A Color Screen

Here is another blog post I did which was adapted from an article I did for [X]Press Magazine, the SFSU school newspaper:

Out of 177 magazines, 143 of the glamorous Photo-shopped portraits featured white men, women, teens and children. From Cosmo to Vogue, Shape and Swindle, from Maxim to Newsweek and ESPN, colored folk adorned the cover of ethno-centric magazines, but not in the general, mainstream public interest publications. It eats at me daily realizing that minorities continue to be under represented in the media, drowned out by a sea of white faces.

Why is there such an under representation when in 2006 the nation’s minority population hit over 100 million? It increased more than 1.7 million the year before, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s one-third of the U.S. population today, larger than the total population of all but 11 countries, and more than there were people in the United States in 1910.

ART EXHIBIT - 1968: Celebrating Filipino Artists Commemorate an Era of Rebellion

I am blogging at a new blog called inCOLOR which is about fashion, design, entertainment, music, and the arts from the perspective of people of color.  I will be cross-posting some of the stuff I do for it on here is one post of an upcoming event in the East Bay:

In 1968, the world was aflame with movements for national and social liberation. Wars raged from Angola to Vietnam, Bolivia to Guinea Bissau as the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America fought to free themselves from colonial rule, neocolonial dictatorships, and imperial conquest. Politicized by the imperialist repression of both their countries abroad and their neighborhoods at home, Third World peoples living within the borders of the U.S. transformed their anger into militant national movements and organizations like the Red Guard, Young Lords, and Brown Beret, as the Black Panthers had done a few years earlier.


Gentrification and Community Organizing

Cross-posted from The Mustard Seed.

Jack blogs:

This Friday I’m heading to Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn for the premiere screening of Some Place Like Home: The Fight Against Gentrification in Downtown Brooklyn, a documentary by Families United for Racial and Economic Equality. FUREE, a community organization lead by and comprised primarily of low-income women of color, has been rallying the community in a fight against the rampant development that’s going down in Downtown Brooklyn and the surrounding area. While developers, big business, and politicians alike claim they are only trying to improve the community, the development is being conducted with little care or concern for the residents and small business owners who are already there. Some Place Like Home documents the struggle of FUREE, the neighborhoods’ residents, and small businesses against the forces that are trying to push and bulldoze them out. Check out the trailer below.


Demands of Somali Pirates--More Reasonable Than You Think

So yeah, about those scary black pirates who've stormed our poor calm capitalist waters. Yeah, um, they're trying to tell you that your toxic waste is all up in their business down in Somalia.

Oh silly American media, you forgot that part! You only told me about the scary black men stealing booty.

How is it I have to go to "terrorist" news source, Al Jazeera, to find out that these "pirates" have much more depth to their attacks than what is immediately visible?

Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.

The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.

"The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."

The pirates are holding the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware, off Somalia's northern coast.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, 61 attacks by pirates have been reported since the start of the year.

While money is the primary objective of the hijackings, claims of the continued environmental destruction off Somalia's coast have been largely ignored by the regions's maritime authorities.

Now for the juicy part...
"Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," he said.

"European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.

"And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it."

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments.

You know, I get tired of that nonsensical public mentality that is only capable of understanding criminal-like activities as undeniably evil. Can't it be the case that people are forced into criminal activities when they are being consistently beaten down? Can't some people steal a ship to get some leverage in their demands for basic human rights like clean water for their peoples?

When the world has turned its back on you and shat all over your water, it makes sense that your only option is to fight back by any means necessary.


Reflections on the 2008 Presidential Election and the African American National Question

Du Bois and Mao

The rise of monopoly capitalism and the betrayal of Reconstruction locked the African American nation into a state of national oppression and set the conditions by which the national liberation struggle of African Americans and other oppressed nationalities are inextricably linked to the question of proletarian-socialist revolution. This theory was pioneered by the Comintern, particularly by the great African American communist leader, Harry Haywood. This was further developed by the New Communist Movement.

From this understanding, the recent election of the first Black president of the United States is particularly interesting. Because of the uneven development cemented into place by imperialism, the African American national question in the United States has a dual character with a democratic aspect embodied in the demand for full equality, and a revolutionary socialist aspect embodied in the demand for national self-determination...(Click here to read full blog post)


Hip-Hop Friday 11.14.08

I know it's Saturday; but that's the title of the podcast series. ;-)

This weeks featured artist is Mystic.


