Unsafe In Seattle

By Guest Contributor Sonita Moss

I don’t feel safe in Seattle.

Specifically, I don’t feel safe in public.

I love this city. Its many neighborhoods, the “little” big city vibe with a more laid-back pace of life. The expansive mountain ranges and views of ocean waters. Housing so dense it is seemingly stacked on hill after hill of pavement and grass. The skyline at dusk and twilight, travelling both north and south on the I-5. It is unrushed and easy, yet there is some nameless vibrance to this place.

Of course, I’ve been here just shy of 8 weeks.

I’m still a rookie, but I am a maverick of emotion. I don’t feel safe here.

The dueling intersections of my social identities: race, class, gender & age have forged a path of extremely unpleasant, unwelcome events at a rate that I have never experienced in my entire life. Here are the facts, the need-to-know-to-get-it information:

I am black. I am a young woman in my early 20s, but I am frequently presumed to be younger. This is important. I am living below the poverty line.

That is a recipe for disaster.
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Lightcycle To Nowhere: Akira Remake Moving Ahead With New Casting Calls

By Arturo R. García

In Akira, a corrupt government courted disaster with little regard for leaving well enough alone, only to be undone by its’ avarice. At least it looks like Warner Brothers’ adaptation is getting that right.

As reported by Racebending and other outlets late last week, WB is officially moving ahead with a live-action adaptation of the classic manga series.
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Attack the Block Proves You Don’t Have to be Epic to Be a Hero

Movie theaters used to hold a special kind of magic.

Lined up with my friends, clutching the occasional purchase of popcorn and a soft drink, or sneaking smuggled in snacks, we would watch in awe and horror as teenagers paraded around on screen, seemingly oblivious to the threat of violence lurking around the corner. When I was about thirteen years old, I sat through the original Scream. The rules of horror movies, as articulated by the character Randy, were clear and concise:

Randy: There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie. For instance, number one: you can never have sex.
[crowd boos]
Randy: BIG NO NO! BIG NO NO! Sex equals death, okay? Number two: you can never drink or do drugs.
[crowd cheers and raises their bottles]
Randy: The sin factor! It’s a sin. It’s an extension of number one. And number three: never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, “I’ll be right back.” Because you won’t be back.

But there were some rules that we knew that never were articulated.

    1. The black character always dies, normally first. This is normally related to not being lead characters, but easily dispensable side characters. Sure, we had Tales from the Hood, but we knew the score. I think that’s why all of us at the local participatory theater screamed the whole way through I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. “Run, Brandy, Run! You gotta make it because they already killed Mekhi!”

    2. Upper middle class white kids are the stars of these things. In general, no matter how big and bad the villain is, they are still hanging out in pastoral campgrounds or tony neighborhoods, waiting for their victims to sun themselves on their cabanas. The only exception I can think of was Candyman who was black and haunted the Cabrini-Green housing projects. And later, came a few other things we need not name. But in general, horror film villains and heroes alike were in the providence of “not us.”

So when Moses and his crew took to the screen, defending their tower block from alien invasion, my inner fourteen year old wanted to jump up and start yelling.

Unfortunately, my 28 year old self knows we don’t do those things at the Museum of Modern Art, even if we really, really, want to.

[Some light spoilers ahead.]
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Jay Smooth on #OccupyWallStreet and Outing the Ringers

Jay breaks down OWS, and its hidden benefit. According to Jay:

It reveals to us all who the ringers are at Wall Street’s 3-Card Monte Table. [...] Every three card monte set up has a ringer. The ringer’s job is to pretend they’re an objective outside observer commenting on the game, when they’re actually a part of the hustle who is there to help bamboozle the public into thinking this game is legitimate.

So naturally, if we stand next to the game and start telling everyone the game is rigged, the ringer is going to flip on us and start doing everything they can to make sure nobody listens to us. They’re going to tell everyone that we’re a bunch of losers who are just hating because we don’t know how to play the game, we’re a bunch of card-game hating socialists. They’re gonna try everything they can to discredit us, so they can protect that game they are so invested in.

And it feels like that’s what we’ve been seeing all month with Occupy Wall Street.

Four minutes and nineteen seconds of awesome. Go check it out.

Since When Do Pants Come in “Latino?”

By Joseph Lamour, Fashion Correspondent

I seem to have found a rather telling typo on Temperley London’s website. Temperley, if you do not know is a couture house that clothes stars for red carpet events (like Jennifer Lopez), and while perusing their website (I was curious about how much Molly Sims dress was on The Rachel Zoe project) I found something called “Latino Leather” pants in a…. very tan… hue…

Am I hallucinating? Or…

See the above image. I also see them spelled as “Lantino leather pants” so I was hoping Lantino was a type of fabric… or something in another language… so I googled.

0 relevant results.

I yahoo-ed.

0 relevant results.

For god sakes, I even bing-ed.

0 relevant results.

Shouldn’t someone at Temperley explain this? Are there no people of color viewing their website other than me? Jennifer? Jennifer’s people?

Out of exasperation I google translated. “Lantino” is Latin for Lantin (say that three times fast).

Lantin is a word meaning “radiant wrapping” in Inca. I found that little gem in an online Inca dictionary. I doubt that’s what they meant, but even if that’s what they did mean, it still leaves the INTENSELY unfortunate “Latino” typo. Am I being crazy or is this actually something? Did they actually name these leather pants after the skin tone of a race of people? And even if they didn’t and this means something relating to fabric, why didn’t they name them something else?

