Book Review: Pointing With Lips, Dana Lone Hill (2014)

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

“Ain’t gotta lie to kick it.”

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free pdf copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Member Giveaway program. Also, trigger warning for discussions of rape, violence, and drug and alcohol use.)

Born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Dana Lone Hill offers us a glimpse inside “a week in the life of a rez chick” with her debut novel Pointing With Lips. We meet 32-year-old Sincere Strongheart – “Sis” for short – the titular “rez chick,” just as she’s trying to sell some of her jewelry to the tourists who have flocked to town for the annual Oglala Nation Fair and Rodeo. (“People from all over America and the world are fascinated with us, maybe because we are still here after all the bullshit America put us through.”)

During the course of the week, we follow Sis as she spends time partying with her best friends Boogie and Zona; evading brother George, a cop who’s constantly throwing his siblings in the drunk tank; quits/is fired from her dead-end job at the Great Sioux Shopping Center, the one and only grocery store on the rez; rescues her sister Frieda’s kids from one of her drug-fueled sex parties; and flirts with friend Ricky and border town white guy Mason. There’s also the town parade (Planned Parenthood was banned for life when it handed out condoms instead of the more standard, diabetes-inducing candy) and brother Misun’s going-away BBQ, complete with plenty of family drama.

Against this backdrop, we see Sis slowly slide from social drinking into the bottomless pit of alcoholism, which has claimed the hopes, dreams, and lives of so many of her friends and family.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 24: Three months o’ links!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Considering I haven’t posted a link roundup in more than three months, this one actually isn’t all that long. What can I say; I’ve used what little free blogging time I’ve had to prepare for the upcoming Vegan MoFo madness. Speaking of which, brand spanking new graphics and an up-to-date press release are now available. Go grab some and spread the word! 400 participants and counting – let’s make it 500, kay? Come November 1st, you can follow the fun on Twitter (VeganMoFo, #veganmofo), the (new!) PPK forums, and Vegan MoFo Headquarters International. See y’all then.

Joel Burns tells gay teens “it gets better”;

Stephanie @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: “You Coming Out or What?”; and

The Bullies Suck T-shirt

In the wake of a spate of suicides, committed by gay teenagers who were each the target of homophobic bullying, the LGBTQ community and its allies celebrated National Coming Out Day on October 11. Together, these events have focused attention on movements to prevent bullying – particularly those aimed at LGBTQ (or perceived LGBTQ) youths – including the It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project. The former invites members and allies of the LGBTQ community to upload encouraging videos to its website, the message being that “it gets better”; the latter operates a hotline for LGBTQ youths and young adults in crisis, and also provides resources to parents and educators.

As part of this anti- anti-gay backlash, a number of celebrities and public figures have shared their own experiences publicly – including Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, whose heartbreaking speech went viral and was aired in full on various media outlets, including CNN (where I first saw it). I’ve embedded the video above; even though it’s rather long, clocking in at almost 13 minutes, I urge you to watch the whole thing. It will bring you to tears.

And, while you’re already a sobby, snotty mess, head on over to AR&AO, where Stephanie shares her own “coming out” story. These issues – homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and the like – are relevant to animal rights activism simply because so many activists belong to marginalized groups; nonhumans are not the only animals exploited and mistreated en masse, for no reason other than the simple fact of their birth. All oppression is bad oppression, and all forms of oppression harm individual activists, as well as social movements and the beings for whom we advocate. These are not “special interests,” to be addressed only after the “important” work is done; these are our interests, to be tackled in concert with other “isms.”

To this end, Ari Solomon of A Scent of Scandal, Josh Hooten of The Herbivore Clothing Company and Jennifer Martin of Ink Brigade created a line of t-shirts to show solidarity with the victims of anti-LGBTQ bullying. Called “Bullies Suck,” the tees are available for purchase through Herbivore (just $20, with kids’ sizes, to boot!); all proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project.

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more randomness: food, needs, food needs, dairy/rape, dennis kucinich & dogs

Sunday, August 15th, 2010
  • After a nearly six month hiatus, I have a new post up at Animal Rights & AntiOppression! In an interview with humane educator Zoe Weil, we look at the connections between our treatment of nonhuman animals, the earth, and one another, and explore humane education as the bridge between seemingly disparate social justice movements – and the solution to our many (many!) human-made ills.

    Check it: “The World Becomes What You Teach”: An Interview With Humane Educator Zoe Weil

  • Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (psych101 students, represent!), Ellyn Satter developed a corresponding hierarchy of food needs, arguing that one cannot “choose” to consume healthy products unless one’s more basic needs – such as having enough food to eat, having acceptable food, and having reliable, ongoing access to food – are already met.

    Satter's Hierarchy of Food Needs

    Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs:
    Bottom to top, the six needs are as follows: Enough food; Acceptable food; Reliable, ongoing access to food; Good-tasting food; Novel food; and Instrumental food.

