Coucou, last weekend of July it is so yes, last time I‘ll be in charge of the weekend reading for now. This weekend Christopher Street Day – Berlin Pride, took place, as most of you probably noticed. So I take this as a reason to devote this BlogPost to this particular part of LGBTTIQ*history. This year, the CSD changed its slogan into STONEWALL 50 – EVERY RIOT STARTS WITH YOUR VOICE, as it is the 50th anniversary of the Riots at Stonewall Inn, a Gay-Bar on Manhattan, New York City’s Christopher Street. The Riots happend around the date of June 28, 1969. Those days, the LGBTTIQ* Community fought back after being violently attacked and raided by the police various times. The narration about what exactly happened at the Stonewall Riots (who fought the police, where there struggles within the Queer Community as well) differ. Here is a short documentary, giving an insight into what happened at the Stonewall Riots out of the perspective of some Queers that had been involved. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjRv7dJTync
What strikes me the most, is that there are already voices of queer POCs who felt neglected by the community. Over the past years, the CSD had been critiqued from various sides, as the whole event was rather a commercialized pinkwashing party, then actually a political statement. (The Term pinkwashing is used to describe a variety of marketing and political strategies aimed at promoting products, countries, people or entities through an appeal to gay-friendliness, in order to be perceived as progressive, modern and tolerant. ) A further observation and also a critique is, that the CSD seems to be an event for a community, mostly originating out of a white middle-class background. This problem of bias and racism, even within the community, was continuously addressed by great queer thinkers and activists, such as Audre Lorde. Lorde described herself as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre Lorde dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. In relation to non-intersectional feminism in the United States, Lorde famously said:
“those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.
Here you can find the full text The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House http://www.editmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Lorde_The_Masters_Tools.pdf
Most of us know, that bias, stereotypes, racism, sexism, homo- and transphobia are reproduced by our technologies, as they are NOT NEUTRAL. As they get programmed by humans with certain world views, as they take the already existing, biased content of digital knowledge as learning material. I still want to share this keynote about RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN THE AGE OF AI
The lecture by Mutale Nkonde was given in the frame of an event series called AI TRAPS: Automating Discrimination organized by “Disruption Network Lab” – An ongoing platform of events and research on art, hacktivism and disruption in Berlin.
I feel that luckily, there are many interesting research projects going on, that analyze biased AIs and try to find solutions on how to deal with this increasing problem. Like the Gender Shades Project: http://gendershades.org/ . It evaluates the accuracy of AI powered gender classification products, focussing on Face++, Microsoft and IBM.
Furthermore, we need to understand that the biases are not just a problem of software and machine learning gone wrong, it is as well build in the material that is used to create our digital devices. Some of you already know about it, but for those who never heard the term “Shirley Card” – Here a short summary on how Kodak literally blocked POCs out of their photographs.
Color film was designed for a precise consumer market whose likeness was on a printed image called “The Shirley.”
Shirley cards, named after a former Kodak studio model, were images used as the standard for color calibration in photo labs all over the world. When a lab ordered a Kodak printer, the company sent Shirley cards with them as a guide. Technicians would adjust the color settings to match the model’s skin tone.
Models for Shirley cards were always white women.
A similar thing happened nowadays with the pre-set filter on Instagram (not the face mesh ones though – last month Instagram changed their policy, so know pretty much everybody can design face filters, which are used by some queer and feminist artists as an empowering tool.) https://www.racked.com/2015/7/7/8906343/instagram-racism
Alright, I will end this BlogPost with the promise I made you about adding a Kate Bush Song to every Post, which fits perfectly as Kate Bush has been an Icon for the Queer Community within the past 40 years. Why is that so? Here is an opinion: https://www.attitude.co.uk/article/why-kate-bush-stands-as-an-lgbt-icon-forty-years-on-from-wuthering-heights/16918/
“I’ve heard people say time and time again that they would kick aside their lounge room furniture and spin to Wuthering Heightswhenever it came on. For other people, they see it as a ‘reclaiming’ of their personal power from past relationship traumas. In an increasingly grey and punitive world, you could even say it’s an act of defiance. I know it’s an overused word these days, but there’s an authenticity to Kate Bush that’s inspirational. And I think that’s her legacy, really.”
And here it comes – WUTHERING HEIGHTS from 1979 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW3gKKiTvjs
Thanks for reading. SOOOOOOOOON !