Tag Archives: news

Announcement: On Joining The Stream

Me, with Derrick Ashong, post show, with Grover Norquist, the guest.

Former host Derrick Ashong and myself, with show guest Grover Norquist.

Now, we normally don’t publicize things about our personal lives or jobs on Racialicious.

However, this time is a bit different.  After appearing on Al Jazeera’s The Stream as a guest, then guest hosting, then subbing for the amazing Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, I finally decided to make it official. I am joining The Stream (American Edition) as Senior Digital Producer.

I am announcing it here is because I want the Racialicious community to come with me.

Over the years (we’re coming in on seven, almost eight for those counting; close to a decade for the MMW peeps) this community has brought some of the most challenging questions to our doorstep in the service of discussing race. How do we understand issues of race when this whole concept is fictional? As soon as you cross borders, racial labels fall apart, but the societal consequences remain. To what extent does colonialism play into our discussions of racism and solidarity? Where does religion and religious identity intersect with race? How do we even craft terms to describe ourselves without further playing into these systems that do not serve us?

I’ve often felt frustrated that we didn’t have the resources to go out and actively source stories. While some members of our community who are journalists have provided us with great pieces over the years, there are so many times when I wished we had a team to dispatch and cover events. And that’s to say nothing of all the media critique we’ve done over the years. Continue reading

Hate Crimes

by Guest Contributor Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed

I stepped out of my car, pink skies streaking dusky blues overhead. The hot desert heat stung my skin while the temperature simultaneously dropped dramatically, stirring up that Maghrib winds that conjures up images of swooping invisible jinns snatching at your uncovered hair. Apprehensively I stood, looking first at the large American flag gracing the chain linked fence of the house across the street. I then looked at the mosque, which was really just a 1970s California ranch style house that was being used as a mosque–the Al Nur Mosque located in Ontario, CA. It was hard to think that this was the “scary Mozlem temple” that elicited three pig feet being thrown in the driveway only days earlier by two women in a white truck during the sacred late night Ramadan prayers.

Last time I had been in a mosque was last year when my mother had died, and the last time I had been in this mosque was for the special prayer we held 48 hours after her burial. It was the most spiritually connected moment of my life. I hadn’t been that connected since then, and it held me paralyzed as I stood breathlessly by my car. I wondered how I’d be accepted in this space, showing up alone without my Mom by my side. She was my community conduit. The mosque was created and attended by the Bangladeshi immigrant community that raised me but I was an adult now and building my own communities. But the events of the week weighed down terribly on me, and I knew that I had to be present in this particular mosque as a show of solidarity–or maybe more as a statement. I practiced my Islam defiantly, wore my religion on my brown skin politically. I was Muslim, despite America’s fear.

I stepped into the backyard. I was greeted by foldable tables lined up in rows, paper tablecloths whipping in the wind. The tables were covered with plates of pakoras, channa, dates, and glasses of rose flavored pink drink. Men in white kurtas and thupees sat on one side of the yard, women with dupattas wrapped around their heads sat on the other. The imam caught my eye and smiled at me in recognition. I meekly smiled back. Last time I had seen him we had gotten into a fight over my insistence of having the women’s prayer section up front next to the men’s section for Mom’s funeral prayer instead of hidden in a back room. My Islam was radical in that way.

The mood was calm, normal even. There was no fear hanging in the air, nor were there giddy pleasantries. It felt placid. People saw me and nodded wordlessly, as if after all these years, they’d been expecting me. It had been a long hot day of 109 degrees and people were ready to break their fast. Somewhere in the house, the imam began azaan and the call for prayer. Dates were eaten, water sipped. The tables emptied quietly as people filtered in to pray and as if on cue the desert wind kicked up, knocking pink drinks all over the paper lined tables. The calm mood struck me as odd, but it made sense given the context. If there’s something you learn from a day of fasting in long and hot weather, it’s that you have no time for bullshit.

I, on the other hand, was festering from the weight of the Islamophobia of the week. Continue reading

A Day in the #OWS Movement: November 15th, 2011

by Guest Contributors Zoltán Glück and Manissa McCleave Maharawal

OWS Arrests

Scene 1: Manissa

The text came at 1:05am just as I was just getting out of the shower:

OccupyNYC:URGENT:Hundreds of police mobilizing around Zucotti. Eviction in progress.

I both could and could not believe it. But it didn’t matter right then, what mattered right then was that I get on my bike and get there as soon as I could. I threw on the first clothes I found and started texting everyone I knew. It wasn’t even a thought if I would or wouldn’t go: of course I was going. I somehow remembered to fill my water bottle.

