The Siren | Page 1
about the siren Siren Team 2014-2015 EDITORS Executive Editor Morgan Johnson Executive Editor Sarah Pederson Managing Editor Mars Earle Managing Editor Wilson Hood 2015-2016 EDITORS Executive Editor Alice Wilder Executive Editor Amanda Kubic Media Director Zakyree Wallace Art Director Lisa Dzera Feminist Community Engagement Liv Linn Feminist Community Engagement Callie Wallace
WRITERS Alice Wilder Amanda Kubic Anuradha Bhowmik Dylan Mott Johanna Ferebee Kristin Tajlili Leah Osae Liv Linn Mars Earle Monique LaBlanc Wilson Hood
The Siren is a student-produced publication of UNC-Chapel Hill that promotes feminist perspectives on issues surrounding gender, identity, sexuality, and human rights. We provide readers resources for discovering, developing, and challenging their self-identities and life philosophies by exposing the daily world to the glaring examination of feminist critique. In this way, we aim to address the challenges of inequality not only globally and nationally, but particularly within the UNC-CH community.
letter from the editors Dear Reader, Thank you so much for picking up a copy of The Siren, UNC’s only feminist magazine! Inside you will aim to spark a dialogue that promotes awareness at our University and beyond. In our table of contents,
Over the past year, we have been thinking about what we envision for a better Carolina. For this issue, we called for narratives rooted in personal experiences that demand radical cultural shifts for our community.
in the fallacies of “erasing history” and “upsetting tradition.” So-called tradition is often bound in the political interests of the powerful, and we demand our right to envision new traditions that serve us. We do not view ourselves as erasing history, but rather, reclaiming HERstories that have been stolen from for a long time.
Women’s & Gender Studies (WMST) and the African, African American, and Diaspora Studies (AAAD) departments as places of deep intellectual thought, and schools that recognize the connection between academia and activism. We already know that this is true, but we want to see these departments valued across campus.
sexual violence as the same administration that chooses to perpetuate the violence of white supremacy on this campus. We aim to acknowledge our interconnectedness despite forces that work to separate us. We will (re)connect across coalitions to build power from the ground up. Our lives are connected and our movement work can only be sustained by building community. We want Siren to be a space where voices that are suppressed by dominant power can be heard loud and with our Siren call—we welcome new members at any time! In love and in power, Morgan Johnson Amanda Kubic Sarah Pederson Alice Wilder Siren Co-Editors
Spring 2015 | Page 2
The Siren | Page 3
22 TRIGGER WARNING KEY Racial Violence Gender-Based Violence Sexual Assault Graphic Material
Intimate Partner Violence Gun Violence Heterosexist Violence
table of contents 5
The Real Silent Sam Coalition Manifesto
My World With Comprehensive Sex Ed
The Axe Forgets; The Tree Remembers
A Day of Action for Justice in Louisiana
The “Marry or Move-In” Paradox
UNC BOG Report
23 in a Panhellenic UNC Sorority 25
Questions for Silent Sam
A Day at UNC with and without Sexist/Trans-Exclusive Language
Passion in Practice: An Interview
Project Dinah UNC Women’s Center
Spring 2015 | Page 4
The Siren | Page 5
The Real Silent Sam Coalition Manifesto Spring 2015 PREAMBLE Racism and white supremacy are embedded in the physical and mental geography of our campus. By maintaining memorials like the Confederate Monument “Silent Sam” and preserving names of buildings like Saunders Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill chooses to honor people who upheld and enforced legacies of terror. This legacy of hate is pervasive on our campus. The administration has habitually refused to acknowledge the diversity of our community. UNCChapel Hill is a Historically White Institution, and we believe that it has shown itself, time and time again, to be more invested in maintaining legacies of violence and hate than it is in creating a safe space that recognizes the complex selves of its students of color. We believe the University is responsible and obligated to give every student an education that does not obliterate truth with whitewashed etchings of Western philosophy.
PRINCIPAL ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE RENAMING 1. Renaming the current Saunders building will “be a slippery slope” to renaming other sites— perhaps the entire campus. 2. The renaming would constitute a “revisionist history.” 3. William L. Saunders may have been a part of the Klan but he contributed greatly to UNCChapel Hill and North Carolina.
We will now rebut each of these arguments individually. 1. We are challenging the name of Saunders Hall with the full understanding that there are many buildings on UNC’s campus that are named after individuals who have participated in and upheld white supremacy. By choosing to focus our organizing on renaming Saunders Hall, we are not ignoring the presence of these other legacies on our campus. The focus on Saunders Hall was decided through the combined dialogue of those already organizing within and around the building. This organic choice to focus on Saunders Hall underlined its potential as an important example of the impact these spaces have on students of color. When the building is renamed, it will be the result of coordinated and focused organizing. While we are dedicated to contextualizing UNC’s history beyond the limited example of Saunders Hall and indeed seek to rename other buildings as well, it is sensationalist to say total change will
come at once. We are not afraid of the ‘slippery slope.’ The maintenance of Saunders’ name on a campus building symbolizes the continued dismissal of the experiences of student of color on this campus. We demand this name change as proof the university seriously seeks to properly contextualize its space for all of its students.
of white supremacy it acted to uphold (and is still upheld). We are not trying to ‘revise’ history.
2. Some have implied that to rename Saunders Hall would be to practice a “revisionist history.” This argument would have us believe that changing the name of this building would somehow change history or cause us to forget who Saunders was. To this we would like to say, don’t worry. We can remember the evil Saunders
character. It is popular to insist upon the “good” that Saunders did in his life while ignoring the unsavory context and background activity that allowed him many of his accomplishments.
saying that it is more important to preserve the status quo then it is to honor and respect the needs of students of color at a university. Our call for a name change is not based on the abstract idea that Saunders and the KKK were and are racist. It is based on the specific acts of violence the Klan committed and the structure
our future. 3. This argument seeks to rank Saunders’
It is true that William L. Saunders was North Carolina Secretary of State. It is also true that there is documented evidence of Saunders’ participation in anti-Black terrorism as Grand Dragon 3 of the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan. While the current Board of Trustees tries to use this documentation to make Saunders’
recommended Saunders as a namesake for a newly constructed building. On the fourth line
Spring 2015 | Page 6
The Siren | Page 7
of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina.” One of Saunders’ top qualifications for the original naming is now being conveniently dismissed.
