Chinese Speaking Parents Left Behind

The San Francisco Bay Area based organization Chinese for Affirmative Action came out with a report in November of 2006 about the San Francisco Unified School District's actions (and came out Whitun-actions) toward Cantonese speaking parents of school children. A short excerpt from the report reads:
In California, one in four children – or nearly 1.6 million students – in the K-12 educational system is an English learner, and nearly all these children come from homes where English is not the primary language.4 In the San Francisco Unified School District, there are over 16,600 English Learners, which is nearly 30% of the student population. While there are laws that require language services for LEP parents, implementation and enforcement is not systemic, and parents often face barriers to obtaining even the most basic information about their child’s education. [Italics mine]



Last night (well, technically this morning) at my work I was loading an Arizona trailer with my friend and co-worker Wendy. It was a slow night so we were able to talk about a lot of things: from music, to relationships, to school, language, and so on. During the conversation it somehow got steered toward race (probably my doing). Wendy, 34 and Nicaraguan (she moved her permanently as a teenager), told me how it was very hard for her to explain to her youngest daughter (who's Latino and Black, but looks very much Black) that she wasn't white. She said that one day her daughter told her that she was white and Wendy, probably very carefully, had to tell her daughter that she wasn't white, but instead very Black, and Latino as well.

"No! I'm not Black!" She yelled. "I'm white! I'm white!" She was about four years old when this happened. She now realizes (she around eight or nine I think) that she is Latino and Black but this gives us a window, and the opportunity, to see how pervasive racism is in our society.

Growing up (and still today) all she saw in the media was white faces. White faces on billboards, white faces in movies (Disney no doubt), white faces on the sides of buses, taxi cab signs, buildings, commercials, and TV shows. All she probably saw was white faces. If she saw any type of people of color at all in the media it was probably on debates about whether or not Latinos should be U.S. citizens or a rise in the rate of homicides and crime in Oakland's Black community. So all she probably ever saw relating to Black people were (and still are) negative stereotypes. All she probably ever saw of white people were positive stereotypes: the leading role, the princess, the beauty queen, etc.

So it would make perfect sense for someone who is aware and conscious of today's ills (and someone who is of color) to see why she reacted the way she did and why she yelled out. "No! I'm not Black!"

Another friend of mine told me he cried when he found out he wasn't white because not being white meant not being "normal" since all he saw in the media (and in his school) were white faces. Another one of my friends didn't know he wasn't white until he was five or six, and that fact, he told me, confused the Hell out of him.

So if you ask me how deep racism and white cultural supremacy runs throughout Western society and in America. It's that deep.

Image From:
Gone Movie


Sunday's Anti-War Protest

This is a multimedia news I took pictures for (I was one of four photographers, the image above is mine) on Sunday during the anti-war protests nation wide. I was with the Strength and Unity Contingent with a group I'm allied with, the League of Filipino Students (SFSU Chapter). You can find the piece here.


Navajo and Native American Identity

Below are excerpts from an article from the Native American scholarly journal Wicazo Sa Review.

Lee, Lloyd. "Navajo Cultural Identity: What Can the Navajo Nation Bring to the American Indian Identity Discussion Table?" Wicazo Sa Review 21, no. 2 (Fall 2006): 79-103.

American Indian identity in the twenty - first century has become an engaging topic. Recently, discussions on Ward Churchill’s racial background became a “hotbed” issue on the national scene. A few Native nations, such as the Pechanga and Isleta Pueblo, have disenrolled members. Scholars such as Circe Strum, in Blood Politics: Race, Culture, and Identity in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and Eva Marie Garroutte, in Real Indians: Identity and Survival of Native America, have examined American Indian identity. More attention is being devoted to understanding the implications of racial identity in Native nations.
The history of the Navajo Nation documents the continuing growth and change of the people. Navajo people have adapted to their physical and social environment since creation, and the enormous amount of American infl uence and intrusion on the Navajo way of life is a study that cannot be ignored. As a citizen of the Navajo Nation, I
contribute this article to the continuing discussion on Indian identity. I review a selection of literature on Navajo society, the historical understandings of what it meant to be Navajo and how that has changed, and call to the Navajo Nation to rethink and restructure current enrollment standards. I use textual analysis and ethnographic interviews for my approach to analyzing Navajo identity. Although this overview does not provide all the angles of Navajo identity, it will be a first step to understanding how selected citizens of the Navajo Nation view identity and how those individuals acknowledge historical cultural identity markers in their definitions of twenty - first century Navajo identity.
The following short excerpts are about Navajo identity viewed through the eyes of Navajo and non-Navajo identity:

It is important to note that most scholarship on Navajo culture is written by non - Navajos, but outside scholarship can observe only so much of the anthropological aspects of Navajo society. Non - Navajo scholars observed and recorded Navajo cultural practices with the belief that the Navajo would disappear and that they were salvaging what was left of a dying culture. This paternalistic relationship is problematic for several reasons, including a continued colonialist attitude by non - Navajo scholars toward Navajo culture and society, subjective judgment of Navajo cultural practices, and the many texts that provide only a superficial representation of Navajo culture and society...

