Tag Archives: international

Microcredit: “A political economy of shame”

by Guest Contributor Tanglad, originally published at Tanglad

It’s easy to understand the appeal of microcredit. Poor women from the Global South use loans as small as $20 to start businesses and lift themselves from poverty. The creditors make a profit when the loans are repaid. Win-win.

What do they say about things that look too good to be true?

A whopping 90 to 99 percent of these loans are paid back with interest, another shining indicator of microcredit’s success. But there is an ugly side to ensuring repayment, where poor women are made to police one another and punish defaulters with collective acts of aggression.

In her study of Grameen Bank microcredit programs in rural Bangladesh,* Leila Karim finds that the focus on the 98 percent loan recovery rate hides how beneficiaries are co-opted into “a political economy of shame.” Continue reading

You’re The Man Now, Dog!: The Racialicious Review of Slumdog Millionaire

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also posted at The Instant Callback

You could say Slumdog Millionaire is too cute by half. But you can’t say it doesn’t do cute very well.

Adapted from the novel Q and A, Slumdog follows “uneducated” street kid Jamal (Dev Patel) through a Dickensian collision of money, love, poverty and hope against all odds. It’s the kind of fairy tale Hollywood can’t do without tripping over its’ own commercialism anymore. But the relentless pace set by Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay and the direction of Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan sacrifices schmaltz (and practically everything else) in the name of the quest of this most improbable (implausible?) hero.

We meet Jamal, a perpetually wide-eyed call-center drone, as he’s being “questioned” by Mumbai police. The kid has been doing well as a contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? — too well for comfort, in fact. How could this urchin, this upstart, people are asking, be on the verge of winning the grand prize of 20 million Rupees when doctors and lawyers have fallen short? Continue reading

How Should We Handle Deaths When Reporting Current Events?

by Latoya Peterson

So, this morning, I was co-hosting Crappy Hour on Jezebel with Megan. (I’ll be there the rest of the week.) We actually happened to get into a bit of a debate over the way that the terrorist attacks in Mumbai were covered.

Over the weekend, reader Frida alerted me to some oversights in the coverage:

I’ve been keeping a close eye on news reports coming out of Mumbai regarding the horrific terrorist attacks of the past three days. One thing that I was sure of was that among the foreign casaulties, at least one Asian, a Japanese businessman named Hisashi Tsuda, had been killed.

However this article on CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/11/28/india.attacks/index.html at 11:14 AM EST, lists “one Chinese” among the dead, with no mention of a Japanese casualty. This is the sentence, “including three Germans, two Americans, an Italian, a Briton, an Australian and one Chinese were among the at least 15 foreigners killed –”

Now if there are fifteen foreigners, and the nationalities of nine are listed, that means the nationalities of six of the victims were not disclosed. I guess that COULD mean that one Chinese person did die, and a Japanese was among the nationalities not mentioned in the CNN article.

But, alas, there is the possibility that some CNN Online staffer/writer got a bit confused by the whole theory that “Chinese” and “Japanese” are not the same and are not interchangeable, and put down “Chinese” casaulty when he or she really meant “Japanese” casualty. Because I have not seen any other news outlets at this time mention anything about a Chinese casualty.

If this is the case, that’s sort of disrespectful, no? In case they edit before you see it, here is a screencap I took some minutes ago: http://i34.tinypic.com/e98ajc.jpg with “Chinese” underlined.

I started watching the coverage, to look for more information for Frida, but quickly became horrified at the way the same few shots were shown over and over – blood on the floor of the hotel, wounded and bleeding people being carried to safety. It was a bit jarring to me, as it just felt like the images were placed for maximum shock and horror. It was also odd, as I remember watching coverage of the terrorist attacks in London back in 2005, and not seeing much besides external shots of buildings, tunnel data, and surveillance cams before and after the event. Why the difference in this situation? Continue reading

White Guy’s Burden: The Racialicious Review of 24: Redemption

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

… No, really, people watch this show every week? No wonder the Bush presidency lasted two terms.

