Tag Archives: Colorlines

All The Places We Are Not: The Racialicious Roundtable For Facing Race 2012

Hosted by Arturo R. García

Rinku Sen, the president and executive director of the Applied Research Center and publisher of Colorlines.com, at Facing Race 2012. Via Colorlines.

We’ll finish posting the plenaries from Facing Race 2012 Friday, but collected below are some impressions of the conference from members of the Racialicious team, including:

–Racialicious Owner and Editor Latoya Peterson
–Associate Editor Andrea Plaid
–Arts & Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour
–Guest Contributors Kendra James and Tressie McMillan Cottom

What were the highlights of the conference for you?

Andrea: “No Justice, No Peas,” “What’s Faith Got To Do With It,” and “Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing” were the stand-out panels for me.

I loved the first one because, unlike the other “green” panel I attended, “Energy Democracy For All,” I never had to ask “but what about the basic disconnect between this idea/policy and people/communities of color, namely that quite a few people of color still think ‘green’ as a whites-only thing.” The presenters made plain the idea that food justice goes far beyond just eating organic foods at vegan restaurants but the racial injustice undergirding the current human ecology of food work, namely who performs which functions in producing, transporting, and serving food–not just to and in vegan restaurants but also, as an example, to and in supermarkets.

“What’s Faith Got to Do With It” was more of a supportive space than a presentation, which is good as far as people connecting with each other but a bit messy when it came to facilitating it–we ran out of time, and our facilitator, an ARC staffer, had to scoot off to do another presentation! I got the feeling that the people needed to have a place where they could talk about how their faiths inform their social justice when larger progressive movements tend to aggressively degrade religion/spirituality as a framework for doing anti-racism work.

“Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”–which was about how the Right successfully and unsuccessfully uses sexual health issues to drive wedges within communities of color–was so righteous because the panelists brought it so fiercely about not only the racist misogyny that, dare I say, is the Right’s playbook, but also how the Left and the communities themselves are complicit with it when, say, the Left makes it a political strategy to ignore the “flyover states” where the Right is steadily implementing their anti-choice beliefs as laws and others tactics or, say, some Black communities (for example) are silent about abortion rates.

Oh yeah…and I got to ask the first question at the Junot Diaz press conference. (For those who didn’t see the Storified version, I asked him to address several Racialicious readers concern about his “irresponsible” use of the n-word. The Storify is his response.) For all who think breathing the same air as a MacArthur Genius Grant winner would be like inhaling sparkly bits of brilliance–the air’s pretty regular, y’all. He’s a very down-to-earth man, which only adds to his Racialicious sapiosexuality.
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Watch: ‘Now What? Debriefing The Election And Talking Governance’ [Facing Race 2012 Plenary]

This plenary from the first day of this year’s Facing Race conference starts from a place, said moderator Carolina Gonzalez, where it felt like people were still recovering from President Barack Obama’s re-election a little over a week before.

Ten days later, she said, she felt “half hung over, but the way that you’re hung over from a really good party, where you wake up the next day and your head is banging and just crying but you want to talk about what happened the night before. Who said some outrageous thing, who hooked up with whom, who did the most ridiculous thing that they’re not gonna remember this morning.”

To that end, Gonzalez, who produces the radio show Latino USA for the Futuro Media Group, set out to facilitate a conversation “with clear eyes” about what happens next, with panelists:

Video: The Opening Speech At Facing Race 2012

The 2012 elections, said Applied Research Center Executive Director Rinku Sen, demonstrated that the allegiances between communities of color are gaining not only strength, but speed–turning back the Three Strikes law and the posse of Republican rape deniers, turning the war on women into a meme and, last but not least, helping Barack Obama win a second term as president.

“Paul Ryan says it was the ‘urban vote’ that did this, not the issues,” Sen said as she opened this year’s Facing Race conference. “We know what the ‘urban vote’ is. But it was not the ‘urban vote,’ it was the majority vote. It was the majority vote that is telling Paul Ryan, in the words of people more polite than I, where he can stick those issues.”

With the election over, said Sen, the publisher of Colorlines, this new majority has the ability to not just win accountability from its elected officials, but to “blowing up” the ladder of racial hierarchy and challenging the notion of racism and tribalism as endemic.

“I don’t think we have to live that way. I don’t think we have to refuse the answer the door when a mother whose children have been swept away by a hurricane knocks on it asking for help,” Sen said. “I don’t think that we have to be sheared down to the thing that is least important about us–our skin color. I think that we can be actual full human beings, and I think that we can change the way that human beings see each other, not by applying some bankrupt concept of ‘color-blindness’ that has no grounding in reality, but by demanding what we really want, which is the taking apart of the racial hierarchy.”

Watch Sen’s speech in full, delivered Nov. 16, above, courtesy of ARC.

