facebook, homonationalism, and capitalism... an update! by A.W. Lee

Queers Against Islamophobia image by Elisha Lim

Queers Against Islamophobia image by Elisha Lim

I noticed on June 18th that Elisha's original post (June 12), which I refer to below, has resurfaced from the depths of Facebook's censorship queue. Perhaps the multitude of images of women breastfeeding crowded this image out of the bin. But my cynical feelings about Facebook remain unchanged. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Here's what I wrote in a post on June 14:  Original Post

"Anybody who shared Elisha Lim's original post yesterday, a meme they titled "Queers Against Islamophobia” have likely noticed it is gone. It was shared hundreds if not thousands of times before being reported, erased, and used to shut Elisha out of their “Charming Lim” Facebook account. 

A message from them:
'Raven and I created a simple statement, ‘Queers Against Islamophobia,’ and it was shared by many people.
It also attracted lots of hateful comments, personal attacks and racism. Then this morning I was shut out of my Facebook account, I assume because so many of these critics complained to Facebook. That's how I lost the use of Charming, I've had to change my name to re-open my account. The charm is over, the gloves are off.
But seriously, this tells me that our queer Muslim friends are not safe. Look out for each other.'

My first reaction to the meme, prior to sharing it, was of gratitude. I was grateful for those three simple words, a small but necessary gesture. The image was an intervention in our collective grief, anticipating the instrumentalization of our queer and trans mourning for the loss of our black and brown siblings in Orlando. The meme, if shared, would have served as a reminder for our community and allies, a viral wall, to resist the state’s cooptation of queer and trans deaths, as pawns in its Islamophobic project of war. 

Yet Facebook deemed that the image couldn’t be shared. It is an unsurprising but heinous act of censorship, short circuiting potential digital spaces of solidarity across racial, sexual, and faith divisions. Obviously, I am troubled by the unevenness of this censorship, when racist, anti-Indigenous, pro-rape, anti woman, and anti trans sentiments proliferate in groups across Facebook.

But even more troubling is the content and context of this particular erasure. Facebook board member, Peter Thiel’s funding of Gawker Media’s financial ruin is only the most aggressive arm of Facebook’s emerging status as arbiter of news, information, and digital virality. It is not coincidental that this white, gay, billionaire harpooned a news agency deemed unfriendly to Silicon Valley, both to him personally and the emerging technocratic elite generally, who usually bask in the utopic glow of tech journalism. Thiel embodies the absorption of certain kinds of gayness into capitalistic and statist projects. And he is also an invested stakeholder in the consolidation of media and information into the hands of tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. The recent documentation of Facebook’s partisan skewing of its ‘Now Trending’ section only underscores the political implications of their increasing control over information, be it official news or political memes. 

This makes its expulsion of the words “Queers Against Islamophobia” on this platform all the more horrific. It was a simple and important rejoinder to the anticipated anti-Muslim backlash that the Orlando mass shooting would precipitate. Yet the collusion of digital capital and state imperial projects will not allow this community sentiment to have any traction. 

Please share the image as long as it’s still up, crediting Elisha Lim."

Some thoughts from February on Beyoncé... by A.W. Lee

Screen cap of Janaya Khan's dope thoughts on Beyoncé

Screen cap of Janaya Khan's dope thoughts on Beyoncé

Sometimes you just have to stop everything you're doing and say, "I'm gonna read this."

Last week, I dedicated a three hour class in my queer/race studies course to Beyoncé, Messy, and Freedia, because their cultural presence demanded i change my syllabus the night before. And I was happy to oblige - Formation was an excellent jumping off point for our discussion about the erasure of Black Lesbian feminisms from both mainstream white feminism and anti-colonial cultural nationalist movements. 

I was disappointed but unsurprised by the immediate reaction of some to jump on the "problematic" bandwagon, dissecting every single layer of her body, life and art. I'm happy that folks are sharpening their critical faculties. I'm happy to be a sounding board for student learning. And I'm not saying that Beyoncé is beyond reproach (although sometimes I do). But I wish I didn't see this kind of critical attention so unevenly applied against women, queers, and trans folks. I see this reflected in an almost uniform praise of Kendrick's powerful Grammys performance. Praise Kendrick and his triumphs of black masculine excellence - to pimp a butterfly is truly amazing. but it's sorely disappointing to not see a 23 point listicle dissecting everything problematic with his participation in the globalized hip hop-capital machine, like that which circulated about Beyoncé. Why is Beyoncé's pop music subject to the kinds of critical scrutiny hardly ever applied to male revolutionary figures (except by racists)? Is it that her pop music is so inauthentic that it is evacuated of all revolutionary potential (bullshit)? Or is it that black women's sexuality has always already been regulated, disciplined, and marginalized by both hegemonic and counter hegemonic movements, both dominated by masculine energy? She also didn't get any key to any goddamn city. ‪#‎beyhive‬