Quoted: Toi Derricotte on Cave Canem and Post-Racialism

By Thea Lim

Toi Derricotte is one of the founders of the retreat for black poets, Cave Canem. Here are some excerpts of an interview with her by Elizabeth Hoover, for Sampsonia Way:

Derricotte: When I first started out as a poet, I was afraid of going to an artist colony because I was always the only person of color. The first time I went to one was in 1984. The day I arrived another black poet left. My whole time there, I was praying that another black poet wouldn’t come on the day I left—and they did. That’s the way people integrated then: one person at a time. It was degrading and not very compassionate.

Cave Canem gives poets a chance to talk about these types of experiences and form their own community. This way they know they are not alone and they are much more comfortable even in situations where they are the only person of color.

Hoover: Since the election of President Barak Obama there has been a lot of talk that we are in a “post-racial age.” Why do you think Cave Canem is still relevant?

Derricotte: Because we are not post-racial. This year at the Associated Writers Program’s conference almost no white people came to the Cave Canem panel. Things have changed in the sense that a lot of poets of color have been published and are teaching at great schools, but you can’t say that American literature represents in an integrated way the diverse voices of the American people. There are still these separations that have to do with class and money and power and race and all those things.

Hoover: Does Cave Canem implicitly support that segregation by being exclusive to black writers?

Derricotte: Look, the integration plan just hasn’t worked. In fact, this has worked better. There is more integration of black writers than before and that has to do with the visibility of Cave Canem. We have high quality writers because the program is so competitive. We get 150 applicants for 20 spots. People can’t buy their way in because we don’t charge tuition.

It also has to do with the way Cave Canem empowers its writers. Writers don’t grow in solitude. They get their confidence and they study their subjects in dialogue with other writers. If black writers are being forced into narrow categories then that dialogue is cut off. When you have brilliant people discussing literature or just the issues of being alive today, it’s very inspiring and it encourages you to keep writing.

Read the whole interview here.

Photo credit: by Alison Meyers, from Sampsonia Way

PMC Live Blogging – Michael Eric Dyson/Silverdocs/Community Technology

by Latoya Peterson

I’m here at Silverdocs, liveblogging this panel on Building Community through Technology. The panelists are Maxie Jackson III, President, National Federation of Community Broadcasters; Stephen Gong, Center for Asian American Media; Jessica Clark, Center for Social Media; Charlotte Spann, of Anacostia High School; Khalil Gill, of the Public Media Corps; and moderated by Michael Eric Dyson.

Pasttime Paradise: Down-Home Racism In “Post-Racial” America

By Guest Contributor Fiqah, originally published at Possum Stew

I recently had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans for the very first time.  Having grown up in South Florida,  the city by the river was intriguing, but not as big a draw for me as the metropolises that grace the Eastern seaboard. Going to New Orleans – with its similar swamps, oppressive torpor, casual appropriation of local Native American culture, and alligator jerky – sounded about as appealing as hanging out with a rowdy, sweaty cousin. However, years of being regaled with tales of every manner of fun that could be had in the Big Easy had intrigued me. NO ONE comes home without an epic anecdote.  More than one jaded and well-travelled New Yorker in my circle got that faraway look in their eyes talking about New Orleans.   My recent desire to explore the regional diversity of Southern cultures (I blame True Blood) and shake off some one-horse-town dust pretty much sealed the deal.  So, with a deep breath and a few mouse clicks, I was ready to go.

And New Orleans didn’t disappoint. From the start, I was smitten: by the architecture, the streetcars, the museums, the sweetness of the regional drawl, the overpriced souvenir shops, the heavenly food, the decidedly French celebration of debauchery, and (sweet merciful McGillicutty!) the take away cup.  By the second day of my trip I was calculating moving and living expenses. (Really. I was.)  These were the thoughts that danced merrily in my little tourist head as I strolled down Chartres Street on my way from viewing the grounds of the Saint Louis Cathedral.  I was feeling better than I had in weeks, maybe even months.  So I was most unprepared to meet one resident of New Orleans who I would not soon forget.

This is Nola Mae.

Continue reading

Discovering “Great” Pinoy Funk

By Guest Contributor Ninoy Brown, originally published at FOBBDeep

Recently, a personal mission of mine has been to scour for Pinoy funk.  Music from the Philippines, as well as from Filipinos living abroad.  Having been exposed to more funk recently, since I’ve surrounded myself with lockers and boogaloo style dancers, I’ve been wanting to expand beyond Kano’s “I’m Ready” and Herbie Hancock’s “Ready or Not”.  Rather than deciding to make this task easy for myself, why not create a challenge and find some funky ass Pinoy cuts?

The latest discovery: a pre-gentrified SF Mission District funk group named Dakila.

Dakila is a ’70s era group with which I had no prior knowledge.  In a world where online commentary is a sea of ignorance and hatred, the last place one might try to find information about a group would be in the YouTube comments section.  It appears I need to have more faith in this forum because this is where I found most of my information regarding the family connected octet, consisting of David Bustamante (guitar), Bert Ancheta (guitar), Fred Ancheta (bass guitar), Frank Magtoto (drums), Romeo Bustamante (organ), Carlos Badia (congas), Michael Gopaul (timbales).