We are calling for Saunders Hall to be known as Hurston Hall. We choose this name to honor legendary writer and folklorist Zora Neale
The name of Saunders Hall stands not only for that individual, but for all that he represents as a white supremacist idol. It is absurd to suggest that his position in the KKK can be evaluated as a trivial “fault” among other “redeeming qualities.” Saunders’ life, his name, and the Board of Trustees decision to honor that name all symbolize a legacy of hatred, fear, and violence towards Black people.
take classes (in secret) at UNC-Chapel Hill prior to integration, but left in part due to racist violence on campus. In honoring Hurston, students of color honor ourselves and all those who have come before us. She wasn’t given a place on this campus—now, we give her one.
DEMANDS In the past, the administration and the Board of Trustees have failed to pay attention to the wants and needs of their students. At this point, we are concerned that the administration’s inaction signals a lack of care or understanding for its students. We intend to hold the University accountable to its moral obligations to its students. We DEMAND that Saunders Hall be renamed to Hurston Hall. As long as his name remains on this campus in hallowed infamy, the University is upholding the legacies of racial violence and
We DEMAND that a plaque be placed on The Confederate Monument “Silent Sam” contextualizing its violent racial history. Generations of students, faculty, and staff have fought for the violence this monument represents to be formally recognized. We will not let it be ignored any longer. We DEMAND that the University incorporate mandatory programming for incoming students that teaches the historical racial violence of this University and town, as well as anti-racism training for faculty, staff, administrators, deans and chairs.
photo courtesy of Alice Wilder
MY WORLD WITH COMPREHENSIVE
SEX-ED by Liv Linn
I don’t learn (incompletely, fallibly) about condoms my sexuality is not informed by silence. my passions or values or education or whatever else I want not the number of people I’ve kissed or the state of my hymen. I have or don’t have the sexual experiences I want or don’t want without wondering if I am a slut or a prude—in fact, those words are arcane, relegated to the old dictionaries whose hateful contents have lost meaning. I no longer take the thousand daily useless “anti-rape” precautions because I am no longer afraid because you cannot graduate kindergarten unless you understand consent power protection health and safety change our right and not a luxury. TALKING about SEX is necessary for survival. There are no more hushed tones— there is no room for that in this my cuntry.
Spring 2015 | Page 8
The Siren | Page 9
by Kristin Tajlili
I hate the summertime. I hate the heat, the mosquitos, but most of all, I hate having to shave. During the summer, Iâ€™ll spend an hour trying to dark hair on the back of my leg. Afterwards, Iâ€™ll stare at my arms wondering if should spread chemicals all over them, or
body part with the potential to be smooth and hairless.
As a kid I was bullied for having thick, dark hair on my arms. I would also get comments on my legs, my upper lip, and other parts of my body. One boy said, “Your mustache is thicker than mine and I’m a boy.” Other comments were, “You have hair everywhere like a Guerrilla,” or “Why don’t you shave? That’s so disgusting.” Once I became teenager, I would pluck my eyebrows daily; each hair I plucked out would bring a piece of my skin with it. When I knew that I was going out, I would shave my legs, armpits, and bikini. I would get terrible red bumps. It was as if my body was rebelling. Even when I did shave my legs, I would get so many mosquito bites and would experience so much irritation that my legs would be covered in scabs by the end of the summer. It took me years to build up confidence to wear a bikini, despite being thin and tanning easily. Seeing my man legs and thick black hair reminds me how I, like most women, fall Western beauty standards. Now that I am an adult I have two options—I could either spend hours each week on the bathroom floor shaving and plucking every inch of my body, or I could do nothing. When I do nothing, others are disgusted by my body, but more importantly, I am disgusted with my body. I’ve been taught that smooth hairless skin is beautiful and that what is natural for me is grotesque. Even if I did choose to get rid of my hair, I would have dark stubble after a few days. Like many things portrayed in the cosmetic industry, smooth hairless skin is an unrealistic body standard unless someone is willing to
put in the time and money to make themselves completely hairless. Sometimes I am disgusted by my body because others have told me I should be, but at the end of the day, I know body hair doesn’t deserve so much contempt. If hair is so disgusting and harmful, why do our bodies want to grow it naturally? Why do women try to grow long luscious locks on their head but insist on removing their leg hair? At the end of the day hair is hair. Regardless of how much hair grows on my body, I am lucky in a lot of ways. I rarely get sick. I never have to worry about diet and exercise. In short, I am young and healthy. So why should I hate my body when it works so well? At 18-28 my body is the healthiest it will ever be. At its best, my body might not be curvaceous enough, or hairless enough for some people, but it’s good enough for me. At the end of the day, my leg hair doesn’t hurt anyone, and if people were used to seeing more women with body hair, I doubt they would react so negatively to my own. In the Carolina community, there may be people who choose not to shave because it goes against their religion and culture, as well as people who have trouble growing any hair at all. In order to be accepting towards those groups of people, we need to accept appearances different from the norm. Shaving in itself is not harmful—it’s a personal choice. But people should understand it’s not open to everyone. For some, smooth, hairless legs are easy to obtain, but for me they are not. my legs. Plus, I’m tired of the razor burn.
Spring 2015 | Page 10
The Siren | Page 11
The axe forgets; the tree remembers. - Zimbabwean proverb (Shona tribe)
(brr it’s cold in here) But the Quality Inn is warm and the stench of the sheets strong. I’m an angry young woman— men. I get angrier (don’t you know no one will date you if you think like that).
8) When the blue-black bruises bloomed around my shoulders, I told my friends it was from dance practices and not from him holding me down. be my fault. Ethel taught her, but no one taught me.
