I should say that people should take a note of Jackson, because we have suffered some of the worst kinds of abuses in history, but we’re about to make some advances and some strides in the development of human rights and the protection of human rights that I think have not been seen in other parts of the country. And I want to caution folks that we’ve got to be careful now when we talk about any one particular place in the United States.
All over, we’ve seen intense oppression. I’m from Detroit, initially, and we’ve seen a lot of oppression there, historically as well as currently. New York has certainly seen its share. Washington, D.C., has seen its share. So, we don’t want to be like people on different plantations arguing about which plantation is worse. What we have to do is to correct the whole problem, and we’re about correcting the problem here in Jackson. And we’re going to be inviting people to come here, and people want to come here, in order to participate in the struggle forward.
By Guest Contributor Rama Musa, cross-posted from Global Griot
The city of Houston is buzzing with conversations about the social role of art in neighborhood revitalization.
On Dec. 3, 2013, the Texan-French Alliance for the Arts (TFAA) co-organized “Think Thank: Arts, Identity and Urban Revitalization” at the Rothko Chapel. On Jan. 24 – 25, Project Row Houses organized “Social Practice, Social Justice,” a two-day symposium on art as an agent of social justice.
These discussions prompted John Guess Jr., CEO of the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC), to ask, “[In the onslaught of gentrification], how do community-based arts organizations transform the behavioral change of the people, provide a space for transcendence, and offer scholarship for the spirit?” Houston’s Project Row Houses and Rebuild Foundation in Chicago are two nonprofits whose radical social art projects have benefited from, and served as the last frontier against, rapid gentrification in African American neighborhoods.
No, don’t worry, we haven’t been taken over by Zuckerborg. We’re here to announce that our Facebook page is back up and running, with a mix of new and revisited content, and other social justice-related posts.
Now, the trick to getting all of that isn’t just to Like the page, but check the “Get Notifications” option so Facebook knows to highlight it in your feed. Thanks for sticking with us, and follow us as we build up our FB community alongside the R page proper.
We got a pretty good response last week, so with today being Valentine’s Day, let’s try and share some more of the love.
As we stated before, the goal here is to help each other find projects that could a financial boost. We’re looking for stuff of the Indiegogo/Kickstarter variety: academic, artistic, literary, musical, cinematic, etc.
So tell us: What’s out there that needs our support?
From time to time, you’ve seen us shine the spotlight on fundraisers for various projects. Now, it’s your turn.
The rules are simple: In the comments, drop us a link and a quick description for a project you think merits backing; it can be related to academia, art, literature, music, moviemaking — anything artistic, in other words. The idea is to get as many eyes on as many endeavors as possible, and hopefully as much help, as well.
Everyone, the floor is yours.
By Guest Contributor Ellen D. Wu, cross-posted from Nikkei Chicago
Sus Kaminaka was a zoot suiter: one of the many young people in 1940s America who embraced a distinctive, working-class urban aesthetic characterized by flamboyant fashions and irreverent comportment. Kaminaka and other hipsters sported pompadours and ducktail haircuts, “drapes” consisting of broad-shouldered, long fingertip coats tapered at the ankles, pleated pegged pants, wide-brimmed hats, and watch fobs. They also loved to party. Jazz, jitterbugging, lindy hopping, drinking, casual sex, and “cool” were just as integral to the lives of zoot suiters as their characteristic dress.
Sus Kaminaka was also a Nisei: a second-generation American born to immigrant Japanese parents and raised in the farmlands of California’s Sacramento Delta region. Planning to follow in his father’s footsteps, Kaminaka enrolled at a local agricultural college to study truck crops.
But President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, signed on February 19, 1942 and authorizing the secretary of war to “prescribe military areas… from which any or all persons may be excluded” completely upended his ambitions. Ostensibly region- and race-neutral, the order targeted Pacific Coast Japanese Americans. Forced to leave school, home, and community, he soon found himself in the Stockton Assembly Center, one of the 16 temporary way stations for the 120,000 Nikkei (persons of Japanese ancestry) en route to longer-term concentration camps.
On incarceration, Kaminaka’s worldview changed entirely. Previously intent on earning his college degree, a goal he now considered hopeless, he dropped out of his center’s adult education program. Once “proud of living in the best country in the world,” Kaminaka abandoned the idea of registering for the franchise. “I don’t think I was too interested in voting anyway because I didn’t know what it was all about and my vote didn’t mean a thing,” he shrugged. Deciding that hard work was an exercise in futility, he instead “concentrated on having fun like [he] saw the other kids doing.” Before the war, he used to regard Nisei girls as “something sacred” and “never had any dirty thoughts [about] them.” But in Stockton, he shed his “nice boy” reputation. He signed up with an eight-member “gang,” and spent his days and nights chasing young women and going to camp dances. It was during this time that he also acquired his first zoot suit.
