New Podcast Section

So, in case anyone hasn't noticed yet, I have a new section (at my personal blog The Mustard Seed) in my right-side column. It's my podcast section. All you guys need ta do is just click on the pics to get where you wanna go. I update my music and news podcasts once a week.

Consuming Whiteness

Professor What If has a series called "Consuming Whiteness." The first part is titled "What if whiteness doesn't do a body good?" and the second it titled "What if you (don't) got white skin?".

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Social Class and White Privilege

I just got the book by Chip Smith. The Cost of Privilege: Taking On the System of White Supremacy and Racism. Once I finish it (which might take a while as I'm reading Capital, Vol. I by Marx) I'm gonna write a review.

While flipping through the book though I found this great paragraph from Chapter 16: The Reality of White Privilege that I'd like to share:
We are trying to get a sense of white racial privileges - distinct from the surplus taken by the white ruling class through exploitation. To do so, we want to focus as much as possible on differences within the broad working class. As described in earlier chapters, the white owning class in the United States exploits both white workers and workers of color. At the same time, the system affords white workers certain racial privileges that they have often jealously defended despite their exploitation. The white ruling class exploits both white workers and workers of color - and uses racial privileges to sustain their rule. White workers benefit - in comparison to workers of color - while at the same time being exploited for their labor power. This distinction is crucial. It points to the fact that ending exploitation - and the system of racial privileges that support it - is in the interests of white working class people as well as people of color. (italics are Smith's, bold mine)

In order to truly take up true class consciousness, in order to shed the oppressive bourgeois mindset that paralyzes many workers (especially many workers at my job who would rather support management than the union), a white worker must shed her or his whiteness and all privileges that come with it (or, perhaps, a more appropriate term would be reject).

Which reminds me. If any of you can find it out there, the book (out of print) Settlers: The Myth of the White Proletariat by J. Sakai would be a good complementary read along with The Cost of Privilege. (Some Marxists and anti-racists take issue with Sakai's analysis, some even call Sakai slightly mad, but hey, good read and informative).

Obama and the White Vote

I'm obviously not an Obama fan, I'm a Cynthia McKinney fan. To me, the only change Obama represents is a change in policy of the bourgois; no more no less. Bourgois change is not real change. But, Tim Wise has a great article on Obama's candicy in where he says:
If, in order to be elected, a man of color has to pander to white folks, in ways that no white politician would ever have to do to people who were black or brown, then white privilege and white power remain operative realities.

[Hat Tip: Racialicious via Barry]

Regular folks = White People?

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

Eric Stoller blogs:
According to Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, “regular folks” = “white folks”. Chris Matthews isn’t even trying to be covert anymore. He’s just outright saying that whiteness is “regular”. Unbelievable. The stench of white privilege is emanating from the video. Whiteness is “regular”. Whiteness is “normal“. That’s what he’s saying.


Friday Hip-Hop 2.25.08

Check out my latest podcast over at The Mustard Seed.

It features.

Rebel Diaz

Common Market

Hopie Spitshard



COLTAN: The Other "Blood Diamond"

If you don't know what Coltan is, you really need to find out. Unfortunately, it was something I barely found out about just a couple years ago in college.

I was pleased to randomly come across a little Yahoo article about Coltan, a very unique metal that is essential to all electronic devices. Yes, it is in your phone, your computer, and a lot of other stuff close to us, including our Play Stations.

Unfortunately, the atrocious reality of Coltan is not nearly publicized enough, even though it is essential to the Western world.

From Yahoo:
According to a report by activist site Toward Freedom, for the past decade the search for a rare metal necessary in the manufacturing of Sony's Playstation 2 game console has fueled a brutal conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

...the demand for coltan prompted Rwandan military groups and western mining companies to plunder hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the rare metal, often by forcing prisoners-of-war and even children to work in the country's coltan mines.

From Suite101.com:
Every day millions of children are forced to crawl into underground mines on their hands and knees to dig for the essential raw material, coltan, to make electronic gadgets like cell phones, iPods, laptop computers, play stations, wireless systems, DVD players, blackberries and pagers possible.

These technologically advanced toys are given life from capacitors, which are made from coltan, dug up from dangerous mines by children, under age 10.

The illegal trafficking of coltan in the Congo, has made thousands of children labourers. They work from sunrise to after dark digging with their calloused little hands into the earth to remove the raw material to be traded on the black market for US $400 a pound.

