links for 2010-12-22

  • The State Department announced on December 17 the launch of the Palestine Information Communications Technology Capacity Building Initiative (PITI). PITI is a collaborative project between the State Department, USAID, Partners for a New Beginning, Cisco, Google, HP, Intel, Medcor and The project is designed to “enhance Palestinian economic capacity in the information communications technology (ICT) sector by facilitating partnerships between Palestinian ICT companies and U.S. multinational companies, particularly those with operations in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, Jordan, and the broader Middle East.”

    Included in the current round of aid:*Cisco will invest $5 million in a venture capital fund for Palestinian startups.
    *Google is investing $2 million which will include contributions to the same VC fund and to the local operations of NGO Mercy Corps.

  • "The two men — both devout Muslims — were enraged when they found out [Afshan] Azad was dating a Hindu boy. The brother admitted to coaxing his father while in her room saying, “Sort out your daughter! She’s a slag,” and eventually threatening, “Just kill her!” before she escaped through the window.

    Tabloids pinpointed the event as an attempted “honor killing,” claiming the men thought she’d disgraced her family. But after the initial court date this week, Azad’s brother was released on bail and father was found not guilty as long as they both promised to act “peaceably” toward her and not contact her."

  • *eyeroll* This quote is French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld. – LDP "We were accused of being racist [after painting white model Laura Stone black for a feature], which was totally untrue, since I once did an entire issue on a black model [Liya Kebede in May 2002]."
  • "'The Scriptures have the greatest impact when you hear it in your mother tongue. So this translation to Creole is affirming the Jamaican speaker's language, and it is very, very powerful,' said the Rev. Courtney Stewart, general secretary of the Bible Society of the West Indies.

    Last week, a local radio station broadcast the patois renditions of Luke every morning, and its Nativity story translation is popping up at Christmas parties. Members of a church in Spanish Town, just west of Kingston, have even started to memorize it."

  • "In legal and political contexts, then, 'indigenous' has to be understood as a complex term that is conditional on current circumstance, not as an absolute and unchanging descriptor for a state of being. It specifically recognises that a people or tribe has become marginalised within the dominant society thanks to a history of conquest, colonisation, and/or absorption into a nation state. As the sociologist and anthropologist Mathias Guenther puts it: 'Indigenous is a term applied to people–-and by the people to themselves–who are engaged in an often desperate struggle for political rights, for land, for a place and space within a modern nation's economy and society.' This is why there is frequently a dual emphasis on a group's describing itself as indigenous, and its acceptance as such by other indigenous groups."

Tricia Rose Argues America Needs to Fix Race on Need to Know

by Latoya Peterson

Last week, Tricia Rose was invited on PBS’ Need To Know for a segment titled “Fixing America.” Amid discussions of federally funded campaign dollars and guaranteed employment, Rose explained that what America needs is a way to have a real conversation about race and campaigns to “end racial illiteracy.” She’s on at the 6:00 minute mark.

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Professor Tricia Rose:

One way I would fix the country is to create a program that focuses on ending our racial illiteracy. I’m concerned that we’ve been asked to be afraid to talk about race, how talking about race is a racist thing to do, our educational system is driven by very significant differences on race. Our incarceration rate is extraordinary on this matter. Housing segregation, wealth accumulation, access to various resources, they way Obama is being handled – it has everything to do with race and yet we can’t figure out how to mention that word. We need to have a collective way of talking about race, that includes everyone talking together. Ask the artists, ask the historians, ask the teachers, ask the journalists. What do we need to know, in order to be literate?

HAPPENING: The World Festival of Black Arts & Culture

by Guest Contributor Rob Fields, originally published at Bold as Love

World Festival of Black Arts and Culture Promo v. 2 from on Vimeo.


Okay, I’m a little bummed that the family and I aren’t spending the holidays in Dakar, Senegal. I mean, how hot would that be? And then to be able to attend this festival, only the third of its kind? Wow. I just learned about this from our friends over at Society HAE, who have a correspondent there. So, we’ll all have to live vicariously through Raquel Wilson’s dispatches, which I will post here as they’re available.

It’s a multidisciplinary event that features a broad range of art, including architecture, dance, theater, literature, visual arts, etc. The music program features artists such as Manu Dibango, Archie Shepp, Youssou Ndour, Angelique Kidjo, Somi, The Refugee All Stars, Akon, and a ton more from across the diaspora.

In the meantime, here’s some background on the festival:

In 2010, the focus of the world will be Africa. At the heart of sporting news with the recent Football World Cup, the continent is also celebrating fifty years of independence of French-speaking Africa. It is in this context that we present the third World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures, an international event which has been entrusted by the African Union to his Excellency Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal.

