Author Archives: waldaumt

who is representation and diversity for?

Hatfield examines and criticizes the ways in which archival institutions and systems ritually exclude transgender voices, even in LGBTQ spheres. Hatfield attributes this to the lack of transgender input that archival institutions often disregard. In order to responsibly represent a large community of people, Hatfield suggests that a member of said marginalized community is the one that creates the media and information that is exported. Looking at webcomics as a medium that engages participatory and convergence culture, Hatfield suggests that archival and library communities should engage in similar ways that center marginalized voices. I see this need for representation in many areas of my life.

I attended a Students of Color Conference at Gonzaga University, for example, where I heard a woman present on “Decolonizing Your Syllabus.” Decolonize Your Syllabus is a movement that was started by Dr. Yvette de Chavez, a professor of American Literature at the University of Texas, Austin. When teaching Introduction to American literature, De Chavez created a syllabus entirely highlighting black, indigenous, and people of color voices. She was told that she needed to “diversify” her syllabus with white writers, the true American authors. De Chavez and other professors joining her movement understand that there is a greater need to not only diversify our syllabi, but decolonize it. Diversification is simply adding in marginalized voices as alternative view-points to a dominant ideology. Decolonization is when we begin to use BIPOC (black, indigenous, POC) scholarship as the lenses in which to read the world through. This adopts their language and viewpoints as valid and important within academic discourse. Programs like Encounters seek to only showcase BIPOC authors as texts to address a checkbox of racism and sexism, through texts like Souls of Black Folk and The Second Sex. They do not use their thinking to analyze the Whitman bubble or the larger global community. What kind of first year experience is Encounters trying to provide? These texts and their lose interpretations that are entertained in classes are simply used as checkboxes that Whitman can use to say that all students engage with global issues, to comprise a liberal arts education.

Sad.

I must push further to question, when we center marginalized voices in these spaces, in the name of education, who is the group in question? Although I understand that education is the first step to engaging with issues of social justice, we must question who the burden of education is on. I felt as if the need for dominant groups to educate themselves without looking to marginalized peoples to teach them was missing. There seems to be a lack of accountability on the end of individuals to educate themselves. If I’ve learned something at Whitman, it’s that my learning here didn’t come from the institution; my learning came from finding ways to deal with this institution. Whitman won’t be the ones to teach you how to be “woke” or socially engaged. It is a personal responsibility that we all have to work towards collective liberation. When one in our global community is harmed, we all are.

 

my fav comic from Alyssa: https://www.autostraddle.com/oh-hey-its-alyssa-53-accommodations-428670/

super duper late… my comic in response to One! Hundred! Demons!

Making the demons piece was a mental and creative break that I desperately needed. I just went in with my own ink, my brush, and my paper. I didn’t want to put pressure on myself about any linework or tracing before so I just went through the many things that I had running through my brain and put them into a paper format. Firstly, making this piece gave me a lot of art confidence that I needed. I worked from the objects around me as well as images from my brain to create my figures that keep me up at night. I play with the physical space of the bed and the space of my brain and how often at night the two become indistinguishable.

Although I paint a few different faces as demons, the only object that I give a real “face” to was the cup of paint brushes. I didn’t feel like just the cup of brushes could convey the truly bad feeling that looking at my dusty art supplies gives me. It is a creature, a demon.

It’s also been one year since I made a verbal commitment to myself to make more art. I made this commitment last year when I treated myself to some new art supplies and ventured into the world of Inktober, a daily drawing challenge throughout the month of October. As Inktober this year started to roll around, I was reminded of my (failed) commitment last year… But then I stopped.

I looked at the incredible growth I have made in the past year, experimenting with new mediums and processes as well as making the full commitment to an Art Major. This year I made hella money off of my art…. Like a lot. I sold many of my prints last month. My comic is about the process of acceptance with my art that I am still actively working towards. Many days I beat myself up about my lack of making, due to my overcommitment to social justice and other extracurriculars at this school. Every day, I scribble in the margins of my papers, on top of old readings, on the inside of planner pages, in hopes of these small bursts of non-commital making help me advance my craft and skill. I often take the time of pen to paper for granted, but I am beginning to find beauty and solace in these tiny escapes.

Making this comic made me step back and congratulate myself for this growth I have made in the past year, something I don’t do hardly enough. I am working on a larger path to self-love and acceptance, of all my demons. My demons make me who I am. I am hoping to working alongside them rather than against them. I hope to turn that dusty cup of brushes into a happy, overused glass full of tools.

