Category Archives: activism

Open Thread: Help Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

By Arturo R. García

I struggle to find words even for the images that we see on the news coverage. And I struggle to find words to describe how I feel about the losses. Up to this hour, I agonize, waiting for word to the fate of my very own relatives. What gives me renewed strength and great relief is that my own brother has communicated to us, and he had survived the onslaught. In the last two days, he has been gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands. He is very hungry and weary, as food supplies find it difficult to arrive in that hardest-hit area.

Mr. President, these last two days, there are moments when I feel that I should rally behind climate advocates who peacefully confront those historically responsible for the current state of our climate, these selfless people who fight coal, expose themselves to freezing temperatures or block oil pipelines. In fact, we are seeing increasing frustration, and thus more increased civil disobedience. The next two weeks, these people and many around the world who serve as our conscience will again remind us of this enormous responsibility. To the youth here who constantly remind us that their future is in peril, to the climate heroes who risk their life, reputation and personal liberties to stop drilling in polar regions and to those communities standing up to unsustainable and climate-disrupting sources of energy, we stand with them. We cannot solve problems at the same level of awareness that created them, as Dr. Pachauri alluded to Einstein earlier. We cannot solve climate change when we seek to spew more emissions.

Mr. President—and I express this with all sincerity, in solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, with all due respect, Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP, until a meaningful outcome is in sight; until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund—we cannot afford a fourth COP with an empty GCF; until the promise of the operationalization of a loss-and-damage mechanism has been fulfilled; until there is assurance on finance for adaptation; until we see real ambition on climate action in accordance with the principles we have so upheld.
– Naderev “Yeb” Saño, climate change commissioner for the Philippines, 2013 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change

(Via Democracy Now)

In the wake of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, we’ve opened up this space for our readers to share relief resources, and to pass some along ourselves.

Thanks, first of all, to DJ and longtime activist Kuttin Kandi for compiling this list of trustworthy relief groups. (Note: Be very wary of the Red Cross). Among the groups she mentions:

On Tuesday night, the filmmaking duo National Film Society held an online telethon encouraging fans to donate to these groups:

Also, Guidestar and Charity Navigator are providing their own listings of recommended groups to which you can donate.

Readers, are there any events/charities in your area related to the cause?

Not Your Model Minority: Asian Americans and the Immigration Fight

By Guest Contributor S. Nadia Hussain, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

Gregory Cendana arrested in Washington DC during Oct 8th’s action for immigration reform. Photo by Soyun Park/AAPI Immigration Table.

On October 8, Gregory Cendana, the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) was arrested, along with two hundred other activists and eight members of Congress in our nation’s capitol. In photos from that day, he is seen being led away in handcuffs with a pride flag tied around his neck like superhero cape and a handwritten t-shirt — with the words “Not your Model Minority” scrawled on the front. Cendana is Asian American and his actions that day stood as a testament to the diverse communities that are impacted by the lack of immigration reform.

Immigration is often framed as an issue impacting mostly Latino populations. According to the Pew Hispanic Center — though the modern immigration wave from Latin America has made up 50% of US immigration, migration from Asia makes up a substantial 27%. Outside of Mexico, the leading countries of origin of immigrants are India, the Philippines and China.  Asians make up 13% of the US undocumented population. The US Office of Homeland security estimates that as of 2009, the largest undocumented Asian populations are 270,000 immigrants from the Philippines, 200,000 from India, 200,000 from Korea and 120,000 from China.

Continue reading

Help 18 Million Rising Stop Sirius XM’s Con Creeper

By Arturo R. García

Sirius FM “producer” Mike Babchik. Image via 18 Million Rising.

Michael Babchik seems to be content to represent the dregs of the Internet. And Sirius XM seems to be content not to discuss that. But the 18 Million Rising campaign isn’t going to let them get away with it.

Babchik first brought attention to himself at this year’s New York Comic-Con, during which he and the crew of one of his projects, “Man Banter” — one of those programs for the highly-coveted Nice Guys of OkCupid demographic — were accredited as press for the event and used that access to conduct “interviews” with women on the con floor. Including Friend of The R Diana M. Pho (aka Ay-leen The Peacemaker).

