Late Degradation

by MSC Student Life Intern, Lewis

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In February, Kanye West went on The Breakfast Club and publicly slut-shamed his former partner of almost 2 years, Amber Rose. Amber Rose was a stripper. His current partner and wife, Kim Kardashian, has been considered, by some, to be a porn actress. Kanye West has loved both of these women. And yet somehow Amber Rose is considered the dirty, shameless, jealous ex-partner, bent on destroying the happy family utopia that is the West’s. My point here is that though both women have well documented sexual pasts, only Rose is demonized for her sexuality. This has to do with (perceived) Blackness.

Rose, who self-identifies as biracial, does not benefit from the same white privilege that has kept Kim in the good graces of the public and the media (and Yeezy) despite a seemingly similar sexual history. Because of this white privilege, Kim is allowed to express her sexuality while Amber Rose is condemned for it, and now Ye has joined in on that condemnation.

Here’s an excerpt from the blog Beyond Black and White‘s post on Kanye’s interview,

Then he says this: “It’s very hard for a woman to want to be with someone who was with Amber Rose. She wasn’t sending nothing. I had to take 30 showers before I got with Kim. Don’t ask me no more [laughs] I just want to be respectful.” TRANSLATION: Amber is a “dirty” black(ish) broad who’s not virginal. Kim is a “dirty” white broad who’s not virginal. But we all know when black women aren’t virginal they’re THOTS…” 

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This is a surprising oversight from the same artist who spent the better half of the last decade preaching strong political messages in support of Black culture. The same artist who wrote songs like, “New Slaves” and “Golddigger.” The same artist who has repeatedly claimed he is stonewalled from the fashion industry because of his Blackness.


Honestly, what it sounded like to me is that Kanye’s personal insecurities began to poke through, and like so many men, he remedied this by bashing women. He was uncomfortable. He was uncomfortable being confronted about his once love for a woman that the media has so eagerly degraded, and thus outpoured a string of excuses straight from chapter 1 of “Sexism for Dummies (read: Insecure cis-gender men).” He was uncomfortable talking about his ex-partner’s sexuality. The same sexuality that he once found so attractive, he now sees as threatening. As a cis-gender man, I have been around these same conversations myself – i.e. Bob’s ex-girlfriend has hooked up with someone new and confronted with the news Bob responds by calling his ex-partner a slut, a whore, and essentially reducing any and all feelings they shared for each other to the uglier side of his own insecurities.

I am disappointed (but not surprised) in Kanye. I am disappointed in Kim for allowing her husband to publically slut-shame another woman. I am disappointed.

Do better, Yeezus.

Cultural Appropriation, Appreciation and Exchange…What does it all mean?

by MSC Student Life Intern, Daisy

As a person of color and an aspiring fashion designer I get asked a lot about cultural appropriation in everyday life, Halloween, and in fashion. Cultural appropriation can be very confusing, especially when trying to distinguish it from cultural exchange and appreciation.

To start of lets define some terms:

As a Mexican American, I have seen people paint their faces as sugar skulls and wear sombreros and ponchos on Halloween while yelling out “I’m Illegal, deport me!” While these may be very obvious and blatantly racist and disrespectful forms of cultural appropriation, other forms of cultural appropriation are not as easy for people to identify and understand.

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Cultural appropriation is harmful because it perpetuates stereotypes, exercises modern day imperialism by treating other cultures as something that can be taken and commoditized, exotifies cultures, disrespects and steals from minority and marginalized groups.

A helpful way to look at this may be to call it social plagiarism. We all know that it is not okay to take something that is not yours when it comes to academia. Why should it be any different when it comes to cultures? It is important to do your research and credit where something comes from.

I often get questioned on why it is okay for people to wear French berets as a fashion statement and not a Native Headdress to a music festival or a Mexican sombrero to a drinking party. Or why is it okay for people of color to wear jeans and suits but not okay for people of privilege to sport box braids and “ghetto fab” clothing.

Cultural appropriation involves a dominant majority culture taking something from a marginalized group. This often has a double standard attached to it as well; for example how is it that when someone of privilege sports dreadlocks or gelled down baby hairs because they think it is cool are viewed as edgy and hip whereas someone part of the culture is be seen as “ghetto” or unprofessional.

It is also important to realize that in many cases of cultural appropriation all that is stolen is the pretty and aesthetically pleasing aspects of it. For example, when someone wears a geisha costume (like Katy Perry in her 2013 AMA performance) and uses it as a costume or prop, all cultural significance and meaning is stripped away. But it is so beautiful, what is wrong with appreciating its beauty and wanting to wear it? The problem here is that while Katy Perry may look beautiful, at the end of the day, she gets to take off the costume and does not have to deal with the stereotype and exoticism she just reinforced.

click the image to read more about Katy Perry’s culturally appropriative VMA’s performance.

