Racism

Det är synd om Marcus Birro

Posted on Updated on

 Det är synd om Marcus Birro. Nej, jag är inte ironisk. Jag menar verkligen att det är synd om honom. Han beskriver i sin senaste krönika hur han känner sig attackerad, anklagad och hopklumpad med våldtäktsmän. Och det är ju inte alls kul. Men det är inte därför det är synd om honom. Låt mig börja från början…

Marcus Birro är, enligt honom själv, en jämställdhetskämpe. Han och flera andra män som han känner, alla goda Marcus Birrofäder, blir attackerade och diskriminerade av feminister. ”Rasismen mot män tar inte hänsyn till verkligheten”, menar Birro, och fortsätter med att säga att: ”Den värsta sortens människa är en vit, medelålders heterosexuell man.”

 Eftersom Birro själv inte förstått detta, så känner jag att det är min plikt som medmänniska att knacka på hans dörr med en bukett blommor, à la Postkodmiljonären, och glatt utbrista: DU HAR VUNNIT PÅ LIVETS LOTTERI! medan Birros ögon glittrar av lyckotårar och en orkester hoppar fram bakom bilar och vita husknutar för att spela fanfarer. Som vit, medelålders man, heterosexuell och – gissar jag – medelklass, är Birro den BÄSTA sortens människa i hela världen! Jo det är sant! Vart Birro än väljer att gå i denna värld så kommer han att vara välkomnad och anses vara på toppen av den mänskliga hierarkin.

 Ingen kommer misstänka honom för att vara terrorist p.g.a. hans utseende eller religion.

 Ingen kommer att förutsätta att de har rätt till hans kropp för att han är man. Ingen kommer att sexuellt utnyttja eller förnedra honom för att han anses vara ett sexuellt objekt som finns till för andras njutning.

 Ingen kommer att tysta honom, misshandla honom, förfölja honom eller försöka fängsla honom p.g.a. hans hudfärg, etnicitet, kön, tro, sexuella läggning eller sexuella identitet.

Listan är lång över vilka former av diskriminering som Marcus Birro aldrig kommer att behöva utstå p.g.a. de kategorier han själv erkänt sig tillhöra. Birro som vit, medelålders, heterosexuell man har givetvis tolkningsföreträde när det gäller hur han uppfattar sin vardag och sitt liv. Precis som han själv säger i sin krönika. Men han har inte tolkningsföreträde vad gäller någon annan grupp; de grupper som dagligen utstår faktisk diskriminering.

Det är synd om Marcus Birro, för att han vill kämpa för jämställdhet, men vet varken vad rasism eller feminism är. ”Väldigt många uttalar sig tvärsäkert och argsint om något de vet rätt lite om” har Birro sagt i en artikel i Expressen i juli år. Ändå slänger han sig med uttryck som ”Rasism mot män”.

 Det är synd om Marcus Birro, för han vill vara en hjälte, men istället tystar de som förtjänar att få sina historier hörda, som förtjänar vår empati, som förtjänar att vi kämpar för dem.

 Det är synd om Marcus Birro, för han har inte förstått vilken makt han har att faktiskt göra skillnad. Att han som vit, medelålders, heterosexuell man har alla chanser att vara en grym allierad och kämpa sida vid sida med dem som ständigt blir diskriminerade. Som krönikör har han chansen att skriva om de där svåra historierna, de där svåra kamperna som han själv säger blir bortglömda. Det skulle Marcus Birro kunna göra istället för att skriva en artikel där han attackerar och trycker ned dem som dagligen kämpar emot orättvisor.

 Det är synd om Marcus Birro, för han förstår inte hur bra han har det. 

The Swedish Latin Kings

Posted on

This post was originally written for the Being Latino Online Magazine (under my “maiden” name)
 
 

I often wonder if Americans* know how much the United States has influenced European youth culture.  Growing up, we all wanted to be rappers, break-dancers, graffitti-artists.  There were plenty of wannabees and copy cats – we all wanted to look like the Latinos we saw on t.v.   My friends and I would spend who knows how much time in front of the mirror trying to make sure we looked the part; a group of 14-16 year olds trying to find some kind of identity. I’m pretty sure that we looked completely out of place with our baggy jeans and charcoaled eyes, walking through our Swedish pueblitos!   But those were almost exclusively the only Latino role models we had at that time: rappers and movie-thugs.