For the purposes of this essay, I have chosen to discuss texts that focus on worldview. The Navajo worldview is based on the philosophical principles of Hozho and Sa’ah Naaghai Bik’eh Hozhoon (hereafter, SNBH [my bold]), which outline epistemological concepts that are the essence of the Navajo way of life. Generally speaking, Navajo people are supposed to live a life based on the concept of Hozho and SNBH...

The Navajo worldview originates from the creation stories told to the people. These origin stories are the foundational base of the Navajo society and way of life and are passed down so that the Navajo can have a connection to the Diyin Dine’é (Holy People). The Navajo worldview translates to Navajo cultural identity. Generally speaking, the stories, values, and beliefs Navajo people are taught at a young age formulate a Navajo person’s approach to life...

Navajo scholar Miranda Haskie wrote her dissertation, Preserving a Culture: Practicing the Navajo Principles of Hozho doo K’é
, on her grandfather, Albert “Chic” Sandoval Sr., and his accomplishments in life. Haskie developed a grounded theory describing ways people from
culturally diverse backgrounds can preserve their culture despite their integration into a dominant society...She states, "In order to survive the integration with a dominant culture, the secondary culture must meet certain conditions. When these conditions are met, people successfully preserve their culture. These conditions include practicing Hozho doo K’é, becoming educated, utilizing tools (products of preservation, such as customs that have been recorded on tape and in books), practicing leadership, changing, and adapting.
Maureen Trudelle Schwarz, a non - Navajo scholar, examines how present - day Navajos cope with life’s challenges. Her book, Navajo Lifeways: Contemporary Issues, Ancient Knowledge, provides another perspective on practicing Navajo cultural identity for the present. In Navajo
Lifeways, Schwarz examines six recent events and issues and how Navajos cope using their historical beliefs and values. The six events and issues are the hantavirus outbreak in 1993, the Navajo relocation from Black Mesa from 1974 to 1999, the Holy Visit from Navajo deities in 1996, the discovery of snakes in the ladies’ room in the Navajo Nation tribal government’s offi ces in the mid - 1990s, Navajo women’s use of emotional expressions as protest action, and the problem of alcoholism on the reservation. Schwarz examines each, particularly focusing on how Navajo people confronted them based on the oral stories and the values and beliefs they were taught.
By relying on the stories told to the people for generations, the Navajo people were able
to adapt and confront the six challenges discussed in Schwarz’s book. But what about Navajo people who do not hold those values and beliefs or those who were never taught them? How would they cope? Signifi cantly, Schwarz does not discuss this. Her omission connotes that “authentic” Navajos are connected to these stories. The strength of Navajo society lies in the diversity of individual Navajos. The “nonauthentic” voice must be included.
Clyde Kluckhohn, a non - Navajo, who extensively studied Navajo people and culture, and wrote several articles and texts on Navajo life, philosophy, and culture. The root of Kluckhohn’s work is a discussion and analysis of Navajo ideas about life and how to live it, and how those ideas have been affected by Euro - American society. His article “The Philosophy of the Navaho Indians,” published in 1959, contributes to the non - Navajo understanding of Hozho and SNBH and attempts to produce an understanding of Navajo philosophy.
In it Kluckhohn describes the worldview espoused by Navajo intellectuals, medicine men or healers, which is followed by common Navajo people.
The latter segment of Kluckhohn’s essay focuses on the impact of Euro - American culture on these Navajo premises, ethical codes, and values. This section provides an adequate analysis on how Euro-American values and beliefs infl uenced Navajo people and how they were drifting away from the philosophical standards described earlier in the essay. For instance, Kluckhohn writes, “The introduction of the white idea of individualism without the checks and balances that accompany it leads to the failure of collective or cooperative action of every sort.”10 While this segment of the essay is short, his interpretations of how Euro - American society was changing Navajo values and beliefs foretell developments in Navajo cultural identity in the twenty-first century.
Wilson Aronilth Jr.’s Foundation of Culture stands in stark contrast to Kluckhohn’s and Farella’s works. Aronilth, a Diné and an instructor at Diné College, wrote this book in the 1980s as a teaching guide for his Diné philosophy courses. The text emphasizes the basic tribal values in Navajo society, today and in the past, including the value of clans as a social system, the philosophy of duality, Navajo origin, and ceremonial participation. The Foundation of Navajo Culture has information on the creation of the Navajo calendar, the origin and story of the Navajo language, the Navajo way of learning, the foundation and story of the Navajo clan system, and how the Navajo clans are related.
Navajo scholar Evangeline Parsons - Yazzie examines this in her essay “Perceptions of Selected Navajo Elders Regarding Navajo Language Attrition.” Parsons - Yazzie’s article probes issues related to the decline of the Navajo language. She examines monolingual Diné-speaking elders’ isolation and loneliness, the loss of social control in mixed families of speakers and nonspeakers of Diné, and the loss of the language that leads to the loss of the culture. Parsons - Yazzie interviewed Navajo elders concerned about the loss of the Diné language. Elders view the Diné language as a language of compassion, unifi cation, and love, and feel that the younger Navajo generations are turning their backs on their language and culture. One elder states that belief with the following translation, "In order to know Navajo values, one has to know the
Navajo language. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach the young and it is the grandparents’ role to reinforce Navajo language learning in their grandchildren. How will our Navajo youth know what is good, what is right, and what is accepted, if they do not know their language well
enough to accept the teachings of their elders?"
Is it the younger generation’s fault that they don’t know the language,or is it the entire Navajo society? Or a third party? Does it matter who is at fault? Or should revitalizing the language be the utmost concern? The elders stress how Navajo children are not learning the Diné language and values. According to Parsons - Yazzie, the children see the Navajo way of life led by an elder as boring, unhappy, and miserable. Navajo children, according to the elders, are too confused and have too many thoughts. This is in reference to some Navajo children who choose to integrate other cultures’ products into their own personal identity (i.e. listening to rap or hip hop music)...

