All posts by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Thank you and goodbye from Carmen Van Kerckhove

by Carmen Van Kerckhove
Cross-posted on Racialicious, Love Isn’t Enough, Addicted to Race, and CarmenVanKerckhove.com

This post probably won’t come as a huge surprise — I know many people have noticed how quiet I’ve been over the last few months.

I want to let you know that I’ve decided to “retire” from work on race and diversity. Instead, I’m going to focus full-time on working with my husband Serge on Urban Martial Arts, our karate school in Brooklyn.

Why have I decided to change course? Well, it took me a long time to admit this to myself, but the truth is that I’m just not as passionate and driven about race work as I used to be.

Before, when I heard about something race-related, I’d get fired up and couldn’t wait to blog/speak/evangelize about it. But over the last year, blogging has felt like more of an obligation than a passion. And it’s just not fair to you if I keep phoning it in.

Besides, I’ve always been a big believer that you need to know when to move on and make room for the next generation. There’s nothing I would hate more than to become that cranky older activist telling the young’uns to shut up and show some goddamn respect. :D

People who are close to me know that I’ve always been just as interested in marketing and entrepreneurship, as I have been in race. And lately, my interest in business has been peaking as my interest in race work has been dying down.

Serge and I started Urban Martial Arts, our Brooklyn karate school, two years ago, and it’s been such a great journey. We work together shockingly well (hey, we were nervous about how it would be to work AND live together!), and running a local small business poses a never-ending series of enjoyable intellectual challenges for us.

Plus, I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding it is to run a business that brings such positive change to our community: not only changes in our students’ physical well-being, but also seeing how martial arts is helping to strengthen them mentally and emotionally. Continue reading

links for 2010-03-13

links for 2010-03-11

links for 2010-03-10

  • "Last year I shared some information with you about the Islamic superheroes known as the 99. This year I have an update. Apparently it is well on it's way to become an animated series. The rather long clip below shows some of the 99 in action and even provides a history/origin for the 99 stones that grant the new users their power."
  • "Garner and Holmes have been in an on-again-off-again relationship for more than 14 years. When asked why they took so long to realize they were right for each other, Garner and Holmes joked that their relationship is kind of like the movie, It’s Complicated. Along with two other African-American couples at the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Center, the mothers of four and grandmothers of seven will finally jump the broom, a full 13 years after Garner first proposed to Holmes."
  • "But at least Mo'Nique won for a role in a film by and about black people, not for playing a sassy maid, right? Well, yes and no. It's fantastic to see black filmmakers recognized — just as it's fantastic to see a woman win best director, even if it's for a distinctly testosteroney film — but that hardly means we've transcended demeaning stereotypes. Don't get me wrong — Mo'Nique did a marvelous job with the material. But that material was, in one critic's description, "an over-the-top political fantasy that works only because it demeans blacks, women and poor people" — and Hollywood doesn't seem to have wrestled too hard with the question of why such movies are frequently crowd pleasers."
  • "Mr. Lucero was attacked by seven teenagers who, the police said, had made a sport out of assaulting Hispanic men, calling it “beaner hopping.” Mr. Lucero’s death prompted widespread outrage and exposed racial tensions in Patchogue, where a number of Latinos came forward after the attack to describe muggings and assaults that had them living in fear.

    Now, as Jeffrey Conroy, 19, becomes the first defendant to go on trial in the case, jury selection has proven difficult, in part because of the views on Latino immigration held by some prospective jurors in Suffolk County. "

links for 2010-03-09

  • "Carrillo countered that any talk of him not campaigning hard enough is a 'false assertion.' Despite the differing explanations for his loss, Carrillo's statements have renewed a decades-old discussion over race-driven voting behavior.
    "Civil-rights advocates and other experts say Carrillo may be making a valid argument in at least partially attributing his defeat to what they describe as racially polarized voting: the tendency to vote against minority candidates in the privacy of the polling station. Even after more than four decades of civil-rights advances, they say, racially polarized voting is an enduring social pattern that can thwart the advances of Hispanic and African-American candidates."
  • "'If I go out then I don't like to go on my own,' he said. 'I always go with friends.
    'We get looked at in a funny way. We don't get served in bars unless we protest and we get called Paki or have to deal with comments like 'here come the suicide bombers'."
  • "…the bureau has never made it easy to recognize the indigenous roots of 'Mexican Americans/Chicanos' or 'Latinos/Hispanics.' The long and sordid history of the census has been to direct or redirect them into the white category, even–and especially–when they have asserted their indigenous roots or when they have checked the 'other' race category. (Since 1980, about half of Hispanics/Latinos have checked the “other” race category and are virtually the only group that chooses this category.) This has been a standard practice of the bureau since the second half of the twentieth century. Coincidentally, this is also when government bureaucrats imposed the term 'Hispanic,' a tag that generally masks the existence of indigenous and/or African roots in many peoples of the Americas."
  • "'Oh hell, no,' I thought. It’s one thing for me to feel unwelcome and uncomfortable when I am in a bar in America, but there is no way I am going to be made to feel like some kind of an intruder into your 'whites only' space in my OWN DAMN COUNTRY." 
  • I think, though I don't know, that for a number of white men looking at black women, there must be a similar thought process. The black-white chasm is unlike anything else in this country, hence comparing dating between whites and Latinos or whites and Asians doesn't do it justice. None of those relationships bring to bear the crushing weight of the legacy of white supremacy in the manner that black-white relationships do. It's intimidating to bring that with you into a relationship, and I suspect, while all the factors I listed are at work, equally at work is the "Why bother?" impulse.
  • "The quick summary: L.A. elementary school. Black History Month celebration. (I know, you all already said, “Uh oh.”) Parade. Children representing African American role models. Three white teachers choose O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul."

