your friendly neighborhood black n' kweer kid
46 stories

HTTP Status Codes

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A handy cheat sheet for all of the HTTP Status Codes!
200 OK
271 Great!
2.99 Hot Dog w/ Relish

301 Moved permanently
302 See 303
303 See 301
307 Moved temporarily
309 Relocated to San Jose
311 Moved emotionally

304 Cached
344 The real HTTP response was friendship all along
348 Hidden, but badly enough to find easily
350 Purchased by Google in 2012. Purpose unknown.
372 Purchased by Yahoo in 2003. Mismanaged into obscurity.

400 You dun

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2880 days ago
Request too sexy
Columbus, OH
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Master Slave

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Master-slave is not a good naming scheme.
Cube Drone: Look, Master-Slave is still a shitty naming scheme for distributed systems that makes light of some very real horrors.
Miloslav: That is the way it has always been. Why make waves?
Cube Drone: Let

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2880 days ago
Names are important tho
Columbus, OH
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Race and Roller Derby, installment #2: The ‘little’ things

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Welcome back, my intrepid investigators!

We have successfully built a baseline from which to begin our conversation about race and roller derby. I suppose, considering recent events in the world, the timing of all of this could not, unfortunately, be more perfect.

So now come to visit the dimly lit space where some of your teammates dreadfully await the moment they have to choose… Derby tranquility? Or speak my truth?

This episode is about micro-aggressions and their macro impact on skaters, teams, leagues, and the sport of roller derby itself.

Most, if not all of us, have heard derby described as an all-welcoming space no matter your race, age, sex, gender, etc., etc. Some of you may even have the same reaction as I do when this is proudly proclaimed during a local news show interview, an open recruitment event, or when out talking about the derbyverse with your civilian friends: I cringe.

The last time I heard someone make this claim was after WFTDA Champs last year. They were tossed a question about inclusivity, and the standard “Derby is for everyone!” answer quickly followed. I was reminded in that moment that while we share many things, being a racial minority wasn’t one of them.

What does this example illustrate, exactly? It points to the concept of blind spots. More broadly, that is the idea that when something doesn’t directly impact us, it must not exist, or be too big of a problem for us to adequately engage with. We all have blind spots and this is one of theirs. Sadly, I have never discussed this with them because I am afraid of what I might uncover.

So now come to visit the dimly lit space where some of your teammates dreadfully await the moment they have to choose… Derby tranquility? Or speak my truth?

I asked other African American derby folk for their experiences within their respective spaces. One story, in particular, was a perfect example of a micro-aggression and gas lighting rolled into one.


First, an essential quick vocabulary check-in:

Microaggression: an action, often small in nature, which subtly reinforces stereotypes about a minority group.

Gaslight(ing): when someone implies or directly states that you are making something out of nothing – that the problem exists only in your head.

A skater came across a teammate’s post online that used two highly offensive terms that have been used to refer to African Americans. The offending teammate was asked to take it down, and then did what many people choose to do when called out… they got defensive. Instead of taking it down out of respect for their teammate, they insisted she not to be ‘too’ sensitive about it lest things get too weird for them.

Can you spot the micro-aggressions and gas lighting?


Let’s dissect:

  •      The intial social media post:

Words are tricky little buggers. Most, if not all, of us use words without knowing their historical origins. It is easy to simply say that someone should have known better or that they are just words. This case is no different.

That thinking is simplistic. It dismisses the complex nature of racial relations in the world. Additionally, it completely obscures the dominant discourse and white supremacy at work, that we covered in our first investigation.

Words are a bunch of letters strewn together that are assigned meaning. Racial slurs, in and of themselves, don’t mean anything. They are just letters mashed together. These kinds of words, however, are meant to convey dominance over communities by instilling in them helplessness and fear. Even ignorance of those terms are a thing that solidifies that dominance – because the group those terms are applied to don’t get to maintain that kind of ignorance.

  •      Dismissal of the teammate’s experience

In not starting with an apology and asking for assistance with understanding the perspective of a fellow teammate, this person instantly (while potentially unintentionally) wrote off the impact of their actions on someone else.

It is rare that intention that matters in life; it is about the impact – just like in a car accident, for instance, or a derby penalty assessment.

While this person may have stumbled into the territory unintentionally, the impact on their African American teammate was harmful / hurtful. That should have been the core thing that mattered in the moment.

