Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Amusing Headlines

Every once in a while, I'll read a headline that is worth a few yuks.

White House admits fault on 'Mission Accomplished' banner

"After shifting explanations, the White House eventually said the "Mission Accomplished" phrase referred to the carrier's crew completing its 10-month mission, not the military completing its mission in Iraq. Bush, in October 2003, disavowed any connection with the "Mission Accomplished" message. He said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later said the ship's crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor."

To this, all I can do is shake my head and smile.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Come On America, Arizona's SB 1108 Is A Racist Bill

"I'm gonna show you WHO's BOSS"

To some people it may have seemed like the fight was against undocumented immigrants. They are "illegals," "aliens," "criminals" overrunning our nation.

Well for me that was never true. From my own experience, it's basically a fight against culture, language, and color. The anti-immigrant sentiment that is so strong today, as it has been throughout our history as the United Sates, is about hatred. It's about racism, colonial power, capitalist interest, and everything else you can think of.

Man, I am just sick and tired of this. I am sick and tired of this game that a lot of "Americans" are playing. This is not about immigration.

YOU KNOW WHY? THIS IS WHY: Arizona state lawmakers and their evil SB 1108 bill is about killing Mexican-American/Chican@/Latin@ identity. To say this bill is fueled by merely anti-immigrant sentiment is to confuse the real issue here--because anti-immigrant sentiment has always been about anti-Hispanic sentiment (hey I don't like calling it Hispanic, but that's what it is to them)

You can look up several news articles on the bill, but here's one:

Some state lawmakers are again sticking their noses where they don't belong and trying to tell educators what should or shouldn't be taught in public schools.

The Legislature is attempting to usurp the decision-making responsibilities of local school boards and is perpetuating lies and creating divisions among Arizonans by pushing a bill that seeks to end programs like Raza Studies in the Tucson Unified School District. The bill would deny state funding to schools whose courses "denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization."

Whatever that means.

Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services reported in Thursday's Star that the bill, SB 1108, is aimed at MEChA, the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, a student group that state Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, describes as racist.

Raza Studies has also drawn the ire of anti-immigrant-rights activists and last year was criticized by state schools superintendent Tom Horne, who said the program was promoting "ethnic chauvinism."

Horne investigated the program and then quietly dropped his inquiry.

Pearce, one of the state's most strident opponents of illegal immigration, appears to have bought into the notion that MEChA followers want to take over the southwestern United States, which was part of Mexico.

That's hogwash.

The myth is perpetrated by right-wing anti-immigrant-rights groups like American Border Patrol and their Web sites. The lie gained new life over the last couple of years as the illegal-immigration debate reached a boiling point.

...What lawmakers like Pearce ignore is that programs like Raza Studies and MEChA help many Hispanic students excel.

By learning more about their race's culture, the students become engaged in the education process and go on to become better taxpaying members of society.

OH I'M SORRY AMERICA. I'm sorry that because world history is OBVIOUSLY distorted in every damn aspect of our education to favor learning about white people, I have to oppress my own identity and educate myself about subjects that are not only irrelevant to my culture and diversity, but are also not reflective of true history.

It wasn't until college that I finally came to understand the dimensions of my Latina identity. It wasn't until college that I learned about the atrocities of white America's past and present--the genocides, the school of the Americas, the coups, the SLAVERY, the exploitation, the National Origins Quota, the "treaty" of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the promises of reparations, the diseased blankets, Thanksgiving, Africa, Guatemala, the list goes on...

I AM NOT ANTI-AMERICAN. The REAL anti-Americans are those people who RESIST accepting that AMERICAN MEANS MANY LANGUAGES,CULTURES,RACES,AND HISTORIES. American is NOT CITIZEN--AMERICAN IS PERSONHOOD. I AM AMERICAN BECAUSE I AM A LATINA BORN IN THE UNITED STATES who is an active member of society, respects her fellow Americans (documented or not), and upholds her values of tolerance and human rights for all. I recognize that HISTORY is not ONE STORY, BUT MANY. Our country does not have a history, as our euro-centric society would have it, our country has HISTORIES--good and bad--of peoples from all perspective.

I am tired of being taught one perspective. What Ethnic studies does, let alone Chican@ studies, is give us ANOTHER perspective--one that often reflects that of us "Hispanics" who are trying to learn something other than the white history. LETS KEEP TEACHING WHITE HISTORY BUT NOT WHITE HISTORY ALONE. Let's teach many histories.

