links for 2010-07-02

  • "Today is the birthday of the mother of the trans rights movement as we call her, Sylvia Rae Rivera.

    "She was born in New York City on this date in 1951 to parents of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan extraction, and was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance.

    "She also founded with her friend Marsha P. Johnson STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), a group focused on helping homeless young street transwomen.

    "Sylvia lost her battle with cancer in February 2002, but her memory will live on through the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and the MCC's Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry named in her honor."

  • "Speaking to my vecinos on the playground last night, I couldn’t find anyone in the immigrant community that was moved. There was a sense of appreciation that the issue was raised by the president and pushed into the mainstream media light for a brief moment, but was there any hope that soon there would be a bill? Not really."
  • "Because entrance to the best grandes écoles effectively guarantees top jobs for life, the government is prodding the schools to set a goal of increasing the percentage of scholarship students to 30 percent — more than three times the current ratio at the most selective schools. But the effort is being met with concerns from the grandes écoles, who fear it could dilute standards, and is stirring anger among the French at large, who fear it runs counter to a French ideal of a meritocracy blind to race, religion and ethnicity."
  • "Today, we call on our North American social movements unite with clarity that the root causes of joblessness and the housing crisis in our cities; the toxic contamination of our air, water, soil and climate, and ecosystems; and the displacement and criminalization of our communities are the same. These root causes—capitalism, imperialism, and the systems of oppression that uphold them– are the same root causes that put the earth’s ability to sustain human life in peril. We are forging a new movement of movements in which grassroots groups in frontline communities provide key leadership for a just resolve to our global crisis, working in concert with environmentalists, policy advocates, artists, healers, and more."
  • A global Protestant body representing 80 million Christians has issued an apology for the role played by churches in perpetrating abuse against Native Americans, First Nations and other Indigenous peoples.

    "We … repent of our history littered with ways in which we have betrayed Gospel values of justice, fairness, and love for our neighbour … by the confiscation of land, and mass killings," delegates at the founding meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches said in a June 26 statement.

  • "The city’s non-Hispanic white population is now 35 percent, because of an influx of nonwhite immigrants and other demographic changes in the past two decades.

    "But Mr. Bloomberg presides over an administration in which more than 70 percent of the senior jobs are held by whites, and he has failed to improve on the oft-criticized diversity record of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani."

An Open Letter to Detractors

By Guest Contributor Michael Le, cross-posted from

I’d like the chance to explain what is about. Why are we boycotting Paramount’s The Last Airbender? Why are we angry about the production’s casting practices?

I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding here and my hope is that if you have the time to read my piece, you’ll find that we’re reasonable folks with valid concerns. We’re not just whistle-blowing PC police or crazy “reverse racists.”

Even if I don’t convince you to go out and buy a Racebending shirt, I hope that by the end, you respect our position more, and can understand where we’re coming from even if you don’t agree.

If you’re pressed for time and the length of this piece annoys you, we have a five-minute video series explaining our position, though it won’t address everything in this piece:”>Why Are People Upset About Airbender?

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links for 2010-07-01

M. Night vs. The Internet: The Airbender Mash-up

Compiled by Site Lead Arturo R. García

Recently M. Night Shyamalan, director of The Last Airbender, provided another lengthy response, though not by name, to the concerns raised by the Racebending campaign. While it’s good to read both sides of the story, of course, it’s unfortunate we never got to see the issue discussed in the most fitting manner: a public debate. As an experiment, though, here’s Shyamalan’s comments laid out alongside some notable posts about the film’s casting issues by Q. Le, Gene Luen Yang, Angry Asian Man and Derek Kirk Kim.

Q. Le: Perhaps the greatest offense that the “heroic” characters are portrayed by lily White actors while the “villainous” characters are portrayed dark-skinned Indian actors in lieu of the fact that all the characters have distinctly Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian and Inuit characteristics regardless of their “good” or “badness.”

M Night Shyamalan: Well, you caught me. I’m the face of racism. I’m always surprised at the level of misunderstanding, the sensitivities that exist. As an Asian-American, it bothers me when people take all of their passion and rightful indignation about the subject and then misplace it. Here’s the reality: first of all, the Uncle Iroh character is the Yoda character in the movie, and it would be like saying that Yoda was a villain. So he’s Persian.

And Dev Patel is the actual hero of the series, and he’s Indian, OK? The whole point of the movie is that there isn’t any bad or good. The irony is that I’m playing on the exact prejudices that the people who are claiming I’m racist are doing. They immediately assume that everyone with dark skin is a villain. That was an incredibly racist assumption which as it turns out is completely incorrect.

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Quotable: Feministing On Joel Stein

I suppose when you come across a writer so engulfed in snark, so above the tide, so cutting edge that it is almost impossible to touch their well thought out and clearly obvious humor that you find yourself paused, unable to dissect with the surgical precision of cutting analysis you have come to expect of Feministing, you have to at least stop and acknowledge that the author was kind of intelligent, had a strong point of view and at least made you LOL. I really think Joel Stein was hoping he would get that kind of reaction about his column in this week’s TIME about his painful realization that his town was overrun by “Indians,” a deeply sad look into his psyche, almost reminiscent of the Michael Richards moment, only Stein was writing…so you would think he had more time to do just that. There are few things sadder than reading a writer that is so caught up in their own ego, racism and bad writing that they don’t even have the foresight to see how poorly their piece has not only come across but will be received. The only thing sadder is that TIME chose to run it.

– From No Hee Hee, Ha Ha, For Me Joel Stein, by Samhita Mukhopadhyay