Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sex Traffic in the USA

Just found this at New America Media:

Black Teens Majority of Sex Traffic in the USA

A Question from and for Young Women of Color

"Is sex even fun?"

Getting real.

That's what I'm talking about.

My Current Bug with Feminism

I'm sick.

I have a bug.

I’ve been thinking about feminism. Probably too much. Couching. Ruminating.

About how I walk around and am either joyfully grateful that I have knocked screens with some of the most articulate, real, insightful, and inspiring WOC writers I have ever read OR I straggle around this planet, aching for more passion, community, and sisterhood. I WANT to be blown away by the world. I want to be surprised and shocked and shaken.

I sulk because I am not.

On someone’s blog a few weeks ago, a comment accused the blogger of being jealous of a famous feminist, a mainstreamer. I thought long and hard about that accusation; the accusation that a feminist would be jealous of another feminist because of her fame and power. Am I jealous? Even though the comment wasn't directed toward me, could I be? I forced myself to take a five minute look into my own eyes in the mirror. (Try it, you’ll be amazed by what you feel.)

Among many attributes, I am also jealous, whiny, short-sighted, impatient, and self-centered.

I’m completely jealous. I am. I am pissed and jealous that mainstream feminists are hooked to more resources and can attend conferences, meetings, and rallies that most of us can’t afford, whereas other WOC feminists have to campaign and find funds to get to grassroots organizational conferences. I like my nobody-ness, but I hate what that means in terms of being HEARD. I’m absolutely whiny about the state of indifference toward women in developing countries, forgetting that their SURVIVAL is in question and, yes, I find that a bit more imploring than Hillary vs. Obama. Short-sightedness feeds my inability to consider privileged liberal women who keep their organic ink pens flowing and ears closed. I’m totally self-centered. All I do is think about my fears and how I STILL cannot overcome the self-hate, euro-centric brainwashing of White society, how I still don’t know how to BE and receive the world with all its violent imperfections, flawed feminism, and phony leadership.

Today’s another pissed off, restless day.

I'm sick of this bug and I want to shake it off. Permanently.

Any suggestions? (Besides feminist anger management)

More of this Stuff

I have no idea what is up with me today. These are ridiculous, but addicting.

Random sets of 3’s:

3 things you WILL do in this lifetime:

1. Finish a book
2. Become a parent
3. Ride in a hot air balloon

3 songs with lyrics that have made you cry:

1. Christmas Shoes (SO stupid, but that children's choir in the background....)
2. You Were Mine by the Dixie Chicks
3. Separate Lives (love-sick 80s song...buckets of tears)

3 TV shows you enjoy watching (old or new):

1. My So-Called Life
2. Grey's Anatomy
3. Ugly Betty

Dreams you once upon a time had, but that haven’t come true and you’re okay with that:

1. Go to Fiji
2. Becoming an actress
3. Running a marathon

3 places you go/have been where you found a sense of peace:

1. Nicaragua
2. Ohio
3. Shoreline

3 minor regrets in life:

1. Cheerleading
2. Making out with **** in college
3. Quitting voice lessons

3 clichés or common phrases that you tend to believe are true:

1. God is everywhere.
2. All you need is love.
3. Good enough isn't.

One Word Answers

Cuz I don't have much to say today

Answer all questions using only 1 word


1. Where is your cell phone? here
2. Relationship? Beautifabulous
3. Your hair? black
4. Work? Tedious
5. Your sister? Cleveland
6. Your favorite thing? Writing
7. Your dream last night? Weird
8. Your favorite drink? Milk
9. Your dream car? Electric
10. The room you’re in? Office
11. Your shoes? Flip-flops
12. Your fears? unfulfillment
13. What do you want to be in 10 years? Laughing
14. Who did you hang out with this weekend? Adonis
15. What you’re not good at? dishes
16. Muffin? corn
17. One of your wish list items? laptop
18. Where you grew up? east
19. The last thing you did? kissed
20. What are you wearing? tank top
21. What aren’t you wearing? watch
22. Your pet. none
23. Your computer? fast
24. Your life? blessed
25. Your mood? restless
26. Missing? friends
27. What are you thinking about right now? blogging
28. Your car? RAV4
29. Your kitchen? Smile
30. Your summer? Moving
31. Your favorite colour? purple
32. When is the last time you laughed? yesterday
33. Last time you cried? Tuesday
34. School? masters
35. Tag? whoever

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Body Image, Beauty, and Bull

Thanks to BFP for bringing up this issue. As a Filipina, I gotta post this topic on my blog as well.

Are Eyelids the Number One Beauty Concern in the Asian-American Community?


AND THIS FOLLOWING POST RANKS IN THE TOP FIVE OF ALL TIME GREATEST POSTS EVERRRRRR ABOUT THIS SUBJECT:

Almond Eyes from Claire Light


I've commented on BFP's and Racialicious' site about this. The only times I've ever thought about my eyes was when I was made fun of for having "chinky" eyes. I would look hard in the mirror and compared them to my White friends. I was utterly confused because my eyes looked pretty much the same, I thought. I think it was the fact that I was Asian with straight black hair that gave me away. My eyes are lidded, brown, and wide open. I have no idea why some folks would insist I have a physical characteristic that I actually do not have.

Filipinos, in my humble opinion, are loud, brown, and love to party. Weight and body image are issues, especially because other Asian races are so damn small. Skin color is huge. I can be as fair as beige in December and in August be as dark as some African American friends. Some of the most racist comments toward Filipinos have been because of our brown skin, calling us the "Niggers of the Asian Race."

I love my skin. I love my skin.

I was in an elevator once when someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked, "How do you keep your tan so even all the time?"

I internally gawked at her, but just smiled and said, "Oh! I have a year round membership to Jamaica-Me Tan!" and walked out.