Not dark enough not thick enough not black enough you’ll never know what it’s like.
into a piece of beef, meat I hadn’t eaten since the age of eight according to my religion. He said I needed an epi-pen. My reaction was an overreaction. 2) He sat on the steps of Kenan-Flagler and admitted he lied to me because he knew I would hold him accountable. Also my fault. 3) When he hit me and I couldn’t sit down in a chair, it was my fault because I didn’t stop him. 4) When I said “Stop” three times and he still didn’t at the Quality Inn, I didn’t push him off.
didn’t remove them until he was done. This happened over and over again, night after night. Once I tried pushing him away— “What are you doing?” 6) My fault again. 7) Patronizing language littered with fucks and cunts. Why did I move his hairbrush??
And then the constant comparisons. She’s nice, he said. Now I’m not nice enough either. I’m a high red belt, one step below black. To receive your red belt you must break a board in half with the ridge of your hand, spar with your master and defeat him. I did all of that. When it
It wasn’t some stranger on the side of the street either, following you home at night like on TV. It was an invitation I accepted, many nights over. Race is a divide. I identify as a person of color, as does he. In fact, his racial identity is more marginalized, if you try to quantify it. (Don’t ever get into a relationship with an outsider again. Pretty words, while nice to hear, are hollow). I am painfully aware of the perception of the violent black man that pervades America today—and its consequences. Images of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and countless others splashed across my newsfeed. I don’t want to perpetuate it. One man’s actions do not
Present at the Mike Brown vigil. Me too.
he didn’t. When compared to his bulky frame, I am small. I spend an entire semester thinking I am even
They say I’m bringing down the black community personally, I’m told. They have a role model, someone in a position of power, who’s made it and who is nice. Who’s well known. I am none of those things--he told me so before. I guess I’ll
and I’ll show you someone who termed me a crazy bitch. Same person).
to boost my ego when I know I am anything but.
I spend an entire semester wishing I could be like someone he wants to be with. Then I remember that when he wanted to be with me, I was sitting face down ass up in the Quality Inn waiting for his hands and hiding my tears. —
not the problem, his actions are.
Lenoir. Ignore the bile slowly creeping up your throat. (He is not a monster either; he is a man. Who breathes the same air, occupies the same space I do. He has a sister and a mother too. Has gone through trainings and seminars—I edited his applications. I pray he will never do the same thing again. Once is more than enough). He is repeatedly asked why he is not with someone who will understand. I don’t.
mistakes start to pile up. — I will have to live knowing I did that to you. His words. He doesn’t know half of it. Why should he be the only one knowing? Why shouldn’t everyone else know exactly what he did? If they knew, would they care?
You are the role model. You are the one who went through it and came back stronger, who learned from and dealt with your problems as they came up. Insert fuzzy thoughts and feelings here.
extracurriculars. The support is unsurprisingly nil. Lose your appetite. Wear bigger clothes that
else drum on your shoulder. People know
You’re a Carolina Woman. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, you repeat over and over and over again. Tell others at your own pace— no obligations either way. Lay down in a circle at the Campus Y lounge and listen to your own voice in the dead quiet. Mitigate the side effects as best you can. Take care of yourself. Use your voice. It was given to you for a reason.
should I be part of yours? He calls me a little girl, infantilizing me like I’m not twenty years old. She is “woman.” He still thinks I’m beautiful, he says. He and I both wish
He’s right. It’s nothing personal.
Spring 2015 | Page 12
The Siren | Page 13
A Day of Action for Justice in Louisiana A previous version of this article was published on FeministCampus.org
by Monique LeBlanc
On January 24, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and the American Family Association (AFA) hosted a prayer rally, “The Response,” at Louisiana State University. To counter this, I came together with other activists from the LSU community to
such as Hurricane Katrina, on our nation’s acceptance of same-sex marriage, abortion, and porn. Presumably this did not go over well with Louisianians, the people arguably hit the hardest by Katrina, since “The Response” quickly removed the controversial prayer guide from their site. Clearly, this organization is out-of-touch with our state and its people. Feminism, at its core, is about equality. The AFA is anti-feminist because they are against our reproductive rights, ethnicities, sexualities, and faiths. They try to deny us equality by trying to deny us the freedom to be who we are.
Justice in Louisiana.”
the AFA as a hate group, a title well-deserved due to its heterosexist, cissexist, Islamophobic, sexist, and racist rhetoric and actions. They’ve claimed that LGBTQ individuals are to blame for the Holocaust, that Muslims are a threat to national security, and that Eric Garner was to blame for his own death, among other oppressive statements. But the best example of what the AFA stands for can be found in the prayer guide for “The Response,” in which they blame natural disasters,
In reaction to the AFA’s discriminatory messages, one of our members of the feminist group at LSU, Feminists In Action (FIA), started a protest myself, became heavily involved. We protested “The Response,” hosted a panel discussion, and held workshops to help attendees become better and more effective community organizers. Despite the unfortunate circumstances necessitating the event, I was thrilled to see our community mobilizing in the name of equality. We had over fellow protesters was a powerful experience. Our
photo courtesy of Monique LeBlanc were heard.
that our state government chose to align with them, and we’re upset that our university allowed it on our campus.
