links for 2010-05-31

  • "8). Unlike Irish immigrants, who predominantly entered the United States via the Ellis Island immigration center, most Asian immigrants entered America by way of Angel Island Immigration Station. Unlike at Ellis Island, where immigrants might spend between two and five hours waiting to be processed, the Angel Island facility's unspoken goal was to limit the flow of Asian immigrants into the country. Between 1910 and 1940, many prospective Asian immigrants were detained for as long as two years at Angel Island, stymied by U.S. immigration officials hoping to find reasons to deport them. Some of the detainees wrote poems in Chinese on the walls of the Angel Island detention facility; these poems have since been translated and collected into anthologies."
  • "First of all, the whitewashing is ridiculous. It’s embarrassing from the first few minutes, which shows a plucky young white boy (Dastan as a child) standing up to the cruel Persian guards who beat another street orphan for getting in the way of a horse. Naturally, this act of heroism causes the kindly King to adopt him as a son (in addition to his two biological sons, although their mother is never mentioned at all).

    The only people of color in the film are villains, except for Dastan’s plucky sidekick, who is killed off in the first 15 minutes and immediately forgotten about. (There are some white villains, but there are no people of color who are heroes throughout the entire film.)"

  • "On his tumblr blog (mildly NSFW language), Donald posted about his desire to play the webslinger, with a slightly ridiculous photoshopped image of himself. Then some fans made a facebook group, which at press time has over 1200 members. While that won’t exactly get him cast, it’s not bad for about 12 hours. His hashtag got to the point where it was trending #2 in Chicago and #3 in NYC- no small feat."
  • On his HBO show, Bill Maher did a bit about what he thinks a real black president should do: "I thought when we elected a black president, we were going to get a black president. You know, this [BP oil spill] is where I want a real black president. I want him in a meeting with the BP CEOs, you know, where he lifts up his shirt where you can see the gun in his pants. That's — (in black man voice) 'we've got a motherfu**ing problem here?' Shoot somebody in the foot."
  • A Texas debt collection company had a unique style for reminder voicemails to one black customer. "This is your motherfucking wake-up call you little lazy ass bitch. Get your motherfucking n***** ass up and go pick some motherfucking cotton fields."… [Allen] Jones sued and was awarded $50,000 for mental anguish and a whopping $1.5m in punitive damages.
  • [NAACP] president Benjamin Todd Jealous said the 101-year-old civil rights organization is moving in a new direction to draw younger members and to go beyond black issues. Indeed for the first time in NAACP's history, more than a dozen large chapters nationwide have presidents who are white, Latino, Native American or Asian. And two weeks ago, the NAACP joined the legal battle against Arizona's controversial immigration law, which some view as discriminatory against Hispanics.
  • Now ethnic-sounding names are making a comeback. Some naming experts have cited an uptick in names such as Barack, inspired by President Barack Obama.
    Parents from immigrant families may give their children an ethnic name to remain tied to their culture, said Hannah Emery, a graduate student of sociology at the University of California-Berkeley…Biracial and multiracial couples are more careful of the names they select for their children because they want the name to reflect different ethnic backgrounds, she said. So what's the big deal about picking the right name? If some academic studies are correct, a name can have consequences for a person's job, residency and even school grades. One of the most famous studies comes from the University of Chicago in 2003. Professors reported children with "black-sounding" names such as Lakisha and Jamal are 50 percent less likely to receive a call back for a job interview compared to "white-sounding" names such as Emily or Greg.

links for 2010-05-30

  • “When people see a white girl wearing a niqab they assume I’ve stuck my fingers up at my own culture to ‘follow a bunch of Asians’. I’ve even had teenage boys shout at me in the street, ‘Get that s*** off your head, you white bastard.’ After the London bombings, I was scared to walk about in the streets for fear of retaliation."
  • "Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were tried and found guilty of sodomy and indecency earlier this month in a move that sparked international condemnation.

    But after talking with Ban today, Malawi's president, Bingu wa Mutharika, announced the pair would be freed."

  • "According to Nickelodeon, Dora was originally created in reaction to the underrepresentation of Latinos in the media. In response to the defamation of Dora in these images, Nickelodeon has taken a neutral stance, calling her a “citizen of the world” and that her home is not in any one place. Whether she was created to be a representation in America or not, it has happened. At such a fragile time in our nation’s history, when an innocent cartoon character is defaced all in the name of hatred, Nickelodeon, her creator, should stand against this behavior – for Dora and for all. We’re thinking a new episode is in order."
  • "Faiza Ali, of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the ads were based on a false premise that people faced coercion to remain with Islam. She said Muslims believe faith that is forced is not true belief.

    "Geller is free to say what she likes, just as concerned community members are free to criticize her motives," Ali said.

    Geller has a history of speaking out against Muslims, and the ads are "a smoke screen to advance her long-standing history of anti-Muslim bigotry," Ali said.

