Tag Archives: Jose Antonio Vargas

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Jose Antonio Vargas’ Documented

By Andrea Plaid

Second week of Pride Month, and I have some great documentary news!

Journalist/activist/filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas casually mentioned his newest documentary, Documented, to me when we gathered to petition the New York Times to completely stop using the terms “illegal” and “illegal immigrants.” But I thought he was in the throes of shooting or at the beginning of post-production. In other words, the movie was a long way off from being in the theater.

Well, documentary-fan me is so happy to announce that the movie will make its world premiere next Friday, June 21, at Washington, DC’s American Film Institute’s documentary festival!

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The New York Times Refuses To Drop The I-Word (VIDEO)

By Andrea Plaid

You would think that 70,000 people asking for the exact same thing would change someone’s mind, right?

Not if you’re the New York Times.

On April 23, members of Applied Research Center’s Drop The I-Word (DTIW) Campaign (in full disclosure: I work as the campaign’s new manager), its partners, and its supporters gathered at the newspaper’s headquarters in Times Square with the 70,000-strong petition asking the Grey Lady to get with the times and eliminate using the word “illegals” and “illegal immigrant(s)” in its reporting of undocumented immigrants. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, co-founder of partnering organization Define American, and Fernando Chavez, son of the late Cesar Chavez, delivered the petition that was started by Chavez’s widow, Helen, at MoveOn.org (another DTIW partner). The petition’s delivery took place on the 20th anniversary of the social-justice activist’s death.

Video activist Jay Smooth captured the action and explains the context of the campaign:

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The Racialicious Links Roundup 4.4.13

Step 3: Play the ‘Middle’ Between Rational and Frothing Racist

You know how mainstream news shows discuss global warming by pairing an actual scientist who points to decades of consistent research with an oil-company shill who says global warming can’t be real because Al Gore said something dumb once? And you know how the news anchor moderating the discussion gets to occupy the “rational” “middle” ground by saying “more research is probably needed”? You’re that guy now. Crackpots don’t get people fired, people who validate crackpots do, so get to work.

Let me get you started on your “common-sense” blog post, article or mainstream interview: “We can all agree that the behavior of these Internet trolls is unconscionable. However, let’s not discount their concerns because of a few bad apples…”

You’ve got some primo poli-sci Overton Window triangulation going on now! By assigning the Internet trolls one end of the alignment spectrum, you’ve successfully shifted the terms of the debate from, “What can be done about rampant unjust outcomes for women and people of color?” to “How many racial epithets is it OK to fit in a tweet?” Also, don’t moderate the comments on your blog post, even if they overtly threaten women and people of color. That would be, like, censorship.

Hun Loo “Lincoln” Gong, a self-made billionaire who designed the first chip that enabled laptops to automatically read both Apple and PC software in Chinese and English, was rejected from Harvard in 1981.

He has never forgotten that, nor the fact that it’s impossibly difficult for Asian Americans to get beyond the limitations of top institutions with increasingly high percentages of Asian American students.

“Schools just don’t want to go beyond 30-40 percent Asian,” said Gong. “It’s true for private schools like Harvard or even public schools like UC Berkeley. But think what kind of student body you can have with all those Asian American rejects.”

That’s when the light went off in Gong’s head.

“I never forgot when I was rejected from Harvard, I got a scholarship to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania,” Gong said. He didn’t realize it was a historically black school at the time, but applied because his immigrant father would only let him go to a school named after the family hero.

One has to wonder why mainstream black music, once rich with R&B that promoted love, tenderness and substance, now includes one of two types of songs: vapid pop numbers by artists who sound more like robots than real people, and commercial rap tracks that glorify violence, materialism and misogyny. It’s hard not to conclude that this shift in style, one that minimized music of positivity and substance, was orchestrated by record label and radio executives in an effort to re-shape the sound of black music, and perhaps the perception of black people.

So Timberlake’s success, while well-deserved, inherently speaks to the limitations and pressures placed on black artists in comparison to the artistic freedom granted to white artists. It forces us to question whether Timberlake, if he was black, would be given the latitude to explore pop, funk, rock, soul and R&B, all while blending retro elements with futuristic sounds, or if he would be pressured by label bosses to conform to the same watered-down, generic pop standard so many one-time R&B artists now call home because “that’s what listeners want.”

On what he has risked by coming out. A lot. I miss being private.