Click on the pic to get to the podcast. Click on the icon below to subscribe on iTunes.


Why Is God Injected Into The Gay Rights Equation?

I've been hearing so much about the mess that is prop 8 (in California). This proposition to ban gay marriage remains controversial, and I feel disappointed that people are conflating legal rights with religious beliefs.

After all, we're not all Christians right? What about the Californian atheists, Buddhists, and so on? Why is it prop 8 is considered legal when it is born out of beliefs specific to a kind of religion? They're not trying to force churches to marry them, people, they are trying to gain the right to be recognized as monogamous married couples! Who wants a "domestic partnership?" It doesn't carry the same social message that "marriage" does.

It's not about God, it's about rights and recognition! Ayayay!

I know it's a bit annoying to see the kid being fed his lines and such, but you get the picture. What they say is very enlightening.

A friend of mine shared this interesting piece about protests against the newly implemented proposition 8 in California, which bans gay marriage.
"Scott Eckern, artistic director for the California Musical Theatre, resigned Wednesday as a growing number of artists threatened to boycott the organization because of his $1,000 donation to the campaign to ban gay marriage in California.

[...]Los Angeles-based and Tony Award-winning composer Marc Shaiman ("Hairspray") wrote a blog saying he would never allow any of his shows to again be licensed or performed by California Musical Theatre while Eckern was employed there."

The way I see it is that just as Mr. Eckern has the right to express support for policies he believes in, others have the right to withhold their support of Mr. Eckern--specifically because he supported a change in California's constitution that they do not agree with, and a change in the constitution affects everybody.

For example, Marc Shaiman refused to have any of his shows be performed at the California Musical Theater while Eckern was still employed. Those shows are his. He has the right to prevent Eckern from making money off Shaiman's work. Why would Shaiman want to continue contributing to the earnings of Eckern who has directly donated money to a political cause that Shaiman is firmly opposed to?

Shaiman has the right to cut the flow of capital from his work to Eckern, and I think it is just for Shaiman to deny Eckern profit from his work when Eckern is trying to deny gays their legal rights based on his religious beliefs.

In sum, Mr. Eckern, in donating the thousand, made a political statement. A political statement is meant to be heard. He made it clear that he did not support gay marriage rights, and many people decided to take a stand against him.

Finally, why does God and Gay have to be mutually exclusive? It's ridiculous to believe they don't mix, when they do.


Asian American Views on the Elections

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

Clair, at Hyphen Blog, gives us some links to Asian American news and views on the recent elections.


The New President Obama Ushers In A New Patriotism And A New American Identity

Today, the meaning of everything has changed drastically. Today, the face of America has been given quite a new look. Today, a person of color, predominantly recognized as African American, is our president.

Whoever you are, and whatever your beliefs, today I write directly to you with a new sense of American unity. For once, I feel as if America truly does have an exciting and unknown future for the ideas, discussions, and education of our people.

Children in schools all over the world will learn of this historic event and probably feel a sparkle of excitement in their chests at this monumental change in America. Children here in America will be finally given an undeniable and unmarginalized hero and role model--I say this because despite the great figures that are Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, they are unfortunately forced into a segment of children's educational experiences. They are always a part of black history, never treated as the very fibers of American history.

But today, America, Barack Obama cannot be sectioned off. He cannot be shoved into a single month, a single decade, or a single category of history. He is inevitably pervasive--his presidency explicitly touches every piece of the world today and for at least the next four years.

Do not deny him. Do not develop double standards for him. Whether he succeeds in your eyes or not, never associate it with his race. He is undeniably an African American president, but just as Bush's failed image has only been attributed to him personally, do not attach Obama's presidential performance entirely to his race.

Please America, do not deny him, but give him the opportunity to show us that a person of color should be seen just like any other president. Yet at the same time, recognize him for what and who he is. He is an historic figure, a man of color who has accomplished a great feat, and who does represent, for many, the voices of the marginalized and disenfranchised.

And finally, I would like to pay my utmost respect to Michelle Obama, who is now the first African American First Lady of America, and their two beautiful young girls, who all come together as the first African American family to take their rightfully earned place in the White House.

This new African American family has publicly and undeniably broken the chains of true patriotism. For those who still resisted diversity in patriotism, now, it has been cemented in the history books. Now it is legitimized in the academy. This is our First Family. They don't just represent African Americans, but they represent diversity unified. It's a great birth of a new face of patriotism.