It's just me, that's who I am. Changing with the seasons. Really hairy. Short. Curvy. and Lovely.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rising Number of Murdered Women and Girls in Guatemala

The most chilling quote of this story is, "Women are being killed because they are women."

The Hyde Amendment

Why do reproductive rights look different for womyn of color?

I began asking this question a long time ago and I'm starting to understand the answers.

A resource. A heads up. Helpful reading.

Wherever you are on the spectrum of reproductive issues, this is something to be informed about.

The Failing State of Native American Women's Health

Learning.

It's a painful thing, isn't it?

The fact of the matter is that the debate around reproductive rights spans so widely and it rarely is told from the perspective of segregated, disenfranchised, disempowered, abused, ostracized, illiterate, poor, mentally or physically challenged, lesbians, or womyn of color. Beyond abortion, most US citizens still do not grasp the issues of reproductive justice. RR is beyond the white, middle class need for healthy and safe access to abortions.

Here is a glimpse of Charon Asetoyer, Founder and Executive Director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center. This interview is a glimpse into the disturbing comblexities lying beneath the proverbial "Choice vs. Life" debate.

Trafficking Across the Border Lines

According to the Center for Women Policy Studies, 640,000 women are trafficked in to the United States for forced labor and sexual exploitation.

Check out this great resource, your state's laws, and some reports that outline the atrocities that are inflicted upon millions of girls and women in this modern day slavery.

Hands


Picture taken by unknown photographer

A friend was recently married in India and the images of her wedding sent over email were just breathtaking. The traditions, rituals, and color of her celebration are so beautful, so unique from anything I've ever experienced.

This picture of Shoba's hands stunned me. I had to share it. Love, in any culture, between any two people, is art.

Stop REacting, and Just Start Acting

So you wanna do something. You wanna do something that helps this Movement. So many folks have been asking, "What can I do?"

Here's a start:
DONATE TO AN INTELLIGENT, INSIGHTFUL, ENERGIZED WOMYN BLOGGER OF COLOR WHO IS TRYING TO GET TO THE ALLIED MEDIA CONFERENCE!

BFP has organized a list of bloggers who need funding assistance to attend. The more WOC bloggers that can attend this conference which will be full of meeting, connecting, and raising collective feminist and social justice hell.

Wherever you are, if you close your eyes, you'll be able to hear the noise coming from Detroit.

Get these womyn to the conference. They are needed. Please.

Click on these blogs and sites and look to the top left or right for the icon.

Fabulosa Mujer
Hermana Resist (donations can be made through her pay pal email: csdistro@gmail.com)
Please Professor Black Woman
Black Amazon
The Primary Contradiction

And, BFP is heading to the US Social Forum and, any and all donations are helpful.

Using my f(p)eminist prophetic skills, I will anticipate some questions you might be asking:

Why should I donate?
Well, my friend, conferences are more than just conferences. Particularly ones with a grassroots focus, conferences are the fertile soil to plant ideas, exchange contacts, and share resources with those who have similar visions of equality, voice and restlessness. Sharing your resources is a way to be active and transporting some really great minds to this event.

Why do these bloggers need financial assistance?
Welcome to the world of progressive writers, thinkers, and activists who must travel and make sacrifices. Several of these wonderful people are parents, caretakers, students, and give their time and energy to projects and jobs that don't pay a whole lot. As much as we remain committed to activism, the role of monied funding cannot and will never be ignored. We can do this. We ALL can do this.

How do I know that the money will go toward this conference and not something else?
It might just be me, but I tend to trust individuals who spend their free time (when not studying, working, taking care of others, and educating) writing and raising awareness about issues concerning womyn, our planet, and the future. Call it a womyn's intuition, I trust these people, whom I have yet to look in the eye, with more than just my money. I trust their words and agenda.

Education, Immigration Issues

Out of School, Out of Luck: California's Immigrant Youth Face Uncertain Futures

Over a quarter of million immigrant youth are out of school. "Children are the future." If you believe this overused quote, which I personally do, what does this mean for our future, for their future? The cycle of poverty, racism, and unfulfilled potential of our young will surely continue.

It's Here! The Erase Racism Carnival!

The Angry Black Woman is hosting this carnival. Again, more power for your heart and stimulation for your brain. Get clicking.

It's Here! Carnival of Radical Action

To hear some of the most progressive and powerful voices on the internet, check out the Carnival of Radical Action posted here. I am simply in gratitude and amazement over the incredible voices and wisdom of so many. There are wonderful links to many fantastic women of color bloggers. Check it out!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Spiritual Inclusion

And because I am a trampoline-bouncing advocate for standing up to binary camps and labels, this specific call in the Reproductive Rights debate struck a chord with me. Though it doesn't address the issue in the usual angle I like (WOC being in the thrust of the issue), I do resonate with the need for spiritual inclusion.

Via Incite Magazine: Faithfully Pro-Choice?
Why the Reproductive Justice Movement Needs to Give Pro-Choice Religious and Spiritual Voices a Seat at the Table


In a world of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, it’s tempting for the progressive movement to write off religious people entirely. In this article, pro-choice activist and Christian minister Matthew Fox discusses the importance of including spiritual and religious voices in progressive movements in general, and in the movement for reproductive justice in particular.

By: Rev. Matthew Fox

Victories are Possible

Via Wiretap: Aaron Tang is the Co-Director of Our Education, a non-profit organization working to build a national youth movement for quality education.

Supreme court rules in favor of parents
In a rare, unanimous decision yesterday, the US Supreme Court ruled yesterday in favor of parents who wish to file lawsuits on behalf of their children for relief in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA).

