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Tales From A Survivor

Chris Brown tried to choke Rihanna. That was while he was threatening to kill her. And the stans are out in force claiming that she deserved it/provoked him/he didn’t do it on purpose. I would say I don’t know WTF is wrong with people, but I see this shit a lot. From men who want to justify it and from women who think it could never happen to them. Here’s the thing, abusers never seem like they’re violent to people on the outside, and in the beginning of the relationship they are the *perfect* partner. I mean it, they are absolutely the best partner their victim has ever had. They have all the romantic touches down, they’re a great listener (the best you’ll ever meet), and before long they have insinuated themselves into every single aspect of their victim’s life. As soon as they can’t imagine life without this person, they’re in deep shit.

Why? That’s when the abuse starts. And it’s not overt or even necessarily something that anyone would recognize as problematic. Because it’s just words, little subtle digs at their self-image that come from this wonderful person who knows them so well and loves them so much. And so they listen, and they lose a little of themselves. It’s that slow chipping away that’s important. Because without it? The first blow will be the last one. And the abuser can’t have that, so they lay the groundwork. But sometimes that chipping away doesn’t work, or at least not fast enough for the abuser. Maybe they’ve been pushed too far too fast, maybe at their base they’re not broken enough, maybe they are just plain contrary, or maybe they get fed up early in the cycle. Who knows? But when things don’t go according to plan the abuser flips their shit. Annihilation time if they can manage it.

And the fucked up part? They’re not necessarily consciously aware of what they’re doing to the victim. So they can tell themselves that they’re not a bad person, and they’ve never been this way with anyone else, that it’ll never happen again and a half dozen other things that add up to not having to face the reality that they’re hurting someone very badly. Because in their own heads they love their victim. Even when they want to control them and crush them. They love them so much that they can’t let the relationship end, or risk their SO meeting someone else, or whatever else is the trigger of the moment. And people will swear that something big must have happened to provoke them, but the reality is that they’re a ticking time bomb. All day. Every day. Whether it is a burnt dinner, a tone of voice, or being successful, there is nothing the victims could have, should have, would have done to defuse that bomb.

And people will say “Why didn’t she just leave?” like that would fix something. Know when most victims die? When they try to get out. And the craziest part is that people will still swear they should have tried harder, left earlier, done something other than whatever they did. Because victim-blaming is the most comfortable emotional reaction for a lot of folks. Here’s the thing, for a whole host of reasons there’s no way to spot an abuser at a glance, and even if you do figure it out fairly early in the relationship, there’s no guarantee that the fuse on that bomb isn’t so short that you’re already in danger. Does that mean no one should date? No. But it does mean that people should stop blaming the victim and start blaming the abuser. Want to get them help? Great. But don’t serve it with a side of justification for the abuser’s actions, or disdain for the victim. Domestic violence crosses every line regardless of money, race, or religion and we need to start treating it like the sickness it is instead of hiding from it. Yes I got out of my marriage, but it was hard and required me to do some things that I’m not proud of even though they saved my life. Luckily I had friends that truly supported me, and now I hope Rihanna (and every other victim) has friends that will stand by them until they can call themselves a survivor and get on with life.

Asking because I honestly want to know

Is Ted Nugent black?

(my reason for asking will become clear soon, I swear.)

If A=B and B=C but C is not equal to A, then… WTF?

Call me a pessimist. As overjoyed as I was to see Obama become our next president (sane! also black. but SANE!), a part of me held back from celebrating with as much abandon as I really wanted to. This is because another part of me, long-bruised and sore, was tensing up, readying itself for another blow. Because, I realized even before Obama won, latent racists everywhere were about to lose their shit. I’m not talking about the Klan, here; they’re actually handling the whole thing pretty well, all things considered. I’m talking about the very white people, and some of the PoC and other members of oppressed groups, who voted for Obama. Who, I suspect, are about to gleefully declare that racism is now dead — whereupon they will immediately say or do something stupidly racist.

Unfortunately, the first direction from which I’ve been hearing this shit-losing stupidity has been from a group with whom I have a great deal of sympathy, especially recently — LGBTQ opponents of California’s reprehensible Proposition 8: the ban on gay marriage. Continue reading

Of History and Hope

There’s a lot of actual political discussion that I’ll bring to the table in the months to come. And I know I’ve been an awful blogger lately (Real life has been hectic and I’ve been piling on other writing projects aside from this blog and my LJ. Because my eyes are bigger than my figurative stomach.) but I just need to say how awesome it is to watch this moment with my 9 year old son. I never imagined that the day would come that a guy that looks like us could actually be the nominee for a major political party. I’m so proud of America today. And yes, I know that this moment doesn’t magically fix any of the existing problems in America, but I’m still so awed to see America come this far. I promise to be eloquent and critical and analytical later. But right now I’m just awed by this moment.

Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America. Her posts on any topic can be found at her Livejournal.

Smarter people than me

Sorry for being quiet lately, ya’ll. I can’t speak for the other guest bloggers at ABW, but for my own part this summer has been insane, and won’t be slowing down for awhile. In part my problem is overcommitment; I’m working full-time while also trying to write full-time (uh… guess I should mention sometime that I got a book deal, huh?), and that’s leaving me just enough leftover time to eat, sleep, and occasionally have a life. So in lieu of writing interesting new content for you myself, I shall direct you to fun stuff I’ve seen in the last few days.

First and foremost: last week was International Blog Against Racism Week (IBARW) 3, this time on the theme of “intersectionality”. (My own humble contribution here.) So if you’re starved for stuff to read here, there’s lots of good stuff to read there, including some personal faves:

And unrelated to IBARW, but still illuminating:

-Brownfemipower on the John Edwards cheating controversy. I’d been dismissing this as yet another attempt by the right and the MSM to handwave a president who’s killed thousands and bankrupted the country by raising the terrifying specter of an almost-president who ::gasp:: got laid, but BFP’s got some really good points here. I’m rethinking my position.

-Gacked from Pam Noles, who gacked from Angry Asian Man, both of whom you should gack this from because it’s just well done; pass it on:


POC and the Politics of Medical Research

Poor, black families used as test subjects for sludge. This was done in the late 90’s. They didn’t tell any of the people in the study what exactly was meant by the term bio-solid, nor did they tell them of the potential health risks. I assume most people are aware of what happened at Tuskegee and that in the aftermath the government took another 25 years to apologize for what had been done to these men and their families. I wonder though if people are aware of the experiments done by Dr. James Marion Sims (acclaimed as the founder of modern gynecology) on females slaves, or by Dr. Orlando Andy using lobotomy on young black males in the 1960’s as a “therapeutic” treatment for institutionalized black children. He wasn’t alone in his beliefs, in fact similar experiments were conducted on adult black males that were incarcerated during the Civil Rights Movement. Funny how this treatment wasn’t considered therapeutic for white criminals.

There was a lot of uproar over Reverend Wright’s comments about AIDS being deliberately engineered by the government, and in the absence of historical knowledge about the U.S. government’s willingness to experiment on POC it does sound far-fetched. But, once you start looking at the treatment of POC in medical experiments you begin to understand why so many POC don’t trust the government to have their best interests in mind. There were several initiatives devoted to the sterilization of WOC. This went on for decades and was done in conjunction with locking away children that were deemed to be “feeble-minded” in an effort to “improve” the population via eugenics.

In fact after the apology was made for the Tuskegee experiment in 1997; it was revealed that children in New York were being used as guinea pigs in a study using a (now) banned diet drug fenfluramine (a component of the infamous Fen-phen) to investigate whether or not brain chemistry could indicate a predisposition toward violence or other criminal behaviors. There was no medical benefit for these children. In fact taking them off the ADD medication they were on in order to perform this experiment could have adversely affected their quality of life.

It would be nice to claim that these abuses are a thing of the past, but there was a range of studies done in at least 7 states through as late as 2005 using HIV infected foster children to test AIDS medication. For some kids the research might indeed have helped them. But there was at least one study where

“…researchers reported a “disturbing” higher death rate among children who took higher doses of a drug. That study was unable to determine a safe and effective dosage.”

They sought permission to conduct these studies from the local agencies, and then didn’t bother to adhere to even the basic protocol of ensuring that these children had independent advocates to oversee their treatment. They went forth with these experiments even though they knew they were giving them medications that had already proven to be toxic for some adults.

Harriet Washington’s book Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present that goes into much greater detail about the individual experiments that she’s been able to uncover, but I’m sure (especially given the most recent example) that there are still experiments being done in America that put the health of POC at risk. That doesn’t even touch on the experiments going on in Third World locations. Does that mean that AIDS was specifically cooked up in a laboratory to infect POC? No. But, the way in which POC have historically been treated as guinea pigs in experiments of dubious scientific value, and the way in which the bodies of COC have been commodified so that even their parents aren’t told of potential risks is enough to make anyone look askance at their government and wonder just what they haven’t been told this time.

Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America. Her posts on any topic can be found at her Livejournal.