Didn’t know much about this band before reading. Was a quick read and good for historical contexts. Probably would get more out of it if you’re into music. Content warning, though: graphic violence, depictions of genocide.
Didn’t know much about this band before reading. Was a quick read and good for historical contexts. Probably would get more out of it if you’re into music. Content warning, though: graphic violence, depictions of genocide.
A vampire and werewolf fall in love. This book was hilarious. One of the best reads of the year for me.
The sexual politics of…anatomy. Fascinating stuff but I wish the book had delved into the racism and bias of these works that it didn’t even really touch on. Like, in one racist depiction it describes it as a “tableau” but doesn’t address that the demonic figure has been replaced by a black person/racist stereotype (see screenshot). Call it out at least. What’s more the book doesn’t even mention figures like Sarah Baartmaan (called the “Black Venus”) whose literal body was on display. A couple of white women whose bodies were preserved like dolls are mentioned though.
Will we still love her when she is no longer young and beautiful?
This book is the size of a CD case, I just realized. An album.
This was referenced in a YouTube video essay on (I think?) Lolita and I just had to read it. Only one library in the country claimed to own it (I think?) and it looked like it was signed by the author (I think?). Should have snapped a pic of that because I’ve already forgotten. Anyway, these poems will make you throwup your summertime sadness for seconds.
The conversations around JT LeRoy are yet to call out Albert as the Rachael Dolezal for trans people, and that’s why I think this story continues to baffle me. Perhaps Albert is trans, in the umbrella sense of the word, if she feels like LeRoy is part of her, and that (perhaps?) complicates the issue even more for criticism. But that’s why I read this book — to get a better thought process about her “avatar” (what Albert still calls JT) from Knoop’s perspective. An “avatar” is not a character in a book, though, or even a pen name. “Avatar” is still not the right word. In some respects, JT LeRoy feels ghostwritten, which I have a negative view on. It’s inauthentic, at the end of the day. But those who are ghostwritten for tend to exist where JT did not, so that’s where the comparison ends. To be nitpicky, JT LeRoy was not the avatar, Knoop was. The rest is all persona and acting and claiming an identity that really doesn’t feel like it was Albert’s to do in the way she did.
Knoop, on the other hand, was forced to embody what Albert created. If you know about the story, the embodying did not fit. Reading this made me feel like Knoop is still exploring their identity at the time of writing it — that this book was an exercise in recording who they were and who they are at a moment in time so they can have solid ground to stand on going forward. Before going into this, I knew that Knoop’s pronoun was now “they” and had read from the BBC that:
‘…”one interesting point of similarity between Knoop as LeRoy and Knoop now, aside from an eclectic taste in fashion, is that Knoop has gravitated towards LeRoy’s gender fluidity – stopping using the pronoun ‘she’ and now going by the gender neutral ‘they’. “They is a made-up word, and I like how confusing and uncomfortable it is,” says Knoop. “I went to grad school and there were all these young kids who in some way were post-gender and they all go by ‘they’.”’
So this renders the title a bit irrelevant or at least slightly awkward, since Knoop might again no longer identify as (or embody?) a “girl.” It seems their identity exploration is not over yet, and I wish Knoop would have included that fact more outright but I did not get a good sense of it. Otherwise, you assume Knoop is OK with “she” or being gendered as a “girl.” I was hoping for a little bit more retroactive analyzing on Knoop’s part for how JT LeRoy was still called “He” during the events recounted here despite JT “identifying” as trans. Like, maybe more talk about how, if this stunt was done today, more care or definition might go to XYZ like in pronoun usage and etc. Yet again, maybe “trans” is for the umbrella sense of the word, which would include non-binary and gender neutral identities as well, so I accept it either way. I’ve not read any of Albert’s books so I don’t know if that’s addressed there. Plus, there are a few specific examples where “genderfluid” is mentioned up as what JT is shooting for (yet it doesn’t seem to be THE identity like “trans” is) so maybe Knoop did not feel the need to address it further. I of course realize that at the time our definitions were (and are still) evolving but today those terms are not so interchangeable. However, there are also other examples where it’s as if there’s a very exact definition of “trans-ness” they were trying to project. It’s a projection where, today, we do have better language to describe what was (possibly?) going on but Knoop simply does not address it even though they have access to said language. Going off that BBC quote, it feels like Knoop missed an opportunity to look back and claim their “interpretation” or “embodiment” of LeRoy as really having/deserving a gender neutral pronoun. I think my confusion highlights this lack of clarification and exploration enough.