The issue in question was whether parents could sue a school district that they felt was not providing the educational support required by IDEA, without the representation of an attorney. Most federal laws do allow individuals to represent themselves in court, but until now most federal courts have disallowed parents from representing their children under IDEA. The basis for this practice had been the position that IDEA only confers specific rights unto disabled children and not to their parents, and since children cannot represent themselves in any federal court, they must hire an attorney to do so. But all nine justices disagreed with this position on the basis that the parents do indeed have rights guaranteed in IDEA, with Justice Kennedy writing on behalf of the court, "The parents enjoy enforceable rights at the administrative stage, and it would be inconsistent with the statutory scheme to bar them from continuing to assert these rights in federal court. It is not a novel proposition to say that parents have a recognized legal interest in the education and upbringing of their child."

While the nine justices agreed on the rights of parents in this matter, there was some disagreement over the extent to which parents had the right to sue districts in accordance with IDEA. Though all nine found common ground on the parents' right to represent their children directly in cases seeking redress over procedural rights and to force a local district to pay for the costs of private tuition if the public school cannot provide appropriate education, two justices--Scalia and Thomas--dissented as to whether parents should be allowed to sue school districts without an attorney on cases challenging the basic question of whether their child's free, appropriate public education was "substantively inadequate."

The Court's decision is seen universally as a victory for special education advocates, particularly those parents who have disabled children but who are without the means to pay for attorneys and other advocates. In this case, the two parents in question, Jeff and Sandee Winkelman from Parma, OH, had already paid over $30,000 in legal fees without much success before seeking to represent their child directly. While there was some concern that allowing such parental representation would lead to more frivolous lawsuits and an increased burden on the courts, in the end it was found that equal access to the courts was more important.

It is an open question how much this decision will affect non-disabled children in the public education sphere. Because IDEA guarantees qualified children a free, appropriate public education, it actually secures for these children on a federal level something that other children do not possess - a substantive entitlement about the kind of educational opportunity the government must provide. Since there is no such federal right for non-disabled children, the question of whether their parents can sue without an attorney is moot. But there are state level constitutional claims which could be affected here, and I'd be eager to see whether more parents now decide to file lawsuits without attorneys challenging state governments for improved educational opportunities.

U. of Bogota, Colombia Studuents Protest



Via The Nation: Photo of the week | Students at the U. of Bogota, Colombia, protest the US and the paramilitary. Photo by Edwin Camilo Gomez Ceron.

White Authors, Ethnic Characters

Interesting read here about writing fiction, creating character, and ethnicity. As a writer, I appreciate the critical exploration.
Thanks to Racialicious.

Poor Migrant Workers At Risk

Asia's migrant workers need more state help to curb AIDS

Millions of migrant workers in Asia who lack sufficient access to health services are threatened be spread of AIDS, regional activists say.

"For a comprehensive approach to contain HIV/AIDS, the health of not only local populations but also migrant communities needs to be addressed," CARAM Asia, a Malaysian-based coalition of migrant and health groups from 15 countries, said in an open letter to Asian governments late Monday.

There are now about 53 million migrant workers in Asia who are vulnerable to HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, because of their relative lack of access to HIV-prevention programs, health counseling and medical tests, CARAM Asia said.

In many cases, migrants found to be HIV-positive are deported without any help or immediate treatment, it added. It did not give estimates of how many migrant workers in Asia are HIV-positive.

Many migrant workers come from poor areas in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They often find employment in more affluent Asian nations as housemaids and laborers in plantations, factories and construction sites.

According to recent U.N. statistics, about 8.6 million people in Asia are infected with HIV. About 500,000 people in the region die per year from AIDS and financial losses are estimated at US$10 billion (EUR7.5 billion) annually.

However, investment in HIV control in Asia remains extremely low at 10 percent of the required US$5 billion (EUR3.7 billion) per year, officials have said. The number of people in Asia infected with HIV could more than double to 20 million in the next five years without a better government response and more funding, they said.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Top Five Queer Asian-American Women in Entertainment and Media

This is great!
I JUST met Helen Zia.

I was at a conference. Being the baffoon that I am, I had not followed her or her writing. After her keynote, a writer who had gone from NO experience to establishing a critical voice in feminist journalism, I had to meet her.

She hugged me, looked at my name tag and repeated it slowly back to herself. She smiled and said, "I'll look for you."

More Immigration Issues

Hitting close to home, reminding us that immigration problems are not limited to the Latina/o, Mexico families and loved ones.

Thanks to Reappropriate for the heads up on this article.

BAY AREA
Asians frustrated, angry over immigration plan

Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer


Thursday, May 24, 2007
Mahesh Pasupuleti, a software engineer from India, stands... Francisco Villacrusis sits in his San Francisco apartment...

San Francisco resident Francisco Villacrusis and his wife petitioned 13 years ago for their grown children to join them from the Philippines and keep them company in their final years.

But if Congress passes immigration changes now being proposed, Villacrusis has little chance of realizing his dream because the immigration service canceled the paperwork when his wife died because she had filed it, and the changes would invalidate any new petitions for adult children or siblings filed after April 30, 2005.

"I'm lonely. It's very hard to live alone," said Villacrusis, a retired sales manager and a U.S. citizen since 1999. "I have prayed for this for a long, long time."

In the Bay Area, with a high concentration of Asians, who face some of the longest waits to immigrate, proposed changes to family-sponsored and job-specific green cards are angering Asian American community leaders. Immigrant advocates say the changes would undermine the family ties that bind most immigrant communities. They also would unfairly shut out the region's large population of highly skilled workers here on visas from building a permanent life in the United States.

"I feel frustrated, angry, deceived," said Mahesh Pasupuleti, a software engineer in Emeryville who came from India eight years ago on an H-1B visa and has applied, with his employer's sponsorship, for a green card. Under the changes, he wouldn't be able to stay longer than six years, even if he were in line to receive a green card.

