The True Story of Thanksgiving

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This is a Transcript of a Video on my YouTube channel.

Tumblr Video Post

So this weekend is thanksgiving and I don’t know about you, but thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year! As a kid, I looked forward to  stuffing, gravy, collard greens and of course TURKEY!

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But what is thanksgiving?

Well, as kids we’d all dress up as cute little pilgrims and Indians and reenact the creation of tradition on stage.
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Thanksgiving was a tradition that started in Plymouth, Massachusetts by Pilgrims and Puritans who came to America from England in the 1620s.
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The Puritans escaped religious persecution in England and came to America on the Mayflower. They were on a pilgrimage to the New world! They arrived in Plymouth during the Winter and the land was strange and new to them.
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But they were in luck! The Native Americans greeted them with kindness and supplied them with seeds and plants and taught them how to survive on their new land!

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The Pilgrims planted the seeds and they grew and grew and grew. The Fall came and the crops had been plentiful!
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So to celebrate, the pilgrims harvested the crops and prepared a feast that they shared with the kind Native Americans who had helped them survive their first year in the new world.
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And everyone smiled and giggled and the Native Americans lived in Harmony with the Pilgrims for many many many years.

THE END!

Oh such a quaint little story!

It’s too bad it’s not entirely true.

If you grew up with this story, you’d be surprised to learn that many native Americans refer to Thanksgiving day as a national day of mourning. The truth is, Thanksgiving isn’t about Turkey and potatoes and pumpkin pie. Oh no, the truth is a lot less appetizing.
In 1633, Puritan settlements grew and started to expand to the Connecticut River Valley.
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They wanted to build homes and expand their settlements, but they had a problem: The Pequot.

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The Pequot had settled along the Mystic River long before the English decided to expand. There had been many disagreements between English Settlers and Native Americans. They had tried to reconcile their differences, but ultimately they were unsuccessful and this started what is known as the Pequot War.

The “war” wasn’t just between the Pequots and English Puritans, it was also between several other Native American tribes-including the Mohegan who aligned themselves with the English.
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It’s said that the Pequot and the Mohegan at one time were a united tribe that later split when English Settlers arrived.
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On May 26, 1637, English Settlers with the aid of the Mohegan and other ally tries set fire to the fortified Pequot Village near the Mystic River.
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Almost entirely Women and children were slaughtered in the massacre, and at the end of the day it’s estimated that about 700 of the Pequot died that day.
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The ones that survived were captured and sold as slaves to other tribes by the English.

The Pequot Massacre happened because of the murder of an English Trader who was supposedly accused by the Pequot of kidnapping children.As a result, John Mason lead forces into the village to massacre children along with women and the elderly.
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The overall intent was to completely genocide the Pequot. After the massacre, the name Pequot was erased from the map, the Pequot river became the Thames and their old land was renamed “New London.

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John Mason had this to say about the event:

“It may be demanded…Should not Christians have more mercy and compassion? But…sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents…. We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings.”

the next day The Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop stated:

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“A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.” It was signed into law that, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.”“

So in truth, the narrative we’re taught as children is a twisted version of what actually happened. and by celebrating that narrative, you’re celebrating a lie told to cover up the genocide of 700 native Americans. It’s important to note that as a child you’re, in many ways taught to view native Americans as the villains in many stories that depict early Americas. And the truth is that, this is how the Puritans saw the Native Americans. They considered them to be of something unholy and often described them as demonic or devil-like. And it’s that dehumanization that allowed them to do what they did. image

i think we should all take a moment on this day to recognize that this history that we teach our children about the holy Puritans and the savage Indians is incorrect.And frankly, I think we do a great  disservice to our children by telling stories that perpetuate the narrative of white innocence and validate the narrative of rabid people of color.

Thanksgiving, in truth, is a culmination of many celebrations. I personally choose to view Thanksgiving as simply a time to enjoy good food with the people i care about and have an open dialogue about what I’m personally thankful for.

There are so many stories of Native American Genocide and I can’t tell them all. For many native Americans this day will always represent genocide.
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I think that more Americans should be aware about the roots of this holiday and what I really want is for the Native Americans who see this video to give me their perspective on how they feel about this time of year.

On that note, i hope everyone’s having a wonderful day and as usual always remember and never forget that you are beautiful and you are loved. bye!

Learn more about the Pequot here

A summary of the Pequot War

About Thanksgiving

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Why I’m Not Going To Watch “Dear Black People”

Nicole Arbour is at it again with another video entitled “Dear Black People”. Now, I’m sure you can manage to find this video and I’m sure that me stating the name of the video in this piece will seem a bit ironic, but hear me out:

As a YouTuber who occupies the niche that I occupy, people are always very eager to see me “drag” fellow youtubers and say all of the things that they want to say. I have a platform and I absolutely do believe that i should use it to call out problematic content. In fact, I want to make it clear that I am not against the idea of calling out problematic content and you will, for sure, see me do it quite a bit on my channel. However, I’ve already been there and done that and there are a lot of things that I’ve learned in the process of calling out other YouTubers.

One of my biggest and perhaps most emotional call out was when I called out Arielle Scarcella for her transphobic content. The setting off point was when she uploaded a video called “Butch Les or Trans man” that was essentially inviting her audience (mostly cis) to determine whether or not the people she showed were Trans Men or Butch lesbian. The general point here being a good one, that gender expression and gender identity are not the same things and should not be conflated. However, the way it was presented was quite poor and potentially triggering to trans men who are often mistaken and invalidated as butch lesbian women. Now, while I am not trans masculine, again, I have a platform and decided to take her on. So what I did was I  wrote, filmed, and edited two very polite videos explaining to her how she mishandles transgender topics. I took my time and I made sure to be through because I looked at her channel and thought that it had such a capacity to do something good. She seemed receptive, we spoke outside of YouTube and she at least pretended that she was interested in creating better, more inclusive content. Even going as far as to send me a video she finished filming with a trans man as to say “hey look, i’ve done better!”. For a moment I had hope. I was really thinking that I got through to her and that she would user her platform, which is far larger than mine to do some good work….then she uploaded a video entitled “Would you date a lesbian with a penis”… The topic, of course, being trans women who are lesbians (a very large percent of trans women). I was honestly baffled that after all of our conversations and all of the work that we did she still would create a video like that with that title and that topic. I was frustrated because discussions about transgender women who are lesbians should absolutely be on a lesbicentric website, but of course, as she always does, she relied on shock titles. Several trans antagonistic social media posts later, I had lost it. I felt an extreme emotional sense of distraught knowing that I had a conversation with this person, they acknowledged what they did was wrong and then continued to do it anyways. And they’re still going.

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I learned a lot about this situation. I learned that, at the end of the day, YouTube is a business. At that time in my YouTube career, I don’t think I really saw that. I mean, sure I was earning income from youtube, but I certainly hadn’t earned enough to write home about. I would make a hundred bucks if I were lucky in a month. It wasn’t really something I took seriously, but the videos I made directed towards her were the foundation for the format of my current videos. Ultimately, Arielle continued to exploit the transgender community and one of the last things she said to me was this vague threat that I was to work with her or else. After all that, she wanted me to work with her. Arielle was fascinating to me. She’s, presumably, part of the LGBT community and like many of the more normative members of the “community”, she has this thing about people who criticize her just being “too sensitive” and will often discuss how people are just “too PC”. She has this mindset that people need to just shut up and get over it and grow a backbone because of course that’s what she’s had to do as a feminine cis white lesbian. It’s so easy to hold that position when you’re part of a majority group. Ultimately what I learned is that it’s easier and more financially beneficial for her to create content that exploits the trans community and frames them as freaks,than it is to create honest, frank, educational content about these issues.

But do you know what? That’s smart and there’s a method to this madness.

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When you look at her content and you look at the titles of the videos and the thumbnails, everything, you WANT to click on it. You want to click on something like “How to Cure Anxiety” or “Twat Smack” or something generically titled like “Lesbian Lap Dance”.  This is the way the game is played and it’s really quite simple and obvious. While a title like “from cis gay man to trans lesbian” is offensive and wrong and some could argue, oppressive, it still gets you curious and you still want to click on it. And what do those clicks mean? More money and higher google adsense earnings.

Now, these methods are really something that works on a casual viewer. I discovered that while a lot of my videos are viewed by subscribers, most people who watch my content are actually not subscribed at all to my channel. So it’s in a Youtuber’s best interest to create content like this where the subject matter is risqué or bizarre. That’s going to get the most clicks, the most likes, the most shares and the most viewer retention. So it doesn’t really even matter if the content itself is lacking, people still click and give it a chance and will often share it. One thing that shocked me a bit about the few Arielle Scarcella videos I’ve bothered myself to watch is this sense that they’re so close to being really great and informative videos, but they almost always leave me feeling like I ate a bunch of empty calories. I’m full, but I’m not nourished. Part of me reaching out to her was to say she can educate while still having these relatively short videos… but realistically her views are more important to her than her actual content. To be fair, however, unlike a lot of the people I criticize on YouTube, I know Arielle does put a degree of time and organization into her videos. So it isn’t like she isn’t trying to do something, I just don’t think – at least when it comes to trans stuff, that she’s really doing something that we need or want. I think her channel is great for some things, but I could do without the shock titles about trans folk.

So, back to Nicole Arbour. I see right through it. I’ve yet to watch Dear Fat People and unless I’m watching a video that somehow plays clips of Dear Black People, I won’t be watching that either. Why? Because I know exactly what it is. I know this is a situation where someone with a platform is occupying a mindset that is common among certain people, latching onto it and using it as her position. Yelling at fat people is what we already do in society. Pretending that we just all want fat people to lose weight and be happy is just a reflection of how fat people are viewed in society. She takes the mindset of the majority and amplifies it in a way that i’m sure she hardly believes in but is convincing in pretending that she does and people eat it up. I haven’t seen the Dear Black People video but I can almost tell you what it’s about exactly. It’s your typical, white, conservative rambling that establishes its grounds on “well hey, I’m really cool with black people” and “i’ve got a ton of black friends who love and support me” or “I really love black culture” and after phony compliment after phony compliment it ends with “but you people need to stop complaining and join us in the real world” and the coons rejoice and white people high five each other because “Finally someone’s said it”! Why anyone would think a white woman could possibly comment on the black American experience is baffling to me. But even more baffling to me is how much space people give her.