    Geller said she had no problem with Muslims, but was working to "maintain the separation of mosque and state."

  • "Representative Luis V. Gutierrez was all set to be a friend of the Obama administration, a point man for the White House among Latinos. A nine-term Democrat, he had cut his political teeth in the wards of Chicago, just as Barack Obama did, and the two knew each other from their parallel early careers in Illinois.

    But instead of a favorite ally, Mr. Gutierrez has become a noisy, needling outsider — and not just in the halls of Congress. Saying he was fed up with the president not leading an overhaul of immigration laws, Mr. Gutierrez was arrested along with more than 30 other protesters on May 1 after a sit-in in front of the White House."

  • "The Sheriff called the mobilization "Operation Third Option," and said it was about fighting drugs. However, community members say that Sheriff Franklin's actions are part of an orchestrated revenge for the local civil rights protests that won freedom for six Black high school students – known internationally as the Jena Six – who had been charged with attempted murder for a school fight.

    One thing is clear: The Sheriff spent massive resources. Yet officers seized no contraband. Together with District Attorney Reed Walters, Sheriff Franklin has said he is seeking maximum penalties for people charged with small-time offenses. Further, in a parish that is 85 percent white, his actions have almost exclusively targeted African Americans."

  • "In England, Mr. Franks, 45, had been a financial adviser, and Mrs. Franks, 42, worked as a chef. But they were not happy and decided in 2000 that they wanted to open a restaurant in Maine, where they spent many vacations and married.

    While they came to pursue the American Dream, they said, and wanted to become Americans, they are now fed up with what they see as an arbitrary system that had allowed them to run a business for almost a decade until the day it did not.

    “I can honestly see why people come into the country illegally, because to do it legally is almost impossible,” Mr. Franks said from Nova Scotia.

    “They have tossed us aside like a used tissue,” he said."

  • "A handful of small, private women’s colleges, including Alverno College in Milwaukee, the College of New Rochelle in New York and Trinity Washington University in Washington, are shifting to enrolling and graduating low-income minority students.

    The change was made in the past two decades largely as a survival tactic for small colleges in dire straits. Despite that, the institutions and observers say the shift is, at its core, another take on the mission of a women’s college.

    “Women’s colleges were founded in the mid-1800s because of access. Women couldn’t go to college, by and large,” said Susan E. Lennon, executive director of the Women’s College Coalition. “There’s still an access issue. And while women’s colleges are small in number, they’re doing some extraordinary and in some cases revolutionary work that I think is a great model, not just for educating women, but for educating women who have been traditionally underrepresented.”

links for 2010-05-28

Quoted: Wajahat Ali on “Sex and the City 2‘s stunning Muslim clichés”

Michael Patrick King’s exquisitely tone-deaf movie is cinematic Viagra for Western cultural imperialists who still ignorantly and inaccurately paint the entire Middle East (and Iran) as a Shangri La in desperate need of liberation from ignorant, backward natives. Historian Bernard Lewis, the 93-year-old Hall of Fame Orientalist and author of such nuanced gems as “The Arabs in History” and “Islam and the West,” would probably die of priapism if he saw this movie. It’s like the cinematic progeny of “Not Without My Daughter” and “Arabian Nights” with a makeover by Valentino. Forget the oppressed women of Abu Dhabi. Let’s buy more bling for the burqa!

Our four female cultural avatars, like imperialistic Barbies, milk Abu Dhabi for leisure and hedonism without making any discernible, concrete efforts to learn about her people and their daily lives. An exception is Miranda, whose IQ drops about 100 points as she dilutes the vast complexities of a diverse culture into sound bites like this: “‘Hanh Gee’ means ‘yes’ in Arabic!”

Only it doesn’t — it’s Hindi and Punjabi, which is spoken by South Asians. […]

If our cultural ambassadors truly cared about saving Muslim women, they surely would try to help them during the film’s interminable two and half hour running time, no? Sadly, instead, these incredibly shallow mock-feminists can’t even bother to have one decent conversation with a Muslim woman, because they’re too immersed in picnics on the desert and singing Arab disco karaoke renditions of “I Am Woman.” In fact, Abu Dhabi is just peachy when it’s a fantasy land where they ride around in limos and get comped an extravagantly vulgar $22,000 hotel suite. However, only when that materialism is taken away do they worry, in only the most superficial way, about sexual hypocrisy and women’s oppression.

— From “Sex and the City 2’s” stunning Muslim clichés, published at Salon

(Thanks to Fatemeh and Elton for the tip!)

