Tuesday, November 20, 2007

San Francisco's ID Cards Are Only The First Step

Are you human? Do you live in San Francisco? Here's an ID card!

I'm in love with San Francisco all over again. Beginning next year, San Francisco will be issuing identification cards to anyone who lives there.

Javier Erik Olvera of Mercury News Reports:
The board of supervisors Tuesday gave the final OK needed to create the ID card program, systematically legitimizing the city's estimated 40,000 illegal immigrants.

The cards will be available to anyone living in the city next August and used as proof of identity when it comes to most facets of city business, from library service to police stops. Although immigrants are the prime target for the ID program, the cards will available to anyone who wants them.

Here's what I love--anyone can get one. We have the power to single out or not single out undocumented immigrants, depending on the actions of legal San Franciscan residents. If we are to truly fight for their rights to human decency, we need legal San Franciscan residents to use these ID cards too. If I lived there, I'd get one immediately.

Why? Because I feel that it is necessary to erase the stigma. Let's not make this into a Food Stamp situation--let's try to add more than one color and one language to the look and feel of these cards. San Francisco's political leaders have taken the first step, but it is now in the hands of San Francisco's legal residents to walk side-by-side with the undocumented residents and get ID cards so that no one is singled out or negatively labeled by this program, which has the potential to be a triumph or a disaster depending on how it is handled.

The first step has been taken, the second step is necessary if we are to fight racism and injustice.

Get an ID card and use it. Show it to the police, librarians, and everyone else who asks for a form of identification. Only when they ask for a specific other form of identification should you revert to the California ID card.

Although San Francisco is not the first place to issue this ID system, it is one of the few. With all my heart and soul, I am praying that as many people as possible will participate to bring our beaten and bruised undocumented peoples out of the shadows and into a new light of human decency.

This is only the first step people, let's get everyone involved and prove to less progressive parts of our country that this is a great idea!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dangerous Research: Listing Our "Most Dangerous Cities" Doesn't Give The Whole Story

A picture of Oakland you won't get in the news:

Morgan Quitno Press has published its annual nationwide list of the top 25 most dangerous cities, and Oakland is officially number 8.

cbs5 news reports:
Using 2005 figures, Oakland was ranked the eighth-most dangerous city in America, with researchers saying only two other cities in the nation showed worse increases in crime over last year. The East Bay city of Richmond ranked 11th on the so-called "Most Dangerous 25."

The only California city to rank worse than Oakland was the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, ranked fourth worst in the nation overall.

Morgan Quitno Press, a private research and publishing company specializing in state and city reference books, compiles the annual listing of most dangerous and safest cities in the nation.

On tonight's ten o'clock news, cbs5 went to several Oakland residents for personal accounts in response to the list. Residents did not deny the danger, yet several of them protested the danger of labeling any city, let alone Oakland, as dangerous.

Not only does this label hinder business and economic flow into the city, it also has a damaging effect on the potential for recovery. This list does nothing but strengthen the harmful conditions of places like Oakland--it stigmatizes Oakland as a space, alienating its residents from the rest of the country. It normalizes violence; giving violence a name, a look, and a feel.

As I have had my own share of dangerous encounters in Oakland, I admit that my language often 'ghetto-tizes' Oakland in casual conversation with friends or family. Unfortunately, this kind of 'ghetto-tization' grows into a media monster that triggers such negative images that are quickly embraced by our punitive United States public.

Instead of compiling a list of most dangerous cities, why aren't private research and publishing companies like the Morgan Quitno Press working on advancing these cities towards improvement?

Take a look at the Applied Research Center in Oakland, which I interned for this past summer. At the heart of Oakland, going to do research required stepping into the 'dangerous' city and traversing its space into another space of racial progress:
ARC's vision for racial justice is changing the way our society talks about and understands racial inequity. ARC conducts research to expose the subtle racism of laws and regulations that result in real hardship for Black, Latino, Asian and Native communities. We use public policy as a key tool to repair these historic injustices by designing and implementing creative solutions to contemporary problems.

