Tag Archives: international

The Lesson of Hiroshima for the U.S. Presidential Election

by Guest Contributor atlasien, originally posted at APA for Progress


Note from atlasien
: “Update: since writing this post, my recommendation has changed due to this news story. It’s now crystal clear which candidate is best on the issue.”

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of hearing a presentation by a Hiroshima survivor. Here’s his story as I remember it.

Mr. Teramoto was ten years old when the atom bomb hit Hiroshima. One second he was leaning over a desk to write a postcard to a friend; the next second he was on his back amid the rubble of his former house. An aunt pulled him out. His face was covered in blood. He begged her to stop and rescue his mother too, but she was too focused on getting him to safety. She slung him across her back and ran away.

That was the last he ever saw his mother. He found out later that she had dragged herself out and made it to the bank of the river. She died within days and her body was cremated where it lay, next to so many others.

Sheltering by another bank, Mr. Teramoto remembers seeing the river filled with corpses. They floated up and down with the tide, the same ones over and over again. He showed us photos and also drawings representing these scenes.


(Art by KIHARA Toshiko, Hiroshima survivor)

Due to his position when the bomb hit, and the fact that he managed to escape exposure to contaminated water, Mr. Teramoto is still a vigorous and healthy man. He draws on this energy to educate people about what happened in Hiroshima. He’s been giving talks like this for decades. I imagine that survivor’s guilt is something he struggles and negotiates with constantly. He’s chosen to relive those events over and over again so that others can grow to understand the lesson of Hiroshima. Continue reading

Meet the Neo-Colonialists: Madonna and Vanity Fair

by Latoya Peterson

Latoya’s Note: If you have a good grasp of world trade, the issues on the African Continent, and media bias as it relates to first world nations, read this article as it is presented. If you are unfamiliar with any of these concepts, please scroll down to where I say “Part of the solution is asking the right questions.” That section will explain why I take offense to a lot of the seemingly innocuous parts of the text.

In the last month, I’ve spent about 8 hours of my life stuck under a hair dryer. Imprisoned under this evil little bonnet hood, my only escape and sanctuary are the magazines stocked by the salon. I’ve perused countless copies of W, Everyday with Rachel Ray, and Allure – magazines I would not pick up on my own, but quickly become interesting reading once I run out of other material.

A couple of weeks ago I had run through all those and decided to turn to Vanity Fair. It’s heft appealed to me, as did the long form articles. I skipped past a lot of the front of the book pieces, thoroughly enjoyed an investigative article on how the Monsanto corporation is locking down the global seed market, and stopped at the cover profile on Madonna.

The photos pulled me in, with their stark, bare treatment of Madonna’s form juxtaposed against steel which reminded me of Atlas Shrugged.

I read the opening paragraph:

The world is a series of rooms, which are arranged like concentric circles, or rooms within rooms, joined by courtyards and antechambers, and in the room at the center of all those rooms Madonna sits alone, in a white dress, dreaming of Africa.

Oh hell no.

Remember that old Margaret Cho joke, where she says if you’re Asian-American and you’re watching TV, and you hear that “wa-na-na-na-na-na na-na-na GONG!” sound you know you’re fucked?

I get that same feeling when an article describes a white person dreaming about Africa.

Especially if they aren’t fondly reminiscing over their childhood spent overseas.

But who knows? I could be wrong, right? I continued reading. Continue reading

BBC Two’s White Season: Is White Working Class Britain Becoming Invisible?

by Latoya Peterson

The BBC Two has unveiled a series of programming devoted to exploring the realities of being white and working class in Britain. White Season, as the lineup is called, seeks to tell the story of the white working class through documentaries, short films, and drama.

The introductory video to the series sets a confrontational tone. A white man is shown looking at the camera, staring straight ahead as people of varying tones and ethnicities scribble on his face with a black marker. In addition to writing characters of Asian and Arabic origins, the phrase “Britain is changing” is scrawled across his chin. Eventually, the man’s skin is covered in black and he closes his eyes, a question appears on the bottom of the screen: Is white working class Britain becoming invisible?

See for yourself – it is quite a striking visual:

Richard Klein, BBC’s Head Of Independent Commissioning For Knowledge, explains his views in the Daily Mail:

The voice of the white working-class is barely allowed to intrude into British politics or culture.

In metropolitan circles, where sneering at any minority ethnic group would be regarded as an outrage, this white working-class opinion is all too often treated with suspicion or contempt.

