Open Thread: On Sonia Sotomayor

by Latoya Peterson

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Sonia Sotomayor is officially Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

Some scattered thoughts:

1. Damn, I hated this process. Adam knocked it out of the park over on Tapped deconstructing the worst of the foolishness.

Jeffrey Rosen admits that he hasn’t “read enough of Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them,” and he adds that he hasn’t “talked to enough of Sonia Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths.” Still, he’s comfortable putting into print anonymous evaluations of her character and intelligence, concluding that she’s possibly “not that smart.” Matthew Yglesias notes that “you don’t see a lot of dumb kids growing up in the South Bronx and winding up at Princeton.” What Matt doesn’t understand is that Sotomayor’s journey from BX to Princeton proves that she’s not that smart, because everyone knows that minorities only get to the Ivy League by not being white.

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links for 2009-05-26

When Systems of Oppression Intersect: Mental Health and the Immigration System

By Special Correspondent Thea Lim

Angry Asian Man reports on the story of Xiu Ping Jiang, a 35 year-old Chinese illegal immigrant diagnosed with a mental illness who has been stuck in immigration limbo for over a year. From the New York Times:

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[Jiang] has spent more than a year in jail, often in solitary confinement, sinking deeper into the mental illness that makes it impossible for her either to fight deportation or to obtain the travel documents needed to make it happen, according to a pending habeas corpus petition that seeks her release. It contends that she is suicidal, emaciated and deprived of proper medical treatment.

More distressing is the report of her first court appearance in the NYT, which led to her deportation order:

Twice the immigration judge asked the woman’s name. Twice she gave it: Xiu Ping Jiang. But he chided her, a Chinese New Yorker, for answering his question before the court interpreter had translated it into Mandarin.

“Ma’am, we’re going to do this one more time, and then I’m going to treat you as though you were not here,” the immigration judge, Rex J. Ford, warned the woman last year at her first hearing in Pompano Beach, Fla. He threatened to issue an order of deportation that would say she had failed to show up.

She was a waitress with no criminal record, no lawyer and a history of attempted suicide. Her reply to the judge’s threat, captured by the court transcript, was in imperfect English. “Sir, I not — cannot go home,” she said, referring to China, which her family says she fled in 1995 after being forcibly sterilized at 20. “If I die, I die America.”

The judge moved on. “The respondent, after proper notice, has failed to appear,” he said for the record. And as she declared, “I’m going to die now,” he entered an order deporting her to China, and sent her back to the Glades County immigration jail.

As Angry Asian Man says:

The situation illustrates the vulnerability of the mentally ill in the immigration system. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement keeps putting increasingly strict enforcement measures in place, more and more people with mental illness are being put into detention — and no one is really looking out for them.

In a bizarre twist, the only reason Jiang’s case is getting attention is because she happens to have the same name as the ex-wife of Jiverly Wong, a Vietnamese American who shot 13 people in April at a Binghamton immigration services center. In looking for Wong’s ex-wife, reporters stumbled across Jiang.

Yet Jiang is by a long stretch not the first (or I imagine) the last immigrant of colour with a health issue to be forgotten within the double prejudice of a system that is both xenophobic and ableist. Continue reading

Missing Identities: Racialicious Revisits Secret Identities

By Guest Contributor Sunny Kim

secret2 I first learned about Project Secret Identities over two years ago when a call for story submissions started to float around my corner of the interwebs. My excitement was limitless! No more waiting for some white guy to come save me! Now I could have my own superheroes. Secret Identities promised to fill the need for comics that cast us as the superheroes and I waited with bated breath for the release.

Here we are in 2009 and the book has been released to much fanfare. And yet, I feel disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the nerd specs on the pleasing green cover (I rock my own pair everyday). There are some real gems in this anthology including the oft-cited “The Blue Scorpion and Chung” (Bruce Lee hated being Kato) and the true-to-life stories in the section From Headline to Hero (“Taking Back Troy” re-imagines Vincent Chin’s story in a way that doesn’t let us forget it). Despite the many great stories found within this anthology there are some glaring holes that I can’t seem to fly over.

The editors of the book tell us that Asian Americans have more in common with Clark Kent than just his geek chic appearance and as such present an opening for our superheroes. Yet the editors define Asian American by the stories they chose, and it seems like they define Asian as “East Asian with a sprinkling of Filipino and a drop of Indian.” In other words Secret Identities is more East Asian than Asian, and Shen and Yang have — I’m sure unintentionally — deleted most of the Asian continent in their selection process.

