Tag Archives: activism

30 Under 30: Mia Mingus

By Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

miamingus

Mia Mingus
Age: 28
Co-Executive Director, SPARK Reproductive Justice Now

Why she’s influential: Because she’s an agent of real-world change in the reproductive justice movement. Mia Mingus is a queer, physically disabled Korean American transracial/ transnational adoptee, living and organizing in the Southeast. She currently serves as one of the Co-Directors of SPARK Reproductive Justice Now in Atlanta and believes that reproductive justice is crucial in the struggle for social change and the fight to end oppression.

Mia is an activist, organizer, thinker, writer, artist and speaker who’s not only in the middle of it all, but connecting it all together. Through her work on disability, race, gender, reproductive justice, sexuality, transracial and transnational adoption, and intersectional identities/politics, she recognizes the urgency and barriers for oppressed communities to work together and build alliances for liberation.

If you’re at all involved with the queer, API, and/or disability social justice movements, you know that Mia is a transformative figure. Maybe you saw her speak at the US Social Forum Plenary on Gender and Sexuality or attended her workshop on Reproductive Justice at NAASCON 08. Perhaps you heard her speak as the keynote of the Western Regional Queer Conference 09 or receiving the Creating Change Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Though her activism changes and evolves, her roots remain firmly planted in ending sexual violence. On top of all that, everyone I spoke to about Mia describes her as a warm, thoughtful, accessible, and incredibly nice.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Steph Lee, one of several people who nominated Mia: “The fierce leadership of a young, queer, disabled, transracially/ transnationally adopted Korean woman should be recognized so that we can continue to more lovingly and effectively connect, break shit down, and keep building shit up.”

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.

The Fall of the I-Hotel (Curtis Choy, 1983)

by Guest Contributor Geo, originally published at Prometheus Brown

A little over a decade ago, this documentary changed my life.

It was the first time I had seen or heard about Manong Al Robles, longtime community organizer, activist, writer — a pillar in the Fil-Am and API community in San Francisco. He not only narrates this documentary, but is featured in it. He is shown interacting with the elderly Filipino tenants who face eviction from the only home they know: the International Hotel in what was then Manilatown, SF. He is the glue that holds director Curtis Choy’s amazing footage together, in one scene doing a voice-over with his own poetry, in the next scene he’s marching in protest alongside organizers, confronting city officials, blockading police from entering the building on eviction day. Even as the story unfolds toward the inevitable tragedy of the building’s demolition, Manong Al’s presence gave one an impression of hope. Not that idealistic hope that, perhaps, the fight against the city’s “development” plans might somehow prevail.

No, this hope was and still is something greater. Some fights that aren’t won are still victories — as evidenced by the outpouring of community support and internationalist solidarity for the I-Hotel. Though the building was lost, Manong Al and them laid the groundwork for all of us who continue their tireless work to stand up for our communities. The Fall of the I-Hotel, more than a story about a building, more than a story about its tenants or even the fight to save, is a rally cry still heard loud and clear nearly 30 years later.

News that Manong Al had passed away reached me last night as we sat in anticipation for the Pacquiao/Hatton fight to begin. Suddenly, I had realized that, in all my trips to San Francisco, even performing once at Kearny Street Workshop where he was a resident poet, I never got a chance to meet Manong Al, which made the subsequent celebration bittersweet. But as I looked around a room full of cheering Filipinos, I thought of his poetry in his book Rappin’ With Ten Thousand Carabao in the Dark, where he described nights of kickin it, drinkin, celebrating with the Manongs. I thought about the Manongs who were evicted from the I-Hotel, whose sad faces, captured on film, I can never shake. And I thought about how, no matter what bullshit comes our way, or perhaps because of all the bullshit that comes our way, we live for nights like these.

Rest in Power, Manong Al Robles!

Online Tributes to Al Robles:

Hyphen Magazine: R.I.P. Al Robles
Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc.: Al Robles, RIP

On Race, Networks, and Access

by Latoya Peterson

Okay, a little over my self-imposed posting limit for today but I wanted to get this out while all the ideas were fresh in my mind.

