OCCUPY WALL STREET: The Game of Colonialism and further nationalism to be decolonized from the “Left”

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

Decolonization, the Game
The “OCCUPY WALL STREET” slogan has gone viral and international now.  From the protests on the streets of WALL STREET in the name of “ending capitalism” – organizers, protestors, and activists have been encouraged to “occupy” different places that symbolize greed and power.  There’s just one problem: THE UNITED STATES IS ALREADY BEING OCCUPIED. THIS IS INDIGENOUS LAND. And it’s been occupied for quite some time now.

I also need to mention that New York City is Haudenosaunee territory and home to many other First Nations. Waiting to see if that’s been mentioned anywhere. (Author’s note: Manhattan “proper” is home to to the Lenape who were defrauded of the island by the Dutch in 1626 – see more from Tequila Sovereign).

Not that I’m surprised that this was a misstep in organizing against Wall Street or really any organizing that happens when the “left” decides that it’s going to “take back America for the people” (which people?!). This is part of a much larger issue, and in fact there is so much nationalistic, patriotic language of imperialism wrapped up in these types of campaigns that it’s no wonder people can’t see the erasure of existence of the First Peoples of THIS territory that happens when we get all high and mighty with the pro-America agendas, and forget our OWN complicity and accountability to the way things are today – not just the corporations and the state.

Let me be clear. I’m not against ending capitalism and I’m not against people organizing to hold big corporations accountable for the extreme damage they are causing.  Yes, we need to end globalization. What I am saying is that I have all kinds of problems when to get to “ending capitalism” we step on other people’s rights – and in this case erode Indigenous rights – to make the point. I’m not saying people did it intentionally but that doesn’t even matter – good intentions are not enough and good intentions obviously can have adverse affects. This is such a played out old record too, walking on other people’s backs to get to a mystical land of equity.  Is it really just and equitable when specific people continue to be oppressed to get there? And it doesn’t have to be done! We don’t need more occupation – we need decolonization and it’s everyone’s responsibility to participate in that because COLONIALISM AFFECTS EVERYONE. EVERYONE! Colonialism also leads to capitalism, globalization, and industrialization. How can we truly end capitalism without ending colonialism? How does doing things in the name of “America” which was created by the imposition of hierarchies of class, race, ability, gender, and sexuality help that?

I can’t get on board with the nationalism of  an “American” (or now “Canadian!”) revolution – I just can’t.  There has been too much genocide and violence for the United States and Canada to be founded and to continue to exist as nation states.  I think John Paul Montano, Anishnaabe writer captured it quite well in his “Open Letter to Occupy Wall Street Activists”:

I hope you would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you – that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is. I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless ‘-isms’ of do-gooders claiming to be building a “more just society,” a “better world,” a “land of freedom” on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life. I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land – never mind an entire society.

I will leave you with this new art piece from Erin Konsmo (also pictured above), our fabulous intern at The Native Youth Sexual Health Network she created on “OCCUPY: THE GAME OF COLONIALISM”.  Hopefully you get the picture now.

Announcements – Celebrating Fathers of Color; Racialicious Goes to NYC; Comic Con-Anita Hill- New Black Imagination Meet Up?

Donate to a Fathers of Color Picture Book and Project
Janine writes:

I’m working on a children’s book that celebrates engaged fathers with the intent of uplifting families, moms, children… everyone. The language isn’t outwardly political, but it is also about presenting positive images of boys and men of color, especially as integral pieces of loving, thriving families.

I recently launched the project on Kickstarter. Check out its quick 2-minute video:

I’d be really honored if you posted this project on your blog!

The book is for dads, and moms, and single dads, and single moms, and kids. I see engaged fatherhood is key to lifting up our communities. This book counteracts the stereotypes of deadbeat dads of color. It shines love on those fathers out there that are amazing, and making amazing contributions, but invisible within mass culture. It paves the way for this generation of boys to be just as amazing. And from the mom and girl end, I believe that men’s full engagement in family life is key to ending the oppression of women (in so many ways).

Donate here.