The Diné language is alive today, but there are fewer Navajo speakers than thirty or fi fty years ago. The loss of the language is part of Navajo cultural identity in the twenty - fi rst century. That language loss does not mean non–Navajo speakers are not Navajos; rather it will
be up to the Navajo people to decide whether they want their language to continue, or pass on like other historical Navajo cultural products.
The author than goes into historical Diné identity:
Current Navajo enrollment standards do not include historical Navajo cultural identity markers. The Navajo Nation defi nes their citizenry through blood quantum and lineal descent. The enrollment criteria consist of the following: (1) person’s name appears on the offi cial roll of the Navajo tribe maintained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs; (2) person with at least one - fourth degree Navajo blood, but who has not previously enrolled as a member of the tribe, is eligible for tribal membership and enrollment; (3) children born to any enrolled member of
the Navajo tribe shall automatically become members of the Navajo tribe and shall be enrolled, provided they are at least one - fourth degree Navajo blood. If the enrollment criteria does not include historical Navajo cultural identity markers, can the enrollment standards be changed to include historical cultural identity markers in the future?...

Historical Navajo cultural identity derives from the creation stories of the Navajo people. From these stories, Navajos know how they came to be and where they have been. Land is central to the stories...
Diné teacher Wilson Aronilth Jr. describes a person’s role in life, “Our role in life is to have love, faith, hope, preparation and plans. Why? Because this way our tasks are fi nished in beauty.”21 Historical Navajo people did not distinguish non - Navajo people based on race but rather on what experience the Navajo people had with them. For example, Naakaii refers to the Mexican people and the English translation is “those who roam around.” In other words, the Navajo people described the behaviors of the people, not their blood or race. So, has Navajo cultural identity changed since European contact? It has changed to include new cultural productions such as speaking new words to describe new tangible products like televisions and telephones. Although a few Navajo people still practice historical Navajo cultural identity, many do not and so enrollment requirements do not contain these historical
identity markers. However, the younger Navajo generation is learning to recognize the historical cultural identity markers of worldview, land, language, and kinship...
The author than goes over historical Navajo cultural identity markers in the 21st century:
In my research, I studied the connections between Navajo people, the choices each individual makes whether to epitomize their cultural identity or not, the infl uence their college education has in their identity formation, and what defi nes Navajo cultural identity. I interviewed five men and seven women between the ages of twenty-four and thirty-seven. Some live or had lived on the reservation, while others live in, or grew up in, an urban setting. All participants were college graduates or college students. All spoke English, and three also spoke fluent Diné.

He never questioned his Navajo identity until he started taking college courses. He had lived in a small reservation town where no one questioned Navajo identity. He thought he was similar to all Navajos in that he was making a living and being with his family. In college, he took
Native American studies classes and began to ask critical and thought-provoking questions on the history of colonialism in the United States and the use of blood quantum as an identity marker. College changed Dee’s mindset to such an extent that he began to examine situations
on the reservations for the fi rst time. Why did Native people live in poverty? Why did Native people not have basic living services such as running water and electricity? He had not questioned his standard of living when he was younger. He began to read and learn about Hozho and SNBH. When I asked about his thoughts on the Navajo worldview, he focused on the importance of praying. He said, “Way of thinking, ways of getting up in the morning, getting up before the sun comes up, praying.”...

