Look Cute and Save the World Too! Dressember, Femininity, and the White Savior Complex

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 5, 2015 by mehass


Have you heard of Dressember? Neither had I until yesterday, when I came across this cover of the local university’s paper at my favorite coffee shop (apologies for the poor image quality). According to this article, Purdue student Sutton Roach is taking on the Dressember challenge and promoting it on campus. Like Movember, Dressember is a month-long charity challenge, but this one is for the ladies. Instead of growing a sick ‘stache, you’re supposed to wear dresses for 31 days in order to raise awareness about sex trafficking and slavery. Dressember is the brainchild of Blythe Hill and is designed to raise money for International Justice Mission. In her TEDx talk, Hill talks about the common conundrum of people in privilege–having the desire to address injustice but lacking the knowledge of how to to do it. That’s why, Hill says, she is excited that her “quirky” idea has caught on and allowed her use her interest in fashion to help others. Continue reading


Chicago, Protest, and Silence as White Privilege

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 2, 2015 by mehass

Chicago is a city close to my heart. It is also (still) the most segregated city in the U.S, as a simple ride on the CTA red line attests. Chicago also has a deserved reputation for police abuse and corruption that disproportionately targets black people. It is fitting, then, that the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the country have come to the Windy City. It would not be hard to find a cause for protest in Chicago, but the shooting of Laquan McDonald by police, and the subsequent delay in justice, is a particularly egregious case. And yet solidarity from white people is still lacking. When Black Lives Matter protesters came to the downtown shopping districts on Black Friday last week, they sent a powerful message that racial violence and police brutality should matter to all Chicagoans, not just those outside the safe confines of the Loop. Continue reading

White in Love: Americanah, Donald Sterling, and the Limits of Romantic Love

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 9, 2008 by mehass

In one of her blog entries in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah, Nigerian protagonist Ifemelu writes:

“The simplest solution to the problem of race in America? Romantic love. Not friendship. Not the kind of safe, shallow love where the objective is that both people remain comfortable. But real deep romantic love, the kind that twists you and wrings you out and makes you breathe through the nostrils of your beloved. And because that real deep romantic love is so rare, and because American society is set up to make it even rarer between Black and American White, the problem of race will never be solved.” (307)

In this short paragraph, Ifemelu both proposes a solution and negates the possibility of that solution. Perhaps because it encapsulates this paradoxical need for and impossibility of love between white and black people in the U.S., it was this passage I found myself coming back to while reading and hearing about the 2014 controversy over LA Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling and his racist comments on the tape published by TMZ. Continue reading