links for 2010-03-31

Why Ricky Matters (to me.. and maybe a few other boys)

by Guest Contributor Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, originally published at Hairspray & Fideo and Blabbeando

There’s been a lot of commotion regarding Ricky Martin’s recent coming out statement on his official website. As with most things in life these days, I learned about the news on Facebook. So, I immediately posted about the news as well and quickly joined in the jubilee of queerness and pranced about the office like a middle school-aged boy who accidentally touched hands with his classroom crush. I even committed the blasphemy of comparing the news to that of Health Care Reform and the release of Apple’s iPad (insert sound of angel choir here).

And then, of course, there was the storm of cattiness that followed the news. As a queer Xicano, I admit that sarcasm is built into my genetic code. The survivor of four Christian-themed religions and 500+ years of white supremacist occupation, I find humor, irony and disbelief in most things. Still, yesterday I just wanted to celebrate.

I agree that the fact that Ricky is gay is not all that shocking. Queer men and not long speculated or asserted that he shook his bon bon far too well to be straight. Plus, for us jotos/maricones/patos, there was the added benefit of dreaming him up queer, which somehow put us that much closer to his arms.

Still, as the catty remarks continue, as people boast about how they knew and think he should have done this 10 years ago, or sassy queens dismiss the news as inconsequential, I say, look beyond our borders (geographic, cultural, and age-based) and take a minute to honor the fact that for many, Ricky’s coming out is groundbreaking, perhaps even life-saving.

So Ricky was doing more than living la vida loca; he was, in fact, a loca. To the trained eye, this is just confirmation that our gaydar runs on more than hormones and dreams.

Hormones, dreams and cattiness aside, I challenge the ungleeful remarks about Ricky’s coming out. Continue reading

The Coming Out of Ricky Martin: Reactions

by Guest Contributor Andrés Duque, originally published at Blabbeando

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) has released a statement on Ricky Martin‘s coming out.  It’s a statement from Jarret T. Barrios, the agency’s Executive Director:

When someone like Ricky Martin comes out, hundreds of millions of people now have a cultural connection with an artist, a celebrity and, perhaps most importantly, a father who happens to be gay; His decision to model this kind of openness and honesty can lead to greater acceptance for countless gay people in U.S., in Latin America and worldwide.

Yay!

In the meantime, I did take a gentle swipe at GLAAD’s language usage policies when it came to Ricky Martin describing himself as “homosexual” in my previous post.  That’s because I have long held that the usage of the word “homosexual” is common-place in Latin America: When people use it, they don’t intend it to have a negative connotation.

The word “homosexual” is certainly there in the Spanish-language version of his coming out statement and was probably left intact when someone translated it for the English-language statement to Spanish. They probably didn’t know that it wasn’t kosher to leave it there (I must confess I sometimes translate ‘homosexual’ to ‘gay’ when I do translations from Spanish language articles just as I translate ‘travesti’ to ‘transgender’).

But, as the news broke on Twitterlandia – and elsewhere – I was struck by a certainly understandable divide. Continue reading

How Are We Feeling About the Census?

by Latoya Peterson

census worker

A few weeks ago, Boyfriend and I traveled to Harlem to check out Van Hunt in concert. After a night of too-strong cocktails and screaming out the lyrics to the songs, we walked out of the show – only to be handed a mug and a packet, encouraging participation in the United States 2010 Census. The girl in front of us grabbed a mug, but on the way down the stairs said “Thanks for the free cup, but you won’t be hearing from me, Mr. Government Man!” We cracked up.

Over the past few weeks, special interest organizations have been pushing the full court press about standing up to be counted for the Census – and for good reason. Ensuring the actual headcount (normally determined through census workers and paper ballots) is as complete as it can be is vital to government:

Considering the herculean task of counting, within a few months, every person living in the United States, a 1 percent error rate seems reasonable. But the actual count, not the estimate, is what the government goes by when it distributes money and determines election districts for the next 10 years.

And when the federal government, these days, counts money by the trillions, 1 percent is a lot.

In all, the federal government doled out $447 billion in 2008 that was tied in some measure to the census, according to a study released this month by the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Medicaid counts for 58 percent of money distributed based on population, with transportation, such as roadwork, making up 10 percent more, according to the Brookings study.

The think-tank and research institute estimates the 2010 Census will be the basis for the distribution of nearly $5 trillion in federal money to state and local governments over the next decade.

“The basic, overall count is the foundation for so many funding formulas,” Childers said. “It’s just amazing how often that number appears.”