Language has become pivotal to the people because everything about Navajo society, such as the prayers, songs, ceremonies, and rituals, is based on how the people interact, analyze, and synthesize the way of life through language. Studies by Deborah House, in Language Shift among the Navajos: Identity Politics and Cultural Continuity, Evangeline Parsons - Yazzie, and others document the Navajo language shift. Even though there is a language shift occurring at this moment, all of my research participants agree, even those who do not speak Diné, that
language is still a critical cultural identity marker for the people.
Steve noted that early in his life he was ashamed of who he was and of his family. He says, “At one point, I remember I didn’t want to be Navajo and that was because I was embarrassed of the kind of lifestyle and the kind of dysfunctional family that I was raised in comparison to other [non - Indian] families that I had met while growing up.” This is not unusual: some Navajos are ashamed of their cultural identity. They try to conceal it because they do not have certain material goods such as a luxury car, a computer, a cell phone, or other items that distinguish socioeconomic status; or because they do have the socio economic ills such as no viable job, no college education, or are or have family members who are alcoholics. Steve and the other participants realize the importance of the Diné language to Navajo cultural identity today and the need to learn it.
Conluding the paper:
The Navajo Nation brings to the American Indian identity discussion table its own distinct view of identity based on cultural features such as worldview, language, kinship, land, pride, and respect. None of these historical and current cultural identity markers are written in the enrollment criteria; Navajo enrollment continues to use race and blood. As its population increases and its society changes, can the Navajo Nation continue to be distinctly Navajo with its current enrollment criteria?
Each individual wants to speak the Diné language. Each thinks it important to know who your relatives are and how each human being is connected with all relations on earth and in the universe. They take pride in being Navajo and respect their ancestors’ tenacity to survive.
Perhaps Navajo poet Luci Tapahonso expresses the understanding of Navajo identity best. In Saanii Dahaatal: The Women Are Singing, "who I am is my mother, her mother, and my great - grandmother, Kinlichiinii Bitsi."

Tapahonso realized her connection to all Navajo women in her family. That connection defi nes Navajo identity for her. In the future, Navajo enrollment criteria must be changed to incorporate Tapahonso’s perspective and Garroutte’s radical indigenism. Only the Navajo people will be able to change the enrollment standards and refl ect historical Navajo identity in the twenty - fi rst century and beyond. If we choose to ignore how Navajo enrollment is established, we will begin the process of conforming to American ideas of belonging and their defi nition of our identity. Does the Navajo Nation want this for future generations? I hope not.
Image From:
The Native Blog


Anti-Immigration Cross Breading With Hate Groups

Heading towards San Francisco from work (I load big rigs at the San Bruno UPS hub) at around 3:15 a.m. I heard a great NPR (National Public Radio) piece that absolutely infuriated me. I heard it about ten days ago but didn't get a hold of the audio piece until today.

I started listening to the piece about a few minutes in during my 15 minute drive to San Francisco. In the piece Mark Potak, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that hate crimes directed against Latino immigrants (legal and undocumented) are not isolated cases by a few wackos but that, instead, "he's tracked a 40% rise in hate groups since 2000. At the same time there's been an explosion in anti-illegal immigration groups, Potak says some 250 created within the past two years."

This type of "cross-fertilization" bleeds over into the mainstream realm and "before you know it," Potak says, "you end up seeing it on places like CNN television."

Some other parts of the piece that highlight this troubling patern is an interview with Gordon Baum, the leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is a group that is opposed to all "non-European immigration" and states that Blacks are a "retrograde race." In the interview Buam said that after the pro-immigrant rallies of last year there had been "a spike in interest" in his group.

During the interview Baum said. "The very heart and soul of it is: do we want to keep America as it is...or do we want it to be changed into a third world country."

Another sickening highlight comes from a radio program that was broad casted in front of a live audience in Nashville of last year:
An anti-immigration activist was speaking in front of a live audience about her visit with boarder patrol agents. She told the conservative talk show host how the boarder patrol may repeatedly deport the same Mexican migrant if a check shows he or she has no criminal record.
Telling her story to the host. "I said, 'How many times are you going to do that.' He said, 'Seven.'"

"Seven?" The host interrupted.

"Seven times," she answered back indignantly. "This is policy. I said, 'What do you do on the eighth time.'"

"SHOOT HIM!" The host interrupted. This elicited loud cheers and applause from the audience and laughter from the woman.