In the wee hours of the morning on Monday, a friend of mine dropped me an email. She asked if I could make it to a meeting that day to talk about communications for the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Now, this friend has taught me more than I ever thought I could know about national security tactics, nation building, underground democracy movements, and back room deals in Washington. At this point, when she says “Hey, you should check this out,” I mentally prepare myself to take the red pill and fall down the rabbit hole.

So she said “Show up at 4 at this Congressional Building” and I told my job I had to take off early. I arrived at 4:15 and entered a room, and quickly realized:

    1. I was one of a handful of people of color.
    2. That most of these people knew each other, and were bloggers, congressional employees/aides, or think tank employees.
    3. That what we were talking about was how to shape the messages that made it to the Congressional floor.

Continue reading

Open Thread: Racism 101, Beyond Bingo Cards

by Latoya Peterson

Regular reader Elton Joe recently sent around a Facebook message around a spate of comments over at Digg, about a New York Times opinion piece inspired by Eric Holder’s comments about being “a nation of cowards.”

After reading through the normal comments accompanying a piece about race – blacks are the real racists, an instance of bad behavior by one member of a certain racial group is equated to an entire history of discrimination and subjugation, the insistence that slavery was so long ago that nothing else is happening, accusations of “playing the race card” and the ever interesting “if whites are a nation of cowards, are blacks a nation of bitches?” question (with 41 diggs) – Elton had enough. He wrote:

I propose we make a cheat sheet with the most common arguments about racism followed by summary counterarguments. I’m not saying that answers to racism are short and easy, but I keep seeing and hearing the same inane, clichéd statements over and over and over again, on the Internet, in daily conversation, on TV, in movies, and in print, especially from deniers of racism who misunderstand what racism even is.

For dialogue on racism to even get off the ground, we must require people who don’t know shit about racism, who have never experienced it, who, indeed, benefit from it, to SHUT UP FOR ONCE and let people who have something to say say something instead of having our voices
eternally stifled and marginalized. That censorship is at the core of the systematized oppression that is racism. Continue reading

Confrontations, Indian Villages, and the start of Black History Month

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

Okay, so I’ll be honest, my night didn’t really start off too well. Waiting for the streetcar to come so I can go check out the much anticipated photo exhibit for “Prom Night in Mississippi” I see this gem of a display in a popular Queen West shoe store right across the street:

Between debating on going inside to voice my annoyance and offense, or hopping the fast approaching streetcar on this bitterly cold night and making my opinions heard later, I chose to go inside, and become angrier by the second as I make my way over there. Who the hell do they think they are? I’m probably like the tenth person who complained, I mean this is Toronto, for heaven’s sake!

“Excuse me, I am extremely offended by the “Indian” village display at the front of the store, can I speak to the manager?” I ask.

“Thank goodness you said something! No, he’s not here, but yeah, I said something and since I’m just an employee, it didn’t change.” she replies.

Turns out the company making the moccasins, mukluks, and boots on display is called Laurentian Chiefs, and she proceeds to tell me how they are actually from a reserve in Quebec (although I still have yet to confirm all the details of who this company really is).

“So does Laurentian Chiefs mandate the store to put on a display like that?”  I continue.

“No, my boss just went out and bought the stuff.” she says.

Well that’s just great, especially considering all the amazingly gifted (and popular!) Native fashion designers, photographers, artists, and countless others in Toronto who could have easily given them some better guidance on how to put together a more realistic and ethical display.  There are more than 60 000 Aboriginal people who live in this city. And apparently, I’m the first person who has said anything about it.

After collecting said manager’s info and being assured my comments would be passed along, I go back outside to wait for another streetcar, when a group of young Native women come along and also take notice of the display.

“That’s just racist, man.” one of them says. Continue reading

Poverty and the One-Third World

by Guest Contributor Tagland, originally published at Tanglad

I am an immigrant woman of the Two-Thirds World, who is living with the One-Third World.

I first came across Esteva and Prakash’s concept of the One Third/Two Thirds World via Chandra Mohanty’s Feminism Without Borders. The concepts recognize the transnational nature of capital, and how policies instituted by people in the One-Third World (middle and upper classes in the North and elites in the South) destabilize the lives of those in the Two-Thirds World, comprised by majority of the world’s population.

And most of the time, those of us in the One-Third World remain unaware of how our actions, well-meaning or otherwise, generate and perpetuate poverty and hardship.