  •      The centering of their own potential feelings of discomfort

Concern for things getting ‘weird’ occupied the space that rightfully belonged to the feelings of the offended skater. I’m sure many of you can identify with what it feels like to have your feelings minimized to make room for the guilt or discomfort of someone else who wasn’t directly impacted – that’s pretty weird.

No one likes to make a mistake, granted. One of the oldest ways to absolve ourselves of feeling the consequences of our actions is to refocus the incident around how we are feeling about it all and ignore that we hurt someone.

  •      Publically othering a teammate:

This person chose to use words that were racially charged, which put someone in a rather precarious position.

The question becomes: Do I say something and risk my position on my team/in my league? Or, do I just let it go and try to focus on derby?

The question becomes: Do I say something and risk my position on my team/in my league? Or, do I just let it go and try to focus on derby?



My acquaintance chose to say something, but not before doing the mental math which looks like this:

Option 1:

I say something + she reacts poorly + I double down OR let myself be understood as a sensitive/angry black woman OR trust my teammate/team a little bit less = I have been publicly pushed to make waves or create ‘drama’ thereby undermining the focus of why we are all here in the first place, derby.

Option 2:

I say nothing + trust my teammate/team a little bit less + people take notice that I am a little less gregarious and social + I begin to feel isolated and teammates begin to question my commitment to the team, league, and sport = undermining the focus of why we are all here in the first place, derby.

Either way, the result is not good for the person experiencing that micro-aggression, and the seemingly small incident has snowballed into something very different for the two people involved.


Taken all together, in the face of gaslighting and microaggressions a person of color is in the position of constantly guarding their emotional and physical safety and well-being through the little ever-present moments in the day to day – yes, even at practice in ‘inclusive’ spaces. This ever-present stress often takes a toll on the physical health of those who experience this kind of low level, but daily attacks against their identity – not allowing players to bring their best to the track.

When I am in a space that is not mine (read: I am the only one like me in the room), I hold my breath hoping no one will notice. This is not to be confused with opting for the misguided goal of the 90’s ‘colorblind’ utopia – one that simply ignores the lived reality of racial inequalities in the world.

When I am in a space that is not mine (read: I am the only one like me in the room), I hold my breath hoping no one will notice.

My blackness, much like the letters that make up the word itself, has no inherent meaning. Unfortunately, over time being black has become synonymous with the negativity of the color black more broadly, taken to symbolize violence, unluckiness, evil, and laziness to name a few.  You need look no further than commonly held superstitions and depictions to see this (black knight, blackmail, black Friday, etc.).

When I am the only one in the room, I move deliberately, praying that no one will force me to choose between roller derby and self-preservation. I pray even harder that if that moment comes it is not at the hands of someone I counted as a dear friend and that it doesn’t become a public spectacle (making me even less safe).

The post Race and Roller Derby, installment #2: The ‘little’ things appeared first on Derby Central.

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2881 days ago
Columbus, OH
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Sidelined, part 2: How trans panic in roller derby stays hidden

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I’ve spent long stretches of my life unravelling what it meant to be female, trying to figure out why putting on a dress didn’t offer the kind of relief my gender dysphoria so desperately needed.

One of the first things I found when transferring from men’s derby to women’s, however, was that playing women’s roller derby and succeeding as a strong woman affirmed my gender significantly. Playing for a women’s league was the difference between being female and actually feeling female (for more on that topic, I recommend the seminal article The Null HypotheCis).

When I faced setbacks at each of the two local leagues I’ve skated for, I’d hear a variation on the same assurance: “it’s not about your gender.” I was promised that had it been a cis person in whatever situation I was in, the result would have been the same.

But here’s the thing – I’ve seen the same pattern emerge with different transgender skaters at different leagues.

I started this series with talking about why it’s so hard to make it in roller derby as a trans woman. If you’re not looking for the things pushing us away, however, it’s easy to just focus on the skaters succeeding at high levels and assume everything’s fine.

It’s become pretty clear over time that people can behave transmisogynistically without explicitly attributing issues to someone’s gender identity. Anyone – even kind, well-meaning individuals – can marginalize transgender individuals without realizing they’ve treated someone unfairly. Even if you’ve got the best of intentions, you might not be aware of how your actions fit into a trans person’s life – or how your view of the world might be affected by subconscious, internalized bias.