Now, if this had been in a normal radio studio and he said that comment and she laughed that it would still sicken me to no end. But the fact that it was in front of a live audience (of what sounds like more than a few hundred people) and the fact that nearly the entire audience (normal every day folks) erupted in loud cheers and applause, that is truly disturbing.

These groups and these types of people are the ones who are fueling the anti-immigration debate and these are the ones that are organizing all sorts of people, in grassroots efforts, against the Latino (and Latino immigrant) community.

As the NPR piece ended the reporter said:
For analyst Mark Potak that audience reaction shows the reach of extreme rhetoric about illegal immigration. And yet he admits, you can't blame it all on hate groups. Potak says what's happening is not a debate anymore but a full scale nativist backlash.
Not something that exactly warmed me after a long and hard shift at work.

Image From:
Southern Poverty Law Center


Thinking Blogger Award

Well, as I was browsing through Technorati I came across a link to another blog I do with the Double Consciousness team and Yolanda Carrington from The Primary Contradiction called The Blog and the Bullet.

The link I found was from Beautiful, Also, Are the Souls of My Black Sisters and it was for a Thinking Blogger Award. To be quite honest I've been looking at these Thinking Blogger Awards for the past week or so hoping that someone would tag one of the blogs I write for and it was indeed quite a huge honor for me to have one of the blogs I write for, The Blog and the Bullet, be tagged by Ann. So to continue the tradition I will list five blogs that make me think (plus some extras).

Five Blogs (in no particular order)

a reader's words: This is a fine blog by Bhupinder Singh (who lives in India) that tackles just about every issue one can think. The main focus of the blog is India and some of the most interesting posts he does are on socialism, globalization, literature, the state of India, and Dalit issues in India. This is one of the few blogs I check daily because of the great content and fluid writing this author does.

Blog Bharti: The inspiration for The Blog and the Bullet. This is a blogging aggregator that illuminates all kinds of voices from the Indian blogosphere. I check this blog weekly (if not more) for some of the great links posted up on it by the blog sites 12 editors.

The Unapologetic Mexican : This fiery blog is put out by the blogger Nezua LimónXolagrafik-Jonez. Another blog I check weekly (if not more). Nezua can be kind, ruthless, sarcastic, critical, and downright funny when blogging about subjects relating to Latinos, Latin America, imperialism, racism, sexism, and other musings.

insurgelicious: This blog is put out by my good (and relatively new) friend Marco Hewitt. Marco is an Anglo-Pilipino from Austrailia who is in the San Francisco Bay Area right now studying Pilipino activists in the diaspora for his PhD thesis. His blog covers many issues that I find very interesting; such as Asian issues, Pilipino issues, imperialism, activism, and whatever tickles his fancy in general.

My Life, my words: A blog done by Apurva Madhat (from Bangolore, India) about issues effecting India and his own life. I had the honor of taking Apurva on a tour of San Francisco a few weeks ago since he's here for a few months working for Google. He posts some great stuff (and is a contributor, along with Bhupinder, at Blog Bharti) and one of his main interests are women's issues and feminism.

Shout Outs:

There are some great blogs that I wanted to put in my thinking blogger award section but the point of the Thinking Blogger Awards is to not repost blogs that have already been tagged by another blog for a Thinking Blogger Award (and only a blog tagged by one can post a Thinking Blogger Award). So here are some other blogs that make me think and that I love to read on a weekly or daily basis.

First off I have to give a shout out to Yolanda from The Primary Contradiction, I constantly check this blog for her great insight and use of Marxist, radical feminist, and post-colonial theory. Another great blog is Krishworld Politics put out there by Krish (from India but right now temporarily in Seattle, he also blogs for Blog Bharti). He has great insight on both American and Indian political culture. National Highway, a blog done by the Delhi (India) based correspondent for the weekly paper Tehelka, Shivam Vij, is another great blog done by a great writer and illuminates some of the darker corners in India that are often ignored by mainstream press. Beautiful, Also, Are the Souls of My Black Sisters, done by Ann, is blog I check for the great insight put out there by its author. At Home, Writing has great personal insights from the Indian author Bhaswati. All Out For the Fight is another great radical blog I read which is authored by the Bronx based blogger Modern Pitung. Angry Black Woman is another great blog with excellent insight from a great woman who has no qualms with taking it to "The Man." Lastly IntelligentaIndigena is a blog from a Native American perspective and has great commentary and interesting links that will always make you leaving the site a little more wiser.

[Update: I don't know why I didn't mention her blog before (silly me) but brownfemipower does a great great blog that I read habitually called Women of Color Blog. Also, check out all of the blogs on our blog roll, cause that's basically the blogs we also love to go to as well]

Man! There are many more blogs out there I like, but I gotta end this post.

Also, as Yolanda says, "Did I happen to mention how much Canadian bloggers rule." I agree, and would like to add. Did I happen to mention how much Indian bloggers rule.