Revolutionary! Conducting research on a subject that you are not separated from! The difference between the Morgan Quitno Press and the Applied Research Center is that the former looks at its subjects in white lab coats, wearing latex gloves, with a microscope separating it from its study. The latter is immersed in the very space it is researching. It swims around in the petri dish, taking away the microscope--making its subject of research a part of its environment rather than an isolated bacteria.

The result is spectacular. Rather than stigmatizing 'most dangerous' cities with negative portrayals of criminals and delinquents of color, the Applied Research Center comes out with the truth:
This summer ColorLines and The Chicago Reporter conducted a joint national investigation of fatal police shootings in America’s 10 largest cities, each of which had more than 1 million people in 2000. Several striking findings emerged.

To begin, African Americans were overrepresented among police shooting victims in every city the publications investigated.

The contrast was particularly noticeable in New York, San Diego and Las Vegas. In each of these cities, the percentage of black people killed by police was at least double that of their share of the city’s total population.

This is progressive research--this is the kind of stuff we need to be looking into. I can only speak for Oakland, but if you were to go into these dangerous cities, you would find real people, full of life, strength, purpose, and culture.

Really, just go to 9th and Broadway at noon on any Friday and you'll find them selling simosas, empanadas, tamales, and lots of produce...

It's not all guns and drugs people!


Friday, November 16, 2007

What Do 'UC' In Berkeley?

Is this what 'UC'?

Aw, what a sweet video. So clean, so rich with knowledge and opportunities. Oh look, a minority! Oh, there's another one doing some dancing twist. Wow, UC Berkeley is "for the people," it really is...

I swear I stepped foot on this campus with an angry-ethnic-meter, which keeps getting hotter and hotter. Three years of BS, and this is what has pushed me to the breaking point:

The Chancellors of the UC system have been granted a raise in their salaries. In a time of major budget crisis and rising costs of 'public' education, somehow this is supposed to be a good idea. SacBee's Dorothy Korber reported, prior to the authorization of this increase, that:
A brief executive summary released by UC President Robert Dynes says the pay increases are necessary to "address particular recruitment and retention needs." According to Dynes, UC chancellors' pay lags 33 percent behind similar universities.

The proposed salary hikes for chancellors heading the 10 UC campuses would total $3 million.

For UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgenau, a 33 percent increase would boost his current annual salary of $416,000 to $553,280. For UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, the increase would take him from $300,000 annually to $399,000.

Paul Schwartz, a spokesman for Dynes, said the pay increases are part of a university-wide initiative established by the regents two years ago.

"The aim is to make sure that we are able to pay competitive wages and benefits to preserve the university's quality," he said. "In September, the regents approved a four-year salary plan for faculty. This follows other actions the regents have taken that have provided raises for our lower-paid workers."

So I'm sitting here thinking damn, Chancellor Birgeneau's salary at UC Berkeley was just not enough due to the tremendous stress of having to deal with years of protests from the university's custodians receiving poverty wages. So in his case, this salary is looong overdue. Take every graduation ceremony in the last few years for example, where the Chancellor has had to fill in for the speech because the honored guest speakers keep flaking out on him!

This last spring, Danny Glover canceled his speech at the 2007 graduating class ceremony because he refused to cross the line of protesting custodial women. While Glover conveniently fell through with his commitment to the latest elite coming out of Cal, the Chancellor had to go beyond the call of duty and once again give the commencement speech. After a long day of work, he probably came home to his on-campus mansion over-worked and his head pounding from the ringing cries of cleaning ladies.

Of course there was a kind of 'agreement' made between the UC system and the custodians' unions this summer, but there has virtually been no news about it. Whether it happened or not, I'm sure they got as little as an increase as the system was able to manage to shut them up for a while, and overall it still doesn't change anything. These Chancellors do not need wage increases.

We keep insisting that these are public institutions we are talking about but I can't stress enough how rich and elitist and exclusionary UC Berkeley is--depending on who reads this, you should know why it is, and if you don't know, then that's the problem.

This is the problem*:

Why aren't there any signs saying "my dorm bathroom is cleaned by an overworked Latina working two jobs and living off poverty wages" or "This classroom is disproportionately white" or something?

*The video is of Kansas State University, not UC Berkeley--but you could have fooled me.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bloggers Of Color Unite

Caution! bloggers of color are growing in numbers.