Half an hour later with my friend David, I locked my bike a few blocks from Zucotti Park. We started up the street towards Broadway when, out of nowhere I was body checked by three cops in riot gear and thrown against the side of a van, pinned there by a baton. I looked over and David was surrounded and being shoved. I start to scream, threw my arms up and simple thoughts started going through my head: there is no one here to see this, what did I do, how do I get out of this safe? Suddenly it is all over and we are being pushed down the block, being told we can’t go this way. I’m shaking. I grab David’s hand. He holds it tightly and I start crying silently.

Scene 2: Zoltan

By the time I arrived at the scene it was 1:30am, a mere half hour after the emergency text message had gone out. Already the park was fenced in and we could only get within a one-block radius of the square. People were arriving from all over the city, our numbers were growing quickly, and the police decided to push us back before more supporters arrived. There was spontaneous solidarity: along side many faces I recognized from the long weeks of occupation and many that I did not, we linked arms, we tried to stand our ground, we chanted that this was a peaceful protest and we were met with wanton violence. The police had hardly started to move and already to my right three people were pepper-sprayed, a man to my left was being repeatedly gouged in the stomach with a police baton. A few minutes later we were penned in and the police were grabbing people at random from the crowd and arresting them. They made a small opening and now were throwing people violently through it. One man had fallen to the ground, and the cops did not step in to help him up, but rather kept throwing more people out towards him, tripping and stepping on him as he was down. When we tried to help him up we were met with batons, shoved and cursed at.

Scene 3: Many of us, Broadway

It is late and we are walking back towards Liberty Plaza down the sidewalk on Broadway. When 50 feet ahead of us a few cops jumped out of a police car and grabbed our friend N. She was an organizer at Occupy Wall Street and it seemed clear that she had been singled out for arrest. We ran up to the police car she had been roughly shuffled into and tried to yell to her through a slightly opened window: “Anyone we can call for you? Anyone we can call?” Suddenly 10 officers are surrounding the car pushing us back, yelling over her as she tries to answer. A man with a camera was shoved violently to the side and his press pass grabbed. “We’re just trying to ask her if she wants us to call her family,” we said. They continued to push us away from the car, telling us to keep moving or be arrested as we continued to call out to our friend. Through all the yelling a line from one of the officers is clear: “You can’t talk to her, she’s a prisoner. Move along or you’ll be arrested.” We shuffled away, N. in the car behind us surrounded by officers. One of us nearly starts to cry: “It’s her birthday, I just wanted to see if there was anyone she wanted us to call.” We all try and remember when it stopped being allowed to make sure our friends are okay as they are arrested for walking down the street. When we started being referred to as prisoners. Continue reading

Yet Another “Black Women Can’t Get Married” Story

Black women panel

It never ends.

Reader AnoninPhilly sent us a link to the latest in the woe-are-unwed-black-women articles from the Wall Street Journal, this one titled “An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage.” Sing along if you know the words:

Audrey belongs to the most unmarried group of people in the U.S.: black women. Nearly 70% of black women are unmarried, and the racial gap in marriage spans the socioeconomic spectrum, from the urban poor to well-off suburban professionals. Three in 10 college-educated black women haven’t married by age 40; their white peers are less than half as likely to have remained unwed.

But since it’s the WSJ, the idea of the market is the main angle of the story.

I came away convinced of two facts: Black women confront the worst relationship market of any group because of economic and cultural forces that are not of their own making; and they have needlessly worsened their situation by limiting themselves to black men. I also arrived at a startling conclusion: Black women can best promote black marriage by opening themselves to relationships with men of other races.

Audrey and other black women confront a social scene in which desirable black men are scarce. Continue reading

Commenting on the News

By Guest Contributor shani-o, originally posted at PostBourgie

news

Have you seen this story? It’s an lengthy piece by Gloria Campisi for the Philadelphia Daily News about a group of black workers at a city trash facility who are suing over racially segregated bathroom and water facilities. And apparently, these workers have been filing complaints about racism since 1999, with no investigations or follow-ups from the city.

Lawrence “Lonnie” Powell, 58, a semiskilled laborer at the city’s Northwest Transfer Station, in Roxborough, said that since he began working at the trash-handling plant in 2003 he has had to seek the superintendent’s permission to go to the bathroom — then descend five flights of stairs to use it.

Powell, who is black, said that white employees have been permitted to use a bathroom just 25 feet from his work station.

“On several occasions I’ve actually defecated on myself, trying to get down to the bathroom,” said Powell, who operates a machine that packs trash into tractor-trailers to be taken to landfills.