This book should be in conversations with ones like, for example, #OwnVoices. The lines in the sand for what you can and can’t do were blurred with this stunt and I think we’re missing opportunities to define (if we even need to define? maybe reinforce, rather?) who and what an “author” is. What Laura Albert did was most wrong, in my view. What Knoop went through was not OK. Yet, like Knoop, I still don’t think we have the precise language to talk about it. But we need to continue to try.
I learned a little. Very introductory but a good global smattering. Would be a good buy for a teen in your life. The art was sometimes too basic and stiff to be a point of interest for me.
This is a master class. A textbook. A syllabus. It was comforting to read and so enlightening to see all the exercises the author uses in class. I haven’t seen a book on creativity/a book that sparked my creativity like this in a long while.
This is where we are at. This is where our state is. A complicated history of this land. Such an eye-opening and important and, quite frankly, timely book. She, you could argue, traces the connection of the Five Tribes’ own participation in the settler colonial process and their attempts at assimilation through their adoption of chattel slavery and siding with the Confederacy all the way to the Tulsa 1921 Race Massacre and her own dot on the timeline, situating not only her family but perhaps an entire country to start asking questions.
Below are quotes from the book I found interesting:
“As I wrote this book, though, I realized that m joy at these two inheritances came at other people’s expense; that the land that allowed the Chickasaws to become two of the wealthiest and most influential tribes in Oklahoma came from other Native peoples who previously had lived upon it; that the land that allowed my family and hundreds of others in Indian Territory to become Black property owners was part of the broader theft of Indian land that also led to the loss of much Native sovereignty, culture, and language.
I characterize the different protagonists that populate my book as settlers because my perspective as their descendant has helped me to see how their freedoms and opportunities were begotten by impeding the freedoms and opportunities of others. The sources I’ve analyzed demonstrate that my ancestors’ involvement and investment in this settler colonial process made their lives subtly easier and helped them survive. They were in difficult circumstances—forced migrations across oceans and across lands—but they were not forced to use the specific language and actions they chose. Though they were limited by their circumstances, as we all are, they actively chose their path in the midst of a myriad of difficult decisions. I few looked at just this, would it not be clear? Would we not consider them settlers? Reconciling divergent histories has granted me another way of looking at these peoples and places: a as heightened example of how oppressed people can oppress other people—no matter how trite that may seem.” – Introduction, pg 11.
“In reality, the various movements and removals of Indigenous peoples from the Southeast due to white invasion meant that the first western settlers were often Native Americans who migrated to spaces other than their homelands, where they encountered other tribes—longtime enemies, other displaced peoples, and groups who had long called this land home. Native peoples adjusted their oral histories and survivance strategies to incorporate their new surroundings as they had done for millennia, crafting stories that told of successful migrations and learning about the food and herbs of their new homes.
As they were forced westward, the Five Tribes’ experience in Indian Territory was different from the other Indigenous migrations occurring around them. The Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Nations sought to use the settler colonial process to cast themselves as civilizers of their new home: they used the labor system that Euro-Americans insisted represented sophistication—chattel slavery—to build homes, commercial enterprises, and wealth, and they portrayed themselves as settlers in need of protection from the federal government against the depredations of western Indians, which, the Five Tribes claimed, hindered their own civilizing progress. Moreover, they followed their physical appropriation of Plains Indians’ land with an erasure of their predecessor’s history. They perpetuated the idea that they had found an undeveloped ‘wilderness” when they arrived in Indian Territory and that they had proceeded to tame it. They claimed that they had built institutions and culture in a space where previously neither existed. The Five Tribes’ involvement in the settler colonial process was self-serving: they had already been forced to move once by white Americans, and appealing to their values could only help them—at least, at first. Involvement in the system of Black enslavement was a key component of displaying adherence to Americans’ ideas of social, political, and economic advancement—indeed, owning enslaved people was the primary path to wealth in the nineteenth century. The laws policing Black people’s behavior that appeared in all of the tribes’ legislative codes showed that they were willing to make this system a part of their societies. But with the end of the Civil War, the political party in power—the Republicans—changed the rules: slavery was no longer deemed civilized and must be eliminated by force. For the Five Tribes, the rise and fall of their involvement in the settler colonial process is inextricably connected to the enslavement of people of African descent: it helped to prove their supposed civilization and it helped them construct their new home, but it would eventually be the downfall of their Indian Territory land claims. Recognizing the Five Tribes’ coerced migration to Indian Territory as the first wave among many allows us to see how settler colonialism shaped the culture of Indian Territory even before settlers from the United States arrived.
