascist organizations terrorizing entire communities just for existing? fiction, apparently. and their voices shouting at the world to stop these assaults on their peoples? just whispers in the wind.”

i’m looking for more information on this (because i’m curious to see exactly how inaccurate this concept is) but seriously y’all, i think the fact that the phrase “g***y magic” relies on an ethnic SLUR is a great clue that it’s racist as fuck. the hints of cultural appropriation and reliance on ethnic stereotypes with the term is also RACIST AS FUCK. don’t use this goddamn phrase.


i’m thinking of making a little zine about racist slurs that still get used a lot under the guise of hip, whismical alternative communities. it’d be super short, just a little run down of the power of words, and a short blurb about their history. this is largely because there is a vintage company in quebec (run by two white girls) called “boat people,” another enterprise (run by two white girls, again) called “sauvages” and i saw a necklace at a zine fair called “sqaw.” [sic] i don’t think a lot of these people are being intentionally shitheads, but i definitely think it is a sign that there’s a lot of work to be done in the arts community in quebec.

don’t even get me started on how many goddamn fashion bloggers think “gypsy” is interchangeable with the word “bohemian” or “whimsical.”

would anyone be interested in contributing?

that is a good idea

Only other thing I would note is that A LOT of Roma are Muslim rather than Christian, but they are also extremely marginalized & oppressed in Muslim societies.

And I would really be interested in that zine.

Posted 2 years ago


TW: Cultural appropriation, racism, exotification of Native Americans.

Video: Animated show. A red-haired white girl with glasses is the main character.





Pepper Ann: “Dances with Ignorance”

got this from feministdisney’s Q&A

“Pepper Ann was incredibly, well, racist, but the show “taught” her the right way/what she was doing wrong and why it was wrong, pretty well.    It would probably be pretty instructive for a lot of the people on tumblr claiming to “honor” native americans by dressing up as them etc.”

This is amazing!

oof that was painful to watch. but yes.

The first five minutes were really, really painful to watch, but this could really be a great learning tool for anyone trying to explain stereotypes and how it’s possible to be offensive and perpetuating racism even as a person with Native heritage.

God, this is fucking painful to watch…

Posted 2 years ago

Why 'disabled people should just ask for accommodations' is a pile of steaming dookie


I was recently treated to another round of “disabled people need to just ask for accommodations, then they’d be given them,” with the usual accompaniments of “you shouldn’t be so angry” and “you should be nicer.”

So I figured, okay. I know this is bullshit from a lifetime of experience, but let’s gather some data.

What I did
I gave myself 7 days. Every time during that 7 days I ran into a particular kind of inaccessibility, I wrote to the owner/relevant authority and asked them to fix it. I aimed for short, factual, informative request letters.

(To an Italian restaurant)


I recently attempted to use your website to read your menu before coming in. I was disappointed to discover your menu is a .jpg image embedded in the website, making it inaccessible to blind and low vision users. Screenreaders cannot read the contents of images out loud. I found this very inconvenient, and wish you would take steps to make your website accessible to all your potential customers. The contents of the menu should be placed on the website as text with regular html markup. You can also post a pdf file of your menu, but pdf’s have their own accessibility pitfalls, and this is a much less preferred option.

For more information on website accessibility in general and this issue in particular, try

Thank you for your attention. I would be happy to answer any questions.

(My full name, complete with J.D. for that bit of lawyer pomposity).

The parameters
had to limit it. I had to limit it a lot, if I wanted to keep doing things like eating, sleeping, and working.

So I only asked for accessibility fixes to websites and iPhone apps. And I further limited it by only asking for things that were broken. Not just irritating, figure-out-a-workaround inaccessible, but flat out I-cannot-use-this inaccessible.

Who I wrote to

  • Teefury – no alt tags or shirt descriptions means I can’t/won’t buy anything

  • Echofon (twitter app)

  • My train arrivals tracker app – it refreshes every 10 seconds, which trips Voiceover but good and puts my focus back at the top of the screen. Easy solution is to have an option to turn off auto-refresh

  • My broker – Bad Ajax can’t fill out forms ARRRRGH.

  • My dental insurance

  • My vet

  • Travelocity

  • The administrator of my employer’s intranet – ohgod, everything. But for these purposes, all links are graphical and none are tagged.

  • Goodreads – Argh can’t use magic ajaxy comment boxes argh, also the app in its entirety

  • The Fluevog site

  • An upscale Italian place within walking distance of home

  • Demeter Fragrance

  • Gmail – anything that isn’t in basic html mode doesn’t work

  • Facebook (okay, I cheated on that one, I wouldn’t ordinarily go to Facebook in a week, but I did just so I could write to them)


  • Google (for the search engine) – Google Instant crashes Jaws, and the current “solution” is to have a link to turn Instant off. Except it only works for a single pageview at a time, ARRRRGH).

