by Mykel Board
aka: WHITE MEN? PUL-- EEZE!
"People who get upset over the mildest racial slur aren't nearly so bothered by obscenities such as "war stimulates the economy" or "the poor you shall always have with you." But this kind of thinking has killed more people, black and white, than racism ever has.” --Jim Goad
[Last column I wrote about my trip to Detroit. That episode was about my adventures with Unitarian Men's Liberationists. Now let's flash to the Allied Media Conference... the main reason I'm here.]
I'm madder than a feminist at a free-speech rally. It's my chance and THEY blew it.
Detroit, city of possibilities, dreams... a blank slate. I'm here for the Allied Media Conference: a collection of alternative types from all over America. In my mind that means lesbos, homos, punks, colored folks... the full spectrum... snow to fudge syrup... everything in-between. Genders up the wazoo.... the full spectrum... Rihanna to Arnold Schwartzenegger... everything in between. It'll be a mammoth mingle... a coming together... freaks of all kinds in one big jumble... up each other's wazoo. Oh boy!
Hosted at Detroit's Wayne State University, they'll use the classrooms to teach-- and celebrate-- the possibilities of Freak Media in a boring world.
There'll be real mutants and marginals... Not the LTGs on the NYUed streets of The Village, but hardcore girls who wear their lesbitude on their chest. And the drag kings who make such pretty boys that I could cum in my Depends. (Someday, I want to make an LP called Boy With A Cunt. Whoops, I already did.)
And there'll be all those sissy boys, prancing around... begging for sexual favors from a literary superstar, fired from MRR for being too punk.
It'll be one fantastic educational, sensual, groping, orgy. And, I'll learn something from it too! Yeah!
Check out some of the workshops on tap.
FAT ACTIVISM FOR UNRULY PEOPLE. Catalog description: I'm not looking for fat activism that produces well-behaved citizens while reinforcing existing inequalities: what I want is wild, weird, funny and free.
REIMAGINING DESIRE. Catalog description: This workshop will create a safe(r) shame-free space to explore the ways we can help shift and explore our own desires.
or maybe my favorite
CREATIVE DIGESTION FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR. Catalog description: In this caucus we will reclaim the dirtiest parts of ourselves. Come prepared to make art, share stories, and get messy.
This is gonna be fun.
I arrive at the check-in, greeted by a huge Negress “manning” the information booth. Smiley, funny, in great humor. I LOVE fat people. Especially the ones who are comfortable in their bodies. And there are... er... a ton of 'em here. Sexy fat colored girls, fat dykes who look like the cops in Tom of Finland drawings, bulky boys with double-D tits. Hubba Hubba!
Then I wake up. This crew is not punk. There's a bit of colored hair, but it's collegiate colored hair, not punk colored hair. In fact, the entire conference has the odor of college about it. Academic freaks rather than street freaks. FTG? Uh oh!
It's time for the first workshop. The REIMAGINING DESIRE one. Shame-free! Yeah, bring it on. I'm so there.
I check the catalog entry to confirm the time. Rereading the description, I see that it says, Open to all self-identifying people of color.
What? White people are not allowed??? If you're white but don't “act white” or think of yourself as white, it's okay? What the fuck? That is racist. No two ways about it. Entrance by race is racist. That's as clear as the freckles on my back.
Okay, I need a quick second choice. I decide on SELFIES & SURVEILLANCE: Where do our Pics Go? It's about photos on the internet. Not spectacular, but better than Software for Accessible Game Design.
The presenter is an academic-looking white woman with curly hair and glasses. The glasses do not have a chain that goes around the back, but they should. She introduces herself.
“My name is Karen Schwartz,” she says. “I'm an academic.”
Is this an AA meeting?
She continues, “When you fill out the cards I'll hand you... if you don't mind... could you include some demographics? Age, gender, affiliation. Academics like that sort of thing. You don't have to put your name on it.”
“But first,” she concludes, “let's go around the room and ask each person to introduce themselves. Tell us your organization, and your preferred pronoun.”
Preferred pronoun? I have a preferred sexual position (top). A preferred beer (U Fleku). A preferred degree of doneness in beef (rare). But a preferred pronoun?
“My name is Cassie,” says the first girl, sitting in front, all the way to the left. “I work with Feminists Against The Patriarchy. My preferred pronoun is SHE.”
“Nice to meet you, Cassie,” says the leader.
“My name is Madison,” says the next girl, a beautiful colored girl with beach-weaved hair. “I work with Detroit Women of Color Preserving Neighborhoods. My preferred pronoun is SHE.”
“Nice to meet you, Madison,” says the leader.
Then comes a cute school-boyish something. Blond hair, cut like a 1950s farmer boy... smooth face, no Adam's apple, but jeans and a boy's haircut. Speaking in a medium tenor voice, “My name is Dan. I work with Trans-people Trans-forming America. My preferred pronoun is HE.”
“Nice to meet you, Dan,” says the leader.
Then it's my turn. “I'm Mykel,” I say, “I work with anyone who'll have me. My preferred pronoun is ME.”
“Nice to meet you, Mykel,” says nobody.