This is a really complicated issue--we got race, class, globalization, human rights issues, capitalism, and a whole lot of other stuff implicated in this Coltan business. As controversial as Marx is, right now his Fetishism of Commodities is first on my mind. We really need to know the history that is hidden within our commodified products.


Late Night Thoughts

What does it mean to be "of color?"

I call myself a person "of color" but it is such a vague and complicated way of describing myself. I mean, I'm light skinned, but I am Latina. I've got "dark" features (thick dark hair, eyebrows, etc). Yet that is not a defining feature because there are light-colored hair people "of color."

Oh yeah, and I also "practice" my "ethnic" culture. (I know, I know, the quotation marks are getting annoying, but I use them for a reason). I speak spanish, drink yerba mate, and occasionally wear hooped earrings--the last of which aren't exclusively "ethnic" of course.

We all have the right to define ourselves, and I find myself defining myself to new people all the time. I usually default on "I'm Latina," or "my parents are immigrants from Argentina."

But I can't help but find it funny that I always get asked about my strange accent and my undefinable racial features. I feel like because I am a bit more of a vague person "of color," I get asked what the hell I am more often than others. Funny enough, all my life I have had people tell me they think I'm Indian/Middle Eastern.

Such as this one time when I was on the bus, a sweet black woman was staring at me, so I looked out the window thinking, oookaay. Then she said, smiling, you make me think of India. I smiled and accepted her remark, but then she insisted on asking me about my race. So I just said, "I'm South American." I didn't feel like saying Argentine-American--nor did I want to get into the rest of my ethnic description routine--because I was about to get off. She kept on though, full of questions, but I missed my stop so I had to get off. When I finally got off, I thought to myself, well that was kind of out of the blue. I laughed my way home.

I find it funny because I myself will ask these ethnic questions of others when I can't immediately guess what they are. But when I meet people who "look the part," I don't ask them about their race because I just go with my assumption that they are white, black, or even Mexican often times.

I don't know what to think of it, but that's my two cents.


Esther Ku Not Funny

Offensive, sure, but not funny. The only people who think she's funny is white folks who feel good when they hear their racist humor spouted back at them by an Asian person and feel vindicated in not being racist.

Sunny Vergara, a former Asian American Studies professor at SF State and whom I've had the privilege to hang with on a few occasions writes this in the American Pop section of Asian Week:
When Chin writes that Ku’s schtick is “to playfully undermine Korean stereotypes”, it’s not immediately clear how these stereotypes are exactly “undermined” by her performance. The trouble is, she traffics in the most exhausted and obvious stereotypes, in chopsticks and slant eyes. That is, it’s not the kind of humor that comes from acute observation, or a comedy animated by outrage, but a stand-up routine that’s little more than a superficial enumeration of cliches, strung together without rhythm. Which does not comedy make.
Check out his blog and check out the rest of the article.


Friday Hip-Hop

Hey everyone. So I'm starting a new podcasting segment every Friday (or around every Friday)at The Mustard Seed where I share some music that you all might like. Each Friday podcast should have around a minute or so introduction wiht around 13 to 17 minutes worth of music (around three to four songs). Hope ya'll enjoy.

Can't embed the podcast here so ya'll gonna have to listen to it at my blog.

[Update: Finally got it working, here's the links to the artists I selected]

Blue Scholars

The Coup

Bambu & Do D.A.T. (and please Just Do DAT!)


NO. You Do Not Have The Right To Grab My Ass

I am fucking tired of walking through the streets of Oakland and being judged as racist for avoiding groups of black men*. I'm avoiding men of all races throughout the day. Every fucking time I have to walk anywhere, there's always got to be a creepy guy who gives me one of those looks that just forces me to either skip a bus stop or walk on the curb of the street next to the cars whizzing by. I have even taken out of the way detours walking to some of my destinations because I am afraid of being cornered by a man.

So I come out of work today and then I see a group of three black men, at least six feet tall, loitering in a *four foot wide* space between a building and the bus stop bench. If I walk through, I would be forced to squeeze my way through three men. So when I decide instead to make a really obvious detour in front of the bus stop, walking like a damn ballerina on the cub of the street, I hear:

"HEY. Why you walkin' all the way over there?" It was accusatory. It was me being light skinned and supposedly *afraid* of black people. It was obvious by the way he said it, and I get it a lot. I was thinking, fuck, are you kidding me?