Erase Racism Carnival

Carmen Van Kerckhove is hosting the 11th Erase Racism Carnival at her blog Racialicious for the month of March and is requesting submissions by this Friday March 16th for anyone who is interested in entering the carnival.

The Erase Racism Carnival is a traveling carnival that jumps from blog to blog in where the blog host of that month collects a bunch of interesting and good blog articles and posts them on her or his blog for others to see.


World White News Coverage

[Editor's note: I made a change. I originally wrote that the study we did in my class was on KRON 4 it's actually on KPIX another local Bay Area TV news station.]

I just got out of my Media and Politics class (Political Science 464 and also listed under Journalism 464) at San Francisco State University and let me just say I'm fuming right now. I'm doing this post right now so I can remember everything that happened.

Basically our professor brought in his daughter who works for KRON 4 News, a local news station out of the San Francisco Bay Area. In an Ethnic Diversity and U.S. Journalism class I did last year we did a study on KPIX and studied how they used "experts" in the news. We basically found out that the "experts" used were overwhelmingly white and even more overwhelmingly male (I think by 70% or so, but I'll post the study I did with my class group latter), so I was pretty familiar with the news coverage of local Bay Area news stations.

During our discussion she talked about how, in the newsroom, the most coverage will go to someone who speaks the loudest about a news issue. So I mentioned how I know a lot of people who are outspoken in Bayview Hunters Point (a predominately Black neighborhood in San Francisco and a ghetto [some people still live in run down army barracks over there]), especially about issues of gentrification and how their voices don't get heard and how it should be the reporter's job to not just listen to those who "speak loudest" but actually find very pressing issues.

She than said when she said "loud voices" she meant reporters in the news room and not just people in the community. If she would have kept it at that all would have been well and I wouldn't be writing this blog...but...she went on. She than said how maybe issues in Hunters Point wouldn't be that important to the "overall" Bay Area Community and how they need to not just cover stories in Hunters Point but in (rich and white) Berkeley as well as the South Bay and the (rich and white) North Bay. I thought What the fuck is this damn white woman talking about!!?? The community?? The community in the Bay Area is people of color! Whites are a minority or close to a minority when compared with the population of Chinese, Filipino, and Latino Americans! What community are you talking about!!??

I then told here how that was a problem. I said that people of color make up almost half, if not more, of the population in the Bay Area and that they don't get covered that much in the news by local mainstream news stations. I then said alluded to her that why wouldn't an issue in Hunters Point be an important Bay Area issue.

A fellow female student of mine chimed in and voiced my concern pretty well when she said that issues effecting Bay View Hunters Point are more important to her than some University of California Berkeley elites getting upset about environmentalists camping out in their university trees (a semi-big story here in the Bay Area).

I than said how the way the news is going about presenting the news is basically wrong. She's talking about how they need to appeal to a mass audience and yet she seems to be saying she's appealing to a white audience, which is not the majority demographic in the Bay Area. I said how issues effecting people of color are almost never covered, and if they are, they are only covered because of issues of gang violence or shootings, and that's the only thing people see on TV associated with these certain communities.

Than another fellow classmate of mine chimed in to our poor poor reporters defense. He started off with. "I'm Latino." Oh boy! And how in Sol Cal (Southern California) people in the Latino community would complain about how Latinos were only being portrayed in the news as illegal immigrants and as gang members. Than he said "But when I went to Boston" the news media focused on Irish American gangs and how the Irish American community would complain that they were being stereotyped as gang members and as violent. OK! Fine! Than if that's the case than that's completely fucked up and the media should change their focus!! What does this have to do with the discussion at hand! He than said how it had nothing to do with race and everything to do with statistics. Excuse me?? He said that Latinos in Southern California predominately are involved in crimes down there and therefor get covered more and how poor Irish in Boston are predominately involved in crime there and therefor get covered more. Oh my God! Could this White rich Landino (Landino means a white and rich Latino, or non-Latino) be any more juvenile in his thinking! Jesus Christ!