With all my heart, with all my soul, I beg others to join me and many others in saying: AMERICA, THIS BILL IS RACIST, XENOPHOBIC, AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Late Night Thoughts

i've got rice

and it's not in my tummy
but its in this here paper box

i've got rice in my cupboard
why does that matter
well you've got people of color
hunger pains all over

the world's aching
and I can't hear their cries

over the sound of my rice...


i have no reason to cry
i'm fine

what was i thinking?
i'm fine
i'm eating my rice.

i'm no poet

But I got rice.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama, 'Black Man' With Authority

What do you think when you hear about the latest critique of Obama? From remarks about his "lack of experience," to his pastor's preachings, and now to his "bitter" remarks about xenophobic Americans, Obama's racialized identity is implicated in every remark made of him.

When we look at criticism of Obama, there is a lot going on there, but you just can't separate it from the fact that he is a man of color, and mixed at that.

David K. Shipler has written a very insightful piece in the Los Angeles Times, giving us context by which we can understand the deeper meaning of what's going on here. He writes,
Obama has made some real missteps, including his remark last week that "bitter" small-town Americans facing economic hardship and government indifference "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them." Perhaps he was being more sociological than political, and more sympathetic than condescending. But when his opponents branded him an elitist and an outsider, his race made it easier to drive a wedge between him and the white, rural voters he has courted. As an African American, he was supposedly looking down from a place he didn't belong and looking in from a distance he could not cross.

This could not happen as dramatically were it not for embedded racial attitudes. "Elitist" is another word for "arrogant," which is another word for "uppity," that old calumny applied to blacks who stood up for themselves.

At the bottom of the American psyche, race is still about power, and blacks who move up risk triggering discomfort among some whites. I've met black men who, when stopped by white cops at night, think the best protection is to act dumb and deferential.

Furthermore, casting Obama as "out of touch" plays harmoniously with the traditional notion of blacks as "others" at the edge of the mainstream, separate from the whole. Despite his ability to articulate the frustration and yearning of broad segments of Americans, his "otherness" has been highlighted effectively by right-wingers who harp on his Kenyan father and spread false rumors that he's a clandestine Muslim.

In a country so changed that a biracial man who is considered black has a shot at the presidency, the subterranean biases are much less discernible now than when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. They are subtle, unacknowledged and unacceptable in polite company. But they lurk below, lending resonance to the criticisms of Obama. Black professionals know the double standard. They are often labeled negatively for traits deemed positive in whites: A white is assertive, a black is aggressive; a white is resolute, a black is pushy; a white is candid, a black is abrasive; a white is independent, a black is not a team player. Prejudice is a shape shifter, adapting to acceptable forms.

So although Obama's brilliance defies the stubborn stereotype of African Americans as unintelligent, there is a companion to that image -- doubts about blacks' true capabilities -- that may heighten concerns about his inexperience. Through the racial lens, a defect can be enlarged into a disability. He is "not ready," a phrase employed often when blacks are up for promotion.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pointing Our Dirty Finger At China

The controversy about the 2008 Olympics in Beijing is deeper than it might appear on the surface. Westerners pointing to its human rights violations and other issues are doing more than just that--they are carrying a long-held note sung by our country for about half a century. Ever since China turned communist, there has been a bitter-sweet diplomatic history between it and the United States.

This Olympics controversy is throwing fuel into the flame of anti-Chinese sentiment. From the Los Angeles Times:

As the Olympic torch made its way through the streets of Paris, London and San Francisco, tens of thousands protested China's treatment of Tibet and the Dalai Lama.

But inside some Chinese American communities, notably the San Gabriel Valley, the view of Tibet and its spiritual leader is far more complex.

On Cat Chao's Mandarin-language talk show "Rush Hour" on KAZN-AM (1300), most callers haven't been debating whose side to take but why the Western media has been so biased against China in its reporting of the riots that rocked Tibet earlier this month.

"They're pretty angry," Chao said. "People usually trust Western media because they think it's balanced. Not anymore."

Others complained that the torch protests have gone beyond criticizing the Chinese communist government and have a decidedly anti-Chinese feeling.

Our country's people are voicing a lot of objections to China, especially now in light of the Olympics controversy. But we should keep in mind that as much as we try to disassociate ourselves from China through discussions of human rights abuses and environmental abuses, our country has been and currently is guilty of the same things.