I was on a panel for Google a few months ago in Charleston with other black creators. Something said on that panel sticks in my head to this day and it’s haunted and illuminated me so much. Quinta from Buzzfeed was discussing the tragedy that was Daisha getting her skin white washed by a white makeup artist. Now, Quinta knew it was foolish as did every black woman in the room. But do you know what she said about Buzzfeed? That at least people were talking. That ultimately that is the final conclusion and goal of Buzzfeed. To get people to talk. And HONESTLY? As a content creator… I not only understand that but I think it’s smart. When we think about stories, what stories are more interesting? Stories where everything is happy and there are no conflict, or stories about dysfunction, journeys and over coming adversity? Ultimately the controversy keeps us talking. Ultimately the bad the comes out of a piece of content still has positive returns. While sure, there are aspects of Nicole Arbour’s life that are altered because of what many see as negative videos, she now has everyone, including me talking about her and I didn’t even know who she was until this. What I need people to understand is that this is the end conclusion and goal to these types of videos. You click, you watch, they get paid, they get promoted and it works. Raven Symone may say some terrible things on The View, but more people are turning in to see her say those terrible things. The companies still get paid and it’s in their best interest to keep them on. NBC isn’t getting rid of Raven any time soon for that reason. There is more of a good financial reason to keep her. The same can be said for so many situations.

At the end of the day, I want for everyone to be more aware of this and realize that you reacting and sharing the videos with your long drawn out criticisms of it… are a waste of time. These people are not ignorant. They are educated and they know what they’re doing not only on a very shallow and easy money level, but also on the level of utilizing social media to it’s largest potential. These people are strategists, trust me and it’s working for them. Rarely do they believe everything they say, but they’re willing to put themselves in a bit of an uncomfortable situation because, well, it pays.

Start being critical of the media that you digest. If you know it’s created to hurt you, do not consume it. Do not swallow it. Spit it out and digest something that is created to uplift and enrich you. I do not believe in ignoring or over looking your challenges, but understand that tapping into the text book hatred of the majority group is not something done to have real conversations about what’s at hand. Don’t waste your time trying to explain your humanity to someone who knows better, but doesn’t care.

I made a video about this on my channel. Check it out.

Mermaid Makeup // ft. Allie X

I was super excited when Allie X’s team contacted me to do a collaboration video with Allie X’s music. I have been obsessed with her music for a while and when I knew I was going to do a Mermaid video for Halloween, I thought that her song Catch would go perfect with the aesthetic. I really enjoy the simple way that her music is published on Youtube with the use of looping gifs of her in various fashions. So I infused that into this video. Hope everyone’s having a great Halloween!

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Why You Shouldn’t Forgive Geris Hilton

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Gerod Roth, aka Geris Hilton, was recently the subject of a media firestorm after a screen shot of his Facebook page went viral. The screen shot was of the comment section on his new profile picture that depicts a young black child standing behind him.

 

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He and his friends left a myriad of insensitive racist comments and ultimately he was relieved of his position at the Polaris Marketing Group. When I heard this news, my instant response was “good riddance”. As some of you know, I recently had my own issue with online harassment that ultimately resulted in the person who harassed me online getting fired. While i never wanted my harasser fired, I was glad that he was because it showed that there were repercussions for his actions. Quite frankly, there should be.

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This is the age of information and if you work for a company where you have to interact with the public, you generally sign contracts that tell you what you can and can’t put on social media. These companies do not want to actions of their employees to lead to large lawsuits.  So on that basis alone, if you violate a contract, it’s only reasonable that they relieve you of your duties. This situation, in particular ,struck me because the child is a coworker’s son named Cayden. Knowing that, he took this photo, without his mother’s consent, uploaded it onto his page and then allowed his friends to say what were pretty distinctly racist comments. This lead to him and some of his friends losing their jobs.

Gerod finally spoke out with Fox 5 News and essentially said that the screen shots were edited and that he never said anything that was racist. He added that he respects and loves Cayden and his mother and would never do anything to attack a child that plays with his own daughter. Now, the interesting thing about this is that there are actually several and several different people on several different devices all have the same screenshots. Yet he wants us to truly believe that he was simply framed for this and that he truly isn’t the racist here, his friends are. Here’s his apology:

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There are several things about this that immensely bother me, but the thing that sticks in my mind is how he utilizes his girlfriend and his daughter, both women of color as a defense against his own, blatant racism. I worry for the environment that child is raised in where she has to hear her white father refer to her as “feral”. In other comments, he stated that he often jokes about her “legal status” as well. It may all be fun and games for Gerod, but these are real points of pain for people of color. While his daughter doesn’t understand now she will when she gets older. Having several followers who are people of color who were raised by white people, I hear all the time that when you have parents that are white that raise you in that sort of environment, all it does is breed resentment. Furthermore, if you didn’t catch the full reference “Sambos” are a blackface caricature that represents Mammy’s unkempt and, yes “feral” children. The Sambo places himself in danger because of the Mammy’s negligence and is often depicted as “Alligator Meat” in blackface imagery. These things all connect and I refuse to believe that he was simply unaware of that.

Part of me was really willing to take a step back from all of this and say, maybe it really was just his friends. I mean, when you look at the screenshots, he really does only say that line about him being feral. I’m always willing to leave space for the notion that maybe, just maybe the “lefty” media is out of control and found a narrative and ran with it. Maybe Gerod isn’t a racist? Maybe it was really his friends who were after all… and that was until my sources sent me the following screen shots.

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One of the interesting things about having a moderately large platform is that the six degrees of separation opens up so many interesting doors. A follower of mine discovered that they were in the same facebook group as Gerod so they looked up his name to see what he had posted. This is what they were greeted with and wouldn’t you know… a racist after all. For those of you who may be confused, the first picture depicts a child holding a bag of skittles and an Iced Tea while wearing a hood, the same things Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was gunned down by George Zimmerman. The second photo is of Dylan Roof entering the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina where he ended up shooting and killing 9 black people as an attempt to start a race war.

What baffles me about all of this isn’t the fact that Gerod is a confirmed racist, but rather that he is so dishonest about it. I wasn’t at all surprised when I saw these screenshots. I was certainly starting to give him a smidgen of the benefit of the doubt, but truly, I wasn’t surprised. Things like this are honestly all too common. I saw that with my harasser and I see it here. These people operate in what they believe is a type of free-for-all virtual existence where what they say, apparently, shouldn’t be taken seriously. Friends report that he is a “racist troll” in his online communities and shouldn’t be taken seriously. I think the concept that what you do online should stay online is a cute one that I understand to some degree, but this was a situation where he photographed an innocent child without his mother’s consent, posted it online and fed it to people who he knew were racist trolls and on top of that went on to deny it and fabricate lies about how the screen shots were faked. The screenshots I’ve posted here are very real and, if challenged, can be proven.

I know that there is no logical scenario where Gerod wouldn’t try to protect his image and boldly state that he isn’t racist just to save face, but I personally would have respected him a lot more if he were completely honest and just said that yeah, he said those things, yes he’s guilty of posting the things depicted in these screen shots and yes he is indeed prejudiced against certain people of color. This honestly looks bad for him in so many ways, but if there’s one thing I learned from my previous experience is that’s these people very rarely are self-aware enough to realize what they’re doing and when to stop themselves.

Once again, I think it’s so important to recognize that what you do online can impact you offline. Gerod and his friends lost their jobs for what they call “trolling” online. These are people who deal with people of color on a regular basis in professional settings that post racist memes in their spare time. They can claim not to be racist all day long, but the proof is in the pudding. I don’t think forgiveness should be given to Gerod Roth until he can fully and honestly acknowledge what he’s done wrong and his own hand in racism. Denying it and blatantly lying about it doesn’t help. Saying that he’s a victim as much as Cayden, doesn’t help. #HisNameIsCayden and he didn’t deserve this. Gerod, on the other hand, deserves every bit of bad press that’s coming to him.

Why I Don’t Trust People Who Say #AllLivesMatter

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Hashtags are one of the best ways to get someone to pay attention to something you’re doing online. While I’m typing this #TheFlash is trending and people on twitter are talking about the new episode of The Flash. Hashtags are not only a way of getting people to talk about trending topics, but they’re also a way to get people to pay attention to certain issues and tie the conversations all together. #BlackLivesMatter is a hashtag that was created by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi  after George Zimmerman was acquitted after being charged with the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013. The hashtag was created to bring attention to police brutality and how it specifically targets black people. However, #BlackLivesMatter is more than just a hashtag, it’s a movement. Being somewhat of an activist myself, I know that people often downplay the importance of online activism. However, in the age of information, utilizing tools like hashtags is an effective way of getting your messages out there and spreading your activism world wide. #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations take place across the country and even across the pond. The environment created by this movement has given a space for black people to bring attention to the issues that they specifically face while also offering a space to mourn the loss of black life. There are some people, however, that do not like the popularity of the Black Lives Matter hashtag and have taken to creating their own: #AllLivesMatter.

Now, before I dive into my criticism of #AllLivesMatter, I wanted to tell you that I’ve had this conversation several times previously. In fact, I already wrote and filmed a video for Everyday Feminism about this topic. It’s a topic that’s exhausting to me because I have a very hard time understanding why people don’t see the problem with responding to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter”. I can summarize my criticism by saying simply that, if you cared about all lives, then discussing the specific issues black people face wouldn’t bother you. Yes it’s true that people of all races and creeds face police brutality, but we don’t all experience it in the same exact way. Black people have high incarceration rates not because they commit the most crime in this country, but rather that people are already looking at them with suspicion while ignoring or turning a blind eye to white people who commit the same offenses. I’ll never forget dating a white drug dealer in college (long story, I didn’t know he was a drug dealer, not my bag) and he was able to be as successful as he was because he was a white man who looked like a nice, respectable guy that no one would ever even suspect of having anything vaguely to do with drugs. Yet I saw him deal hard drugs to other white students at my schools who also never were looked at with suspicion because they were also just assumed to be good kids. When you’re black you become very aware of the negative way in which society views you. You become so aware of it that many times, you’ll do whatever you can to dissociate from your blackness. You’ll say “i’m not like one of those black people, you know?” or you’re joke about how “white” you are. That’s because we live in a society where from a very young age, children become hyper aware of the fact that black people are viewed as dangerous and negative while white people are often given the benefit of the doubt. That’s why conversations like #BlackLivesMatter are so important because, well, how we’re perceived in society is very different. I’m always expected to be boldly different than “those” black people, while a white person has the benefit of being able to be seen as an individual.

Oh, I’m sure I know what you’re saying at this point: “But Kat, didn’t you just make a generalization about white people? Isn’t that the same exact thing you’re arguing against?”. Well, I don’t make generalizations about white people, really. I think, in large part because of the culture I’m raised in, I give white people the benefit of the doubt, but I am never surprised when a white person turns out to be racist. My partner is a white man who works with the public pretty often. We live in South Orange County, California in a city that is pretty unmistakably a bastion of whiteness. My boyfriend will often come home and tell me about the racist things that his clients will say to him off the cuff as a joke that, of course he’d be ok with since “they” aren’t around. When his coworkers found out that he was dating a black woman, one of them remarked that he didn’t seem like the type of man to have “jungle fever”. Dating a white man who is very much invested in anti-racism has revealed to me that, unfortunately, we really do still live in a time where racism exists, but it’s a lot more quiet and self contained. But if you asked your average person who screams #AllLivesMatter, you’ll very quickly hear that we simply make a larger issue out of racism than it really is.