If the same issues keep coming up around specifically trans women time and time again, there’s a clear connecting line between those issues and transphobic thoughts and habits, even if the people concerned are not aware they’re there.

There’s a big difference between transmisogyny and typical “derby drama” – the kind of interpersonal conflict that can pop up anywhere and involve anyone, trans or cis. Transmisogyny is unique for a simple reason: it involves putting into jeopardy a transgender woman’s most basic qualification for participating in women’s derby – their gender.

Transmisogyny is unique in the way it relates directly to others’ perceptions of whether someone is fundamentally qualified to be a member of the organization, and a transgender individual who’s already worried about fitting in might be hesitant to report this kind of friction in fear of being labeled a ‘complainer’, or exacerbating the issue.

Suggesting to a transgender individual that their gender is not enough, whether explicitly or implicitly, is a particularly torturous form of gatekeeping. There are few things more discouraging than thinking you’re fitting in with your teammates, only to discover that they somehow see you as “other” – the floor falls out beneath you and your comfort gives way to suspicion and paranoia that every interaction you have on league time could be driving your teammates further away from you.

It’s easy to say “oh, my league isn’t like that” or just dismiss stories like these as grousing from a scorned skater with an axe to grind. I thought my leagues weren’t like that, but often you don’t really know until it’s too late. Yes, this series so far has been drawn, at the core, from my own personal experience in roller derby, but I’ve found out again and again that the problem isn’t confined to one place, and the adversity transgender individuals face is different everywhere.

I’ve talked to many trans women getting pushed out of their leagues in other states because they’re allegedly too dangerous, out of control, or just “bullies”. They get talked over and marginalized when they try to talk about issues that affect them as a transgender individual, ones they get told how to be more female by other members of their leagues. In a way, trans panic in roller derby is not unlike trans panic in women’s restrooms – but instead of being called perverted men in dresses, we’re being called violent men in sports bras.

I’ve heard of cis skaters who renamed a drill to slur a trans skater who had been rejected by her league. I’ve heard of cis skaters who shut trans skaters out and then repeatedly tried to turn an ostracized trans skater’s friends against her. I’ve heard being trans compared to having an STD, because it should be our responsibility to disclose our status before endangering others (let’s not even go into the other kinds of discrimination that draws upon). I can’t imagine the kind of injustices that have happened to all the trans women who didn’t stick around to let a league break their heart again.

These awful things shouldn’t happen to anyone, let alone someone from a minority group so wildly disadvantaged and vulnerable in every other section of life. We as a community have so much to gain and so little to lose by looking at this directly, and making some important changes.

Ultimately, a progressive, tolerant gender policy ultimately isn’t worth much to a league, or to trans league members, if it only considers transgender skaters in the abstract. Pledging to treat a transgender skater the same as a cisgender skater isn’t just a matter of deciding that a person’s genitals has no bearing on their ability to be a productive member of a roller derby league.

The fact is, transgender individuals have real, specific challenges that need to be accommodated and cared for by their leagues, as do many other kinds of league members. Transgender individuals suffer from a 41% suicide rate, as well as higher rates of mental illness and poverty. Transgender individuals are often in a position where there’s societal pressure to “prove” their gender identity. Transgender individuals are necessarily going to experience your league differently, and it’s vital to recognize that in order to treat them equitably.
In part three, we’re going to talk about what you can do right now to be a better ally to transgender skaters, with specific action points. Don’t miss it.

The post Sidelined, part 2: How trans panic in roller derby stays hidden appeared first on Derby Central.

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2881 days ago
Columbus, OH
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Race and Roller Derby, Part 1

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This piece is a beginnings of the intersections of race, sex, gender, and sexuality in the context of playing roller derby.

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that many people have experience with aspects of what this piece contains. Those experiences are no less important or valid than my own.  

This piece is about having a voice in a space that – on its face – is for everyone, but in practice inevitably falls short at times.

This piece could easily be about the intersection of derby and body size and image or derby and economic class. While those things are important, I am called to write about the immutable pieces of my identity. I may not always be broke or a certain weight, but I will always be an African American queer and present as a more ‘masculine’ person (note, I did not say woman).