I chimed in by saying how its utterly ridiculous to say that news coverage in one area is justified because of statistics (and first of all, where does he get his statistics from? Is he just making it up? Does he only think this because the mass media only portrays Latinos as such? Hmmmmm). One should focus on issues effecting the Latino community, I said, that don't involve gang violence, there are plenty of issues out there. And also, if one is covering gang violence than one should delved deeper into the deep rooted problems in gang violence and not just have it be a normal news report. As for the Irish American community in Boston. That doesn't justify Sol Cal news focus on Latino violence. That's messed up if that's all the news media covers in Boston because there's more to the Boston Irish community than violence (and explain to me how stereotyping the Boston Irish community justifies the stereotyping of the Latino community, is it because their white! Shit). I basically started saying how the news media keeps a narrow focus on certain issues within the Bay Area and only caters to a certain audience (a white audience) and not to the needs of a vast majority of others (people of color) and how when one does cover the Chinese community its only during the Lunar New Year and when one covers the Black community its only during spouts of gang violence. There is no depth, there is no substance, and if you do get a good in depth piece on the Black community because of gang violence the fact that that piece only came about because of gang violence is not right! One should be focusing on that community whether there is gang violence or not! That should not be the excuse to cover the Black community! Why, that's weird. Why are they covering the Black community? Oh! Right, right! Gang violence. Those craz-ay Negroes.

The speaker than said, oh shit, here it comes, that there was a Black woman in the news room saying. "No, we should cover this, we shouldn't cover that." Dude! You're using the Black friend excuse!! God damn it! Whatever, I'll let that one slide for new since people in the class are getting pissed at me.

I brought up a few more points about how KRON 4 really needs to branch out and bust out of its white shell. Than she mentioned to me that I should become an intern to know what working in a news room is like. Excuse me?? What the Hell did you just say! If that isn't the biggest cop out ever! I've been a student journalist for four years (but that's beyond the point)! So I should get an internship to see how you dumb mother fuckers act!!? I told here that that doesn't matter because what I see on the news doesn't reflect what she was saying.

She than told me she didn't agree. I than snapped back and said. "Well, I don't care if you disagree I'm just telling you what I see on the TV and what I've studied." I don't remember her responding to that comment. Hah!

Another student decided to chim in (another white male) and he said that that's the type of issues that ethnic media is covering. I was like, What the Hell??!! That's messed up!! It's wrong if ethnic media is the only media covering these issues! First of all ethnic media isn't seen by the majority of people outside of that ethnic community! Secondly, the stuff that ethnic media is covering (i.e. gentrification, race issues, police brutality, institutionalized racism, etc.) is the stuff that mass media should be covering. And if that's the case than that just proves my point! Aren't you just saying that small time media outlets are for people of color and the big mass media outlets aren't really for the "masses" but just for the white population!?

The speaker also said (apparently in her defense) that KRON 4 doesn't look at race when doing their coverage and they've never thought about it. They only do coverage based on region (North Bay, East Bay, San Francisco, etc.). She actually admitted they've never considered race! What the fuck!

I interrupted her by saying. "You've never considered that? Wow! Why? Never?"

I said a few other things until the speaker chimed in again and set me off (I behaved, I wasn't yelling or anything) when she said that a main bureau editor for the Oakland Tribune was Black and that he's been around for the past 20 or 25 years. That's it! I've had enough of this shit!

"So what!" I said rather sternly.

She looked at me a little confused. "So what!" I said again. "Who cares if he's Black! That has nothing to do with what we're talking about!" She seemed a little speechless and the class ended shortly there after.

So, yeah, these are our future journalists (and one present day journalist) and our future political science people.

Damn I'm pissed off!


Echo of Bullets

I did a multimedia piece on the crustcore Marxist Asian band Echo of Bullets for [X]press online. I did the pictures for the piece and came up with the idea. Hope you all enjoy it. The three minute piece can be found here.


One "Ghetto" Dinner Conversation

On Sunday I went to Chevy's for dinner with my girlfriend and some of the people she knows from her tech-crew (she is doing lighting for a play at San Francisco State University). Sitting near me were these three white women (one was a Mexican Landino [white, rich Latino]) whom neither I nor my girlfriend knew, but I made casual conversations with them. During a conversation one of the girls was taking about differences in dialect between San Francisco Bay Area people and people from Orange County and how Bay Area people use the term "Hella" a lot. She said how people in Sol Cal (Southern California) use the term "Ghetto" or "Gay" to describe a lot of things.

"I had no idea that it was apparently wrong to use the term 'ghetto.'" She said in an exasperated and sarcastic tone. "That's so stupid." She then went on to allude that it was only a term to describe certain things and how they are.

Obviously this woman has no idea that using the term ghetto to describe something is extremely offensive and racist. Saying, "That's so ghetto." Is basically saying, "Man, that's so poor" or "That's so Black." Ghetto is almost always identified by people as a negative term and the imagery that comes to mind are poor areas that have high crime rates and house Black people. It was especially offensive the way she was trying to justify her use of the term, especially because she's a white woman who seems to be quite well off and from a county that's predominantly white and has a high income rate.

The other two girls seemed to agree with her. In fact, one said that there was basically nothing wrong with using the term "Gay" to also describe something and she said. "I have gay friends who say 'That's so gay.'"