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This is a post that I came across on instagram. It’s a very typical #alllivesmatter meme that I’ve seen posted over and over again. I’m always skeptical when I see posts like this because, again, there’s something about responding to “hey, black people face a specific type of police brutality” with “Actually, ALL people face police brutality! All lives matter…BLUE lives matter”. No one was suggesting that white people’s lives didn’t matter or that brown people’s lives didn’t matter or that yellow people’s or civilians or police lives didn’t matter. Yet this is what they hear. Instead of hearing “black lives matter too”, they hear “black lives matter over everyone’s”… and no one was saying that or even insinuating that. This is one of the big reasons I don’t trust people who say #alllivesmatter. It’s concern trolling. I wonder what they even know about how brown people are profiled, especially in a post 9/11 world. As an activist, I want to educate myself on the many different ways that people of color feel oppression. We may share commonality, but we are not the same and we are not up against the same types of forces. So I will always stand up for people who face police brutality regardless of their backgrounds because I do believe that all lives matter and I’m not threatened by people of specific groups making space for themselves to address issues they feel aren’t being addressed. These people don’t quite feel that way. #AllLivesMatter is a trump card that they pull out to silence these conversations and I’ll never really understand why they do that when they claim to “care for everyone”. Like i said, I don’t really trust people who utilize that hastag, so I thought i’d take a look at her other photos.

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…. Here we have the same exact user, who claims that All Lives Matter and that we should all care for each other’s lives posing with a man in blackface with the hashtag #blackface. Now one thing that I’ve noticed when I engage in these conversations with people is that they often feign ignorance. They often pretend that they have never seen racism in front of them so racism couldn’t possibly exist. We’re just making things up and drawing conclusions where there are none. But here we have a woman proudly posing with a man in blackface and even going as far as to joke about it after the fact and is self aware enough to hashtag it #blackface. If you don’t know what blackface is, I made a very through video about it last year. In short, Blackface is an artform that was extremely popular both in America and around the world where non-black (usually white) men painted themselves coal black to mock black people. Blackface established several harmful archetypes that are still used against the black community to this day. Someone dressing in blackface, wearing a wholly wig and making drug references is certainly an extension of that and this woman cosigns it while claiming that #AllLivesMatter.
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An absolutely beautiful mural by  Kalkidan Assefa was painted in Ottawa, Canada to commemorate the deaths of trans women of color; who are overwhelmingly the targets of trans misogynistic violence. You’ll see “All Black Lives Matter” is written on the side of the mural. #AllBlackLivesMatter is an extension of the initial #BlackLivesMatter campaign that seeks to include all black lives, not just the lives of cis black men who overwhelmingly end up being the focus of these conversations. This is what happened to the mural soon after it was completed.
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“You’ve Been Warned” were the words written beneath a large orange scrawl that said “All Lives Matter, No Double Standard”.

Think about this for a moment: An artist decides to create, what is essentially a memorial piece to respect the lives of trans women of color who were unjustly taken from this world and the response of some one was to deface what was an absolutely beautiful mural and say, instead “All Lives Matter”. This was an act that was done to threaten and terrorize the black community. The one of the vandalism has the unmistakable subtext of “know your place”.

What I am discovering, as a black woman who’s platform as a blogger is growing more and more is that when people of color carve out a space for themselves, it threatens many white people. Suddenly we aren’t having to turn to a white person and make sure that everything we’re saying doesn’t offend their sensibilities. We’re speaking for ourselves about the things that impact us. Things that are often ignored by the mainstream media. We no longer need to rely on them and get their cosign to do something or to speak up for ourselves. Some white people are threatened by that. They view our bold desire to make space for ourselves as a threat and they can only respond with violence and vitriol.  I will never understand that. It seems a bit weak-minded and weak willed especially from people who claim that #alllivesmatter.

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Recently, Scott Lattin defaced his own truck with #blacklivesmatter in order to collect insurance money. He also defaced the truck with several anti-police sentiments and he did it all to essentially frame black people for defacing his property and to further perpetuate the narrative that this is what the #BlackLivesMatter organizers want. To be fair, there have been incidents of vandalism by people who shouted that hashtag, but it’s very telling that when Mr. Lattin wanted to defraud his insurance company, that #BlackLivesMatter is who he targets, and of course this is someone who believes that #AllLivesMatter.

Of course everyone’s life holds value and we all face our own set of issues and at times they intersect. However, black people were only granted autonomy of their bodies, legally, 152 years ago. Even after that, the lingering impact of slavery exists to this day. We’re going to have to have a lot of hard, uncomfortable conversations about race until we can move forward as a society and if you want us to speak less about how black people are targeted for violence, you’ll be receptive to these conversations so that maybe one day we no longer feel the need to say that “Black Lives Matter” too.

TRUE TEA: 5 Tips for Selling on Society6

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WATCH THIS EPISODE HERE

All this October, I’m doing VLOGTOBER! New Videos Everyday of the week! All videos will be uploaded at 10AM PST time so be sure to catch em!

 Today’s True Tea question is:

“Dear Kat, I wanted to open up a society 6 shop, but I’m not really sure how to get people to buy my stuff. Do you have any advice for people that are interested in opening up a Society 6 Store?

Thanks, Sushi!”

When I started my Society6 page about 2 years ago, I wasn’t really making that many sales. Then about December of last year I saw a really huge jump in sales and I made about half of my rent from Society 6.
1. Build a Fanbase
 I think the most important thing about selling on society 6, and any tshirt website really, is having a fan base. You really need to work hard to cultivate a fanbase that will pay attention to your social media pages. Sometimes that means sometimes doing more than the actual art.
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For me, because I am a YouTuber and people like me for whatever strange reason, i make a decent amount of sales. I noticed that i got more sales when I would mention that I had products in my videos that usually, thousands of people watch. Getting a fanbase could also mean doing fan art. I’ve never been a huge fan of doing fan art because there are so few things that I genuinely like enough to make art about, but fan art sells. By making fan art you’re reaching out to a fanbases that is already looking for something related to their fandom. So if you like something, make fan art of it! It’s an easy way to drive traffic to your page and ultimately your Society6 store. oking for something related to their fandom and when they see your stuff it will drive attention to your page.
2. Know What’s Trending
If you’re on society 6, you’re most likely on social media as well and it’s really important to pay attention to trending topics.
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 When Nicki Minaj said “Miley, What’s Good”, there was a surge of people looking for “Miley, What’s good products”. So even if that product was just some public domian font printed onto a product that said “Miley, what’s good”, those products sold because the topic was trending and there was a demand.
3. Don’t Expect To Get Rich
I think another important thing to consider when you’re selling your stuff on society 6 is that what you actually make is relatively low.
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When i sell a tshirt, I make about 2 to 3 dollars and that’s not a lot. However, that money does add up so don’t get too discouraged. Keep making new products and adding to your store. keeping it fresh and seasonal really helps with sales.
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Another thing to consider is that your highest profit is going to come from the sale of prints. When you sell prints, you can name your price. So if I say that I want a 10 dollar profit, I make 10 dollars. I am always soooo thankful when someone buys a print of mine because it helps my earnings quite a bit.
4. Advertise Your Store
This sounds like common sense, but honestly, it really makes a world of difference.
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There’s free shipping and various sales on society6 every other week. Society6 knows that the more sales they have, the more people are likely to buy products from them. Simply telling your fan base “hey, there’s free shipping in my store this week” can get people who don’t always look at your store suddenly interested. I can say that I’ve gotten pretty much everything from society6 on a free shipping sale. If you’re cheap like me, that 24 dollar tshirt looks a lot better when the shipping is free.
5. Sell What and How You Buy
In general when it comes to the products I make and the way I sell my products, I think about what I’d want as a consumer. Society6 gives you the unique opportunity to create your own fashions and your own prints. You can create whatever you want. Have fun with it. Is there a Tshirt you’ve always wanted? A print that would go perfect in your room? A bedspread that you’ve always wanted, but doesn’t exist? You create it!
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Downsides
I really really love society 6 and out of all of the websites like it, I think it gives me pretty much everything that I personally want and they’re always adding new items. I will say that one of it’s limitations i that it only offers phone cases for iphones and a few galaxy phones and it doesn’t really offer plus sizes, though you can find a size that fits you in a men’s size. Other than that, i highly suggest society 6 and that’s been my true tea for the day.
If you want my true tea, send me a short email or an unlisted video under a minute with your question to katstruetea@gmail.com

Why I Didn’t “Track Down” My Harasser or “Get” Him Fired

So, as I’m sure most of you are aware by now, I wrote an article for the Huffington Post about my experience with a recent case of online harassment. To be honest, writing this article had a lot of very unexpected outcomes that are all connected to the popularity of the article. On one hand, I’m proud that something I wrote is being celebrated. On another hand, I’m frustrated with how the article is being presented and written about on other blogs because it’s a true misrepresentation of events.

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What I think people need to really understand about this situation is that this was something that literally thousands of people watched unfold. My account, in reality, is only part of the full story. Even though i was the one being harassed, Kenneth’s actions on my page were overwhelming. As I said in my article, his conversations became splintered. Running a Facebook Page that is as large as mine, I have to accept that I can’t read everything. Sometimes things get out of control and I can’t help it. Me having a platform as large as mine is still something I’m adjusting to. The reason why I mentioned having about 3,000 followers on facebook until recently is because as my facebook page became more popular, my posts were automatically put into the feeds of people who knew people who followed me and that encouraged a lot of dissent on my page.

On the subject of dissent, I want people to understand that I am not the sort of person who only wants to speak to people who agree with me. People, for whatever reason, have painted me as this person who is angry who just wants to sit in this vacuum of people who agree with her and that’s really not me. I enjoy speaking with people who disagree with me because I find that it’s always important to understand the other side of a conversation. Often times when people come into my posts, they don’t understand my side of the conversation. A lot of what I say is opinion, sure, but a lot of it is also factual. The public education system in America has not presented people with the full truth about racism in America. So, a lot of people enter into my posts and genuinely do not know what they’re talking about. I think I explain how the Irish became white almost every other day because it’s not something we learned in public school. It’s something most of us don’t even learn until we take college level history courses. So long story short, I spend far more time having to give people education on my page than I ever do having a genuine debate or a genuine conversation where we disagree and present genuine good arguments. If you look at how I interacted with Kenneth alone, you’ll see that even when Kenneth was being a complete jerk, I still gave what he was saying some ground to speak. I still gave him a bit of wiggle room and tried to over look how he, as most people do, entered into a conversation with slurs and then demanded that I respect his opinion. One of my favorite things to do on my page is ban people. It’s easy and it’s effective, but I don’t do it with people I disagree with. I do it with people who aren’t adding anything to my page.

