On editing Wikipedia: Week Nine

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay 

My biggest takeaway from learning how to edit Wikipedia, and why it is so important, is that I allow society to determine my worth.

I kept doubting that I could effectively add to Wikipedia. I worried that I wouldn’t know what to say or how to say it.

Which is what society has told women throughout history. That we aren’t smart. That we don’t matter.

I thought even my choice of article to edit was frivolous. That the topic of embroidery, when compared to the other topics chosen in our class, was a silly one.

My readings on the topic, however, opened my eyes to how I, once again, internalize misogyny. In particular I was moved to read the following:

The questioning of the archival institution, in the wake of the two world wars in particular, comes out of a general questioning of accepted knowledge systems in Western society. In order to counter the dominant historical discourse, postmodern scholars have proposed that the focus be moved away from using the ‘nation-state [of the Western world] as unit of analysis,’1 to a history from the ‘bottom up’ that focuses on the complex ‘diversity of human experience by recovering the marginalized voices.’2 The latter included the everyday expe- riences of women, the working classes and indigenous and/or minority ethnic groups who fell outside the ambit of prevalent Western historiography. (van Der Merwe, p 239)

That speaks volumes about what it is we are trying to do and why it is so important to edit Wikipedia whenever we can.

Embroidery itself is a perfect example of the type of historical record that isn’t viewed by Wikipedia as a credible source.

Going forward I would like to set a goal of editing Wikipedia at least once per class while at Oregon State. And in turn, to make that a lifelong habit. I’d also like to learn how to host an edit-a-thon in my small Virginia city so that other women and marginalized groups can also learn how to edit and how it’s so vital to ensuring our voices don’t continue to be erased.

WORKS CITED

Ria van der Merwe (2019) From a silent past to a spoken future.
Black women’s voices in the archival process, Archives and Records, 40:3, 239-258, DOI:
10.1080/23257962.2017.1388224

On Violence against Black People in media: week seven

The image above is titled The Liberation of T.O.: “I’m not goin’ back to work for massa’ in dat darned field!” 2003/2005 by Hank Willis Thomas

Artist Hank Willis Thomas takes advertisements, real advertisements, and removes all of their text. Takes off all the text that the advertiser included on the image. Then he renames the image.

That’s all he does.

Yet what he leaves us with are powerful images of how Black bodies are treated as commodities and how they are viewed within our racist society.

I cannot, for the life of me, fathom what an advertiser was trying to convey with this image. It seems, to me, to be a violent image fraught with danger. I had a hard time believing this was even an advertisement at one point. In the article titled “Image-Based Culture:Advertising and Popular Culture,” author Sut Jhally states that “Advertising thus does not work by creating values and attitudes out of nothing but by drawing upon and rechanneling concerns that the target audience (and the culture) already shares.” (Jhally, p 3) 

It seems to me that what is drawn upon, the rechanneled concerns expressed in this image, are the fear white people have of Black people and the ways in which they are portrayed as looters so often in our news media. We, as white people, look at an image like this in popular media, and don’t even recognize it for the violence it portrays against Black bodies.

If you’d like to see the image above as it originally appeared as an advertisement, you can do so by clicking HERE.

WORKS CITED

“The Liberation of T.O.: ‘I’m Not Goin’ Back to Work for Massa’ in Dat Darned Field!” 2003/2005.” Brooklyn Museum, https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/187023.

Jhally, Sut, “Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture.” The World and I.http://www.worldandlibrary.com. Article 17591 (July 1990).

On Signifiers in Media: Week Six

Image by timokefoto from Pixabay

The ridiculous image above was the first result that came up when I searched the free image resource pixabay.com using the term “hip hop.”

In thinking about signifiers in media, things like race, sexuality, and gender, and how they are represented in US media and entertainment, the first thing that came to mind for me was the video for the song “Shake It Up” by pop artist Taylor Swift.

In the video, Taylor cycles through a number of costumes/personas. Ballerina, modern dance, an Audrey Hepburn-esque character. But there are also several looks that appropriate from Black hip-hop and/or rap culture and dance.

All I can think when watching it is how when Black men and women dress in that manner and rap and dance, they are seen as thugs and whores. Taylor Swift reaching the top of the charts and win award after award for the song and video is one of the ultimate examples of white privilege.

When Taylor Swift does it, she’s being rebellious. When Black people do it, they’re potential criminals.

Swift may not have used actual blackface, may not have actually painted her face, but it’s blackface nonetheless. “The participatory Internet, perhaps once seen as a potential site of escape from the racist tropes or sexism or misogyny embedded in American culture, has largely failed to deliver on foregrounding mass critical engagement with these issues at all.” (Noble, p 151)

More conversations need to be had about how and why white popular culture continues to appropriate from Black popular culture, all the while escaping the negative tropes that Black people face when their culture is viewed through a white lens.

WORKS CITED

Noble, Safiya Umoja, and Brendesha M. Tynes. The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class and Culture Online. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2016.

On Wikipedia and Safe SPaces: Week Five

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Wikipedia is working to be made into a more welcoming environment for readers and editors alike. Their article on writing about women states that, “As of June 2019, 16.7% of editors on the English Wikipedia who have declared a gender say they are female.” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Writing_about_women) They go on to note that “only 17.86% of our biographies are about women.” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Writing_about_women)

Their written policies on gender neutral language and identity also work to promote spaces that are more inclusive and safe. For example, they outline the use of overall language (not just pronouns) that supports a person’s latest (or most recent) gender expression. An example would be, in an article about Caitlyn Jenner (or any trans woman), writing that she “became a parent” rather than that she “became a father.” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Identity)

As stated by Julie Serano in her essay titled, “Trans Woman Manifesto,” it is important to “let go of the culturally derived values that are assigned to expressions of femininity and masculinity” in order to “finally approach gender equity.” (Serano, p 432) It is potentially transformative to see a platform as widely used as Wikipedia promote and codify the use of gender neutral language and language that supports people’s identities.

