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Dr. Wendy K. Z. Anderson researches social change rhetorics at the intersection of racism and feminism within digital contexts. She completed her Ph.D. at Purdue University in Communication Studies and is currently working in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cites in Minneapolis teaching Argumentation, Communication Ethics, and Freedom of Speech. She can be reached at wzeitz@umn.edu

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Intersectionality...more than just compiling under representations

It started with an election result, gained steam as I saw pervasive discontent being organized, and resulted in one of the most moving experiences of my life: my participation in the Women's March in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Don't get me wrong-I've participated in social change efforts, including protests, before, but this movement is different. Today I was immersed in what large scale a movement could be....a massive, wave-like tsunami all headed in the direction of our institution responsible for preserving the democracy of our state...and, this protest was the first of many waves to come. 

I knew that I was attending the protest early on. Early in the week, a close friend of mine, Alma, solidified my plans as she invited me to come with her and her sisters. 
 (Image taken by Luis Puga)
She sent me a picture of her sign and offered me the "motivation" to make my own. Our friendship is an example of how this movement works-she is one of my best friends and we challenge each other's thought processes and socio-cultural coding, yet retain what matters: our respect of one another's humanity and autonomy of perspective. So much of our relationship embodies a willingness to listen about our intersectionality (Crenshaw) and a mutual recognition of and desire to engage intersectionality, whether it be sex and gender with class and/or race or otherwise. We experience different shackles or constraints, but our oppressions are tied and complicated by the intersection of oppression (race with sex and class, class with sex and gender). We are bonded to one another-we see our lives as interconnected (Starhawk, Truth or dare). 

The Women's movement, like the Rhetoric of Malcolm X 53 years prior, bonds women together, but it definitely has limitations. 


One protestor illustrated some of those limitations today as she noted a lack of intersectional recognition with sexuality.
 

Another protestor noted how her life was compromised through this election, not only because she was a woman, but a Mexican woman. 
 

But in order for intersectionality to move forward the movement, we must identify those common parts, parts of our souls we recognize and share with one another, as so well noted by America Ferrera

We need to know, understand, and share our roots, our immigrant and indigenous roots, our desires to be listened to, be accounted for, and allowed to choose our lives. We have to embody the lady liberty that is our shared cultural icon and unite to ensure our freedom of democracy is not compromised due to someone's limited or constrained vision of us.
 
 
 

That is the only hope we have because our history mandates it. We must choose to learn who we were to know who we are and envision who we must become. And it is with those ideological stars in our eyes that we can become our future, not a perfect future, but one where we are perfectly human and our identities are included in our institutions and systems, closer to the ideal set by our laws.

Today I witness the start of our revolution because Good Girls Revolt (at least those with certain privileges feel able to do so). It is time to get Nasty, and thank you Janet Jackson, because you made our rallying cry.
 
We have a long way to go and so much to change and reorganize, but it is time it has been time!) to take action to change what you can no longer accept. I can no longer accept the static character of "woman" placed on me or any other people. I refuse, resist, and rebel against our treatment as single dimensional beings and look forward to our next strides together to ensure our revolution does not become this one-time event.

 


References

Images taken by me on 1/21/2017

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Book Proposal first page...

Following the 2016 election and shock of its turnout, media outlets published a series of articles identifying various groups responsible for the election results. Some focused on millennials voting for third party candidates or not voting at all (Blake, Green, Kartje). Others highlighted the non-voters or voters with religious affiliations like evangelicals (Flynn) or even working class white voters (Young). However, what I found most interesting were the various media outlets who identified white women as a source or turning point for the 2016 election. Out of all the people marginalized in the U.S., and specifically targeted during the 2016 election (Black people, Latino people, Muslim people, women), more white women (53%) voted for Donald Trump than another other group of marginalized people such as 13% of Black men, 4% of Black women, 33% of Latino men, and 6% of Latino women (CNN exit polls, Ibrahim, Rogers). Even more authors and media outlets continue to attribute white women for the downfall of the 2016 election (Bianco, Grattan, McDonough, Moore, Orlov). Why wasn’t I surprised? While studying White Nationalist women and racism in the U.S. over the last ten years, I found white women to be at the apex of the White Nationalist movement...

Forthcoming article entitled "(De)coding Whiteness: Rhetorical Refinement of Coded Rhetoric by White Nationalist Women Appropriated by U.S. Politicians"

Well, after ten long years of dissertation-related research, I have my first single author work in a special issue (Race, Whiteness, and Resentment) of Rhetoric Review that is developing into a book proposal. Here is the abstract: In 2007, White Nationalist women became a primary source of inferential racism directed at white women and girls in online spaces. White Nationalist women’s webspaces functioned as a space of rhetorical refinement for coded rhetoric used by Republican and Libertarian politicians in the 2016 election cycle. During his successful 2016 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump and gained maintained public support by appropriating coded racist rhetoric. Through this comparative analysis, I unmask Trump’s coded rhetoric to illustrate how he appropriated White Nationalist women’s rhetorical refinement to signal white supremacist values and privilege to mainstream audiences.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Interview on Mediated Motherhood for the Star Tribune

Based on some the research that Kittie Grace and I recently completed, I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Aimee Blanchette from the star Tribune about social media and motherhood. I am grateful for the opportunity to share insights from our work!



