Average Asian

Just saw this on my friend Holly Bun's blog Three Girl Rhumba.


sunday night jam sessions

on the menu tonight:
dj drez feat rocky dawuni
saul williams
ky-mani marley
wax poetic

chill out before the hectic week ahead.
always conscious lyrics
sunday night jam sessions


The Struggle Against the Brahmin/The Struggle Against the White Man: Inter-Connectivity Between India/U.S. Struggles

Cross-posted from Blogbharti.

I was recently invited by my (blogger) friend Kuffir to blog for Blogbharti in their Spotlight Series, an Indian blog aggregator, whose stated mission is to make sure that "all voices from the Indian blogosphere are properly heard." Kuffir, from Hyderabad, India, is an editor at Blogbharti and also blogs here. I was very honored he invited me (along with others) to blog about a topic of my liking. So I decided to blog about the similarities between the Dalit struggle and the struggles of people of color in the United States; as well as on the privileges and ignorances of whites and Brahmins in the United States and India and the system that keeps them up and keeps "the other" down. For those of you in America and abroad you can read more about Dalit issues on my blog here and here and as well as clicking on the "Dalit" tag and "Caste" tag at Blogbharti.

Trying to jog my brain on what to write I decided to flip back to my old posts on caste, especially my two posts on Dalits and Hinduism. One thing that struck me was the similarities of caste and whiteness; specifically on not seeing one's own privilege as an upper caste Hindu or as a white person. One thing whites have done in America is try to co-opt movements from people of color and try to make them their own or try to co-opt them by trying to enfold certain leaders from communities of color into the mainstream political fold so only cosmetic changes are done and no real change happens. The main political parties are still run by white males with their token people of color mixed in but the reality is, is that these parties are still guided by white elites and essentially only represent the interests of white elites; which in turn shows us why there was never really any big change in the American racial landscape after the civil rights bills of the 1960s.

So too for the Congress Party of India, which for a long time was really the only political party that had control of the Indian government. While Gahndi and the Congress Party claimed to represent the interests of India and to be for all Indians in reality the Congress Party was actually run by upper caste men; while, even though many of whom were more "liberal" minded when it came to religion, they still enjoyed the benefits of caste. Many in the Congress Party, including the bourgeois and upper caste Gandhi, were unaware of the caste privilege and in fact even lauded the caste system as divinely inspired. This was meet with severe and harsh criticism by Dalit leaders such as Ambedkar (one just need look at the title of Ambedkar's book What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables).

Another similarity between caste and white supremacy is that both of these systems and institutions have been meet with both mainstream and more radical and militant resistance. In the United States (early one) in the civil righs movement whites and Blacks united to fight against Jim Crow laws, yet when it came time to really institute change in the U.S. many whites decided to back out and not confront their own white privilege; to them the civil rights legislation was enough and if Blacks couldn't make it then it was "their own damn fault." Liberal whites could "feel good" about helping their Black "brothers and sisters" but that didn't mean they actually viewed them as their equals. Instead those who called for radical change in the corrupt and unjust white supremacist system were Blacks and other people of color. They formed radical organizations that confronted whiteness and white supremacy, such as the Black Panthers and Brown Berets. It was people of color, not whites, who organized their communities and demanded real change and took militant stances in demanding equality for all and access to the vast abundance of wealth that was horded by the elite.

As in India it was not the Brahmins and upper cast Hindus who led for genuine reform, it was the Dalits. While many upper caste Hindus did seek to abolish "caste discrimination" they did not seek to abolish the caste system itself, just as whites were comfortable with seeking to ban Jim Crow laws but not white privilege itself. Ambedkar, who was a Dalit, was able to see in Gandhi and the Congress Party what they could not see in themselves because they were blind by their privilege. “Examine the Gandhian attitude to strikes,” stated Ambedkar, “the Gandhian reverence for caste and the Gandhian doctrine of Trusteeship of the rich…Gandhism is the philosophy of the well-to-do and leisured class.” Also it was radical Dalits in India who created the Dalit Panthers, in direct connection with the Black Panthers, and tackled the problem of caste head on and with no regrets.

So what does this mean for those in America who fight against white privilege and those in India who fight against the caste system and upper caste reactionaries? For one, in this highly globalized and technological world both sides can view each others triumphs, failures, writings, and thought in order to better themselves and their own struggles and in turn open up lines of communication between each other and two it meas Dalits and people of color can align themselves in a shared common struggle against capitalism and of destructive social systems so ingrained in each society that it is nearly impossible to think of said society without thinking of caste or white privilege and racism. Not only will it be beneficial to study both movements mutually, but in this globalized world both systems collide with each other and play out in other countries and spill over amongst themselves. One can't separate America's goal for domination of the globalized world with that of white supremacy and one can't deny that it is the elites in both countries (which Anand Patwardhan captured so well in his documentary War and Peace) who benefit from globalism and capitalism. Thus there is an inter-connectivity between privileged white males in Europe and America and privileged upper caste males in India. Thus there too must also be an inter-connectivity between people of color and immigrants in Europe and America and the Dalits, Shudras, and OBCs in India in order to combat this new conflation of oppression were both lower classes are left behind in the dust and left to suffer for the "betterment of the 'whole' society."


The Invisibility of Whiteness

As Jason Katz argues in the film Tough Guise: Violence, Media, & the Crisis in Masculinity, the way in which domination operates is that the dominant group is often rendered invisible and thus is unexamined. When we talk about race we normally think about African American, Latino, Asian; when we talk about sexual orientation we think homosexual, bisexual, transgender; when we talk about gender we think female. Rarely do we really look at the dominant group -- as if white isn't a racial category, as if heterosexual isn't a sexual orientation, and as if males don't have a gender. So if we're talking about racial issues specifically, part of what it means to be white is to not have your personal character flaws or actions attributed to your race.

A person example...

A couple of weeks ago in one of my sociology classes, the professor asked the class to define whiteness/white culture in the United States. Some of the characteristics that people listed were leisure, wholesome, and Brittney Spears. The professor then asked everyone to define Filipino culture. With relative ease, the class came up with a multitude of traits such as nurses, FOBs, gold diggers, lumpia, hard-working, family-oriented, and, according to one white woman's high school experience, Filipinos are seclusive.

It was then that I raised my hand and said, "I find it interesting that some of us look at Filipinos as seclusive, or self-segregating, and not whites, when whites are one of the most segregated racial groups [gated communities for example]. When we see a group of people of color we think 'Hey, they're sticking amongst each other. They're self-segregating.' But when we see a group of white people we think, 'Oh, those are just some people.' We don't talk about whites in racialized terms."

I also noticed how difficult it was for people in the class to define whiteness/white culture. In explaining as to why this might be so, Ruth Frankenburg, author of the book White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness, argues that white culture is “invisible” because it is constructed as “normal.” Because whiteness is seen as the norm - as the standard against which all others are measured, "white culture has no definition, only those who deviate from the norm have ‘culture.’”

Interestingly enough as I was contemplating about what other examples I could use to illustrate this idea, I came across an article in the New York Times entitled, "Obama Pins Hopes on Oprah Factor in South Carolina." In it the writer states the following:

Ms. Winfrey’s show and persona generally transcend race (the vast majority of her 8.6 million daytime viewers are white). Mr. Obama has tried to do the same with his campaign. But Sunday, Ms. Winfrey referred both directly and indirectly to what she called a “seminal moment” in the nation’s history. It was clear she was talking about the chance to elect the first black president.

