links for 2010-02-27

Friday Announcements: Mama Says Good Girls Marry Doctors; Update on Other Tongues; Vegans of Colour Research Group

Call for submissions: MAMA SAYS GOOD GIRLS MARRY DOCTORS – Retaining Control, Negotiating Roles: South and East Asian Diasporic Women and their Parents

Editors: Piyali Bhattacharya and Josephine Tsui
Contact: goodgirlsmarrydoctors at gmail dot com
Submission Deadline: July 1, 2010

Are you a good girl? You know what we mean: you listen to your parents, there’s no gossip about you in the “community.” Or are you a bad girl? Were you caught smoking in high school? Did you marry that white boy against your parents’ wishes?

We ask you to contribute your story to a forthcoming volume: “Mama Says Good Girls Marry Doctors.” This book focuses on the pressures on South and East Asian women who have grown up in North America to be “good girls.” It seeks to collect the stories of such women, and their traumas, victories, and defeats as they face the control that their immigrant parents try to exercise over them in relation to the choice of a partner, or a career, or their freedom. We want to know how negotiating these pressures affects young Asian diasporic women, their relationship to feminism, to their parents and to their partners or siblings.

We do not seek academic essays, but creative non-fiction pieces, narratives, reflections and personal histories and memoirs. You can tell your own story or that of a friend or relative. As Asian women who have experiences such issues ourselves, we want this volume to bring a range of stories out in the open and available to other women who are facing these issues.

Your essay might focus on one of the following:
~How did your battle with your parents affect the way you viewed them, either immediately after any given incident, or retrospectively many months or years later? How did it affect the way they viewed or treated you?
~Is there a difference in the way your parents treat you versus your brother? Has it made a difference if you are an older or a younger sibling? Has your parents’ treatment of you affected the way you interact with your siblings?
~What were the creative ways in which you dealt with negative reactions from your parents about your partner, career, parenting skills, or any other issue?
~Have your friends outside your family or community been unable to understand the pull or responsibility you feel towards your parents? How have you dealt with this?
~ Have you found that your economic class differentiates your experience from what is considered the “norm” or from other women from your ethnic/cultural community?
~Have you ever felt like your life decisions in regard to your parents have compromised or altered your feminism?

Of course, these are by no means the only questions we are focusing on. We want to hear your unique story. We are looking for women who have undergone interesting processes of self-discovery and want to hear about how these women have chosen unique ways in which to handle negotiations with their parents, and about the outcomes of their various efforts.

We want to hear your voice and your story!

Send all submissions (3,000 – 4,000 words) to: by JULY 1, 2010.

Call for writing submissions: Other Tongues

Update: three weeks ago we ran a call for submissions for “Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out.” At the time the call-out asked for black/white mixed race women to submit writings. Other Tongues has since decided to open the anthology up to women of all mixed-race heritages.  Below is their new announcement. Continue reading

Women of Color and the Anti-Choice Focus on Eugenics

By Guest Contributor Pamela Merritt, originally posted at RH Reality Check

Just days before the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, a fellow activist sent me a link to a video posted by the anti-choice group Bound for Life.  I was vaguely familiar with Bound for Life from having seen their members at protests, signature red tape marked with the word “Life” fixed to their mouths.

The video promoted an action that Bound for Life participated in at a new Planned Parenthood clinic being built in Houston.  The spin for this specific protest caught my attention.  The angle – that reproductive health care providers are organized to increase abortions by people of color in a plot to commit genocide for profit – has been in play by anti-choicers for years.  That theory has been, is now, and will always be insultingly paternalistic in its assumptions about women of color seeking reproductive health care.  The allegation is also picking up steam this Black History Month.

