Longform Links – 2009-04-15

We talked about The Game on Monday – here’s some more information:

Here’s the forum thread. (via Black Enterprise)

Geist Magazine has an interesting piece on wealth stratification and social status at the border (via Utne):

This Berlin Wall for the twenty-first century reflects the ironic era of its construction. Built to protect a territory defined in terms of culture rather than ideology, it is breached thousands of times a day by cleaning ladies and manual labourers who turn its meaning on its head. Indeed, the United States government encourages certain categories of people to ignore the border. In this, as in other areas, the economics of globalization heightens social stratification. Mexicans who live close to the border can receive a visa that authorizes them to work in U.S. border towns but forbids them from penetrating deeper into the U.S. or residing there. Many Mexicans take advantage of this system to travel at dawn every day to San Diego, where they clean houses or work in gardens. Unlike millions of other poor Mexicans—those who risk their lives trying to cross The Wall—these workers earn cash dollars and pay taxes to neither the U.S. nor Mexico. Professionals like Dr. Portillo, who do pay taxes, can apply for a sentri (Secure Electronic Network for Travellers’ Rapid Inspection) pass for their car windshields. This allows them to take the express lane at the border, sweeping past the two-hour lineup of cars waiting to reach U.S. Immigration, with no questions asked.

Melissa Harris-Lacewell is at The Kitchen Table sharing her Reflections from South Africa, Installment # 2:

These moments have pushed me to think more carefully about what black Americans are exporting to the rest of the African world and African Diaspora.

Political struggles of black Americans have been inspirational for anti-colonial and anti-Apartheid movements here on the continent, and our ability to voice discontent against continuing racial inequality is an important model of political agency. But, it is stunning to hear that this discontent may create the impression that the United States is a harsher racial environment than post-Apartheid South Africa.

It is powerful and wonderful to hear the music of my young adulthood pumping in the middle of the night in a South African club. (Girl, Mos Def was even on my flight here from JFK airport) I can remember when many believed that hip hop would not survive a decade; now it is the global cultural expression of urban youth. But my enjoyment of hip hop’s cosmopolitan reach is tempered by the anxiety I have about hearing so many young, black South Africans grooving to the N-word.

Alternet posts a collection of questions (originally compiled by New American Media) for the President from various community based news sources:

What specifically will be done in this first year of your administration to address the disparities in education for black students, such as higher dropout rates and lower college enrollment rates? Also, what will be done to ensure these students in particular are fluent in the technology needed to succeed in a modern, global economy?

-Annie Gldzhyan, TheLoop21.com

What is tribal sovereignty? It is the basis for all Indian tribes and their relationship with the U.S government, so we want to know how President Obama’s views sovereignty.

-Duane A. Beyal, The Navajo Times

One of America’s dirtiest secrets is its hunger problem. There are millions of Americans who suffer from hunger and they are not just the homeless. Other than increasing money for food stamps, how do you plan to tackle hunger in this country?

-James Wright,Washington Afro

Marisol is busy being awesome:

I’m on a panel entitled “Queer Intimacies in Hip Hop and Reggaeton” with Elliott Hunter Powell and Laurence Ralph, and Gayatri Gopinath who will be responding and moderating.

Peep the panel abstract:

The papers in this panel address the rich and vibrant queer relationality and intimacies that exist within hip hop and reggaeton. Dominant discourses construct an image of hip hop and reggaeton that depict these genres as spaces of unabashed homophobia and misogyny. In attempting to address the ways in which misogyny functions in hip hop and reggaeton, scholars have largely failed to interrogate heterosexism and privilege in their critiques of these genres. Furthermore, when queerness and queer desire are made visible, it is typically through the problematic representations of DL/Homo Thug identity and practices. The panelists seek to expand the discussion of queerness in hip hop and reggaeton by exploring spaces and performances that on the surface seem to exude contradictory ways of being and embodiment, but actually enable the development of queer(ed) intimacies. We use queer not only to describe same sex relationships, pleasures, and desires, but also to describe disruptions to normative practices and structures. Marisol LeBrón focuses on reggaetonera and hindi-vocalist Deevani as a case study for examining the complicated roots/routes of “socio-sonic circuitry” and affinity that operate in reggaeton. Placing Gujarati American vocalist Raje Shwari at the center hip hop’s recent engagement with South Asian music and artists, Elliott Powell explores the ways in which a turn to the sonic opens up possibilities for South Asian female queer desire and subjectivity in this post 9/11 era. Finally, Laurence Ralph examines the epistemology of the closet in hip hop and forms of homosocial intimacies among rappers.

My paper has changed quite a bit from when I submitted the abstract, so while in the larger paper I do discuss Deevani, in this conference paper I will be looking at how bhangraton queers reggaeton by disrupting the normative logic of cultural nationalism that surfaced during 2005-2006 at the height to reggaeton’s boom.

Sepia Mutiny put Rush on blast for the continuation of an ignorant trend:

    RUSH: It might. No question about it. But the whole thing about outsourcing, even President Obama slipped up. I love this, ‘cause the teleprompter, that teleprompter sometimes sneaks things in there that are not in Obama’s best interests to say, but the teleprompter nevertheless makes him say them. Obama got a call during his virtual town meeting about outsourcing jobs, he said, “Look, those jobs aren’t coming back.” There’s a reason they aren’t coming back. They’re outsourced for a reason, an economic reason, and they’re not coming back. If you’re sitting out waiting for a job that’s now being done by a slumdog in India, and you’re waiting for that job to be canceled, for the slumdog to be thrown out of work, and you to get the job, it ain’t going to happen. It’s not the way economics works. Even Obama’s teleprompter got him to admit that. (link)

The odd thing is, I agree roughly with what Rush Limbaugh is saying about some outsourced jobs. He has Obama all wrong, of course (see an excerpt of Obama’s Virtual Town Hall Meeting below). The real problem here is the contemptuous way he’s throwing around the word “slumdog.” But then, contempt is Rush Limbaugh’s only working emotion.