Links of Interest – 10/24/2011

From Megan at RawStory, the “I’m Not Racist” compilation:

The Root featured a stellar piece by Kellee Terrell on being Black and Transgender, documenting high rates of poverty, legally sanctioned employment discrimination, elevated rates of homelessness and harassment, and a prevelance of sexual and physical assualt. The report also noted high rates of attempted suicide, which are disturbing, but not suprising given our climate of hatred.

Reader C points us toward this Atlanta-Journal Constitution article on the whiteness of Occupy Atlanta, and how the movement there reflects racial tension in the larger movement. Related is this great piece from Kung Li at Colorlines on Atlanta’s history with social justice movements.

Speaking of OWS, we have this great piece from Kevin Alvarez on Why Occupy Wall Street should matter to POC; Mike at Rortybomb parses the data and stories being shown on the We Are the 99% Tumblr; and reports on how Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Baltimore are dealing with reports of sexual assaults in the encampments.

Clutch Mag has a fascinating four part series on coping with infidelity. For readers who liked Love, Anonymously, that link is for you. There’s even an interesting racial twist.

Hyphen posts a lovely deepthink on how to talk about North Korea, particularly with all the competing narratives at play, from Sylvie Kim.

There’s a fascinating conversation in the comments at Jezebel about Sarah Silverman’s new special “Live from Niggerhead: Stripping the Paint Off Good Ol’ Fashioned Racism” and the sticky racial politics of comedy.

Some good news on the Hollywood development front. Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit is backing a feature film called Percentage, a drug drama; Shonda Rhimes sells a ton of new shows; Lee Daniels is doing a series with Showtime based on the Ball subculture in NYC, with the last milestone exploration being Paris is Burning.

Tigerbeatdown had three stand out pieces. Two from Flavia, one exploring how multinational corporations are turning anti-immigrant sentiments into cash and her declaration that her feminism “will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” Sady provides an interesting musing on class.

NPR looks at the change in attitudes around interracial marriage.

Interesting considering our previous convos on terms and appropriation: Johnny Depp likens being photographed to being raped. Great analysis at the Awl. (Aside: I used to do string work for a tabloid – while I wouldn’t say it’s like being raped, but it is definitely an assault – I was on the side behind the photogs and it was still really painful to watch happen. And that was at a sanctioned press event. I can’t imagine what this is like day in and day out. I don’t think that is similar to rape. However, I do know that I better not hear a single objection to Depp’s analogy from so-called feminists who argued in favor of the Slutwalk sign. Because yes, it’s the same idea – that you have the right to appropriate an experience that has not applied to you because you think it makes your point stronger.)

Parks and Recreation Takes Brown v. Board Of Education Into The Wilderness

By Guest Contributor Caroline Karanja

A fairly amusing episode of Parks and Recreation left me wondering about the effects of de-racializing the civil rights movement into a simple fight for equality. Since when does hetero-normative white society become the victim?

The show centers around quirky and optimistic Leslie Knop, who is devoted to her job at a local government office in Pawnee, Ind. Alongside her is department head Ron Swanson, a sarcastic-yet-lovable nature lover played as a hipster Alpha male. His
Libertarian political philosophy is the foundation of the show’s sarcasm towards big government.

In the episode “Pawnee Rangers,” Leslie is troop leader of the Pawnee Goddesses. They host fun activities; they eat candy and have puppy parties. Ron’s Pawnee Rangers is an outdoors club that’s really out there “roughing it.” They are the kind of boy scouts that dig their own trenches, live in boxes and eat food from a can. In this episode, everyone learns a lesson about equality during wilderness weekend.
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Interview With Laotian Poet Souvankham Thammavongsa [Culturelicious]

By Guest Contributor May Lui, cross-posted from Black Coffee Poet

Souvankham Thammavongsa is a Laotian Canadian poet, author of the ReLit-winning Small Arguments and Found. Found was also adapted into a short film by Paramita Nath, which screened at film festivals worldwide including Dok Leipzig and Toronto International Film Festival.

Souvnkham has been published in many literary magazines and journals and has been invited to read at Harbourfront’s International Festival of the Authors 2011. Born in Thailand in 1978, she was raised in Toronto.

May Lui for Black Coffee Poet: Why poetry?

Souvankham Thammavongsa: It’s sort of like swimming in the deep end of a pool. You better know what you are doing there because it’s going to become very clear if you don’t. Looking good in a swimsuit isn’t going to help you out.

ML: Tell us about your writing process.

ST:
I don’t write everyday. Sometimes I try to do anything but write. I work for a financial newspaper full-time and have been there for ten years. I work with numbers all day and this allows me to think in a language that doesn’t have anything to do with words, to remember that sometimes words aren’t everything. No one at work knows I write poetry and I prefer it that way. I like that there’s a place for me there no matter what happens to my writing, whether it fails or if it’s successful. It doesn’t matter. I also owned a used bookstore with my husband and wrote short stories all day when it snowed and we had no customers, except for the ones who told us we weren’t going to make it or asked us what we were doing there or if the knapsack in our window display was for sale. I learned that there are people in the world who want nothing to do with books, that there are those who at the sight of a bookshelf start to slowly back up towards the exit, that there are those who would buy themselves a three-dollar book and tell their curious and bright son they don’t want to buy him a book of his choosing because they’ve already spent more than they’ve wanted. That was a learning experience for writing I don’t think I would have gotten by writing.

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