Wow, that's great, so does that somehow give you the right to use a term (describing someone's sexuality) in a negative tense? (But that's more of a side note)

So, yeah, like, totally, those white chicks were like totally ghetto.

Images From:
Alpha Gamma Delta (Beta Delta Indiana University Chapter)


Faces in the Crowd

Last night was my 23rd birthday and my girlfriend took me to see my favorite hip-hop group, the self-proclaimed "hardcore communist" hip-hop group The Coup. They were great and they sang all of my favorite songs. The show was at The Filmore and they weren't the headliners (which was good for me since I have work at 11 p.m.), Lyrics Born was, but in my mind they were the best group in the lineup.

Some of the songs they played were "5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO," "Fat Cats, Bigga Fish," and "We Are the Ones."

They were great, they played with a live band that was dope and Pam the Funkstress was rocking it on the turntables (she has a great stage presence). Boots Riley amped up the crowd with his on stage antics and he seemed much more youthful than I thought he would be (he's 35). Yet I'm not really here to talk about The Coup but instead to talk about their audience. Walking into The Filmore all one could see was a sea of white faces (which I'm guilty of myself) and barely any people of color, which is the demographic that The Coup would want to target, especially since their music talks about liberation, the overthrow of capitalism, and white supremacy, and racism.

I remember reading an article on Pop + Politics (a website run by students from San Francisco State University) in which the interviewer asked Riley about rapping in front of a live audience that was mostly white (the article isn't up on the website anymore for some reason). If I remember correctly Riley talked about how society tries to keep people of color (especially Black people) away from large mainstream venues. He talked about the raising of ticked prices (tickets for the show were $25) and also talked about some other examples such as having malls that only have up-scale stores and metered parking lots so as to keep lower income folks (mainly people of color in urban settings) out and keep white people in. I remember him talking about how the white owners of these venues don't want a lot of Black people in them. During a hip-hop round table discussion at Stanford Riley said:
[W]e’re always being criminalized, the image of black folks is always being criminalized. The culture that around is being criminalized and there has to be a reason for more police in the streets, there has to be a reason why we’re all broke. There has to be reason why we’re under the impression that we’re under and the reason is never that there’s a system that works against us...
Don't get me wrong here though, I'm not blaming white people for coming to an event with The Coup in it (that would be hypocritical of me obviously), they have a right to see whomever they like and if they're down with The Coup's message than more power to them. But, in that same discussion, Riley said:
How do you get to the point that most of the white kids and people in the United States, in general white people, are listening to hip hop - how do you get them to listen to hip hop but not relate to black folks at the same time? The way you do that, because if you relate to the problems that black folks are in you might start thinking about the system itself and how it’d work. The way that you do it is to characterize this music as being less than up to par.
Now when many of these white people were quoting verbatim the lyrics of Boots Riley did they really know what they were saying or were they just being "cool?"

In an article in the Village Voice Riley was quoted:
"My audience has gone from being over 95 percent Black 10 years ago to over 95 percent white today," laments Boots Riley of the Coup, whose 1994 Genocide and Juice responded to Snoop Dogg's 1993 gangsta party anthem "Gin and Juice." "We jokingly refer to our tour as the Cotton Club," he says—a reference to the 1920s and '30s Harlem jazz spot where Black musicians played to whites-only audiences.

Boots says he first noticed the shift one night in 1995, in a concert on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Opening for Coolio, he stepped center stage and grabbed the mic as usual, but then saw something unusual about the audience: a standing-room-only sea of whiteness. Some were almost dressed like farmers, he recalls. Others had their heads shaved. "Damn, skinheads are out there," he thought. "They can't be here to see us." But the frantic crowd began chanting along rhyme for rhyme.
The writer Bakari Kitwana goes on:
Recognizing the success of such underground white MCs as Aesop Rock, El-P, and Sage Francis—all moving around 100,000 units per release—Brother Ali says, "Our genre is looked at as white rap. It's almost like a white chitlin circuit of underground rap music." The more popular underground white hip-hop artists are helping to nurture the audience at venues that now regularly feature conscious Black hip-hop artists. At the same time as political hip-hop's audience has gotten whiter...
"One of the hardest things we're dealing with now is the underlying feeling of white supremacy among fans who feel they are a part of hip-hop, but are listening to and prefer mostly white MCs," says Brother Ali, who recently toured with several old-school legends together with Atmosphere—a biracial independent rap group who, like Brother Ali, hails from Minneapolis. "They believe that Aesop Rock is better than independent artists who are Black and mainstream artists like Ludacris. These MCs are doing a lot with hip-hop artistically that they have learned from Black people, but [their fans] don't want to hear from the old-school originators because they believe it's the white MCs who created the styles they like. This isn't an underground-versus-mainstream thing—it's a racist thing."
Image From:
The Coup