24: Redemption is both set-up and appetizer for the show’s incomprehensible fanbase, setting the table three years after the surely cataclysmic sixth season, which left Super Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) on the lam and out of a job, what with his beloved Counter Terrorism Unit being disbanded.

As we begin this two-hour slice of Jack’s traumatic life, the former Republican role model is moonlighting in the fictional African country of Singala, helping out an old special ops buddy (Robert Carlyle) building a school/living shelter somewhere near the country’s border. Where these kids’ parents are, why this school is not co-ed, or staffed by anybody who’s not white, is never explained. The only other person at the camp is a slimy, United Nations worker. Of course the UN guy is French, and verbally fahrts in Jack’s general direction.

But never mind the kids or their harsh socio-political realities, Jack is emotional, man!

He’s depressed about how Season 6 went down, and beset upon by an Annoying Liberal U.S. Bureaucrat (Gil Bellows) serving a subpoena for Jack to testify to Congress regarding “human rights violations.” If we’re talking about the rest of this series, can we move to upgrade the charges to Crimes Against Humanity?

(By the way, we know Bellows is playing a Liberal because he wears dorky glasses and complains about the heat. An Annoying Republican Bureaucrat would have hiked his way across the jungle, carrying the subpoena like Christopher Walken did the watch in Pulp Fiction.) Continue reading

Busta’s Busted: “Arab Money”

by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

I know, I know. If you’re looking for socially conscious rap or hip hop, you don’t go to Busta Rhymes. But this still surprises me:

Maytha from KABOBfest has highlighted Rhyme’s song “Arab Money,” which has some disgustingly racist lyrics. Maytha brings up some great points about this video, namely, that it is a blatant example of the acceptability of anti-Arab racism.

Let me highlight some of Busta’s rhymes:

Women walkin around while security on camelback

Club on fire now — dunno how to act

Sittin in casino’s while im gamblin with Arafat

Money so long watch me purchase pieces of the Almanac

Ya already know i got the streets bust

While i make ya bow down makes salaat like a muslim

Camelback?! Gambling with a dead PLO leader?! Elsewhere, there are references to growing beards and Prince Al-Walid bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family known for his success in business (his…uh…bread).

Busta Rhymes’ song (and its fakey Arabic chorus–shudder) is just one more instance of hip hop’s cultural appropriation of Middle Eastern music (producer Timbaland has been “sampling” Arabic songs for years: remember Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin”? That is Egyptian artist Hossam Ramzy’s “Khusara Khusara” that you hear).

Rhyme’s references to Yasser Arafat and Saudi princes create the illusion of ownership: not only are we expected to think that he and Browz understand/speak Arabic and understand Middle Eastern politics and geography, but we’re also supposed to think that he rolls with said Arabs.

When I first heard the song, I didn’t know whether to be angrier about the sexism (Rhymes makes reference to “Middle East women and Middle East bread”—things), the racism, or the casual name dropping in what Maytha calls “baseless stereotypes masquerading as knowledge.” Continue reading

Poncea, Pokemones, Poncea!

by Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally published at Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo

Last week The New York Times reported on the Chilean youth parties known as Poncea Parties (a.k.a. lets make out and dry hump on the dance floor parties). The New York Times is surprisingly late uncovering the Poncea Parties. Even the less cool Newsweek covered the Poncea phenomenon in March! Come on NY Times, step up your journalistic game!

There has been a lot of recent American media coverage about the about this Chilean youth subculture and their (often public) sexual exploration (despite the NY Times’ late discovery). Drawing inspiration from anime, the young Chileans refer to themselves as “Pokemones” and don piercings and flat ironed asymmetrical haircuts. Mostly the American coverage is scandalized to the point of careless reporting.

While the sexual repression of the Pinnochet dictatorship is mentioned in passing as a cause for this sexual awakening and experimentation, the focus seems to be on the perceived sexual deviance of the youth. They are not monogamous, same-sex hook-ups are commonplace, and they are actively breaking down the boundaries between public and private that dictate sexual normativity. I think the American media coverage through coded language is pointing the finger at stereotypical beliefs about Latin American licentiousness and queerness (and please believe they threw in the fact that the kids were grinding to reggaeton) as reasons for the youth’s “bad behavior.” Cast into a national phenomenon, the media has ignored important issues of race and class in participation in the poncea parties. For instance, who has the ability, economically and otherwise, to actually partake in these activities? Whose bodies aren’t policed and survailed? Even if its deemed naughty by the mainstream, it is still dictated by issues of access so not acknowledging that is careless journalism.