On being more closely identified with Latinos than Filipinos. I really am grateful that my name is Jose Antonio Vargas. I could have been named something like…I have family members whose last name is Batuyong. That’s very Filipino. But my name is very Hispanic, Latino. The Filipino community was like is he not proud of being Filipino? I got a lot of that. I am adobo- cooking, TFC-watching, Sharon Cuneta-Vilma Santos listening (Filipino). I’m as Filipino as they come. I speak Tagalog fluently. I understand Sambal, which is the dialect of Zambales where my grandparents come from. So if you think I’m not Filipino that’s your problem. That’s not my problem.

It was here that a group of Indian activists aired their grievances against the government with a forcefultakeover in 1973 that resulted in protests, a bloody standoff with federal agents and deep divisions among the Indian people.

And now the massacre site, which passed into non-Indian hands generations ago, is up for sale, once again dragging Wounded Knee to the center of the Indian people’s bitter struggle against perceived injustice — as well as sowing rifts within the tribe over whether it would be proper, should the tribe get the land, to develop it in a way that brings some money to the destitute region.

James A. Czywczynski of Rapid City is asking $3.9 million for the 40-acre plot he owns here, far more than the $7,000 that the deeply impoverished Oglala Sioux say the land is worth. Mr. Czywczynski insists that his price fairly accounts for the land’s sentimental and historical value, an attitude that the people here see as disrespect.

“That historical value means something to us, not him,” said Garfield Steele, a member of the tribal council who represents Wounded Knee. “We see that greed around here all the time with non-Indians. To me, you can’t put a price on the lives that were taken there.”

Speaking on HuffPostLive, Martin–who was recently let go by CNN–said that he had come to the network with every intention of getting his own show. He added that it was never made clear to him why that wasn’t happening, but that he suspected race had something to do with it.

“You have largely white male executives who are not necessarily enamored with the idea of having strong, confident minorities who say, ‘I can do this,’” he said. “We deliver, but we never get the big piece, the larger salary, to be able to get from here to there.”

Martin said that he hosted highly-rated specials for CNN, so he didn’t understand why he wasn’t rewarded.

“If it’s a ratings game, and we won, how is it I never got a show?” he said.

Watch: The Final Two Plenaries From Facing Race 2012

To close out our coverage of Facing Race 2012, here’s the two plenarie sessions from the second day, Nov. 17. (Note: Slightly NSFW – occasional curse words)

First up is “”Race and Gender in the 21st Century,” moderated by the founder and president of the Center for Social Inclusion, Maya Wiley, a discussion that starts with the question, “How is race constructed, and why do we construct it?”

On the panel are:

The plenary closes with a performance of “We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic,” by Amirah Sackett and Khadijah and Iman Sifterllah-Griffin. Via the great Avory Faucette, here’s an excerpt:

The final plenary, “Culture Trumps Politics: Or Does It?,” is moderated by Applied Research Center’s Rinku Sen, and features:

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As Chang asserts in a video clip early on, cultural change is often a harbinger of political shifts, but even as he agrees, Varga says the current cultural landscape has led to a redefinition of what constitutes a “minority.”

Video: Jose Antonio Vargas And The Voices Of The DREAM Act

In the year since my essay went viral, at least 2,000 undocumented Americans — and we are, at heart, Americans — have personally contacted me and outed themselves. Their stories flooded in at public events and in late-night Facebook messages.

Across the country, more and more Americans are challenging how our politicians, the media — and even the Supreme Court (in its current deliberation on Arizona’s immigration law) — talk about immigration.

These brave deeds must be met with equal bravery from those of us who have the power to pass it on.

- From Define American

Now Reading: Jose Antonio Vargas on “[His] Life As an Undocumented Immigrant”

by Latoya Peterson

Jose Antonio VargasLast year, at a Poynter function, I had the privilege of meeting Jose Antonio Vargas in person. Both charming and interesting, with a huge drive to make journalism a true tool of democracy, he seemed like someone I wanted to get to know.

Last week, Vargas wanted the world to get to know exactly who he was. So he took the bold step of writing a piece that could change his life forever. Called “My Life as an Undocumented Worker,” Vargas used the New York Times platform to reveal his secret:

Over the past 14 years, I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream.

But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.

Vargas artfully describes the pain of the political becoming personal:

The debates over “illegal aliens” intensified my anxieties. In 1994, only a year after my flight from the Philippines, Gov. Pete Wilson was re-elected in part because of his support for Proposition 187, which prohibited undocumented immigrants from attending public school and accessing other services. (A federal court later found the law unconstitutional.) After my encounter at the D.M.V. in 1997, I grew more aware of anti-immigrant sentiments and stereotypes: they don’t want to assimilate, they are a drain on society. They’re not talking about me, I would tell myself. I have something to contribute.

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