"There are half a million people like me," said Pasupuleti, who is a member of Immigration Voice, a group that lobbies to ease the path to permanent residence for highly skilled temporary workers. "If anybody gets special treatment, it should be us, because we've been playing by the rules and contributing to this economy."

Much of the debate over the Senate bill has so far focused on legalizing an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants and creating a temporary program for low-skilled workers, elements that tend to affect immigrants from Mexico and other parts of Latin America, who make up about two-thirds of the nation's illegal immigrants.

Foreign-born Asians -- who make up 40 to 63 percent of immigrants in the Bay Area's five largest counties, compared to 27 percent of the nation's foreign-born population, according to 2005 census estimates -- are more likely than immigrants from Latin America to naturalize.

Immigrants from China, India and the Philippines in particular must wait longer than most other immigrants to bring in family members because their countrymen have tended to fill the annual immigration quotas for their countries more quickly than immigrants from other countries.

The current "family reunification" system -- the system that required Villacrusis' children to wait 15 years, but at least allowed him to apply for them to immigrate -- would be replaced by a point system. New weight would be given to a prospective immigrant's education, job skills, English ability and other measures, and the importance of kinship ties would decline dramatically.

"It's the only part of the bill that would affect U.S. citizens and the only part that's retroactive," said Joren Lyons, a staff attorney at San Francisco's Asian Law Caucus, who is assisting Villacrusis with his case.

Lyons and other leaders in the Bay Area Asian community spoke out Wednesday to denounce the scaling back of family-based immigration, which has been central to U.S. immigration law since 1965.

"The point system is discriminatory because it works against low-income, limited-English speakers," said Christina Wong, a staff member for Chinese for Affirmative Action, at a press conference in San Francisco. "We deserve a system that truly eliminates backlogs, that respects our communities and that looks at the contributions we've provided this country."

Other immigration analysts said it is time to eliminate the "chain migration" that arises when immigrants can sponsor their relatives. Instead, the United States should focus on attracting immigrants who can make the greatest contributions to the national interest.

"The rationale, and I think that was sound reasoning, was that (family-based immigration) didn't seem like a good idea economically," said Steve Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., which favors reducing immigration. "So many of these people are unskilled, they create a fiscal problem and seemed to be overburdening the bureaucracy."

Hans Johnson, a demographer at the Public Policy Institute of California, said many immigrants who come on family reunification visas actually are highly skilled. But he said the point system could bring a different flow of well-educated immigrants to the Bay Area.

"This proposal would favor people with high skills but not necessarily those with family here," he said. "It could lead to more migration from Asia, but not necessarily family members of people who are already here."

Nam Vo, a 25-year-old immigrant from Vietnam sponsored by his mother, was sworn in as a U.S. citizen Wednesday in San Jose. An electrical engineer and a graduate of UC Berkeley, Vo said the current immigration system allowed his family members to reunite and put their talents to work in their adopted country.

"I think it's terrible," Vo said, of the proposal to eliminate some family preference visas. "I feel bad for all the families whose brothers and sisters could not come. If they cannot come here, they lose their parents."
KEY PROVISIONS OF
PROPOSED CHANGES:

Illegal immigrants: Anyone in the country illegally before January could receive probationary legal status, a four-year "Z visa," renewable once, if they come forward immediately. To adjust their status to lawful permanent residence, they must also pay $5,000 in fees, and the head of each household must temporarily return to the home country.

Green cards: None would be processed for Z visa holders until border security and workplace enforcement goals have been met and an existing backlog of green card applications is cleared (an estimated eight-year process).

Point system: 380,000 immigrant visas would be awarded annually (with 50 percent of weight for employment criteria, 25 percent for education, 15 percent for English proficiency, 10 percent for family ties). This system would replace 226,000 family-preference green cards, 140,000 employer-sponsored green cards and 50,000 other green cards currently awarded annually.

Family ties: Spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents would continue to be eligible for green cards, but adult children and siblings would not. Visas for parents of U.S. citizens would be capped at 40,000 annually and those for spouses and children at 87,000 a year.

Source: Associated Press; Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (Senate Bill 1348); U.S. State Department.
BAY AREA IMMIGRANTS,
2005

-- Alameda County: 30 percent foreign-born (including 30 percent Latin American, 57 percent Asian)

-- Contra Costa County: 23 percent foreign-born (43 percent Latin American, 40 percent Asian)

-- San Francisco: 36 percent foreign-born (20 percent Latin American, 63 percent Asian)

-- San Mateo County: 35 percent foreign-born (34 percent Latin American, 49 percent Asian)

-- Santa Clara County: 36 percent foreign-born (28 percent Latin American, 60 percent Asian)

-- United States: 12 percent foreign-born (53 percent Latin American, 27 percent Asian)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2005 (available only for geographies with more than 1 million residents).

E-mail Tyche Hendricks at thendricks@sfchronicle.com.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/24/BAGI7Q0MVO1.DTL

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

A Book is Never Just a Book: Thoughts on Full, Frontal Feminism

Ignoring the differences of race between women and the implications of those differences presents the most serious threat to the mobilization of women’s joint power.
–Audre Lorde

Oh, dear.

Starting off with a quote from the overquoted Audre Lorde could backfire. I could be immediately disregarded as cliché, academic, or at best, trite.

I’ll risk it.

Lorde’s quote is the simple backbone to much of the flesh-cutting diatribe going on in the feminist blogosphere lately. The skin of it is Valenti’s book, Full Frontal Feminism, and in some arguments, Valenti herself. The jugular of the problem though, is feminism, inclusion, and the politics of difference.