Monday, January 19, 2015

Our Legacy of Civil Rights: Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today I post one thing.

Shocking I know for all of you who know my posting habits on facebook where I posted this originally, but desperate times call for deliberate measures and I ask you to consider our civil rights today.

We are called today to consider the rights and responsibilities we have to and with each other. I offer Dr. King's words from 'A Letter from a Birmingham Jail' and have linked the statements from the DFL Chairman posted by #BlackLivesMatter (https://www.dfl.org/dfl-news/2015/01/chairman-ken-martin-black-lives-matter/). Both are incredibly eloquent and their words resonate for me today as we look upon this new year contemplating the important things in our lives.

Dr, King wrote, 'You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham. But I am sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being. I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. I would not hesitate to say that it is unfortunate that so-called demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham at this time, but I would say in more emphatic terms that it is even more unfortunate that the white power structure of this city left the Negro community with no other alternative.'

Demonstrations happen because people must embody change-the alternative is a slow death and, once someone has glimpsed that bleak future, the 'alternative' action becomes one's only means of survival.

Today, there will be a demonstration, a March. Don't mistake it-it is a March for freedom. Freedom from an identity that proceeds one's existence....especially in the eyes of the law. 

I ask you to consider a time when you have been reminded of one piece of your identity (race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, height, hair color, eye color, etc.) and, if you were reminded of one feature of your identity so much that you couldn't just live, what option would you have?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Upcoming Presentation coming at the University of Minnesota

TitleCoding Whiteness: Digital Paranoia as Organizational Means for Sustaining White Nationalist Rhetoric within Online Contexts


AbstractWe are living in a technological era of coded whiteness. Although techno-optimistic accounts of mediated space abound (Bolter & Gruisin, 1999; Dertouzos, 1997; McLuhan, 1967), many designs and uses of digital spaces perpetuate an epistemology based on assumed whiteness. With design and access defaults set to “white” (Blackmon, 2007; Chidester, 2008; Daniels, 2009a, 2009b; Nakamura, 2002; Nakayama & Krizek, 1995), technology continues to be designed, coded, and classified (such as through hashtags) for individuals who fit within the constraints of the code. In addition to silencing many people of color, digital systems allow space for White Nationalist organizations and individuals spread “pro-social,” civil rights sounding rhetoric. In this study I assess the design and use of White Nationalist digital rhetoric directed at women and girls to clarify how White Nationalist construct digital rhetorics by content and form. By applying a modified Critical Technocultural Discourse Analysis (CTDA) analysis (Brock, 2011), I offer means for scholars to “develop literacies of racism, anti-racism, and social justice” (Daniels, 2009, 678) necessary for understanding and cultivating a multicultural digital sphere. Further I introduce my concept of “digital paranoia” to articulate how options rhetorically organize a perception of choice and identity for people in digital contexts.
Date: Wednesday, January 28th at the University of Minnesota at 12:15 in Vincent Hall 16



Friday, December 19, 2014

Searching for a More Perfect Union


Dear Mr. President,

It is 3:30am and I find myself staring at the constitution. Why would a breast feeding mother, behind on her grading, short on sleep be looking at the constitution at 3:30 in the morning? Because I cannot stop thinking about the preamble. “We the people…” It begins strong. “We the people” tells us that we as the people decide. We as the people choose. We as the people have agency. We as the people are the embodiment of what this country is.


The next part gives me pause.


We are not United within our States. We never were. Not all the people were or are included in the democratic “experiment” that was so “improbable.” Growing up in Minnesota, Dakota County nonetheless, and studying the many perspectives of the history of this land, time, and location, I realize that there are many people not included in those “United States.” The United States was built on displacement and slavery and it is our “unfinished business.” These things hold us back in uniting our country because we still haven’t addressed them in our binding contract. Our constitution.

We the people.

It is time to find out what that means. 


This past semester my students read your “A More Perfect Union” speech. As you spoke eloquently about your background as representative of a blend of people you hoped to represent, I found myself reminded of the various histories and experiences that make up who I am. I am the daughter of a chemical engineer who lost his father early in his life and a mother whose was a social activist for the Jane Project in Chicago. My grandmother was a kindergarten teacher in Chicago; my other grandmother emigrated here just before WWII. I am German, but also French, as well as a whole host to many other cultural influences. I come from a visually and ethnically diverse family and communities. My cousins are Black, Chicano, Mexican, Jewish, Italian, Irish, etc. Some are practicing Jews others Catholics and still others Protestant. I grew up in Minnesota, but lived in England as well as various places around the Midwest. All these influences have helped me not only survive but thrive. I am American, but also what Gloria AnzaldĂșa called metiza.