What upsets me most about “The Response” is the way it feels like LSU disregarded their promise of diversity to their students. LSU’s Diversity
“I hope those coming to protest will come out on
“Diversity is fundamental to LSU’s mission and the University is committed to creating and maintaining a living and learning environment that embraces individual difference…LSU strives to create an inclusive, respectful, intellectually challenging climate that embraces individual difference in race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, spirituality, socio-economic status, disability, family status, experiences, opinions, and ideas.” Rental of an LSU facility does not imply endorsement. However, many faculty and students felt betrayed by our university. We felt like, by hosting a hate group on our campus, LSU denied us a living and learning environment that values our differences. That’s why we had to organize and protest. We’re not against their prayer. We’re not against Christianity. We’re against the AFA. We’re upset
Shannon Bates, Governor Jindal’s spokeswoman, in an email to The Advocate. “It’s going to be a great event worshiping the Lord and praying for our nation.” As well intended as Ms. Bates thought this prayer rally was, the AFA has a long history of hate and a sheer disrespect for our state’s citizens. This is something that has alienated us from their message, however well-intended they believe it to be. We didn’t protest this event to disrespect their right to gather in pray- it was about defending our right to an equal society. It is our duty as citizens We hope that the AFA and those who went to pray saw our pain, sadness, and anger. We hope that the answers they got from their prayer and meditation were ones of peace, love, and tolerance, unlike the message the AFA has been preaching. Most of all, we hope we will see a future in which organizations like the AFA accept our differences without conditions.
Spring 2015 | Page 14
The Siren | Page 15
PAPER DOLLS by Anuradha Bhowmik
Strips of masking tape stick to white cement walls,
garland tacked, cardstock hands linked by craft fasteners. One family ceramic skinned, chapped cheeks cold and red. Freckled brunettes lipglossed with tousled tresses, push-up bras, and polka dot dresses. Pressed
the crinkled class worksheet scrawled with India. One community in the cookie cutter head. Gingerbread face burnt brown, crisp-edged like scabbed gorilla legs masked in threads of black bang curtains, drawn back for a torn hole target. Red spots of spit spill from lip cracks, Hindus eat rats drips on toilet paper sari scraps, stuck to the monster in the magnetic
from the squeak of Air Jordan feetâ€”cheerleaders
players. Fist pumps for the dot head destined to drop
banner for One school crumpled by the clutch of paper dolls.
BIRTHDAY PHOTOGRAPH, 1997
bangs veil the birthmark crescent; round teep from a apartment walls pasted with past-worn teeps taken off at go back to 7-Eleven, dot head. Caught red-handed for being blue collar brown in a white town? This is America, Arab. Suburban September 11th for the sandwich your mom made me at Subway. Jerseys stitched in school spirit fade with the glory of exclusion. True patriots in red and white stripes stomp school halls, scream bomb rip off the red dot, bitch.
by Anuradha Bhowmik
Spring 2015 | Page 16
The Siren | Page 17
The “Marry or Move-In” Paradox: HOW LGBTQ SURVIVORS IN NORTH CAROLINA HAVE BEEN LEFT BEHIND BY MARRIAGE EQUALITY
by Wilson Hood
When North Carolina’s Amendment One, a constitutional amendment barring our state from recognizing or performing same-sex marriages or civil unions, was formally found to be unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court on by LGBTQ and anti-intimate partner violence advocates alike. Aside from Amendment One’s outright discrimination against same-sex couples wishing to legally marry, many critics of the amendment pointed out the amendment’s potential effects on civil domestic violence protections for unmarried different-sex couples covered under
More than a year out from the defeat of Amendment One, LGBTQ and anti-intimate partner violence advocates in North Carolina have much to celebrate. However, the legal environment left
of securing a Domestic Violence Protective Order must be “current or former spouses, people of the opposite sex who live or have lived together, parent and child or grandparent and grandchild, parents with a child in common, current or former household members, or people of the opposite sex who are or have been in a dating relationship.” The defeat of Amendment One, and the formal recognition of marriage equality that accompanied experiencing IPV in same-sex married relationships, but the law has yet to include survivors in abusive same-sex relationships who are neither married nor cohabitating. This leaves a large proportion of LGBTQ survivors without adequate civil recourse under state law. Survivors in abusive same-sex relationships who
punishing (and largely ignored) paradox on many Contact Order, otherwise known as a Chapter under North Carolina law, survivors of IPV in same-sex relationships must marry or move in with their abusers, thereby exposing them to even greater threats of violence, before they qualify for civil domestic violence protections. The language of North Carolina’s existing domestic violence statute is clear. For the purposes
have the same vital features available under of separate criminal charges and arrest upon violation. Perhaps most disturbingly, Civil No-Contact Orders do not carry the same mandatory
abusers as DVPOs. Considering this in light of possession and deaths from intimate partner violence- one study by the American Medical Association found that family and intimate
Survivors of Intimate * indicates that resource has an instant escape option
confront the fact that we are condemning many LGBTQ survivors in our state to death at the end of their abuser’s gun. In addition, the “marry or move-in” paradox in our civil domestic violence law renders a demographic within the LGBTQ community least likely to either have married or lived with their abusers- LGBTQ youth and students- especially vulnerable. According to a study by the Urban Institute, 46 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth respondents reported experiencing physical
trans youth respondents reported experiencing physical dating violence.
(919) 843-5376 • lgbtq.unc.edu Gender Violence Services Drop-In Hours: Thursdays 3-5pm UNC GENDER VIOLENCE SERVICES: (919) 962-1343 firstname.lastname@example.org sexualassaultanddiscriminationpolicy.unc. edu UNC OFFICE OF THE DEAN OF STUDENTS (FOR INTERIM PROTECTIVE MEASURES): deanofstudents.unc.edu (919) 966-4042 • email@example.com *COMPASS CENTER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES: (919) 929-7122 • compassctr.org
LGBTQ students at UNC are neither married nor cohabitating with their partners, if they currently students on our campus experiencing intimate partner violence are not currently eligible for civil domestic violence protections under state law. How can we expect LGBTQ student survivors to Carolina’s next generation of leaders if that very state implicitly tells them that their lives are not worthy of protection?
ORANGE COUNTY RAPE CRISIS CENTER: (866) 935-4783 firstname.lastname@example.org • ocrcc.org
(919) 832-4484 info@lgbtCenterofRaleigh.com lgbtcenterofraleigh.com
TRIANGLE: (919) 821-0055 The time has come for us to stop telling LGBTQ survivors of interpersonal violence, and particularly LGBTQ youth and student survivors, that their lives aren’t worth defending. The freedom of LGBTQ persons in our state to legally marry that was secured by the downfall of Amendment One should not become a requirement for survival. Indeed, until the legal reality changes for many LGBTQ survivors in our state, the “freedom” to marry may not be much of a “freedom” at all.