links for 2010-03-08

  • "Ex-World Bank staffer Leila Janah (below, training a worker) founded Samasource in 2008 after realizing the talents of many Africans "weren't being tapped simply because they live in poor countries." Refugee-camp residents are especially marginalized, though some have enough education to perform skilled tasks — and to do work for clients including Google and Stanford University Library.

    Samasource booked $300,000 worth of work last year. It now helps hundreds of people in Asia as well as Africa. In doing so, it has pioneered something once thought impossible: outsourcing with no losers."

  • "And yes, you see it in the comparable circumstances our communities have faced as we've woven ourselves into the social fabric of this nation: We both know what it means to be alternately held up as examples of the American dream, scaling the generational ladder from poverty to professional success, and as major players in the American nightmare — labeled as "parasites," libeled as insular and self-serving, dismissed or demonized as exotic aliens and permanent outsiders."
  • "Democracy might bring freedom, but it could also bring chaos. In China and Brazil, which have fared well through the financial crisis, there's a growing sense that they don't need outside advice on how to structure their societies, thank you. "The Asian crisis was a turning point in that sense," says Brookings Institution senior fellow Homi Kharas, who studies the new global middle class. "These countries began pursuing liberalization in their own way, at their own pace, and they've done well. Now they see their success as the fruit of their own efforts," even though it was attained under global systems of free trade and finance set up by the West."
  • Some mullahs in Afghanistan are distributing condoms. Others are quoting the Quran to encourage longer breaks between births. Health experts say contraception is starting to catch on in a country with the world's second highest maternal death rate. Afghanistan has one of the world's highest fertility rates, averaging more than six babies per woman despite years of war and a severe lack of medical care. Awareness of, and access to, contraceptives remains low among many couples, with UNICEF estimating 10 percent of women using some form of birth control. But use of the pill, condoms and injected forms of birth control rose to 27 percent over eight months in three rural areas – up to half the woman in one area – once the benefits were explained one-on-one by health workers, according to the report published Monday in Bulletin, the World Health Organization's journal.

links for 2010-03-05

  • "According to an investigative media report, former leasing agents for the complex say Muslims, whom managers referred to as “curry people,” were routinely refused apartments even when there were vacancies. The leasing agents said they were told by their supervisors that they could only rent to Muslims if they were all kept in two buildings of the 21-building complex."
  • "Philadelphia may prove the perfect place for these settlers to stimulate a similar turnaround. The economic decline that has plagued the city actually makes it an attractive place to start over. Vitiello says that among the most important factors in a host city is affordable rent, and Philly clearly has neighborhoods full of cheap housing compared to other Eastern cities like Boston, New York and Washington D.C. The low rents offset the subpar wages earned by refugees who are typically placed in low-skilled, minimum-wage jobs with manufacturing companies, nursing homes, parking garages, the hospitality industry and the airport."
  • "Also scheduled is a visit to Jaipur, which “has intrigued and seduced travelers, wanderers, caravans and traders throughout history.” Yes, OOOOH EXOTIC. There you’ll “have dinner with a local family” for that oh-so-authentic touch of “traditional warm Rajasthani hospitality”. (I am reminded of how Thailand’s tourist industry bills it as the “Land of Smiles,” & how the Philippines is often referred to as full of friendly, helpful people. Shall we examine what might incentivize such behavior? Shall we look at what might motivate the West to view certain nations in these terms?)"
  • "The problem is not that the Compton Cookout happened, though that is a problem, or even that the Koala then used campus resources and campus television to directly violate the code of conduct and principles of community, I think the broader problem is that we have a longstanding campus climate which the students, faculty and administration have been well aware of for at least, you know, this administration since Chancellor Fox, with all due respect, came into the position, that has yet to be fixed. And that the incredible sense of hostility and alienation toward African-American students and other students of color is what made this kind of event permissible. So when we say how could this happen? How could they think this is okay, I think honestly as teachers and as administrators, we have to look at ourselves and say they think it’s okay because we have not created an educational climate that tells them that it’s not."
  • "Apparently I’ve been living under a rock and missed an incident on Twitter where a demon spirit took control of MSNBC’s Toure’s Twitter account and made the kinds of statements one might expect from a BET employee or independent contractor. And you would think MSNBC would have learned from Don Imus. "
  • "Multiple choice: Last night, jack-of-all-pop-culture Touré was… (a.) Twitter-hacked by his "cousin (PhD student/insane mf)" (b.) insensitive about delicate issues like rape, race, and sex (c.) a genius at stoking controversy (d.) all of the above."

links for 2010-03-04