Here’s an excerpt of that encounter, as shared by Dianaon Tumblr, with Babchik at that point only identified as The Creepy Interviewer

TCI: Are you a geisha?
Me: No.
TCI: Can I be a geisha?
(Warning bell two)
Me. No, you can’t.
TCI: Why not?
Me: Because you lack certain things, like style, tact, grace—
TCI: Ah, but do I smell?
Me: Well, I dunno, I’e only stood next to you for about 20 seconds, so I can’t tell if you do or not. But however—
TCI: Well in my experience, girls who stand next to me longer than 20 seconds get a cream pie.
(silence)
Me: I would give you a slap in the face.

Diana reported the incident, and in a welcome show of solidarity, many other attendees boosted the signal, so much so that Banchik was identified, removed from the event and banned forever. According to con leadership, Babchik and his crew were “very careful to stress to all involved the Sirius was not involved in any way.”

But as it turns out, while Sirius XM did not send “Man Banter” to the convention, Babchik still works for the company, for something called Mad Dog Sports Radio. However, when 18 Million Rising members have attempted to ask about this on Sirius’ Facebook page, the company has seen fit to delete their comments.

The message is clear: Sirius would rather not draw attention to the fact that one of its employees likes to go to public events and harass women, despite that person seemingly using his association with the company to scam his way into press accreditation. 18 Million Rising has an online petition calling for Babchik’s ouster from his position, which as of Monday morning has reached 81 percent of its goal of 2,000 signatures. Activities like his are a smear on broadcasting on top of a safety hazard for women in public spaces, and Sirius should find a modicum of shame in recognizing that.

Spirit Day Special: Women and the Word Takes The Show On The Road

By Arturo R. García

The documentary Women and the Word would be worth spotlighting any day, but it’s an especially good time to consider it on Spirit Day. The all-woman project spotlights a group of queer women artists as they hit the road for a series of shows that, as the trailer promises, has “an energy, an attitude, a swag, that’s never been seen before in literary art.”

Filmmakers Andrea Boston and Sekiya Dorsett’s follow visual artist Elizah Turner, musicians Be Steadwell and Jonquille “SolSis” Rice and poet (also known as Dappho the Flow-Er), T’ai Freedom Ford, as well as executive producer and “tour mastermind” Jade Foster, who called the nine-city series of shows “The Revival,” after a 2009 gathering that gave Foster the idea to put it together as a showcase and safe space for queer women of color. The film also features interviews with Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Kim Katrin Crosby, and members of the Earth Pearl Collective, among others.

The project is also currently raising funds on Kickstarter to cover the final $15,000 in post-production costs, an all-or-nothing campaign that ends on November 12.

“A successful Kickstarter campaign is critical, not only for the creation of our film, but for the advancement of queerwomen of color,” Dorsett says. “Our beautiful stories should be included in the cultural discussion and shared by members of our community and beyond. We exist. And our voices must be heard.”

Race + Tech: Watch Black Girls Code’s Kimberly Bryant’s TED Talk

By Arturo R. García

The opening of Kimberly Bryant’s video lays it out: “Just to say the words ‘Black Girls’ is revolutionary.”

In this presentation from a TED Talks event in Kansas City in August 2013, Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant takes us through not just the development of BGC, but her own upbringing in Memphis, a hub of social change in its own right.

“As a child of the ’60s, I like to think that revolution and radical action was running through my veins, from the time I set foot on the Earth,” she explains. What she has built, she says, is a movement not just for the nerdy girl she was growing up, but for girls like her daughter, and girls “who believe the revolution of this generation is, indeed, technology.”

Voices: March For Immigrant Dignity And Respect

By Arturo R. García

About 3,000 people attended the March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect in San Diego, Calif. All pictures by Arturo R. García.

On Saturday, thousands of immigrants and immigration advocates took to the streets across the country for the national March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect, a renewed call for U.S. lawmakers to stop dragging their feet on heavily-promised immigration reform. In San Diego, the event drew at least 3,000 people by police estimates, a mix of religious, labor, education and nursing groups from multiple communities.

In English: “Obama, where is the reform?”