Then the next person, a hugely fat woman... dressed like one of the Village People... begins to speak. “My name is Nicole,” she says... and the introductions continue.
After the introductions, the academic hands out her cards and asks us to write down-- next to our demographics-- who we take pictures of and why... what we look for in a picture... what we're careful of.
“I like taking pictures of people who are proud of their difference,” I write on the card. “I want to concentrate on their self-confidence rather than on their freakdom.”
I steal a glance at the tall trannie with black hair sitting in the back of the room. She wears pointy glasses and a very prim office-lady dress. She doesn't notice me.
The academic in the front of the room discusses the dangers of posting pictures online, who can use those pictures, how they can be taken and put anywhere and how we have no control over them.
I think about evil Mayor Giuliani suing to have his picture removed from an ad for New York Magazine. The tagline was
“Possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn’t taken credit for.”
He was the fuckin' mayor. His face was all over the place... in every newspaper. How could he complain about it in an ad? Anyway, his suit created more publicity for the magazine than the ad campaign alone ever could.
“How can we keep our images among ourselves?” asks the academic. “How can we prevent others from taking them and using them to their advantage?”
I raise my hand. You do that when there's an academic at the head of the room. She nods to me.
“Why bother?” I ask. “If you don't fear how people use an image, you can't be harmed by it. Bill Gates' mug shot is all over the internet. Nothing is private. Why should we worry?”
“Don't you see,” says the academic woman, “this is about power.”
“Bill Gates doesn't have power?” I ask.
The tall trannie in the corner stands. “Why is it always WHITE MEN who are so free with other people's images? Why is it always WHITE MEN who don't get it?” she says.
She says white men the same way New Yorkers say white bread... the curled lip, metaphorical hand on metaphorical hip.
Then the class breaks into small discussion groups-- they call 'em breakout groups-- to talk about nothing. Instead of learning from a teacher, we have to geek off each other and talk about ourselves. Usually, I'm the last person to refrain from talking about himself... but I'm here to learn, to discuss among EVERYBODY.
This small group shit is a waste of time, but they do it in this workshop... and in every other one. I never learn if it's some kind of feminist/identity plot... or just a new fad in pedagogy. In any case, it's annoying and a time waster.
The other two people in my group are women-- one white, one Oriental. They discuss ways that their images have been misused. I don't have much to say.
After the small groups, the academic talks some more. Some people exchange email addresses and facebook names. No one asks for mine. The seminar is over.
Okay, what's next?
I can't go to the Arab Women in Sports one. The notes say that it's only for people “who self-identify as Muslim.” That leaves me out.
Okay here's Femmes After the Apocalypse. Sounds cool, sissy boys after World War Three maybe. Who knows who I could pick up?... uh.. nope. Not that one either. The fine print: We respectfully ask that white allies do not attend. I guess I could go and say I'm NOT an ally but an adversary... but there's a fuck of a lot more of THEM than of ME.
Well, here's one. Hooeey, talk about up one's alley. It's Bromance: Sex in the Bois Room. It's about... it doesn't matter. It's a closed and confidential space QPOC only. In case you don't get it by now: Queer People of Color.
Racist and heterophobic... what the fuck?
What am I gonna do? Ah here's one... Erotica/Porn as a Tool for Social Justice. I read the description...the fine print... twice. White people are allowed. Even white men! I'm there!
But more on that one next month.
ENDNOTES: [You can contact me by email at email@example.com. Through the post office: send those... er... private DVDs..or music or zines... or anything else (legal only!) to: Mykel Board, POB 137, New York, NY 10012-0003.
If you like my writing, you can be notified when anything new is available by subscribing to the MYKEL'S READERS Yahoo group firstname.lastname@example.org]
-->Middle East Department: Let me get this straight. The US and Israel should invade Iran because they might make nuclear weapons and bring them into the Middle East. Hamas fires rockets at an Israeli Nuclear Weapons facility, which means Israel already has nuclear weapons, and has brought them into the Middle East. Does that mean the Iran and the US should attack Israel?
-->Wanna bet they won't fade from the NSA dept: A new email service allows you to send emails that fade away seconds after the recipient opens them. You just add fade.li to the end of an email address (e.g. email@example.com) and the reader's version of the email will disappear.
Too bad they don't make an app where the reader herself fades away after opening the message. You computer geeks! Work on that!
-->Hometown Embarrassment Dept: The Long Island town of Old Westbury (right next to my hometown of Hicksville), may ban a statue by Damien Hirst called Virgin Mother. It's a visible-woman type sculpture, showing how a baby rests in its mom's womb. The reason for the ban? The statue shows the woman's nipples.
-->Keeping the Pressure on Dept: I want to thank reader George Metesky for suggesting a Bring Back Mykel effort directed at Maximum Rock'n'Roll. Send your comments-- to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: BRING BACK MYKEL. Let me know how they answer.
-->And: I'm on a massive clean-up/divest kick. I'm giving away DVDs, cassettes, VHS videos, and a few CDs. Just pay separate shipping and handling. Details at: MykelsGiveaway