*NC COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: (919) 956-9124 • nccadv.org INSIDEOUT (SUPPORT GROUP FOR (919) 923-7884 • insideout180.org email@example.com THE TREVOR PROJECT: 1-866-488-7386 • thetrevorproject.org
Spring 2015 | Page 18
The Siren | Page 19
by Alice Wilder
Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. In many cases, these hidden messages may invalidate the group identity or experiential reality of target persons, demean them on a personal or group level, communicate they are lesser human beings, suggest they do not belong with the majority group, threaten and intimidate, or relegate them to inferior status and treatment (Psychology Today).
making mistakes is a part of learning. But that wasn’t the problem here. This experience was
always silent—most of the class is half asleep. Ten weeks into the semester, and I’m about to speak in
1. The “No Raised Hand:” I’ve seen this happen in every lecture class I’ve ever been in. Women tend to raise their hands
microaggressions in the classroom. It’s a subtle reminder that although you may be in the classroom, you have no ownership of the space. The following are the most common microaggressions I experience in classrooms. I’m speaking from my experience as a white ciswoman with boatloads of privilege, but please keep in mind that microaggressions impact many students of different identities.
questions three times, raising his voice each time to scare someone into answering. as if it’s a small discussion seminar. Come on I stick my hand in the air. Everyone is the lecture hall is staring at their keyboards. The professor looks around the classroom. I’m sure he’s about to call on me.
courtesy! We’ve all been doing this since the
2. The Professor Interruption: When women do answer questions, I’ve seen some professors
And a guy in the front row starts talking, hand to be seen.
and clarify that the professor actually didn’t represent what they were trying to say. Again,
I put my hand down, glance at the girl next to me, who gives me a knowing look.
Let me be clear—there is nothing wrong with being wrong in class. We are here to learn, and
3. The “Super Intense :” I was called “super intense” by male classmates
because I spoke in class discussions. Meanwhile, the guys were passionate and intellectual. This was yet another class where nobody spoke. Students would be giving presentations and asking questions to a completely silent class. So I answered their questions, spoke up, helped them out as they were very clearly panicking. I made a concerted effort not to speak too often. But speaking more than twice gets you labeled “super intense.” Why are we taught that caring
5. The Front Row: This one isn’t exactly a microaggression, but it’s another indication of
is unattractive? There is clearly a difference between adding something to a discussion and monopolizing the class, but this isn’t really about that. It’s about making women second guess their right to speak and making them feel guilty for speaking at all.
Women may be attending college in high numbers, we may make up most of UNC-Chapel Hill’s population, but that doesn’t mean we’re getting equal space in the classroom. These microaggressions remind us every day that this is still not our space.
4. The Laptop Question: Our professor is bemoaning the low attendance in his class and then adds that those who do attend rarely pay attention. “How many of you are online shopping right now? And then let’s sort that by gender.” He laughs. Hahaha I’m taking notes right now, but it’s always fun to know that you assume female students are online shopping during class. Do you know what does not increase my enthusiasm about a class? Having the professor say to the entire class that he thinks many of the women in the classroom are shopping online.
classrooms. Next time you’re in a large lecture hall that’s not a WGST class, check out who all is in the front row. What is the deal with this ya’ll? I know that I tend to sit in the third or fourth row because I worry that sitting in the or a teacher’s pet.
microaggressions in the classroom, and I bet you have your own list of stories. Share them with us and help us push back on the everyday discrimination that happens in our classrooms.
Share your microaggression stories with us at UNCMicroaggressions.tumblr.com UNC Siren will post your stories to promote awareness about microaggressions and to work towards a safer, more inclusive campus community.
Spring 2015 | Page 20
The Siren | Page 21
AT CAROLINA T U M B L R . S U B M I S S I O N S “Well, I’m pretty sure they’d rather have a pretty girl working for them than another nerdy Asian guy, so you’ll probably still get the job.” - After I told my (ex) boyfriend I had completely bombed my phone interview with Google for a software engineering position Guy at party (that I don’t know) starts to try to hug me as I’m walking in the door. Me: “(Trying to get away from him) Sorry, I don’t really like hugging people I don’t know.” Guy: “Why do you hate me?”
photo courtesy of Alice Wilder
Spring 2015 | Page 22
The Siren | Page 23
by Johanna Ferebee the organization entirely. My motivations for
in America have grown increasingly fragile to confronting what media colloquially refers to as “racial tensions”. People of color and marginalized identities know these “tensions” to be a continued, ongoing reality. The internet and social media have spurred our heightened awareness of issues included, have long understood through the lens of rose-colored glasses. I believe that in order to more forward, it is essential to participate in a productive discussion rather than to shy away from topics that make us uncomfortable. Fear of division on the basis of recognizing our differences does a disservice to the complexity of cultures and identities that inhabit our diverse nation. I feel compelled to contribute to this conversation considering my prior involvement in a system I know from experience to oppress and silence such identities and those who attempt to elicit positive change. Our generation has the responsibility to honor the tremendous efforts of our ancestors who have made power structures visible through boldly combatting our own present-day forms of social oppression. It is important to understand that not only instances of overt racism need to be addressed, but also the simple day-today behaviors and actions of organizations of young people- especially white young peoplewho perpetuate indifference whilst occupying
Throughout my membership of a prestigious Panhellenic sorority, I witnessed numerous occurrences of overtly racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, and intimidating behavior from members and leaders alike. After several failed attempts to address these institutional weaknesses, I
“cool” sorority. Although I met invaluable friends through my former sorority and acknowledge the system fosters a powerful network for sisterhood, philanthropy, and culture, after repeatedly encountering behavior and policy that challenged my education, my troubled conscience outweighed “White Trash Bash” and “What Would You Be Without Your Degree?” reek of willfully ignorant elitism. It felt utterly irresponsible to continue membership and remain a silent observer after either indifference or blatant resistance during
During Panhellenic sorority fall recruitment, a time that ought to make any vaguely conscious person cringe, I witnessed and participated in as a sorority woman. A process in recruitment, “scoop sheets”, involves announcing the names of every single potential new member preparing to “rush” the following week. In a room of one information on X individual to assist in our compilation of the year’s pledge class, no matter for “slut”, was used repeatedly to shame the reputations of women most of us had never met. As if “marketing” potential new members on secret posters throughout a main area of the house marketed as “hot Indian” and “hot Asian” wasn’t enough (needless to market a white woman as such), an individual stood up and uttered words I will never forget. Sheepishly laughing, the then member stated, “She’s like Asian.... but she’s not” while advocating for a friend of hers and the entire room erupted in laughter. For the socially aware, this easily translates to “she’s white like us”. Sitting in the room visibly alarmed by roaring, agreeable laughter, I was told, “Calm down, Jo”.