#FacingRace: The Morning After

By Arturo R. García

Fun fact: It wasn’t until this past weekend that I met my colleagues in the flesh.

Thanks to the internet, that’s not quite so weird to say anymore. But I can tell you that it felt great to hang and collaborate in person with Latoya, Andrea, Joseph, and Kendra–on top of contributors Tressie McMillan Cottom, T.F. Charlton, and Caitlin M. Boston–after four years(!) writing here, was a great turning point to reach in our association.

It was also, believe it or not, the first time I encountered not just many of our allies and collaborators, but our fandom in person; for whatever reason, it seems many of our Racializens are based out of the East Coast, so it was interesting to see that flicker of recognition for our work–and, thank goodness, appreciation for it–play out.

In a testament to both the amount of conversation the conference generated and how plugged-in of a constituency it attracted, Facing Race became a trending topic on Twitter both Friday and Saturday last week. At one point Tressie called the whole affair “TwitterCon.” And, over the course of the week, we’ll begin to do our best to retrace our steps for all of you, with Storifys, video, etc. And that’s just from the panels we were able to get to. There’s a whole host of signals out there just waiting to be boosted.

But this morning, at least, I’m going to enjoy the weekend just a little more. Big thanks to the Applied Research Center for putting this all together, and to our readers and supporters who were able to make it out there. If you weren’t, though, don’t sweat–we’ll catch you up soon.

The Racialicious Preview For Facing Race 2012

Racialicious is pleased to announce we’ll be covering this weekend’s Facing Race 2012 conference, presented by the Applied Research Center, publisher of the Hillman Prize-winning analysis site Colorlines.

This year, Pulitzer Prize-winner and MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient Junot Díaz will serve as the keynote speaker, and comedian/activist W. Kamau Bell and author Deanna Zandt will be the conference hosts.

Our team–Andrea, Arturo, and Kendra–will be tweeting from the conference all weekend (watch for the #FacingRace hashtag) and we’ll be posting video from the plenary sessions, as well as panel recaps, after the event.

But, you can also follow the @Racialicious Twitter as it live-tweets the following sessions:

Friday, Nov. 16

No Justice, No Peas: Good Food, Good Jobs
A growing movement is concerned about access to sustainable food as well as democratic control over food production. Globally, this is the food sovereignty movement; here in the United States it is known as food justice. Innovative organizers are bridging the worlds of good food and workers’ rights to create innovative solutions that will both transform our food system an provide sustainable livelihoods for food chain workers.
Speakers: Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United; Navina Khanna, Associate, Movement Strategy Center; Suguet Lopez, Executive Director, Líderes Campesinas; Diana Robinson, Food Chain Workers Alliance.

  • One afternoon panel TBA

Saturday, Nov. 17

SURJ: Strategies for Engaging White People in Racial Justice
The economic recession and Obama’s presidency have triggered a largely white racist backlash by the Tea Party, anti-immigrant organizations and conservative political commentators. More white people are needed to show up and speak out against racism. Presenters will share experiences for recruiting and engaging white people in racial justice efforts and working in alliance with organizations of color.
Speakers: Dara Silverman, Principal, Rise Consulting; Carla Wallace, Coordinating Team, Showing Up for Racial Justice; Dottye Burt-Markowitz, Baltimore Racial Justice Action

What’s the Future of College for Students of Color?
Record numbers of students of color are headed to college, but is a degree still worth it? College is getting harder and harder to pay for, and young people are graduating with dismal job prospects and heavy loan debt. Even still, record numbers of students of color are graduating from for-profit colleges. What does this change mean for communities of color?
Speakers: Tiffany Loftin, President, The United States Student Association; Tressie McMillan Cottom, Research and PhD Candidate, Emory University [Ed’s note: Ms. McMillan Cottom has also been a Guest Contributor to The R - AG]

We’re looking forward to connecting with a lot of our allies, meeting some new ones, and sharing our findings with our fellow Racializens in the days ahead. Hope to see you in Baltimore!

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Junot Diaz

By Andrea Plaid

If we had to pick a Racialicious poster boy–that aphrodisiac of sapiosexuality–Junot Diaz would be it.

Junot Diaz. Photo: Carolyn Cole. Via Los Angeles Times.

The R’s Owner/Editor Latoya Peterson says this about his book, The Brief Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao:

My eyes drank in every word of “Wildwood,” the second chapter in Junot Díaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. On the plane from Baltimore to Austin, the narrative gripped me solidly by the throat, turning a casual curiosity about Oscar into a desperate longing to hear more from his sister Lola.

When the plane touched down, my sweatshirt was crunchy with the salt from shed tears and I had run through six napkins while the story unfolded. I grabbed my bags, and called my boyfriend who had been badgering me about reading the novel for some months now.

“Why didn’t you mention Lola?” I asked.

