Category Archives: news

Goodbye, Racialicious!

By Andrea Plaid

After being here for five years, it’s time for me to move on, Racialitizens.

Longtime readers remember my starting here as the Sexual Correspondent after my very first post, “What Color Is Your Orgasm?” Then, one of my most talked-about posts had

That's me and Sady Doyle Tiger Beatdown, In These Times) at a Harvard panel for Feminist Coming Out Day.

That’s me and Sady Doyle (Tiger Beatdown, In These Times) at a Harvard panel for Feminist Coming Out Day.

nothing to do with sex, but racialized gender stereotypes, namely about First Lady Michelle Obama as a big-afroed Black militant and President Obama (who was then a presidential candidate) outfitted in gear suggesting that he was a Muslim on the cover of The New Yorker.

Since then, I’ve written about Montana Fisburne’s foray into porn, multiracial swingers cruises, race play (including interviewing the inimitable Mollena Williams!) and John Mayer’s getting into his racism in Playboy, among other topics.

With staff restructuring behind the scenes, I took on the title of Associate Editor and with that, created and co-curated the Tumblr, as well as wrote the Racialicious Crush of the Week column. With that I got to write about such fabulous folks like porn star Keni Styles and filmmaker Mira Nair, as well as interview some extremely cool people like rosa sparks, Scot Nakagawa, and Profs. Blair L.M. Kelly, Tamura Lomax, Heidi Renee Lewis, and Jakeya Carruthers.

Thanks to the incredible opportunities provided by my writing here, I’ve written at other media outlets, like RH Reality Check, Bitch, and On the Issues. I’ve also gotten to give my opinions about race, sex, gender, and pop culture at places like In These Times and Melissa Harris-Perry. Oh yeah! And at Ebony.com, which named me one of the “8 Dynamic Black Women Editors in New Media.”

So, where am I going and what am I doing after this? Well, a few places and things:

1) I’m starting a new blog with Racialicious’ Senior Editor Tami Winfrey Harris called Squeezed Between Feminisms! With our target audience of Gen Xers and a crew of 40- and 50-something feminists of color writing with us, we’ll still be posting about pop culture, but also about race, gender, parenthood, sex and sexualities, and other topics as they intersect with feminism. We already have a Facebook page and will be tweeting very soon (@sbfeminisms), and check out our debut on Sunday, 9/15! To say that we’re excited about it is an understatement!

2) The aforementioned Mollena Williams and I are co-producing an co-directing a documentary about the intraracial politics of Black people and “ashiness,” as some Black folks call dry skin. We started filming back in June and just shot a great segment with fabulous love and life expert Abiola Abrams in Brooklyn! Check out our FB page, stay tuned for our tweets (@ashydocumentary), and please feel free to submit a video about your own “ashy” story at ashythedocumentary@gmail.com!

3) I haven’t completely walked away from progressive writing collectives. I’m now hanging out with said Dr. Lomax and the rest of the incredible collective at The Feminist Wire!

4) I also compiled some of my posts from Racialicious–and from RH Reality Check and Bitch.com–into an e-book, coming out before year’s end.

5) I’m the featured “lady ” for this month’s episode of Ladypoints, a web series about women doing the creative life on their own terms.

6) I’m an associate producer for Black Folk Don’t!

With all that said, I take my leave, and I leave a bouquet of gratitude to Owner/Editor Latoya Peterson and Racialicious  co-founder Carmen Sognonvi, who let me do my thang with some great guidance and belief in my writing talent, and to you, the Racialicious community, for being the engaging folks you are.

It’s been real, y’all. Take care!

 

Excerpt: On The Death Of Fukushima Plant Hero Masao Yoshida

Former Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant manager Masao Yoshida. Image via RT/Agence France-Presse

The ex-head of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant Masao Yoshida, 58, died at a Tokyo hospital of esophageal cancer on July 9, 2013. Doctors have maintained repeatedly that Yoshida’s illness has had nothing to do with exposure to high doses of radiation.Yoshida is believed to have prevented the world’s worst atomic accident in 25 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986.

After March 11, 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima nuclear plant, General Manager in the Nuclear Asset Management Department of the Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. (TEPCO) Masao Yoshida remained in charge of the rectification of the consequences of the disaster for more than six months, barely leaving the station.

It was Yoshida’s own decision to disobey HQ orders to stop using seawater to cool the reactors. Instead he continued to do so and saved the active zones from overheating and exploding. Had he obeyed the order, the whole of north eastern Japan would possibly have been uninhabitable for decades, if not centuries.