The first time I watched the video I was struck by the theories promoted through it – that communities of color are tragically ignorant of some long standing genocidal plot and desperately need organizations like Bound for Life to come to educate us, that the size of a reproductive health care clinic is in some way connected to it’s intended scale of abortion services and that the location of that clinic (in communities of color) is proof of some long standing genocidal plot.  Bound for Life isn’t alone in putting forth these arguments.  Anti-choice groups recently put up billboards in Georgia claiming that Black children are an endangered species and other organizations, like The Radiance Foundation, target religious people of color with the same anti-choice message; their stated goal being to illuminate, educate and motivate their audience.

The fallout from this rhetoric is hard to measure, but I’ve heard of the black genocide conspiracy for years.  I am an activist in my home city of St. Louis Missouri and many of the young women of color I work with are aware of the rumors and ask questions about them.

Continue reading

Goodbye, Racialicious

wendi bio picAfter writing for Racialicious since 2007, when Carmen Van  Kerckhove asked me to come on as a Special Correspondent, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to end my time with the site. It was certainly a difficult decision for me, having been invested in its mission since my first read in 2006 after Carmen came to speak at NYU about race in the media. I remember realizing that when I agreed to write regularly for the site, I was signing onto something amazing, something that would certainly change the way Americans think about and discuss race, ethnicity, and many other factors of our daily lives through an easily accessible, though analytical, lens. Indeed, my realization was right.

Writing for Racialicious opened up many opportunities for me and helped shape the way I personally view race in America by allowing me to flesh out my thoughts with words for public consumption. I had an amazing time working with all parties involved in making the site what it was and has become, and I am forever appreciative of all the feedback, be it critical or full of praise from the readers here.

Though I am saying goodbye to Racialicious, I am not disappearing into thin air or becoming a hermit. In fact, I still write, though in a completely different facet. Focusing on the love affair between music and fashion, and in particular, music as a soundtrack of our lives, I now channel my thoughts and energy through the content of my own site Retail DJ. On Retail DJ, I post music from DJs all over the world and conduct interviews of designers, musicians, DJs, and even fashionistas right off the street from my own backyard (NYC) and other parts of the globe (I have interviews and photoshoots of folks in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the UK, and Brazil on the way!). It’s a truly exciting venture—my baby, if you will—of which I am very proud and honored to share with everyone.

Despite my new direction, however, I still think about race, gender, sexuality, and all those –isms that many of us know well because, quite frankly, I live them. At least now I have had Racialicious as an outlet through which I could try to gain more understanding of what all those aspects of my identity and those of others even mean. Let’s just say, “it’s been real.” I will miss all of you and wish you continued success in both writing and taking the risk to discuss this thing we call race.

– Wendi Muse

links for 2010-02-25

  • "We were reasonably amused perusing Italian Vogue's new Internet collective, but why must curvy women, women of color, and burgeoning design talent be viewed in separate channels? Is it possible to have a fashion magazine that embraces women of all sizes and colors who wear young and established labels? Italian Vogue seems to think not.
  • The assault was the culmination of a chaotic, violent day at South Philadelphia High, details of which are spelled out for the first time in a long-awaited report released yesterday. The report by retired federal Judge James T. Giles detailed his investigation of the racial violence that has drawn national headlines and intervention from local, state, and federal authorities…But the work, which focused solely on Dec. 2 and 3, immediately drew criticism from activists, community members, and students who said that its scope was too limited.
  • Imperial County's pauper's cemetery [is] a dusty field dotted with about 900 concrete markers the size of bread loaves. Each was stamped with numbers or the name "John Doe." Several hundred marked the final resting place of Mexican and other Latin American migrants who've died walking across the desert or drowned trying to cross the nearby All-American Canal.

    [John Carlos] Frey, a 46-year-old filmmaker, blames the U.S. government for their deaths. In all, some 6,000 people have died crossing the Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California borders with Mexico since 1994, according to human-rights groups. About 500 more die every year…In his new documentary film, "The 800 Mile Wall," Frey says this tragedy is the foreseeable result of a policy that sealed off urban crossing routes, driving migrants into the desert.