What the writer here implies is that Oprah's personality as well as her show are "race neutral" because most of her viewers are white. Likewise, Obama has opted for a more "universal" (meaning white) appeal. "Transcending race", according to the writer, means tailoring your image and persona so that it appeals to mostly white people -- as if whites do not belong to a racial group. Because both Oprah and Obama are now reaching out to blacks, their actions are viewed as racial.

If we are truly aspiring to achieve racial justice then we need to look at racism (and by that I mean a system of ideas embedded into our institutions which gives whites unearned advantages over people of color) as a white problem rather than just a problem that people of color face.

On (White) Feminism

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

BrownFemiPower blogs about the book Full Frontal Feminism, on teaching it at university women’s studies classes, her own experience as a woman of color in such classes, and the overall arch of teaching feminism in general:

It’s time for all of us, but in particular, women’s studies departments, to stop pretending that these interactions between women of color and white women never happened or don’t count. It’s time to stop pretending that the voices of white women speaking about women of color is sufficient enough of a history for women of color. It’s time to stop pretending that universal agreement between women of color is necessary before white people can interact with an engage with a particular critique of women of color. It’s time to stop pretending that any critique by women of color exists within a timeless vacuum that demonstrates some ancient racism of a feminism from time past.


Support A Free Democracy In Vietnam

Free Them Now.net

Activists, bot Vietnamese and American Are being held in jails indefinitely and need your support.

Here is the petition to sign

A Talk on African's and Fractal Geometry


Whiteness and Silence on Race

PortlyDyke blogs on racism and white people's comfort levels on it:
I know that racism is still an issue, because there are white people -- white people who think of themselves as liberal/progressive -- who will say racist things to me when people of color are not around -- even after I have confronted them in the past about racist remarks that they have made.

I know that racism is still an issue because white people seem so fucking uncomfortable about discussing it -- so uncomfortable, in fact, that they avoid discussing it, even when it is clearly brought to the table by someone that they consider an ally.

I know that racism is still an issue because people of color can disappear and nobody seems to notice.

Yes, I think that racism, misogyny, and homophobia (and whole bunch of other hatred-based "isms") are interconnected. Yes, I think that it's important for me to "connect-the-dots" between these forms of oppression, and understand how they intertwine.

Originally linked from Pam's House Blend.

In his book Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva the author talks about how silence within a conversation about race are actually very good cues onto what a certain person thinks about race or how they want to be perceived on about race in this politically correct and colorblind climate we live in right now. Normally (and I have been witness to this) when a bunch of white people are together with no other people of color are around white people tend to relax as they are in their "natural" environment (that is, whites being one of the most segregated communities in the U.S. they are more used to being around whites than around a whole mix of folks) and they tend to speak comfortably on many subjects without fear of retaliation; of those subjects they speak without fear on is race. When whites are around other whites they tend to show their views more clearly than around non-whites, they'll say things like, "Jeez, why are these Latinos so lazy and gettin' knocked up all the time," or "Fuck, these niggers really need to get their act together."

Bonilla-Silva writes on when white people are being interviewed about race, or are in a conversation with a person of color or someone whom they're not sure what their views on race are, they tend to be more cautious, and it's this "cautiousness" that people need to be aware of. They are afraid of saying something stupid or actually blurting our what they think, such as, "It's been 150 years since slavery ended!" (as if racism is somehow dependent on an institution that was formally abolished in 1863). They are afraid of being "outed" as a racist when in their mind they are obviously not a racist, they are just saying their opinion. When a white person is talking to a person of color and the subject comes up on race they may stop to think about what they are going to say, or they stutter or say "umm," or "uhh" a lot so as to not offend someone. Yet this very act of masking words and masking views in itself portrays what the white speaker is actually thinking. Instead of actually trying to think critically about race and question one's own views on race one masks what they are actually thinking, one is masking their own racist views so as to not be called a racist and therefore to not be uncomfortable and be held accountable for their white supremacists views (therefore making them think about race in a more critical way).

In this colorblind environment in where race is not looked at critically and not even acknowledged white peoples perceptions go unchallenged in mainstream America. The very silence of white people on race when it comes up as a subject and the very fact that when white people are around people of color, or being interviewed by someone on race, and they stutter or choose their words carefully, shows us that race is still very prevalent in society and shows us the thinking of many white Americans. Many white Americans hold racist and white supremacist views, yet they do not consider themselves racist and mask their words because they don't want to be called out and held accountable.

Hence the title for Bonilla-Silva's book Racism without Racists. The fact that white people consider themselves not racist yet somehow must "choose their words carefully" shows the contradictions in their thinking and betrays their white supremacist attitudes.



And they say desegregation was a big step forward,
but integration only covered up a rotten core.
The surfaced might have changed,
but the cauldron is still hot.
Now we're more politically correct,
with less real talk.
-"North by Northwest" by Blue Scholars


19th Erase Racism Carnival

Eric Stoller has put on the 19th Erase Racism Carnival this month.


Thanksgiving: A Window Into White Privilege

As I sit here in my bed sore from work I'm listening to the militant Pilipino-American rapper Bambu's newest album "...i Scream Bars for the Children..." In the song "Chairman Mao" Bambu spits:
We need to monitor the educationing of our kids,
we need the money to be evenly distributed out,
We need Ann Coulter to shut her motha fuckin' mouth.
Zapatista guerra,
as soon as the beat plays,
my riffle's a little scrappy,
is my A-Kay-Kay-Kay!
Indigenous spear checkin' on my,
my spear X these white boys out,
like Kevin Federline.
(Emphasis mine)

As Carlo blogged previously in where he posted an essay on Thanksgiving by Robert Jensen we need to stop and think for a moment what is we are celebrating. For me Thanksgiving is the one day in the year were we can sit back and see white privilege and white supremacy being played out all over the nation.

We all know the myth about pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down and sharing a meal and having a good ol' time over turkey, pumpkin pie, and what not and we always look back and those who "came before" and are thankful that this nation was "founded" upon such noble principles as sharing and kinship and uh...well...merciless genocide of the, you know, Americans, as in the Native Americans, you know, the people who were kinda here thousands of years before the white man ever set foot on Plymouth Rock.

The reason why I say that Thanksgiving is a window into white privilege is because for those who don't view this country as racist and exploitative and who view this country as free and fair how come once a year we decide to celebrate the genocide of Native Americans? Because that's really what Thanksgiving is about. Being "thankful" for this "nation." A nation that only exists because white folks went on the "war path" and drove out millions of Americans from their home (and from this world) and went to war with Mexico to further expand this country and in then turned those guns on the Native Americans in the former Mexican territories. Even conservative historians admit as much, how could one not?

Yet we celebrate this. Not because we are happy over the deaths of millions but because of the way our history is given to us. As Robert Jensen wrote:
When invoking a grand and glorious aspect of our past, then history is all-important. We are told how crucial it is for people to know history, and there is much hand wringing about the younger generations' lack of knowledge about, and respect for, that history. In the United States, we hear constantly about the deep wisdom of the founding fathers, the adventurous spirit of the early explorers, the gritty determination of those who 'settled' the country -- and about how crucial it is for children to learn these things.

But when one brings into historical discussions any facts and interpretations that contest the celebratory story and make people uncomfortable -- such as the genocide of indigenous people as the foundational act in the creation of the United States -- suddenly the value of history drops precipitously and one is asked, 'Why do you insist on dwelling on the past?'