Man, fuck you. Fuck you so much because of that. What, being black is the only possible element in my decision? Man screw you. You act like you don't know what you are doing. Three fucking penises in a four foot wide space. I don't care about the color of your penises, I care that you *have* them!

This is something I've gone through, not something I just imagined in my supposedly racist mind. I was talking on my damn cell phone outside...during lunch, mind you. Pure daylight, but distracted. And then all of a sudden...boom. Full on ass grabbing. His hand slowly sliding back off. eeehhhhh. I was frozen. The guy, yes he was black, but he was a man. A man who was more than six feet tall and took advantage of me. "Ohh I just had to grab that." NO YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO GRAB MY ASS. No, you do not have the right to come closer to me right now. Get the fuck away, I am calling the police. God.

It took me two months to get over that shit (and I know that it was nothing compared to what too many other women go through). Nevertheless, I went through two months of complete self disgust. It took me half a year to ever wear those jeans again. Now I panic if I forget my pepper spray at home...my pepper spray was the only consolation I could find after that.

I work at a place where I hear the most intense stories of criminal acts of violence against immigrant women. Rape. Sexual assault. Child abuse. Abusive men who use rape to *prove* that the woman hasn't been with another man. Or who take advantage of undocumented teenage children because the mother is busy working two jobs. No matter how long the staff have been working there, we all have the same disgusted reactions when we get new clients. "How can anyone abuse a child like that?" "How could anyone even think of doing something like that to a woman?" Etc.

So this is my final two cents:

All men need to be conscious of their sex 24/7. Just as much as white men need to realize that they are both racialized and sexualized beings...black men need to realize they are not just racialized. They are also sexualized. Hey, I'm not saying some don't, but from what I keep experiencing, many don't even realize it. Guys, have you ever heard of that little dating tip about never taking a girl on a first date in an isolate/desolate/closed space? The translation of that tip is: "Realize that you have the penis and that a girl doesn't want to fear being raped. She doesn't know you, so how does she know if you're gonna keep it in your damn pants or not?"

It's not fair. We women are under constant awareness of our sex and our environment. I had to learn to no longer talk on my cell phone or be distracted in any other way when walking in the city. I also learned to take detours. I have even walked right past my own home when there is any man behind me. In fact just yesterday I did this and it was some white guy in a suit and a briefcase. I trust no strange men.


*[EDIT: I removed "because they are black," since it came out of my incoherent ranting at the time of writing the piece. On a side note, if my rant was not clear, this should sum it up--I am not avoiding black men more than white or any other race when I feel that I suspect an unsafe situation]


Furror Over New Yorker Cover

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

ShineThePath blogs on the latest controversy involing the Obama campaing and the New Yorker:
So why has the The New Yorkers’ cover art coming under heavy criticism when it simply is poking fun at all the right-wing racist attacks against the Obamas? Attacks which the Obama campaign had to create their own website to defend themselves from the campaign. They’ve had to tell you his father wasn’t a Muslim, he was an Atheist. That he, himself, didn’t go to a Madrassa. He threw his pastor under the boss for the sake of appearance, had to to denounce Louis Farrakhan, had to tell Black fathers in Bill Cosby-esque “get-your-shit-together” patriarchal uncle tom tone to be personally responsible just to seek the approval of white America. The reason why the Obama camp is trying to squash The New Yorker cover article is to really get rid of race from the agenda of discussion in this campaign altogether. Obama doesn’t want race brought up, and he sees it as only a harmful element in his campaign. So rather than dealing with race and white supremacy, he has only talked about a post-racial society.

[Hat Tip: Mike E.]


Why We Must Care About Immigrants and the Proletariat

It's impossible to separate race from class and class from race and it is equally impossible (and foolish) to separate white supremacy from the system of capitalism. I just posted up a blog post I did on my blog The Mustard Seed on the first two chapters of Capital Vol. I by Karl Marx. Thought I'd share an excerpt:
Another point I find worth mentioning was that Marx saw that there needed to be an alternate system of values in order to free men from the market. The destruction of capitalism had to lead to an alternate social and economic system other than the one in place now which was only in place since the beginning of the 17th century (capitalism is a relatively new concept). Marx saw that human beings were alienated from each other through the system of capitalism.

Harvey explains it as a religious person saying, "I care about having good face to face relations with my fellow man, with being a good person and living life to the fullest and respecting others."

But when asked about what this fellow thinks of the market economy. "I couldn't give a hoot about that."