WORKS CITED

“Writing about Women.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Sept. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Writing_about_women.

“Manual of Style.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Nov. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Identity.

Serano, Julie. “Trans Woman Manifesto.” Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. ROUTLEDGE, 2018

On Facebook Groups: Week Three

Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay 

The List of Facebook Features article in Wikipedia includes a section for Groups. It includes a very brief section about Groups in general, explaining what they are and how they work. There is no mention of intersectionality and the research that’s gone into learning about how people self-identify in and around Facebook Groups.

There are very few links in the section as well.

The Talk page associated with the article has no mention of the Groups section. In addition, the article has been flagged for having multiple issues, as detailed below:

This article possibly contains original research(August 2012)
This article’s lead section does not adequately summarize key points of its contents(March 2015)
This article contains content that is written like an advertisement(March 2016)

A knowledge gap that could be remediated would be to include information from this week’s reading “Black Women Exercisers, Asian Women Artists, White Women Daters, and Latina Lesbians: Cultural Constructions of Race and Gender Within Intersectionality-Based Facebook Groups” by Jenny Ungbha Korn.

Specifically, I would add the following:

“Facebook Groups offer users, particularly women of color, an online space in which to self-identify along gendered and racial categories. This then contributes to both the online and offline social dialogues around issues related to these identities and how they intersect.”

And then of course add a link citing the text.

I’m feeling nervous and unsure about editing my first Wikipedia article. If possible, I’d love feedback about how that potential addition sounds prior to me going in and starting to edit the article.

WORKS CITED

“List of Facebook Features.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Oct. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Facebook_features.

Noble, Safiya Umoja., and Brendesha M.. Tynes. The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class and Culture Online. Peter Lang., 2016.

On Lateral Violence in social justice movements: Week two

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay 

Jessie Daniels describes how white feminism maintains its postion of power even in online spaces. Using examples that they discuss in depth (Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book and movement, Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising, and The Future of Online Feminism report), they establish that “The historical antecedents of white feminism are rooted in colonialism.” (Noble, p 44) Daniels goes on to state that “To the extent that liberal feminism articulates a limited vision of gender equality without challenging racial inequality, White feminism is indistinguishable from White supremacy.” (Noble, p 45)

As such, it stands to reason that white feminism impacts online spaces in such a way that it causes lateral violence in social justice movements. Heather Dalmage describes in their essay “Patrolling Racial Borders: Discrimination Against Mixed Race People,” that “Everyone who has learned about race, U.S. style, looks for clues about how to racially categorize others. Some white people . . . may send that the color line is shifting and fear losing their racial status.” (Adams, p 110) Meanwhile, “For people of color, the desire to make distinctions may concern a quest for allegiance and unity, a means to determine who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’ politically, socially, and culturally.” (Adams, p 110)

But when that division between “us” and “them” becomes broad, as in “the oppressed” versus “the oppressor,” and fails to recognize the nuanced and specific ways in which white feminism, and racism as a whole, discriminate against and oppress various communities in different ways, marginalized groups become more susceptible to inflicting lateral violence upon each other.

While it is important to stand together in terms of denouncing and resisting oppression as a whole, strategies for how to resist should necessarily vary from group to group. And groups would be better serves by recognizing when their “survival strategies and resistance to white supremacy are set by the system of white supremacy itself.” (Adams, p 99)

Ideally, as described by Andrea Smith in their work “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing,” “. . . we would check our aspirations of other communities to ensure that our model of liberation does not become the model of oppression for others.” (Adams, p 99) Without such a model, lateral violence across social justice movements occurs.

White women in particular need to learn more about how their oppression as women is so vastly different than the oppression forced upon Black women, Indigenous women, the LGBTQ+ community, etc. And how if they continue to ignore how their approach to toppling the patriarchy is rooted in white supremacy, they are doing nothing more than becoming oppressors themselves.

WORKS CITED:

Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class, and Culture Online; Ed. by Safiya Umoja Noble. PETER LANG, 2016.

Adams, Maurianne, et al. Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. Routledge, 2018.

On Privilege: Week 1

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay 

In the third reading, “The Social Construction of Difference” by Allan G. Johnson, from Readings For Diversity and Social Justice, we learn more about privilege and how it takes shape.

People, especially white people, often bristle when they are confronted with the idea that they hold privilege. We, as white people, tend to associate the notion of privilege with wealth.

Privilege, however, is about power. And even though many white people, especially those who struggle financially or in other ways, feel powerless, they still maintain a power, a privilege, that people of color do not possess and do not have access to in America.

The most amount of privilege is held by white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied men. Women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and those with disabilities all have reduced amounts of privilege, if any at all. And as those identities interact more and more with each other, any privilege one holds is reduced. For example, an Asian homosexual man with no disabilities has less privilege than the white, straight, able-bodied man – but more privilege than a Black, queer woman who uses a wheelchair.

All of these instances of privilege and oppression play out in a variety of ways across the lives of people who live at these intersections and within these social constructs.