  • Youtube – No access to player controls at all

  • Tumblr – we’ve talked about this


  • The website of the Governor of Nevada – Why! WHY would you post your official documents as jpg’s! No one cares that much about your pretty signature!


  • – can’t complete any purchases, “buy” button not labeled.

  • Google+ - Uh … everything

  • A definitely not upscale Italian delivery place – screwy menus so I can’t actually get to any section but the appetizers

  • Potbelleys – terrible pdf menus

  • My health insurance – not like I need to, uh, use that or anything

The results
I grouped responses into categories:

1. Competent and positive: Something like, “we didn’t know, we’ll get on that.” I intended to also include things like, “I’m not qualified to handle this, let me pass you up the chain,” where the intention clearly is to get the problem solved, not make me go away. I also intended to count responses along the lines of, “we have to talk to our tech people about this, but we want to fix it and here’s a rough idea of how long it might take.” This ended up not being necessary.

Number of responses in this category: 0

2. The runaround: People who don’t know what I’m talking about and don’t care enough to find out, so you end up in an endless loop getting passed up and down the chain of command until someone finally just stops answering, or, for the bigger corporations, you get one of those, “your ticket has been closed, we hope you are satisfied,” emails.

Number of responses: 6 (23%)

3. Hostility: Some version of “we know it’s inaccessible, but we are not fixing it,” or “we didn’t know, and we’re not fixing it.” I include in this category any version of, “it would be too hard,” (universally incorrect) “not enough people need that,” or “our customers haven’t asked for that” (what am I, exactly?) There are legit technical reasons why certain access issues would be very difficult to fix, but I happen to know a fair amount about this, and most of what I’m talking about here are discrete, one-fix issues.

Number of responses: 7 (27%)

4. Silence: Complete nonresponsiveness, other than a form “we’ve received your letter” email in some cases, and often with the “we respond to every request within x days” language. (The length of time between my note and this post ranges from 11 to 18 days. I’ll update if any more trickle in).

Number of responses: 13 (50%)

Positive responses
Nope, not a single one.

The runaround

  • My broker

  • Facebook

  • Peapod

  • Nike

  • My health insurance

  • Gmail

  • Google+

  • Google (search)

  • Tumblr

  • Youtube

  • Travelocity

  • Goodreads

  • Teefury

  • Demeter Fragrance

  • Echofon

  • Train app

  • Dental insurance

  • vet

  • My employer’s intranet

  • Fluevog

  • Upscale Italian place

  • Not upscale Italian place

  • Abovethelaw

  • Governor of Nevada

  • Potbellys

Some observations
Oh my God that took a lot of time. Seriously, hours and hours. I knew it would, but I was surprised by just how much. I thought I’d be able to get some sort of form letter going, but my comments were always so specific, it just didn’t work. (I also anticipate a pretty big time/emotion suck involved in dealing with whatever trolling/anonymous hating/general badness comes down on me for posting this complete with final paragraph. But hey, maybe it won’t come out that way. More surprising things have happened.)

It was also psychologically exhausting, but, well. We knew that. I went back and forth with some of these guys ten or twelve times, explaining and explaining the same thing over and over again. And there was something I didn’t know to keep track of until halfway through, and by then I couldn’t stomach going back through all the correspondence to count. It’s the “la la la!” response where the person clearly hasn’t understood a word I’ve said and just really really wants me to go away. E.g., where I wrote to say “I can’t buy a gift certificate, the ‘purchase’ button is not labeled, here’s how it should work.” And what I got back was, “we’re sorry you’re having trouble printing a gift certificate. Here’s how to hit the print button.” …Yeah.

I also intended to separately keep track of the nonaccessibility solutions offered. Things like, “okay, you can’t use our website, so just email me your order and I’ll process it for you.” This is not great, for obvious reasons (disabled people, they just need to use that other door, you know, the one in the back) but it would actually get shit done, and I am busy. This also ended up being unnecessary because not a single such offer was made. People went out of their way to not take my money.

Other suggested reading
[personal profile] celli on writing to the CTA. This will make you laugh. And then weep.

…Do I actually need to say anything here? 

No, wait, there is something I want to say. Doing this – interacting with a bunch of organizations from the tiny to the giant in attempts to get something inaccessible fixed – was outwardly not much like the community-wide spasm fandom had last year over accessibility. Totally different ways of processing a problem. But it felt exactly the same to me. Like I am a second-class citizen, like I am imposing by existing and by being a user, like I should please please please go away. And I think the results here demonstrate the exact same thing that fandom did last year.
Posted 2 years ago

Don't execute Troy Davis


Please sign. It’ll literally take one minute and it will put pressure on The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole and show the world is watching.