Now on the subject of with great power comes great responsibility: screenshotting is something I’ve been doing for about a year on my Facebook Page. There’s a huge debate about whether or not it’s effective. For me, it reduces a lot of stress and makes it so that I don’t have to repeat myself over and over and over again. Frankly, a lot of people follow me because of my screenshots. What I’ve learned is that people who first came to my page and were offended by it, slowly but surely started to read and see the screen shots of what sorta comments I get on my page, and sure enough started to understand what was being said. My screenshots and my responses do educate a lot of people and I have thousands of emails from thankful (white) people who have really changed their views by actually seeing it on my page. Doing what I do, I get so exhausted with people acting like I make things up or I complain about things that aren’t issues. Just being a black woman with a voice, I get a ton of crap on my page. That alone gives me enough material to keep a steady flow of screen shots onto my page. One thing I’ve started to do, really to show that these people are real, is hover over their names and not just screen shot their names but whatever public information is available about them. Now, we can have a debate about whether or not that’s ethical. Frankly I can see both sides of that debate. However, my bottom line is that I really can’t feel that bad for someone who has decided to list their information publicly and then post, usually, racist comments on a public facebook page. To me that just isn’t smart and I can’t act like I haven’t been told not to list that information online since I went to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

When it comes to me “tracking down” Kenneth, the most I did was hover over his name, and screenshot that he was an employee at New York Life Insurance accompanied with is comment. That’s all I actually did. I never googled him. I never looked him up. I never went out of my way to get people to look at his page. I just screenshotted what he actually said and the information that was available on his very public facebook page. Now, I have done this several times before. Kenneth is not the first person to have this done to him. He is, however, the first person I think that has ever gotten fired for it. Keep in mind, the worst thing Kenneth was saying to me in his first post was calling me a “dumb cunt” and talking about how white people “build things up” and black people “tear things down”. To me that was more hilarious than it was offensive. As I’ve said so many times, I get harassed a lot and i’m indifferent to most of it to the point where I just laugh at it because it’s so predictable. But the fact that Kenneth was and Insurance agent actually really surprised me in many ways and it was almost too good because he was making a statement about systemic racism. The way insurance companies have interacted with people of color is just one of the numerous ways that legalized racism continues after it’s technically off the books. Socioeconomic disadvantages that have been created by post slavery oppression and then post segregation oppression has made access to insurance for people of color extremely challenging. So to know that this was someone who not only worked in a field that has a history of racism, that also on top of that felt comfortable enough to announce to the world that he worked for said company while making these statements was a bit baffling to me. When I posted that screenshot, it was genuinely only to point out that this was someone who worked in insurance who most likely managed people of color and this is what he said on his spare time. On my page, I have seen racist comments from Teachers, Doctors, Policemen, and a lot of people who work with the public. I expose these people who leave these comments on my page because we need to understand that these are people working from a position of power and this is how they really feel. While I feel these people shouldn’t be working in said positions, I really never intend on them losing their jobs. I guess there’s a part of me that really does feel like that’s taking things too far. I’ve had a lot of people threaten me real life harm and honestly it’s scary and it does, in my opinion, cross the line. Kenneth did that to me and beyond that he threatened sexual violence against me. I don’t feel bad about Kenneth losing his job and in many ways I’m really happy that he did. I’m happy that he is not knocking on the doors of women or of people of color and being let into their homes.

Kenneth is not a troll. Trolls usually hide their identities and say things simply to get under your skin. Trust me, I’ve dealt with trolls for the past 10 years I’ve been blogging. Kenneth is a real world example of a type of pathology that I see repeated over and over on my page, publicly, with pride. The only difference between Kenneth and most of the people who leave comments like that on my page is that Kenneth never stopped. Hell, he still hasn’t stopped. Kenneth provided me with an endless amount of material for my article and seeing him do it all so comfortably and so boldly really said a lot. What I wanted to highlight is that we live in a society that has created an environment where people like Kenneth can actually sit in front of their computers, with their real name, their real work information and real pictures and say what are objectively some really disgusting things. And even further than that, after they’re punished for saying said things, still feel like they did nothing wrong.

Kenneth fascinated me because, to me, he was a great example of how society, in many ways babies men, especially when said men are white. Women have always been the backbones of society. While we have have been subjugated to our homes while they bravely put themselves in danger for God and country, we have always been expected to sit silently and stomach abuse and the many ways in which society attacks us. Social media has provided women the power to be their own voices and to speak out about the things they experience without having to rely on media outlets picking the story up and putting it in front of News cameras. There is a degree of autonomy that we now have in this age of the internet that we haven’t had for many years and this is threatening to men. Being a woman with a platform, I have come to understand this. After my article was published, Kenneth went on a tired on his new facebook page (he’s a blogger now!) about how women need to stop crying rape because it trivializes “actual” rape “victims”. He then went on to tell me that I was never raped and that I must have mistaken some aggressive sexual action from a romantic partner as rape. Stranger rape is very uncommon, but I was indeed raped by a stranger. It happened to me, it was real and nothing will ever be done about it.  I’ve made my peace with that. I haven’t made my peace with what happened to me and the reality is that 1 in 4 women will experience sexual violence in their life times and most of those women never report their rapes. Black women, after Indigenous women account for the highest rates of sexual assault and if one black woman comes forward and reports her rape, 15 do not. About 70% of trans women experience sexual violence of some kind and often when they report it, the assumption is that they must have been attacked while doing sex work- and sex workers don’t often report their sexual assaults because of a legal system that wants to lock them up rather than addressing the environment that makes many trans women feel like they don’t have any other choice. Of all of the demographics that I’ve just mentioned, I embody the vast majority of them. I have experienced sexual assault on multiple occasions and rape once (if we’re not counting statutory rape). I don’t write about these things because I want attention or celebration. I write about these things because they are a part of my life that I haven’t allowed myself to address that I now feel I can. And honestly, I’m glad that I have discussed these things and that I have allowed so many people of multiple genders to feel that they are not alone. Sexual violence almost always occurs at the hands of men and we live in a society that understands that it’s wrong, but still doesn’t want to do anything about it. So many survivors or rape and sexual assault suffer in silence. Through social media, we have created a space where these things can be discussed without being edited or curated for male-centric media. We do not care how you feel about us discussing our personal trauma. Though I have experienced sexual violence at the hands of men for the past 11 years of my life, I still do not view men as a monolith. I believe that men can do and be better. I believe men like Kenneth can do and be better and I’m tried of living in a society that even in the face of black and white wrong doing, we still formulate a reason to feel sympathy for men who do these things and go unpunished.

Kenneth applied for a job at New York Life Insurance, he signed a social media contract, he made a business page listing his phone number and address, he made a facebook page, he made it public, he listed his work place, and then he posted a public comment on my page that was racist, sexist and much later, transphobic. We can debate about this all day long, but the fact will still remain that he violated his work contract and ultimately that’s what got him fired. I didn’t get him fired. I didn’t even WANT him to get fired. I personally really don’t believe in messing with someone’s money. He attacked me, a popular blogger with a lot of very dedicated fans who feared for my safety after his comments were posted and by the time I went to sleep and woke up in the morning, he was out of a job. Some media outlets are reporting that this happened over the course of a week, it happened in the space of an evening. He didn’t stop coming back, but ultimately, most of what’s been screen shotted happened within a day.

People need to stop acting like the Internet and our offline lives are separate existences, they aren’t. I can’t say much about this right now, but next year, I’ll be speaking to High School aged kids about social media usage and protecting yourself online. It’s going to be a very interesting and slightly ironic talk, but I’m so glad I’m going to be able to have it with kids that were around my age when i really started diving into blogging. We genuinely need to understand that our real lives are slowly but surely starting to be cataloged online and that what we do online can be easily traced back to us and we can see real world repercussions for it. These repercussions can be both positive and negative, but either way it’s always important to be weary of what you post online. For me, I’ve had a very open and raw online presence and for years I tried to separate my real life from my virtual life. Over the past year I accepted that wasn’t really possible and by trying to do so I was actually sabotaging my career. After letting go of that, my career has only gotten better and there are so many opportunities coming to me now that would have never come to me otherwise. The internet can be an amazing place, but it can also be a scary place. So just always be careful what you put online. No one “tracked” down Kenneth’s information. His information was accessible, quite easily because he published it himself. He got himself fired, I only provided the space for him to do what he needed to do in order to lose his job.

A Gray Tank Top and Gray Jeans

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I remember the night that it happened and what I was wearing. A gray tank top and gray skinny jeans. I was 18 years old, just barely and I was getting dressed for a little after party I was going to. I remember that the grey tank top was my favorite top at the time. It had orange and green stars on it and it fit me so that it showed off my chest and waist. It was my first year in college and my roommate had found it on the floor of our dorm room. He always had random people in and out of the room and sometimes they’d leave clothes. I was a scavenger. I had just started going full-time and I didn’t have much in the way of feminine clothing. The gray tank top was like the holy grail to me at the time because unlike most of my clothing, it wasn’t re-purposed from clothes I wore in high school. I found it and it was mine and it made me feel good, so when my new friend told me that we were going to a party, I knew just what to wear. 

Tonight would be the first night I’d meet my new friend. Like most men I had interacted with, I met him online. I’ve always been someone who’s found it easier to meet people online than in real life, especially as someone who was queer. I felt misunderstood as a teenager. I had friends who loved and embraced me, but I still felt lonely. I felt like an oddity that no one would understand and the internet was the only place where I felt normal. Like most teenagers, sex was something that I was curious about. When you’re a queer teen, especially in the 2000s, there really wasn’t a way to discuss sex with your peers without feeling immensely uneasy; and things were complicated for me because I had breasts. During puberty, I started to develop breasts. These weren’t “man boobs” , they looked and felt like natural breasts. So much so that when I would change in the locker room as a teenager, boys would grope me. They wouldn’t grope me to tease me or to make fun of me. They’d grope me out of sheer curiosity. They’d grab me and say “what??…” and just look at me with this confused blank expression on their face. So, I got into the habit of changing in the restroom every time I had PE. I did whatever I could to avoid having PE all together and my last two years, I had enough AP credits to where I didn’t have to take PE. While one of my problems was solved, there was still the problem of me being this androgynous child that no one found remotely attractive, but rather, confusing. No one, with the exception of men who were much older than me that liked, as they often put it “the best of both worlds”. I remember meeting with a 25-year-old man online when I was 16 years old. He took me to a hotel room and we were planning on having sex. He didn’t know how old I was; I often told men that I spoke to that I was 18. Before we did anything, I felt a pang of regret and guilt and told him that I was actually 16. I told him that I understood what I did was wrong and that misleading him wasn’t right. But to my surprise, he told me that he still thought I was hot and we still ended up having sex- and we had sex many times after. He wasn’t the only one, there were several men who were much older than me who had sex with me when I was underage. The strange thing was, I didn’t really like sex. I mean, the sex part of it was ok, I guess, but what I think I enjoyed more was being able to feel an aspect of myself that I had often denied myself from feeling. See, ever since I was a young child, I became an expert at living somewhat of a double existence. I was an extremely self-aware child who understood what people wanted from me and often gave it to them with a smile on my face. Going to private Christian School, I was a teacher’s pet. I was one of the good kids. My parents always held me in high regard and always thought I was a well-behaved child. But secretly, I was everything but. When I turned 18, I was finally able to pursue the things that I wanted to both romantically and sexually without having to be paranoid about getting arrested or getting the men I was involved in arrested. So tonight was going to be a night where, if I met a man and it went there, I would feel no guilt. 