I embrace each of you as my fellow Americans, and I hope we can all eventually come to make this historic new presidency into a chance to heal the great fissures that have fostered hatred and ignorance for so long. As Obama beautifully asks, let us all redefine patriotism together. Let us listen to one another and be honest to one another. Let us resist partisanship and immaturity, and let us rediscover the beautiful values that unite us.

Peace to you all,


Video The Vote Election Coverage

As a part of a class assignment to do something meaningful for the elections, I will be blogging for Video The Vote, "a national initiative to protect voting rights by monitoring the electoral process...to make sure the full story of Election Day gets told."

I'll be updating this same post with a live feed of my reports, check 'em out as you like, they are not meant to be partisan, only conscious ;D

If the small window below gets annoying, and/or this post gets pushed down, feel free to check it out at my blog. Sara.


"I can't be a pessimist, because I am alive."

Time Wise, on his Facebook posted this video of James Baldwin. In his post he stated:
This is an amazing clip of Baldwin, discussing Malcolm and Martin, but especially the last two minutes, in which he poses the ultimate challenge to white America.
I don't necessarily agree with his views on the Black Muslim movement but he was speaking from a different time and a different generation.


Friday Hip-hop 10.31.08

This weeks podcast is 13 minutes. I normally have at least one female emcee in my podcast but unfortunately this is not the case for this podcast. I'll make up for that next week.

Subscribe to this podcast (with higher quality audio) at iTunes.

The Spanish are angry because the young Black guy is better than they are

Angry racist Spaniards take out their inferiority complex on Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton subject of racist abuse ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix
The ugly head of Spanish racism has returned to blight Lewis Hamilton's world championship challenge in Brazil.

By Kevin Garside and Simon Arron
Last Updated: 5:25PM GMT 31 Oct 2008

Thousands have targeted Hamilton on a voodoo style website, taunting him about the colour of his skin in a vile campaign that reprised the abuse he received at the start of the year in Barcelona.

More than 16,000 racist messages using terms like "nigger" and "half-breed" have been posted on a Spanish website.

It encourages visitors to leave imaginary nails for Hamilton on a computer mock-up of the Interlagos racetrack. Spanish fans of Hamilton's rival, Fernando Alonso, are believed to be behind the outrage. One, calling himself David, left a message saying: "---- you -------. Monkey."

Another, dubbed Hamilton a conguito – a type of chocolate sweet with racist overtones – and wrote: "Conguito, you are going to die."

One left a nail out near the finishing line on lap 12. Other messages read: "Half-breed, kill yourself in your car," and "I hope you run over your dad in the first pit stop, Hamilton."

Formula One's ruling body, the FIA, who launched an anti-racism campaign following the abuse that Hamilton received at the hands of fans with
blacked-out faces during the Barcelona test in February, condemned the latest attack.

A spokesman said: "Discrimination and prejudice have no place in sport and society. Everybody in our sport will join us in condemning these abusive, hateful comments."

A spokesman for Hamilton's team, McLaren, said: "McLaren was one of the earliest supporters of the FIA's 'Every Race' campaign. We echo the position of the FIA in response to this latest episode."

Hamilton was booed and racially abused as he tested a new car in Barcelona in February. England's footballers were subjected to racist chants during a friendly against Spain at Real Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium in 2004. Sections of the Spanish crowd made monkey chants when Ashley Cole, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jermaine Jenas touched the ball.

The same year former Spanish coach Luis Aragones was fined more than £2,000 for making racist remarks about Arsenal player Thierry Henry.

From Telegraph.co.uk


You Can Vote However You Like

I don't really have any commentary on this really. I just thought this was too awesome not to post.



Hi all, as a part of a small class assignment to do something for the elections, I decided to compile a quick and short voter information guide to dispel misconceptions and rumors about the upcoming election day.

*Please* pass this around (email, blogging, facebook notes, myspace bulletins, etc). I did not author it, I just found information online and assembled it into a brief outline of important points to share with others. So it is free for everyone to use. In fact, if you have additional important tips to share, please, let me know! I know some of these might sound obvious to you, but it's always good to share in case it's not so obvious to others. Peace.

Make Sure You’re Registered and Check Your Polling Location
Check That You Are Registered to Vote: http://www.866OurVote.org.

Check Your Polling Place: Even if you've voted in the same place for 30 years, polling places can change, so make sure you know where to go on Election Day.