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The Racialicious Roundtable For ‘Star Trek’

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

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And back we are, with the new hotness! Our table meets up once again to discuss:

* Our least-favorite guest-star
* Where the revamped series should go from here
* Why Uhura Matters, regardless of timeline

And much more!

Arturo: so, everybody catch the review thread?
Andrea: yaaaay!@
Mahsino: yup
Diana: yep
Andrea: ya did good, arturo!
Arturo: What amused me were the comments that went like, “Great review! This movie still sucked!”
Andrea: I suspect those critiques came from the Star Wars contingent
Mahsino: “admiral madea” killed me
Arturo: I know it killed Andrea. Ha. Well, at least Perry did.
Diana: I was like, the Matrix movies had Cornel West. Star Wars had Sam Jackson. The new Star Trek? Tyler Perry? WTF
Mahsino: Me and my brother had a huge silent wtf in the theater. Who did he pay off for that one?
Andrea: for real.
Diana: yeah
Arturo: Like I told Andrea, if the guy’s a fanboy, I can’t blame him for wanting in on it.
Andrea: I can. He just doesn’t get that he’s not as cool as whoopi.
Arturo: Hell, N’Sync wanted to play Jedi.
Diana: Was no one else available?
Diana: He can’t act without a dress
Andrea: he can’t act with a dress
Mahsino: Was Keith David not available for the “cool black guy” role?
Mahsino: The suit was Steve Harvey bad

In light of the reaction to Perry’s appearance, we present:
Eight POC Men The Table Wants To See Instead Of TP In The Sequel:
1.Sendhil Ramamurthy,
2.Forrest Whitaker,
3.Billy Dee Williams (to piss off the Lucas fans)
4.James Earl Jones (to really piss off the Lucas fans)
5.Michael Eric Dyson
6.Colin Powell (’cause Starfleet is the military, after all)
7.Charles Ogletree
8.Michael Steele

During the editing process, I noticed a glaring disparity, so allow me to add:
Five POC Women Arturo Wants To See:
1.Gina F’ing Torres
2.Michelle Yeoh
3.Minissha Lamba
4.Freema Agyeman
5.Irene Bedard

spobamaOur discussion, though, did lead us to this suggestion:
Andrea: f-ck it. Barack Obama
Mahsino: why not? He can’t be worse than perry
Diana:Obama, I’m wit it. Michele too
Arturo: Y’know, the “Barack=Spock” media meme is making me leery. it’s anti-intellectual.
Mahsino: I hate the comparison. It’s as if Spock is the new “mulatto.”
Arturo: well, to the other Vulcans, apparently he *was*
Diana: half-breed, that was a big slur on Spock
Andrea: yep.
Mahsino: what, we aren’t post-species-ist in the future? I half expected Bones to bust out with “some of my best friend are Vulcan” they way his tone was going
Andrea: no, that wouldn’t have been Bones, though
Diana: And Star Trek is supposed to be positive about the future
Arturo: It’s *positive*, but it was never pollyannaish. There’s been eps centered around racial issues throughout canon
Andrea: The kicker is, people feel they’re being complimentary with the Spock comparison, i.e. the Greenwald piece from salon.
Mahsino: The Spock/Obama composite pics make me bust out the side-eye
Arturo: Like I said on the thread, though, Bones’ remarks weren’t presented as being as virulent as the sh-t Spock heard back home
Andrea: but to your comment about race not seeming illogical, arturo….it doesn’t surprise that the vulcans came out their mouths the way they did.
Diana: Bones’ beef with Spock was more understandable. The little vulcans were just mean
Arturo: Kids are f’d up, on any world.
Andrea: racism has its own logic.
Arturo: until Spocky opened up the can of whoop-ass
Continue reading

links for 2009-05-25

  • "The ACLU is demanding that school officials in the northern San Diego County community of Ramona apologize to a sixth-grade student who was not allowed to present her report on slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk during class time.

    Instead, the principal sent letters to parents giving them the option of not allowing their child to listen to the presentation by classmate Natalie Jones. Officials cited the district policy requiring that parents be notified before any classroom instruction about sex, AIDS or "family life.""