So now, I am calm. I’ve analyzed with peers and myself over what my clandestine experiences indicate for society in the year since my departure. This instance is nothing close to the worst I have witnessed, but was the most obvious example of daily groupthink going unchecked and virtually unnoticed I can recall and legally disclose. Realizing my organization was explicitly and unashamedly valuing whiteness- or perceived whiteness- as a marketable commodity was disturbing to say the least. Exploiting multiculturalism for the social value of “diversity” in such a way seems incredibly disingenuous, especially considering this member now holds the highest leadership position possible in the UNC Panhellenic system. Complacency is active. I refuse to remain passive in the face of blatantly destructive groupthink behavior. It is socially irresponsible to boil down circumstances such as these to political correctness or hypersensitivity. Xenophobia, racism and other “isms” for this matter will remain rampant as long as people are complicit in not recognizing them. The fact that one hundred women witnessed these incidences and not one lack of transparency can breed. So much can be said about my experiences that I cannot possibly attempt to tackle in a single post, but I do know system that perpetuates the exclusion of people based on class, ethnicity and sexuality. Exclusivity in this manner is destructive, happens frequently and often without notice.
What more do we as members of the dominant power group possibly need to shake the consciousness of our generation?
to a system that desperately needs reform. Not every member of my former sorority subscribes to this behavior and I applaud them for not buckling under the pressure to conform. You know who you are, and I love you. To the one woman with my concerns at the time, I hope you have taken strides to address these shortcomings and will continue to combat indifference fearlessly. To those of you on the fringes, who feel a slight tug in their conscience, who feel their moral compass wavering; I encourage you to confront these feelings with a sense of urgency. Failing to do point that it takes a video of white millennials condemnation, yet everything up until that point we seem blind to. To the people who ignored me in the Panhellenic choose to be ignorant. It is our duty as members of the dominant power group to actively address instances of exclusive behavior whilst recognizing the role whiteness plays in our daily lives. I am begging you to wake up.
Spring 2015 | Page 24
The Siren | Page 25
Silent Sam by Leah Osae
What does Silent Sam know about silence? Does being silent mean perishing in a lost war? If silence is death, then have I died alive? Orientation surely did not prepare me for my humanityâ€™s funeral, but my death-ridden corpse of a mouth still has questions for our Fallen Martyr. Our Emblem of Silence. Does Silent Sam know about being pulled out of your seventh grade classroom for no reason? Does he know about being segregated from your classmates solely because your blackness screams intimidation? Does Silent Sam know about being called coal and smut and tar to the point where you forgot your own name and your own face and could only see mud and dirt and grime in the mirror?
that the binary is absolute and that your feelings are invalid? Does Silent Sam know the Art of Passing? Does he know the Tongue of Self Deprecation and Self Denial? Is he well versed in the Tales of Imaginary Identities? Does Silent Sam know about believing that your existence is antagonistic? That your gender is illusory? That your sexuality is rebellious? That your race is intolerable?
Does Silent Sam know about being the â€œonly oneâ€? in your chemistry class? In your biology class? In your shows? In your movies? In your own stories? In your own imagination? Does Silent Sam know about building an economy on your back? Carrying the bricks of a University on your shoulders and in your arms, only to be reduced to a granite tabletop where people wipe their feet? Does Silent Sam know silence beyond the bullet? Does he know about erasing the lines of your body
Does he know about the silence that predates death? Does he know about the silence that occurs when your state and your University try to bury you alive? Does he know how it feels to scream through the dirt?
Spring 2015 | Page 26
The Siren | Page 27
A Day at UNC with and without by Amanda Kubic
A Day at UNC with Sexist/Trans-Exclusive Language (a.k.a. A Normal Day at UNC):
A Day at UNC without Sexist/Trans-Exclusive Language (a.k.a. The Rise of Y’all):
I, and other non-male-identifying people with me,
I hear people use gender-neutral collective pronouns, like “y’all” and “everyone,” when addressing more than one person.
I picked up an issue of The Daily Tar Heel and saw I see that The Daily Tar Heel referred to as “freshmen.” at UNC. I heard myself, and other women of my age, referred to as “girls” by my friends, professors, as “women” or “womyn.” I heard people refer to a person’s expression of frustration as “bitching”—twice.
I hear people talk about others complaining or venting, but I never hear the term “bitching.”
I heard students and professors dichotomizing all people into the categories of “man” or
I notice everyone being referred to by their preferred gender pronouns. No one is assumed to identify a certain way, or any way.
binary or acknowledging the presence of other identities.
I hear students in all organizations, including Greek life, being referred to as “members” or
I heard a member of a co-ed fraternity refer to all of the members as “brothers” even though not all I am referred to as a writer. Always. I heard myself referred to as a woman writer. 3 times.