That in turn is the folly. How could a person care about human beings he sees face to face but not about his fellow humans who cloth, feed, and shelter him? This is because the capitalist market hides this. If we trully knew what went into our breakfast and cared about how it went into our breakfast then we would demand that those who put our breakfast on our tables be paid good wages since we would care enough about those who feed us. That is: the workers at the supermarket, the truck drivers, those who make the trucks, those who pump the oil from rigs, those who pluck the eggs, slaughter the pigs, raise the pigs, work the farms, pick the strawberries, etc., etc.

Photograph by:
David Bacon


Eugenics and Education

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

Bill Ayers reviews Ann G. Winfield's book Eugenics and Education in America:
Written out of the official story as quackery and the handiwork of a few nut-cases, Winfield demonstrates beyond doubt that eugenics was not only respectable, mainstream science but also that its major tenets were well-springs in the formation of American public schools with echoes in the every day practices of today. Formed in the crucible of white supremacy and rigid hierarchies of human value, American schools have never adequately faced that living heritage.


I read this Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago and wanted to blog on it:
The Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council is one of 88 neighborhood councils created in Los Angeles in the last nine years. Each is a junior varsity city council of sorts, with the ability to pass judgment on new development and other things, but its power lies largely in advising politicians who have real power.


Echo Park was one of the first L.A. suburbs and, later, was the site of some the city's first white flight.Now, the Anglos are coming back -- white return? -- and in recent years, that has begun to redefine life in the ethnic enclave that developed in their absence. Latino businesses and families have been pushed out, largely by rising rents.
Then I read this just now in the New York Times and this just pissed me off:
It is Saturday evening, the second day of summer, and the air around Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem is filled with the scent of blossoming linden trees and the sound of West African drums.

Across the street from the park is 2002 Fifth Avenue, a new seven-story cream and red brick luxury co-op with a doorman, $1 million apartments and a lobby with a fireplace.

The drummers in the park are African-American and from Africa and the Caribbean. They form a circle and have played in the park, in one form or another, since 1969...

...some in the building at 2002 Fifth Avenue, most of them young white professionals, have a different perspective: When the drummers occupy a spot nearby, residents say, they are unable to sleep, hear their television sets, speak on the telephone, or even have conversations...
Oh for FUCK'S SAKE! I'm gonna blog in this soon. Just thought I'd share the articles.


Paper Citizens

Natalie, the YouTube director for Community Channel posted a good response to a racist e-mail she got about her being Asian and obviously not Australian (duh! Aussies are only white!). I'll blog more on this latter...I think.


Obama's Half Indonesian Sister Appeals To Asians

Obama's campaign is feeling more and more like a movie, and now all of a sudden we've been thrown a plot twist halfway through. Obama has a younger half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who is half Indonesian, and who has now come out to campaign for Asians to back him. I guess there are those who might of already known about her, but I sure didn't.

This is perfect timing by the Obama campaign. Maya has come out to speak on Obama's behalf at a time when his opponents are framing him as non-American. Well after finding out about his sister, I'm thinking Obama is more American than McCain could ever be. Obama represents diversity; a broad spectrum of races. McCain represents isolated whiteness. Sure Obama doesn't represent every race, but come on, he is a lot closer to the experiences of non-white men and women in the U.S. than McCain.

Juliana Barbassa at AOL,
Soetoro-Ng's appearances give voters a chance to get to know Obama as a person, not just an elected official. Her stories illustrate the development of his character, from his days as a teenager who loved basketball and bodysurfing and didn't always get the strongest grades, to his growing sense of civic duty in the summers she spent with him in Chicago.

But she also has a political role to play. She plans to spend her summer vacation - she is a teacher at an all-girls' school in Hawaii - introducing her brother to crowds such as this one.

"We are ready for a more complex construction of identity as a country," she said, dismissing the possibility some voters might find it hard to relate to Obama's multiethnic background and foreign experience.


Color Blind Racism

Cross-posted from The Blog and the Bullet.

Abagond blogs:
On the one hand, to hold on to their unfair position and advantages in society, to their white privilege, and feel right and good about it, whites had to believe racist lies. Like that blacks lacked brains or a willingness to work hard.

And yet, on the other hand, they knew that racism was wrong.

So in the 1970s whites reached a fork in the road: either give up racism and its advantages, in pride, position and wealth, or hang onto racism by becoming blind to it.