I have read Valenti’s book and I’ve read the reviews. There are two things that FFF and certain reviews have in common: 1) there are some good points points 2)I am completely turned off by the tone and style of the writer

FFF is written from a mainstream feminist to young women about feminism. There. Simple enough. Well, it might be simple, but that is quite loaded. The problem can begin with the front cover. You don’t need to be a genius to know that putting a naked white hip and calling it Full Frontal Feminism is not going to attract some negative opinion.

The problem with the cover and the book is that it says it targets young women (“young,” I assume is late teen/very early 20s) and I found, frankly, it did little to address young women of color. “Even now, issues of race and class come up in feminism pretty often,” (10). Well, I just laughed out loud when I read that because race and class don’t just come up for women of color “pretty often,” it is their lived experience as human beings. Valenti breezes over this and even uses the Lorde quote when she talks about intersectionality.

Those aren’t just road blocks, they are serious, structural problems within the Movement, Feminism, Women's Centers, academic programs, the workplace, on the street, in the media...you get the point. Valenti mentions this from time to time, referencing Sojourner Truth’s, “Ain’t I a Woman?” and mentioning racism exists throughout the waves. No elaboration, just dropping some pebbles. Some of the heavy duty issues like sexual assault, poverty, public policy, motherhood that Valenti brings up are never broken down to illustrate how women of color experience them differently. It's brought up and told from a White perspective. "That's not her fault!" cry the FFF fans. It's not her "fault" but it certainly doesn't apply to young WOC does it? Or it doesn't acknowledge the different experience they may have with those issues. I think that’s pretty significant to know when trying to sell feminism to young women, especially, those of color.

Is it Valenti’s responsibility to go head first into this issue? I believe yes. The book is CALLED full, frontal feminism, so yes! What other place to discuss the pressing, urgent, undeniable exclusion of *other* women? Probably because it’s too serious. And heavy. Oh, everyone hates that combo. Such a drag.

Is Valenti responsible for speaking for others or women of color? Certainly not. I’m not looking for Valenti to pretend she has answers or have any other skin tone or background than what she has. I am, however, looking for leaders to step up and shake the racist tree of the Movement. Other issues are clearly detailed with personal accounts and stories to illustrate. Why not for issues of difference? Why not model to younger feminists how she experienced the Third Wave’s struggle in terms of racism? For anyone, Valenti or whomever, to leave it untouched or is like that old excuse White women professors used to give for not using WOC literature in Women’s Studies’ courses: they couldn’t teach it because they themselves are not people of color. (But, as Lorde points out, there are no problems teaching Shakespeare and other great works of men) Ok, so that translates into “progressive” or liberal feminists refusing to tackle issues of racist oppression because they’re White. Leave that for the colored women. Right.

Roaring reviews about disappointment came out followed by catty, non-linked accusations of the she said/she said, No I didn’t/Yes You did variety ensued. Some of the most disturbing trends were young women WOC who blogged their opinion about the book and getting whacked by a freight train of Valenti supporters and FFF Mean Girls.

Audre Lorde once wrote a letter to Mary Daly, a radical feminist theologian, about a book Daly had published. After Daly did not respond to her, Lorde opened it up publicly for discussion. Read, “An Open Letter to Mary Daly,” for details. What Lorde first privately and then publicly raises, is why in Gyn/Ecology does Daly not sufficiently explore African examples of goddesses? Why are all the images white and judeo-christian? Lorde tells herself that Daly probably narrowed her focus to deal solely with western European women. But, Daly does eventually expand in her book, poorly. And that is where Lorde takes off. She realizes that Daly interjects sporadic quotes and information to back up her assertions, but never fully recognizes or acknowledges the contributions of Black women and other women of color. She uses particles of the women of color experience to add a be-dazzler effect on her lens, but she never integrates them into her work.

These observances, publishings, and exchanges took place before I was born. And I unabashedly use the following to illustrate what is still occurring in the feminist literature canon and the blogosphere today:

What you excluded…dismissed my heritage and the heritage of all other noneuropean women, and denied the real connections that exist between all of us. It is obvious that you have done a tremendous amount of work for this book. But simply because so little material on non-white female power and symbol exists in white women’s words from a radical feminist perspective, to exclude this aspect of connection from even comment in your work is to deny the foundation of noneuropean female strength and power that nurtures each of our visions. It is to make a point by choice.

Note: is Lorde getting personal and name calling and labeling Daly a racist? No, she does something better: she gets critical with her WORK. She validates her engagment with a piece of literature by offering to the author and the world her experience. Lorde is a master of eloquent indignation. This is not about formality or jargon or the academic vibe. This is an example of a powerful woman using her voice to articulate her experience of racism by literary exclusion. Now, THAT is a feminist dialogue.

My personal reaction to the book deals with its content, marketing, and style; not with the author as a person. I found it light, at best, and skimming the feminist ocean of depth. I’m sure someone right now is saying, “But it’s not meant to be the academic, dry, serious crap. That’s what makes it so good!” Well, I happen to agree that it’s not meant to be those things, but delving deep into the consciousness of the Women’s Movement and explaining it to young women is hardly limited to theory, the academic and serious spheres. One can profoundly and radically explore with young women without being boring. On the contrary, the most fascinating and exciting feminist lessons are the ones that dig deep. It’s more than just trendy, it’s resonating.

I can see now that I am definitely not the target audience. That’s not a source of contention. I was misled, just like several other books I picked up and found, after the first chapter it was not written for me. What I have a problem with is what the book stands for and what it symbolizes. The book has a big feminist hat that says TOUR GUIDE and then frolics with young white women and splashes around in the shallow end of the ocean.