By Arturo R. García
The National Council of American Indians released “Proud To Be” over Super Bowl weekend, a video adding more faces and names to the increasing call for the National Football League to change the name of the Washington D.C. franchise.
The league’s latest effort to skirt the issue came Friday, when Commissioner Roger Goodell refused to say whether he would call a Native American person a “R*dskin” to their face, instead hiding behind the argument that the name “presented in a way that honors Native Americans,” and saying 90 percent of Native Americans support keeping the name. (Of course, the league also denied evidence of the game’s physical and mental damage to players for years.)
Goodell’s statement is probably taken from 2002 and 2004 surveys conducted by Sports Illustrated and Anneberg. But it runs counter to an October 2013 NCAI study showing 80 percent disapproval of the team’s name in Native communities as far back as in a poll conducted by Indian Country Today.
“Neither the Sports Illustrated or Annenberg poll verified that the people they were talking to actually were Native people,” the study states. “They did not ask any questions that would have made a case that the people being polled were Native. The Indian Country Today poll was among readers who were likely to be informed about Native issues, if not informed Native people.”
The Oneida Indian Nation released a response to Goodell’s remarks on Friday:
It is deeply troubling that with the Super Bowl happening on lands that were once home to Native Americans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would use the event as a platform to insist that the dictionary-defined R-word racial slur against Native Americans is somehow a sign of honor. Commissioner Goodell represents a $9-billion brand with global reach, yet insists that it is somehow no big deal that his league uses those vast resources to promote this slur. In the process, he conveniently ignores all the social science research showing that the NFL’s promotion of this word has serious cultural and psychological effects on native peoples. Worse, he cites the heritage of the team’s name without mentioning that the name was given to the team by one of America’s most famous segregationists, George Preston Marshall. He also somehow doesn’t mention the heritage of the R-word itself, which was as an epithet screamed at Native Americans as they were forced at gunpoint off their lands. The fact that Mr. Goodell doesn’t seem to know any of this – or is deliberately ignoring it – suggests that for all his claims to be listening, he isn’t listening at all.
While supporting the NCAI’s overall efforts, however, Native Appropriations did point out some problematic aspects of the imagery chosen for the video. Not only were all of the historical figures cited men, she points out, but it relies too heavily on the past for its power:
The whole first minute or so of the clip focuses mostly on powwow images of Native folks in regalia, contrasted with images of reservation poverty, with images of historic figures thrown in as well. Yes, the vast majority of Americans don’t have access to any images of contemporary Native peoples, so the powwow and poverty images are important. But, I really feel like it’s time for us to complicate that narrative. With the historic images, yes, it’s definitely important to recognize the contributions of our leaders in the past–but why do we always have to return to the Edward Curtis photographs and Sitting Bull to make a point about modern Native peoples?
The transcript to the video is presented under the cut.
By Arturo R. García
Heading into our annual holiday break, we want to wish all of you a good week ahead, a fun end to your 2013 and the best of times in the year ahead.
But let’s also take a moment for, “In Defense Of Humbug,” an episode of Ill Doctrine the great Jay Smooth re-posted on Monday, a message for those of us who may be dealing with a rougher situation than normal, or who face a rough situation around this time of year. As JS explains:
I know that this is the most stressful, most depressing, most unhappiest time of year for millions of people. And I know that if you’re one of those people who’s already unhappy, and then you gotta spend six weeks having everyone else come up to you like,
- ‘Hey, have a happy holiday!’
- ‘I hope you’re having a happy one!’
- ‘Don’t you go wearing a frown’
- ‘What are ya, some kind of Scrooge? Is something wrong with you? Society demands that you be happy!
If I’m one of those people who’s already unhappy, that is not helpful. That makes it worse. If I’m not having a happy holiday, it isn’t because I forgot to do it. I don’t need you to remind me.
As someone who only recently learned to manage my own “holiday blues” — basically it takes keeping my energy up the first 11 months of the year and trying to ride the momentum through this one — a lot of this message hit home for me.
But before ending this, let me just say thanks to the entire Racialicious community, staff, allies, readers, and contributors alike for another great year. Already starting to plot ahead for 2014. We’ll be back on Jan. 2, so everybody take care until then.