History does matter, which is why people in power put so much energy into controlling it. The United States is hardly the only society that has created such mythology. While some historians in Great Britain continue to talk about the benefits that the empire brought to India, political movements in India want to make the mythology of Hindutva into historical fact. Abuses of history go on in the former empire and the former colony.
Essentially the celebration of Thanksgiving is the culmination of hundreds of years of white supremacy and white privilege condensed into one day. Whites have no idea how demeaning it is to Native Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving because they have grown up in a country that promotes whiteness as the norm and white supremacy as the mainstream. It's only through the concerted effort of white supremacist and uncritical historians, politicians, teachers, and others that Thanksgiving is still considered a holiday.

If we did indeed live in a society that was free and fair than we would have discussions on the media about what Thanksgiving really is about and we would read history books in the classrooms about the early massacres of Native Americans by the early white settlers (Spanish, English, and French), there would be debates over the radio that included Native American historians, leader,s and activists about their history and Black, Brown, and white historians discussing white privelege in this country and institutionalized racism and its very real realities today for all people of color, especially Native Americans.

And instead of celebrating the genocide of Native Americans we could probably turn the tables and start to "X these white boys out/like Kevin Federline."

I'll be tunning in today to see if any of this happens.

Just some food for thought as we feast with our families and friends over whatever it is we want to "celebrate."

Image From:

No Thanks to Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving today and while many of us are probably gonna be celebrating and stuffing our faces with grub, we should also take time to think about what we're exactly celebrating. In a nation that's supposedly the pinnacle of democracy and freedom - where things such as racism are a thing of the past, we should think about what kind of myths are woven into and perpetuated in our national story. Robert Jensen wrote this piece "No Thanks to Thanksgiving," which I thought was pretty dang awesome. Enjoy.

No Thanks to Thanksgiving
By: Robert Jensen

One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits -- which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.

That the world's great powers achieved 'greatness' through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news, of course. That those same societies are reluctant to highlight this history of barbarism also is predictable.

But in the United States, this reluctance to acknowledge our original sin -- the genocide of indigenous people -- is of special importance today. It's now routine -- even among conservative commentators -- to describe the United States as an empire, so long as everyone understands we are an inherently benevolent one. Because all our history contradicts that claim, history must be twisted and tortured to serve the purposes of the powerful.

One vehicle for taming history is various patriotic holidays, with Thanksgiving at the heart of U.S. myth-building. From an early age, we Americans hear a story about the hearty Pilgrims, whose search for freedom took them from England to Massachusetts. There, aided by the friendly Wampanoag Indians, they survived in a new and harsh environment, leading to a harvest feast in 1621 following the Pilgrims first winter.

Some aspects of the conventional story are true enough. But it's also true that by 1637 Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children, part of the long and bloody process of opening up additional land to the English invaders. The pattern would repeat itself across the continent until between 95 and 99 percent of American Indians had been exterminated and the rest were left to assimilate into white society or die off on reservations, out of the view of polite society.

Simply put: Thanksgiving is the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers.

The first president, George Washington, in 1783 said he preferred buying Indians' land rather than driving them off it because that was like driving 'wild beasts' from the forest. He compared Indians to wolves, 'both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape.' Thomas Jefferson -- president #3 and author of the Declaration of Independence, which refers to Indians as the 'merciless Indian Savages' -- was known to romanticize Indians and their culture, but that didn't stop him in 1807 from writing to his secretary of war that in a coming conflict with certain tribes, '[W]e shall destroy all of them.'

As the genocide was winding down in the early 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt (president #26) defended the expansion of whites across the continent as an inevitable process 'due solely to the power of the mighty civilized races which have not lost the fighting instinct, and which by their expansion are gradually bringing peace into the red wastes where the barbarian peoples of the world hold sway.' Roosevelt also once said, 'I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.'

How does a country deal with the fact that some of its most revered historical figures had certain moral values and political views virtually identical to Nazis? Here's how 'respectable' politicians, pundits, and professors play the game:

When invoking a grand and glorious aspect of our past, then history is all-important. We are told how crucial it is for people to know history, and there is much hand wringing about the younger generations' lack of knowledge about, and respect for, that history. In the United States, we hear constantly about the deep wisdom of the founding fathers, the adventurous spirit of the early explorers, the gritty determination of those who 'settled' the country -- and about how crucial it is for children to learn these things.

But when one brings into historical discussions any facts and interpretations that contest the celebratory story and make people uncomfortable -- such as the genocide of indigenous people as the foundational act in the creation of the United States -- suddenly the value of history drops precipitously and one is asked, 'Why do you insist on dwelling on the past?'

This is the mark of a well-disciplined intellectual class -- one that can extol the importance of knowing history for contemporary citizenship and, at the same time, argue that we shouldn't spend too much time thinking about history.

This off-and-on engagement with history isn't of mere academic interest; as the dominant imperial power of the moment, U.S. elites have a clear stake in the contemporary propaganda value of that history. Obscuring bitter truths about historical crimes helps perpetuate the fantasy of American benevolence, which makes it easier to sell contemporary imperial adventures -- such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq -- as another benevolent action.

Any attempt to complicate this story guarantees hostility from mainstream culture. After raising the barbarism of America's much-revered founding fathers in a lecture, I was once accused of trying to 'humble our proud nation' and 'undermine young people's faith in our country.'

Yes, of course -- that is exactly what I would hope to achieve. We should practice the virtue of humility and avoid the excessive pride that can, when combined with great power, lead to great abuses of power.

History does matter, which is why people in power put so much energy into controlling it. The United States is hardly the only society that has created such mythology. While some historians in Great Britain continue to talk about the benefits that the empire brought to India, political movements in India want to make the mythology of Hindutva into historical fact. Abuses of history go on in the former empire and the former colony.

History can be one of the many ways we create and impose hierarchy, or it can be part of a process of liberation. The truth won't set us free, but the telling of truth at least opens the possibility of freedom.

As Americans sit down on Thanksgiving Day to gorge themselves on the bounty of empire, many will worry about the expansive effects of overeating on their waistlines. We would be better to think about the constricting effects on the day's mythology on our minds.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the board of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. He is the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (both from City Lights Books). He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu.


Foucault on Political Power

Via Apurva who uploaded a debate between Chomsky and Foucault. Foucault says something on the university and educational system that I believe is a reality in todays America, as well as a few other systems. He says, starting out with explaining government institutions:
These institutions transmit orders, apply them and punish people who don't obey. But I think that the political power is also exerted by a few other institutions which seem to have nothing in common with the political power, which seem to be independent but which actually aren't. We all know that the university and the whole educational system that is supposed to distribute knowledge, we know that the educational system maintains the power in the hands of a certain social class and exclude the the other social class from this power...Psychiatry is also a way to implement a political power to a political social group. Justice also.
His point on psychiatry also reminds me why the Association of Black Psychologists started back in 1968. Even though psychiatrists and psychologists liked to pride themselves in being "objective" they were actually very subjective and psychiatry and psychology were just another tool used by this American system of white supremacy to subjugate people of color to the will of the white male. Black psychologists needed a space to develop their own theories and to help their own people and take on that system of white supremacy without the tentacles of Euro-centric education trying to strangle them.


Race and the Vote

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

JanInSanFran writes:
When you can't win an election on your own merits, wouldn't it be great to pick own your electorate who you can trust will vote for you? That's why politicians like to draw district boundaries to ensure one-party dominance. A new study [pdf] from the University of Washington's Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Sexuality shows pretty conclusively that by demanding voters show photo IDs, Republicans ensure that more voters are white, older, and affluent. Others, likely Democrats, get pushed off the rolls.