Valenti often utilizes the phrase, “in my opinion,” or a variation of that. Right on. The entire book is her opinion. The facts and figures, all current and legit, are funneled through yet another set of well-meaning eyes. The frequent focus on the “ugly” fear, appearance-oriented explanations, and rocking sex freedom tips is not full, frontal feminism. It’s Part of the Surface Feminism. Once again, race, class, and “intersectionality” is the the beloved frosting. It (frosting) is definitely a must-have, but too much of it ruins the enjoyment of the actual cake.

I am rather mystified that when a White woman claims a book she has written is not an end all, be all text and then the criticism confirms the claim, why a legion of defenders comes with swords. The book is being held at both extremes. It’s been called trash – which it’s not. It’s also been the called the greatest thing ever since sliced bread – which it’s not. It speaks from and to the naked White hip cover fans. There’s no crime there. There’s just no depth there either. And as she is entitled to write what she likes, so are reviewers! In the face of critical and substantial rhetoric, you gotta grow thick skin. Yup. Ya deal. And you fight back. You just don’t fight back by pandering to the lowest common denominator and silencing others because W-W-Wahhhh, some women don’t like my shero’s book. Hello – grow a vagina and check yourself.

If we’re going to make some – ANY – progress whatsoever, we must be doing better than this. “This” being: putting out feminist literature that implies a select audience within its target audience and then exploding over negative evaluations. In a nutshell, this book is for: somewhat confident white young women, mild to intensely curious about the Movement and can stand a lot of sexually explicit language, and who want a quick bumper sticker 411 about issues of difference among women.

FFF is not for anyone seriously struggling with their identity, or any form of religious, sexual, and political binaries. This is not for anyone who is Republican or even mildly conservative (given the I Don’t Fuck Republicans shirt references). It’s far left and contributes to the division between camps (given the “feminism isn’t for everybody” explanation). Any young women of color, anyone with ties and concerns with other countries outside the USA, especially developing nations, or if you have already experienced some form of discrimination and are looking for answers won't find much haven here. Immigration, adoption, religion, family, mental illness, physical challenges, the deaf community…Leave these topical expectations at the door.

Valenti wrote a “love letter to feminism,” and just like love, we all have our own valid experiences and perspectives. But if this is the guiding love letter for young, marginalized women of difference about being in a feminist relationship, I’d probably advise to stay single and look elsewhere for companionship, in my opinion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Living in the Margins

A gigantic resource was just published. Check it out, distribute widely, but most especially: READ IT.

Living in the margins: A national survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Asian and Pacific Islander Americans

Here are some key finders...Some teasers to get you to read it in its entirety:
* Nearly every respondent (98 percent) had experienced at least one form of discrimination and/or harassment in their lives.
* Nearly all respondents (89 percent) agreed that homophobia and/or transphobia are problems within the broader API community.
* 78 percent of respondents agreed that API LGBT people experience racism within the predominantly white LGBT community.
* Only 50 percent of respondents said that English was their native language. Yet nearly all LGBT informational and advocacy materials are produced in English.

I SERIOUSLY Welcome You to the Feminist Blogosphere

It's funny. It really is, this whole feminist blogosphere.

Almost two months ago, I expressed some serious whore-er (get it? Play on words? Horror?) over the cover of Full Frontal Feminism (FFF) and predicted severe disagreement from other WOC. And now, months later, I now sit, having read the freaking thing, and what do I see?: sisters of color bloggers getting attacked and the feminist blogosphere's blowing up.

Maybe I should go into feminist prophesy. There's some bank to be made there.

Alright, all joking aside there is an unbelievable amount of bullshit going on about the reactions, reviews, and the jaws of life biting going on between blogs. Those unfamiliar with the blogosphere may wonder how wounds can cut so deep. Well, my friends, it's called Humanity.

If you can connect the dots between blogs, go to it.

Here are the crumbs that I can gather:
FFF is written.
FFF is reviewed.
Writers/Feminist of Color are among reviewers.
W/FOC are attacked.

Mhm.

A book about drawing out the young feminists draws out opinion, disagreeing opinion, and the insidious "commenters" who cannot stand authentic feminist opinions from women of color go to TOWN.

I could post a reflection about either the book or what has transpired, but there is way too much wisdom being written on other blogs right now to spend writing. I want to soak up their pearls before I spew my own spin on these occurences.

There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING surprising, respectful, true, or inspiring in the ugly racism and comments hurled at women of color who have dissenting opinion. How many more times do we need to go review this lesson?

Before any feminist agenda can move forward, WOMEN OF COLOR MUST BE BELIEVED.

And I think I'll use some of my prophetic skills right now. let me peek into my feminist crystal ball:

mhmmm, it's kind of foggy...I see something, but can't make out what exactly what - WAIT! I SEE SOMETHING! It's...

a future post that slam dunks this shit.

Activism and Organization

I have more thoughts about activism in my car than I do in my job, the supposed locus of academic freedom and liberal activity.

For the past three years, I commute to work and every day I pass two terrifyingly unorganized intersections of traffic. In my three years, I have witnessed probably 6-8 horrific accidents. Two of them, I guessed from brief glances, had to be fatal. The cars were smashed by with what looked like Godzillas’ fists.

A year and a half into this crazy commute, I began called the Department of Transportation in my district, always being transferred to someone else once I identified as, “a concerned citizen wanting to know the process and chain of communication to put a stoplight in a dangerously unguarded intersection.” When I finally spoke with a bored voice, our conversation when something like this:

“All I want to know is who I can write a letter to or call about this. I have a legitimate concern!”

“Unless you want to privately fund a new traffic light, there is no one to speak with.”

“There’s no one? Am I hearing you correctly? As a tax paying citizen wanting to ask a simple question, you are saying that there is no one I can speak with about a public intersection where I believe I have seen an obscene number of traffic deaths? There’s no one who I can address a letter to voice my opinion?”

“No, there isn’t.”

I hung up and screamed BULLSHIT.