Bring Your ID and Vote Early
Bring Your ID Just in Case: While not all states require government-issued ID at the polls, it’s always a good idea to bring a photo ID such as a driver’s license if you have one. Even if your state requires an ID and your forget to bring one, you are still entitled to vote. Ask to cast a provisional ballot.

Vote Early
: Record turnout is expected this year, so avoid long lines and alleviate the strain on local election officials by going earlier. Voting lines are shortest in the mid-morning or early afternoon.

Be Aware of Your Rights on Election Day

First and Foremost: Law enforcement authorities will not be screening those who show up to vote.

Wearing Campaign Gear
: In some states, wearing campaign gear in a polling place (like shirts, a buttons, etc) is against the law. But no matter what, your vote cannot be taken away from you. At most, you will have to take off a button or put a jacket over a T-shirt. You will still be allowed to vote. Cover up your campaign materials to ensure a smooth voting experience.

Unpaid Bills/Fines and Home Foreclosures: Eligible registered voters cannot be denied the right to vote because their homes have been foreclosed upon, they are late on child support payments, and have outstanding parking tickets, bills, or fines. Even if you have been forced to move somewhere else, most states give you a grace period in which you can vote at your old polling location. You do not have to pay any of the above tickets, bills, or fines in order to vote.

There Won’t Be Immigration Officers at the Polls
: While you must of course be a U.S. citizen in order to vote, immigration officers and law enforcement officers cannot and do not check immigration status of voters at the polls. If you’re lawfully registered to vote in your area, no one can stop you from voting.

Those Convicted of a Felony
: Many states allow people who have been convicted of a felony and completed their sentence to vote. Know your state laws and don't be intimidated by misinformation.

Look Out for Voting Problems and Help Others Vote
Report Any Voting Problems: Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 866ourvote.org. You can also send Election Protection an update through its Twitter Report Your Vote page http://twitter.com/866ourvote.

Bring Family, Friends and Neighbors
: Help elderly voters, disabled Americans, and people without transportation get to the polls.


KSDK Election Protection: by a nonpartisan voter protection coalition. http://www.ksdk.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=158571

Voter Protection Center
: by the Barack Obama Campaign. http://truth.voteforchange.com/


This Year's Nobel Prize Winner In Economic Sciences Is Truly Worth Reading Up On

Sitting comfortably in my little (and heated) studio apartment, I browse the internet on my Sony laptop while watching episodes of House on Hulu (sorry, it's my guilty pleasure!) in a small window while chatting as well. Amidst these tokens of privilege that make up my Thursday evening, I find myself reading an article about a very interesting Ph.D. who has lived in housing projects...on purpose.

Thus, here I write. Partially in reflection of my own moderately comfortable situation despite the economic hardships at the moment, but mostly in admiration for this astounding human being I never knew until now.

The article, from UC Berkeley news, is about this year's Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences who has gone out and lived in poverty on purpose--not to "study" our poor per se, but rather, to embrace them and for once learn from them for a change.

He is Martín Sánchez-Jankowski, Ph.D. But here's the real kicker--the man grew up in poverty in rural Mexico. He's come out of poverty, achieved great educational feats, and now he's a true warrior on a mission to not just give a damn, but also do something monumental. And he's packed with all his knowledge, all his cultural capital, and all his dutiful fury.

This man is my hero. He is actively, passionately, and usefully rolling up his sleeves and putting his academic butt to work. I mean that with all due respect. Here is a little from the article, but the entire thing is more than worth reading, it is necessary. There is so much to learn...

"Cracking The Chronic Poverty Code"
He spent most of the 1990s living in housing projects in five chronically poor neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles, documenting what he calls the “subculture of scarcity” for the recently published Cracks in the Pavement: Social Change and Resilience in Poor Neighborhoods (UC Press).

What he discovered was that the poor, to paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, are different — albeit not in the ways that other sociologists (and many political conservatives) have argued for decades. Impoverished neighborhoods, Sánchez-Jankowski learned, exhibit a fierce sense of self-preservation, constantly reinforcing values that serve to maintain the status quo while protecting against those that threaten their local culture, whether the source is state agencies seeking to impose order or foreign immigrants who bring their alien cultures into public-housing projects.

It’s not that the poor don’t aspire to status and material wealth, in his view. But due to the perception that they’re less likely to achieve them in the ways that middle-class people do — via well-paying jobs, for example — residents of poor neighborhoods are more apt to embrace, or at least tolerate, the underground economy. Similarly, absent the level of social services on which middle-class people regularly depend, gangs and other local institutions often step up to play a constructive role in low-income communities.


