Offensive things aren’t offensive merely because they hurt feelings - they’re offensive because they contribute to the societal harm of marginalized groups. The end goal isn’t to get everyone to love each other, it’s to destroy power imbalances.
… “You must have shown me real loyalty down in the Chamber. Nothing but that could’ve called Fawkes to you.” That’s the very first thing Dumbledore thanks and praises Harry for. Not for rescuing Ginny, or saving the school from the basilisk, or for keeping Voldemort from coming back, but for loyalty.
Dumbledore judges the people he works with based first and foremost on how loyal they are to him. Not because he thinks he’s all that, but because, as I said, he views people as game pieces, and you can’t have your game pieces acting up, can you? He values his pieces. He wants to advance and protect them. But he doesn’t want them running off beyond his sphere of influence and doing their own thing. I think there’s something very ambiguous about Dumbledore’s habit of seeking out desperate, socially outcast people and doing them one or two huge favors that leave them bound to him for life. Remus, Hagrid and Snape all fit that pattern, and Trelawney and Firenze appear to join the ranks in OOP. It kind of makes me wonder what Dumbledore has done for Fletcher, Moody and Shacklebolt.
…The problem with Sirius is, he’s not loyal to Dumbledore at all; he’s loyal to Harry. From Dumbledore’s point of view, it’s as if he’s playing wizard chess, and one of the knights suddenly decides that he doesn’t care what happens to the king, he’s just going to take care of that little pawn on the left. So Dumbledore does the only thing he thinks he can do — he sticks his recalcitrant knight into a safe, isolated corner of the board and keeps him from making any moves. Perfectly sensible and strategically sound, as long as you don’t expect your game pieces to have any pesky emotions or psychological issue that need to be taken into account.
…Dumbledore’s actions at Hogwarts are another symptom of his general approach. He doesn’t treat it just as a school, but also as an instrument in his strategy. People like Snape, Hagrid and Trelawny — all lousy teachers, in very different ways — are given their jobs as perks, because of their past of future usefulness to the Order, and because it strengthens their bonds of loyalty to Dumbledore.
OTOH, look at Lupin, who is a talented teacher. Why wasn’t he hired before Harry’s third year, especially given the difficulty of finding qualified DADA professors? My theory is that Dumbledore didn’t consider it necessary. As far as he knew, Lupin was already totally loyal simply because Dumbledore had allowed him to attend Hogwarts. There was no need to bribe him with a job. He was hired only when his familiarity with Sirius became an important factor. Once Sirius proved not to be a threat, Lupin was allowed to resign…"
THIS IS SO GREAT AND SO INTERESTING AND EVEN MORE SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT SNAPE’S STORYLINE AND HERE’S WHY
Just look at Dumbledore’s behavior in The Prince’s Tale - especially at the contrast between before and after Snape agreed to help him defeat Voldemort. There’s so much emotional manipulation, so much that Dumbledore is doing to keep Snape on his side.
“That is why – it is for that reason – he thinks it means Lily Evans!”
“The prophecy did not refer to a woman,” said Dumbledore. “It spoke of a boy born at the end of July – ”
“You know what I mean! He thinks it means her son, he is going to hunt her down – kill them all – ”
“If she means so much to you,” said Dumbledore, “surely Lord Voldemort will spare her? Could you not ask for mercy for the mother, in exchange for the son?”
“I have – I have asked him – ”
“You disgust me,” said Dumbledore, and Harry had never heard so much contempt in his voice. Snape seemed to shrink a little, “You do not care, then, about the deaths of her husband and child? They can die, as long as you have what you want?”
That line, the “you disgust me” line is SO IMPORTANT. Contrary to popular belief, Dumbledore doesn’t find Snape’s
obsession love for Lily beautiful; he finds it disgusting - and understandably so. Because she “means so much” to Snape that he’s willing to sacrifice her family, and therefore happiness, in order to keep her alive. And, frankly, that’s gross. Dumbledore agrees.
“Hide them all, then,” he croaked. “Keep her – them – safe. Please.”
“And what will you give me in return, Severus?”
“In – in return?” Snape gaped at Dumbledore, and Harry expected him to protest, but after a long moment he said, “Anything.”
Aaaaaand Dumbledore gets himself the perfect soldier - someone who is willing to do anything.
“I thought…you were going…to keep her…safe…”
“She and James put their faith in the wrong person,” said Dumbledore. “Rather like you, Severus. Weren’t you hoping that Lord Voldemort would spare her?”