Initiated by President Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first edition of the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures was held in Dakar in 1966. The first Festival brought together people from all generations and disciplines in order to make the rest of the world aware of the struggle and persistence of Black peoples in the face of colonization. In 1977, Nigeria hosted the second edition.

The 2010 Festival conveys a new vision of Africa as free, proud, creative and optimistic. With Brazil as the guest of honour, which is a country rich with artistic cross-pollination and cultural diversity, the Festival will emphasize dialogue between peoples and cultures.

Access to the Festival will be free in order to encourage people from all over to participate, and many of the educational activities will be focused on engaging children.

We all have a duty as sons, daughters and friends of Africa to do everything we can to make this unique event a resounding success, an experience that will ignite the African Renaissance.

Love the part about it being “an experience that will ignite the African Renaissance.” That’s a win in any book!

links for 2010-12-21

  • "But with Harlem’s gentrification has come an unintended side effect: tensions between the neighborhood’s established business and political class and new business owners, some of whom view the old ways as patrimonial sentiment that is obsolete. The schism seems to be as much about the old guard’s slowly losing its grip on power as it is about a perceived lack of respect shown by newcomers — a tension that many have said also exists in local politics. Some say the rift is another indication of how much Harlem is changing.

Exotic Taboo [Love, Anonymously]

by Guest Contributor Tiara the Merch Girl

I often feel that I’m not taken seriously as a full well-rounded nuanced person when it comes to things related to eroticism, burlesque, sexuality, queerness, and so on. I have grown up constantly being the Other, having everything I do viewed through the lens of the Other, assumed to be the representative of the Other, rather than just a representative of myself and my myriad views and backgrounds. I’d make a piss-poor representative for any other culture or background anyway, given how I stick out like a sore thumb in all of them. Too foreign for Bangladesh, too Bangla for Malaysia, too Asian for Australia, too X for Y.

I have been introduced at burlesque revues as the “Bollywood Princess”- which ticks me off a lot, particularly since I have yet to do a piece that involves Bollywood in any shape or form. Not even a subcontinental song! Anything I wear automatically becomes “exotic” on me. For example, I have a beautiful red dress, with some gold embroidery, that I bought from an op-shop for a performance project. When I first wore it to a rehearsal one of the other girls there said “wow! It’s just so YOU!”. “Me” doesn’t tend to go for dresses very often (it’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve started wearing dresses and skirts more regularly). It only looks exotic because it happens to be red with some gold embroidery and on me it looks like I’m wearing sari cloth. On a Chinese person it’d look like a reimagined cheongsam. On a white person? A Snow White or Red Riding Hood dress. The dress itself isn’t especially exotic; what makes it exotic is the lens brought on by people’s perception of the wearer.

Similarly, I think people in queer scenes are so mystified by the presence of a Racial Other that they fail to comprehend that I could also be a Sexual Other too. I swear, I’ve been to so many queer events with a bevy of straight people, and THEY get the attention. There’s probably been two queer girls in my entire life that have shown even a smidgen of interest in me as more than just a friend. I don’t ping anyone’s gaydar. As my Redhead Girl said one time, here I am proclaiming to the world my sexuality and hardly anything’s opened up, while here she is denying her sexuality until very recently and already she’s got a strong support network and even a relationship or two. I suppose having a boyfriend doesn’t really help (“yay, another barsexual”?) but at least talk to me beforehand and not make assumptions?
Continue reading

Caribbean Steampunk on a Distant World: A Review of Tobias Buckell’s CRYSTAL RAIN

by Guest Contributor Ay-leen the Peacemaker, originally published at Beyond Victoriana

In the wake of the Steampunk Kurfluffle that started with Charles Stross’ complaint against steampunk, Tobias Buckell wrote an interesting response about fantasy’s tendency to romanticize the past and mentioned his own work:

But ultimately, I share Stross’s discomfort, which is why my steampunk plays have often been about adopting the style and nodding to the history. Crystal Rain, what I called a Caribbean steampunk novel, is about Caribbean peoples and the reconstituted Mexica (Azteca in the book) of old with a Victorian level of technology, using the clothing/symbols of steampunk, but making their artificiers black.

Sadly, Crystal Rain, written in 2006, seems to have come out just before all the hotness, as it rarely gets mentioned as a steampunk novel whenever these celebrations happen.

So, now that my curiosity was piqued, I had to go out and get the book to see for myself how he handles steampunk before “the hotness.”