I’m not going to start a letter-writing campaign or a boycott, or anything; there’s no point tilting at this particular “Windbagmill.” But it still needs to be said: Rush, for your information, many of the jobs that have been outsourced in recent years involve high levels of skill and training. The people who do them are not “slumdogs”; they are professionals.

New America Media asks “Can Black Men Survive Falling U.S. Economy?

A recent study indicates that of the major ethnic groups impacted by unemployment during the current U.S. recession, Black men have experienced the greatest job losses since the crisis officially began in November 2007.

“What’s missing from national media coverage of this recession is plainly a great deal of dishonesty about who’s losing their jobs. This is overwhelmingly a blue collar, retail sales, low level recession,” said Andrew Sum, professor of economics and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., which published the study.

I never, ever, ever wanted to bring up Sarah Palin ever again post-election. I don’t want to hear from her, talk about her, NOTHING. But damn it, this needs to be repeated:

In March, Palin nominated Wayne Anthony Ross for attorney general. Ross, a colorful far-right lawyer and longtime Palin ally who sports his initials, W.A.R., on his Hummer’s vanity plates, was once considered a shoo-in for confirmation. However, his nomination was thrown into grave peril when his opponents presented evidence that he called homosexuals “degenerates,” leveled invective against an African-American student offended by a statue of a Klansman, vowed to undermine the sovereignty of Native American tribes, and allegedly defended men who rape their wives. According to two sources close to the confirmation hearings, Palin may ask Ross to withdraw before his appointment comes to a vote.

Off-Topic but Worth a Look

Andrea on Amazon Fail:

So, I’m sure everyone has heard by now, but Amazon has recently made the decision to remove the sales rankings of so-called “adult” books in order to ensure that they don’t show up in some searches (like the default search) and bestseller lists.

Their rationale? The censoring books primarily written by and for queer people (and, in the case of erotica, some non-queer women as well) was done “[i]n consideration of our entire customer base”:

    “In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.”

Just to be clear, the criteria for the “adult” material that they’re using is pretty damn sketchy:

    But as an online petition points out the following publications remain on the sales ranking system:

    -Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds by Chronicle Books (pictures of over 600 naked women)
    –Rosemary Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love” (explicit heterosexual romance);
    –Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Wolf and the Dove (explicit heterosexual romance);
    –Bertrice Smal’s Skye o’Malley which are all explicit heterosexual romances
    –and Alan Moore’s Lost Girls (which is a very explicit sexual graphic novel)

    while the following LGBT books have been removed:

    –Radclyffe Hill’s classic novel about lesbians in Victorian times, The Well of Loneliness, and which contains not one sentence of sexual description;
    –Mark R Probst’s YA novel The Filly about a young man in the wild West discovering that he’s gay (gay romance, no sex);
    –Charlie Cochrane’s Lessons in Love (gay romance with no sex);
    –The Dictionary of Homophobia: A Global History of Gay & Lesbian Experience, edited by Louis-George Tin (non-fiction, history and social issues);
    –and Homophobia: A History by Bryan Fone (non-fiction, focus on history and the forms prejudice against homosexuality has taken over the years).

Links near the end of the post.

Salon has an interesting piece on feminism, class, and Helen Gurley Brown:

One reason for this omission, Scanlon believes, is social class; Brown spoke to and for aspiring secretaries and other working women who shared neither the background nor the desires of college-educated movement feminists. Brown may look like a social X-ray, but she grew up in Little Rock, Ark. (also the hometown of Lorelei Lee, “just a little girl from Little Rock”), the daughter of a promising local politician who died in an elevator accident when Helen was 10. In the midst of the Great Depression, she was raised by an intermittently depressed single mother and helped care for a sister stricken by polio. According to Brown, her adolescence was circumscribed by poverty and average looks (she had acne), although Scanlon finds evidence that even in high school Brown had plenty of friends and the kind of social success (club presidencies, class valedictorian, etc.) that comes from sustained effort. She would later coin the term “mouseburger” to describe herself: average in most respects, but willing to “work like a wharf-rat” to better herself. [...]

Underlying all of the tension between Brown and other feminist leaders was, Scanlon believes, a drumbeat of unacknowledged class prejudice. Friedan and Steinem were graduates of Smith, a Seven Sisters college, and their constituencies, at least initially, were middle-class housewives and college graduates looking for more meaningful lives and work. Brown’s designated readers were secretaries, receptionists and file clerks working to survive and hopeful of getting ahead so they could sample the very luxuries — pretty clothes, cosmetics, sex (and possibly marriage) with generous, professional men — from which Friedan and Steinem had become alienated. When a New York Times article praising Steinem dismissed the Cosmo Girl as “little more than a Playboy bunny with a clerical job,” Brown wrote in to say that there was nothing wrong with being a Playboy bunny (or, by implication, holding a clerical job). It wasn’t always clear where scorn for Cosmopolitan’s signature flashy style left off and contempt for the pink-collar vulgarity of its readers began.