Also really important. Dumbledore was supposed to protect her, keep her alive, and it didn’t work out and that greatly puts Snape’s loyalty at risk. So what does Dumbledore do? Deflect. He places the blame on Snape and Voldemort here - which, I’m pretty much with him here because Snape did tell Voldemort the prophecy and Voldemort did personally kill the Potters. But this isn’t about that. This is strategy. Keep Snape guilty and keep the blame off Dumbledore by having this whole “well there was nothing I could do” stance and thereby keep Snape both vulnerable and loyal. Make Voldemort the real enemy, someone that Snape would be willing to do anything to fight against at all cost.
“Her boy survives,” said Dumbledore.
With a tiny jerk of the head, Snape seemed to flick off an irksome fly.
“Her son lives. He has her eyes, precisely her eyes. You remember the shape and color of Lily Evans’s eyes, I am sure?”
“DON’T!” bellowed Snape. “Gone…dead…”
“Is this remorse, Severus?”
“I wish…I wish I were dead…”
“And what use would that be to anyone?” said Dumbledore coldly. “If you loved Lily Evans, if you truly loved her, then your way forward is clear.”
Okay so Dumbledore is definitely using Snape’s love for Lily against him - I think we can all agree with that. I mean look at how he’s referring to her as “Lily Evans” rather than as her married name, “Lily Potter.” Dumbledore has a very tough sell here; he wants Snape to help him protect the child of someone Snape loves and someone he hates. So he takes James out of the equation and it’s all about Harry’s eyes and how much they look like Lily’s and Evans. And then he takes Snape’s love and gives it a purpose.
“You know how and why she died. Make sure it was not in vain. Help me protect Lily’s son.”
“He does not need protection. The Dark Lord has gone – ”
“The Dark Lord will return, and Harry Potter will be in terrible danger when he does.”
There was a long pause, and slowly Snape regained control of himself, mastered his own breathing. At last he said, “Very well. Very well. But never – never tell, Dumbledore! This must be between us! Swear it! I cannot bear…especially Potter’s son…I want your word!”
“My word, Severus, that I shall never reveal the best of you?” Dumbledore sighed, looking down into Snape’s ferocious, anguished face.
Before it was disgusting, but now that Snape’s agreed to help him, has pledged his loyalty, Snape’s love is now ~the best part of him~
“ – mediocre, arrogant as his father, a determined rule-breaker, delighted to find himself famous, attention-seeking and impertinent – ”
“You see what you expect to see, Severus,” said Dumbledore, without raising his eyes from a copy of Transfiguration Today . “Other teachers report that the boy is modest, likable, and reasonably talented. Personally, I find him an engaging child.”
Dumbledore turned a page, and said, without looking up, “Keep an eye on Quirrell, won’t you?”
Snape is only seeing James’ worst qualities in Harry (which tbh first year Harry definitely did not have) so Dumbledore brings up qualities that were, actually, found in and associated with Lily to placate him. Because Dumbledore’s biggest challenge is to make Snape forget that James is Harry’s father. He then follows this up with a request.
“Karkaroff’s Mark is becoming darker too. He is panicking, he fears retribution; you know how much help he gave the Ministry after the Dark Lord fell.” Snape looked sideways at Dumbledore’s crooked-nosed profile. “Karkaroff intends to flee if the Mark burns.”
“Does he?” said Dumbledore softly, as Fleur Delacour and Roger Davies came giggling in from the grounds. “And are you tempted to join him?”
“No,” said Snape, his black eyes on Fleur’s and Roger’s retreating figures. “I am not such a coward.”
“No,” agreed Dumbledore. “You are a braver man by far than Igor Karkaroff. You know, I sometimes think we Sort too soon…”
He walked away, leaving Snape looking stricken…
Whether you believe it or not, both Sirius and Remus have said that Snape was jealous of James - of his popularity, his talents, all the glory he received, etc. And a lot of those things are perks from being a brave Gryffindor rather than an “evil” Slytherin. Dumbledore is capitalizing on that, on Snape’s secret desires. He’s manipulating Snape because wow he thinks he’s brave, he thinks he’s brave enough to even be a mighty Gryffindor - something I’m sure no one has even told him before. Something he’d never admit to secretly reveling in because he grew up unloved and unwanted. But it keeps him loyal, keeps him close to Dumbledore.
“I am fortunate, extremely fortunate, that I have you, Severus.”
The power of being complimentary, my friends, is not focused on enough. (And I’m not trying to take away from the fact that Snape is a talented wizard, because I do think that, but Dumbledore is so totally manipulating him come on. What makes me say that? Because not long afterwards does he segue into asking Snape to kill him)
“In short, the boy has had a death sentence pronounced upon him as surely as I have,” said Dumbledore. “Now, I should have thought the natural successor to the job, once Draco fails, is yourself?”