The party I was going to was an after part for a bar in the valley called The Oxwood. The numerous men I had spoken to have told me about the Oxwood, a transgender bar where men go to me trans women or “gurls” as they called them. It was a space where trans women could go and dance and cross dressers could go out for a night on the town with other cross dressers. At the time, barely legal me wanted to go so badly. I honestly hungered for a place where I could feel free enough to express my gender without worrying about being judged. I started identifying as gender queer when I was 16 and my presentation was very much a twisting of gender expression. However, as I explored my gender further, I realized that I was far more binary than I had realized and that there was so much internalized transphobia that I had that kept me from denying this about myself. So at the time, i just wanted to be able to express my gender without having to explain it. This night would be one of those opportunities for me. The party was at a man name Danny’s apartment (the name has been changed, but anyone who knows this circle, will know who I’m talking about). Danny was an old man, had to be in his 60s at the time, but he was very well liked. He was very popular and was a Hugh Hefner of sorts within the community.

When my friend and I got to his house, we were greeted by a bunch of men who were shooting the shit, laughing,and I guess, winding down from the bar. I enjoyed the mood. I enjoyed being around a group of men who i knew liked trans people. It was refreshing and i guess to, some degree exciting. But these men were all much older than me. I don’t think there was anyone under the age of 30 at this party. I was certainly the youngest and newest, so I was fresh meat for these men. They all spoke to me and I remember having relatively pleasant conversations with them. Moving into the other rooms, it became clear to me that this was the sorta party where people were going to simply to have a place to engage in sexual activities after the bar. I of course knew this to some degree going to this party, but, again, I really was just looking for a space to express, more than anything, that’s what I wanted. Remember, I was 18 years old and perhaps not the smartest in the world. I grew up thinking that bars and clubs were these amazing places where you could express yourself freely and meet new people. The Oxwood, in my mind, was an amazing place that could solve all of my problems with loneliness, but of course I couldn’t get in, I was just 18, so this was the next best thing in my mind.

 One by one the men left and the sex in the other room stopped. I just ended up sitting awkwardly on the couch for most of the night. At a certain point I noticed that my friend who brought me to the party was gone. I freaked out a little bit. It was about 3 AM and my college was a good 30 minutes away. I didn’t drive. I didn’t really know what to do. Danny told me that he could possibly drive me back in the morning and told me that I could sleep on his couch. This calmed me down a bit. It was strange, but in these situations, I learned to just grin and bear it and these things usually solved themselves. Danny was talking in the room with one of the few men still around. I tried to go to sleep. 

Then I felt a mass above me. A warmth that didn’t come from the thin blanket I was given to sleep under. I felt a rough hand reach under my jeans and move to the front of my pants to undo the clasps. I felt alien hands struggle to pull my jeans and my panties down in unison. I heard the clacking of a belt and the teeth of a metallic zipper. Then finally the sound of heavy jeans with keys and a wallet fall to the ground next to me. I felt his skeletal legs stabilize himself on top of me. Then I felt his penis invade my body.

As I’m typing this, I’m feeling the same thing I felt in that moment. I can’t explain this other than a feeling of great weight. He had pinned me down in a way where I couldn’t get up, but on top of that, i felt immobilized. I completely froze. It was almost like i was watching what was happening outside of myself. It was something that was happening to someone else, not to me. We all have these fantasies about what we’d do if we were ever raped. We have this idea that we’d somehow become kung fu masters and we’d be able to subdue an attacker with poise. I remember a teacher of mine telling the class that we could split a man’s arm by puling his middle and ring fingers apart as hard as possible. I always figured that I’d do that if someone ever tried it with me, but I had never even envisioned that I could be raped. I had engaged in high risk behavior before, sure, but for some reason sexual violence was never something I had ever thought could happen to me. In this moment, I couldn’t respond to what was happening to me. I was completely frozen. 

I felt his lips touch the back of my neck. A mass of wet squishy flesh that left saliva all over me. He leaned into me and crawled around my ear and whispered to me “I bet all the boys where you’re from love this little pussy”, in a tone that was both patronizing and attempting to be complimentary. “I bet you let every boy have a turn, huh slut?”. As these words buzzed in my skull, I felt my mouth tingle at the roof of my throat and a metallic taste between my gums and my teeth and finally the release of dampness around my eyes. I started to cry. I still couldn’t move, but I could cry. I wanted to speak, but I couldn’t. It was as though he had snatched my voice from my throat and was holding it until he was done. With every pump he took, my tears grew and grew. I remember feeling a dampness between my cheek and the fabric of the couch. My tears turned slowly into hysteria and panic. I could feel words come through my throat and struggle to exit between my teeth as my jaw  involuntarily opened and closed.

When sound finally left my mouth, I made sounds that only vaguely resembled words. Whether they were or weren’t, they had the unmistakable subtext of “stop”. I felt my body become mine, I turned around and lifted my arms onto his chest and pushed with as much strength as I could muster. He was an older man. Light skinned, black, short curly hair with a long face. He was thin, but strong and muscular. Pushing against him was  like pushing against stone. He had decided that I wasn’t going to move and that’s that. When I kept pushing him and crying, he seemed to not only be indifferent to my distress, but get off on it. He picked up his speed and I kept crying and pushing and pushing and crying. Finally, I was able to actually form the word “stop” and I could see this shock come over his face. It was like after all that, he had just now come to the realization that what he was doing wasn’t right. He got off of me, put his pants on, apologized to me and left the apartment. As I looked up to watch him leave, I realized that I hadn’t actually looked around the room while this was happening. Then about 10 feet away from me I saw Danny. Sitting in a chair, his robe undone pleasuring himself. I was mortified. I felt a mull of dead emotion come over me. I laid back down on the couch, Danny went to his room and closed the door and an even stream of tears fell from my face until I eventually fell asleep. 

Danny drove me back the next day. I didn’t speak to him. I was kind and polite and I thanked him for getting me home, back in school. I went to my dorm room, sat on my bed, and almost instantly started crying again. I didn’t go to class or do anything really for the entire day. Eventually I showered and decided to go to the work cubicles and do some class work. I wanted to forget about it. Then one of my friends came to my cubical and told me that her and my other friend in the program were all going to Saugus Cafe. Saugus was this little old timey cafe in Valencia that we all went to when we wanted that signature American style cafe food. I said yes, wanting to be social and do something other than pathetically stare at animation paper and so we went. 

My two friends were the girls I was closest to in the program at the time. We were all from similar backgrounds and just vibed really well with each other. There was a layer of trust I felt with them. I didn’t have many people to talk to that I felt I could trust. This was still my first year and I was still trying to let go of missing my high school friends. They reminded me so much of my high school friends who I told everything to. So I told them what happened to me. Almost without skipping a beat or really reacting to what I had just told them, they responded in a congratulatory tone that said “good for you at least, you got laid!”. And they didn’t say that, but they might as well have. When i explained the type of party I was at and that he forced himself on me, they both said to me “well, what did you expect?”. It was at that point when I felt shut down and even though I didn’t say it out loud, I said “I guess I did”. 

My rape changed me. After telling my friends, I never told anyone else. I internalized everything that had happened to me. I told myself that I deserved it. I went to this party, I knew what was going on. I’d been having sex with older men years before. I deserved it. I was a tranny. I was built for sexual use. What else could I provide to society other than a wet mouth and a warm hole? I became sexually reckless. I allowed men to use me sexually and discard me at will. I didn’t care if I was having protected or unprotected sex. I genuinely thought that my only true worth was what I could do sexually for a man. As you could imagine, this impacted my education. I remember coloring the background of my first year film on the ground of a BDSM master’s slave’s apartment. I would drop everything, leave class, skip class even, to please men sexually. I had completely let myself go and would wander off with complete strangers and put myself in physical danger constantly.  It took me a really long time to realize that I was trying to kill myself, but I didn’t want to be the one to pull the trigger.

For a good year or so, I kept doing this to myself. I never really dealt with what happened to me. I saw my rapist once after the fact and he ran out of the room. I knew that he would never get arrested for what he did. Firstly because for a while I really did convince myself that I did this to myself by going to that party knowing what it was. I kept thinking how would the police even react to that? A man raped me at a sex party? How was that even possible? I know now that even at sex parties, consent is necessary, but back then I guess the thought never crossed my mind. Remember, this was also at the start of when I went full-time. I had no idea how the authorities would handle my gender and I was in the mindset back then that as a trans person, the best thing I could offer a man was indeed sex. As a trans woman, could I even BE raped? Genuine thoughts I had back then. 

About 4 years ago, I had a bit of an emotional breakdown. I don’t remember what caused this, but it was one of the first times I had really acknowledged and said out loud that I was raped beyond the conversation I had with my friends. 

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When you’re a woman who discusses rape on the internet, you end up getting a certain type of response: 

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I now understand that these are all trolls, but back then it all felt so real and so overwhelming. Making that video took a lot of strength and I was allowing myself to be vulnerable. These people made the assumption that I was speaking about this for attention because I made a video and posted it. Comments like this are one of the many reasons why I didn’t discuss my rape and really haven’t discussed my rape openly until very recently. I hate that people think I feel empowered by what happened to me. I hate that people think i’m trying to get attention for discussing sexual violence. It’s upsetting because it’s somewhat of a catch-22. If I don’t discuss it, I suffer in silence, if I do discuss it, it seems like I’m looking for attention. I can tell you right now that nothing positive has come from me being raped. I’m sure my rapist has raped other women and what bothers me so much about the entire thing is that I got the impression that from his perspective, what he was doing was something he thought I wanted and then realized with a shock that it wasn’t. What system do we live in that would convince a man that what women want is sex without consent? It’s terrifying to think about that.  