Also, by isolating this particular issue of “deviant” youth sex to a Chilean context the American media doesn’t have to face the fact that similar sexual activity happens regularly in schools and suburbs across the U.S. (remember the whole oral sex bracelets a few years ago?). By focusing on youth sexuality and the need for effective sexual education “over there,” we excuse ourselves from doing the work around youth sexuality and education that needs to happen here.

I’m not condoning 14 year-olds giving each other blowjobs on bus benches in Santiago (because that just seems unsanitary), but I am advocating for a more complex analysis of the issues behind these parties. I’m looking for more than “Chile’s disaffected ‘Pokemones’ don’t care much about politics. They’re too busy having sex.”

It’s just not that simple – so stop the simplistic journalism.

*tip of the fitted cap to Guanabee

M.I.A, DeLon, and the Tamil Tigers

by Guest Contributor Joanna Eng, originally published at DJ Jojo

I heard from Sepia Mutiny’s post about M.I.A. getting “dissed” by DeLon, a new rapper of Sri Lankan descent. DeLon took M.I.A.’s most popular song, “Paper Planes,” called out her politics and support of the Tamil Tigers, and shows the “terrorist” side of that group. (You can see the disturbing video here.) [Ed. Note – Not safe for work. Or lunch. – LDP]

I don’t know enough about the situation in Sri Lanka to really make judgments. But DeLon’s video bothered me because he is employing exactly the same strategy that the Bush administration does: creating a dichotomy of good and evil, and using the word “terrorist” like it’s not subjective.

That said, I have always been a bit skeptical of M.I.A’s politics. Is she just projecting an irresistible (lucrative) image, or is she actually doing anything? When I went to her show at McCarren Pool in June, it made me a bit uncomfortable to be dancing around with a bunch of hipsters in Brooklyn while she has images of children from developing countries flashing across the back of the stage as her visual aids. Continue reading

U Go Gurl: Traveling As a Black Woman

by Guest Contributor Margari Aziza Hill, originally published at Just Another Angry Black Muslim Woman?

Most travel books don’t prepare Black Americans for the experiences they will have abroad. Ever since I first traveled abroad, I have been bemoaning the lack of resources for Black women who want to see the world. I receive frequent emails from Black women who are either planning to go abroad or are already abroad and looking for resources. Last year, I suggested that someone should compile our stories so that I could support other sisters who want to travel abroad. That’s why I was happy to find this web resource,
U Go Gurl and the book, Go Girl.

FINALLY A TRAVEL BOOK FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN.

A rich collection of fifty-two stories covering the globe. Sister-to-sister advice on everything from destination selection, to traveling solo, to saving money on airfare. Exploration and discussion of issues of particular concern to black women; dealing with racism, overcoming fears, claiming entitlement, etc. The book also includes a planning guide and a resourceful guide.

Maya Angelou tells the story of arriving in Africa a stranger but leaving claimed as a member of the Bambara tribe. Evelyn C. White writes about finding new pride in being black after visiting Egypt. Opal Palmer Adisa evokes the sights, sound, and aromas of urban Ghana where she traveled to meet her lifelong pen pal. Lucinda Roy brings alive the year she spent teaching girls in Sierra Leone and talks how the villagers’ friendship overcame her loneliness for home.

Alice Walker offers a quite meditation on how the beauty of the country stirred her imagination. Audre Lorde captures her experience of being refused entry to the British Virgin Islands because of her dreadlocks. Gwendolyn Brooks recounts the camaraderie and tensions of a trip to Russia with a group of American writers. Gloria Wade-Gayles explores the complexities of being both an American and a woman of color as a paying guest in a Mexican home. Continue reading