That was just for traffic safety.

One of the problem with everyday activism for everyday citizens like myself is that I don’t sit on big budget boards, I’m not a consultant on a council, I don’t make a lot of money, and I sure as hell don’t know the “right” people. All I am and all that I WANT to be is a passionate writer and cultural critic. That doesn't exactly fly with most people. I can’t sit through any more books that tell me how to carry on the fight or different ways I can write an op-ed piece in the newspaper. When I hear about my friend's punctured car tires who works at Planned Parenthood or when a pro-life identitified activist gets spit on during a march in D.C. by a bystander, I can't help but wonder, "Is this the best we can do?"

An activist exists to improve a situation, a cause. An activist witnesses a need for improvement and attempts to find outlets to actualize this vision. Sometimes it’s an environmental issue (ending global warming), sometimes it’s a community vision (electing a local official). Regardless, the psychology and emotional tolerance of an activist is normally overlooked. It is overlooked because a true activist is so rare these days. A true activist is someone, in my opinion, who is simply and truly alive. An “Active” person who feels things, deeply, so deeply she feels compelled to use physical, emotional, and psychological strength to overturn a law, protest a decision, empower the survivor, or influence the voter.

What's odd is that an Active person is often looked at as superhuman. Because she does something that most people wouldn’t normally consider (being “active”), this role shadows the reality that, in fact, activists are really examples of what we all are born to do: be active, react, and feel. The role “activist” creates an air that makes the reality of tiredness, vulnerability, and agitation difficult to see. The very thing that motivates the activist is also the very thing that gets winded, sometimes permanently. We think that just because someone already as the nerve and agenda to be active, they must have emotional cores of steel. Sometimes yes, but not for eternity. Activists are made of bone and skin,too. Our hearts gradually age with the best of them.

We’re open to criticism and accusations of short-sightedness, idiocracy, falsehood, and malicious, thoughtless agendas. Activism is simply draining because too few people will do it, whether out of fear or laziness, who knows? On one hand, Activists are feared but also, paradoxically, they are put on a pedestal because they dare and risk what most will not. They feel what most don’t care to understand beyond the media’s explanation. In a way, the existence of the activist is needed to balance the homogeneity of the majority. As long as there are a few that disagree, let them! And, darn it, don't we just love that they have the freedom to engage in acts of civil disobedienc so we can go along with our merry ways because someone ELSE is doing the feeling, the work, the shit that no one wants to do? Activists don’t just improve the situation for the better, they make apathetic people feel better about their own complacency. As long as someone else is doing it, I don’t have to. Fine job they do, those activists. They speak for me. I don’t know how to hold a picket sign. I can’t write like that. What if everyone looks at me that way, too?

Activists will never be satiated. They do not dream of perfection, they’re not that naïve, but they do dream of peace. They dream of actuality, and palpable justice. The only problem, “activists” are grouped as a minority group. Should I remind what happens to vociferous minority groups who challenge the system?

It is time to dispel myths of activism so we ALL can actively live:

Activism is for "liberal" people.
Only non-profit folks and grassroots tree huggers are cut out for that work.
You have to know about everything about anything before you can articulate an "anti-" or "pro-" opinion.
Attending protests sits at the top of the activist's priority list.
College educated citizens/students are the best organizers.
D.C., NYC, and coastal cities are the only places to be heard.
Complete allegiance to one of the binay perspectives of an issue is needed.


You can give seven big fat ass NOs to those statements. Most people tend to believe stereotypes about activism and activists to excuse themselves from the scene. Sorry to burst your bubble, but "the scene" is life. So unless you find the planet an unsuitable place, I'm afraid to tell you that there are no exit doors. We're all here, together. And with a lucid brain and heart, there is much to be done, and much can be accomplished.

The word liberal is no longer a word. It is a label. My mother and father are Bush dynasty fanatics. They called me the day of the 2004 Presidential election from their community Republican offices, asking me who I voted for. Now, my parents know full well I voted for John Kerry, but they wanted to engage me, once again, as to WHY I would not vote for Bush. While the memory of that phone call makes me throw up a little in my mouth, the point is that my parents were active. Granted, they were for the other side and helped elect a baffoon to lead our nation, but their own action, their movement, their passion in what they believed was best for our country was undeniably clear. I cannot be acidic with my Republican family. I'm tired of drawing lines between myself and those who I truly do love. It can be infuritating and it has probably taken at least 4 years off my life, but I understand where they are coming from. My parents are activists, we're just not on the same side.

But,

come time to discuss the nitty gritty details of legislature, the toll of the Iraqi war, and the role of the United Nations, and my mother's head will tilt as she listens to me, ask questions, and then say she'll go back to her prayer group and ask what they think. She'll call and say that many of her church peeps agree with me, but they still choose to vote the other way.

They still choose to vote the other way.

There is something very exciting about respectful, energetic disagreements. Something about it does give me hope. Going head to head with other activists in my own living room is more daunting and empowering for me than dancing in the streets outside Fort Bragg in Georgia when I protested the School of the Americas with thousands of people surrounding me. They are both large scale, just in different ways.

Activists must be translators. They must be adaptable to different populations, tongues, and reasons. It's not a small order. Very few people I know are well-versed and fluid in connecting the local and global communities with hard-pressed issues. They possess an ability to admonish the simplicity in the complex situations, but also simplify the complex. Again, these aren't the most sophisticated folks or those with an entourage of letters after their name. They are the ones who took the energy to best understand a situation and then apply it to daily life.

My dentity as an Activist has evolved over the past ten years. It's gone through many phases and permanently resides in my everyday encounters. I take the time to learn and react. I train myself to be patient. My activism roars when it needs to but also understands the dynamics of planetary change. I can appreciate a thoughtful activist across the line and that appreciation neither neutrilizes or furthers my devotion to change; only visions of justice and equality can do that.