Whiteness Isn't Bad, What's Bad Is When People Don't Recognize It As A Degree of Privilege

Stop for a second and just read these images.

Recognize the privilege in your bottled water

Recognize the privilege in your produce

And recognize the privilege in U.S. conceptions of "terror"

The privileges involved include whiteness, although they are much broader. They expand into notions of Western privilege, first world privilege, capitalism, and U.S. national sovereignty.

So I got a hate comment on an old post, "Consciousness of White Privilege Has Great Potential" today.

It always turns out that people who send me hate mail/comments always misread (or probably don't even bother to read) my writing. They see a few words here and there and immediately react. To me, that is not only a mistake, it perpetuates ignorance. Why? Because it's NOT READING. To me, reading is an active pursuit to discover; it necessitates that you recognize your uncertainty. You don't know it all, therefore you read...but I digress.

From the hater's comment:

"You have obviously never been a white person in the middle of a black bus or community."

Um, actually I have. Why are you telling me what I have or have not experienced? If we are to get technical, well, I am what is technically referred to as a "White Hispanic." I have volunteered substantially in a local continuation school for "at risk" youth here in the Berkeley area...and I have been in a classroom full of black youth. Like it or not, people with any degree of whiteness need to be conscious. I'm not saying they're not, but I'm saying that many aren't conscious enough. I'm not a black man, nor am I an indigenous Chicana...I'm a light skinned Argentine-American. I have to come to terms with my identity so that I can better understand the problems of this world.

And in the past, I know, I have thought of myself as a person of color. What is wrong with this? Just as I have degrees of whiteness, I have degrees of color. I am sick and tired of the misconception of race that is tied to exclusive notions of categories. I am both white and of color. I am both Latina and European. I am American and Argentine. But never one more than the other...they are layers of me.

To continue on this hater's comment... here's another snippet:

There are just some things we ice people are better at.

Why is that so upsetting? Because its been abused in the past?

Privilege? Look at S.A. Its the most violent place on Earth since the change to black power. Look at Katrina. Look at Nigeria. I mean when black folks run things, people die in large numbers.

[...]But I do ask you no matter what your ethnicity, to consider giving up crossing the gaps that can't be crossed and let's work out our problems together.

First, there are not some things "ice" people are better at because they are white. The only reason I can see why someone would come to this conclusion is because they see the effects of privilege without seeing their causes. You got the majority of doctors and academics in power who are white...well, did you ever stop to think that this can be traced back to them being toddlers who receive kindergarten education (at higher rates than blacks and Latinos by far), thus beginning with far more advanced cognitive skills? AP classes in high school, SAT's, community service...these are all great determinants of one's competitive college applications--and too many urban youth of color are denied these resources in their under-funded schools, they can't afford SAT prep classes because they are poor, and they can't afford to volunteer because they have to work part time aside from school. And their parents come from similar circumstances--they are consumed by hard labor and low wages, overall lack of higher education, and a lack of political leverage and cultural capital. PEOPLE ARE NOT ALL BORN UNDER EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES. And your comment about black athletes...wow, I can't begin to address that.

Second, the examples given are full of fallacies. Lots of people have had advanced societies in this world...but your conception of "advanced" is loaded with Western conceptions of capitalism and imperialism. Africa, Asia, and Mesoamerica have all had advanced civilizations, but for a variety of reasons collapsed. Katrina? What are you talking about? That was a natural disaster exacerbated by the Bush administration. Black people in power? Look, I'm not denying there are "bad" black people in power, but there are FAR MORE bad white people in power. Throughout history...I mean, do I have to spell this out? I'm tempted to, but to say Hitler is obvious and cliché and to say Reagan depends on one's level of enlightenment...

So, rather than building bridges of understanding between communities, we should try to "work out" our problems by yelling across the wide expanses between us? I'm sorry, but that's not right.

Also, you mentioned reverse racism in your comment...I have a real problem with the words "reverse racism." Not because I don't think there is racism against white people, but because you can't "reverse" the racism experienced by people of color. Every racism is unique and carries heavy historical and political meanings that can't be transferred in meaning to other racial groups.

In the end, this person doesn't even get it. White people need to become conscious of the privileges that their whiteness is rooted in (historically and institutionally). This way, they become powerful tools for social change. I'm not hating on them.

My problem is not only when they fail to pursue this potential, but also when they refuse to acknowledge that they even have it.