Though the Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears’ has come to symbolize Indian Removal, the Five Tribes were just a handful of dozens of Indigenous tribes who had been forced to move from their eastern homelands due to white displacement. This displacement did not begin or end in the 1830s Since the 1700s, Indian nations such as the Wyandot, Kickapoo, and Shawnee began migrating to other regions to escape white settlement and the violence and resource scarcity that often followed. Though brought on by conditions outside of their control, these migrations were ‘voluntary’ in that they were most often an attempt to flee other Native groups moving into their territory as a result of white invasion or to preempt white coercion, rather than a response to direct Euro-American political or legal pressure to give up their homelands….
Removal was devastating emotionally and physically for the Five Tribes, but it was not an immediate change in their lives; rather, tribal members moved gradually, with complete migration occurring over a period of nearly a decade. Native peoples were compelled to leave their homes, their buried love[d] ones, and many of their belongings. Even before the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, trauma brought on by the expectation of removal permeated the lives of Native peoples.”
-Chapter 1, pg 12-15
“Whether the United States intervened militarily or diplomatically, the Five Tribes’ rhetoric allowed and enabled Americans to treat them as the inured settler parties whose claims were protected by the might of the American government, and the western Indians as trespassing marauders.
Creating an observable difference between themselves and other Indian nations was part and parcel of the Five Tribes’ settler colonial process because it allowed them to appeal to white Americans, upon whom the Five Tribes depended for protection and resources as promised in their Removal treaties.” – pg 19
“The Five Tribes not only physically displaced other Indian nations in Indian Territory; they erased the history of southern Plains people and drafted a new history of Indian Territory. For example, in 1955, the Chickasaws built their council house, a sixteen-by-twenty-five-foot log house. Here, the Chickasaws rewrote their constitution and took their first actions as a sovereign legislature, under the first Chickasaw governor, Cyrus Harris. Although the log house was quickly replaced (within the next year or so) by a brick iteration, the log house serves a particular purpose in the pantheon of Chickasaw public history. In 1911, the Wapanucka Press, an Oklahoma-based newspaper, interviewed someone (presumably a representative of the Chickasaw Nation) about the story of the log house’s origins. The paper reported, ‘Slaves of the Chickasaws toiled in the dense oak forests cutting down the finest trees and hewing them into shape…Thick undergrowth was cleared from a knoll…paths were cut from bottom meadows.’ Rough-hewn and surrounded by overgrown foliage, the log house is meant to evoke the idea that the Chickasaws encountered a ‘wilderness’ in early Indian Territory. The reader is meant to believe that, as civilizers, the Chickasaws shaped this wilderness into the modern space that it became. This idea of ‘civilization’ is based on Euro-American colonizer’ ideas of advanced societies. The Cherokee Nation alleges on its website that ‘upon earliest contact with European explorers in the 1500s, Cherokee Nation was identified as one of the most advanced among Native American tribes.’ Although the Cherokees were asserting their longevity as a people and their pride in their culture, here they use a European measurement of their merit.
In the nineteenth century, the Five Tribes succeeded at crafting a perception of difference. The western Indians certainly saw them as settlers. The special agent to the Comanches reported that they were angry that tribes such as the Creeks and Choctaws ‘have extended their occupation and improvements to the country heretofore used by themselves as a hunting ground,’ expressing that they saw the Five tribes as unlawful settlers, just like whites, and themselves as the dispossessed indigenous peoples of the region.” Pg 20-21.