Indiana's photo ID law is being challenged as discriminatory in court. Researchers set out to find what it really would do voter eligibility. They polled carefully randomized samples of voters and non-voters about their IDs. The results show clearly that the ID requirement is designed to build a Republican bias into the universe of voters and potential voters.


sunday night jam sessions

I host sunday night jam sessions every week and have been asked to invite you over to listen. I try to play music that is lyric based, and always has a socially conscious lean to it. There is no particular genre that I stick to, but it's always entertaining and always random. come through sunday night jam sessions

Here's this weeks show (all are also available through itunes podcast)

powered by ODEO

Sunday Night Jam Sessions


Saturday Beats: Refuse

It's been a while since I've done this as I normally am not at my computer on Saturdays. If you need an update on what Saturday Beats is and who writes these wonderful pieces click here.

I Refuse!
Life is full of mistakes and no one is perfect
To prevent a problem from happening you gotta start
from the surface
Prayin' to God every day but yet still I don' learn shit
Growing older every second but yet still my servant
To the system
And I'm targeted because I'm black
I'm hustlin' because I refuse to lay flat
Put my hands behind my back
And give up my right that man in black
And blue
I refuse
I won't do
So I lace up my Jay's and keep it moving
Keep you clueless
Anticipating my next step
Stay ahead of myself and others
For the behalf of my next breath
And the test in life
I've passed it twice
Feel like I've been here once before
Ahead of my time in my prime
Bangin' on that death do'
-H-TwoOh-Cal, Alamedia


The Beautiful Struggle

Body Image

Since I'm the Educational Development officer for this student activist org. I'm apart of at San Francisco State University I always need to keep myself attuned to the needs of the membership. We've done workshops on immigration, the Third World Liberation Front SF State student strikes, an upcoming one on white privilege, and a workshop in November on the basics of the capitalist system. However I've been noticing among the membership issues on body image. Specifically people being influence by white mainstream (fascist) standards of beauty. So for next semester I'm going to get a hold of some fellow radicals to put on a workshop on white supremacist beauty standards and how it effects women of color and others in this American society.

Does anyone out there have any resources and blogs, blog posts, books, articles, etc. that they could share with me. You can contact me here. Thanks.


Erase Racism Carnival Oct. 2007 Edition

This months Erase Racism Carnival is up at Kill Bigotry:

The 20 posts have been divided into 4 categories: 1) Our Criminal (in)justice System; 2) Quotes that Made you Run to your Computer; 3) A Trip around the Color Wheel; and 4) A History of Violence. Finally, although tedious, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of being informed and enlightened by so many of you. — MODI


Ethnic Cleansing, San Francisco, and White Supremacy

Last week I read a very good and interesting article (originally published at BlackAgendaReport.com) in the The Bay View a Black owned and operated newspaper based out of Bay View Hunters Point (the most predominate Black neighborhood in the city) which tackles issues effecting the Black community in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and the nation. As the author was writing about gang injunctions imposed on the Latino and Black communities in the Filmore and the Mission district he stated:

Not surprisingly, the City Attorney's injunction list did not include the Downtown Gang, also known as the AWDG (All White Downtown Gang). These gang members virtually control all public policy in San Francisco, including who will live in the City and who will not.

How does one identify members of the Downtown Gang? Well, for starters, like members of all gangs, the AWDG hang out together: at museum galas, society do's, first nighters at the opera and the symphony, parties in Pacific Heights, winter in Tahoe and so forth. But the best way to ID them is to use the old-fashioned follow-the-money method. Pick a politician, check out the big buck contributors and then see whether the politician's policies benefit private sector profit or the public good. It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to find a political spear carrier for the AWDG and then the AWDG member who owns and supplies the spears.

This is a very good explanation of describing white privilege and white supremacy in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as in the nation, all one really has to do is follow the money.

The author wrote how when mayor Gavin Newsom was in trouble with his Green Party opponent during his run for mayor, the AWDGs closed ranks:

Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi hit the phones. Republican businessmen rushed to the fore. George Shultz, a Republican flush with new found Bechtel riches from Iraq, opened his wallet, as did the heirs to the Getty oil fortune, who were Newsom's original sponsors. Republicans Charles Schwab and Donald Fisher wrote checks. The Swig and Shorenstein families, real estate developers who had underwritten the activities of local Democrats for years, dialed in their dollars.

And, of course, Newsom won and policies favored by the AWDG continue to flourish during his regime - like the onslaught to quickly privatize the shipyard property, regardless of the health of the residents during construction on this toxic site or the fact that no one in the neighborhood will ever be able to live in the new housing units. In 2006, Lennar Corp. was cited multiple times for failing to monitor and control asbestos dust during the grading phase on Parcel A. Oddly enough, the project was never shut down to correct any non-compliant operations.

Finally, several local African American neighborhood organizations went to City Hall this year to protest this continuing contamination and request that the City red tag the site until safety measures could be enforced. Their request fell upon deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the AWDG, not content with securing a financial stranglehold on future development of public lands, continues to target existing public housing for privatization.

One reason why white people are so blind to their privilege is obviously because one can't really see what one already has. So in order to show someone their privilege you have to break it down in terms they can understand. In this article we can see how white privilege and white supremacy effects whites and people of color in this city. The real movers and shakers in politics are those who (obviously) have money. These people can pump in money to start up "grass-roots" organizations, fund lobbyist groups, wine and dine city officials and supervisors, fund TV, newspaper, radio, and internet ads, as well as gain important spots on the local and national news because of this so called "buzz" their money has generated around a certain issue.

Historically in this country money has flowed from and through the hands of white people with very little trickling down to people of color and those of the underclass. While wage gaps have decreased for some ethnic groups compared to whites, the reality is is that wealth is still in the hands of whites through property, the stock market, trade, etc. Carlo made a good point by using Monopoly as a metaphor. Everyone in the game who passes go collects $200, therefore equal pay, yet those who make the real money and wield the real power are those who own most of the property on the board, collecting the big bucks on every turn as other players land on their property.

Those who effect and shape policy in San Francisco are those who wield the money. Those who wield the money (because of past and present day injustices) are white people. As whites in this city systematically try to gain more capital and create more benefits for themselves people of color get effected by these policies. A capitalist wants to make a profit in land redevelopment. Well than redevelop the cheapest and least cared about part of the city, the Filmore, a Black neighborhood. When the Filmore was bulldozed down hundreds of Black businesses, businesses which generated income for the Black community, were destroyed. In their place came high end apartments and expensive cafes. What happened to the Black community was of little interest to the white politicians at City Hall, the white media, and the white population in the Bay Area. The only way it was looked at by whites was a "redevelopment" and a "rejuvenation."

This of course continues to this day. But before I ramble on any more I recommend you all read the article.

Image From:
Public Broadcasting System (PBS)

a girl like me

A powerful featurette of a documentary about young Black girls dealing with identity in America. The study Kiri re-creates is painful to watch.


Erase Racism Carnival Call for Posts

If you have a post that you would like to submit to this months Erase Racism Carnival being held at Kill Bigotry! you have until Oct. 17th to submit it.


South Asians and Deportations in a Post-9/11 America

Found a good article on New American Media on the detention and deportation of South Asians in relation to "terrorism" concerns. Unlike some of the stereotypes of South Asian immigrants as being rich and getting jobs in the high tech and medical fields there are many South Asians struggle just to get by while working low wage jobs (especially in California) and these deportations hit many families hard.
The fear of possible detention and eventual deportation looms large in the minds of many immigrants in America today. For South Asians in America, the experiences of detention and deportation, exacerbated in the wake of Sept. 11, continue to take a significant toll on families.