Of course it felt weird to call each other chula or hear the guys call each other pana and so on – it really wasn’t part of our culture (that we still hadn’t defined). Some of us didn’t speak Spanish that well; most of us hadn’t been to Latin America in years, if ever. Our curse words were mostly made up of words our parents had used in the early 70’s; there was really nothing cool about us.

But during the early 90’s a group of young Swedish-Latino guys from Botkyrka, a district outside of Stockholm known for its large concentration of immigrants, formed the group The Latin Kings (not to be confused with the gang that originated in Chicago). Dogge, Salla and Chepe were amongst the first to rap in Swedish – or what is often labeled as New-Swedish: essentially Swedish mixed with words from Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, and so on – a sociolekt, some call it.

Everybody talked about them – at home, in school, in the media. So many who hadn’t had anyone to identify with before, suddenly had these three guys who rapped about racism, inequality, love and lust – everything that had to do with being young in Sweden; suddenly it was pretty cool being a “blackhead,”as some would call us.

Although they’ve often been targets of ridicule, as many of their lyrics were often exaggerated truths- sometimes just pure fiction, –about life in their district,  most of us remembers this group as the ones who stood up and spoke their minds about discrimination and racism and actually tried to make a difference. We all knew that some of their image was just that, but we didn’t care, because they made a space for us, made us feel like we belonged. They didn’t just represent the Latino culture; they represented all immigrants – first and second generation – living in Sweden.   That was the greatest thing about the Latin Kings.  As Douglas “Dogge” Leon, the group’s most prominent figure, said “Hip-hop was what made our poor upbringing rich.  All you needed was paper and a pen and anyone could join, there was no discrimination …”

 
 
 
 
 
 
References:
Book: Portafolio: den sanna berättelsen om Chepe, Dogge och Salla. (Portafolio: the true story about Chepe, Dogge and Salla).
by Jennifer Turano

————————————————————————————————————————————

*This was written before I stopped using the word “Americans” to refer to people in the US. 

Why the Women in the Middle Discussion still matters…

Posted on

Mikki Kendall‘s #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen hash tag sparked a great deal of controversy. I’m sure many in the feminist movement didn’t get why the hash tag was needed, and most who aren’t in the feminist and/or anti-racist movement def. didn’t . And they have some catching up to do,to say the least…

But what it also sparked was a discussion about the position of those in the middle – those  who don’t fit into the White Women or Women of Color-box. I thought it was great, that now we could also discuss what a narrow category whiteness is in the world, and how few people that get a membership into that club.

One of my paintings from 2011 - Frida.
One of my paintings from 2011 – Frida.

A video chat about that, mostly featuring white Latinas, showed how so many people just don’t fit into either group. But it also sparked another discussion about yet again excluding and silencing WoC (Women of Color).

I’m not a US citizen, have never lived there and don’t know enough about the country to talk about how Whiteness works there. And so I shouldn’t have opened my mouth, not even to try to explain how it works in Sweden, which is what I tried to do. And I apologize for that. I never want to silence anyone, it hurts me so whenever someone does that to me, especially when it’s something that happens over and over again – which is what is constantly happening to WoC. I thought (still do) that the chat was a result of the many blog posts about being a “White Latina” (check the bottom of this post for links) and being in the middle that started a short time after Kendall’s hash tag. A separate discussion springing from the first.

The #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen discussion is such an important one and I hope it sparks more discussions, more understanding, and more actions. I dont join in on those conversations because I have the privilege of my skin that means I need to listen, not talk.

But I also don’t join in on the White Women discussions because my voice isn’t heard there. I don’t fit in.