“The labor of enslaved women and men was crucial to the Five Tribes’ economic and social success in Indian Territory… Preserved through family lines and nourished by increasing dividends, Black chattel slavery had bene an element of life in the Five Tribes for decades by the time of the Civil War.” Pg 23
“The Five Tribes, to varying degrees, adapted the institution of slavery to suit their own needs beginning in the late 1700s and intensifying in the early 1800s. Along with the institution of slavery the Five Tribes also adopted other parts of American ‘civilization,’ such as Euro-American clothing, agriculture, political language, religion….while retaining aspects of their own culture. As in the United States, the majority of people in the Five Tribes did not own slaves. Yet, Indian elites created an economy and culture that highly valued and regulated slavery and the rights of slave owners…In 1860, about thirty years after their removal to Indian Territory from their respective homes in the Southeast, Cherokee Nation members owned 2,511 slaves (15 percent of their total population), Choctaw members owned 2,349 slaves (14 percent of their total population, and Creek members owned 975 slaves, which amounted to 18 percent of their total population, a proportion equivalent to that of white slave owners in Tennessee, a former neighbor of the Chickasaw Nation. Slave labor allowed wealthy Indians to rebuild the infrastructure of their lives even bigger and better than before. John Ross, a Cherokee chief, lived in a log cabin directly after Removal. After a few years, he replaced this dwelling with a yellow mansion, complete with a columned porch.” Pg 24
“It is worth noting that there was no such Indigenous ban on interracial sex between whites and Native people. Laws against interracial sex, combined with Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Choctaw laws that criminalized Blacks’ use of communally owned land to build houses or barns and that forbade citizens of the Five Tribes from freeing their former slaves and hiring these freed slaves, created a racial underclass: Black and mixed-race people who lived and persevered within these Native spaces in spite of laws created to stifle their access to tribal membership, upward mobility, and community.” Pg 25.
“The Five Tribes had engaged in the process of settler colonialism in order to stake a legitimate claim to Indian Territory land and foster a new sense of belonging. But now their presence in and connection to the West and their successful adoption of Black chattel slavery would prove to be their downfall” Pg 29
“Prior to 1861, most white slaveholders would have happily displaced the Five Tribes from any land they set their eyes on. But with the common causes of maintaining slavery and averting federal oversight, the Five Tribes and southern Confederates overcame their fraught histories to fight together.” Pg 33
“Through their use of the settler colonial process and the use of enslaved labor to build social, economic, and political capital, the Five Tribes have become so synonymous with Oklahoma that, nearly 190 years after they arrived in the region, most Americans think they are indigenous to the state. This is, of course, not the case…In attempting to use the American government as a mediator in their issues with the western tribes, the Five Tribes were not unique; since European contact Native people had used alliances with various colonial powers to wage wars against enemies or to gain protection from them. What was different in this context was the language used by the Five Tribes, which portrayed these other nations as uncivilized by Euro-American measurements that had essentially become their own—or which they, at least, were willing to use for rhetorical effect. This was an essential part of their colonial process…
The Five Tribes’ rise and fall as settlers accepted by the American government in Indian Territory was strongly connected to their use of enslaved labor to ‘tame’ the land. Their adoption of the institution of slavery allowed them to cast themselves as civilizers like whites, who had encouraged their acceptance of this institution.” Pg 39-40
“As movable property, the Five Tribes considered enslaved Black people an ideal way of transporting capital to the West.” Pge 41
“And yet, this violation gave people of African descent the freedom and rights they may otherwise never have attained in the Five Tribes without U.S. intervention. This was a rare moment when settler colonialism worked in favor of Black people, as it had decades earlier for the Five Tribes when they sought to lay claim to Indian Territory after their forced removal.” Pg 50
“These incidents of actual violence and the fear of violence were substantiated by reports on the part of Chickasaws and Choctaws who had publicly sided with the Union Army during the war, and who also faced violence in the Reconstruction period. Indians realized that their former slaves’ advocacy for themselves was resulting in increased American intervention on their behalf, and Native peoples resented their former slaves’ status as settlers on what they viewed as their land.” Pg 68
“But the Chickaswas did not follow their longtime brother tribe’s example in adopting their freedpeople. The Chickasaws’ decision against adopting their freedpeople, in fact, becaome os important to their views of their nation and what it stood for that the winning candidate for governor of the Chickasaw Nation in 1888, W.L. Byrd, made it part of his executive policy, stating that he ‘ever shall be opposed to the adoption of the negro and shall use every effort to cause the Congress of the United States to remove the negro from among us.’…Once people of African descent were no longer free sources of labor, the Chickasaws and Choctaws and, indeed, most Indians would have preferred that they removed themselves from their nations; Native violence against Indian freedpeople was meant not only to signal their anger but also to spur Black flight.” Pg 69-70
“Though Oklahoma is known in African American history circles for its all-Black spaces, like the famed ‘Black Wall Street’ of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, the first Black inhabitants of Indian Territory were those who came as enslaved people with their Native owners. In arguing for their claim to Indian Territory land, these Indian freedpeople utilized the strategies of the first wave of Indian Territory settlers, the members of the Indian nations in which they’d lived.” Pg 70-71
“Apart from Cherokee freedpeople, Cherokee citizens also spoke out against the present of African Americans from the United States. In 1894, the editor of the Cherokee Advocate incited his fellow tribesmen to resist both Black and white migration, telling them to ‘Be men, and fight off the barnacles that now infest our country in the shape of non-citizens, free Arkansas ni—ers, and traitors.’