South Asians in America are still experiencing the impact of government policies implemented after Sept. 11 that led to an unprecedented number of detentions and deportations. The names and descriptions of these post-9/11 policies differed -- the Alien Absconder initiative; “voluntary” interviews of 3,000 immigrant men from certain countries; and special registration – but their impact was alarmingly similar in nature.

Detentions and deportations of South Asians, predominantly men, have resulted in broken families and displacement of homes and businesses. In the post-9/11 environment, the largest number of detainees were from Pakistan. After special registration (the policy that required nonimmigrant males 16 years and older from certain countries to register with immigration authorities) ended, 13,000 of the nearly 83,000 men who complied were set to be deported, and 35 percent of those were of Pakistani descent...(Read More)



I've been pretty busy with school, my student org I'm involved with, and my union work. While I haven't been blogging on here all that much I have been blogging (almost daily) on my blog The Ghost of Tom Joad on my issues with UPS management and my union work. I do plan on blogging about a recent article in my school newspaper (where I used to take pics at) and on the O'Reilly "I can't believe Blacks have manners" incident.


White Privilege

Jenn, from Reappropriate, has a good blog post about white privilege:
Too frequently, I am charged by my White friends with “over-racializing” the world. “Why must it always come down to race,” they wonder. ”Aren’t I perpetuating racism when I notice race?” Taking it a step forward, they accuse me of being racist against Whites for pointing out White privilege.

How do you communicate to someone who is White that their race matters? By definition, they are the “unracialized” in this country, and are never faced with their race and how it privileges them. How then can they comprehend how race fundamentally colours the experiences of people of colour? A cheesy analogy arose out of Monday’s discussion which is nonetheless somewhat poignant: if a negatively-charged chloride ion and a positively-charged sodium ion are hanging out on the outside of a cell. The cell’s membrane has a channel that allows only negatively-charged ions to move into the cell, and so chloride is able to pass in and out of the cell freely; to chloride there are no limits, and so the concept of the cell (as a bounded space) is an abstract concept alone since chloride doesn’t experience the boundaries of that cell and its borders are subsequently invisible.

To sodium, however, it seems the cell as a place it cannot enter, since there is no channel open to it. The cell is defined by sodium’s inability to enter it, and so it is able to sense not only where it can, but also where it cannot go (which, for science folks, draws in the analogy of the equilibrium potential for sodium compared to chloride).

White privilege is a similar conundrum...


Sept. 2007 Erase Racism Carnival

This months Erase Racism Carnival was just posted up at ReadingWritingLiving, check it out:
This carnival’s topic is Erase Racism, and you can see the many other carnivals that have been posted so far. I’ve been collecting submissions since August, and there is a great collection of thought-provoking stuff. So settle down, get comfortable, click away, read and think.


bell hooks on Popular Culture

My friend Apurva (who lives in Bengaluru (Bangalore), India and is now working for a brief time in California) sent me this video of bell hooks on popular culture in America. I just finished watching the first part and I'm about to finish the other seven parts.


Jena Six = Anti-Gay Bashing Bullies?

While reading The Republic of T. I came across a link to a LGBTQI blog called Queerty and found a post about the Jena Six in where the author states that the Jena Six were a bush of bullies and how Human Rights Campaign should focus on anti-gay crimes just as much as race crimes. While I agree HRC should focus on homophobia and heterosexism just as much as on racism the author seems to make a disturbing point in lashing out against the Jena Six. One of the commenters, SeaFlood, wrote:
This is very confusing to me. To me, it seems like… that old trick where a divide is struck between gay and B/black and never the two shall mix. It is not politically craven if he considers that… well… quiet as it is not kept… there are PLENTY of gay B/black people who are really concerned about the Jena 6 case.


...something’s really wrong with what Crain is saying…

“The “Jena 6″ are the type of macho bullies (of all races) who victimize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students (of all races) every day outside school gymnasiums across this country.”

But the Jena 6 are B/black. They are not the bullies here anyway. The bullies are the white kids and then white supremacy at the court house.

Maybe there’s something I am just not getting… seriously.


Jena Six

Pop Startled posts a good blog entry on the Jena Six with links to some news articles about the incident:
The status quo is a white dominated society. Sure, its possible to think that nooses are not racially charged when you're a white person. That comes from the unwavering idea held by most white Americans that racism is dead and that everyone is equal in our enlightened American society. However, the fact that you can see a noose and think a radically different thought than a fellow American who happens to be black shows that the status quo is actually just an imposed historical forgetfulness, an amnesia of only 1-2 generations after the struggles of the civil rights protesters and the death spasms of Jim Crow (who's ghost continues to haunt white suburbs vs black urban neighborhoods).


Racism, Sexism, Black Males and Women of Color

In response to some comments from the previous post I decided to read up a little more on stereotypes of Black males in America as well as women of color and their struggles in a patriarchal society and found some pretty neat articles that I found helpful. You can probably find most of these articles at your local library, university or college, and you local library's website.

First, some articles on Black males.

Reisig, Michael D. et. al. "The Effects of Racial Inequality on Black Male Recidivism." Justice Quarterly 24, no. 3 (Sept. 2007): 408-434.
Macrostructural opportunity theorists posit that the unequal distribution of economic resources across racial groups promotes animosities among disadvantaged minorities, disrupts community integration, and fosters criminal activity. Guided by this framework, we hypothesize that Black ex-prisoners who reenter communities with high levels of racial inequality are more likely to commit new crimes. Support for this argument is found for a large group of males (N = 34,868) released from state prisons to 62 counties in Florida over a 2-year period. We also find evidence that racial inequality amplifies the adverse effects of person-level risk factors on recidivism for Black ex-inmates. In comparison, the effect of inequality on White male recidivism is far less meaningful. These findings underscore the need for researchers to consider social context when studying recidivism among Black males, and also support the efforts of correctional reformers who advocate for state resources to assist prisoner reentry.
Gaines, Johnothan S. "Social Correlates of Psychological Distress Among Adult African American Males." Journal of Black Studies 37, no. 6 (July 2007): 827-858.
This cross-sectional research investigates social determinants of psychological distress among adult males, with a specific emphasis on African Americans. Despite a sizable body of literature indicating that members of the African American community hold less favorable attitudes toward criminal justice, including the police and court system, than do Caucasians, hardly any empirical examinations have investigated the psychological ramifications of this discontent. Utilizing a sample of 377 adult male respondents from the 1998 General Social Survey, results reveal that the effect of being an adult African American male conditions the impact of (1) socioeconomic status and (2) confidence in the courts and legal systems on psychological distress.
Patton, Tracey Owens and Julie Snyder-Yuly. "Any Four Black Men Will Do."Ibid., 859-895.
This study examines the impact of false rape charges a former Iowa State University student brought against four Black males. Using textual analysis coupled with Barthes's theory of myth, the authors critically examine how the story took hold and the communicative impact of the falsified claims of rape that affected African American men, rape survivors, and women. Using previous scholarship on rape and race (macrocontext), the authors test the scholarly conclusions on the myth of rape and race in a microcontext case study. Thus, they are interested in how the false accusation revived the myth and how Iowa State University and the local community, the regional media, and the campus police perpetuated the myth. The authors argue that racism and sexism are allowed to continue in this situation because of the preservation of White hegemonic patriarchal power. This preservation of White patriarchal hegemony is echoed in macrocontext-level conclusions.
Now onto women of color and some (of the many) issues I was able to read up on and thought would be helpful for you all.

