Category Archives: activism

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#GIA14: Racial Conversation as Performance Art

Originally published at Grantmakers in the Arts

The rules of the Long Table.

The rules of the Long Table.

Can a conversation about race be a performance? What does that simple framework shift do to the conversation? The answer: everything.

The long table conversation is a fascinating thing to watch unfold. Participants come in and out as they please. There is snacking and scribbling, mostly on topic. Some people were determined watchers, setting up camp on the chairs on the far edge of the perimeter. And others eagerly queued up in the seats closest to the table, waiting for the moment they could tap someone on the shoulder, sending that performer out and putting themselves into the conversation. Continue reading

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Live From IndieCade: Let’s Do Something About It

By Arturo R. García

Top row, L-R: Moderator Shawn Alexander Allen, TJ Thomas, Racialicious owner Latoya Peterson. Bottom row, L-R: Catt Small, Ashley Alicea, Fatima Zenine Villanueva.

This past weekend saw our owner and publisher Latoya Peterson speak on a panel at IndieCade, a festival and conference celebrating independent game development.

Moderator Shawn Alexander Allen (Treachery in Beatdown City) said that the discussion, “Let’s Do Something About It,” grew from a talk about race and gaming he gave at last year’s event. Joining them on the panel:

A Storify of the panel is under the cut.
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Teaching Trayvon

By Guest Contributor Shadee Malaklou, cross-posted from JFCBlog

[Editor's Note: Graphic images at the end of this post, under the cut]

The Trayvon Martin syllabus: These reading and viewing assignments are designed to prompt politically vigilant conversations about historical and institutional constructs of black male criminality in the United States.

Specifically, they unpack Trayvon Martin’s gratuitous murder in February 2012 and the response his tragic death elicited from media and legal institutions–especially relevant in the wake of Michael Brown’s August 2014 lynching in Ferguson, Missouri. Written texts consist of insightful and timely essays published on blogs like Colorlines, The Feminist Wire and Black Girl Dangerous.

These essays teach tertiary students how to extrapolate anti-black racism from non-black experiences of ethnic difference without overwhelming them with jargon-heavy texts written for a well-versed academic audience.
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Murrieta’s Anger Toward Immigrants Comes From The Top

By Arturo R. García

Over the course of the past week, the face of the “ugly American” (or perhaps more accurately, the “angry ‘Murican”) has migrated. Usually these kinds of images are associated, for better or worse, with the politically Red states of the Midwestern and Southern U.S. But now Murrieta, California — a conservative enclave in one of the country’s more reliably Blue states — has emerged as the new face of modern xenophobia. And that reputation appears to have been cultivated from the top down.
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A Call For An Annual #PrezRezVisit

By Guest Contributor Megan Red-Shirt Shaw

Only four United States presidents have ever visited an Indian reservation during their terms: Calvin Coolidge in 1927, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, Bill Clinton in 1999 and now, Barack Obama, here in the year 2014. Last week ended a 15-year-long gap between visits by our country’s leader to Indian Country. As I watched footage of President Obama and First Lady Michelle sitting at a powwow hosted by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation, the thought shocked me: over the past 80 years, the president of our country has only come knocking on our doors four times.

Four.

Clinton’s visit ended a 63-year gap between presidential Rez visits. During that time, the Indian Reorganization Act was created; roughly 25,000 American Indians served in World War II; the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indian Youth Council came into existence; the American Indian Movement seized Alcatraz Island; Wounded Knee was reoccupied; the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs was reestablished; and the United States v. Sioux Indian case was decided by the Supreme Court. Yet, in sixty-three years, within Indian Country – none of these happenings warranted a visit from the President of the United States.
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Open Thread: Shonda Rhimes says ‘A Hashtag Is Not Helping’

By Arturo R. García

Considering that at least part of her success has been buoyed by Twitter, Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes’ apparent views on Twitter seem somewhat dismissive.

During her commencement address at Dartmouth University, Rhimes encouraged students to “pay it forward” with their education, including this bit of advice:

Find a cause you love. It’s OK to pick just one. You are going to need to spend a lot of time out in the real world trying to figure out how to stop feeling like a lost loser, so one cause is good. Devote some time every week to it.