Life as a Black Size 5

So I shouldn’t be complaining that I’m a size 5 now should I? Most women will look at me and tell me to shut up, never letting me explain why I have an issue with it. I don’t even think women are even aware of how bad the situation is. And I know men aren’t. I would just like to say that all sizes are NOT created equal.

I used to only shop at clothing stores that catered to urban youth. These stores, for the laymen, are just as trendy (if not more so) than any Bebe, Abercrombie, Pac Sun or Aldo only cheaper and of significantly less quality. Shirts that are hot today are out tomorrow, and new tennis shoes come out every week (I’m not talking about Urban Chic either, I’m talking about the cheap urban wear that’s sold in highly urban areas). After I started making a little money I decided I wanted to shop at the upscale stores (ok whatever, White, which in all honesty the clothes are better quality) I actually like Bebe, Aldo, Express, Banana Republic and whatever else you can find in a mall that’s well made and colorful, there’s just one problem. I have no idea what size I am when I walk into any of them. Not only do I not know what size I am, I know that the size I’m looking for will be marked as a LOT smaller than what I walked in asking for.

As far as I’m concerned sizes should be standardized, like with shoes. If I go anywhere in the world an 8.5 is an 8.5 and I’m going to buy it if I like it. Couture is supposed to give you all the options of tailoring, fabrics, design, name etc… but size is never changed in shoes because it would cause too much confusion. But couture with women’s clothing is haphazard. Everyone arbitrarily sets their own size standards and you just have to sort of wander through it. Walking out of Fasion 4 Less in downtown Oakland I’m a size 5 jeans and medium shirt. I can live with that. Filthy Dripped, Med/5. Oakland Mall (and its various liquor store-esque fashion depots) small or medium, and 5 or 6.

At Gap, I can’t even fit the extra small… it’s too big. In fact an extra small women’s t-shirt is too big for a guy friend of mine. At Bebe extra small is just tight enough to constrict blood flow to my brain, but a small fits fine. Oh, and pants hover between 1-2. At Wet Seal I used to be a small, but now I’m a medium (I haven’t gained weight, they changed distributors) and dress size 4 (although I suspect this is because Wet Seal is considered Juniors sizes). Anyway WTF. Not only is this pure shopping hysteria, I want you to notice something. All of the urban distributors had me at a larger size, while the upscale stores had me significantly smaller. Well this revelation at first was a bit of an ego boost until I thought about it for a while.

First of all why was I happy I was considered smaller than the smallest size at the Gap? What’s wrong with being bigger? For the sake of sparing you my long personal argument nothing, but as Americans we know that the standard of beauty is Barbie. Tall hourglass blonde, and if you don’t fit that mold you’re fat and ugly. Period. Women all over the world are literally starving themselves to be a size 0. The self esteem of women in this country is very fragile to say the least for ALL kinds of reasons and reinforcements. And reports like the one that was released by CDC last year and the year before saying that X amount of Americans are overweight (which I tend to think is halfway not their fault), the pressure is on to maintain that beauty standard. It’s hard enough trying to maintain yourself throughout the day, let alone up to a national standard.

We also know that Urban is now codeword for colored people. So As I pondered why sizes aren’t standardized, it dawns on me. In White stores they make the sizes bigger to make themselves feel better. It’s completely arbitrary. I feel good calling myself a size 1 as opposed to a size 5. But why were sizes bigger in urban areas? To make them feel bad about themselves? Well as quiet as it’s kept, the rates of bulimia and anorexia are rising in young Black women, especially in urban areas (we know the rates were high in suburban areas already, but they are living directly in a different cultural standard). In Urban stores sizes can go well into the 30’s (or lines like Apple bottom and House of Derrion), but Torrid only goes up to 22 or so. So even in stores designated for larger women, the size discrepancy was still obvious (Torrid also had the nerve to ask me why I was there).

This brings to me to another point, there’s an old adage that says “everybody knows Black women are just big boned”. I used to believe that until I was in situations where I had to deal with large groups of people on a constant basis; women come in ALL sizes. I’ve met some tiny Black women and gargantuan White women. In fact the obesity epidemic is hitting White people the hardest. So again I’m asking what is that statement based on? If people were reporting their own sizes, based on their own shopping habits and it was not reported on a standard scale the results are null and void. Knowing that I personally have no idea what “size” I am makes me wonder if these scientists knew what size anyone really was (the study was based on several factors; BMI, weight and size among them). Yes there’s an epidemic, but are there just more White people shopping at Urban stores because they’re cheap and the economy sucks (or maybe personal preference) and now are reporting larger sizes?

