Memorial Day 2012: Remembering Soldiers Of Color

As many of us here in the United States observe Memorial Day, here are some videos worth watching about veterans from many of our communities.

We’ll begin with a video that was shown here in San Diego earlier this year, at a celebration of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded two years ago to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and and U.S. Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The unit, composed mostly of Japanese-Americans, would see heavy action during World War II in Europe, and would go on to produce 21 Medal of Honor recipients. This unit’s exploits were chronicled in fictional form in the film Only The Brave, the trailer of which can be seen here.

Shifting focus to Vietnam, here’s the trailer for As Long as I Remember: American Veteranos, Laura Varela’s documentary about Latino Vietnam veterans. While it focuses on three South Texas residents in particular, the statistics cited here reflect the sobering cost of duty in the conflict for many servicemen, particularly when it comes to PTSD.

Last year saw the birth of AIVMI – the American Indian Veterans Memorial Initiative, a campaign led by the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida to add a statue of a Native American soldier along the Vietnam Walkway near the Vietnam Wall on the National Mall in the nation’s capital. Here we have an interview regarding the issue conducted by Kimberlie Acosta at Native Country TV with Tina Osceola from the Seminole Tribe.

Finally, here’s the trailer for Veterans Of Color, a documentary focusing on black veterans from the Vietnam and Korea wars and World War II. The film, which is coming off a screening at the Sarasota Film Festival in Florida, is the result of a collaboration between the Association For the Study Of African American Life And History (ASALH) and the Veterans History Project.

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Kevin Clash

By Andrea Plaid

The under seven-year-old set and I may not agree on some things, but we agree on Kevin Clash. Kevin Clash is, to me, that Black guy that you want to go up to and hug because you know his embrace is enveloping with love for humanity.

And he has hugged and played and chatted with several generations of seven-unders and the adults taking care of them, though you may not recognize him. You may recognize his creation:

Kevin Clash and Elmo

Courtesy: Muppet.Wikia

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The Friday Mixtape – Eurovision 2012 Edition

This weekend marks the only time of the year I let myself watch anything even close to a reality show: It’s Eurovision time!

For the uninitiated, here’s the gist of it: on Saturday, finalists from 26 countries will take part in what could be best described as a cross between American Idol, the World Cup and a political caucus: the winner is chosen by viewer voting, by phone, in real-time, across the continent. You can’t vote for your own country, and scores are added up on a sliding scale, so things can turn around quickly, if you impress people in enough nations. About 100 million people are expected to tune in, and that’s not counting the 39,000 people who will be watching live in and around the host site, the Baku Crystal Hall in Azerbaijan.

But there’s a whole host of stories around the event this year, including a couple of controversies that we were tipped off to by some readers, involving two particular finalists this year. Let’s start with the Ukrainian representative, Gaitana:

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A Latina in academia: My individual experience

by Guest Contributor Daily Chicana, originally published at The Daily Chicana

In my post Latina/os in academia: A look at the numbers, I shared a several statistics concerning (both in the sense of “about” and “these numbers are sad and should concern us”) Latina/os’ overall educational attainment in the US. As you may recall, it was inspired by a story I read about three Latinas who just received their Ph.D.s in English from UTSA.

What inspired me to reflect on my own particular educational journey was how much it contrasts to those of the women featured in the article. For example, one of the women opens up about the lack of encouragement she received, even being told that she “wasn’t college material.” Nevertheless, she worked towards an associate degree from a community college over four and a half years and eventually ventured on to graduate work. Another of the women only started looking into the possibility of attending college after others expressed surprised to hear that she did not plan to apply. The third woman, who was on a more traditional educational track (going to college right after high school and then on to be a full-time graduate student), still notes wistfully that Latina/os often experience an identity crisis in classrooms where “your culture is repressed and your language isn’t validated” (emphasis added). Continue reading

5-24-12 Links Roundup

Survivors of acid attacks whose plight became the focus of an Oscar-winning documentary now fear ostracism and reprisals if the film is broadcast in Pakistan.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy made history earlier this year when she won Pakistan’s first Oscar, feted across the country for exposing the horrors endured by women whose faces are obliterated in devastating acid attacks.

Her 40-minute film focuses on Zakia and Rukhsana as they fight to rebuild their lives after being attacked by their husbands, and British Pakistani plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad who tries to help repair their shattered looks.

When Saving Face scooped a coveted gold statuette in the documentary category in Hollywood in February, campaigners were initially jubilant.

The Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan (ASF) had cooperated on the film but some survivors now fear a backlash in a deeply conservative society – and are taking legal action against the producers.

Policymakers see a range of reasons for the harassment, including language barriers faced by some Asian American students and a spike in racial abuse following the September 11, 2001 attacks against children perceived as Muslim.

“This data is absolutely unacceptable and it must change. Our children have to be able to go to school free of fear,” US Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday during a forum at the Center for American Progress think-tank.