Conferences, Festivals, and a Meet Up
Also, three major events are happening in NYC on October 15th: The Festival of the New Black Imagination, New York Comic Con, and Sex, Power, and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later. Read on for more details and a possible meet up. Continue reading

With Populists Like These …: Salon Swiftboats Melissa Harris-Perry

By Arturo R. García

No, seriously, does Salon have beef with Melissa Harris-Perry?

Twice this week, the online magazine – freshly rebranded as “aggressively populist” – has taken shots at the Tulane University professor, MSNBC contributor and columnist for The Nation in the midst of two positive columns regarding President Barack Obama.

(Full disclosure: Racialicious’ Editor, Latoya Peterson, has contributed articles to Salon in the past.)
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R.I.P. Sylvia Robinson (1936-2011) [Voices]

By Arturo R. García

In 1957 she had a Billboard-charting single called “Love Is Strange,” a duet with ace guitarist Mickey Baker. The song has been used in movies from “Dirty Dancing” to “Mermaids” to “Casino.”

But after “Love Is Strange” the Harlem-born musician moved to New Jersey with her husband to raise their children. Sylvia and Joe Robinson were ambitious. They built a nightclub favored by boxers and Motown stars, and a recording studio where Robinson began writing songs for other artists. Al Green rejected one because he found it too sexy. So Robinson sang “Pillow Talk” herself.
- Neda Ulaby, NPR

However, it was in 1979 that Robinson began forging her indelible mark on an emerging art form that began taking shape at clubs and dance parties in New York. Inspired after listening to people rap over instrumental breaks, Robinson formed the Sugarhill Gang. Comprised Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright, Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien and Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson, the trio rapped over a rhythm track that sampled Chic’s 1979 R&B/pop hit “Good Times.” It was the first commercial hit for the burgeoning rap revolution and for Robinson and her husband’s post-All Platinum label Sugar Hill Records, named after Harlem, NY’s Sugar Hill neighborhood.

Robinson later signed seminal rap act Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five to Sugar Hill. The group struck top five (No. 4) status on the R&B charts with the socially conscious “The Message,” featuring Melle Mel and Duke Bootee in 1982. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

“‘Ms. Rob doin’ the job’ was a rhyme boast on recordings from Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five,” Public Enemy frontman Chuck D recalled to Billboard.biz. “Sylvia’s artistic talent and public notoriety have been mimicked without due credit for the past 30 years in the recorded art form she birthed. She was a black woman who pushed the button and turned the key to crank up a billion-dollar industry.”
- Gail Mitchell, Billboard Magazine

By 1979 Flash was approached by legendary record producer/store owner Bobby Robinson of Enjoy Reords, who wanted to Rrecord Flash and the Group. During this same period Cowboy, Melle Mel, Kid Creole and former Funky Four member Raheim had recorded a record for Brass Records called “We Rap More Mellow” under an assumed name, The Younger Generation.

Soon After, Flash and the Furious Five (with Raheim now a member) began recording for Robinson, with their first 12-inch single for the label being “Superappin’.” Disappointed with Robinson’s inability to get them on radio, the group soon signed with Sylvia Robinson’s Sugar Hill Records, on the strength of her promise to get them to perform on the backing track of a record that was a DJ favorite at the time, titled “Get Up and Dance,” by the group Freedom. Flash and the Furious Five’s first record for Sugar Hill was, in fact, titled “Freedom,” and was a hit with the Hip-Hop crowd. During that same year the group recorded the song “Birthday Party”
- Grandmaster Flash bio on Sing365.com

It’s Orientalism, My Dear Watson: Sherlock Holmes’ Trouble With Race

By Arturo R. García

It seems at least one scene in the upcoming film Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows will involve Robert Downey Jr.’s Holmes disguising himself as “a Chinese beggar” for laughs. Because crude racialized cosplay is funny, y’see – especially if there’s a British accent involved!

At least, that seems to be the reaction from some movie bloggers: The Huffington Post breathlessly reported that Downey’s yellowface get-up signifies director Guy Ritchie “has his hero going multicultural — to great comedic effect.”