    The choice to consume vegan food (vs. the necessity of consuming vegan food) seems to rest at the apex of Satter’s hierarchy, and as such, can only be made “when all underlying needs are consistently satisfied”: “The person functioning at the apex of Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs reliably gets enough to eat of rewarding food and has food acceptance skills that are good enough to allow him or her to eat a variety of food. That person is thus in a position to consider choosing food for instrumental reasons: to achieve a desired physical, cognitive, or spiritual outcome. This description is analogous to Maslow’s concept of self actualization.”
    ——————————

    While this hierarchy is primarily being discussed in relation to our consumption (or lack thereof) of nutritious, healthy food, i.e.:

    The graphic suggests that getting enough food to eat is the most important thing to people. Having food be acceptable (e.g., not rotten, something you are not allergic to) comes second. Once those two things are in place, people hope for reliable access to food and only then do they begin to worry about taste. If people have enough, acceptable, reliable, good-tasting food, then they seek out novel food experiences and begin to make choices as to what to eat for instrumental purposes (e.g., number of calories, nutritional balance).

    As Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist writes, sometimes when a person chooses to eat nutritionally deficient or fattening foods, it is not because they are “stupid, ignorant, lazy, or just a bad, bad person who loves bad, bad food.” Sometimes, it’s “because other needs come first.” (Source: Sociological Images)

    it’s equally applicable to veganism and vegan foods: obstacles such as hunger, poverty, food insecurity, lack of access to food, etc., severely constrict people’s ability to choose a vegan diet, on multiple levels (e.g., individual, community, population). As long as we’re serious about creating a vegan world, we must address these human inequities as well. (That, and it’s the right thing to do.)

    Check out the Food Empowerment Project for more.

  • (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 19: Brain Food (Vegan, Natch!)

    Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

    Vegan Brain Food

    “Vegan Brain Food”: A mashup of book covers related to this latest edition of “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs.” Clockwise from the upper-left: Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health, and Society: Black Female Vegans Speak by A. Breeze Harper, ed. (2010); Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals by Anthony J. Nocella II and Steven Best, eds. (2004); Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women’s Anthology for a New Millennium by Robin Morgan, ed. (2003); The Pornography of Meat by Carol Adams (2004); The Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (2009); Penelope by Marilyn Kaye (2007); Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy (2009); and VegNews, March+April 2010.
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    Sistah Vegan Book: Win a Free Copy!

    Editor Breeze Harper is giving away a free, signed copy of her upcoming anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health & Society. The catch? You have to answer a short essay question, which will (hopefully) get you thinking about issues of food, race, gender, and/or nonhuman animals in new (and fruitful!) way. The deadline is April 1st, so don’t delay!

    Let Live Foundation: Food Justice w/ lauren Ornelas (3/21)

    I’m so terribly jealous of all you vegan folks living on the east and west coasts; y’all always throw the coolest conferences and lectures! (There’s a reason I titled this link roundup “Brain Food,” yo!) This Sunday, March 21st, Let Live Foundation will be hosting speaker lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project. On the menu?: Food justice, veganism, and the intersections of human and animal exploitation. If you happen to find yourself in Portland this weekend, attend, take notes, and report back, mkay? (Pretty please? With an organic, raw, fair trade cherry on top?)

    The Washington Times: Food For Life Global Is Coming Through Big In Haiti

    Who says animal advocates only care about nonhumans, hmmm? Check out this nice writeup Food For Life Global received in The Washington Times, and then hop on over to Disaster Relief in Haiti: Animal Rescue & Vegan/Animal-Friendly Resources to see how else you can help with disaster relief efforts in Haiti (and Chile).

    The Voracious Vegan: International Women’s Day: Why Feminism? and “Until We Are All Free”: International Women’s Day (@ Choosing Raw)

    In honor of International Women’s Day (which took place on March 8th), the Voracious Vegan penned not one, but two posts. The first includes a short film that, in Tasha’s words explains why “women’s rights and feminism are still relevant and necessary in this day and age.” Additionally, in a guest post at Choosing Raw, Tasha discusses the intersections of feminism and veganism, including the shared ideologies and social systems which allow human, animal and environmental exploitation to thrive. It’s a lengthy piece but well worth it – she touches upon a number of salient points, including the objectification of women’s and animals’s bodies; the state’s (and businesses’) attempts to control the reproductive systems of females, human and nonhuman alike; food and environmental justice; and public safety and human health concerns.

    (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 18: My Bloody Valentine

    Friday, February 26th, 2010

    A neon red-and-white sign declares: “My Bloody Valentine sells out.”
    CC image via Penningtron on Flickr.
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    Vegansaurus!: What creepy chefs do to get laid

    Guest blogger Kristen looks at a Valentine’s Day article which highlights the foods that non-vegan chefs cook for their lovers. Surprise, surprise: many are animal-based, thus transforming the descriptions into an appalling spectacle of sex and death. The original article at Grub Street, for example, is decorated with a disgusting photo of scallops in an orange-and-green sauce/oil slick. Yuck.

    Suicide Food: Happy Valentine’s Day: a digression

    Just when you thought the butcher’s counter couldn’t get any more grotesque, behold: heart-shaped slabs of “meat”! I shit you not.