The research, to be released on Saturday, found that 54 percent of Asian American teenagers said they were bullied in the classroom, sharply above the 31.3 percent of whites who reported being picked on.

The figure was 38.4 percent for African Americans and 34.3 percent for Hispanics, a government researcher involved in the data analysis told AFP. He requested anonymity because the data has not been made public.

The disparity was even more striking for cyber-bullying.

Some 62 percent of Asian Americans reported online harassment once or twice a month, compared with 18.1 percent of whites. The researcher said more study was needed on why the problem is so severe among Asian Americans.

The survey by the international rights group mirrors two previous reports on the risks facing women and girls that had focused on California, where most of the nation’s farmworkers reside.

“Our research confirms what farmworker advocates across the country believe: Sexual violence and sexual harassment experienced by farmworkers is common enough that some farmworker women see these abuses as an unavoidable condition of agricultural work,” said the report.

An estimated 630,000 of the 3 million people who perform migrant and seasonal farm work are women. The federal government estimates that 60 percent of them are illegal immigrants.

“It’s easiest for abusers to get away with sexual harassment where there’s an imbalance of power, and the imbalance of power is particularly stark on farms,” the report’s author, Grace Meng, told The Associated Press.

It happened on one of those freakishly warm evenings in March that drove Chicagoans in droves to the lakefront and city parks.

Boyd and her friends were hanging out at Douglas Park near 15th and Albany when off-duty Police Officer Dante Servin, who lives in the area, allegedly drove up in a BMW and told the group to “shut up all that m—–f—— noise,” Sutton said witnesses told him.

Antonio Cross yelled back “f— you,” at which point Servin allegedly stuck a gun out of the window and opened fire, wounding Cross in the hand and shooting Boyd in the head.

Police officials initially claimed Cross had a gun, but no gun was found, and Cross has been charged with aggravated assault, a misdemeanor.

Forty days later, Sutton still does not know whether Servin will be charged with anything for shooting his sister in the head.

“Right now we are just waiting for an answer,” Sutton told me. “Everybody has told me that it’s under investigation. We are just playing a waiting game.”

The family has filed a civil suit against Servin and the city.

I’m all for political and social satire, but in a world where Arabs and Muslims are consistently relegated to the role of cab driver, convenience-store owner, terrorist or tyrant, the yawn factor has well and truly set in. Where there is humour, it seems primarily to be at our expense.
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I nearly fell off my chair when, a few years ago, Adam Sandler attempted to tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with toilet humour in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. I approached with caution but because I loved Billy Madison I was willing to reserve judgment. Rob Schneider as a member of Hezbollah could have been funny. Unfortunately it was not. Arabs were, once again, the underdogs – primarily a subject of disdain or pity in all of Sandler’s cartoonish buffoonery, and terrorists, too.

Conversely, I nearly burst with excitement when I came across an independent film called Amreeka a couple of years ago. Written and directed by Palestinian-American Cherien Dabis, it told the tale of a Palestinian Christian woman moving to the US from the West Bank. It didn’t spew political drama or point fingers; it told humorously a sweet and empathetic story about facing life’s challenges with courage and heart.

I sat in a near empty cinema in tears, amazed that I was finally seeing something of my own life on screen.

Yet the typical one-dimensional approach to the stereotypical Arab is not confined to cinema.

On Tuesday at their upfronts presentation, Univision executives bragged about the network beating NBC during primetime on 195 nights last year.

“It’s all about content,” said Alberto Mier y Terán, senior VP and general manager for the Univision flagship stations in Los Angeles. “It’s producing relevant content to a population or to a viewer base that is growing faster than any other in this country.”

Though it’s the most viewed Spanish-language network in the U.S., Univision is not immune to the rapid changes in the age of new media.

Mier y Terán said innovation and collaboration are two key factors that the network keeps in mind when adapting to these changes and keeping strong audience numbers.

“You cannot ignore social media and you cannot ignore distributors on the Internet,” said Mier y Terán. “We are in talks with many of them to pursue content and distribution deals.”

After a 38-year battle, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has given Cape York traditional owners the land one of his predecessors would not let them buy.

In 1974, John Koowarta tried to buy the Archer River cattle station for the benefit of the Wik peoples, but was thwarted by then-premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who declared the area a national park.

Mr Koowarta was vindicated by the High Court in 1982, but it was not enough to overturn the original decision, and he died in 1991 without seeing the fruits of his labours.

Mr Newman travelled to Coen on Tuesday to hand over the 75,000-hectare parcel of land, fulfilling Anna Bligh’s 2010 promise to do so.

Mr Newman said traditional owners had been wronged.

“Thirty-five years ago a great injustice was done,” he said.

“Today we put that right. So again, my apologies to those who have suffered.”