A culture is not a prop, it is not something to be taken and altered for your pleasure, it is not something to wear for personal expression because you think it is cool, it is not a fashion statement.


For more literature on understanding cultural appropriation read this zine, Cultural Appreciation or Cultural Appropriation

Calling All Young Artists! The Good Life Organization wants to hear your Voice!

The Good Life Organization, based out of Chicago and impacting cities across the nation, is putting out an open call to youth artists to share their voices, experiences, and art through a student organized, student led platform–The Youth Voice Nation Book.

What is the Good Life Organization? Watch and Find Out!

The Youth Voice Nation book was put together by Fulfill the Dream students as a means to showcase the work of young artists around the country. “Youth Voice Nation communicates a powerful message of hope as it accurately describes the harsh realities faced in communities around the nation, while also painting a picture of what is still possible.” The last edition of the Youth Voice Nation book had work from students all around the United States from cities like Los Angeles, CA to Providence, RI from Madison, WI to Cincinnati, OH. You can order the previous edition of the book or get the App in the Android and Apple Stores.

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If you’d like to contribute to the Good Life Organization’s next Youth Voice Book or know any youth looking for the opportunity to share their stories E-mail Marlon Salgado at m.salgado2013@gmail.com

Interested in learning more about The Good Life Organization? Follow their newsletter, Living the Good Life.

On This World AIDS Day

Take a moment to enjoy some poems, meditations, and prayers compiled by the Huffington Post.

“May these prayers and meditations offer hope to those living with HIV and AIDS, strength to all of those who continue to care for those people living with AIDS, wisdom to those who search for a cure, and courage to those who fight for a world where people living with HIV/AIDS are given respect and dignity.”

Read More…

If you are in the UW-Madison area, Crossroads is hosting World AIDS Day at the the Red Gym. Harlan Pruden, Two-Spirit activist and educator, will be speaking tonight in the On Wisconsin Room. Be sure to join us on this World AIDS Day!

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Click the Photo for the Facebook Event Page

What to Do in the Wake of the Ferguson Decision

by MSC Student Life Intern, Hiwot

Those who have been deeply following the events in Missouri since Mike Brown’s death in August and those like me (who have only been reading blurbs via Twitter and Tumblr and attempting some self preservation through disconnection) found ourselves in a single space, all somber, disappointed, unsurprised, and in pain.

What do we do? What can we do?

Immediately, cities across the nation had protests springing up in response to the verdict. Here in Madison, folks gathered in the Multicultural Student Center to await the verdict and commiserate about it afterwards.

Today in Madison, at 3:30PM, there will be a rally at the Jail on 115 W Doty.

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Click the Photo to reach the “Ferguson to Madison” Facebook Event Page.

And in response to this death, and the unfortunate deaths of numerous Black people, the gnawing, nagging question of, “Do we matter?” arose. The response was #blacklivesmatter, the response was organizing, rallying, protesting, and discussing the deeply rooted problems that allow so many Black lives to end violently without finding them proper justice. With the organization of the Gender & Women’s Studies Department of the University of Arizona and other sponsors like The Feminist Wire, there will be a Black Life Matters Conference from January 15th to January 17th. Registration for the conference is now open.

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From the “Black Lives Matter” Facebook page.

Remember, the MSC is a resource for students across campus. Check out hours listings and feel free to come into the space to use our facilities and resources, to borrow books from or social justice library to become more informed, or to talk to our interns and staff. We’re here.

Whether your response to the verdict is to organize, whether it is to sleep, to write, to cry, to pray, to sing, or to run into the arms of a loved one may you all stay safe, stay connected to the people who care about you the most, and stay alert.

A post on Bobby Shmurda and Respectability Politics

Last Monday, UW-Madison senior journalism student Michael Penn II gave us this piece on Bobby Shmurda and more specifically a response to the dehumanizing criticisms of the young rapper from Brooklyn.

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This open letter to Bobby Shmurda by blogger Imani Brammer had been circling the internet for days before Penn’s own article dropped. Brammer’s piece relied on condemnation of the rapper, his past, his lifestyle, and his lyrics.

Penn’s article looks into the appeal of Shmurda’s music, the possible trajectory of the young man’s career, his backstory, and the implications of respectability politics within the Black community.

Click here to Read Penn’s full article…

For more from Michael Penn II look here…

Native November

November is Native American Heritage month

Check out this video on Indigenous music makers and activists from the Rebel Music Project.

Learn more about Native November here on campus by lookin flier below or contacting the office of American Indian Student Services at aisas@ls.wisc.edu

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Click the Photo to see the American Indian Student Academic Services’ Facebook page.