For example, many of us in the One-Third World rarely reflect on our patterns of consumption, on how overconsumption contributes to substandard working conditions in Export Processing Zones around the world. If you’ve ever bought clothes from Nike, the Gap, or purchased products from Walmart and Target, for example, please take a minute to consider why your purchases seem so “affordable.” Ditto with that $2 bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s.

If you want to help those in poverty, take some more time to consider the consequences of top-down assistance programs that are instituted without any input or consultation from the communities themselves. This includes turning a critical eye on programs that present capacity-building and microcredit as solutions to poverty, rather than stopgap measures to systemic problems that are exacerbated by globalization. This means actually listening to the people in communities when they say that they need healthcare and education programs instead of yet another start-up handicraft business. Continue reading

Barack Obama and the Native Vote

by Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

Like millions of people all over the world, I’m ecstatic, over-the-moon inspired by Obama’s win. If for no other reason (and all the others too in which we share the same opinion, like abortion for example) than his win is actually a good thing for the people in my community. Yes indeed, the new leadership of Barack Obama in the United States of America is good for Native people, and you can sure as hell bet that a whole lot of us voted for him, and are counting on him to really give a crap about the issues we are facing.

Like right now.

Several times last night, I heard:

“If a Black man can do it, so can we.”
“We need a Native Barack Obama.”
“A man of colour in office is a victory for us all!”

Which were all great things to hear than the usual cutting each other up in stereotypes and ignorance I usually see. To me, this represented an unveiling of a layer of oppression, where you had the Indigenous peoples of this land busting ass so that a fellow marginalized person could clean house with votes within a system none of us created, to make real change that we all sorely need.

Especially if you are still being colonized, I might add.

The First Americans for Obama Campaign was a true attempt at engaging the Native Americans here to work in solidarity with Obama on our common ground issues, and get the Democratic Party to pay a little more attention to the severity of what is going on in our communities. I’ll admit myself that when I first heard about it, I immediately wanted to jump on the bandwagon of actually seeing our people represented in such a public light with the star that is Obama, but now being at the end of the campaign, I can honestly say that it did not do a good enough job of reaching out to where we actually are, which for a high percentage of us is in rural and remote places. In addition to that important factor, I have several friends and family members who although they were Obama supporters, refused to even wear a “First American for Obama” t-shirt, because of the offensive nature of referring to us as “Americans”, which of course we are not. Continue reading

Vibe Magazine Asks That You Barack the Vote

by Latoya Peterson

In this month’s issue of Vibe, Barack Obama receives a formal endorsement from the magazine. Danyel Smith’s Editor’s Letter is an impassioned plea to get involved and help push Barack all the way into the White House. She writes:

We value freedom and aspire to be better than we are, and to live in a country that will be better than it is. We must vote for Senator Obama and for Senator Joe Biden. We must make sure our friends get to the ballot box. We must reach deep for every bit of idealism we had at the beginning of rap music. We must not be cool. We must not again make manifest the “apathy” label that has been thrust upon us. This is not a moment to be reviewed or dissected, or gazed upon from an ironic distance. This moment in history is ours. Our country will not be okay if Obama loses.

The issue goes on to provide three key pieces of political commentary: Obama’s own letter to Vibe readers, Jeff Chang’s “The Tipping Point,” a piece that explores the shifting nature of our political landscape, and a compilation of 99 hip-hoppers positions on politics.

Obama’s letter cuts straight to the heart of the apathy Danyel Smith describes in her intro piece:

Now, I’ve heard people say, “My vote doesn’t matter,” “My vote won’t count,” or “I’m just one person, what possible difference can I make?” And I understand this cynicism. As a young man attempting to find my own way in the world, I faced many of the same choices and challenges facing many of you today. I sometimes doubted that my thoughts and actions really mattered in the larger scheme of things.

But I made a choice. I chose to check in, to get involved, and to try and make a difference in people’s lives. It’s what led me to my work as a community organizer in Chicago, where I worked with churches to rebuild struggling communities on the South Side. It’s what led me to teach and run for public office. And even today, I hear the skepticism. Too often, our leaders let us down, They don’t seem to do much to make our lives better. So I understand the temptation to sit elections out.

But this year, when the stakes are this high, and the outcome will be so close, I need you to choose to vote.

Continue reading