Jay Smooth Breaks Down Corey Booker’s Young (Old) Money Clique

It’s been way too long since we’ve had a video from our man Jay Smooth, but he really brings it on this analysis of the Cory Booker situation, and how politicians get caught between allegiances:

Background Info:

Cory Booker’s comments on Obama’s ‘nauseating’ campaign: Gaffe or calculated tactic? []
Cory Booker’s defense of Wall Street may hurt his status with liberals, but it won’t hurt his bank account []
Cory Booker, surrogate from hell [Salon]

Latina/os in academia: A look at numbers

by Guest Contributor Daily Chicana, originally published at The Daily Chicana

From the San Antonio Express News

This past weekend, I came across “Latinas blaze path to doctoral degrees” (12 May 2012), an article that tells the story of the three gorgeous Latinas pictured above, who are newly minted Ph.D.s in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio. First and foremost, I want to send out my congratulations to them and to wish them all the best as they continue their academic careers! I hope I will have the chance to meet these new colleagues in person one day. For now, I’ll just look forward to sharing their story with my students, who I know will be tremendously inspired by the challenges these women have overcome.

The nature of the challenges–and particularly the numbers and statistics behind them–are ones that I lose sight of all too easily, even though I myself was a first-generation doctoral graduate. The caption of the image above begins to hint at the rarity of what Dr.s Portales, Cantu-Sanchez and de Leon-Zepeda have achieved. Latina/os (note: the term “Latina/o” includes people whose origins extend to any Latin American country, not just Mexico) comprise 15% of the US population, yet according to the National Center for Education Statistics, we received only the following in 2009:

  • 8% of bachelors degrees
  • 6% of Master’s degrees
  • 3% of Ph.D.s.
  • Moreover, Latina/os comprise just 4% of college faculty. (By way of comparison, whites received 71.% of bachelors degrees, 64% of Master’s and 63% of Ph.D.s. and make up 75% of faculty.) Continue reading

    Tonight! “Let Them Eat Cake: Art, Race, and Context” in DC & on Twitter

    Arturo produced a great round up when the news of Makode Aj Linde’s cake hit the net. Now, Jess Solomon of The Saartjie Project (A theatre ensemble + creative tribe of women of the African Diaspora exploring race, gender and power through community-based action and cultural arts) wants to infuse that conversation with art and bring it into the real world.

    Let them eat cake image

    Let Them Eat Cake: Art, Race and Context? #LTEC

    NEW LOCATION! Affinity Lab, 920 U St. NW (2 blocks from the U Street Metro – 10th St. exit, Green Line)

    Let Them Eat Cake is a hybrid panel/performance/critical response informed by the photo of Swedish Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth eating cake – made in the minstrel image of South African woman Saartjie Baartman – as part of a performance called “Painful Cake” by Makode Linde at World Art Day on April 15th at Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

    LTEC is an interactive discussion featuring artists and media makers who examine race and gender:

    Amber Robles-Gordon, Mixed Media Visual Artist
    Dr. Arvenita Washington, Anthropologist
    (added!) Ebony Golden, cultural worker, public scholar, conceptual performance artist
    Latoya Peterson, Racialicious
    Margaux Delotte-Bennett, Performance Artist
    Renina Jarmon, Scholar, Blogger, Model Minority
    Wilmer Wilson IV, Performance Artist
    Moderated by Jess Solomon, Founder, The Saartjie Project

    As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Saartjie Baartman’s final homecoming, her body is still (symbolically) at the center of what has become a global discourse.

    About Saartjie Baartman: Saartjie (pronounced Sar-Key) was a 19th century enslaved South African woman put on display as entertainment throughout Europe because of what the medical and scientific establishment regarded as her exceptional bodily form: protruding buttocks and an elongated labia.

    Baartman was “exhibited” in London and throughout Europe under the show name Hottentot Venus (even after the abolition of the slave trade in London) from 1810 – 1815. She was also the subject of several scientific paintings and studies. When Baartman died in 1815, and her body was dissected in public, genitals and brain preserved and put on display at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris until 1997. After much political discourse over who she “belonged” to, her remains were repatriated to South Africa at the request of President Nelson Mandela on May 2, 2002.

    LTEC explores:

    Cultural and social implications of exploring race and gender as artists of color;
    The extent and validity of “artistic license” and;
    Significance of audience interpretation and reaction in their own work as well as that of Makode Linde;
    Role of the media as cultural critics and tastemakers.

    LTEC is on the visionary end of the spectrum and intended to bring both local creative consumers and cultural producers together to further understand how they inform each other.
    Join in the discussion on Twitter: #LTEC

    Special thanks for promotional support by Live Unchained, an international arts events and media organization featuring black women’s works.

    Since this is an avant-garde kinda thing (complete with performances), I’m not preparing remarks but I will probably reference these posts:

    Background Color, by Mimi Thi Nguyen of Threadbared
    Background Color, Redux II, in which Mimi owns some fool that challenged her art cred
    The Thin Line Between Art and Exploitation, when I took a look at the relationship between Kanye West & Vanessa Beecroft

    I never wrote about the Runway video, but I may talk about that as well…

    Hope to see you there!