Addendum: In this piece I have tried to point out seemingly harmless instances of sexist or trans-exclusive language. For example, “you guys” is one of the most prevalent and ostensibly harmless uses of sexist language that I hear every day on UNCChapel Hill’s campus. I hear it from faculty, staff, and other students. I see it on social media. I read it in editorials, comments, and columns from The
Daily Tar Heel. heard it come from my own mouth. But “you guys” isn’t a generic term referring to a group composed of individuals with different gender identities. In her article “What Sociology Teaches Me,” UNCChapel Hill Sociology professor Sherryl Kleinman
to refer to students in particular classes. Yet in
from the picture.” The phrase makes men and maleness the standard, the norm, and ignores all who do not identify with the male gender. Similarly, referring to all members of a co-ed fraternity as “brothers” erases the existence of women and other non-male-identifying people. The solution isn’t to call all male members “brothers” and all female members “sisters.” This, for one, reinforces the gender binary. It also implies that gender is somehow relevant to that person’s membership in the organization. Unless an individual wants
at some institutions, including Whitman College and The University of Arkansas at Monticello, of
personal reasons, it seems unnecessary to refer to someone as a “sister” rather than a member, as a “chairwoman” rather than a chair, or as a time for UNC to embrace non-sexist and transinclusive alternatives for some of the words we say every day. We can start with the publications our University circulates.
language policy, thanks in large part to the efforts Hill policy statement on gender-inclusive language Hill is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our community. Consistent with that commitment, upper-level student, etc.) should be used on University documents, websites and policies.” Yet like The Daily Tar Heel, do not fully abide by this policy. Writers at the DTH continue to use terms
all DTH articles must abide by the AP Stylebook— the standard style guide for the newspaper industry. The AP Stylebook dictates that the titles
School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill, author Andy Bechtel writes alternative to freshman” and that it should be
news publications. There was even a movement at the DTH change its language policy. Students and faculty wrote several letters to the DTH editor, including one entitled “Lack of gender-inclusive language disappointing,” written by Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney and Executive Associate Provost Ron Strauss. Carney and Strauss expressed their “disappointment” that the DTH had chosen not to follow the new campus policy of gender-neutral language use. increase accuracy. A community committed to inclusiveness should demonstrate its commitment
Despite this movement, the DTH did not change its policy. But that does not mean it never will. As UNC-Chapel Hill’s largest and most widely-read student publication, the DTH has a responsibility students. If the students of UNC-Chapel Hill, including the writers at the DTH, make it known trans-exclusive language at our university, we can make this change happen. This is one small piece of my vision for a better UNC-Chapel Hill. If every individual on this campus made a commitment to constantly and consistently use non-sexist and trans-inclusive language, we could start deconstructing some of the harmful systems of oppression that operate on this campus. The language we use has power. It has the power to harm, but it also has the power to heal. It is time that we start holding ourselves and our institutions responsible for the words we use.
Spring 2015 | Page 28
The Siren | Page 29
by Alice Wilder
Aisha Anwar and Layla Qoran spent much of this semester hearing the stories of Muslims across North Carolina and how they express their faith in their daily lives. The stories they found were complex, inspiring, and represented the incredible
case. There are some voices that are seen as more important. There are voices that are characterized in certain ways. Aisha: As “defensive” or not.
Passion in Practice.
Layla: Yeah, and I think that the day that we can see everyone’s voice is looked at with an equal value., I hope to come back to a UNC that can be
I spoke to Aisha and Layla about their exhibit, love for the Muslim Students Association, and how non-Muslim students can support the Muslim community. The full interview can be found at uncsiren.com.
as a whole. I don’t want UNC to be this bubble of something positive whereas everything around it is not characteristic of it.
Siren: years what would you like to see? What would a non-oppressive, healthy UNC look like to you? Layla: I think when things happen at UNC they’re students, negative things or positive things, on I come back to UNC I’d like to see a campus where all voices are heard equally, where one voice isn’t equated to be more important than anybody else.
Aisha: So coming at it from what I want to see for my Muslim community at UNC, I want to see more people in the arts writing and doing photography. I want to see two or three people at the DTH that can represent that way. And I want people to care more, I want people to make the parallels between different struggles and connect humanity across the world. I want people to be aware of the different things that are happening a lot of people do that, and I know that as humans we can only care about so many things at once, but if you could make the parallels between different things- is a huge thing for me. So like, the Black
photos c ourtesy o f Anisha P adma struggle being connected to the Palestine struggle. From an academic standpoint- there are comic books books that are created to explain the Black struggle in America that are being used in Palestine to teach civil disobedience. That is the way this world works, that is beautiful and amazing. I want people to see these connections and that’s one reason I advocate for the humanities because taking a global studies class or humanities class, take one
certain groups, especially people of color. What’s suffering so much at the hands of Israel, it’s all about this idea that one group is better than the other and deserves more than the other and that goes not only with the idea of taking land but also with voices and how one voice is seen as more important than the other.
open your eyes, that class is all about connecting struggles across the world and seeing how related they are. Aand it’s so important because that’s the moment where you can sit down and say, I know that my community is struggling with this but this is not isolated and we don’t have to self isolate,
Aisha: I don’t want people to be afraid to talk about race, I feel like even here and the way that we’ve been brought up in the U.S., we’ve learned to talk around the problem a lot and de-racialize issues. Some people feel like we have to deradicalize an issue that is deeply rooted in that before they can enver and feel like they have a right to speak on it., I feel like everyone needs to understand that
community. You can’t mush all struggles together, recognize that, but also know that the struggle is the same in a way too.
in race issues, and they have to be able to walk into that and talk about it in a nuanced manner. I want more constructive conversation on campus.
Layla: There are all these things about colonialism Read the full interview at UNCSiren.com. group of people, there’s a history of colonialism and imperialism the idea of an empire all over
Spring 2015 | Page 30
The Siren | Page 31
WOODWALKER, SMOKETALKER by Dylan Yonsh Su-Chun Mott
face your fear look ‘em straight in the eye and shoot. when i write i write backwards placing thought before word on a race downhill. I got a drumbeat on my soul and sesame oil on my breath. some kinda hybrid creation – if i was created in the image of god, god must be some kinda mixed kid… i couldn’t see myself in the stain-glass-god they had put up over the baptistery, pale and heavily bearded, eyes turned upwards towards heaven and white.cis.God, may He be praised. Nah. That wasn’t for me. Now i hold church for myself down by the creek my hymns like old gospel tunes hanging over the waters, singsong “I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid.” In the dark down the hollow, where the cold water rolls by. Me and the creek cry sometimes and remember. Remember what we had and what we lost, what we wish we could remember, and what we longed to forget.