The word chav, for instance, is now often accepted as a way of marking the behaviour of the working class, even though any similarly abusive description of ethnic minorities would lead to police inquiries.

What is particularly bizarre about this approach is that, until recently, the white working class were seen as an integral and respected part of our national life. Continue reading

Mocking a Culture, Mocking a Friend

by Guest Contributor Aaminah Hernández, originally published at Writeous Sister Speaks

I was approached by Latoya Peterson, editor for Racialicious, to write something about this piece at Jezebel. I want to preface this with three disclaimers:

1) I don’t normally read Jezebel. I’m not faulting those who do, it just doesn’t appeal to me and I’ve got more than enough good reading to keep me busy.

2) The following response to this post will not be even-handed. Because reading the piece at Jezebel made me literally physically ill. Do I jest? No… I read it while in the office and had to leave to go to the restroom to puke. That was yesterday. After re-reading it and thinking about it overnight, I am just now sitting down on Friday to write something about it. And I know right now this will not be written in one sitting because I cannot stomach it all in one go.

    2a) My response will probably be considered as biased simply because I am a Muslim. Yes, I am. And one who actually wears that face veil on a daily basis that Ms. Sarah has taken on momentarily. I am not, however, an expert of any sort on Yemen. I have never been to Yemen, I do not have friends that are currently living in Yemen, and although I know in-a-round-about-way a SunniPath Shaykh in Yemen, I cannot speak directly to how Islam is practiced by the average Yemeni person.

3) I did not read through all the comments. I just couldn’t. Why subject myself to that? I am sure there were some good comments left as well, but since I didn’t read through them all I will not be addressing in depth the comment section to the post, but replying to the post itself. I will however reference at times information about the post that I did glean from the comments I did read (Example: that the post is actually an IM conversation and that somehow accounts for the irreverent and light-hearted nature of the discussion. Yeah, more on that in a bit.)

The first thing you will, of course, notice is the title of the “article”: Sarah Left Women’s Magazine to Try and Learn “Why They Hate Us”. She Could Use a Drink.

To be fair, you know what you are about to get into with a title like that. As far as journalism goes, it’s even a good title, because it wraps up the lunacy of the interview all in two succinct sentences. It does however put controversy front and center.

So, Sarah Wolff left her Fashion Editor job at Good Housekeeping in NYC to go on a jaunt around the Arab world after 9-11. In fact, many people became interested in learning a bit about Islam and Arabs after 9-11, but also a good number decided that this was a great money making opportunity: play on the fears caused by the 9-11 (and other) attacks, call yourself an expert, and watch the cash roll in. Because those of us who are actually believing Muslims or Arab, Iranian, and otherwise related to the Middle East have no business being asked to talk about what we believe. The world wants to hear it from white Americans with no ties whatsoever to the countries, cultures and religions of the region.

Now, I’m not saying Sarah is money-grubbing per se. At least she took some time to learn some Arabic and went to school to become a bona fide journalist. Currently she lives in Yemen and works for the Yemen Times newspaper. But this is a huge change from being a New York fashion editor, so it would be understandable to ask why. Her answer in this “interview” is not very compelling.

“I worked as a fashion editor in NYC for about 6 years and when 9/11 happened, I started wondering about Islam and why people hated the U.S. so much – I was not into interna’nl politics at ALL at that time…”

And yet now, 5 years later she is put forth by Jezebel as if she is an expert on Islam and international politics. And since living in Yemen since January of this year, she is now also an expert on Yemeni men, culture, and mores.

“Actually, many MANY people think that there will be a civil war here soon. It is kind of terrorism’s last frontier…”

“Well, it’s kind of a black hole. People don’t know a lot about it and it’s poor as all hell.”

“Some of the not so great ways include the BEYOND-limited rights of women here. I am talking about no cell phone talking in the street, okay, no TALKING in the street period for women… no laughing for women. No laughing! Yo(u) have to wear full-body coverage at all times…”

Now, in comments later it was mentioned that this superficial coverage of issues was due to the medium being used for the interview: Instant Messaging.

The thing is, IM isn’t really the best way to conduct an interview for that reason, so I imagine it wasn’t originally intended to be posted in full. If there was intention to post the conversation on-line, some effort could have been made to handle things in a more professional tone, or the interview could have been conducted a different way. The way questions are asked certainly sets the tone for the answers, and it’s safe to assume either this conversation wasn’t supposed to see the light of day, or it was intended to be this offensive.