I’ve been dealing with a lot of the aftermath of my recent Huffington Post article. You should be unsurprised to know that Kenneth still hasn’t stopped

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More painful than being raped is having your rape trivialized and then denied. I know what happened to me. I was there. I think women who lie about being raped are terrible. I’m not one of them. I never pursued charges, I never tried to get anyone arrested. I was raped, it caused me trauma, and now I’m at a place where I feel I can discuss it. This happened about 7 years ago. It doesn’t impact me in the same way it did then. An interesting thing about me today vs me 7 years ago is that how I am seen and handled in this world is so different. Back then I was androgynous. People didn’t know where to place me etc. But today? Today I am perceived as the woman I am and people assume that I’m cis. What that’s meant for me is that outside of the rape I’ve experienced, I’ve also experienced sexual harassment, stalking and sexual assault numerous times. An unfortunate part of being a woman is being on the receiving end of sexual violence and then having to place your feelings beneath a man’s. Men who have never met me believe that I was never raped and that I must be lying. Kenneth has only ever known me online, but he KNOWS for a fact that I wasn’t raped. He sides with a man who he has never met before over siding with me. He keeps saying I accused HIM of raping me, which never happened. I am so used to harassment that NOTHING Kenneth said upset or bothered me. I’ve said this so many times, but I get harassed constantly online. it really doesn’t faze me. I think Kenneth is a fascinating case study and I think that a lot can be learned by observing his actions. Kenneth, to me represents a type of man that is usually too ashamed to give himself a face. but here he is in all his proud glory. How people have responded to this and so many of the things relating to this is what genuinely upsets me. The reaction that a lot of men have had to this article makes me glad that I never reported my rape. I couldn’t deal with people saying these things to my face 7 years ago. Honestly, it would have ruined me.

I wanted to make this post to get some degree of closure. It took me forever to describe my rape because it’s something that when I think about it is actually really traumatic. I can acknowledge that maybe there are some unfinished issues there, but for the most part, it’s my past. I can’t ignore it. It will always impact me, but I can’t let it get me down. Kenneth thinks I revel in my victim hood. I revel in my survival. I revel in the fact that I have dealt with so much and in 2015, I can smile in front of a camera and still discuss sexual violence. I”m hopefully going to be speaking at an event next year to teenagers about partner abuse, sexual assault and rape.  If there’s one good thing to come out of  this, I guess, it’s that I can connect with other survivors and maybe prevent teenagers from doing what I did. I think we live in a very different time now. I felt so alone as a teenager and I hope that with the shifts in media, queer kids don’t feel that they’re so alone and act out because of it. 

This Insurance Agent Threatened To Rape me, I got him Fired.

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This is the longer version of my piece of The Huffington Post

Facebook is a tricky place for a YouTube. Algorithms don’t necessarily favor you and finding out a way to use your fan page to drive traffic to your YouTube videos is still pretty tricky. Regardless, it’s a platform that is almost necessary in a day in age where people still get most of their news and entertainment in Facebook feeds. For the longest time, my Facebook page pretty much sat at about 3,000 likes; which sounds like a lot until you find out that I converted an old Facebook account with about 2,000 friends into a fan page. At a certain point, I became pretty indifferent with my Facebook numbers, I enjoyed my smaller audience and didn’t really hunger for more. Then one day I noticed my numbers shoot up dramatically and over the course of a week and now I sit at about 22,500 likes and rapidly growing.

What do I do? Well, I do a lot of things really. I’m a feminist blogger who talks a lot about LGBT issues, Women’s issues and, on Facebook the hot topic is usually racism. Racism is an important discussion to me because, in this world, before I am anything else, I am black. While I am so many things, my blackness will always be seen first and it’s usually the first thing used against me. So racism, as a conversation, will always be relevant to me. I do a few things on my page, but usually my page is filled with screen shots of people who commented on my page and left foolish, misogynistic, hateful, racist and sometimes transphobic comments on my page. I started doing this for several reasons. Mostly because as my platform grew, I noticed that I’d get the same questions over and over again and frankly I got tired of answering the same questions . I figured that it might be effective to screen shot someone’s question or comment and respond to it in a new post if other people wanted an answer and to start a new conversation. I also enjoy embarrassing people who feel bold enough to leave hate on my page. I never censor names or blur out information as my page is public and so are these comments. I certainly don’t think I need to hide the identities of people who leave abusive comments. Of course a lot of people aren’t happy with that and they often accuse me of attempting to “silence their free speech”.

Free Speech is succinctly defined as “is the right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship.”. A lot of people, especially on the Internet, feel like Freedom of Speech means that they can essentially say what ever they want and no one can say anything against it or decide to ban them from their platforms. Freedom of Speech is a two-way street. You can say something and I can say something in response. Even if I decided to ban you from my Facebook page, I am still not violating your legal right to free speech. As my Facebook page is my platform, I can ban whomever I choose for whatever reason and if Facebook decided that my page was inconsistent with their parameters, they could delete it and that still wouldn’t be a violation of the first amendment. In truth, I try not to ban people. I try to let even the most hateful people get their moment to speak their case. Ultimately, however, I feel like my page is a bit of a safe space and I tend to remove and block people who I feel make the page a less than pleasant experience for my fanbase.

With racism being the main topic of conversation on my page usually gets heated. Often, my posts center around the idea of majority groups, not listening to people of color and ultimately dismissing their concerns. Often I hear the term “politically correct” when requesting a degree of empathy from, usually, white men. Sometimes the bold rejection of these conversations, that are usually about rape, genocide, forced sterilization, enslavement and murder, are so predictable that I can only joke about the situation. So one day I wrote this status

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Now, of course, there are worse fears in the world than political correctness. However, it has always fascinated me how when speaking about serious situations like the ones I’ve mentioned, the only thing I hear over and over again from so many of the white men, who rush to my page to correct me, is that they are tired of political correctness telling them what they can and can’t say. You’d think that in a conversation about something as serious as racism, transphobia, and sexual violence, that political correctness wouldn’t even be a comparable concept, but the way I see them discuss this it’s almost like both of these issues deserve the same amount of consideration. They will argue against political correctness, which often just means showing respect to a fellow human being, all while dismissing the original point. Of course this doesn’t apply to all men, nor all white men. I tend to judge everyone on a case to case basis, but I am never surprised when a white man enters a conversation about black women and sexual abuse and complains about the PC police being out of control.

A lot of people did not like this post and one of the most fascinating things about some of my posts is how people always show up and somehow end up proving the original point i was making. When i said as much in the comment section, this is how one commenter responded.

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There were so many things to break down in this comment. Let’s just start with the fact that “white privilege” is a topic that a lot of people don’t seem to understand and often react defensively to. See, having privilege in this society means that there is something about you that adheres to systemic biases that have been set in place that favor you. So while Kenneth may, indeed, be struggling financially and in his career, he still lives in a country where white supremacy is strong and that benefits him even as he struggles. Privilege doesn’t mean that everything has been handed to you, it simply means that the odds are in your favor because of the social climate. I have several privileges and I think acknowledging them is a very important part of moving forward as a society.

However, all of that aside, this isn’t what really got me about this comment. It was that when I hovered over his name, I discovered that he was an Insurance Agent. There was something ironic about this. Systemic racism materializes in so many ways and one of them is how insurance companies interact with people of color. I wasn’t at all offended by him calling me a cunt or downplaying my career, but I was suddenly a bit concerned with the fact that someone like this would so publicly leave a comment on my page. It’s mortifying. The fact that he felt so comfortable with his employment that he posted this comment while advertising that he worked for them, blew me away. So like most of the ignorant comments I get, I posted it simply voicing my surprise at his field of work and recklessness. He didn’t like this.

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And you know what? Maybe it was. Maybe it was messed up for me to post a screen shot of the words he publicly stated on my page with public information about the place in which he was employed. Maybe it was. At this point, I guess I had a moment of guilt. Like I said, my platform has grown very fast and it’s still growing. There is a level of responsibility that comes with that and I’m still figuring it out. My followers started pulling up his information. He was an Insurance Agent for New York Life Insurance and all of his information was public. I hadn’t looked that closely to his page so it didn’t really register with me that he worked for a very large Insurance Company that does actually have a code of ethics that is pretty inclusive.

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So, again, it was ghastly for me to see someone in his position interact with me that way in public, but little did i know, it would only get so much worse.

Kenneth never backed down and our conversations became splintered. At this point, my followers had found his page and the most they were doing was making snide comments about his appearance. Totally uncool, but not nearly as bad as coming for his actual job. Kenneth felt very attacked. Objectively, I understood that and, as I always do, i still tried to maintain a cordial conversation with him about racism while he continued to call me a cunt. One of my followers recognized that he was an amateur MMA fighter. Being a vocal feminist who is regularly trolled by body building and MMA forums, I made a comment about the trend of misogyny in online MMA communities. This was his response:

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The common issue that I found Kenneth discussing was masculinity. He was very invested in asserting that he was masculine and defining for me what masculinity was. This always came off as the total opposite of masculine. I’m a woman that certainly loves masculinity, but not the type of masculinity that Kenneth subscribes to. The pressure for men to be masculine often pressures them to be violent. Violence is a tool of masculinity and that often leads men to becoming targets of physical violence, more so than women. This has always been an anti-feminist talking point that I’ve always been fascinated with because it ends up being somewhat of a cyclical conversation. Sure, men are more likely to be victims of violent crime, but they’re also more likely to commit it as a way of exerting their masculinity. In a similar way, while men can also be survivors of rape, they are overwhelmingly raped by other men. When women are the survivors of rape, they are also overwhelmingly targeted by men. I don’t discuss this much, but I am a rape survivor. How i dealt with my rape and reacted to my rape was probably not what you’d expect. Ultimately, comments like this don’t bother me or trigger any type of “PTSD” as he alluded to earlier. However, objectively I knew this comment was messed up and so I told him as much while my followers were telling him that he essentially just made a rape threat. How did he respond?

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There were so many things that disturbed me about Kenneth, but the thing that genuinely disturbed me was the fact that he seemed to not know the difference between aggressive sex and rape. The comment he made was a rape threat because it essentially came without my consent, in fact, it was in the middle of a relatively calm conversation as a response to my assertion that online MMA communities contain a lot of misogyny. He conflated misogyny with a comment against masculinity. Somehow, he thought this comment was relevant to that conversation and after you look up Kenneth’s Google Plus history, you realize this is a thought processes Kenneth repeats over and over again.