See, i come from the blue ridge mountains –those hills are perpetually, eternally blue. The Old Ones tell us, Remember, they interrupt our dreaming. Those blueberry hues cast over the hills are the shadows of the gods, it’s like god come home to roost, spreading their feather cloak all about blanketing the ridge’s curves.
Once, i seen the dinner table of god. Sah-ka-nah-ga. Watched them sit down to sup. watching the table of god ‘til long after the night came in and the valley grew dark, long after god had already retired to their sleeping place and the cricket and nightbird had already begun to sing their nightly serenade.
This winter on the longest night of the year, i felt my soul inside me dying. i knew it was going to pass the day before, and i readied myself preparing potion in a handleless teacup, crossed irises enameled blue and gold on the porcelain concealing a concoction of limoncello, tea, and honeycolored oxtail fat skimmed off a plastic tub my mom had in the fridge. It’s for the coating in her sciatic nerve. The fat smelled so sweet – that’s how sick i was, that i craved the poison. Two sips in and i spit it all up, pale mixture of oxtail alcohol and bile. It was then, in the dark, by our hedge of hemlocks on the drive, that my soul exited my body. It was a pitiful thing, what was left of my stagnant soul.
codependent relationship. I remember how much i hated myself and how much i wanted to die. the little shit gets ‘hold of you sinks its little shit fangs and claws in and makes you hate your whole self only cuz you been made to — fugging vampire makes you confuse that little shit with your whole self your holy self. Then one night this week, I was taking my evening walk
It was a while before i noticed that my soul had returned. when i did, it was such a sudden realization, and i laughed. i felt the familiar weight in my chest again–welcome. i had been alone for so long, so empty, so gone… I was down by the creek in the middle of the night, eyes wide – marbles mirroring the sky above me they say that in the old days, each person was celebrated by the People when they growed up a coming into one’s own, publically. but i wasn’t at home anymore when that was supposed to be happening with me. I am not a man or a woman, heyo hey.
I’m two spirited queer as fuck. Who am I? my soul poured out of the blue, blue sky above me My soul was home. And I whispered to my soul “Shh, shh, thank you. I see you. I promise I’ll take care of you” Only this time my soul was different. this time I am not afraid. The deed was done. that completed. This time I walk with a surer step my rigid muscles grow soft and supple, slowly but surely. to wear off? This time I know who I am again why I’m here. See, i come dreaming of another planet where I don’t have to be afraid of dogs no more where i won’t catch myself wincing and looking for cover every time a white boy shoots me a glance. I have this memory of running through the creek bottom bathed in mud to hide my scent, and smoke to confuse my trail, fully alive in the knowledge that if they catch me with those dogs, they’d string me up in a tree. Not Jesus of Nazareth but Peter the Rock, body ‘live, cut my ears and my hair, my nose, my lips and eyelids – they practiced their carving skills taking bets to see who could cut my body clean in two in the fewest strokes. Then they praised their god, thanking Him for granting them the victory that day, making burnt offerings and sacrament of my
There’s a reason you think there’s no such thing as an Indian faggot, why you say I don’t even exist. Cuz they tried to kill us all. But we went underground, mixed into the soil of this place waiting for the right conditions to grow again. And to bloom.
I am not afraid. Just called the cops on the dude upstairs. He’s stomping around pissed. Godwilling, I will be safe. Calling cops as a queer 2spirit doesn’t feel safe. But this is what it is. Be fearless.
Spring 2015 | Page 32
The Siren | Page 33
REMINDERS by Mars Earle
do not wait for the love poems from some boy’s lips that you don’t want to kiss anymore or even those that you do. sing for yourself, raise your own from that death bed. you are halfway through. do not tell them white coats you hear voices, of dead dream fragment people. they will not hear you speak of comfort or remember their savior talked through burned witches’ dreams too. and you are right to say slow down slow down slow down. do not cry for long when they try to lighten your skin on those bathroom tiles, worry when it peels but won’t come off. you are bronzed, not painted, the mineral that they chip their nails on, more than a cliff side for them to harvest fromyou are the entire mountain. you have always been whole and enough. our worth includes the struggle as much as the production, our skin is more than the ashes of their ruined empire, our stories’ roots far deeper in the ground than their dysfunctional utopias, instead, grow saplings from where blood was pourn. instead, make those suffocating bedsheets into pairs of gills. instead, tell them of the three daughters who survived. tell them how many generations you have been lying, tell them how thin the air tastes when you can’t breathe whole-chest, hands up, eyes rolled, tell them how the sky changes color depending on who’s talking, which dead dream fragment people come to lead you home now, tell them, but we have always been whole, tell themfrom the stones in our stomach where you tried to sink us, we will build cities.
Spring 2015 | Page 34
seeking support after an unwanted sexual experience? for confidential services, visit any of the following: at UNC campus health services counseling & psychological services (CAPS) university ombuds office
in any emergency
off campus orange county rape crisis center compass center for women and families
Your DHRE Staff Department of Public Safety Office of the Dean of Students Deputy Title IX / Student Complaint Coordinator
RESOURCES and INTERIM PROTECTIVE MEASURES for Sexual Harassment, Sexual and Relationship Violence including: campus-based no contact orders changes in housing or changes in class schedules
can be obtained by contacting... Deputy Title IX / Student Complaint Coordinator Ew Quimbaya-Winship SASB North, Suite 1125 firstname.lastname@example.org 919-843-3878
Office of the Dean of Students SASB North, Suite 1106 email@example.com 919-966-4042