As it turns out, Sarah herself has come out and said that she had absolutely never expected this conversation to be published. Continue reading

Gimmie That Old Time (Tribal) Religion

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

I admire a good ghost story, especially a “true” one. I read tales of the paranormal. I watch those ghost investigator shows on television. And I’ve been known to take ghost tours in cities that I visit. I am intrigued by the idea of unknown realms beyond our comprehension. I love that glance-behind-you-and-make-sure-the-closet-door-is-shut chill that lingers for days after hearing a particularly delicious spooky tale. And I am fascinated by the places where history and the paranormal meet, like Gettysburg, Pa. But one aspect of ghost stories—true and otherwise—that I am not so fond of is the demonization of the traditional spirituality of people of color.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard reputed hauntings attributed to Indian burial grounds, angry shamans or the mere fact that “y’know where your house sits used to be Native American land.” (Cue ominous music…duh, duh, duh, DUH!)

Not as popular, but too common, is the “slaves were here” explanation. Watching a DVR’d episode of Ghost Hunters the other night, I heard a woman at a historic house that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad explain a supposedly haunted room by sharing the accepted lore about the space: (paraphrase) People say some slaves got in here an sacrificed an animal. (Cue ominous music…duh, duh, duh, DUH!)

Why do we never hear this?

Worried homeowner: I just don’t understand what is happening. Furniture is moving about the house. My wife hears disembodied voices in the laundry room. Our little Billy is interacting with a shadowy figure in the backyard and the dog refuses to go into the basement.

Ghost expert: Well, Mr. Homeowner, we’ve done some research and…some Episcopalians once held a church service right on this very land! (Cue ominous music…duh, duh, duh, DUH!)

What? Not scary enough for you? Continue reading

Larry Beinhart has Crowned Himself the Prince of Persia…

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

…and he can kiss my Iranian ass.

Last weekend, Larry Beinhart posted a piece for AlterNet entitled, “Report From Iran: Should We Really Bomb These People?”

There’s a whole lot wrong with that question, as many of the article’s commenters pointed out. In fact, I wish I’d waited awhile and just let them write this article for me—but, uppity bee that I am, I started writing as soon a I read the title.

After a title like that, you’d think Beinhart would try to come off a little better. But just the second sentence riled me up: “It’s good to get out of gray, smoggy Tehran, one of the least photogenic cities in the world, where black is the new black, from the hejabs on down.”

I have a hard time believing that Beinhart is really in the Tehran that most Iranians know. Smoggy? Yes! We won’t deny it. But this isn’t just boasty ethnic pride talking: just do a Google search on Tehran and you’ll see some beautiful pictures of the Alborz mountains, the Azadi Monument, Tehran in the spring, Tehran in the winter…An excellent place to check out pictures of Tehran and its denizens is Tehran 24, a blog dedicated to photography of Tehran.

And black everywhere? Once again, my dear readers, I’ll direct you to Google image search: type in “Tehran” and “women,” and you will see for yourself that black is not necessarily de rigueur.

Why can’t he get his stereotype of Iranian women right? Now they’re in black, black, and more black, but then, several paragraphs down, he states, “Because we were in public, the women wore the required headscarves but managed to make them fashion accessories. They constantly adjusted them with graceful gestures that drew attention to their beauty and femininity.” Racism and sexism, all tied up in a pretty little hejab. Ew. How can they be considered fashionable if they’re all in big, black chadors? Fashionable young, urban Iranian women prefer a mix of colors, and color coordination is incredibly important to those interested in fashion (this is my thesis topic—it’s been my life for the last several months, trust).

He then states, “It is worth pointing out that while women in Iran are not as free as in America or Western Europe, they have more freedom and participate more fully in public life than in the rest of the Islamic World.”

I wonder what Beinhart means by freedom. Because if he means the right to marry, divorce, work, and go to school with almost no restrictions, then he has forgotten Turkey. The Turkish are predominately Muslims, and Turkey has the most egalitarian divorce laws in the Islamic world. Women are heads of companies there just like they are in Iran or Syria or the West. And how about Tunisia, which has heavily westernized its civil code? It seems that Beinhart’s definition of the Islamic World includes only Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.

He also forgets that women who live in rural areas in most countries (Iran included) have fewer freedoms than women who live in urban areas do. What’s this with the blanket generalities, then?

From this silliness we move on to some more racism. “In the first ten minutes of almost any conversation with an Iranian, he or she will point out that they are not Arabs, they’re Persians. They may even say that they don’t like Arabs, or, more emphatically, ‘I hate f**king Arabs.’”

Whoaaaaaah. Continue reading