“Who? Oscar’s sister? Why is that…oh.” His voice suddenly bloomed with recognition and we sat in silence for a few seconds.

In all the reviews I have read about the novel since I finished the final page, the character of Lola is generally a footnote. Described as a beautiful girl, or a troubled girl, or Oscar’s sister, the strength of her narrative and her story seem overshadowed by the book’s focus – obviously, Oscar – or by the story of her mother, Belicia, the beautiful prieta who seemed forged partially from the steel intended to break her into submission. And yet, to me, Lola’s story was the most compelling, reflecting back in stark focus so many emotions, trials and ideas that were intimately familiar to me and the other girls I knew growing up.

….

Because in the book I read – as in life – the men in each of these women’s lives were not central figures. There are men, yes, and Oscar is the unifying force in the narrative, but the people Belicia and Lola were involved with were not the point unto themselves. The men stood for the method of escape. With the exception of The Gangster and Yunior, all the men in the book that Lola and Belicia were involved with were ways to get the hell out.

Lola’s boyfriend Aldo is the method to escape her mother. Sure, she loved him. Kind of. But reading through the lines, the catalyst for her leaving with Aldo was that he asked to her to come live with him. Sex was part of the travel cost. As I have written before, a guy is the easiest way to escape a fucked up family life.

But this easily overlooked difference belies the true genius in Oscar Wao. It isn’t just a documenting a fictionalized account of the things that happen in our real life communities. The book shines in how Diaz fills in what would normally be an outline, and shows us the after. Or more appropriately, how Diaz demonstrates how there ain’t no happily ever after. There are just choices and consequences.

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Meanwhile, On TumblR: More Scot Nakagawa Love And HBO Def Poet Mark Gonzales

By Andrea Plaid

Considering how you all responded to the excerpt last week, you’re still digging our past Crush Of The Week Scot Nakagawa, especially what he said about voting and the maintenance of white privilege, which just happened to coincide with the R’s and National Black Programming Consortium’s buzzy efforts around the documentary about the 2008 vote in Ghana, An African Election:

I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, back when that La Choy commercial was considered about as offensive as selling water softener as an “ancient Chinese secret.” That was a much more naive time for whites. That naivete was rooted in the unquestioned dominance of whiteness. In fact, so dominant were whites that American was synonymous with Caucasian.

But the racial equity movements of my childhood would soon shatter that naivete, pulling whites into a struggle to maintain their cultural dominance that made the contours and vulnerabilities of whiteness visible to whites, perhaps for the first time. Until then, being the assumed racial and cultural norm of America was fundamental to white identity and to the ethos of American exceptionalism.

But when white cultural advantage was challenged, white folk mobilized. KKK membership grew, White Citizens Councils formed, and the Republican Party stepped in to provide a political vehicle for white backlash that is still in effect today.

And now, as the racial demographics of the U.S. and the world turn to the increasing numerical advantage of non-whites, the backlash movement that peaked in the 1990s is resurgent. Membership in racist Patriot groups and vigilante border patrols is on the rise, and Tea Parties and groups like True the Vote are wreaking havoc on our political process. And they’re not nearly done yet. The global scale of white conservative ambitions can be measured by the body count in what increasingly appears to be a permanent war against the so-called Muslim world, the popular support for which is founded in Islamophobia.

It is in this context that the current voter suppression efforts we are seeing around the country should be understood. Overcoming these efforts in this election cycle is only one among many battles. Unless we see that battle as connected to the battles for immigration rights, religious freedom, racial equity and gender equity, reproductive and sexual freedom, and the battle to curtail the ambitions driving the expansion of American empire, we are missing the dynamics of the larger war and may soon find much more than voting rights among its casualties.”

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#MARKSWATCH: The Response and The Meme

By Arturo R. García

Well, that didn’t take long.

Gene Marks’ “If I Were A Poor Black Kid” piece for Forbes led to justifiably angry responses. Among them was Baratunde Thurston’s “Letter from a poor black kid” for CNN:

Thank you Mr. Marks. You have changed everything about my life. Thanks to your article, I worked to make sure I got the best grades, made reading my number one priority and created better paths for myself. If only someone had suggested this earlier.

But that was just the beginning of how your exceptionally relevant, grounded and experience-based advice changed my life. Thanks only to your article, I discovered technology.

Why did my teachers not teach this? Why isn’t this technology mentioned anywhere in popular culture? I don’t understand, but you do.

You listed so many different websites and resources, at first it was overwhelming. But I didn’t let that deter me. I thought to myself, “If a successful, caring, complicated, intelligent man like Gene Marks says to do it, then I’d better head over to rentcalculators.org right now!”

As Colorlines reported Thursday, Marks posted a response at CNN. The somewhat underwhelming transcript is under the cut.

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