There was a short pause.
“That, I think, is the Dark Lord’s plan.”
“Lord Voldemort foresees a moment in the near future when he will not need a spy at Hogwarts?”
“He believes the school will soon be in his grasp, yes.”
“And if it does fall into his grasp,” said Dumbledore, almost, it seemed, as an aside, “I have your word that you will do all in your power to protect the students at Hogwarts?”
Snape gave a stiff nod.
Great, Dumbledore has not only a spy, but an heir.
“He is his father over again – ”
“In looks, perhaps, but his deepest nature is much more like his mother’s. I spend time with Harry because I have things to discuss with him, information I must give him before it is too late.”
Harry actually shares plenty of traits with James - and based on how he’s spoken of James in the past, Dumbledore liked him. (And why wouldn’t he? Not only is James amazing
jkalsdsalkdjasldaskdh but he was very loyal to Dumbledore) So this is for Snape’s benefit. Again, he’s keeping him under control by bringing Lily into the equation and make Harry worthy enough, in Snape’s eyes, to protect.
“Information,” repeated Snape. “You trust him…you do not trust me.”
“It is not a question of trust. I have, as we both know, limited time. It is essential that I give the boy enough information for him to do what he needs to do.”
“And why may I not have the same information?”
“I prefer not to put all of my secrets in one basket, particularly not a basket that spends so much time dangling on the arm of Lord Voldemort.”
“Which I do on your orders!”
“And you do it extremely well. Do not think that I underestimate the constant danger in which you place yourself, Severus. To give Voldemort what appears to be valuable information while withholding the essentials is a job I would entrust to nobody but you.”
“Yet you confide much more in a boy who is incapable of Occlumency, whose magic is mediocre, and who has a direct connection into the Dark Lord’s mind!”
Dumbledore is clearly making Snape angry and I don’t think it’s necessarily intentional. But I do think he’s trying to make sure that Snape desires and values his trust over Voldemort’s. I mean, I’m sure he’s double checked that he has Snape’s loyalty before, but it’s safe to keep checking every now and then. But then this happens:
Snape looked angry, mutinous. Dumbledore sighed.
“Come to my office tonight, Severus, at eleven, and you shall not complain that I have no confidence in you…”
MUTINOUS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT WORD. DUMBLEDORE IS AT RISK OF LOSING THE BEST AND MOST ESSENTIAL PIECE TO HIS GAME, HIS MVP, SO HE HAS TO REEL HIM BACK IN.
“So the boy…the boy must die?” asked Snape quite calmly.
“And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential.”
Another long silence. Then Snape said, “I thought…all those years…that we were protecting him for her. For Lily.”
Snape is currently reevaluating his life and all of his choices. Because he thinks, if not for Lily, then what is the point of protecting Harry Potter? Why is he fighting this war? Why is he on Dumbledore’s side?
“We have protected him because it has been essential to teach him, to raise him, to let him try his strength,” said Dumbledore, his eyes still tight shut. “Meanwhile, the connection between them grows ever stronger, a parasitic growth. Sometimes I have thought he suspects it himself. If I know him, he will have arranged matters so that when he does set out to meet his death, it will truly mean the end of Voldemort.”
Dumbledore opened his eyes. Snape looked horrified.
“You have kept him alive so that he can die at the right moment?”
“Don’t be shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?”
“Lately, only those whom I could not save,” said Snape. He stood up. “You have used me.”
Indeed he has! And after all this time, you’ve finally caught on!
“I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter – ”
Uh-oh no longer Lily Evans - now she is Potter, now she and everything that’s a part of her (i.e. her son) is tainted by James. Still worth protecting? Still worth sacrificing and risking so much for? Apparently yes because this happens:
“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”
“For him?” shouted Snape. “ Expecto Patronum!”
From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe. She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.
Okay so obviously, if you hadn’t already caught on, Snape isn’t doing all of this for the cause or because he’s repenting for being a Death Eater. It’s all for Lily. The woman he helped kill. I beg you to not find that romantic. Remember Dumbledore’s "you disgust me"? That’s pretty much how I feel about Snape, and I suspect that Dumbledore still feels that way. Because, as valuable as he is, Snape has not changed. And I guess it doesn’t bother him at all if he’s risked and sacrificed so much for a child who will die anyway if it was all for her.
After all this time, you still do not see the value of protecting an innocent child? Always. After all this time you still cannot let go of a woman who never loved you romantically? Always. After all this time, you’re still fighting against Voldemort because he killed Lily and not because you believe in muggle-born rights? Always. Dumbledore had to have known this - I mean he’d been using Snape’s love for Lily against him for how long? But I’m sure it still saddened him.