Before we get much further in this conversation, let’s acknowledge that black folk – like any other community – are not a monolith. My experience will most certainly differ from “[your] one friend” who has the complete opposite opinion than mine.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way… let’s dig in!

Being a black female-bodied person in contemporary America is no easy feat. I live in a country where my narrative is constantly being arranged and rearranged for me in the dominant discourse and on the political field without our permission.

First, dominant discourse. What is the ‘dominant discourse’ you ask? It’s the general understanding of the world and how things work based on the view of those in power (generally straight, white, cis-males).

Put simply, it’s the status quo. We see this discourse in the way we craft legislation, the way we speak to one another at work, the ways we deal with emotion in public spaces, etc. It’s what people often understand as ‘common sense’ – unquestionable norms that shape the ways it’s possible to think and feel in our world.

The status quo allowed most of those at the relative top of the identity heap to rest easy, since “better them than me”, while those at the topmost rungs (generally rich, straight white guys) exploited this fear.

It is ostensibly easier to go along to get along than stand up to the lunchroom bully. If you tacitly support their behavior, you can keep your chocolate milk and tater tots.

This silent “support,” in turn, props up a perverse point of view based on false cyclical thinking.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 11.34.05 AMBy allowing the lunchroom bully to speak for us we have created a space between our thoughts/deeds and the world around us. It is in this space that we are able to shield ourselves from the fallout of explicitly or implicitly allowing someone else to speak for us. This space inevitably results in the loss of empathy and therefore our humanity. It is this discourse that made it possible to enslave and terrorize an entire group of people to build this nation.

We were forced to partially assimilate to a culture that did/does not value our lips, natural hair, or normal/natural expressions of joy. I say ‘partially’ because the tacit goal was never ultimately to see blacks as equal, but to essentially make us more palatable/controllable for the dominant power structure.

This type of environment makes institutionalized political exploitation and manipulation all but inevitable. Blacks were classified as property instead of people with agency over their own bodies and destinies. We were divided into house and field slaves, a division you can still clearly see replicated today between fair and dark skinned blacks.

There is no clearer example of this political power than black bodies being considered 3/5 of a person. Slaves were property, not people for all intents and purposes. As the American government began to take shape, the South saw an opportunity to gain more seats in the House of Representatives by counting their property as people without rights. The northern states would have been heavily outnumbered in the House since the number of representatives from each state is determined by population size. As such, a compromise was struck to count blacks as ⅗ a person.

Fast forward to today, and we have politicians who glibly announce that racism is over – gas lighting at its finest. When #BlackLivesMatter had to be created to serve as a reminder to everyone, the seedy underbelly of America was once again exposed. As Feist said, “[there’s] so much past inside [our] present”, it’s strangling us.

We cannot escape the implications of our nation’s historical socialization of black as less than. Instead, we need to embrace it. Our individual voices, regardless of race (but never outside of a system of racist institutionalized practice), must be reclaimed to begin the work of recovering our humanity, our outrage.

It is time for all of us to get reacquainted with speaking for ourselves instead of allowing others to be our proxies. Owning our voices reestablishes the link between accountability and our thoughts/deeds, which is essential, because this conversation is too important to allow defensiveness to get in the way of real change.

And so the first step is always acknowledging we have a problem. It is terrifying to openly admit that in many ways, large and/or small, we perpetuate a lopsided system. Again, embrace it. Only after we can get real about how long we have dehumanized a community – in this specific case the black community – can we begin to act.

What does this all have to do with the derbyverse?

The sport that we love so dearly is, itself, a microcosm of the world in which we live. Whether we like it or not, the past and its dynamics are present in leagues around the world.

My Sherlock is in need of a Watson as I continue to closely inspect the underbelly of race, racism, and roller derby. Join me, armed with your trusty magnifying glass and pipe (as a reminder to stay cool under pressure), as I delve even deeper into this mystery on Derby Central in the coming weeks.

The post Race and Roller Derby, Part 1 appeared first on Derby Central.

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2916 days ago
Columbus, OH
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Sidelined: How roller derby pushes trans women out

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Last fall, the WFTDA released what felt like a long overdue statement on gender, removing the hormonal requirement for transgender skaters. A lot of my friends were very excited about this. I was a little underwhelmed.