However, the dust that collects reminds me of the other important work that I am doing, to make a future where making art is easier and more accessible to folks like me. I know that all of my work is important and it was so beneficial to turn that feeling into a comic.

owned by @megwaldz

owned by @megwaldz

owned by @megwaldz

 

If women could have ended sexism, I’m sure they would have.

Firstly, there are so many great great quotes when reading through this and every sentence is so beautifully written. I would expect nothing less from Audre Lorde. I now read this as a junior, woman of color, slightly-battered (but still chugging along) by this school and its unwavering ability to hurt women, poc, woc, queer folks, and other marginalized folks, with newer eyes than I did when I read this as a first year in Introduction to Gender Studies. Each sentence drips with empowerment and meaning. I want to letter some of these quotes and might share with the class/have my weekly comic this week be inspired from the reading. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Of course, women so empowered are dangerous.”

“The erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in doing.”

“When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.”

 

Although, at times, I was moved and educated, I was looking for something more radical on the basis of intersectionality. The beginning denotes the way that “Lorde erases erotic differences between straight, bisexual, and lesbian desire in order to promote such desire as a creative force for revolutionary change.” She does not address the ways that race, body size, ability, etc. factors into desire and eroticism. She addresses her own struggle with the acceptance of eroticism as a black, lesbian woman. However, the article only begins to describe the “universalized” experiences of women and eroticism. “The erotic has often been misnamed my men and used against women.” What happens when this erotic doesn’t apply to women outside the sphere of the idealized, Barbie-like, deity of female sexuality: white, skinny, straight, blonde, blow-up doll-like? What happens when eroticism and desire is on the opposite end of the spectrum, venturing into fetishization? However, I am pausing as I write this because it is clear that I am struggling to disconnect eroticism and sex.

 

Erotic comes from eros, meaning love in all forms. I believe that Lorde is arguing for the need to love ourselves firstly in order to create large social change. In fact, she argues that for women, once we recognize the healing power of accepting our erotic, “in honor and self respect we can require no-less of ourselves.” Lorde dreams and hopes for a future in which we begin to undo generational trauma inflicted by the patriarchy and break cycles of internalized oppression for women. We can create new cycles of dignity and respect by recognizing that our erotic, is a source of knowledge and power and satisfaction with our current state of life.

 

However, in my activist work here at Whitman, I am quickly realizing that we need those who are non-marginalized to assist in the fights against oppression. Women cannot end sexism themselves just as much as black people cannot eliminate racism; I’m sure both groups would have ended those isms if they could. I am wondering if there is room in the theory to expand to men recognizing, worshipping, and utilizing the erotic as a means of assisting in the dismantling of patriarchy and white supremacy. Men are just as shut out of their erotic as women I’m sure. Is the male erotic only employed as a weapon against women? Are they utilizing the erotic at all? Maybe tapping into the erotic is less gendered than we think.

“Diversity is bodies. Inclusion is culture.”

“Superman is a White Boy” takes a critical view on the systematic process of creating superheroes and critiques POC substitutes/versions of existing Superheroes. Delving slightly into the Netflix, straight-to-video reboots of “diverse” stories, he argues that offering up POC replacements for these constructed-as-white-and-free-of-intersectionality characters are “conformist cries, conservative activism from patient racial integrationists” that await a life that assimilates to Whiteness. Stuffing POC into these roles is tokenizing, using their physical representations as merely enough for diversity.

Last year, Deray McKesson was our Keynote speaker for the Power & Privilege Symposium. He said something that has stuck with me as the school, and texts like this, bring up diversity without ever defining what it is. Deray said, “Diversity is bodies, inclusion is culture.” Texts like Ms. Marvel and the recent Black Panther movie handle this delicate balance with grace and poise. In Ms. Marvel, we understand that Kamala Khan’s mantle is more than just a Xerox copy. The story weaves in her culture; She is a person with a family and a history before she is a superhero. Ms. Marvel praises and embodies Deray’s definition of inclusion more than diversity. Ms. Marvel shifts the superhero narrative of one that centers their hero life to one that marries the personal life as a catalyst for their superhero roots, beyond the supernatural occurrence that turns them into the hero. It is special that Kamala struggles with the thing that she always wanted. Idolizing Captain Marvel and The Avengers, Kamala struggles with the possible dream-crushing reality of being brown, in a role never meant for brown people, let alone a 16 year-old Muslim girl. Although being brown is a limitation on her dreams, it doesn’t prevent her from existing. It actually fuels her existence.