I'm talking about our companies that set up sweatshops and/or factories in foreign countries--abusing local workers, their families, and their environments. Such as the Mexican maquiladora industry.

There is a lot going on with the Olympics controversy, we can't just try to target China because in doing so we are implicating ourselves. In other words, who are we to point the finger? It's not that no finger should ever be pointed, but come on, the United States?


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Let's Talk About White People

The other day I visited a beautiful city called Sausalito, north of the San Francisco bay. "Beautiful" is very loaded--the city was so clean, plump with flowers and shrubberies, and very white. I mean, there were shops with incredibly expensive yachting apparel, and more. But in pointing out its whiteness, I am not being hostile. I have every right to point it out, for I do the same thing when I observe black, Latino, Asian, and other racialized geographical areas.

Pointing out whiteness should not make white people uncomfortable. It should be blatant and funny, Kind of like it is in this article about San Francisco being a top white destination.

As odd as this may sound, it's refreshing to find out about a blog that highlights "Stuff White People Like." The blog brings white culture into shape and form. It latches onto whiteness and drags it down from its normative perch, so that we can pinpoint its traits and study it. It even provides information about how to deal with/talk to the stereotypical white people described in each of its entries.

This Time article by Jeninne Lee-St. John describes the blog a little further:

If you don't keep up with all the snarky, zeitgeisty corners of the Internet, Stuff White People Like is a pseudo-anthropological list mocking the habits, tastes and whims of people of non-color. (Entry #1: Coffee. "White people all need Starbucks, Second Cup or Coffee Bean. They are also fond of saying "you do NOT want to see me before I get my morning coffee.")

...I called Damali Ayo, a black social critic and artist who wrote the book How to Rent a Negro — a satire inspired by the same sentiments as another thing that white people like (#14), Having Black Friends. She thinks the blog, oddly, represents a form of social progress. "I'm really glad that white people are stepping up to critique white culture, because in general white people like to deny that there is such a thing as white culture," Ayo says. And she sort of made me feel better about being enmeshed in that culture. "Stuff white people like is what we all live and breathe everyday. Turn on the TV: it's all stuff white people like. I've been studying stuff white people like since I was four just so I could have a conversation."


Thursday, April 3, 2008

James Bond Filming Clashes With Chilean Community

Here's some weird news from Chile: during the filming of a scene in Chile for the upcoming James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, a local Chilean mayor angrily drove a vehicle into the set. Mayor Carlos López, of Baquedano, Chile, was protesting the filiming for its negative impact on the community.Tom Leonard from reports:

Mr Lopez was arrested and briefly detained for what police called "causing public disorder". It was claimed that he almost ran over two people at the town's railway station as he sped onto the set.

He had been protesting at what he called an excessive police presence in Baquedano and objecting to Chilean soil being used as a stand in for neighbouring Bolivia.

Baquedano lies in a mining region around the city of Antofagasta in the far north of the country. It was forcibly annexed by Chile from Bolivia in the late 19th century - an issue that continues to divide the two countries.

...Mr Lopez said yesterday: "For a town that has just 1,000 residents, sending in special forces and water cannon, preventing people from walking in the street, reminded me of the worst of the Pinochet years.

So what's the problem? This situation just comes off to me like another one of those big western capitalist F.U.'s to the other guys. Sure the filming was permitted and legal, but that doesn't rid it of all evil. I mean, all those foreign companies set up in Jamaica are there legally too...but their presence there has greatly harmed the national sovereignty of the country. When Jamaica finally gained its independence, like many other countries, it faced overwhelming debt. As a result, the country turned to international lending organizations for help. However, the loans came with conditions that forced Jamaica into submission under foreign companies. Ultimately, the country's own resources and monetary system were completely undermined by foreign imports, and the country ultimately fell at the mercy of foreign Western capitalist nations.

Specifically, I'm trying to get at the issue of Western capitalist interests overpowering the national sovereignty of other countries. I'm talking about a blatant disregard for the culture, history, and identities of the locals who become unavoidably involved in Western capitalist affairs in such countries. In the specifics of the James Bond incident, I'm trying to point out that the filming of this movie cannot simply take place without imposing on the relations of the Chilean and Bolivian people implicated by the filming controversy.

These kinds of filmings are not uncommon, but we have to realize that taking such projects into a foreign country does not have the same effect as filming on some Los Angeles high school campus for some Hollywood teen movie. There is a heavy racial, cultural, and international clash that takes place--which the general Western capitalist public takes for granted.