Actually, what this bit threatens to do is continue a disconcerting trend: the creative teams behind the most recent attempts to “reimagine” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories can’t – or won’t – let go of some of their most xenophobic elements.
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Quoted: Electronic Infitada On The Irvine 11

The conviction of the Irvine 11 is a testament to the degree that Islamophobia has grown in the West. Moreover, it is a testament to how unwilling the United States has become to question its relationship with Israel. Any means can be used to silence such questioning — even the criminalization of free speech.

The Israel lobby and the US government are working hand-in-hand against efforts to raise awareness about the occupation and human rights abuses perpetrated against the Palestinians. This trial, the FBI raids on Palestine solidarity activists in the Midwest and the undermining of the UN Palestinian statehood bid show it.

What are the implications of the conviction of the Irvine 11 for Palestine solidarity student activists? One can only imagine the worries that now must run through the minds of these young students: Will I be seen as a criminal? Will the Israeli authorities deny me entry to Palestine next year due to my activism, when a cursory Google search can easily show that connection? Am I jeopardizing my future job opportunities as a result of my activism? Am I being, or am I going to be, investigated or targeted by the FBI?

One must keep in mind that these students now living in fear are Americans. Their intentions and passion for social justice is an American value. Yet student activists are now vulnerable to being criminalized This fear of criminalization may even echo into social justice movements which have yet to form, so essentially what the Irvine 11 conviction represents is a campaign to instill fear in anyone seeking to challenge the status quo in American politics.

- From “Why the Irvine 11 Are True American Heroes,” by Sanah Yassin

How Can Fashion Create A Better Relationship with Africa?

(L-R) Thakoon F/W 11, Louis Vuiton S/S 12, Thakoon F/W 11

By Guest Contributor Rafael Flores, cross-posted from Fashion Mole

Fashion’s conflicted love affair with Africa is on again. Louis Vuitton featured cobalt and berry Masai prints for its S/S 12 menswear show last June, while Thakoon fused Victorian tailoring with traditional East African patterns for F/W 11. Critics unanimously exalted both collections. Nicole Phelps of Style.com hailed Thakoon’s showing as “his freshest, most alive collection in a while,” and The New York Times Magazine proclaimed Louis Vuitton as the “winner” of Paris Fashion Week for menswear S/S 12, with radiant quotes from SHOWstudio, who hailed the collection as “hugely handsome, confident and clear.”

Sure, the clothes were beautiful, as they tend to be from practiced and esteemed labels like Louis Vuitton and Thakoon. But the use of African aesthetics for the financial and cultural benefit of the West conjures a host of unanswered questions: Is this practice exploitative? What image of Africa does it create in the West? Should designers give back to the communities from which they benefit?
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Race + TV: Taraji P. Henson Isn’t A Person Of Interest On Her Own Show

By TV Roundtable Member Kendra James

Did anyone else know that Emmy and Oscar nominee Taraji P Henson is the third lead this season on Abrams’ and CBS’ new thriller Person of Interest?

No? Don’t be ashamed, because you certainly wouldn’t know given the advertising. The New York billboards feature the white male leads, Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson, and that same poster is the one you’ll see featured in magazines and papers all over, including this morning’s free Metro in NYC. As far as I was concerned these two men were the show’s only leads. I had no idea that an Oscar and Emmy nominated actress was the female star.

When TV Guide gave more of the same on the cover of their latest issue, Taraji took to her Facebook fanpage to speak to her fans:

WOW!!!! TV Guide is NOT including me on the cover with my cast members……..I am the female lead of a 3 member cast and I’m not included on the cover!!!!!! Do you see the shit I have to deal with in this business…..I cram to understand!!!!

The post was removed later and replaced with:

I swear you guys keep my spirit lifted cause it ain’t easy AT ALL for a sister in Hollywood. Your love is God sent!!!! Thank you ALL from the bottom of my heart. Wanted to tell you all this on live TV at the Emmys (if I’d won) but……oh well. Muah!!!!!

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