Oh. And while we are discussing this, let me say a thing. A hashtag is not helping. #yesallwomen #takebackthenight #notallmen #bringbackourgirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething

Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing on your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show. I do it all the time. For me, it’s Game of Thrones.

Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week. Some people suggest doing this will increase your sense of well-being. Some say it’s good karma. I say that it will allow you to remember that, whether you are a legacy or the first in your family to go to college, the air you are breathing right now is rare air. Appreciate it. Don’t be an as*hole.

Rhimes is incorrect on at least one of these examples: Take Back The Night did not begin as a hashtag. That particular campaign against domestic violence can be traced back to the 1970s, and has always included in-person vigils and marches. So for her to say it is just a hashtag doesn’t square at all with reality.

But it’s also fair to point out that a href=”http://time.com/114043/yesallwomen-hashtag-santa-barbara-shooting/” target=”_blank”>#YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen emerged as vital conversation points in the wake of the shooting and stabbing attacks in Isla Vista, California. They also served as points of connection for people who might not be willing to open up in a “public” setting, allowing them to share their stories as they saw fit. That doesn’t make them “Dr. King,” but the idea of online safe spaces shouldn’t be treated as invalid, either.

Likewise, #BringBackOurGirls did the same for the mass kidnappings perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the pressure upon the government to respond.

So in those instances, it can be argued that the tags did help, because they alerted people to the problems at hand in ways that larger media outlets were not able or willing to do. And in the case of #BringBackOurGirls in particular, the tag was a visible part of the first demonstrations associated with it in Nigeria, let alone the ones that followed around the world. In other words, seeing the tag led people to do just what Rhimes is calling for.

Moreover, what if a person has no outlets — or at least, no safe ones — within their communities? What if a person is not physically or emotionally able to put themselves in the middle of events that are typically crowded, loud and, in a worst-case scenario, potentially dangerous?

Lastly, it cannot be forgotten that Scandal, in particular, has not only survived, but thrived in part thanks to being able to generate such heated online conversation and live-tweeting. As Think Progress reported last year, data has emerged showing that people “sitting on their butt” can have quantifiable — and thus, money-making — influence on a show:

Specifically, the study found that for 18-34 year olds, an 8.5% increase in Twitter volume corresponds to a 1% increase in TV ratings for premiere episodes, and a 4.2% increase in Twitter volume corresponds with a 1% increase in ratings for midseason episodes. Additionally, a 14.0% increase in Twitter volume is associated with a 1% increase in TV program ratings for 35-49 year olds, reflecting a stronger relationship between Twitter and TV for younger audiences.

Further, the study found that the correlation between Tweets and TV ratings strengthens for midseason episodes for both age groups. An increase in Twitter volume of 4.2% and 8.4% is associated with a 1% increase in ratings for 18-34 year olds and 35-49 year olds, respectively. Moreover, by midseason Twitter was responsible for more of the variance in ratings for 18-34 year olds than advertising spend.

So what do you think, Racializens? Was Rhimes off-base?

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Hijab Removal, Iranian Women, and Freedom of Dress

Images via the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page.

By Guest Contributor Sya Taha, cross-posted from Aquila Style.

The liberal feminist organisation Femen and its members’ naked breasts have had their media run. Now a more modest sort of uncovering is happening, this time in Iranian social media. Last month, London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad started a movement on Facebook and Twitter, translated as “My Stealth Freedom”, to highlight the “legal and social restrictions” faced by women in Iran.

Secular and Muslim women all over Iran are posting photos of themselves without the mandated headscarf, in secluded places where there are no Basij (religious police) to punish them for violating the country’s dress code. The movement is led by women who are removing their headscarves and posting photos of themselves of their own free will.

But the title of an article on Vocativ, “The great unveiling,” gave me a bad feeling. It made me uneasy because the idea of “uncovering-as-freedom” is fraught with historical baggage.

The “great unveiling” has already happened. In fact, it’s occurred many times over in modern history. Algeria under French colonisation is the best example of this.
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‘Ahead of her time’: Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014)

By Arturo R. García

Yuri Kochiyama, whose pursuit of social justice exemplified intersectionality as much as it did longevity, passed away on Sunday in California. She was 93.

“She was definitely ahead of her time, and we caught up with her,” relative Tim Toyama told NPR last year.

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