Perez-Monforti, Jessica, et. al. "Fighting From a Powerless Space: African American Women, Latinas, and the Politics of Incarceration." Conference Papers -- Western Political Science Association, 2004 Annual Meeting.
Much of the current literature that includes an examination of crime, communities of color, and gender tend to focus solely on men of color. Therefore in this piece, we will provide an up-to-date, descriptive analysis African American women and Latinas in the United States' criminal justice system. We find that African American women and Latinas are, like their male counterparts, more likely than Anglo women to find themselves under incarceration. Despite their disproportionate representation, the experiences of women of color have been left out of the discourse and activism surrounding the increased expansion of the criminal justice system. We argue that such an approach is not only flawed, but limits our understanding of the impact of this expansion on the quest for equal voice. In particular, it prevents us from understanding the unique factors that have led to the increased incarceration of women of color. Based on this, we propose a research agenda that addresses these factors while also enhancing our understanding of contemporary barriers to democracy, equality, and representation.
Smith Andrea. "Beyond the Politics of Inclusion: Violence Against Women of Color and Human Rights." Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 4, no. 2 (April 2004): 120-124.
Discusses the anti-violence movement strategies on the premise that the criminal legal system ids the primary tool to address violence against women. Goal of anti-violence movement; Development of strategies to address violence; Implication of the failure to see intersectionality of racism and sexism.
Kim, Lili M. "'I Was [So] Busy Fighting Racism That I Didn't Even Know I was Being Oppressed as a Woman!' Challenges, Changes, and Empowerment in Teaching About Women of Color." NWSA Journal 13, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 98-111.
Shares the challenges, changes and empowerment experienced by the author in teaching women of color, one of the courses in women's studies curriculum. Aspects of feminist pedagogy; Topics discussed in the course; Ability to recognize and resist racism; Objection of students to talk about homosexuality; Interrelationship between racism, sexism, classism and homophobia.


The Brave One...To Kill Blacks With a Gun?

So I'm relaxing for a bit after studying ancient 5th century BCE Greek for my class (Greek 101) and I decide to turn on the TV. Which was probably a mistake since I always find something on the TV I can't stand, like CNN (oh God!).

As I'm watching the tube a commercial comes on for the movie The Brave One. At the beginning of the clip Jodi Foster is siting down alone in a subway car in the middle of night with no one in the car with her. All of a sudden two young (menacing) Black men (their menacing because their Black, male, and young, duh!) walk up to her. One is wearing a black and green football jersey with a sideways black cap (ah he's gangsta cause it's sideways!) and a silver chain; the other is wearing a yellow and white jacket with a black do rag on (he's gangsta cause it's a do rag!).

As they walk menacingly up to Foster the guy in yellow says in a MTV type of Ebonics talk. "Awww, dis is too eazy man!"

With that they two proceed to try and rob foster buy her quick and skilled white woman reflexes kick into action and she pulls out a gun and pumps some quick lead into the two "thugs."

Now what strikes me the most about this scene is the way the director chose to caste two young Black men for the train robbery scene. Obviously the director wanted something to convey scariness, so he chose two Black men, and the director needed to portray vulnerability, so he chose a white woman. Now in a society where for hundreds of years white woman have been used to portray innocence and chastity and Black men have been used to portray savagery and hyper-masculinity, this movie trailer does not sit to well with me.

Now before you all jump on the "oversensitive band wagon" I'm not neccesarly saying Foster is racist or that the director is racist. What I'm saying is, is that Foster and the director and casting manager, and anyone else involved in this film and who is white is not aware of their white privilege and racial history of America and is in turn unaware of their racist actions...So that means...Oh wait...Yeah, I am calling them racist! Oh well. Get over it. Plus anyone who thinks I'm being oversensitive doesn't deserve an explanation on why their comment is ignorant, but I'm getting off track here.

In a country where race was one of the biggest issues in its founding, preservation, and expansion, a scene in where a white woman is in a dangerous situation that involves a Black male is going to illicit a strong emotional response from any crowd. And mostly that crowd's response will be of fear, fear for that "poor white lady" and hatred for the "menacing Black men."

When I or anyone else talking about a system of racism and white supremacy being embedded within our country and society this is one (of the many) things we're talking about. When we watch the news or television shows like Cops normally the only time we see a Black male is when he's being chased by a cop in the ghetto or a mug shot of a "scary" Black man on the run for doing something, such as robing a bank, etc. For a white person, or really any person, seeing this every single time on the TV or in the newspaper further affects the way we perceive and think about Blacks and Black males. Couple this with movies that portray Black men as gangsters and drug dealers we get an image stuck in our head of what a Black man is. Even movies that try to highlight the imense poverty and racism that Blacks have to deal with everyday, such as Boyz n the Hood, even end up reenforcing these negative stereotypes.

Now couple this with the history of using the hyper-violent and hyper-sexual Black man attacking or "ravaging" a white woman to instill fear and hatred in the white populace you can see how these modern day stereotypes are actually just the bastard step-child of the older, but as equally racist, image of the Black man attacking and raping the white woman in the film Birth of a Nation.

So when the director and producer were trying to convey a scene of vulnerability and fear what was running through their mind when they decided to caste Foster and two young Black men? The answer isn't that they just randomly decided to caste a white woman for the role of Erica (the character) and two young Black men for the role of subway attackers. The answer is much deeper than that and lies in the history of our country, our race relations, and the answer lies in the construction of whiteness and the continual propping up of the white race in our country today.

Images From:
Hors Champ


An Arab School? Must Be One of Dem Crazy Jihadi Places!

Former Brooklyn High School of the Arts is becoming a high school that focuses on the teaching of the Arab language and of Arab culture. But of course with this comes "controversy!" Why controversy? Well because in the same phrase as "culture" and "school" comes "Arab!"

Oh hold on to your pants white folks! They'll be jihadis running rampant in New York city and in our public schools!! Oh sweet Jesus! Imagine it! These Arab and non-Arab children actually learning about another (or their own) culture! And learning another language besides English! Another language besides English! Oh the humanity!

But seriously. What's important to note here about this whole hoopla is the fact that for some reason when these right wing whackos and racists hear the word "Arab" they have to set up an organization titled the "Stop the Madrassa Coalition" when this school isn't even a religious school. It's a secular public school. They somehow stupidly assume that Arab=Muslim when the fact is that there are many different Islamic beliefs; Sufi, Whabi, Sunni, Shia, etc. and Arabs of different religions; Christian, Islamic, Catholic, etc. So for some reason they just automatically assume that Arab=Muslim when in fact it really doesn't. Hell Muslim doesn't even need to equal Arab since the majority of the world's Muslims are Asian. Yet for most people Asian doesn't equal Muslim (but anyways).

This is yet another example of white supremacy and institutionalized racism embedded within our society. In a society that is awash in white "culture" and white images and English it would be nice for an Arab family to have their child learn about their own culture and their own language and to get away from the imposing presence of whiteness which essentially destroys all semblance of culture in a non-white family within two to three generations.

I found out about this while watching Al Jazeera English on You Tube. One thing I found interesting was something Steven Emerson, an opponent of the school, said. In the report he says. "Oh I think it's possible to teach Arab culture without teaching terrorism. I think that you have to be careful because history is always shaded by political views. I don't think one is synonomous with the other but it requires careful delineation."