Continue reading

“The Census: Get Counted” PSA by Arowana Films

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

Last night, I filled out my Census form. Have you filled yours out yet? Here’s a fun PSA just launched by our friends at Arowana Films, who try to break it down in a way people can understand: it all comes down to $$$.

Asian Americans are one of the most likely groups to throw out their Census forms. This only hurts our own community in the long run. Less numbers, less money. Let’s get it right this decade and make sure we GET COUNTED!

The PSA features folks like Far East Movement, Wong Fu, Randall Park and more. With goofy voiceover work from Anson Ho. Watch it here. And spread the word! In 2010, make sure the Asian American community gets counted.

links for 2010-03-30

  • "Why the joke wasn't about channeling one's inner Oleta, which might have skirted the race issue, I don't know. But I do know the comment was made public, and it hurt me and it hurt some friends. A white man was given a chance to explode the box of stereotypes, and instead it became another opportunity to shove him – and singers like me – right back into that box. 'So free her,' indeed."
  • On Saturday, 28 people—the majority of them Latino and Spanish speaking—attended the second meeting of the TransLatinas, a new club at City College’s Mission campus.

    “We’re a group of people who are constantly being attacked by the heterosexual community. I’m tired of it. The attacks I suffer are mostly from the Latino community here in the Mission,” said 47-year-old Brenda Oliveira, a native of Mexico.

    The goal of the group is two fold: to encourage transgender Latinas to take advantage of English, computer, or certificate programs at City College and to educate the straight Latino community about transgender and GLBT issues.

  • "Mass Effect 2’s acceptance of the idea that being a member of a particular race dictates your personality forces the player into an almost comical crisis of liberalism. One can either be a Hawkish bad guy and see the treatment of the Krogan as a useful means to an unavoidable end, or one can be the hand-wringing good guy and accept that the Krogan are a community with their own values, and that we really should not judge their violent natures. What makes this worse is the fact that Mass Effect 2 has a moral choice system built into it, meaning that only the only character with genuine moral agency is the one controlled by the player. This concentration of power gives the game a rather unpleasantly colonial feel as it sets up Humanity as a US-style galactic policeman, bringing truth and justice to squabbling lesser peoples…I kept wanting to swap my character’s battle armour for diplomatic whites and a feathered pith helmet."
  • "if the Census Bureau lists Filipino and even Samoan as distinct races, Hispanics wonder why they — the product of half a millennium of New World miscegenation — aren't considered a race too. 'It's a very big issue,' says Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy in New York City and a community adviser to the Census. 'A lot of Hispanics find the black-white option offensive, and they're asserting their own racial uniqueness.'

    "Nor are they alone. Arabs, who would seem to have an even stronger race claim than Hispanics do, are trumpeting their own write-in campaign because the Census by default counts them as white — and the bureau announced this week that it has no intention of changing that policy in 2010."

  • "In the light of such valiant resistance, it seems well-nigh incredible that some five million Negroes have turned their backs on their own race and are passing as white. For almost a quarter of a century, this fantastic lie has been lived by large groups of Negroes with no sign of abatement despite the strong gains that have been made by the champions of anti-segregation." 
  • "But it's not just the contemporary slavery examples one finds inside the box truck that educates the visitors. The museum is designed to look at the history of slavery and forced labor — the evolution of it — and the fact that there has never been a period in Florida agriculture when there wasn't some form of forced labor. The exhibit was vetted by historians, slavery experts, economists and other academics, including Nation editorial board member Eric Foner who said, 'A century and a half after the Civil War, forms of slavery continue to exist in the world, including in the United States. This Mobile Museum brings to light this modern tragedy and should inspire us to take action against it.'"

Social Capital and Denying the Pain of Black Women

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

Neo-soul singer and actress Jill Scott is taking some undeserved heat (IMHO) for her opinion piece on interracial marriage that appears in the current issue of Essence. Now, let me state for the record. I have NO PROBLEM with interracial relationships. We would all do better to evaluate people based on our shared values and interests rather than skin color. Back in my single days, I was an equal opportunity dater. Despite arguments to the contrary, I’m not so sure Jill Scott is opposed to interracial dating either.