Their only album, Dakila, was released in 1972 and recorded in San Mateo and released by Epic Records.  With a Latin infused rock/funk sound reminiscent of Santana, Dakila also brought in Filipino influences, rockin’ in Tagalog on some of the tracks.  I wish I knew more about this era and other Fil Ams doing music at the time, as it would be interesting to know who, and even how many, folks were singing Tagalog on a major label release.

On the protest chant inspired track “Makibaka/Ikalat” (dare to struggle/spread it around), Dakila sang for struggle along with unity.  Considering that this album dropped in 1972, a year that lives in infamy in the Philippines as a year that martial law was declared, I can only wonder, at this point, whether or not the message was connected back to what was going on in the Philippines.  “El Dubi” is nice 5 minute and 47 second instrumental track that features some hard breaks that scream to be sampled.

According to the YouTube comments, at least one of the members have passed, but it would be a blessing to see this group reunited, especially for folks who just got hipped to their flavor, such as myself.

Dakila – “Makibaka/Ikalat”

Dakila – “El Dubi”

All credit due to Wilfred for schoolin me on hella old school Pinoy music. He’s in a trippy band called The ElectricSonic Chamber.  You should check them out.

links for 2010-06-24

  • "A mainstay of Harlem history is in danger of being dismantled. The collection of materials at the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture may be partitioned and sent to various branches of the New York Public Library. This in addition to the possibility of the Center’s collections being sent off to another research library should be an issue of great concern for the Harlem community in particular, and those in the African Diaspora in general. There is even talk of renaming the facility."
  • "Through the power of diverse narratives, the filmmakers also hope to dispel various misconceptions of hafu identity. '(Identity) is really hard to analyze and categorize. That's why narratives are the best tool to get the stories out, for people to decide for themselves from the 'real world,' the people being interviewed,' says Lise."
  • "First, it must be mentioned that if this is in fact a move in support of the natural beauty of women, it is the 'natural' white female that is celebrated. There is a glaring lack of diversity on the company's site and in ads. Sure, sure, there are a few sprinklings of brown about, but more often than not the representations are quite fair and with "that good hair." Many of the girls look multiracial and while I am fully in support of this (as a multiracial woman myself), there is a definite avoidance in AA ads of anything that can be solidly identified as plain ol' Black. The lighter the skin, the nicer the hair— the better."
  • "Earlier this week, production on the third film in the popular Harold and Kumar series began. The film is called A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas and will once again feature John Cho and Kal Penn as the stoned title characters. There’s been word that comedian Patton Oswalt has joined the cast and it’s also been confirmed that Neil Patrick Harris will make a “glorious” return!"
  • "Two years ago almost to the day, much was made of the Canadian government’s Statement of Apology to survivors of the country’s ‘Indian’ residential schools, where the only thing Indian about these grievous institutions were the children forced into them…Forgive me if I fail to see how, post-Apology, the colonial practices of old have been replaced in any significant way by something different or better in this country. On-reserve child welfare systems reportedly receiving 22% less funding than their off-reserve counterparts. A federal promise to consider abiding by “international standards for the treatment of indigenous peoples” amounting to little more than an effectively empty ‘endorsement.’"

PMC Live Blogs

by Latoya Peterson

This is the live feed for mapping communities. You can send in questions while I am blogging by using the text box in the software. When I stop blogging (which will be soon), the box will close, but you can still leave comments the normal way.

Stuff White People Do: Pose In Cowboy Drag

By guest contributor Macon D., originally published at Stuff White People Do

Most of the time, I’m like just about everyone else in at least one way — I don’t much care who occupies the position of “Alabama Agricultural Commissioner.” In fact, I didn’t even know such a position exists. But then I saw a couple of ads for Dale Peterson, a current GOP candidate for Alabama Ag Commish. Peterson’s ads immediately register as very, very “white” to me, and now I’m trying to count the ways.

Among the most obvious appeals to conservative white voters here is the nostalgic evocation of the Independent (White) Cowboy Myth. If you say “cowboy” to most white Americans, they’ll immediately think of a hat-wearing, horse-riding white man. And yet, as Mel at BroadSnark explains (in a post on “White America’s Existential Identity Crisis”), real cowboys weren’t actually all that white, nor all that independent:

There is a certain segment of the American population that really believes in the American foundational myths. They identify with them. They believe that America was built by a handful of white, Christian, men with exceptional morals. Their America is the country that showed the world democracy, saved the Jews in World War II, and tore down the Berlin wall.

These people have always fought changes to their mythology. They have always resented those of us who pushed to complicate those myths with the realities of slavery, Native American genocide, imperial war in the Philippines, invasions of Latin American countries, and secret arms deals.

And we have been so busy fighting them to have our stories and histories included in the American story that we sometimes forget why the myths were invented in the first place.

No myth illustrates the slight of hand behind our national mythology quite like the myth of the cowboy. In this mythology, the cowboy is a white man. He is a crusty frontiersman taming the west and paving the way for civilization. He is the good guy fighting the dangerous Indian. He is free and independent. He is in charge of his own destiny.

Peterson’s follow-up ad is even, um . . . better? Continue reading