There is a need to humanize Kamala and make her story worth being heard; there is work and planning and execution and thoughtfulness that went into creating the complex character of Kamala. Although it is not the end-all and be-all of women of color as superheroes (as it shouldn’t be), it increases the chances of seeing more complex characters that marry their racial identity with their superhero purpose and origins. However, Lamb points to the problematic thinking of visibility as activism.

According to Lamb, “some nerds of color are more concerned with being seen than with being seen as human.” Visibility is simply not enough in the world of comics or in popular media.  Even saying that visibility is a start is a poor place to start; placing the foundations of representation in “good enough” is not the way to make change. We must create with the intention of a holistic representation via the integration of the culture. Black Panther could not have been as successful without its integration of Black culture into every fiber of its being; diversity of the story is not bound by location, language, or food, but rather is represented and highlighted in the soundtrack, costume design, and jokes. References to shoe game, intentional color mapping in scene choices, and Kendrick Lamar’s contracted studio album helped cement a larger cultural importance than the token black hero. Black Panther was written and performed by a black cast, for a black audience. There is immense importance of putting the power of creation in the hands of people of color is also instrumental in the creation of diverse stories and characters.

We cannot expect those who do not share our experience to reflect our experience.

To put this responsibility on large companies like Marvel and Sony and Fox to do so is dangerous. I want to separate my own dreams of Diversity in animated movies from Disney, as I believe and have experienced that working with predominately white institutions to create change is ineffective. I believe that while Marvel and DC have the largest platforms to create diversity, there is not an internal commitment to diversity. Black Panther is awesome… but when corporations do not celebrate this achievement on a cultural level and celebrate it within the realm of capital success, POC representation is tokenized all over again.

I want to be a part of a studio that in its roots, is committed to creating a more equitable media environment. Anyone want to help start it?

The Site of Production and Children’s Media

I want to make children’s media, particularly movies. I believe that movies are a great vessel for delivering important lessons about our society to children. After reading Gillian Roses’ piece, I am reminded about the importance of this work, and how influential images are in our global community. Although different communities interact with images uniquely, there is an undeniable spread of Western culture via routes of colonization, capitalism, racism, patriarchy, and other systems of power that must be examined when creating mass media, like children’s films coming out of the West. I found that section four, “towards some methodological tools: sites and modalities” helps me form into words each important part of creating what I, in my singular opinion, would deem “responsible media.” Although my singular opinion is highly researched and curated over many years of dedication to the pursuit of responsible media, take my comments about representation as thoughts to expand, challenge, and resonate with. For the purposes of explicating the first site of meaning and its following modalities that Rose provides as lenses for reading visual culture, I will use Disney movies as our examples.

Firstly, Rose breaks down the first site at which meaning is made, the site of production. The first modality, the lens in which we look through to examine the site, is technology. Different techniques of image delivery can affect the way that the meaning is interpreted. With this technology, there are limitations to the ways in which we can express our underlying message of the media. I believe that the medium of children’s animated movies is an awesome vessel for delivering messages or life lessons, as I mentioned before. However, animated films work within the barrier of being widely seen as simplistic in meaning or delivery, lacking complexity or nuance. Children’s media is not simplistic in its creation at all, often amassing large crews, years of work, and , but because of the apparent target audience, people tend to overlook the pwoer inherent in children’s media. This works hand-in-hand with the second modality of compositionality. There are bounds that are defined by some genres of movies. Genres, however, are limitations to be played within and to be pushed against. I argue that one can define a genre by defying another genre. Aspects of the genre of children’s media include a happy ending, a likeable main character, animals, magic, impossibility, etc. However, repeating these tropes over and over again can reinforce larger falsified narratives like happy endings or princesses marrying princes or the bad guy going away. Movies like Frozen (in my opinion still a highly problematic movie), that actively work against these tropes of the genre of the Disney Princess Movie have proven that you don’t need to work within stereotypes or conventions of a genre to be successful. Lastly, within the production site, the social modality greatly influences seeing. David Harvey argues that capitalism has entangled the meaning of a particular piece of media with the daily influence of the economic processes that shape visual imagery, which I would support. I believe that it would be irresponsible to disregard the role that money plays in deciding a work’s importance, impact, or popularity. It is especially important to look at this entanglement when it comes to Disney, one of the largest corporations on the planet. It is no secret that their products sell; the label of a Disney movie elevates everything that comes after that fact. Disney’s global reach and impact that they have on visual culture is impossible to detangle from capitalism, money, and therefore social operations.

My mind continues to swirl after reading this article. Where are we left with visual culture? How do we get everyone to understand that visuals and the ways of understanding them are constructed and different for different folks across cultural lines? Is visual culture something to be uniting or something to be debated? Can we unite through our debate?