Coming Attraction: After The Cup in L.A. Friday

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

I just wanted to tip our readers in the L.A. area off about the West Coast premiere of After The Cup: Sons of Sakhnin United, which has been garnering praise around the documentary circuit for its’ story about Bnei Sakhnin F.C., a football team based out of the city of Sakhnin, an Israeli town that is home to more than 25,000 Arab Israelis. The team’s roster is comprised of both Arabs and Jews, and though some elements in the film hew close to more traditional “underdog” fare – because Sakhnin is a small club, for example, its’ facilities aren’t as modern as its’ competitors – it does change up the formula in one significant way: After The Cup deals with Sakhnin in the season after it won the Israeli Premier League’s championship, the State Cup. Slight spoiler here: the team soon finds it really is harder to stay on top than to get there.

Unfortunately, I can’t make the premiere – I live too far away – but if any of our readers can catch it this weekend, I’d be interested in getting your take on the film in this thread.

links for 2010-05-27

  • "Racial and gender equality mean an equal opportunity to act a fool on the international stage. But that belies a larger question.. Do Black girls have the option of being “different.” Whimsical. Creative. Are our bodies only allowed to be shoved into some sexual context anytime they are displayed? To some people what Venus Williams wore on the first day of the French Open was obscene. I was ready to hop on the bandwagon with you. Until I actually looked at other pictures of the “outfit” and quite frankly its more odd than obscene in fact when viewed inlight of the apparel for both men and women across all sports, its rather boring. "

Aiyana Stanley-Jones, South Philadelphia High, and Solving the News Problem

by Latoya Peterson

Earlier this month, I was mulling over a piece in The Atlantic about the decline of the news, and Google’s attempts to assist the ailing industry. I found this tidbit fascinating:

“If you were starting from scratch, you could never possibly justify this business model,” Hal Varian [Google’s chief economist ] said, in a variation on a familiar tech-world riff about the print-journalism business. “Grow trees—then grind them up, and truck big rolls of paper down from Canada? Then run them through enormously expensive machinery, hand-deliver them overnight to thousands of doorsteps, and leave more on newsstands, where the surplus is out of date immediately and must be thrown away? Who would say that made sense?” The old-tech wastefulness of the process is obvious, but Varian added a less familiar point. Burdened as they are with these “legacy” print costs, newspapers typically spend about 15 percent of their revenue on what, to the Internet world, are their only valuable assets: the people who report, analyze, and edit the news. Varian cited a study by the industry analyst Harold Vogel showing that the figure might reach 35 percent if you included all administrative, promotional, and other “brand”-related expenses. But most of the money a typical newspaper spends is for the old-tech physical work of hauling paper around. Buying raw newsprint and using it costs more than the typical newspaper’s entire editorial staff. (The pattern is different at the two elite national papers, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. They each spend more on edit staff than on newsprint, which is part of the reason their brands are among the most likely to survive the current hard times.)

Krishna Bharat (Distinguished Researcher at Google) puts an even finer point on the problems with the existing news model. Bharat runs Google News, the aggregator that sifts through “25,000 sources in some 25 languages” daily. And considering he has watched the type of news trends that receive coverage, his next comments are old news to many of us dissatisfied with how our communities are portrayed in the mainstream media, but hopefully illuminating to those in the industry:

In this role, he sees more of the world’s news coverage daily than practically anyone else on Earth. I asked him what he had learned about the news business.

He hesitated for a minute, as if wanting to be very careful about making a potentially offensive point. Then he said that what astonished him was the predictable and pack-like response of most of the world’s news outlets to most stories. Or, more positively, how much opportunity he saw for anyone who was willing to try a different approach.

The Google News front page is a kind of air-traffic-control center for the movement of stories across the world’s media, in real time. “Usually, you see essentially the same approach taken by a thousand publications at the same time,” he told me. “Once something has been observed, nearly everyone says approximately the same thing.” He didn’t mean that the publications were linking to one another or syndicating their stories. Rather, their conventions and instincts made them all emphasize the same things. This could be reassuring, in indicating some consensus on what the “important” stories were. But Bharat said it also indicated a faddishness of coverage—when Michael Jackson dies, other things cease to matter—and a redundancy that journalism could no longer afford. “It makes you wonder, is there a better way?” he asked. “Why is it that a thousand people come up with approximately the same reading of matters? Why couldn’t there be five readings? And meanwhile use that energy to observe something else, equally important, that is currently being neglected.” He said this was not a purely theoretical question. “I believe the news industry is finding that it will not be able to sustain producing highly similar articles.”

I’ve been thinking about this in light of the Stanley-Jones tragedy, and in light of South Philadelphia High School. Continue reading

The Lady Is A Tramp: Aiyana Stanley-Jones at the Altar of the Media

by Special Correspondent Andrea Plaid, originally published at Bitch Magazine

I’m taking a moment from my usual sexing-it-up posts because of the little girl pictured above.

For those who don’t know, her name is Aiyana Stanley Jones. And she’s dead. Her family just buried her this week.

She didn’t die from leukemia or in a drunk-driving accident or at the hands of an abusive or negligent parent or guardian.

She died for the sake of entertainment. Continue reading