Anyway, “The Prince’s Tale” is a brilliant example of Dumbledore’s manipulation and how he used it to win a war. This is where we see him really in action - and it’s fascinating. Because this is the power of loyalty - how Dumbledore could get a Death Eater so firmly on his side that he continues to do Dumbledore’s work for him after his own death. That’s powerful.
And that’s why Voldemort’s fucking scared of him. I’m kind of scared of him.
And once again, let me reiterate:
Harry Potter is not about good men fighting a bad man. It is about bad men—some of them very bad men—banding together to fight an evil man.
When your adversary is a genocidal megalomaniac who is physically incapable of feeling or even understanding human affection, even truly despicable men (not just Snape, but Dumbledore himself, and Sirius, and James, Slughorn, et cetera) can look like heroes by contrast.
Now: Dumbledore, Sirius, Lupin, Hagrid, Arthur, even Uncle Vernon, the memory of James, and even in fact Snape are all father figures to Harry. The vast majority of them are terrible guys: Arrogant bullies, a coward who idealizes his bullying friends, a scheming megalomaniac, an obsessive stalker who screams at children, a man who subjected his nephew to years of abuse.
In the end, who is left?
The bad fathers are dead and gone. Only Hagrid and Arthur are left. Men who are sweet and nurturing, men who are motivated by the desire to do right by others, rather than a need to be right. Men who are curious about and accepting of difference, men who truly act in the service of peace and justice. And men who are therefore pushed out of the spotlight. They’re not the kind of men who get remembered by history. They’re not heroes.
Insofar as Harry Potter is a coming of age story, I like to think that it’s about Harry realizing what it actually means to be a “hero” and choosing otherwise. I like to think that, in the end, he saw the men he had admired for what they were, forgave them, and chose differently for himself. I had always thought that the author’s attempt at structuring the narrative around the theme of “choice” was weak, because Voldemort certainly had no choice but to be evil. But Harry did indeed have a choice. It just wasn’t about choosing not to be like Voldemort—that’s easy. The real defining choice that he made was to become someone very different from the men that he has always admired.
The way I’ve come to see it, masculinity as it is currently understood is not an aesthetic. It’s not a style of dress or a haircut. It’s an ideology, a way of thinking that gives form and substance—that defines and justifies—the social position of manhood. It isn’t located in the way you look or act, it’s located in how you think about yourself in relation to other people.
Because of this paradigm, because of how masculinity is necessarily defined in opposition to femininity, I’m not sure that it can be conceptually separated from maleness/manhood. As a butch lesbian who is constantly uncertain with how I fit into or relate to womanhood, this is a difficult concept for me. This is where I’m at now, as I continue to grapple with it.
So…. Our little New York office feels some kind of way about a new video making rounds today. Titled, “Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by #Ferguson Kids,” the video’s making lots of rounds on social media. Which will probably equal lots of money for the company behind it, called Synergy Media
The video features a group of unnamed black kids, purportedly from Ferguson, reciting parts of a script that’s clearly been written by adults. A script that will make you think race is solely a black and white issue, by the way. Even if the children are from Ferguson, it’s unclear if or how they’ve been compensated. Either way, the idea that these kids are from Ferguson is paraded for consumption.
Towards the end, a white adult and a black adult make nice and encourage viewers to buy aFCKH8.com T-shirt. Five dollars from each shirt will supposedly go to unidentified “charities working in communities to fight racism.” Which charities? Who knows! What communities? Can’t tell you.*
The video concludes with a dedication, “For Mike,” and a quiet scene from the Ferguson street on which Michael Brown was killed by officer Darren Wilson more than a month ago.
The company behind the video, FCKH8.com, has made a name for itself selling what it calls “LGBT Equality Gear” (which sort of covers some LGB themes, but sort of leaves the T part out). It’s now trying to do the same with its “Anti-Racism Gear.” According to its website, FCKH8.com “recently became owned and managed bySynergy Media,” a corporate branding firm whose clients includeMagnum bodybuilding vitamin supplementsand pretty offensive “Buckeye Boob T’s” (the latter despite the fact that FCKH8.com says it’s anti-sexist).
There’s an entire economy around black death—and this ad campaign illustrates it all too well. Ironically, this economy’s profit margins depend on upholding the very racism this video claims to want to eliminate.
So there you have it, folks. Everything, it seems, can distilled, packaged, bought and sold—including racism.
Update, September 10, 2014, 4:55 p.m.: FCKH8.com issued a press release Tuesday indicating that Race Forward, which is Colorlines’ publisher, along with a few other organizations, would be receiving funds garnered through T-shirt sales. Race Forward has publicly responded.