Now the knee jerk reaction of this white male is to think that if there is an Arab school (not an Islamic school mind you) that it might be possible to teach Arab culture without teaching "terrorism" but that you have to be careful because somehow "terrorism" is embedded within the gene pool of Arab culture.

Not only is this wholly ignorant to the intricacies of Arab history and contemporary Arab culture but it gives us an opportunity to view what the other side really thinks about Arabs, Arab Americans, and the Middle East.

Image From:
Alkabi 1970


"Language and Racism"

I was actually searching for an SNL skit called Nick Burns: The Company’s computer Guy when I came across this TV show put together by the Salt Lake City Community College. It’s called Up in the Valley, and in this particular episode the host, Nick Burns, and his guest, Dr. Victor Villanueva of Washington State University, discuss how racial inequality today is masked and thus perpetuated through language.

You can view this show in its entirety at the Valley Television website.


White Privilege in Little Leage Baseball

I found an interesting article in a recent issue in Leisure Science an academic journal. The author describes in the abstract:
This paper adopts critical race theory as a framework to expose elements of racism embedded within the seemingly "color-blind" policies of little league baseball. It attempts to uncover the hidden subtext of race in a popular children's sport in America. Inspired by interviews conducted with the African-American founders of a grassroots baseball league for neighborhood children, the story focuses on the experiences the founders encountered with little league baseball that prompted them to create "a league of their own." Policies and practices related to player selection, travel/transportation to games, isolation of minority players, spectator behavior, and coaching/role modeling are shown to privilege white children while disadvantaging children of color.
You can find the article probably in your local library or at your local library or university library website.

Glover, Troy D. "Ugly on the Diamonds: An Examination of White Privilege in Youth Baseball." Leisure Sciences 29, no. 2 (March/April 2007): 195-208.


Mutha Fucking Black Face?! With MUD!?

Que? I'll cross post from The Blog and the Bullet.

Black Woman in Europe blogs:
Besides claiming that every single person in "Africa" isn't educated, and doing so in an extremely patronising way, it is also disturbing that this organisation thinks blackfacing kids with mud (!) equals "relating to african children". Also, the kids' statements ignore the existance of millions of african academics and regular people and one again reduces a whole continent to a village of muddy uneducated uncivilized people who need to be educated (probably by any random westerner). This a really sad regression.
Bottom lines of this campaign are: Black = mud = African = uneducated.


There's this great community of bloggers out there called Afro-Spear that is a group of bloggers of African decent. Now apparently Double Consciousness is apart of Afro-Spear (or allied with) too despite the editors being white/Latino and Pilipino and one of the contributors being Pinay. But the other contributor is Black/Irish, so, hey, if Afro-Spear wants us appart of their community than I'm all for it. If not, cool with me. I just hope that the moderator who added us to Afro-Spear knows the ethnic make-up of the bloggers on Double Consciousness.

Image From:
Invisible Woman...Black Cinema At Large


Saturday Beats: The World is Crazy

From the latest issue of The Beat Within.

The World is Crazy, Huh!
This jail shit is for the birds. The white man got shit set up for us blacks to fail. He brings drugs into this country to get us high, but then he locks us up when we go rob someone to support our habit, or he keeps us poor in the hood and expects us not to sell drugs after he shows us how much money we can make off of it. It's a messed up world that we live in and now all we have to do is realize it and make a change before it's too late. And the next thing that the white man wants is us on a t-shirt 'cause our caskets are already dropping.

If we just take time to think about life itself then we'll see what's really going on. All people are different, it's our nature to do what we do. Like some people were born to be doctors and lawyers and others of us were born to be thugs. God make us all different and to serve different purposes in the world. If there were no thugs like us to commit crimes, then there would be no need for jails and lawyers to even exist. There would be no judges, prosecutors, or any of these crooked ass staff. The same thing for doctors, 'cause if nobody got sick or shot and had to go to the hospital then they wouldn't have a job. I think to exist they all need thugs...we're connected in this world.

Now it's up to us to make this change in the world. Now it's up to us to make this change in the world cause I think we all had enough of this life we live. The choice is yours. Now take some time to think because we all need to realize: This is reality.

- By Lil' Rome, Alameda County Juvenile Hall.


Inner City Hospital To Close in LA

The New York Times reports:
Federal regulators said Friday they're pulling $200 million in funding from a troubled hospital that serves the inner-city poor, condemning the facility to almost certain death.

The decision came after the county-run Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital failed two federal inspections.

Over the past few years, Los Angeles County tried to improve patient care through disciplining workers, reorganizing management, closing the trauma unit and reducing the number of inpatient beds to 48.

Yet Herb Kuhn, acting deputy administrator for the U.S. Centers of Medicare and Medical Services, said a federal inspection as recently as last month found "conditions at the facility have placed the health and safety of patients at great risk."

So while the hospital does serve the inner-city poor and homeless it also is a health risk to the very people they serve. Yet instead of trying to improve the hospital the government figures they might as well just shut it down. So a hospital that serves the poor and many people of color is going to be closed by the government because they figure that no hospital is better for the population?


Racism: Not Just for Rednecks

What I find disturbing in mainstream society is that whenever there is someone racist in a sketch show, a TV show, or a movie, whether it be comedy, drama, or otherwise, more than likely (especially on television) that person is portrayed as a white trash red neck. Yet in today's society racism is inclusive to just "red necks." It's much greater than that. Racism is systemic and rooted within the very social and economical structures of American society that date back centuries.

When someone is portraying a racist as a redneck what that is trying to tell us is that racism is just confined to one small part of the country, the rural south. Yet in reality racism is everywhere. From the backwoods of Georgia to the liberal San Francisco Bay Area.

For once I would like to see a racist portrayed as someone who is, well, a typical racist. Like a upstanding business man who has a nice job, a spouse, kids, and has a neighbor who is Korean and a cousin's friend who is Black, etc. Racism isn't just confined to ignorant people who don't know any better. Racism is more than just "being ignorant" since racism doesn't stem from ignorance. It comes from something that is bigger than ignorance. If all it took was to be educated to not be racist than hell, this would be one nice society to live in. But that's not the case.

One can be liberal with a "Black friend" and still be racist since racism stems from centuries of building up white privilege by economic means, social means, and violent means.

For more read:

"Honkey Want a Craker?"

"White Suspicion"

"Racism and White Supremacy"

"The Construction of Whiteness"

"'No! I'm Not Black! I'm White'"

"[X]Press Newspaper: An Example of White Privilege and Ignorance"

"The International Committee for Black Authenticity"

And of course you browse or other posts as well.


White Lies

Here's a great cartoon entitled "White Lies" by the blogger at amptoons.com. It's kinda hard to read because the blogger image program keeps shrinking by image but click the link to see it in a larger format.


The Race Card

There is something I want to bring up due to a conversation I had with someone yesterday. Now when a person, let's say a Korean, brings up a fact in a conversation about race. Let's say, about white privilege. And that white person accuses the Korean person of "Bringing up the 'race card.'" Who, in reality, is actually bringing up the race card?

This is the kind of bullshit the pisses me off. Now if the Korean person brings up a fact about how the way a white person might view race is based on their white privilege (due to the fact that they grew up white) than that person is lifting up a veil and illuminating a situation in a more truthful manner. The white person who denies this and says the that person is using the "race card" is in actuality pulling the sheepskin over all of our eyes and is contributing to the further masking of the racial realities in America.