  • "The American Indian Graduate Student Alliance and the Graduate Student Association have voiced their concerns about the headline, “SB Scalps Aztecs in 15-8 Win[,”which was published on Thursday, April 2 on the sports page. The article was a recap of a baseball game between the UCSB Gauchos and the San Diego State University Aztecs. The AIGSA sent letters to the Nexus, the UCSB Press Council and Chancellor Henry T. Yang about their issues with the headline."
  • "He was followed by Ronnie Khalil, who has appeared on Showtime Arabia, a Viacom subsidiary in the Arab world, and has headlined around the Middle East. He talked about how Muslim feasts are all about suffering. "Our holiday Ramadan," he said, "is 30 days of self-deprivation. There's a reason why the Grinch never stole Ramadan.""
  • Mainstream media’s responses to the protests have been overwhelmingly racialist, exposing many of the limits of Canadian multiculturalism. In order for Canadian multiculturalism to accept any given group of people as a cultural community, it must define that group by differentiating it from a supposedly mainstream Canadian identity. This focalising Canadian identity—in effect a non-identity—is white and middle-class. Thus, when the Toronto Star publishes an editorial entitled “Protesters vs. the public” [1] it effectively notes that the protesters are not part of the public by pitting (Tamil) protesters against the (Canadian) public. Rather than focusing on the war, media outlets have focused on the inconvenience posed to commuters, thereby shifting attention away from deaths in Sri Lanka to traffic regulations in Canada. "
  • "In a series of decisions in the past four years, the Chief Justice has expressed the view that the time has now passed when the Court should allow systemic remedies for racial discrimination. The previous week, the Court heard a challenge by a group of white firefighters in New Haven who were denied promotions even though they had scored better than black applicants on a test. Roberts was, if anything, even more belligerent in questioning the lawyer defending the city. “Now, why is this not intentional discrimination?” he asked. “You are going to have to explain that to me again, because there are particular individuals here,” he said. “And they say they didn’t get their jobs because of intentional racial action by the city.” He added, “You maybe don’t care whether it’s Jones or Smith who is not getting the promotion,” he said. “All you care about is who is getting the promotion. All you care about is his race.”
  • "North Dakota's Board of Higher Education has agreed to drop the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian head logo, a move intended to resolve a decades-long campus dispute about whether the name demeans American Indians."
  • "Nabil Abou-Harb, a 24-year-old from Georgia, won the grand prize of "Best Overall Video" and $20,000 for his contribution to "The American Muslim Life" category: Arab in America. The five-minute video was a satirical, bittersweet yet ultimately optimistic depiction of Arabs having to "whitewash" their identity to blend in and avoid harassment. The Arab protagonist changes his name to "Samuel Adam Baker" in order to obtain a lucrative job, and he lies about his piquant Islamic practices to avoid "detection" by his often ignorant co-workers."
  • "Racially segregated proms have been held in Montgomery County — where about two-thirds of the population is white — almost every year since its schools were integrated in 1971. Such proms are, by many accounts, longstanding traditions in towns across the rural South, though in recent years a number of communities have successfully pushed for change. When the actor Morgan Freeman offered to pay for last year’s first-of-its-kind integrated prom at Charleston High School in Mississippi, his home state, the idea was quickly embraced by students — and rejected by a group of white parents, who held a competing “private” prom. (The effort is the subject of a documentary, “Prom Night in Mississippi,” which will be shown on HBO in July.)"

Quoted: From the Mouths of Fashionistas

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

This recipe for femininity looks, to me, as if it is aimed toward a stereotypical Hong Kong billionaire’s wife. The clothes evoke a demure, under-control, decidedly non-rowdy (read: non-Western) type of woman who appreciates her role as an ornament of great value, and sits prettily and quietly in Gulfstream jets.

Cintra Wilson, “Critical Shopper: Derek Lam,” The New York Times

(Thanks to Rob Schmidt for sending this in!)

(Image credit: NYT)

links for 2009-05-24

  • "Nancy Kwan sips her coffee in a Los Angeles hotel lobby, still the lithe, delicate beauty who won fans around the world almost a half-century ago.

    She reflects on the difficulties she faced as a Chinese actress in Hollywood, recounting a lunch in Hong Kong years ago with rising star Bruce Lee. She didn't want to squelch his dreams or ambitions, but she knew his hope of starring in the 1972 TV series "Kung Fu" was never going to happen.

    "He said, 'No. No. I'm going to do this.' And I said, 'Bet,'" Kwan said of the role that went to Caucasian actor David Carradine. "I had to collect my 10 bucks.'' "