    The Pursuit of Harpyness: Be A Bitch: To the New York Times Public Editor

    In which Roman Polanski’s 13-year-old rape victim is likened to – wait for it – “quarry.” “Quarry” being another word for a hunted “game” animal.

    The link above is to a complaint letter (good!) written in response to a piece which ran in The New York Times (bad!); you can read the original piece in its entirety here: Polanski’s Visions of Victimhood by Dennis Lim.

    The Discerning Brute: Who Wears The Pants?

    Joshua Katcher dissects a trailer for the upcoming documentary “An Emasculating Truth” – brought to you by, ahem, Dockers – which, surprise, is chock full of sexism and speciesism. In particular, the men appearing in the film advocate violence towards animals as an expression of one’s masculinity. Katcher ties this overt encouragement of violence with Levi’s own history of environmental and labor violence towards its employees and their families, many of them poor women of color.

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    Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, "Wake up, bacon breath!"

    Thursday, February 11th, 2010

    (I’m paraphrasing, of course!)

    It’s been a few months since last I wrote about Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s series of short videos addressing the issues of veganism and intersectionality. (Dear Mozilla: It’s 2010, and yet you still do not recognize the word “veganism.” For reals!? Get with it, mkay?!) In the interim, she’s released three additional segments.

    Thus far, she has covered a number of topics, including:
    gender-based exploitation;
    the universality of the maternal instinct;
    violence in the animal agriculture industry;
    raising compassionate children;
    the agricultural revolution and animal ownership;
    forming connections with nonhumans; and
    the impact of slaughterhouse work on the human spirit. (Wheh!)

    (As an aside, does the cute green top she sports throughout the series make you terribly nostalgic for summer or what?)

    In “Growing Food for People,” Patrick-Goudreau touches upon the intersection of “meat” consumption, hunger and poverty, noting that we have the resources (land, water, technology) to feed the world’s population – if only we stop using so much of our existing food supply to fatten up the “farmed” animals birthed, raised and destined for slaughter. “Meat,” dairy and egg production are terribly inefficient – and increasingly inadequate, given our burgeoning population.

    In “Becoming Empowered and Making a Difference,” she notes that each of our actions represents a choice made, whether consciously or not. Continuing on one’s present path of “meat” consumption is as much of a decision as is the adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet. Because our society is centered around animal exploitation, however, only the latter is recognized as a belief system, while the former remains unnamed and invisible – a given. (For more on this, see Carnism: Meat, Deconstructed.)

    (More below the fold…)

    A hen is a mink is a dog is a boy.* Also: site updates and intersectionality links!

    Thursday, January 14th, 2010

    “Mother hen”: Resting in the grass, a mother hen carries/camouflages four+ chicks under her wings. CC image via topinambour on Flickr.
    ——————————

    Along with The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book, the Book Publishing Company sent me a copy of Karen Davis’s Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, which I’ve had my eye on for some time now. (The book is now in its second edition; you can download the first ed. for free as a .pdf file here, via United Poultry Concerns.) With five out of six chapters down, I’m not yet ready to offer a review, but I will say that it’s excellent – a must read, and a difficult one, at that. Not difficult intellectually, but emotionally: battery and broiler farms are the Seventh Circle of Dante’s Inferno come to life. You will need to read this book from the bottom of a dog pile – soft fur and warm bellies were the only things to keep me from breaking down in tears some nights. The scale and depth of suffering is simply unfathomable.

    Anyhow, whether intentionally or not, Davis writes quite a bit about issues of intersectionality in Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs. The gendered nature of egg production is an obvious topic, but the shared suffering does not stop there. For example, Davis explains what becomes of “spent” laying hens – that is, hens whose bodies are (prematurely, tragically, needlessly) depleted of calcium and other nutrients, such that they’re no longer capable of laying eggs. Their fate is a gruesome one, however, it’s only one link in a long chain of abominations:

    At slaughter, spent laying hens are a mass of broken bones, abscesses oozing yellow fluids, bright red bruises, internal hemorrhaging, and malignant tumors. They’ve lost 40 percent or more of their feathers, and because they are economically “worthless,” they sit in transport cages in all weathers at the slaughterhouse “until all other birds are dealt with – up to 12 hours.” The slaughtered birds are shredded into products that hide the true state of their flesh and their lives: chicken soups, pies, and nuggets, commercial mink and pet food, livestock and poultry feed, and school lunches and other institutionalized food service and government purchase programs designed by the egg industry and the Department of Agriculture to dump dead laying hens onto consumers in diced up form. **

    In order to mask the abuses inflicted upon the bodies and psyches of egg-laying hens, the industry dismembers – nay, grinds – them into unrecognizable bits. These bits are then fed to the most vulnerable among us: enslaved and exploited nonhuman animals, including the dead hens’ kin; “pets,” including dogs and cats; children who attend public schools, particularly those who rely on the school lunch system; “institutionalized food service and government purchase programs,” such as those that “feed” incarcerated men and women; and working-class and impoverished Americans, whose only access to food may come in the form of fast food joints. One injustice fuels the next, with no end in sight. (Sigh. Where’s that dog pile?!)

    (More below the fold…)