In 1995, I was a student delegate at the United Nation’s 50th Anniversary conference on religious harmony held in San Francisco. We began by reciting verses from each of the world’s major faiths, including an Islamic prayer that was listed as the “Mohamedan Prayer.”
Seventeen years later, it is hard to imagine someone—let alone a major organization like the UN—using this archaic, Orientalist term to describe Islam. Americans know so much about Islam these days that I am frequently asked by strangers if I am Shia or Sunni.
But every once in a while—and particularly more often in an election year—there are reminders that the rise in awareness has not corresponded to the rise in sympathy towards Islam and Muslims. The recent comment by Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) that long time aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Huma Abedin is a mole for the Muslim Brotherhood is just the latest example of this hysteria.
I do not worry about Abedin. A person of her intelligence and clout can withstand these attacks. I worry about Muslim high school and college students who wonder why they should even enter politics if they will, like Abedin, be constantly scrutinized because of their faith. Continue reading →
by Guest Contributor Erin Pangilinan, originally published at Hyphen
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are the fastest growing racial group in the United States, making AAPI voters a force to be reckoned with as a key constituency group for the 2012 presidential election. The Obama For America (OFA) campaign is attempting to capture the attention of ethnic voting blocs in various states.
Unfortunately only 48 percent of AAPIs turned out to vote in 2008, making them the lowest registered group, compared to 62 percent of all Americans. Only half of eligible AAPIs are registered to vote, making AAPIs the lowest racial or ethnic group recorded. OFA can still remain optimistic though, since 81 percent of first-time AAPI voters voted for President Obama.
While mainstream news outlets focused on AAPI Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as flashy campaign donors in the already blue state of California, what’s really at stake for many is outside of the San Francisco Bay Area. AAPI populations can make a big difference in battleground states throughout the country, especially Nevada.
Holding six electoral votes, Nevada is a key swing state to win the presidential election. Nevada is home to the nation’s fastest growing AAPI population. AAPI and Latino voters were the margin of swing victory in U.S. Senator Harry Reid’s run for re-election in Nevada during the 2010 mid-term elections.
Filipino Americans are the second largest ethnic group in Nevada alone, and make up 4 percent of the state’s population at 98,000 — 86,000 of whom reside in Clark County. Tagalog will be the third language, aside from English and Spanish, to be used in election materials in Clark County. OFA has a clear investment in AAPI communities, with a total of seven field offices in Las Vegas alone, which is located in Clark County.
Some speculate that because of poor voter turnout during the previous mid-term elections, as well as a likely loss of white swing independent voters supporting Obama, OFA will attempt to recapture base voters, particularly communities of color.
I’m not really a huge fan of politics, especially not the horserace thing that’s popular this time of year. I was planning to do an update to a 2008 post, where I asked:
Ask yourselves: what is your candidate going to do with the rising class gap in America? How do they propose to fix the problems (housing, retirement problems, education, wages) that contribute to the ever widening class divide?
Pathways Magazine, a Stanford University based publication dedicated to exploring poverty, inequality, and social policy, recently provided takes from the three major democratic front runners on their plans to alleviate poverty in America. (Hat tip to the Education and Class blog.)
Back in the day, Obama promised this:
Barack Obama – “Tackling Poverty and Inequality in America” (p. 14-16; PDF p. 16-18)
1. Replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone model and create Promise Neighborhoods in 20 cities across the country. (Sites will be selected by the government – cities and private entities will be required to pay 50% of costs to ensure involvement) 2. Expand early childhood education, federal grants and school loans 3. Sponsor Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Legislation – providing financial support to fathers who pay their child support, cracking down on fathers who don’t; initiatives to stop the cycle of domestic violence that takes a toll on families Continue reading →
We’ve been trying to refrain from writing about politics until 2012 actually arrives, but Herman Cain is rapidly pushing himself up the priority list.
His platform is essentially all the Republican talking points from the last few years – less regulation of business (yes, even in these times), religion as a base for public life, military might makes right, the whole bit. However, most people aren’t talking about Cain’s stance on the issues these days.
Predictably, Republicans are minimizing the allegations – however, they chose to do this in the strangest way possible. Apparently, they thought it would be a good idea to resurrect the “high tech lynching” slogan from the Clarence Thomas years – just as the the Anita Hill 20 Years Later conference reminded us of how race and gender matters tend to explode. (To their “credit,” so far the Republican establishment is backing race over gender – the fourth accuser is a white woman, and they are still throwing her under the bus for trying to tarnish Cain’s reputation. That could be it’s own commentary, but I’m leaving that alone for now.)