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He, like many anti-feminists online, is very invested in this idea of an “alpha” and “beta” males. He is completely married to this idea that what women “really” want is an aggressive, strong, overpowering “alpha male”. He often says things like “Women say they like nice guys, but that’s not really what they want” and goes on to describe how sensitive guys, like his High School self, were often overlooked for more jockish brutish type men. interestingly enough, I don’t know many women who prefer those types, I know I certainly don’t. Kenneth is one of these “nice guys” who truly believes that women don’t like him because he’s too nice and too good. When in reality, he’s the sort of man who calls women who he’s never met before cunts and clearly has a very low view of women and their ability to choose a mate. Women pick up on that and Kenneth is clearly one of these guys that just can’t get over High School. He looks down on women because they’ve rejected him and almost all of his comments had the undertone of dismissing me because I was a woman and more importantly, a feminist. He fancies himself an alpha male, but in truth, I don’t think I’ve spoken to a man that embodied the antitheses of masculinity so acutely more than him.

After defending himself against the accusation that he left a rape threat, he eventually became frustrated with me and left this comment:

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If there hasn’t been a more glaring example of the issue with guns in this country than this comment right here. So Kenneth is someone who had a disagreement with me online. At this point he has threatened to rape me and now he’s threatened to shoot me. Looking at his page, he is quite the gun enthusiast so there isn’t a part of this that is far from the realm of reality. I believe there are plenty of responsible gun owners, but the fact that this man owns one and would be this quick to pull it, makes me pretty uneasy. I’ve dealt with a lot of jerks on my page, but Kenneth was in a league of his own. Keep in mind, he very publicly has it written that we works for New York Life Insurance on his Facebook page and he very publicly leaves comments like this, which are, if you couldn’t already tell, death threats. He also left this classy little comment:

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This comment was almost the straw that broke the camels back for my fanbase. The rape threat already had people talking about how he should lose his job, but it was just talk. Now that he threatened to rape me, shoot me and lynch me all because he disagreed with a status I made about political correctness. I have a fan base that really loves me. Loves me enough to call me out when I’m wrong and loves me enough to defend me when I’m being wronged. It became clear that people were started to collect screen shots of their own and they had started to forward them to New York Life Insurance. On top of that, a bunch of them tracked down his business page (which of course had the same name) and were starting to give him one star ratings accompanied with screen shots of his numerous inflammatory comments on my page. I didn’t ask for this. I never encouraged anyone to track him down or post on his page. My fanbase felt defensive of me and decided to do so on their own. At one point the New York Life Insurance page was almost entirely littered with Kenneth’s screen shots. You couldn’t read a post on there without seeing his screen shot and his name. I was stunned. Like I said, I didn’t ask for it, but it felt good that there were so many people who cared enough about me to defend me. I feel like it’s important to say that Kenneth’s information was not private. He was an Insurance Agent. His information was readily available and easy to find and his Facebook work information listing the exact company he worked for made it all that easier to find.

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It was, at this point, that Kenneth started to shake in his boots a little. When initial threats to his job were made by my followers, he very proudly stated that it was unlikely that he was going to ever lose his job. He claimed that he “worked for himself” and even if they did fire him, he would have an easy time finding work again. I honestly didn’t want Kenneth to lose his job. While these things were messed up, they didn’t faze me. I’ve dealt with online harassment since I was 15 years old. I’m at the point where I expect it and I honestly don’t get that phased by it. I did know, however, that what he was doing wasn’t just a violation of his company’s code of ethics, it was also a violation of the law.

I didn’t mention this earlier, and maybe I should, but I am a transgender woman. This aspect of me isn’t very important to me as I’ve been post transition for a while, I’m in a happy long-term relationship and I am read as cis in my day-to-day life. I am not used to being seen as transgender and because of that, I do not often openly discuss that I am, though it isn’t a secret. There are people who follow me and enjoy my posts who don’t find out until much later. A lot of people assume that I am a transgender ally. Kenneth, like most people, assumed that I was cis. Since my fanbase started to post on his page and from his perspective, harass him, he decided to encourage his friends to do the same to me. So his friends opened up a hate page and in the process of searching for embarrassing photos of me, discovered that I was transgender. From his perspective, this gave Kenneth an upper hand and he had an interesting new way of denying that he sent me rape threats.
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What I found fascinating about this was that it is such a perfect representation of how trans misogyny materializes in society. Trans women are often stripped of their humanity in its entirety. Let’s pretend, for a moment, that what Kenneth said wasn’t a rape threat. This is a man who described how he would have forceful sex with me and how I’d enjoy it so much more than sex with a mythical “white knight”. This is someone who already made insinuations about him having sex with me. Now that he knew that I was transgender, he wouldn’t even “consider” raping me and even in the midst attempting to strip me of my gender, he still refers to me as a “cum dumpster”. He kept defending his rape threat as some factual statement about what women wanted and suddenly, because he now knows I’m transgender, I couldn’t possibly speak to that. This is how he responded to accusations of transphobia.

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Now, I’m far beyond the point of debating or defending my gender at this phase in my life. I’ll just say this: I transitioned very young. I have never been seen as a man in this society, I have never worked as a man in this society and I have never dated as a man in this society. I am perceived and handled as a woman and assumed to be cisgender and have been for my entire adult life. Most of my followers are women, most of them cis. We talk a lot about men and dating on my platform and we all have common ground because we are women who deal with men and there are shared experiences that we have because of that. Things between me and a cis woman will always be slightly different, but at the end of the day, in this particular area, I know what I’m talking about. Especially since a decent chunk of men approach trans women because their misogyny somehow convinces them that trans women are a better dating option than cis women; I could write a whole other story about that. In any regard, being a woman in the dating world has taught me that often men like Kenneth say women don’t know what they want because they don’t know what women want. Women are not a monolith and what one woman finds repulsive, another will find enduring. What I think most of us want is a man who doesn’t want kill or abuse us and judging by Kenneth’s comments, I’m not all that sure that he fits that description.

Transphobia and trans misogyny was quickly added onto the list of hateful things Kenneth had said that people were forwarding to New York Life. At this point, he started to back-peddle. Suddenly, his job was looking more and more like it might slip away from him. So to cover his back, he made this post.

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What I really enjoyed about Kenneth is that he was such an amazing catalyst to so many conversations I’ve wanted to have. Kenneth has demonstrated, very clearly that he is a transphobe, but he somehow wanted to make up for that by posting a picture of two, presumably cis gay white men. Mainstream support of the LGBT community usually looks like supporting people who are cis, white and heteronormative. He attacked me, a black trans woman, and somehow thought that making this post after deleting all the evidence of transphobia and misogyny on his page would somehow absolve him. To me this was almost a perfect example of how just because companies claim to support the LGBT community, doesn’t mean that their employers do. Furthermore, just because a company changes their logo into a rainbow doesn’t mean that they support you, sometimes it means they support your money. I think it’s always important to look into a companies policies and see their history with empowering people within the LGBT community before giving them the stamp of approval. At the end of the day, these are businesses and pink money is still money.

At some point, I started to feel sorry for Kenneth. He was someone who kept digging deeper and deeper holes for himself and I couldn’t help but feel concerned for him in some way. I mean, sure , he threatened to rape, lynch and shoot me, but it was hard for me to understand how and why he kept going. This was bad and it was only getting worse by the moment. Something had to be wrong with him. Again, I couldn’t understand how someone who listed his job so publicly and even bragged about his job security while putting me down would put himself into such a clear-cut position where he could not only be fired, but possibly arrested. It was bizarre to see him keep going, but that’s privilege for ya. The way he speaks and the way he acts is like a child who has never been told no or ever been called out. It’s down right bratty and infantile and he does it all with this air of superiority. When things looked like they were going bad, he decided to try to apologize to me. You’ll see that didn’t go well.

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I forgot to mention that his sister attempted to chime in at one point. She stood up and defended her brother against us. She saw the comments that were made but insisted that he was just “misunderstood”. She said that we had no idea what he had been through and that we shouldn’t take these comments seriously. As a woman, it really disappointed me to see another woman standing up to defend someone who not only made rape threats but attempted to debate with me about forcible sex over and over again. He was so obsessed with this idea that want women wanted was forcible sex and he kept asking me , or rather, telling me that it wasn’t rape. Of course if you and your partner agree and consent to some forcible sex play, that’s totally ok. But how does the notion that all women want forcible sex not reinforce the culture of aggressive sexual advances that often times end up being rape? Forcible sex should be something that is ethical, discussed and consented to. Not something you assume of a total stranger. I couldn’t accept his apology. There was nothing about it that seemed genuine. He was trying to cover his butt, but it wasn’t working. I had over 20,000 people watching this as it all unfolded. He asked his friends to come and support him in the fight against, as he put it, “SJWs”, but most of them were disappointed in him. One of his family members even said that he was ashamed to be associated with him. I felt bad for him, but I guess not that bad.

He kept going and going and going. I didn’t even read half of the things he was posting in various different threads. I know he dealt with a flood of messages on his business page and phone calls to his office. Again, i didn’t send these people after him, but he would not back away from my platform and the more he spoke, the worse it got and I didn’t want to ban him because I felt like if he wanted to defend himself, he should. His way of defending himself was to just get progressively worse and worse and threaten violence and rape to people who were posting on my page.
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He did this all feeling pretty confident about his job. This was all happening in the course of a night. I had become a bit exhausted; keeping up with him and his posts was starting to just become a bit annoying. I decided to go to bed and when I woke up, I was greeted by a bunch of my followers posting this message on my wall.
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New York Life Insurance did an internal investigation on Kenneth after receiving a myriad of posts on their facebook wall and many of my followers personally filing reports and complaints against him. I was honestly very shocked by this. Again, my intent was never to get him fired. I never really wanted that if I’m being honest. However, I’d be totally lying to you if I said that I felt any sympathy for him losing his job. In fact, I was a bit overjoyed for several reasons. This was something that over 40,000 people were watching unfold as it was happening. While I wasn’t offended by the messages for the most part, these people all banded together in defense of me and reported him to his job and to my absolute surprise, he was fired within a day. By the end of this situation, I had myself thinking that I wanted to get some New York Life Insurance knowing that the company acted as fast as it did. Now of course, this was a bit of self-preservation on their end, but the fact that it happened brings me joy. The reality is that they could have laughed it off and I have a hard time believing that Kenneth hides his hatred all that well at work so I thought it might be impossible for him to lose his job over this because he probably works with people who agree with him. That wasn’t the case and while, again, it’s not what I wanted to happen, I’m glad that it did. Kenneth, however, wasn’t quite as pleased for obvious reasons.

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Like a perfectly written story, Kenneth alludes to the thing that started this entire debacle: my post about the fear of political correctness. Political Correctness is viewed as such a terrible thing by people who miss the days where you could say heinous offensive things and never see consequence for it. Kenneth blamed me and my “ravaging” fans for what happened to him. In reality, he got himself fired. Most insurance agents sign contracts where they cannot publicly affiliate themselves with their company
and post certain types of things on social media. That is, again, not a limitation to his legal right to free speech. It’s a contract that he signed and agreed to that he violated that ultimately got him fired. At no point does Kenneth own up to his actions or the things that he’s said.