I am a mother. I am a scholar. I am a feminist. I am a partner, sister, cousin, and friend. I am a daughter and a daughter in law. It is not easy to be all these parts of my identity-sometimes conflicts happen due to the constraints of attempting to unify my identity, but that is what prompts me to learn-to formulate new ideas and become more flexible in my understanding of myself. But what binds me together as well as this country together is not our unified conception, but our desire to continue to unify ourselves through connections with one another. It is the associations we make that inspire us to be more than the narrow conception and value systems that other single countries have and attempt to preserve. It is our very nature as a blended, multifaceted, and that make us a generative country.

I would imagine that if I was in your shoes a lot of things have changed since that speech. You are not on the campaign trail seeking election. Instead, if I was in your shoes I would be thinking about legacy. Such a weighty term for someone so young, but necessary considering what you have already accomplished and the responsibility of your position. I support you because you are the person who I believe can embody change. You’ve accomplished so much already, and so much this last month, that your legacy is secure. But what I call to is your desire for a more perfect union. Can this be a part of your legacy too? What meaning is necessary to unify us all into the people we hope to be? How might we be more mindful of ourselves and our community/ies so that we can embody a united sense of our people?

I do not offer you easy questions, only ones that I hope you will engage them deliberatively.

Thank you for your time, attention, and (hopefully) engagement.

Sincerely,

Wendy K. Z. Anderson

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Oh brother please have mercy 'Cause I just can't take it"

In the last 24 hours I have found myself torn and concerned about the upcoming protest in the private, corporate space of the Mall of America. I am so torn that I have taken action in a way that surprised myself-I wrote government officials (see below) in hopes that they will take action to preserve our communities. And now I ask you to consider a similar action and offer my letters as a gift. 

Writing does not come easy for many-heck, it doesn't come easy for me-so I offer what I wrote. Please read it, revise it, send it. I've included links to the emails below.

-----
Minnesota Governor Dayton, 
http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/

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Dear Governor Dayton,

I'm writing you out of concern for the upcoming demonstration planning to be held at the Mall of America on Saturday December 20th at 2 PM. The demonstration organized by #blacklivesmatter is one that has prompted concern for me as a social movement scholar. The last few days I have debated about going to this demonstration and watching the communication unfold between the organizers and the owners/managers of the Mall of America has prompted me to worry about the safety of not only myself but my community. 

As a movement scholar that believes in fighting for equality, equity, and justice, I find myself compelled to be a part of this demonstration of people planning to sing as a United community. As a mother of two I realize that I am concerned about the potential risk. Due to my research on the white nationalist movement, I recognize potential dangers that may befall the citizens enacting their right to come together, even if they're organizing it for a privatize commercial space such as the Mall of America. 

In this economic recession, our public spaces have condensed. We are no longer a nation with many physical public commons areas where people discuss and demonstrate as an expression of their perspectives. In a place as cold as Minnesota, our need to engage civic rights require places that do not endanger our health. In a place as contemplative as Minnesota, our embodiment of civil rights cannot be ignored. 

I write because I worry not only about myself and my family but also our Minnesota community and our community of the United States at large. I ask that you find a means to engage this situation, particular this demonstration on Saturday, to help unite the community that we value and share. There is power in presence and I believe that, in a place as receptive as Minnesota, change can take root and grow.

Thank you for your time, attention, and consideration.

Sincerely, 
Wendy K. Z. Anderson

-------
President Barack Obama
http://m.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

-------
Dear President Obama,

I'm writing you out of concern for the upcoming demonstration planning to be held at the Mall of America on Saturday December 20th at 2 PM. The demonstration organized by #blacklivesmatter is one that has prompted concern for me as a social movement scholar. The last few days I have debated about going to this demonstration and watching the communication unfold between the organizers and the owners/managers of the Mall of America has prompted me to worry about the safety of not only myself but my community. 

As a movement scholar that believes in fighting for equality, equity, and justice, I find myself compelled to be a part of this demonstration of people planning to sing as a United community. As a mother of two I realize that I am concerned about the potential risk. Due to my research on the white nationalist movement, I recognize potential dangers that may befall the citizens enacting their right to come together, even if they're organizing it for a privatize commercial space such as the Mall of America. 

In this economic recession, our public spaces have condensed. We are no longer a nation with many physical public commons areas where people discuss and demonstrate as an expression of their perspectives. In a place as cold as Minnesota, our need to engage civic rights require places that do not endanger our health. In a place as contemplative as Minnesota, our embodiment of civil rights cannot be ignored. 

I write because I worry not only about myself and my family but also our Minnesota community and our community of the United States at large. I ask that you find a means to engage this situation, particular this demonstration on Saturday, to help unite the community that we value and share. There is power in presence and I believe that, in a place as receptive as Minnesota, change can take root and grow.

Thank you for your time, attention, and consideration.

Sincerely, 
Wendy K. Z. Anderson