Links – 2009-03-12

The American Prospect – NAACP Takes a Stance Against Prop 8

The NAACP has been walking a tightrope on gay rights. Polls show that African Americans overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage, but much of the high-level leadership of the nation’s oldest civil-rights organization opposes legal efforts to deny gays the right to marry. Last week, the national office of the NAACP leapt into the fray when it sent a letter to California legislators urging them to support legislation that would repeal Prop. 8. After meeting with the National Black Justice Coalition, a black LGBT-rights group, and the leadership of the California State Conference, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and NAACP President Ben Jealous agreed to come out publicly in support of repealing Prop. 8.

Newsweek – Man Bites Slumdog

I still ask myself how I finally broke out. Jamal, the slumdog in Danny Boyle’s award-winning movie, did it the traditional cinematic way, via true love, guts and good luck. People keep praising the film’s “realistic” depiction of slum life in India. But it’s no such thing. Slum life is a cage. It robs you of confidence in the face of the rich and the advantaged. It steals your pride, deadens your ambition, limits your imagination and psychologically cripples you whenever you step outside the comfort zone of your own neighborhood. Most people in the slums never achieve a fairy-tale ending.


The Washington Post – Top Officials Expand the Dialogue on Race

Nearly six in 10 Americans said Obama’s presidency will do more to help race relations in this country, according to a January Washington Post-ABC News poll. But whites and African Americans start out with widely divergent views on the racial climate in the country. Overall, about three-quarters of those surveyed called racism a problem in society today, with one-quarter labeling it a “big” problem. Twice as many blacks (44 percent) as whites (22 percent) called it a big problem.

Shapely Prose – On Squeaky Wheels

Kate recently defined privilege as “the luxury of not thinking about it much,” which I think is perfect. One of the consequences of privilege, then, is that if you want people to be inclusive of you, you often have to remind them that you exist. It sucks to have to do this all the time, which is part of why so many people — particularly those struggling to understand their own privilege — confuse privilege with prejudice or ignorance. Even if you’re not actively oppressing those who lack the privileges you have, you are oppressing them by failing to consider them part of the status quo, by requiring them to make explicit requests for basic representation or consideration. We need to be aware of that when it comes to the privileges we have — do you, by default, consider everybody or only the people whose experiences you find familiar? But when it comes to privileges we lack, it’s worth remembering that as much as it may suck to have to ask explicitly for consideration, you get to ask for it. Even if you’re not a born activist, you can still be an advocate — for others, and just as importantly for yourself.

Shakesville – The Language of Immigration, continued

Last night, Iain and I were talking about yesterday’s thread on immigration, and how he isn’t called (or regarded as) an immigrant, when he made this well-observed point: “Oof coourse I’m noot an immigrant,” he said wryly, with one raised brow. “I’m an ex-pat.”

Such a spot-on observation. In between the disparate uses and meanings of “immigrant” and “ex-pat” (expatriate) falls everything that underlines the racism, classism, and xenophobia of the immigration debate in America.

White, (relatively) wealthy, and English-speaking immigrants are ex-pats, with intramural rugby leagues and dues-drawing pub clubs and summer festivals set to the distant trill of bagpipes.

Non-white, poor, and non-natively English-speaking immigrants are just immigrants.


The Kitchen Table – Chris Brown and Rihanna

March is Women’s History Month and there is no historical thread more consistently visible in tapestry of women’s lives than violence.

I know I am copping out a little by not providing a deep feminist, political analysis of the multiple issues involved and evoked by this celebrity drama, but I am having a very hard time writing about this issue. Instead of analyzing I am just admitting that it is hard, that it hurts, and that I am exhausted and angry that black women must watch a young sister be beaten. I am pissed that other men are brokering the mending of this relationship (P. Diddy apparently had the couple in his home to talk and reconcile). And I am devastated that Rihanna’s soul and spirit are so broken that she is returning to her abuser.