11.8.12 Links Roundup

As we knew for weeks leading up to the election, Governor Mitt Romney’s path to 270 electoral votes — the number he needed to win — depended upon victories in a handful of swing states. I blogged earlier yesterday a table of numbers that included a rough estimate of registered Asian American voters in many of these swing states and other states where we might be influential; these numbers would be useful, I wrote, in identifying states where — if the margin of victory is small — Asian American voters may swing the election in favour of one candidate or another.

Over the course of the night, I updated the table with returns as precincts reported in, keeping a close eye on the number of voters that differed between each candidate’s vote totals. In a few important states, President Obama is likely to eke out a narrow victory of less than two points: Florida and Virginia (the former remains to be called for Obama as of this writing). These swing states are also significant in that they are winner-take-all states that represent a large number of electoral votes: 29 electoral votes for Florida and 13 electoral votes for Virginia. These swing states are also notable in that the small margin of victory combined with their relatively populous Asian American communities means that Asian American voters could have helped deliver both states to the Democratic side. And, with Romney’s flagging numbers in Ohio, most analysts last night agreed that Romney needed a victory in one or both of these other states to win.

And, frankly, the numbers bear it out: Asian American voters helped deliver both states to President Obama. In so doing, Asian Americans helped seal the president’s second term.

The consequences and context of a campaign based in racism, based in a thirty-year racial assault on the civil rights movement is fully visible in AP’s recent poll, which found that both explicit and implicit racial bias against African Americans and Latinos is on the rise. According to the AP, “51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes,” which was a 3 percent rise since 2008. When examining implicit bias, “the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election.” Should we be surprised?

The likes of John Sununu and Donald Trump, the sight of racist t-shirts and posters at GOP rallies and elsewhere, and the explicitly racist discourse point to the strategy of racist appeals and the consequences of such appeals. The impact of racism isn’t simply voters picking Mitt Romney because of their anti-black racism, or even the ways that the accusations against President Obama as a “food stamp president,” as “lazy” as a “socialist” and as “anti-White” resonate because of an entrenched white racial frame, but in the yearning and appeal of a white male leader.

Race doesn’t just matter in why whites are voting against President Obama but also why they are voting for Mitt Romney. Tom Scocca, in “Why Do White People Think Mitt Romney Should Be President?” argues that anti-black racism, dog “whistles” and prejudice isn’t the only reason why white males are casting their vote for Romney-Ryan but because they are white and because white masculinity is associated with toughness, leadership, intelligence, and countless other racial stereotypes. “White people — white men in particular — are for Mitt Romney. White men are supporting Mitt Romney to the exclusion of logic or common sense. Without this narrow, tribal appeal, Romney’s candidacy would simply not be viable. Most kinds of Americans see no reason to vote for him.”

When I entered academe ten years ago, I fancied it as safe space—a world away from the violence and the continuous threat of such “out there”—a world most definitely unaccompanied by ubiquitous black female stereotypes. I was wrong. For black women choosing not to “stay in their lane,” academia can be a microcosm of the life world “out there.” I learned this lesson approximately 1 year, 7 months, and 11 days ago—the last time I wrote anything for the public sphere.

Growing up, I was always a firecracker, one to speak my truth as I viewed it, regardless. My parents encouraged it. However, it was my intellectual mentors who fortified it. Like an M.C. they pushed me to “go hard” no matter what and no matter who. I spent years in the cut learning the critical grammar of bell hooks, Michele Wallace, Hortense Spillers, and others like Stuart Hall, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, Ferdinand de Saussure, etc. etc. While in graduate school my mentors seemed to take extra care to ensure that I was equally sufficient in multiple fields and ready to parlay with the best of minds regardless of context. They trained me as a multi-disciplinary critic and I loved it!! That is, until the day I decided to actually use those skills in the public domain—post graduate school.

Soosan Firooz is being touted as Afghanistan’s first female rapper, a voice for women’s rights and political consciousness in a country that has been torn up by war, extremism and political transition for decades. She has emerged in a nascent hip-hop scene in Afghanistan, where so far only a handful of (male) rappers have begun to garner a following. Hip-hop is often a potent voice of the marginalised, and a form that offers the chance for forceful voices to lend a public narrative to suffering. Firooz’s gender makes waves in itself, drawing attention from international press as the first woman to be seen in the hip-hop scene in her country and butting heads with the fundamentalist and traditionalist elements within her own country.

The act of making music is a radical one in itself. Afghanistan and its people have spent decades with their politics dominated by militancy and by foreign invasion, and censorship of music, along with other forms of expression, has been an intrinsic part of that long experience. The gradual evolution of music censorship can be traced back to the beginning of communist rule under Nur Muhammad Taraki in 1978. According to a 2001 article by John Baily, the Taliban’s suppression of music is rooted in the beginning of the censorship of this period, when refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan enforced a total ban on music in order to preserve a constant state of mourning.