After the catastrophe, the Japanese government ordered the forced evacuation of about 80,000 residents from a 20km no-entry zone around Fukushima plant which became unlivable.

On November 28, 2011, Yoshida was admitted to hospital, where cancer was diagnosed.
- via RT

Open Thread: The Boston Marathon Bombings, The Boston Manhunt, And The Race To Racism

By Andrea Plaid

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg observes a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts April 17, 2013. This is the first sporting event to be held in Boston after the explosions that killed three and injured more than one hundred at the Boston Marathon. Image via Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi/Landov

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg observes a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts April 17, 2013. This is the first sporting event to be held in Boston after the explosions that killed three and injured more than one hundred at the Boston Marathon. Image via Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi/Landov

Different city, same racism.

Boston, as you may know, suffered from two bomb blasts during its marathon bearing its name this past Monday. As the city struggles to recover from this recent tragedy, we’re getting reports that the alleged bombers got into a shootout with law enforcement overnight–including throwing explosives–that moved through Cambridge and Watertown. According to reports, one of the suspects died in the shootout, and the police are waging a large manhunt for the other one. All of this has locked down the city, the reports continue, with MIT, Harvard, and public schools  shut down, public transportation suspended,  air space restricted, and advisories to the residents to stay indoors.

What we’re also finding out is about the suspects themselves: the police killed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the shootout and are looking for his brother Dzhokar. The siblings come from the Russian Federation country of Chechnya, in the Caucus region. The brothers are, literally, Caucasians–which, in the US, is the (inaccurate) synonym for white people in general.

Continue reading

David Phan’s Suicide Sparks Grief, Anger, And A Call For Justice

By Guest Contributor Terry K. Park, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

David Phan at age seven, at Arches National Park. Courtesy of the Phan family.

After their son took his own life on November 29th, David Phan’s family received two boxes. One box, sent by Bennion Junior High, was filled with generic pamphlets on how to deal with suicide-related grief. The other box, given by current and former classmates, contained over 600 letters expressing their support and sorrow for the loss of their child. These letters, according to family advocate Steven Ha, paint a portrait of a 14-year-old who, despite being a victim of bullying himself, protected other victims of bullying. At a December 20th briefing for local Asian American activists at the offices of the Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, Ha read out loud one such letter from a former classmate:

“Dear Phan family. Your son David is a life saver. I’m going to miss him…This kid is amazing, has a great personality…I’ve never met someone who could make me smile when I’m deeply sad. He saved my sister’s life. She was going to kill herself, but you [David] talked her out of it. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have a sister because of him, your son…I will not forget you [David]. I am letting balloons go in the air to honor you. I’m so lucky to have met him. He always made everyone smile…If someone was sad, he’d ask if they need a hug. He was the hero of the school. If only I was still there, I would’ve made sure this wouldn’t have happened.”

Tragically, it did. And now a Vietnamese American family grieves for the loss of their son and seeks answers. The answers given by Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsely in the immediate wake of David’s suicide were not only insufficient but struck the Phan family and supporters as defensive, insensitive, and even illegal. “David,” said Horsely, faced “significant personal challenges on multiple fronts” for which he supposedly received support for from a guidance counselor. And despite a report of bullying several years ago, “[David] never reported any further bullying concerns and, on the contrary, reported that things were going well.”

Continue reading

Race And Masculinity: Perils, Pride And Pushing The Boundaries Of Perception #FacingRace