What's the danger in that? The danger is in the legitimacy. We are taking our fury, our fists, our fire, and we're injecting it into the veins of the Eurocentric and Anglo-American discourse monster. That is, we inject it into media reports, legislative and policy-making debates, and much much more.

We stand proudly in the present day structural and blatant racism of the world; firmly supported by histories of struggle to fight racism in all its forms. The sixties was an explosion that brought massive progress--you know, the Civil Rights Movement of course--only to be followed by a conservative backlash in the seventies--the Drug Wars, three strikes laws, drastic cutbacks on the social safety net, and more.

We take our knowledge of these histories, and use them to fight in ways that haven't been used before--in this case, blogging.

Vanessa E. Jones reports for the Boston Globe that numerous bloggers of color are fighting racism in a new way through sites. She mentions prominent blogs such as as Too Sense and Angry Asian Man.
These intellectual challenges to mainstream and other viewpoints are some of the opinions Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander-American, and black bloggers are exposing on a growing number of sites focused on social, political, and cultural issues. The sometimes facetiously named blogs range from Angry Asian Man to The Angry Black Woman. Readers can find Latino viewpoints at Guanabee, The Unapologetic Mexican, or Latino Pundit. Those interested in information from an Asian angle head to Ultrabrown, Zuky, or Sepia Mutiny. Sites created by blacks include The Field Negro, Too Sense, and Resist Racism. But often these bloggers discard the handcuffs of their ethnic origins to tackle subjects affecting a range of racial or ethnic groups.

These sites - many of which launched in the past year, although a few are older - have become places where people of color gather to refine ideas or form thoughts about race relations, racial inequities, and the role pop culture has in exacerbating stereotypes. The writers often bring attention to subjects not yet covered by mainstream media.

There is a flourishing ring of websites that are all interconnected through discussions of subjects such as the Jena 6, undocumented immigration, invisible racism in our capitalist society, and more. These websites strive to interrupt the dominating mainstream media conversations that overlook issues of race. But even more, these sites also blog on things that the media fails to mention entirely, such as Allposters.com's commodified "ethnic people" category!

This is a great time for us all, whether you are looking at the more prominent blogs like the ones Jones mentions, or the smaller ones just starting off. Through these ever growing online networks of bloggers of color, our power is getting stronger. And it's not so much about how many of us are joining the blogging ring--it's about how many of us, from varying parts of the racial/ethnic spectrum, are signing on to each other's sites and developing progressive partnerships.

Just go to any of these sites, such as RaceWire, and you'll see they all have long lists of links to one another. Again, the power isn't in that they exist, but in that they are all uniting.

It's a dangerous thing to have so many people of color fighting against racism instead of fighting themselves to escape it.

Divide and conquer us no more!


Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Short Break

The posts prior to this post had to be re-pasted since i accidentally deleted my blog! It's back to normal now, though, so back to blogging!


Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Mixture God, Homosexuality, and the Iraq War

Wrap yourself up in the 1st amendment and then inflict pain like a merciless god.

Members of a fundamentalist Kansas church--Westboro Baptist Church--who protest the funerals of fallen soldiers have been sued $11 million by a grieving Pennsylvania father.

Alex Dominguez reports:

Members promised to picket future funerals with placards bearing such slogans as "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."

They believe that U.S. deaths in the Iraq war are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality. They say they are entitled to protest at funerals under the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion.

Dominguez describes that the defendants smiled as they heard the verdict because they were sure that they would win in an appeal.

The group is homophobic, vengeful, and I would even say self-hating. I often subscribe to the thought, "of all the things going on in Haiti, Guatemala, Darfur, the rest of the world, and even right around the corner...this is happening?"

Since when have homosexuals been tolerated in this country? And why aren't these people talking about the Jena 6 and undocumented immigrants and Islamofascists?

Why is this hock-a-loogie-in-your-face group going around and spoiling funerals when they could volunteer their valuable time to help hang nooses? They could even come down to the Southern Border and help build the wall of the future.

We're the most masochistic country in the world. Our government criticizes other cultures for hurting their own? Look at the condition we're in!