And that’s hard to say without it sounding like a white girl whining about not always being white. But I think that’s exactly why this discussion is needed. Not to take away from an important discussion, but to have an entirely different one. Because I think there are a few perspectives in Intersectional Feminism that are lacking (well, several actually, but their not mine to voice). That Whiteness is both fluid and narrow, much more so than what we are talking about now. And it’s also lacking a global perspective; are we truly intersectional if we’re only talking about US feminism, North European feminism, Latin American feminism, in different corners of the world?

I have heard several light-skinned Latinas say they don’t face “blatant racism” in the US, and several who say they do. Whatever perspective is true – or if they all are – they do face exotification. They do face discrimination. They do face sexism that cannot be separated from their supposed otherness. Thing is, whiteness can’t always be measured by how it works in the US (if there really is even only one fixed way to do it).

I didn’t grow up watching women like me on tv, in government positions, as

One of my paintings from 2011 - Volver
One of my paintings from 2011 – Volver

educators, as professionals. Neither did most of the girls like me, those with backgrounds more colorful than the stereotypical Swedish one. We’re mostly lumped together into one group, as political correct as “women of another background than entirely Swedish” – isn’t that a tongue twister? Many girls like me turned to movies from the US to get to watch other girls of latin background – however stereotypical and misinformed that representation was. But – I have a Swedish citizenship. And no matter what they think I am, no matter if they think I’m white or not, that gives me yet another privilege in the world. I can travel almost anywhere without any problems.  Very few countries, if any, will demand that someone vouch for me to be allowed to enter.  I will not be denied simply for being born in the wrong country. And neither will you. Your US citizenship allows you to move freely as well.

You have a bigger platform to discuss than most – I couldn’t find a platform in Sweden, it’s all too new and all too white. In a country with so many different cultures, a country that is considered the center of the world and gets to define others, isn’t it time to get in some more perspectives?

————————————————————————————————————————————

Women In the Middle/White Women of Color posts that inspired this one:

Juliana Britto – Solidarity Isn’t for women in the middle

Ana Cecilia Alvarez – I’m a White Woman of Color

Daniela Ramirez – What It’s Like to Be a White Woman of Color

The immigrant myth…

Posted on Updated on

I’ve spent a lot of time being angry at the government for having to be one of several other people trying to debunk the myths about immigration. The government should be handling these questions, the government should be providing the facts that prove that immigrants aren’t the ones committing most crimes, that Sweden is not becoming an Islamic country because there are muslims living here, that immigration doesn’t just cost Sweden money – it’s contributing to our wealth as well. But countless times I have found myself having to dig up statistics and studies to disprove these claims to several racists and followers of the Sweden Democrats.

But finally, the government launched a page to their website called “Common internet-myths about immigrants and minorities“, where they present 13 of these myths (including the ones I presented above) and explain why they are myths and not facts. Or did they?

Actually, when reading through, it becomes painfully clear that what the government has done isn’t enough. Every myth is answered, yes, but there are no statistics or studies linked to them and not enough information to explain them. How are we supposed to prove the racists wrong when we have not been presented with enough information to do so? Alexandra Pascalidou, a well-known journalist and human rights activist of greek origin, has in a chronicle in the newspaper Aftonbladet made additions to the governments list, showing the flaws and what needs to be added if we are really going to succeed in shattering these myths.

Alexandra Pascalidou

When answering the myth that most immigrants who flee to Sweden lack real reasons to be here, Pascalidou says that it should be added that Sweden has been involved in the Iraqi and Aghanistan wars, making us partly responsible and therefore making it an obligation of ours to protect the people who’ve suffered from a war that we took part in.

When answering the myth about pork not being served in some schools, the government simply says that in some schools this is true because the kids there don’t eat pork. This gives the impression that the menu is changed only because of muslims, but what about all the vegetarian and vegan children, asks Pascalidou. There are more minorities with differing diets than just the ones following the islamic faith.

One of the most popular myths is that immigration has led to a crime-wave. This is one of the most widespread myths, and the government fails to discuss social class. Where do the criminals live? Do they have jobs? Do they have a future? Do they have anything left to lose? These are all important questions that Alexandra Pascalidou added, and they need to be adressed.

The initiative is great, but needs more work…