What’s so refreshing about Crystal Rain, besides the setting, is its clear positioning as a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel. The book takes place in the multicultural, multiracial country of Nanagada, a land outside of our known history. Little touches hint that Nanagada is a society rebuilding itself from a cataclysmic disaster that occurred centuries ago. A mysterious object called the Spindle drifts in the sky. Barren areas exist that sicken the men who attempt to cross them. The Preservationists work to restore some of the lost technologies from “the old fathers” from long ago under the authority of the new governess Dihana and engineers have just started taking advantage of steam technology. Over the mountain range beyond Nanagada, however, lives the society of Azteca, a fearsome rival. Equipped with air ships and goaded to war by their gods called the Teotl, the Azteca are preparing for invasion with Nanagada in its sights. Continue reading

links for 2010-12-20

  • "Most white players act as if the same rules and conditions apply to everyone, as if everyone starts with $1500 and gets $200 for passing Go, etc. If anything, they think yellow players get more for passing Go, that black players get more turns and that red players are too noble to care about winning."
  • "Holy Corn Nuts, we have someone to blame for that atrocious Sandra Lee Kwanzaa cake (which she makes in the video below, if you haven't seen it). "Seasoned food professional" Denise Vivaldo wrote a guilt-ridden, slightly crazy, possibly satirical account of her experience writing recipes under contract for Lee, one of which included the Kwanzaa Cake, the now-legendary store-bought angel food cake hack. Wrote Vivaldo, "As a matter of fact, the more tasteless the recipes got the more she liked them, the faster she approved them, and I could get home and drink some medium-priced wine after our meetings."
  • "In an era where representations of Black beauty in the media are more diverse than in the past—yet still skew toward certain aesthetics—how do we collectively even out the playing field regarding the ways in which we judge beauty? Where do we find the space to teach ourselves not to make one sister “regular” and the other “exotic”—and to abandon the tendency to fetishize the mixed woman over the non-mixed one, or the East African stunner over the West African honey? Are we doomed to keep up a litmus test for Black beauty that still has the stain of Europe written all over it?"
  • "Yesterday, my mid-afternoon enjoyment of Michel Martin's dulcet, NPR tones was interrupted by a Tell Me More guest who let slip the most remarkable series of ignorant non-sequiturs on the topic of inter-racial dating that I have ever heard. It perhaps didn't help that the topic at hand was dating and unemployment, which was just the opening Davies needed to knit together her ethnic stereotypes with her fiscal stereotypes and make a cute little stereotype sweater."
  • "The Ngati Toa tribe, which hails from the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, is locked in talks with the New Zealand Rugby Union, the sport’s governing body. The tribe is trying to trademark phrases that form part of the song that the rugby players chant when performing the dance, known as the Haka. If the tribe is successful, the Haka as it is known today could disappear from the warm-up of New Zealand’s famous rugby team for the first time in more than a century."
  • "Minorities have been disappearing from radio journalism in the past decade, despite the importance of diversity in communications. The Radio Television Digital News Association, or RTDNA, reported that in 2009, minorities represented only 8.9% of the radio work force while the U.S. minority population was 34.4%. Unfortunately, this is not a new trend.

    In 2008, using RTDNA data as a starting point, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) calculated that minority news employment at U.S. English language, non-minority owned radio stations was statistically almost zero."

  • "The No Labels Movement is the School of Tolerance by another name.

    Longtime readers know that this bitch is not a fan of tolerance. People tolerate a stench when they have to and they do away with it as soon as they are able to – thus, being the thing that is “tolerated” is not a safe or powerful position to be in.

    I reject the No Labels Movement because it assumes that the principles folks advocate on behalf are negotiable."

Are We Willing to Give Up Netflix/The Open Web for Minority Focused TV?

by Latoya Peterson

The FCC is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a huge merger between Comcast and NBC Universal, which would create a new media mega-corporation.  This has brought quite a bit of controversy over the future of the web, with many digital justice activists protesting the increase of corporate control over the web.

Angry Asian Man reports on an unexpected silver lining: the FCC has proposed that Comcast and NBC must improve diversity if they are going to complete the deal, to ensure minority broadcasters are not left out.  According to ABC News:

Public interest groups have urged the Obama administration to reject the deal. They fear Comcast might charge other cable distributors higher fees to transmit NBC Universal-owned content, leading to higher cable bills, fewer independent programing choices and less competition.

Comcast said in agreements filed with the FCC that it would add four new cable networks either owned or partly owned by African-Americans within eight years if the deal goes through.

It would also expand an existing channel carrying Asian-American programing to more markets, or create a new English-language channel that caters to Asian-American interests.

More diversity on major networks is definitely something to celebrate, but I’m not so sure this is the major step forward as some are quick to claim.

Most of what I’ve heard about the merger has been from the net neutrality aspect.  Back in August, Colorlines broke down why it was so important to keep an eye on Comcast:

The fight started because those scary scenarios about blocking and slowing traffic aren’t merely speculative. In 2005, Comcast blocked its users from sharing BitTorrents, which are popular ways to send and receive large files. The company claimed that it was preventing its users from committing copyright infringement, since the file-sharing platforms are often associated with quick and easy ways to get free music and movies. Continue reading