Month: November 2009

November 4, 2009 / / activism

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Aoki, by Ben Wang and Mike Cheng, is a new feature documentary chronicling the life of the late Richard Aoki, a third generation Japanese American who became one of the founding members of the Black Panther Party in 1966. Here’s the film’s official description:

Aoki is a documentary film chronicling the life of Richard Aoki (1938-2009), a third-generation Japanese American who became one of the founding members of the Black Panther Party. Filmed over the last five years of Richard’s life, this documentary features extensive footage with Richard and exclusive interviews with his comrades, friends, and former students. Viewers will learn about Richard’s childhood in a WWII Japanese American concentration camp, growing up in West Oakland, and serving eight years in the U.S. military. The film explores previously unknown facts about the formation of the Black Panther Party such as how Richard became intimately involved in its founding and contributed the first two firearms to the Party. Aoki highlights how Richard’s leadership also made a significant impact on individuals and groups in the contemporary Asian American Movement. Richard’s contributions to the groundbreaking organization Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA) and its involvement in the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) student strike led to the formation of ethnic studies at U.C. Berkeley. Above all else, Aoki is a film that demonstrates the incredible dedication to justice that one man’s life has had and how the lessons of solidarity, commitment, and discipline can carry on from one generation to the next.

Read the Post Aoki: a documentary on the life of richard aoki

November 4, 2009 / / african-american

by Guest Contributor Dumi Lewis, originally published at Uptown Notes

Dear Old Morehouse,

I’ve been trying to avoid writing this for some time now. As an alumnus of the institution, it’s hard for me to see you in such condition. Many of my fellow alumni complained of your disrepair and your besmirched image when they heard about students being beaten for their sexuality, shooters graduating, and cross-dressing, but I have bigger concerns. While all these things mattered to me, they did not disturb me because of what was being done to the image of our institution; they disturbed me because they demonstrated that Dear Old Morehouse was terribly unequipped to deal with the realities and lives that Black men in America live now. In fact, it is the Old Morehouse that is more dangerous to me than any student with a gun, sagged pants, or high heels would ever be. Let me explain.

When I visited Morehouse for the first time, it was about 1994, I remember seeing hanging banners and brochures that talked about the development of leaders, community servants, and caring connected brothers. The culmination of these developments was to be the Morehouse Man. I remember reading about the crown that Morehouse held up for its students so that one day they too would embody the Morehouse Mystique. I was sold. I was ready to be in that number. I was ready to be at the only institution of higher education dedicated fully to the education of men of African descent in the United States. But like most things, I soon found out all that glittered was not gold. Read the Post Dear Old Morehouse

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

I was going to begin this post be talking about Mohandas Gandhi. I was going to chastise Bernice King, daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and new leader of the civil rights organization Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), for her hateful pronouncement, recounted in The Guardian: “I know down in my sanctified soul that [MLK] did not take a bullet for samesex unions.”

I was going to point out that Gandhi, who is said to have inspired MLK, did not take a bullet for black Americans. His cause was the oppressed people of India. But the universal truth of his message–resistance to tyranny, nonviolence and the fundamental equality of all people–was as applicable on the North American continent as the Asian one. Bernice King’s father realized that. How small and hateful and contrary to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi it would have been if, during the height of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, a surviving family member had proclaimed that “down in their souls” they were certain that Gandhi didn’t take a bullet for Negroes to ride on the front of the bus.

To my surprise, while doing a little research on the martyr known as “The Great One,” I discovered that, though time has cemented Gandhi in the public consciousness as a loving but determined champion for world equality. He may well not have supported civil rights for all marginalized people. Read the Post Civil rights, but just for me

November 3, 2009 / / colour-face

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

Colourface fatigue, I haz it.  Who here is tired of reading about blackface? Because I sure am tired of writing about it. And at this point I don’t know what more there is to say.

Well, come to think of it, there was never much to say in the first place.  Because here we tend to deal more in the subtle nuances of racism; when something is as out and out wrong as painting yourself black for a lark, you don’t need us to deconstruct it for you.

But I ask this: why is a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader who colourfaced it up as Lil Wayne for Halloween causing so much of a ruckus? It might just be because I live in Texas, but all day Monday I heard reports about white cheerleader Whitney Isleib and her poor choice of costume.  The team even received a request from a Texas media outlet for an interview.

News, by definition is (among other things): a person, thing, or event considered as a choice subject for journalistic treatment; newsworthy material. This is pretty elementary: there has to be something spectacular about your behaviour for it to make headlines.  Simply behaving badly or cluelessly – which Isleib most certainly was – is not enough to get you in the news.  You have to behave badly in some kind of unusual way.

But colourface is not unusual. It is reprehensible and grotesque, but it’s not unusual. Who here was out and about on Halloween, and saw some colourface? *raises hand*

So. Why the attention for Isleib’s dressup? Yes, Isleib is sort of a public figure. But that’s just it: she’s only sort of a public figure. I can’t imagine her getting this much attention for anything else.  Isleib’s situation is markedly different from biracial colourface on ANTM, Vogue painting white supermodel Lara Stone black, and Harry Connick Jr putting his foot down at Australian blackface.  These are all examples of public performances of blackface.  Isleib on the other hand was at a private party. Why is this news? Why is it even local Texas news?

Read the Post Cheerleader Blackface: The Cultural Function of Pretend Shock

November 2, 2009 / / stereotypes

By Guest Contributor G.D., originally published at PostBourgie

In a post called “Penny-Pinching Jews and South Carolina Republicans,” Jeff Goldberg points to an editorial by two South Carolina Republicans defending Sen. Jim DeMint’s opposition to opening the federal spigot for his state.

Recently your newspaper published a letter from state Rep. Bakari Sellers attacking U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and his opposition to congressional earmarks.

There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves. By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation’s pennies and trying to preserve our country’s wealth and our economy’s viability to give all an opportunity to succeed.

To which one of Goldberg’s readers responded:

Perhaps I’m seeing something that isn’t there, but I inferred from the title of this post a suggestion of anti-Semitic bigotry on the part of the two county Republican chairmen.

First, I think there is a difference between stereotypes to be disparaged and stereotypes to be emulated. The chairmen were guilty of the latter. Second, I’ve lived 2/3 of my life in the South/Southwest and the rest in the Northeast. I’ve the noticed that the attitudes about Jews in either place to be remarkably different. In New York, a Jew is some jerk who is dating his sister or a weirdly dressed guy who’s probably hoarding diamonds. In the S/SW and probably in most of the Midwest, a Jew is David or Solomon or Daniel or Jesus or James or Paul.

Ah, yes! Those good stereotypes that we should emulate! They’re always tossed into the bin of “bad” and “racist,” which just isn’t right. Unlike “bad stereotypes,” the good ones are dehumanizing and condescending, but in a well-intentioned sort of way!

Read the Post Racism as a Backhanded Compliment