links for 2010-08-18

  • "Unfortunately the pattern is all too common. If people of color complain about racism and discrimination in rural Georgia, no one is surprised. In fact, to many the image is comforting as it fulfills every stereotype, regional and political, that so many folks continue to carry around regarding who the bad guys are.

    But suggest that racism and discrimination are also significant problems in more 'progressive spaces,' even among self-proclaimed liberals and leftists themselves—and that it might be unearthed in our political movements—and prepare to be met with icy stares, or worse, a self-righteous vitriol that seeks to separate 'real racism' (the right-wing kind) from not-so-real racism (the kind we on the left sometimes foster). And know that before long, someone will admonish you to focus on the 'real enemy,' rather than fighting amongst ourselves. 'What we need is unity,' these voices say, 'and all that talk about racism on the left just divides us further.'”

  • "And yet, for all the intensity and depth of that support, the debate around whaling exists in a strangely ahistorical and decontextualized space, a self-righteousness sealing itself off from examination or self-reflection. The whales in question are often referred to here as 'our whales,' suggesting a debate as much about ownership and dominion of the seas as any narrower environmental concern. And, for all that these associations may be unwelcome, they point to unsettling traditions in the history of Japanese-Australasian relations. There is a worrying undercurrent of anti-Asian racism that permeates Sea Shepherd's publicity and arguments. Most people, rightly, oppose whaling. The Sea Shepherd campaign connects this genuine environmental concern to much older, and dangerous, currents of thought in Australian and New Zealand politics: nationalism, especially 'left' nationalism, and the racism that accompanies it."
  • "Unlike those streets, often in historically black or poor neighborhoods, or both, Dr. King Avenue was previously woods where bears wandered. It does not have an extensive human history, and that is part of the problem.

    “'It is on the periphery of the city,' said the Rev. Alonzo B. Patterson of the predominantly nonwhite Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church here. 'It was put there because it disturbed the minimal amount of people.'”

  • All feminism has so far proven itself better at identifying oppression than in identifying freedom – and it is in this gap that the debates arise. To western feminists, freedom has come to mean, among other things, sexual liberation. Try to transpose a similar approach to other parts of the world and you'll find that most women see this as another form of sexual exploitation and oppression, pointing out that true freedom involves the freedom from sexualisation.

    These positions, while miles apart, are not irreconcilable: both inherently recognise that some form of social oppression is denying women the right to exist as whole human beings, rather than purely sexual or asexual objects.

  • "When results from the 2010 tests, which state officials said presented a more accurate portrayal of students’ abilities, were released last month, they came as a blow to the legacy of the mayor and the chancellor, as passing rates dropped by more than 25 percentage points on most tests. But the most painful part might well have been the evaporation of one of their signature accomplishments: the closing of the racial achievement gap.

    "Experts have many theories, but no clear answers, about why national progress on closing the gap has slowed. They included worsening economic conditions for poor families and an increase in fatherless black households, social factors that interfere with students’ educational progress."