  • "It was a slap in the face," Indo-Canadian activist Sukhi Sandhu said Thursday, referring to the opening show's cultural segment. "You'd expect in an event of this magnitude, diversity would be entrenched in every aspect."…Sandhu and his allies have called on the Vancouver Organizing Committee to ensure that the closing ceremony convey more of the character of greater Vancouver, where Chinese and South Asians comprise 30 percent of the area's 2 million people.
  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest proposals to close California's budget shortfall would end public assistance for most new legal immigrants, eliminating emergency cash, food and medical aid for those who don't yet qualify for federal welfare.
  • After travelling the country and hearing horrific tales of abuse suffered by aboriginal residential-school survivors, the head of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission says he realizes that forgiveness is not an option for many victims…“It's not a question of forgiveness for them. It's a question of moving on. Some have said there will never be any reconciliation for them and we just accept that as part of the truth-telling process.”…About 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis children were forced to attend the government schools over much of the last century. The last school, outside Regina, closed in 1996.
  • Now the Louisiana State Police, the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department are swarming over this impoverished lumber town of 3,800, drawn by the allegations of numerous witnesses that police killed an unarmed, elderly black man without justification—and then moved a gun to make it look like the man had been holding it.
  • "The Dai park, with its wooden stilt homes, groomed palm trees and elephant statues, is part of an increasingly popular form of entertainment in China — the ethnic theme playground, where middle-class Han come to experience what they consider the most exotic elements of their vast nation. There is no comprehensive count of these Disneyland-like parks, but people in the industry say the number is growing, as are visitors. The Dai park, whose grounds encompass 333 actual Dai households, attracts a half-million tourists a year paying $15 each.

    The parks are money-making ventures. But scholars say they also serve a political purpose — to reinforce the idea that the Chinese nation encompasses 55 fixed ethnic minorities and their territories, all ruled by the Han."

  • "We wanted to make sure that it was not the Speedy of the 1950s — the racist Speedy," said the comedian's wife Ann Lopez, who will serve alongside him as a producer. "Speedy's going to be a misunderstood boy who comes from a family that works in a very meticulous setting, and he's a little too fast for what they do. He makes a mess of that. So he has to go out in the world to find what he's good at."

Stories that Ally vs Stories that Appropriate: a Yardstick

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

How do you know when a story is allying, versus appropriating?

In other words, if someone of privilege writes a story about the political oppression of a group they do not belong to, what is the difference between:

a) a story that brings marginalised voices to a wider platform and advocates for their rights, versus
b) a story that simply appropriates a political conflict for a writer’s own end, taking advantage of the fact that communities who experience marginalisation are rarely ever allowed to speak for themselves?

Apart from the fact that a story that appropriates usually winds up grossly misrepresenting a marginalised group, this is my yardstick for telling friends from foes:  one of the central purposes of a story that acts as ally, is to use one’s own privilege to tell another’s story, in the hopes of ameliorating the others’ situation.  Meanwhile, a story that appropriates just wants to spin a good yarn, get some adulation, and uses another’s story in order to do so.  An ally story is giving, an appropriating story is taking.

Quit jabbering Thea, you may say.  It’s easy to tell the difference between stories that appropriate, and stories that ally! We don’t need a yardstick!

Not true.  At least within mainstream opinion, it is startling and depressing how many stories that appropriate get passed off as political progressive, as allies.  Like Not Without My Daughter.  Or the documentary Born into Brothels, which purported to tell the story of the children of sex workers in Calcutta, but really just seemed more interested in showcasing the magnanimity of the American photographer who worked with the children.* Or another documentary, Paris is Burning, about the black trans/gay vogueing community of New York City, which brought immense praise on the white outsider director, but painted the community as tragic and hopeless, while bringing little benefit to them.  I’m sure you can think of loads more films like this.