It’s not that I don’t like that particular gender statement (though I personally much prefer the MRDA non-discrimination policy because – humblebrag – I wrote it). A policy based on self-identification is essential. After all, for nearly any minimum standard of femininity you set, you could find a cis woman who doesn’t qualify.

Rather, I was underwhelmed because a change in policy does precious little for the transgender skaters I know – myself included.

I’ve spent nearly two years encountering people who manage to adhere to the letter of every gender policy they’re subject to, and still manage to treat trans women with prejudice. Some say my body chemistry has more to do with my ability to be safe than my years of experience. They tell me I’m out of control. They say I’m not a team player, and that I’m recklessly trying to prove myself worthy by playing hyper-aggressively. These people never  seem to give me a chance to prove otherwise.

We encounter supposed allies who say hurtful or ignorant things, or who ask us to trust in a system that wasn’t designed for people like us. We lose friends and supposed safe spaces because people are so certain that they’re not behaving transmisogynistically that they refuse to listen to trans skaters’ concerns. I’ve relentlessly cultivated my image to try to appear ‘sufficiently’ female to my peers, and so, so much more.

I’ve learned in the last two years that it doesn’t matter what kind of policy or statement about gender any league or governing body puts out – there’s an underlying transmisogyny problem in the world of roller derby. And it’s a reflection of the kinds of unexamined transmisogynies that the world contains.

We don’t like to talk about it.

We prefer to focus on beaming articles about how a handful of exceptional trans athletes find acceptance in roller derby. We like to release statements about how our leagues are committed to acceptance and tolerance, but we forget to keep following through. We like to think of trans people in the abstract, as potential members of our league that we’ll totally tolerate, because our leagues are full of tolerant people. We don’t talk directly about it so much because our leagues are families, and no one has a perfect family, but we’re there for each other, right?

It’s different for trans people.

We feel the micro-aggressions, but we don’t want to speak up because no one will ever admit to saying transphobic things, and hurling that accusation at a member of your family is something you can’t go back on. If you’re the only trans person on your league, the rest of your league might not know how to handle trans issues and instead just treat them as just another brand of ‘derby drama’. You become known as a complainer, not a team player.

If there is another trans person on your league, however, it can be even worse – that other trans person might be used as a shining single data point to prove that there’s no transmisogyny problem – instead of as an exception that proves the rule.

They might gender-pass a little more effortlessly than you do. They might be a slightly better skater. They might be better at navigating league politics. They might just be six inches shorter. But they’ll be the model that you’re expected to become – a burden never placed on cisgender skaters.

Unless someone is actually waving a banner that says “NO TRANS PEOPLE ALLOWED”, this is a problem that’s almost impossible to tackle directly. Everyone will swear they’re not being transmisogynistic, that your gender has nothing to do with it, and then they’ll find a way to ostracize you anyhow. They gaslight you without even realizing it, and once they’ve pushed you over the edge, they blame you for getting emotional.

So what does a trans skater do when their tolerant league stops tolerating them?

I don’t know.

I’ve heard a lot of nice things said about me during my time in roller derby. When I came out as a transgender woman in 2014, however, I started hearing some not very nice things. People say less easily qualitative things as well, but those don’t stick with you nearly as long.

Probably the least nice thing I’ve heard about myself in my nearly half-decade around this sport, however, is “we’ve decided to remove you as a skating member of this league.” A close second was whatever the crowd was screaming about me at my last away game. It sounded pretty hateful.

Not so long ago, a trans friend of mine messaged me and told me she’s having trouble at her league. I’ve been tearing my hair out for months now, trying to make sense of everything, trying to resolve the image I have of myself in my head with the very different picture my league seems to have painted of me. She sent me a list of the accusations, and it clicked for me – they were exactly the same things people have been saying against me for months. Now she’s on the verge of being kicked out of her league. I was furious. I’m still furious.

The story doesn’t end with policy. It has to extend to thinking about the humans we’re failing as we turn their lives into our test cases, expecting them to bring up the issues and tackle them personally when they’re when they’re already experiencing the damage of transmisogyny in every other part of their lives.

We cannot continue to tolerate transmisogyny – we all have too much to lose.

But what can a league do to do right by transgender skaters? Stay tuned for the next installment.

The post Sidelined: How roller derby pushes trans women out appeared first on Derby Central.

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2916 days ago
Columbus, OH
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