This white person has no idea what it is like to be a person of color and yet this white person accusses someone of using the "race card."

Now, in reality, who is actually using the race card?

I would argue that it is the white person who is using the race card by saying she or he is "using the race card." The white person is actively using race and putting the other person on the spot bu accusing them of something that they are not doing. What the Korean person was bringing up was racial realities in the United States of America. What the white person was doing was masking and/or ignoring those realities which in turn is using race for her or his benefit. Not bringing up race is actually, in effect, benefiting the white person.

Image From:


The Ghost of Tom Joad

I have a new blog out about my experiences as a Teamster shop steward and worker at UPS. Just started off my first post with lyrics from the song which gives my blog it's namesake, "The Ghost of Tom Joad" by Bruce Springsteen:
Now Tom said "Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I'll be there
Wherever there's somebody fightin' for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin' hand
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me."


Waste Management: Enemy of the Poor and Working Class

For those of you who check out this blog regularly (I hope there are at least a few of you) I haven't posted anything in over a week because I've been busy with my school, work, and union. Especially work. I've been embroiled in a few fights this week over safety violations being broken at my work (UPS) and shoddy company doctors lying to my fellow workers (I'm the union representative on the safety committee). But enough excuses, on with the blog.

I read a recent Chronicle article a few days ago which had the headline "Residents still mad at spotty trash collection New survey finds poor areas that have yet to see a truck."

And which poor areas were hardest hit...Hmmm...let's see...Which area could be hardest hit?...You know...An area of people that nobody really cares two shits about...

Well, the Chronicle quotes someone:
"Who is going to complain (in West Oakland)?" McKenzie said. "There are barely any city services there for the neighbors, except for the police that patrol the area, trying to protect people from getting shot or who come by afterward trying to pick up the pieces after someone does."

And the author stated:
Elsewhere in East Oakland, residents on the 9700 block of Cherry Street had reason to hope when a truck carted off furniture, rolled-up carpets and mattresses from a nearby street. They dragged bags of garbage to an apartment complex's trash bin, but no truck has arrived.

Well, let's see. West Oakland is a predominantly Black neighborhood were the Black Panthers were born and East Oakland is another predominantly Black neighborhood were many famous rappers come from as well as the hyphy movement.

For those of you who don't know Waste Management Inc. (for its past practices click here) locked out my fellow Teamster sisters and brothers just before their contract with the company was going to expire so as to intimidate them and to not let them go on strike (all thought they say that talk of strikes are off the table). The local unions affected are Teamster's Local 70 (I'm apart of Teamster's Local 270 for UPS and am a Shop Steward for Local 278), Machinist Local Lodge 1546, and ILWU Local 6.

This is another aspect and example of institutionalized and contemporary racism. Black neighborhoods are continually underrepresented in our society in way of politics, media portrayals (other than the negative that is), and are completely invisible to those who live outside of predominantly Black areas.

If one says that racism is no longer a factor in America than ask yourself this: Why is it that Black's are continually treated as subhuman in America and how come those hardest hit by natural, political, and other disasters are those of low income, and how come Black's make up a disproportionate number of those in low income neighborhoods and households?

This is just another example of how race plays out in America today. Black neighborhoods are not getting their trashed picked up by Waste Management scabs while the city of Oakland and Wast Management sit by and do nothing for these communities. Yet no one is expressly saying that they would never insist of picking up, "The trash of Negroes" as they would of forty years ago. Yet if this country is so much better off than how come no one is mentioning (aside from those actually affected by it) that race is an important factor in this whole mess? And if we are so much better than forty years ago how come if someone does bring up the race card when it comes to neighborhood development they are meet with cries of "Race card!" by their opponents?

Yet here we are, again. Another injustice is being heaped upon the Black community and no one in the mainstream media and in mainstream politics is bringing up the issue of race (as well as class, though class is easier for politicians to bring up than race) as an important factor in the development of these neighborhoods and in the company not prioritizing their trash pick up.

Image From:
San Francisco Chronicle


Saturday Beats: The Hood

One of the latest from The Beat Within.

Life in Da Hood
In just a young brown maze, misunderstood
Grew up in a ghetto-ass neighborhood
Wit’ crackheads on da block smokin’ rocks
USOs just posted outside wit’ their gun stocks
Got the baby’s mammas outside wit’ their kids
Bums in the alley way ‘cause they ain’t got nowhere to
Got the husbands hittin’ on their wives
Got the wives cheatin’ on their husbands
Got the husbands hittin’ on their kids
Got the kids being abused
Makes ’em feel like they ain’t got nothin’ to lose
So they run away and they start to join a gang doin’ da
same thang.
-By Tiny Samoa


Driving While Black

I had a great conversation late last week with a new co-worker of mine who is being trained to load packages into the Washington State trailers at my work (UPS, or Under Paid Slaves). He is the third person to be trained on our belt since I've starting working here in late February (but, I digress). His name is Casanova and he's a young Black man of 21 years and dresses in the style of Bay Area hyphy.

As we were loading into Washington him and his trainer, a young Latino man named Mike, we all started talking about Dave Chappell and on his commentary on race, especially the difference of how cops treat whites and Blacks when they pull them over. Casanova started talking about how whenever he sees a cop he gets a little nervous, and if a cop is on the other side of the ride driving in the opposite direction as him and sees the cop pull a U-turn Casanova automatically knows that the cop is going to pull him over and question him. No if ands or buts about it. If he sees a cop pull a "Uey" in his rearview mirror he knows he's in for a whole lot of shit. Even when he did nothing wrong.

I can just picture the cop taping on his window and asking. "Excuse me sir. Did you know you were DWB? [driving while Black]"

"Uh, yeah, kinda did know that officer."

Anyways. This got Mike talking about his old neighborhood in the Mission district in San Francisco and how the cops harass him too due to his dark complexion and his "affiliation" with gang members (there is a knew "anti-gang" injunction being imposed on people in the Mission). Talking about having cops pull up in his driveway and asking to search his car even though he's only working on the engine or how he gets harrassed by cops who want to use an anti-gang injunction order on him because he has family members in gangs (so he's not supposed to speak to his family huh? Guess that's the new "family values" that Bush wants) and how his mother works with an anti-violence and anti-gang org in the Mission and how he knows many gang members because of this, so he's essentially being harrassed for trying to get kids out of gangs.

But what got me really thinking was this. Do whites really know what it's like to live life as a person of color? I mean, sure we all see the movies and read about it, but do we actually experience it? No, we don't. Yet whites are the first to come out and accuse people of color as being "reactionary," "over sensitive," and (my favorite!) playing the "race card." Also, with America so segregated by class and race how could whites know about what goes on on the other side of th fence? Unless a white person actively seeks these things out and questions the statues quo a white person won't know this (this brings us to the point of the recent Supreme Court ruling on desegregating the schools, but I'll blog on that latter). I have the "advantage(??)" of working in a blue collar working class union job with many people of color (mostly men though) around me and I'm able to actually hear their experiences every single day I go to work.

Yet most whites (I'm assuming) don't here these things every single day they go to work. Most whites will question the experiences of racism that people of color face today and claim that racism was left behind many decades ago. Yet how to whites know this? And why do they assume this? Again, have they experienced racism? Of course not, their white! By definition whiteness is privilege, privilege to not experience racism and many other isms out there.

This is something whites should think (all though they won't) about the next time they accuse someone of being sensitive and playing the race card. And it's something they should think about long and hard.

Image From:
Over the Rhine