I would say that maybe it’s not intentional, since all stores have different sizes, but I can’t. Every Black store I went to I was a larger size than any White store I went to. I guess I could call this an ongoing experiment since I have to shop, but I feel like if I bring this up then women might realize that size is relative. It’s arbitrary. Your hipline is not the same as your shoe size, there IS NO STANDARD. It’s all just something to either put you down or build you up depending on where you happen to live, the color of your skin or your economic bracket.

I think that the first step we can make to fight this sort of racism is to be aware of it. Maybe we should DEMAND standardized sizes (you’d be amazed how many of us would fit the same clothes). Some cultural norms might get shaken (like Latinas and Black women are big, Asians are tiny, and White women are the standard, whatever that is because last time I checked they’re not created equally). And maybe, just maybe we’d have to take a hard look at each other as women and realize, that just because someone gave you a number doesn’t mean you have to believe it. Maybe we need to consider if it was given to us with the best intentions or not. Maybe we should raise our standards for each other by first of all making standards and dismissing any illogical deviations from that. Well thank you for reading my retail therapy session…



"The movement began to devour itself."

Cross-posted from Alas, a blog.

Since everyone seems to be talking about Bill Ayers and the Weatherman Underground here is a short trailer from the 2002 film "The Weather Underground."

Here is a quote from a Black Panther during the time the Weatherman Underground was active:
We believe that the Weatherman action is anarchistic, opportunistic, individualistic, chauvinistic, it's Custeristic. And that's the bad part about it. It's Custeristic in that its leaders take people into situations where people can be massacred. And they call that a revolution? It's nothing but child's play. We think these people may be sincere but they are misguided, they're muddle heads and they're scatter brains.

You can see the entire documentary here and order it here at PBS.


Sarah Palin’s White Privilege

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

Indira Dammu blogs:
It’s not often that we get a perfect demonstration of white privilege and what it entails. Sure, we talk about it in classes but it’s a difficult concept to grasp. Here’s Tim Wise with a great piece on white privilege and how Sarah Palin benefits from it…

To be sure, Palin’s gender has led to unfair scrunity, particularly with regards to her ability to juggle both a career and motherhood. By the same token, however, her race has allowed to escape an even harsher examination.


Friday Hip-Hop 10.03.08

Hey everyone, here is this weeks hip-hop podcast. This one runs almost 12 minutes.

Remember to subscribe on iTunes.

L.U.S.T. tha Lady

Gabriel Teodros

Public Enemy

Intro by: Afrika Bambaataa


Friday Hip-Hop 9.26.08

Sorry about the lateness again. This podcast runs at 13 minutes and is dedicated to my comrades in the Middle East, Mohamed, Farah, and (of course) Hossam.

Remember to subscribe on iTunes


De la Cruz


Intro by: Ramallah Underground


Hip-Hop Friday 9.19.08

I totally forgot to cross-post my podcast from last week! My bad!

This podcast is the shortest one yet (10 minutes) but still packs a punch.

Enjoy (oh, and sorry about the lateness)

Shayla G

Dizzee Rascal


Intro by: Power Struggle


Getting in Trouble: Regulating the Self

I'm at Carlo's house right now and I was browsing a book he was reading called Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinty. [1]

In it I found this illuminating quote that Carlo had highlighted:
Adult descriptions of infractions on the referrals often invoked their reading of the tone of the exchange as expressed through children's body language...girl received after-school detention for a "sassy mouth, standing with attitude, walking away when I called her in the 6th grade line at lunch." The same girl got two days of in-house detention for "disruption in class. disrespectual [sic] and defiant when spoken to. Mouthy and had an attitude." A white girl was sent to cool off in the Punishing Room after charged with "defiance; flapping & pointing; slamming drawers, called Sharon a bitch."

What is most significant for us here is that reading of "defiant attitude" are often deciphered through a racialized key...

1. Ann Arnett Ferguson, Bad Boys: Public School in the Making of Black Masculinity (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2004),67-68.


This is for Macha

John McCain Got BarrackRoll'd!!


Miss Navajo: Reconceptualizing Native American Beauty

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

Renee blogs:
Yolanda Charley, recently won the title of Miss. Navajo Nation. I am normally against beauty contests, as I see them as nothing more than the performance of femininity for the male gaze. The Miss Navajo Nation is like no other pageant I have ever come across.