I think, like I felt at a certain point in my life, Kenneth feels like what is done online and what is done offline has no repercussions. We tend to use the internet and view it as a sort of alternative, not real, not to be taken seriously virtual consciousness in which we should never truly be punished for our words. As my platform gets larger and larger, I realize more and more that what we do on the Internet does, indeed, have an impact on our offline lives. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. The Internet has changed my life and opened up so many job opportunities for me. I make all of my income online and I’m fortunate enough to have worked diligently since I was a teenager to cultivate a platform that allows me to do so. The companies I work for, know where I stand politically and, in fact, support me. I have made a promise to myself that I will never succumb to being in a situation where I’m working for a company that didn’t want for me to stand up for myself or other marginalized minorities. I don’t want to work for a company that would fire me over something I said online and I’m fortunate that I don’t. Kenneth isn’t so lucky.

Kenneth is someone who has attached his legal name to his social media use and that’s something that I feel most people understand not to do, but Kenneth is proud. He has a YouTube channel where he discusses his positions, including a video about feminism detailing how you can’t teach men how not to rape, but you can teach women self-defense. His Google Plus activity is atrocious and, again, it’s connected to his legal name that is connected to is place of work.

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What startles me about Kenneth is how bold he is and how unashamed he is to say these things. This tells me that something about his life and probably his upbringing has allowed him to feel a sense of pride and a sense of indifference in his words even when he’s wrong. He is so convicted in his wrongness and he never stops, he’s still not stopping. He continues to blame me for what happened and is clearly feeling pretty volatile after the fact. He has, at this point, threatened to dox and attack my family and a large part of why I’m making this post is because of that.

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My disabled mother doesn’t deserve to be attacked because Kenneth posted things publicly with his name and company attached to them and got himself fired. While this article is titled “I got him fired”, I didn’t get him fired. He did. I’m ultimately ok with that because this is someone who works with women, but sends rape threats. This is someone who claims to not be racist, but is racist in his spare time talks about running over “niggers”. This is someone who on Linkden claims to support Civil Rights, Social Action, Economic Empowerment, Education and Human Rights but when he’s out of the office demonstrates that he is, indeed, in support of none of those things and he works a job that puts him into a position where he deals with the public and there are so many things about him that really don’t seem like things I’d want to welcome into my home. He thinks that I’ve defamed his character when all I’ve done is screen shot his actual words. The last post I’ve seen from him on my page was this:

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Kenneth gave me his blessing to write this article and, for that, I am very thankful. I never wanted him to be out of a job for an online disagreement, but this is the day in age that we are in. I wanted to make this post as a warning to so many that the things you say online can impact you offline. As a child of the internet age, what I heard over and over again growing up is that everything I post online lasts forever. I used to chuckle and laugh that off, but I realize as an adult just how true that is. People who troll like to believe that these things happen in a vacuum and that trolling isn’t serious. There are real people behind these social media accounts and as we shift into a culture that is more and more connected, the repercussions for the things you say and do will become greater and greater. Freedom of Speech does not protect all speech. I can,in fact, have Kenneth arrested for these things, but I don’t want that. I want him and people like him to realize that there is a consequence for your actions and that the adult thing to do is to own up to those consequences and take ownership to what you’ve done. I don’t think Kenneth ever will and that’s sad.

Understanding My Worth As a Blogger

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When i first started blogging as an angsty teenager, I would never imagine where I’d be today. I started a blog when I was 14 years old on Xanga. It was where I ranted about anything from Britney Spears to that boy I had a crush on. Now, as a 25-year-old, this is what I do for a living and to be completely honest, it’s a bit surreal. It’s surreal because I was raised in the Internet Age. I remember logging into AOL and hearing that all-too-familiar rhythmic beeping sound as my router struggled to get me online. I remember taking web design classes where we had to use FrontPage to design websites about whatever we wanted. I remember logging into NeoPets in the library after school and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. I grew up in the age where the Internet was just becoming accessible in homes and it was a Wild West of new and scary issues. At the time, having a blog like the ones I had made me unique. One of the few, young queer voices that people could latch onto and follow. I enjoyed having a blog, and then I moved into YouTube in 2005, when the website was just starting. 10 years later, here I am, making a living making videos and to be honest, my life is a roller coaster.

In the 2000s, the Internet was so different and so unpredictable, and honestly while so much about it has changed, so much of it really hasn’t. What gets me so much at this strange phase I’m entering is being recognized. I get recognized more and more and it’s always a combination of terrifying and flattering. For the longest time, I made a point of hiding myself; Keeping my life distinctly separated to the point where people would never recognize me. But it’s silly to think that you can do what I do not get recognition at some point. I discuss this a lot but my audience has grown and is growing really rapidly. I have never wanted this much attention. I’ve always enjoyed my hardcore 50 or so fans that enjoyed my content and connected with me in an intimate way. Now I have so many followers, I can’t keep up with them and I’ve stopped reading my YouTube comments past the first hour or so that a video goes live. I remember the first person that recognized me: A girl named Allina. She was such a sweetheart and totally made my day. She met me at Comic Con and when she got to speak to me after my panel, she told me that my content had changed her life. That really touched me. What a lot of people don’t understand about me is I am a very insular person. I work extremely hard and once I’m finished with something, I instantly want to jump up and do something else. To be honest, writing this is pretty therapeutic for me. This is almost a breather for me and I know this post will be at least 1,000 words when I’m finished with it. Because I work so hard and very rarely look up and look around me, I never really look at my whole body of work and really recognize just how much content I have and the hard work that goes into it. Right now I”m in the process of doing some frame animation for my next Everyday Feminism video. That’s extremely intense and a lot of hard work, but I’m determined to do it and I know that I will do it. And I know when I’m finished, I’ll maybe take a day and then I’ll be right back to editing or writing a new video. What I mean is I don’t always take a moment to recognize who’s watching me and really appreciate how many people are consuming my content. I know I get positive emails but I rarely read them. There’s something, however, about just going out to the city and having someone almost cry when they run into me. I still don’t quite know how to respond to that honestly. I don’t view myself as a celebrity or really anyone that’s important. I’m just a girl who loves to blog. But I’m coming to accept that hey….maybe I am a big deal? It was hard to type that last sentence honestly. It’s so hard for me to view myself in that context and I think that a lot of that has to do with not really knowing my worth.

Understanding my worth is something that has been extremely hard for me as a person who does things that she loves for a living. When I graduated from college, I fell into a bit of a funk. I worked a minimum wage job at an Animation Studio and was just happy to be there. When that job didn’t work out, I started doing freelance work and got my first Children’s Illustration gig. This was my first real freelance job and I had no clue what I was doing. When I gave the man I was working for my rate, I told him it would be $15 an hour. He sorta acted like that was too rich for his blood, but eventually agreed to pay that rate. By the end I finished the book for him, I was paid around 6,000 dollars for the book and while this money helped me move out of my parents house, it took me a while to realize that it really wasn’t a lot of money for the work I was doing. Keep in mind, this book was 45 pages with around 40 or so characters that I designed. Full backgrounds, and full colors. It was a lot of work. A lot of sleepless nights, but I was happy to simply be paid for my time. I accepted it and I was honestly grateful. I worked the same rate on the second book that I worked on and made about the same amount at the end of the day. Neither of those books have been published and both of the Authors refuse to have a cohesive conversation with me. From their perspective, they paid too much. But listen, I have a degree in Character Animation from one of the top schools for animation in America (Cal Arts) and what I’m realizing and what I’m learning is that I’ve been selling myself short. I have loans to pay back and food to put on the table. I live in a shared house with about 3 other people (and one girl who doesn’t pay rent). I’m 25 years old and I feel so behind in life and I know that a large part of that is not knowing my worth. Not drawing the line in the sand and saying this is what my rate is, take it or leave it. When I spoke to one of the men I used to work with, he told me that I should be charging somewhere around 45 dollars an hour. That rate makes me extremely happy and the concept of being paid that much makes me feel really good, but at the same time there’s this nagging thing in the back of my mind that keeps telling me that I”m not worth it. And what is this? What is that thing that keeps telling me that I don’t deserve to be paid enough to afford to move out of this place and get my own place? What is it that tells me that my work doesn’t deserve that? I don’t know honestly I guess it’s self-doubt, but I’m confident in what i do.I may not know much but as an artist, I know that I am more that good. But I don’t feel like I deserve it.

I ended up getting into a funk after finishing my second book and jumped  into doing YouTube videos seriously. I had a bunch of YouTube videos but they weren’t organized, they were quite random and they had no cohesion. So i started writing scripts and thinking things out to their conclusion and my channel changed drastically. Eventually I connected with other Youtubers, collaborated with them and now here I am producing videos for two amazing websites and in so many ways I was pushed into an online spotlight. A few weeks ago, Google flew me out to Charleston,South Carolina to discuss my YouTube channel with community organizers. It was a surreal experience. It was like a deity from the vast land of the Internet reached out and touched me. However, meeting people who actually worked at Google was surprisingly pretty chill and I loved meeting so many amazing black people who worked for Google. That event set off a tidal waves of people approaching me for speaking events. Most of these people give me their rate for speaking and honestly their rates, at least for now, are always really nice. When I say nice, I mean, my rent it paid probably 3 or 4 times over. However, today, i spoke with a college that wanted to book me and when they asked me to give them my rate… I hesitated. Speaking is still so new to me. I know I’m good at it, I’ve been on enough panels at this point, but it’s still pretty new to me. At least with art I had somewhat of an idea of what i was supposed to charge. When it comes to this, I’m pretty much lost. I’m still fascinated by the fact that people even want me to speak to begin with. I told them about what everyone else was paying and eventually I gave them the lowest I’ve ever charged for speaking. Not to be tacky, but that rate pays my rent once and gets me a few groceries. The fact that they’re paying for everything else, though, makes me pretty ok with that rate honestly. When I told my boyfriend about this, he told me that I needed to sell myself more and to not really be so straightforward about my lowest rate. I am a very honest person by default, so I said it didn’t feel right to do that, but he just laughed at me. My boyfriend, however, is a white man and I find that confidence is easy when you’re white and male. I’m confident, but this is all still such a gray area for me. I’m terrible at negotiating or asking for more. I know I deserve it, but asking for it is so scary. One thing I’ve learned though is that if you present a rate to a costumer and the customer  wants to work with you, they’ll be willing to pay.

It’s strange that I have the conversations I have and get paid to do so, but this is my life now and I love it. I love that I was able to take something so silly and turn it into a career. One thing I have to continue to remind myself of daily is that my time is valuable and my voice is valuable. I hope that I can grow to the point where I won’t feel apprehensive about asking to be paid for my time and voice.