Including…(drumroll)…Avatar. Which I finally saw last week, in all its headsplitting 3D glory.  And it fulfilled all the negative press I had read over countless months, from anti-racist and anti-ableist camps among many others.  But seeing how my esteemed peers did a lot of the deconstructing work for me, I was left to ponder another question.  If Cameron is as leftist as claimed, why didn’t he tell the story of an actual conflict between big business (or colonialists) and an indigenous group? Why use blue allegory?

Hollywood films have a generally untapped power to sway how people think about political events.   Packaging a political story within the rhetoric of emotion (and also I guess, within face-blasting special effects) is often the best way to get people to swallow arguments they would otherwise reject.  Hence a movie that – at least at face value – is very anti-war, anti-military and anti-capitalist is demolishing box office records with hardly a peep from conservative viewers.

Can you imagine the impact that a movie like Avatar could have, if Cameron had used all the CGI to recreate (for example) any area of the Americas the way it looked before first contact with the Europeans, and instead told the real story of an indigenous group struggling to protect themselves from genocide?  Imagine the kind of support it could create for indigenous rights.

Continue reading

Sailor WTF?: Kirsten Dunst’s ‘Akihabara Majokko Princess’


By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

At least she can sorta carry a tune.

Dunst1After two viewings, that’s about all I can glean from Kirsten Dunst’s cover of “Turning Japanese,” which premiered late last year as part of an exhibition by Takashi Murakami at London’s Tate Museum. According to Anime News Network, the video is a collaboration between Murakami and director McG, which makes this – to give everyone the benefit of the doubt – somewhat puzzling as an interpretation of anything close to fandom.

Dunst, to her credit, has a history with the medium: she voiced the title character in the English-language adaptation of Kiki’s Delivery Service, and has expressed an affection for Sailor Moon – which explains the costume – in past interviews. But instead of presenting her as a Majokko (“Magical girl” or “Witch Girl”), MCG here threw her under the same bus Scarlett Johansson rode in on for Lost In Translation.

Start with the musical selection: to be sure, “Turning Japanese” isn’t about actually being Japanese (nor is it about masturbation. Well, apparently.). And inter-cutting shots of her with hentai imagery – like, say, the upskirt shot on the billboard seconds after the one on Dunst – takes Dunst’s character out of the sympathetic realm and into Male Gaze territory. And as someone who had to sit through Terminator: Salvation, I don’t think McG thought it through that thoroughly.

Finally, there’s the “interactions” with the locals. The vast majority of them are wordless Others, watching the camera with blank looks. The guys in the jumpsuits, it seems, are members of a local dance troupe, and they at least get to be active. But otherwise the actual Japanese people here are either spectators, or look like they’re wondering who this girl is who’s ripping off Gwen Stefani’s act.

Random Announcements

by Latoya Peterson

This should really wait until tomorrow, but I am too excited so I’m just gonna share this now:

On Tuesday, March 16th I will join N’Gai Croal and Naomi Clark to chat about Social Justice and Video Games. I am excited for a lot of reasons, but also because thanks to some of the technology at SXSW, this could be the first time we can turn a talk into a full web experience – so even if you can’t attend the conference, there will be audio/video/transcripts/further reading. If this works, I’ll have a better way to share all the info from all the awesome events I attend, instead of transcribing conference notes.

(Big thanks to my friend Lauren who designed the logo on the fly!)

Also, the Women’s Media Center’s Progressive Women’s Voices program is still looking for new applicants until this Sunday, Feb. 28th. Carmen and I went through the program in 2008 and found it extremely beneficial and rewarding. Since we need the voices of women of color represented…well, in just about every mainstream space, so apply, apply, apply. They pay for your travel and training, and you learn about blogging, op-ed writing, positioning yourself as an expert, honing your messages, conducting radio interviews, television interviews, writing books, and building your brand. If you didn’t make it in once (there are only 10 slots) apply again. But apply. Or nominate some of the awesome women you know to participate.