Continue reading

Race + Feminism + Science: #Rose4Space Nears Milestone Victory

By Arturo R. García

It’s anybody’s guess whether the people at Axe Malaysia imagined Roshini Muniam would be in this position. But as of Wednesday morning, the 27-year-old graduate student is seemingly poised to win the online poll determining the country’s representative at its “space academy” in Florida.

The great Jaymee Goh has been following and promoting Muniam’s candidacy — which picked up online speed under the #Rose4Space tag — and defending her against a spate of online trolls who are aghast that a woman is crashing what they see as their club.

As Goh Hosannas posted on Saturday:

1) Rose is a woman of colour from a particularly oppressed minority group in Malaysia.

2) I am a woman of colour, and from the same minority group.

3) I’ve been called every nasty name under the sun for exhibiting “male behaviour” that – were I male – would result in the exact opposite (i.e. I’d be called “straight-talking” and “solid” instead of “nagging Indian bitch” “shrill feminazi”.

4) QED, it’s personal, brah. My voting for Rose is pretty fucking personal.

5) If your friend can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Internet competitions are run on popularity/sentiment. He knew that.

The balloting is officially closed, with the winner to be announced on Sept. 24. But, the last reported standings were still visible on Axe Malaysia’s Facebook page:

Based on that tally, Muniam leads her closest competitor by 31,287 after completing an impressive surge to the finish line, considering that, as the Malaysian Insider reported on Saturday, she was in last place less than a week ago, and targeted for harassment on top of that:

[The newspaper] reported yesterday that the post graduate student was discriminated against and insulted on her profile featured in Axe’s Facebook page, due to her gender.

A comment posted by Syed Wazien expressed surprise at a woman’s desire to go to space while another, by Dimitriy Mirovsky, was more insulting, saying that women should be prohibited from the competition as they menstruate.

A check by The Malaysian Insider today showed that the sexist comments had been removed by Axe’s Facebook administrators.

Axe, in a statement to The Malaysian Insider, said it is committed to ensuring its online platforms are regulated and the sensitivities of its fans and consumers are safeguarded.

“We do not condone remarks that are offensive or discriminatory and have processes in place to ensure these interactions comply with our communications guidelines.”

One of the upsides to Muniam’s burgeoning campaign is, even (Heavens forbid) in the event of an 11th-hour comeback by one of the young men competing against her, Axe Malaysia would no doubt face tremendous online pressure to verify any sudden drop of hers in the standing, not to mention a side-eye for any future contests. Meanwhile, Muniam’s supporters are unlikely to fade away. As Goh mentioned on Monday, “One of the best things about this #Rose4Space campaign is finding so many cool Malaysian Tumblrites.”

And if they’re organizing now, who knows what they could do in the future if they keep coming together?

Edit: The first blockquote has been correctly atributed to Hosannas.

#POC4culturalenrichment: The Racialicious Interview

By Arturo R. García

All tweets posted with permission of Suey Park.

Colorado State University graduate student Suey Park opened up another welcome Twitter discussion into diversity and race relations over the weekend when she coined the tag #POC4culturalenrichment, which picked up steam within a day of her beginning to recount her own experiences. But rather than try to sum up the story, we contacted Park — who has also blogged about the #KeepVeronicaHome campaign — to get her account of what led her to delve into the topic, and where it led her.

AG: From what I could tell — and please, correct me if I’m mistaken — the tweet above was your first tweet that used the tag. But let’s talk about what led you to coin it and begin to elaborate on your experiences.

SP: It’s been building up for a while, honestly. It seems I’m only allowed to talk about racism if I center my world around the feelings, power, and learning of white people. I have consistently been reprimanded from both people of power who have progressed within a white heteopatriachal system and white folks that the pathway to success is playing your cards the right way. That is, acting like the focus of racial justice should be centering our work around developing white allies and reinforcing hurtful power dynamics. It also means shifting from focusing on baseline survival of people of color to the self-improvement of white folks who want to challenge biases to feel less guilty. This doesn’t actually fix the situation, it gives white people a free pass for letting racism continue by letting them point to and identify something might be racist, why deflecting any personal responsibility. And although it’s cliche to say, people totally think people of color should still pull themselves up by their bootstraps to some extent. Even the first lady and President talking about the “personal responsibility” of people of color to improve their situations, but we never talk about the personal responsibility of white folks to do something very simple: to educate themselves.

Continue reading