What I love about this contest is that it is more than women parading around with fake smiles, with their bathing suits taped to their skin, to avoid being swallowed by their asses. Miss Navajo is about celebration, and the perpetuation of culture.


The Native Media and American Politics

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

The Angry Indian blogs on Native American news outlets:
We were never meant to be a part of the colonial system and I find it embarrassing that those who are chosen to represent us do not have the courage to speak about this in real, coherent and tangible terms. Instead, we talk of what it like for Indians to be a part of the DNC and RNC conventions and who got to speak before large crowds and which “tribe” will adopt a candidate who in the end will do absolutely nothing for our people but keep us in our respective place at the bottom of the U.S. totem pole. And we ask ourselves why we get so little respect.

Friday Hip-Hop 9.12.08

This podcast is a little long (nearly 21 minutes) but totally worth it. I went to Bambu's Exact Change album release tour on Tuesday at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco and I just had to highlight some of the folks that performed their art on the stage.

This was the first time I saw Bambu perform since Native Guns broke up (long time man, long time) and this was also the last performance EyeASage will do until her album comes up. So it was good to catch her before she goes into seclusion (she clowned my phone, man! Can't believe it! Ain't nothing wrong with vintage 1998 cell phones! :-) ) to work on her album.

Anyways, without further ado, enjoy.

Do D.A.T.

Ise Lyfe


Zion I

Intro, Intercessions, and Outro by: The Coup


The Voting Bloc: Obama and Change

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

Miss Kristia, of Doorknockers, blogs:
The most difficult contradiction to face is that even if Obama makes 1.5-2 things better for some people of color in America, we know that he is nothing but a flyer, better-dressed, younger face to the New World Order AKA the same ol' American Empire that has been running shit for the past several hundred years.


Racist Mother Goose and Grimm Cartoon

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

Angry Asian Man blogs:

Kimchi Mamas first blogged about this a couple of weeks ago... What kind of messed up nonsense is this? This Mother Goose and Grimm comic strip is a couple of weeks old, but dude, what the hell? Come on! Really? They really had to go there with the idiotic Korean dog-eating joke?


"ask a white kid"

I logged onto myspace this morning and one of my friend's had posted a bulletin entitled "ask a white kid."

Did anyone happen to catch this?

Friday Hip-Hop 9.05.08

This podcast runs a little over 20 minutes and features an all African Hip-Hop cast from Gabon, Senegal, and Tanzania.



X Plastaz

Wendy Wen

Daara J

Intro by: Peter Tosh


Bambu's Exact Change Tour

I'll be there, will you?


Friday Hip-Hop 8.29.08

This podcast is around 14.5 minutes.




Dilated Peoples

The Roots

Intro by: The Last Poets


Dream Lapse

Lost in thought, walking to the places I have to go to during no particular day, I feel like I'm in a racial vacuum...

During this moment, I'm completely unaware of myself as a social being--that is, of my labels as a woman, Latina, etc. I'm not really interacting with others, I'm just passing through blurs of people that I pay no attention to as I cross streets and pass buildings. I'm not even conscious of my walking. I'm practically in a dream.

It's a strange thing, that lapse in time that occurs when I'm getting from one place to another. It's not that I'm not appreciative of the day--I notice the green leaves and blue skies I pass along the way. I'm still adhering to the laws of society, but in auto-pilot mode.

I can never consciously experience these racially-vacuous dream lapses, I can only reflect upon them afterward. I wake up from my dream and I'm left with only a few remnants of the event.

I can't assume you go through this moment, but it feels so natural that I wonder if others do go through it. My question is, is this a way of attempting to escape the burden of racialized identity, or is it rather a brief return to a natural state before and beyond social identity? Both and neither?

In short, I think moments like these matter because they show that I cannot be my social self every single second of the day. Race, gender, sexuality, class. They are not a part of the fiber of my being, they are only roles I assume when I interact with others.

In this way, double consciousness can also be the literal state of the term--being conscious of your consciousness. That is, being aware of your awareness as a socialized being intersected by race, class and gender.

...The moment I hear "hi" from a friend who sees me walking by, I suddenly notice the dripping paint of society all over me. I suddenly become aware of my name, place, and time in society. No longer just a body, but now back to Sara, back to Latina in 2008, back to California-born daughter of Argentine immigrants.