  1. aboynamedart
    Our #RaceMasculinity presenters today: Mod. Dominique Appollon, Bayete Ross Smith, Alan Jenkins, Salem Acuña #FacingRace
  2. Acuña works with Southerners On New Ground. Jenkins is the executive director of The Opportunity Agenda. Smith is a photographer and multimedia artist working with Question Bridge. And Appollon is the research director for the Applied Research Center’s California office
  3. aboynamedart
    Salem: we should center our discussions around feminist disc. of patriarchy and gender domination #FacingRAce
  4. aboynamedart
    Salem: I grew up with idea of “Man of the House” as something I had to navigate b/c of my sexual/gender identity #FacingRace
  5. aboynamedart
    Salem: Struggle to be “man of the house” led to me not being there for my brother. I was “angsty.” #FacingRace
  6. aboynamedart
    Salem: I’d like to see masculinity transform into something positive that doesn’t divide queer/straight MOC #FacingRace
  7. From SONG’S website: “ we believe that while the South is a physical geography of white supremacy and poverty and how they form plantations, mountaintop removal, and slave labor, it is also more than that. It is a place of redemption and hope for many: a place where folk reconcile with past in an honest and painful way; a place where people can stay in lands riddled with pain and remember old traditions; and birth new ways.”
  8. aboynamedart
    Salem: Race/Masc./Gender are not these narrow things. There’s a spectrum – “I call it a galaxy.” #FacingRace
  9. aboynamedart
    Salem: Idea that POC masc. have to be “tough or rough” is harmful to both queer and straight MOC #FacingRace
  10. aboynamedart
    Salem: those stereotypes stay there because we don’t do the work to transform them. #facingrace
  11. aboynamedart
    Jenkins: my (black) brother, teaching english in china, wrote telling me people were afraid of him. #FacingRace
  12. aboynamedart
    Jenkins: impressions of race in China guided by access to media depictions of it by American outlets. #FacingRace
  13. aboynamedart
    Jenkins: my interest is looking at full universe of race, gender & sexual identity #FacingRace
  14. aboynamedart
    Jenkins: Americans are still carrying around a ton of stereotypes/bias when it comes to race & gender roles. #FacingRace
  15. The Opportunity Agenda has commissioned three studiesaddressing media representations of black men, saying:” Research shows that distorted media representations can impact perceptions and attitudes toward African-American males and affect many aspects of their lives, from receiving harsher sentencing by judges to having a lower likelihood than whites of being hired for a job and admitted to school. But distorted media depictions can also affect African-American males’ self-perceptions and lead to diminished self-esteem and lower performance in cognitive contexts, among other detrimental effects. In the end, black men are their own harshest critics.”

  16. aboynamedart
    Jenkins plays unedited version of an interview where a black child says he wants a gun because he wants to be an officer #FacingRace
  17. aboynamedart
    The broadcast version stops clip after child says “I’m gonna get me a gun.” No mention of him wanting to be a cop. #FacingRace
  18. aboynamedart
    Smith: News & journalism is constructed for the sake of building certain stories #FacingRace
  19. aboynamedart
    Smith works for Question Bridge, a multimedia project/curriculum to engage with students #FacingRace
  20. aboynamedart
    Question Bridge films blk men asking and answering questions of each other #FacingRace
  21. Take a look at the project here.
  22. aboynamedart
    Smith: Q.B. provides insight into a convo you usually wouldn’t see, even as a black male #FacingRace
  23. aboynamedart
    our #RaceMasculinity persenters now leading breakout sessions. Will work to share their stories on @Racialicious moving forward #FacingRace

Want To Land A Knight Fellowship?

Calling all journalists, documentary filmmakers, freelancers, and media makers of color!

And hey Racialicious crew! It’s been a while. I know I have a million and one things to write about. I still have to write my “Coming to Stanford” post, a post about Argo, finish the Octavia Butler book club, and some hanging posts about fandom, film, and Afro-Asiatic allegories.  And I won’t even tell you my Knight to-do list because it is starting to give me hives.  But if you are even thinking of maybe applying to this awesome fellowship, please join us on a call Tuesday.  The details (that I conveniently snatched from the NABJ Digital blog):

Join the NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force, along with the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Hispanic Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association for a conference call on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time to discuss the application process for the 2013-14 class of John S. Knight Journalism Fellows at Stanford University.  The program is actively seeking a more diverse talent pool and is reaching out to journalists of color.  The call will feature one current and two past Knight fellows:

Knight Fellowships director Jim Bettinger will give an overview of the program and introduce the fellows. The fellows will discuss their application process, the work they did during their 10 months at Stanford and offer tips for those who may consider applying.  We’ll then open it up to questions.
The call will be recorded for those who can’t make the live call. You can also tweet your questions to @NABJDigital or email questions to auntbenet AT Gmail DOT com.Dial-in Number: 1-213-226-0400
Conference code: 878554

Application link: http://knight.stanford.edu/news-notes/2012/be-a-knight-fellow-applications-now-open/

I also want to point out that The John S. Knight Fellowships is currently kicking ass on diversity, as reported by Richard Prince:

Less than a week after the Knight journalism fellowships program at Stanford University chose a fellowship class comprising more than half journalists of color, the Nieman fellowships at Harvard University announced an incoming class that appears to be devoid of African Americans. [...] In the current Nieman class, Jonathan Blakley, an African American foreign desk producer at NPR, is the only U.S. journalist of color.