Anti-Black sentiment like this encouraged Native peoples to ignore Indian freedpeople’s shared histories with their nations and to inaccurately associate them with Black interlopers from the United States. Indian freedpopel fought this attitude by attempting to differentiate themselves. When Mary Grayson was interviewed in 1937 as part of the Works Progress Administration Slave Narrative project, she illustrated this dichotomy, saying ‘I am what we colored people call a ‘native.’ That means I didn’t come into the Indian country from somewhere in the Old South, after the War, like so many Negroes did, but I was born here in the Old Creek Nation and my master was a Creek Indian. Mary felt that her experiences of enslavement were better than those of Black Americans, arguing that ‘I have had people who were slaves of white folks tell me that they had to work awfully hard and their masters were cruel to them, but all the Negroes I knew who belonged to Creeks always had plenty of clothes and lots to eat and we all lived in good log cabins we built.’ Mary clearly demarcated her history and circumstances from those of African Americans from the United States. Mary’s assertion of her identity as a ‘native’ rather than a newcomer (like other Blacks in the West) is reflective of a key component of the settler colonial process—strategic differentiation.” Pg 93
“With statehood, the United States abandoned the gains they had engineered for Indian freedpeople (just as they had done with African Americans in the United States, (resulting in many of these gains being taken back by the settler colonial state. The Topeka Plaindealer, a Black newspaper, made apparent the change that had occurred. In 1910, it declared the Creek Nation, of all the Five Tribe, to possess the ‘densest Negro population.’ The paper reported that the large Black population in Muskogee had enabled an African American, Archie Johnson, to represent the county on the Republican State Committee after statehood. However, the paper went on, the introduction of the Grandfather Clause in 1911 eliminated this African American representative and curbed Black political participation in general. Thus…the Creek freedpoeple, who previously had represented a unique example of economic, social, and political successes that continued past the traditional timeline of U.S. Reconstruction, now faced straits similar to African Americans in the American south.” Pg 123
-Scream is surprisingly good and I guess the point where horror started to self-reflect with purpose? Meta and 🤌 . All I see here is my high school and middle school culture. Please don’t tell me they get bad. I’m only on 2.
More to come!
If it has an asterisk* then it was one of my favorites this year. Ongoing.
Not reviewing the spooky older films I also watched this year here.
Black Widow* – made me like/miss Black Widow. It was excellent commentary on capitalism and was timely if not a bit too late for the franchise. Better than Wonder Woman for damn sure.
The Green Knight – not gay enough but got me really interested in the poem again. The aesthetic was amazing. Could have been great.
Jungle Cruise* – this was so much freaking fun. Made me pine for The Mummy franchise and what could have been.
Suicide Squad – Was a lot of fun to watch. But at the same time DC just has no vision for what it can do. But this was glimpse of what could be if they actually started trying again.
Saint Maud – One of the more interesting horrors of the year.
The One and Only Dick Gregory – Documentary. I didn’t know what I did not know. But this film showed, perhaps, the unraveling of those who managed to survive during the height of the civil rights movement. How the world is still, perhaps, unraveling because we are not acknowledging our past and not working fast enough toward justice. The messaging was not uplifting for me. I was glad this man was finally getting recognition and remembrance for his work, though. I grew up not knowing anything about him but discovered him for this vegetarian, and later vegan, activism. I’m still considering this man and this documentary, honestly. Both are complicated.
Free Guy* – So many implications situating this alongside stories like West World, I would say. Quite funny too.
Gunpowder Milkshake – horrible film. Librarians were cool I guess.
Dune* – What if Blade Runner and Star Wars had a baby.