The “OCCUPY WALL STREET” slogan has gone viral and international now. From the protests on the streets of WALL STREET in the name of “ending capitalism” – organizers, protestors, and activists have been encouraged to “occupy” different places that symbolize greed and power. There’s just one problem: THE UNITED STATES IS ALREADY BEING OCCUPIED. THIS IS INDIGENOUS LAND. And it’s been occupied for quite some time now.
I also need to mention that New York City is Haudenosaunee territory and home to many other First Nations. Waiting to see if that’s been mentioned anywhere. (Author’s note: Manhattan “proper” is home to to the Lenape who were defrauded of the island by the Dutch in 1626 – see more from Tequila Sovereign).
Not that I’m surprised that this was a misstep in organizing against Wall Street or really any organizing that happens when the “left” decides that it’s going to “take back America for the people” (which people?!). This is part of a much larger issue, and in fact there is so much nationalistic, patriotic language of imperialism wrapped up in these types of campaigns that it’s no wonder people can’t see the erasure of existence of the First Peoples of THIS territory that happens when we get all high and mighty with the pro-America agendas, and forget our OWN complicity and accountability to the way things are today – not just the corporations and the state.
Let me be clear. I’m not against ending capitalism and I’m not against people organizing to hold big corporations accountable for the extreme damage they are causing. Yes, we need to end globalization. What I am saying is that I have all kinds of problems when to get to “ending capitalism” we step on other people’s rights – and in this case erode Indigenous rights – to make the point. I’m not saying people did it intentionally but that doesn’t even matter – good intentions are not enough and good intentions obviously can have adverse affects. This is such a played out old record too, walking on other people’s backs to get to a mystical land of equity. Is it really just and equitable when specific people continue to be oppressed to get there? And it doesn’t have to be done! We don’t need more occupation – we need decolonization and it’s everyone’s responsibility to participate in that because COLONIALISM AFFECTS EVERYONE. EVERYONE! Colonialism also leads to capitalism, globalization, and industrialization. How can we truly end capitalism without ending colonialism? How does doing things in the name of “America” which was created by the imposition of hierarchies of class, race, ability, gender, and sexuality help that?
I can’t get on board with the nationalism of an “American” (or now “Canadian!”) revolution – I just can’t. There has been too much genocide and violence for the United States and Canada to be founded and to continue to exist as nation states. I think John Paul Montano, Anishnaabe writer captured it quite well in his “Open Letter to Occupy Wall Street Activists”:
I hope you would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you – that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is. I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless ‘-isms’ of do-gooders claiming to be building a “more just society,” a “better world,” a “land of freedom” on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life. I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land – never mind an entire society.
I’ve grown up in Washington, DC and the surrounding ‘burbs my whole life. So the political process ignites all kind of conflicting feelings in me. While we occasionally touch on political drama here, we don’t really put too much stock in all the dog and pony shows. I had planned to do one big post like this old one on poverty policy from 2008, and maybe a couple on jobs and economic policy and leave it at that until 2012. But last night’s GOP debate just let me know things are about to get bananas. The guy I was most worried about, Jon Huntsman, appears to be a non-factor since he’s a bit too rational. The bets are apparently on Perry or Bachman or Palin, which is depressing. So depressing that I don’t want to watch another political speech without a drinking game/bingo card in hand.
But it isn’t just that.
Most of the active correspondents are based in the US – our politics are what we report on the most frequently. But our user base has been increasingly skewing international – Canadians, South Africans, and British folks make up a substantial chunk of traffic. And in the post-riots aftermath, it appears that England is sorting out what type of nation they want to be. But conservatives and politicians are dreaming up more and more ways to penalize participants in the riots and more and more folks are pointing to a broken social contract and a lack of confidence in government to steer the nation through this. And, around the world, the aftermath of revolution is in the air. The dust is settling, and people are moving to rebuild their fractured nations.
We aren’t just talking about politics. The decisions happening in the next few years will reshape the world.
So the question is how do we cover it? Where do we even start?
Condoleezza Rice is an intriguing figure to watch as she moves across the national stage.
She held two of the highest offices in the United States – National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.
She is a Republican, yet she doesn’t shy away from talking about race, as is the custom for many members of the party.
She was a young prodigy, gifted in the arts and sports, but chose a life immersed in public policy.
Her new book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family traces her life, beginning with her Grandfather Albert Robinson Ray III, then the lives of her mother and father, then her own life, growing up in the segregated South. Her story flips between idyllic childhood memories of church picnics and piano lessons and terrifying memories of bombings and explosions, Rice chronicles the contradictions of the living in the land of the free, and still living with the legacy of what she terms “America’s birth defect.” Continue reading →
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World