But it could always be better. So please, come hang on the call.  And if you are worried that you aren’t quite right for this fellowship, I encourage you to reconsider.   I’ve put my journalistic bio under the jump, the one I actually submitted. And my fellow Fellows include filmmakers, comic artists, bloggers, and one awesome person who was basically running “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” for famous Arabs. Your idea is the most important thing here. So go check it out.  And if you have questions, jump on the call.   Continue reading

Hate Crimes

by Guest Contributor Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed

I stepped out of my car, pink skies streaking dusky blues overhead. The hot desert heat stung my skin while the temperature simultaneously dropped dramatically, stirring up that Maghrib winds that conjures up images of swooping invisible jinns snatching at your uncovered hair. Apprehensively I stood, looking first at the large American flag gracing the chain linked fence of the house across the street. I then looked at the mosque, which was really just a 1970s California ranch style house that was being used as a mosque–the Al Nur Mosque located in Ontario, CA. It was hard to think that this was the “scary Mozlem temple” that elicited three pig feet being thrown in the driveway only days earlier by two women in a white truck during the sacred late night Ramadan prayers.

Last time I had been in a mosque was last year when my mother had died, and the last time I had been in this mosque was for the special prayer we held 48 hours after her burial. It was the most spiritually connected moment of my life. I hadn’t been that connected since then, and it held me paralyzed as I stood breathlessly by my car. I wondered how I’d be accepted in this space, showing up alone without my Mom by my side. She was my community conduit. The mosque was created and attended by the Bangladeshi immigrant community that raised me but I was an adult now and building my own communities. But the events of the week weighed down terribly on me, and I knew that I had to be present in this particular mosque as a show of solidarity–or maybe more as a statement. I practiced my Islam defiantly, wore my religion on my brown skin politically. I was Muslim, despite America’s fear.

I stepped into the backyard. I was greeted by foldable tables lined up in rows, paper tablecloths whipping in the wind. The tables were covered with plates of pakoras, channa, dates, and glasses of rose flavored pink drink. Men in white kurtas and thupees sat on one side of the yard, women with dupattas wrapped around their heads sat on the other. The imam caught my eye and smiled at me in recognition. I meekly smiled back. Last time I had seen him we had gotten into a fight over my insistence of having the women’s prayer section up front next to the men’s section for Mom’s funeral prayer instead of hidden in a back room. My Islam was radical in that way.

The mood was calm, normal even. There was no fear hanging in the air, nor were there giddy pleasantries. It felt placid. People saw me and nodded wordlessly, as if after all these years, they’d been expecting me. It had been a long hot day of 109 degrees and people were ready to break their fast. Somewhere in the house, the imam began azaan and the call for prayer. Dates were eaten, water sipped. The tables emptied quietly as people filtered in to pray and as if on cue the desert wind kicked up, knocking pink drinks all over the paper lined tables. The calm mood struck me as odd, but it made sense given the context. If there’s something you learn from a day of fasting in long and hot weather, it’s that you have no time for bullshit.

I, on the other hand, was festering from the weight of the Islamophobia of the week. Continue reading

Hate Crimes Always Have A Logic: On The Oak Creek Gurudwara Shootings

By Guest Contributor Harsha Walia

Candles at the Vigil. Photo: Overpass Light Brigade via DailyKos.

The Oak Creek Gurudwara is my brother’s and frequently my parent’s sangat. Over the years, they have described to me how, with deep love and commitment, the community came together to build the Gurudwara. How every week the Gurudwara provided a refuge, a sanctuary, a sense of home, a sense of belonging from the isolation of being an accented brown-skinned immigrant living in Wisconsin. When I heard about the shooting at Oak Creek Gurudwara, I happened to be facilitating at an immigrant and refugee youth camp. Dozens of young middle-school and high-school aged racialized immigrants and refugees from Latin America, Asia and Africa were describing being taunted and bullied at school, feeling discriminated against by their teachers, the hardships of systemic poverty, daily fears of detention and displacement, and feeling like “unwelcome and unwanted parasites.” As young people in British Columbia, Canada they were articulating an experience of racism similar to that which my family faces living in the Midwest of America.

While these murders were abhorrent, they were not ‘senseless’. The ad nauseaum suggestion that the killings were senseless attempts to construct the shooting as random and without logic, when in fact racist hate crimes operate through the very deliberate and precise logic of white supremacy. Continue reading