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This holiday season, whether you're spending time with your chosen family, yourself, or with your blood relatives, know that you are seen. Know that you are loved. Know that you matter.

The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. Along with the stress of travel, trying not to overpack, scheduling self-care when you're in old environments, and reflecting on the successes and failures of the past year, it can be taxing to even think about anything else. Personally, I love this time of year because I enjoy reflecting and celebrating what has been accomplished, and gearing up to start the next year anew. But in doing so, I feel like the holiday season emphasizes the privilege of family and cheer. The holiday season (besides the whitewashing and colonization behind many of the holidays that we celebrate this time of year in the U.S.) can emphasize marginalization even more than usual. In its efforts to celebrate love and traditional values, the holiday season as we recognize it today continues to push out traditionally marginalized people because it often leaves very little space for us to include our experiences. Anything that is outside of that model is heavily erased, leaving so many of us without recognition or support. I've begun to ask this question in regards to the notion of "going home for the holidays". What do the holidays mean when we are spending it outside of our blood families? How do the meanings differ when we shift from forcing ourselves to spend time with people who may be abusive, toxic, and downright dangerous to our safety and well-being; instead, replacing them with our chosen family of friends and loved ones that affirm and fill us with warmth? These questions weigh heavily on my mind, especially as so many of my queer and BIPOC siblings find themselves left out of the narrative of holiday cheer. Are we any less valid because we do not separate our need for survival with choosing ourselves over the weight of expectations that are rooted in our own oppression? As I look around at those who are becoming vocal about their interpretations of the holidays they are celebrating, I'm in awe of the bravery it takes to choose oneself and to choose those who are in our chosen families over the traditional models that leave us aside. But I have to wonder: those of us who carry trauma with us, who are unlearning toxic coping mechanisms and are reliant on survival over comfort — where is there space for us within narratives of holiday cheer? Where are the narratives that include those of us who cannot and do not have traditional families to "go home" to?

Dubbing the sudden absence of predatory men as the categorical dimming of some bright, new era rings of a false equivalency for many marginalized viewers. 

If you have remained plugged into our daily Hollywood news cycle, it might seem as if each day brings a newly exposed sexual predator. While that may sound like hyperbole, the sentiment is actually not that inaccurate: since news of Harvey Weinstein's history of assault broke via major press in early October, dozens of celebrity abusers have been publicly identified by their victims. As an audience, our responses to the steady stream of stories have run the gamut – especially for those of us who have our own experiences with sexual abuse. Though some remain focused on the specific trauma (and to be clear, the well-being of the victims ought to be our collective priority), others have their sights set on the potential aftermath. What does all of this mean for Hollywood and the state of entertainment, in general? As we witness the rightful takedown of critically acclaimed men like Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K., many have wondered how this continued exposure of Hollywood's predatory culture will affect the entertainment landscape, especially within television. Recently, TV critic Ben Travers of IndieWire noted Hollywood's current purge as a mark of permanent change to, in his words, “the new golden age of television.” To his credit, Travers is careful not to cite the onslaught of shamed men as the end of premium entertainment, but rather a potential opportunity for a more inclusive industry. That specific hope echoes those of many BIPOC creators who have been working diligently against the very climate that has systemically boxed them out of opportunities.  

The labor that Black women contribute to the world and to movements for Black liberation is often condensed to supporting roles, or erased altogether.

NPR just ran a story about GiveDirectly, an organization that has been based in Africa since 2008 and gives money directly to those in “extreme poverty.” Now, they are coming to Texas, which will be “the first time they have tried this model in the U.S. and, for now, probably the only time. After [Texas], they plan on turning their focus back to their projects in East Africa.” Here’s the thing: a Black woman already organized direct giving efforts in and around Houston immediately following hurricane Harvey and raised over $30k in the first 24 hours, all of which went directly to Black women. Her name is Dr. Roni Dean-Burren and she was not mentioned in NPR’s story. Dean-Burren and several others reached out to the reporter of the story to notify them of their oversight, but none have received a response. This scenario is not uncommon because, too often, Black women's work goes overlooked in favor of others. You may know her as the Texas Textbook mom who took on McGraw-Hill two years ago when her son informed her of the dishonest way that their history textbook portrayed the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Since then, she has kept busy as an educator, activist, and mother raising free Black children and fiercely advocating for Black women. “I was enlightened by the death of Korryn Gaines,” Dean-Burren says. “Her murder by the Baltimore Police Department was met with such vitriol—from white people and from Black men alike. That left me feeling tons of acrimony, but it also helped me to focus my work, thoughts, and time into supporting Black women.”

White supremacist patriarchy is deceptive and manipulative, not only making things disappear but making other things appear in its place.

White supremacy is a fatally insidious system. And when it intersects with the devastation of other systems of oppression, like cisheteropatriarchy, the results are catastrophic. This manifests clearly in privileging of white people over Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), often especially Black and Indigenous folks, across several social institutions like housing, education, wealth, employment, and healthcare. These are most prominent for white men as the same social institutions also disadvantage women and people of other marginalized genders. White people, men especially, are also uniquely positioned by these systems and structures, providing an unfettered kind of access, not only in social institutions but also to material forms of power. This leads to the disproportionate concentration of wealth in White men and nearly the majority possessing firearms in the US, powers which have been shown to manifest in violence. In particular, the majority of mass violence in the US has been committed by white men. Yet despite the clear evidence that implicates white supremacist patriarchal structures in positioning white folks, especially white men, to violent expressions of power, white supremacy, the patriarchy, and white men are scarcely discussed in the context of violence. White supremacy and those who perpetuate it are quick to absolve those perpetrating crime by virtue of their white maleness.

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