Among those allegations is that for several years Gill has kept a “supervisor’s bathroom,” one flight up from Gill’s office, that “only the white employees were allowed to use…whether or not they were supervisors,” Powell wrote in an affidavit last month.

“Quite often, while I’m up there, I could be sitting in my booth, and I see white guys going into the bathroom,” Powell said in an interview. “They walk right by the door and go right in the bathroom there. That’s maybe 25 feet away from where I’m at.”

But when he has to go to the bathroom, he said, he has to go down to Gill’s office to get permission, then descend five more flights.

Two other black workers, Gibson Trowery, 55, and Leslie Young Jr., 51, filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in October 2007 and a lawsuit in January alleging discrimination by the city and infliction of extreme emotional distress by Gill.

Howard K. Trubman, a Center City attorney representing the black workers at the station, said that the law permits Trowery and Young to take their case to court because the PHRC did not rule within a year.

But black workers had complained in writing about what they considered racism at the station as far back as 1999, Young and Trubman said.

In August 2007, Powell aired the black employees’ grievances in a meeting with Gill and Streets Department Deputy Commissioner Carlton Williams, who then ordered Gill to open the supervisor’s bathroom to everyone, court documents show.

That meeting came three days after a job action on Aug. 17, 2007, in which no African-American employees at the station reported for work. The workers still refer to the protest as “Black Friday.”

Powell said that he later saw a black employee, who had been promoted to a supervisory position, using the “supervisor’s bathroom” several times.

But that didn’t last, and that employee went back to driving a truck, Trubman said.

Reading the comments on stories like this is often an exercise in patience. News stories about race, women’s rights, homosexuality, and Obama seem to attract bigots like flies.

Continue reading

American “Activism”: On the Neda Video, and Other Images of the Brutal Third World

by Guest Contributor Catherine A. Traywick, originally published at Femmalia

Two weeks after the much-publicized death of Iranian protester, Neda — whose final moments were famously captured by a cell phone camera and distributed the world over — a couple dozen performers put together a music video tribute slash “non-violent resistance” anthem filmed (appropriately?) with nothing but a cell phone camera. Described by CNN as “a call to action against human rights violations by the Iranian government against Iranians,” the video’s creators/stars rap and harmonize about non-violence, their fuzzy, pixelated faces crooning between clips of the now historic footage of Neda’s death.

The graphic clips excerpted by the creators of the video for the the purpose of spreading their message of solidarity and pacifism have generated a cacophony of international outrage, sympathy, outright disbelief, and controversy since their initial circulation a few weeks ago. While the footage has galvanized protesters in Iran, creating for them a martyr to rally around as they strive for real, lasting change, it has also prompted enthusiastic Americans to wear green and tweet about revolution in what has already been described by numerous commentators as a superficial and ineffectual display of “solidarity.” The “United for Neda” video, as well-intentioned and misguided as any green-clad American, seems to fall into the latter category. Like Americans who continually replay the Neda footage in order to sustain a dimming sense of shock, outrage, and civic duty while imagining a connection to a less complacent world, the music video appropriates the controversial images of Neda with the aim of fostering activism through the propagation of sensational violence. Continue reading

Now that we know the Virginia Tech gunman was Asian…

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Now that we know the Virginia Tech gunman was Asian, I’m bracing myself for the inevitable racist remarks we’ll hear about him. After all, he’s a certifiable bad guy — nobody is going to watch their words. The goal will be to paint him in the worst light possible.

Also, anyone wanna bet that some dude on Fox News will manage to tie this in to illegal immigration somehow? I could see them investigating his family’s immigration status or something like that, and use it as further “proof” of the yellow/brown peril facing America.

Racism special on CNN tonight

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

paula zahn racism special cnnJust spotted this on TVNewser:

CNN is devoting tonight’s hour of Paula Zahn Now to “Skin-Deep: Racism in America.” Guests include Whoopi Goldberg and the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

The show “will examine the Michael Richards incident and its repercussions,” the press release says. Correspondent Keith Oppenheim “will profile the town of Vidor, Texas, reporting on racial tensions there.” And Zahn will talk “to multicultural ten-year-olds about racism and reports on the results at the end of the special.”

Also, check out the results of this survey on racism that was just released (thanks to Karen and Philip for the tip!). Basically, most Americans agree racism is a big problem, half say they know someone who’s racist, but almost no one thinks that they themselves are racist.

Update 10:10 PM: Wow. Ok, I have opinions aplenty, but I’m going to save them so I can do a rant on Monday’s episode of Addicted to Race. But please share your thoughts in the comments section, as some of you already have started to do.