And this is Race Forward’s public statement, with the…interesting response from FCKH8:
FCKH8 posted a statement on their blog yesterday in response to the Colorlines article that questioned the motives of their “I’m over racism” t-shirt and viral video. If you’re not caught up, here’s a rundown of how this whole thing started.
The post is of course, predictably defensive, patronizing and awful. There’s really too much to parse, but here are some of my “favorite” highlights. And by favorite, I mean eye-roll inducing.
"Shame on you…. Colorlines, Race Forward & Aura Bogado. Click-baiting, Race-baiting, Homophobia, Minimizing Ferguson Residents, Trivializing Breast Cancer Awareness Efforts & Distorting Facts to Get Views & Donations."
Uh. What? This is rich, a FOR PROFIT COMPANY is accusing an anti-racism non-profit organization of race baiting for donations?! This from the company that has not once spoken about anti-racism until Ferguson (way genuine!), and their contribution is….t-shirts and a $5 donation. Let’s also not forget their usage of the sassy black woman stereotype to promote marriage equality in addition to really gross memes featuring Native Americans. Way to promote anti-racism folks!
"We’ve received literally thousands of racist comments, e-mails, phone messages and live-chat notes from racist white people in reaction to these Ferguson kids speaking out. If you like the N-word, you have to read our inbox.”
OMG ya’ll! They stood up for us black folk and now racist people are sending the n-word to their inbox!? This. Is. Unfathomable. I’d bet a day in their inbox is equal to a lifetime of actually being black. Now I feel TERRIBLE. Racism sucks ya’ll. Send those people a t-shirt. Stat!
ps. when dealing with racist hate mail, filters are your friends. I speak from experience ;)
"With all the hate from racists that has been directed at these kids and at us, one of the most troubling sources has been a blogger named Aura Bogado at Colorlines, a blog put out by an organization you’d expect to be an ally called Race Forward. The blogger continues to fabricate controversy by saying, “FCKH8.com, has made a name for itself selling what it calls ‘LGBT Equality Gear.’” We’re not sure if mocking “LGBT Equality Gear” by placing it in quotes as if it is not real and legitimate is simply old-fashioned underhanded homophobia and trivialization but it looks like it.”
In case you’re unclear, critique from the community you claim to support is on the same level as ACTUAL HATE SPEECH from racists. And using quotes when….quoting an organization’s slogan is “underhanded homophobia”. (sorry for the quotes, promise I’m not a homophobe) Got it!
"This video was our collective effort to make a statement out of grief and pain and turn it into something positive, that challenges people to face race and say, like the T-shirt says, “Racism Is Not Over. But I’m Over Racism.” Was the video director a white guy? Yes. He’s directed videos on social issues which have received millions of views and we’d prefer that the video and message from the participating Ferguson families and kids be judged on the content of its character and not the color of the skin of the director who pitched in to help make it.”
"Judged on the content of it’s character and not the color of the skin of the director" (FYI I’m using quotes because I’m quoting FCKH8, not because I’m homophobic)….Why does that sound familiar? Oh! I know! That’s a hat tip to MLK! Totally see what you did there. Love it when people drop the ONE line they know from that ONE MLK speech they know to show how progressive and not racist they are. And don’t worry, I’m not judging the kids who are unnamed or credited in the video, on your website or in the video description box. They’re adorable.
"Perhaps one of the most unsettling parts of this click-baiting blog post beside trivializing Ferguson kids, is the deliberate use of a screen grab of the only white person to appear in the entire video. This image is employed to misrepresent the heartfelt effort of 7 black cast members speaking out, a black producer, a black and Latino co-writer and a black editor. Is this race-baiting for attention? Out of a cast of 8 people, 7 of which are black, this photo seems to have been chosen with the devious intention to race-bait and drum up justified resentment of how many whites treat and marginalize blacks and other POCs, all to gain attention and be sensational. Using race in this way is disingenuous, offensive and reduces the voices of both the local children in front of the camera and the people behind the camera."
Wait. There were black people involved in this project!? Well that changes everything. As we all know, black people are a monolith, so if a few co-sign a project, then we all have to agree with it. Oh, and thanks for throwing in a photo of a black guy holding a sign to support FCKH8’s call for an apology. That really drives the point home. I suggest we talk about this at the next national monthly black people meeting and hug it out.
If you need more evidence that FCKH8 is awful, this blog details the numerous times they’ve stolen content from LGBT artists, promoted stereotypes, been transphobic in addition to being racist and speaking down to the very communities they claim to support. Just remember, these are the folks that are demanding an apology.