In this month’s Essence, Scott writes an opinion piece attempting to explain the outrage expressed by some Essence readers when Reggie Bush appeared on the magazine’s cover. At the time, some black women were offended that Bush, who is dating a white woman (Kim Kardashian), would be lauded on the cover of a magazine for black women. While I don’t agree with this sentiment, I understand where it is coming from. And so does Scott. She writes about “wincing” when a new friend–an accomplished black man–revealed that he is married to a white woman:
Was I jealous? Did the reality of his relationship somehow diminish his soul’s credibility? The answer is not simple. One could easily dispel the wince as racist or separatist, but that’s not how I was brought up. I was reared in a Jehovah’s Witness household. I was taught that every man should be judged by his deeds and not his color, and I firmly stand where my grandmother left me. African people worldwide are known to be welcoming and open-minded. We share our culture sometimes to our own peril and most of us love the very notion of love. My position is that for women of color, this very common “wince” has solely to do with the African story in America.
When our people were enslaved, “Massa” placed his Caucasian woman on a pedestal. She was spoiled, revered and angelic, while the Black slave woman was overworked, beaten, raped and farmed out like cattle to be mated. She was nothing and neither was our Black man. As slavery died for the greater good of America, and the movement for equality sputtered to life, the White woman was on the cover of every American magazine. She was the dazzling jewel on every movie screen, the glory of every commercial and television show. She was unequivocally the standard of beauty for this country, firmly unattainable to anyone not of her race. We daughters of the dust were seen as ugly, nappy mammies, good for day work and unwanted children, while our men were thought to be thieving, sex-hungry animals with limited brain capacity. Read more…

Yes, the days of slavery are long past, but this view of black women as less desirable, less beautiful, less feminine and less valuable than white women persists. It is illustrated by the women who are featured on mainstream magazine covers…and those who are not (Vanity Fair anyone?). It is confirmed by the missing and exploited women that are covered 24/7 on cable news…and those who are not. It is underscored by statistics that reveal who is likely to marry…and who is not.

Black men are not immune to the message that black women are “less than.” Black women know this. We know this because we live it.

NDN in the North

By Guest Contributor Aaminah Al-Naksibendi, originally posted at Anishinaabekwe

Note from Cecilia, owner of Anishnaabekwe: This is a guest post by Aaminah Al-Naksibendi. She is a Michigander, mother, daughter, sister, artist, writer, activist, truth teller, rebel and NDN. I asked her to write a guest post because of my utter exhaustion around what happened to me this week. So I thank her with all my heart for helping me to speak and share this story when my voice is drenched in sorrow, depression and dealing with the effects of racism in the 21st century.

I grew up in Michigan, adopted by a white family. As a young girl I attended NDN pow wows, African American cultural festivals and the Hispanic festival in our West Michigan city. My parents attempted to raise us with multi-cultural friends, in multi-cultural public schools, and attending multi-cultural churches. As a woman, I had a long relationship with a fellow NDN who had gone to school with and remained friends with my brother. We had a son together before we separated.

When my son was about 7 months old, I started dating a Zhaganaash man whose family lived in Benzie County, up just north of Traverse City. For many reasons, I was not really liked by his overbearing mother, but we attempted to build bridges and visited up there several times before we married in December and his family refused to attend and cut communication with him.

Needless to say, those visits up north were very uncomfortable in many ways. But one thing that was especially difficult for me was the complete lack of color. My fiancée talked about wanting to move up north. We loved the wooded areas, the idea of living just outside a small town, and the literally Crystal-like water of the lake – cleanest water I have ever seen. But the idea of being surrounded by only white people made me really uncomfortable. I wasn’t Muslim at the time, and I am pale (and as a baby my son was blond and pale too) so I was able to “pass” as white and no one recognized us as NDN. I didn’t experience personal racial attacks while visiting (except by my fiancée’s mother of course) and out in the community, though there was one time when a shop keeper asked my fiancée “what” I was and he answered that I was Irish like him. I do also recall overhearing jokes about Blacks, “wetbacks”, and NDNs. Even so, my discomfort stemmed more from the complete lack of color, and not being able to imagine raising my son not only completely outside his own culture, but also without the benefit of a multi-cultural environment and amongst people who were clearly hostile to people of color.

There was one time, only one, where I saw any other color in that town. It was when a Black girl accompanied a white foster family who was visiting the town on vacation. We ran into them when we went to have lunch in a little burger shack near the lake. The little blonde children of the family were in bathing suits, and the Black girl was in sloppy cut off shorts and an oversized none-too-clean t-shirt. When the family’s number was called to pick up their food she got up to serve everyone. I didn’t hear the mother or father say that wasn’t necessary or even thank her, and they certainly weren’t jumping up to help. I lost my appetite and that was the day I declared there was no way I could live there. My fiancée insisted that since they were only visiting their cabin in the summer, that family didn’t represent the year-round residents, but I will never forget what it represented to me. Between that and his family, I never again was able to bring myself to visit.

When my NDN sister Cecelia told me about moving up north, my first thought was discomfort but of course I didn’t want to spoil her plans with my misgivings so instead I congratulated her. I wanted to believe that things have really changed in the last dozen years and there would be more color in the north. Continue reading