I was happy when a new traffic light was installed in one of the two dangerous intersections that I raised hell over. Does that make a dent in vast cave of social and political issues of life? Or will that affect the "real" issues that I regularly take up - women of color feminism, racism in higher education, poverty in developing nations, sexuality and religion? It most certainly does not. Will it save a life or two this year? Perhaps.

That possibility alone makes it all worth it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This is What is Happening

This is happening. Right now. The violence against immigration is escalating.
via bfp
Here is a first-hand account of the police response to the peaceful
demonstration on May 1 in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. It is written by
Jennifer Snow. She is Associate Director of Progressive Christians Uniting,

a very effective ecumenical social justice consortium on whose Board I have
been for 10 years. She has a PhD in Religious Studies, is in her late 20s
and describes herself as five feet tall and completely unarmed. Read it and
weep.



May 1: Violence in MacArthur Park


This is what happened.

The march ended at Wilshire and Alvarado, and the last organization
in the march was a Native American drumming and dancing troupe. They stopped in
the street to dance, and a huge circle, mostly of families with small children,
gathered around them to watch, cheer, and clap. It was peaceful and jubilant, a
celebration, not a protest. The police were there, but no one was
paying any attention to them. Suddenly there were sirens, very loud and close.
Police motorcycles drove into the crowd around the dancers. There was no
announcement - or if there was, no one could hear it over the sirens.

Imagine the deafening noise of many sirens only a few feet from you,
the motorcycle driving towards you, pushing you forward. Imagine the panic of
women with small children in strollers. People tried to get away from the
motorcycles, but the police would not allow you to walk through them. When
I tried, I was pushed roughly back in front of the motorcycles. I saw three
middle school girls standing hugging each other in front of a motorcycle,
the wheel pushing against their feet and legs, the sirens blasting in their
ears, the policeman screaming at them. I saw people being pushed off their
feet.

When I saw the police start striking someone, I ran over to try to
put myself between them. I saw people dragging their friends away from the
police. Eventually they pushed us back onto the sidewalk. No one knew why
they were doing this or what was happening. A line of police in riot gear
faced us as we crowded on the sidewalk, bewildered and bruised and angry.
We hadn’t been doing anything wrong. They hadn’t asked us to move, or tried
to communicate with us in any way other than violence. The noise was
deafening, terrifying, disorienting. Teenagers with piercings yelled at the
police. I pointed at the ground, trying to tell the police, look, I’m on
the sidewalk. The police yelled at us. You had to yell to be heard. But
the tension faded.

The National Lawyers Guild passed the word along that as
long as we stayed on the sidewalk, there would be no problems. Most of the
teenagers had calmed down. There was nothing to see - just the people lined
up on the sidewalk, the police in the street. People
were a little bewildered. Why were the police here? What were they doing? Why
were there so many of them? Why did they have guns and canisters? But no one
was doing anything. We just stood there, talking, laughing, drinking water,
eating corn, taking pictures. We wondered what on earth there were so many
police for. And then suddenly the kids - the same teenagers that had been
yelling at the police - ran along the sidewalk, yelling get back, get back,
they’ve declared unlawful assembly, they’re going to arrest everyone. We
heard shots. Within the park, from the corner of Alvarado and 7th, I saw

people running. I ran towards them. I wanted to make sure that people were
not responding violently to the police, that no one was being hurt. No one
was violent, but people were indeed being hurt.

Keep in mind that there had been no announcement - or at least, no
effective announcement. I had been in the front the
entire time, less than two feet from the police. Surely I would have heard an
announcement if there was one. The only announcement had been rumor. Later on, I
would hear a completely unintelligible announcement from a helicopter. I could
tell that it was in English. Even if I had been able to understand it, many in
the crowd would not have.

There were no requests to disperse. There was no warning to the crowd.

There was no explanation. There was no effort to communicate.

The police entered the park shooting gas or smoke canisters. People
panicked,running in all directions. I saw a couple, bewildered, start walking in
the wrong direction. I held up my hands and said to the police, I’m going to get
those people, I am going to help those people there, and went down to them,
guiding them in front of the line and towards the exit. They didn’t speak
much English. I continued to walk slowly in front of the police.
Suddenly I saw a homeless man, sleeping under a tree. The police line \
approached, screaming at him. He woke up, confused. Someone with a camera tried
to help him, but was beaten off. He tottered to his feet, trying to grab his
suitcase and blanket. The police screamed at him. He held out his hands to
them. Perhaps that seemed threatening. I saw two policemen start hitting
him with their batons, one to his legs, one to his chest. I started back
towards him, thinking I could put myself between him and the police, but
that’s all I saw, because then the police had me. I was thrown to the
ground. A policeman screamed move! move!, pushing me and hitting me with
the baton. Every time I tried to stand, I fell back down - he was dragging
me, I couldn’t get to my feet. A girl, one of the teenagers, came over,
tried to help me up, and the policeman started hitting her with the baton as
well.

Even with everything I had
seen, something in me instinctively
turned to the police to help. Surely they would stop those people from beating
the homeless man. I kept saying to the policeman dragging me, look, they’re
beating that man, reaching back towards him. The last I saw of the homeless
man, they were putting plastic handcuffs on him. I later heard that one
“demonstrator” was arrested. Maybe that was him. When I got to my feet, I
continued to walk slowly in front of the police, my hands raised, very
slowly. They were shooting on my left side. There seemed no point in
trying to get out from in front of them, or running. I felt sure that my
only safety was to be slow, calm, and clearly unarmed. I walked slowly
across Wilshire in front of the police line, hands up. We came to the
corner of Wilshire and Alvarado, where Wilshire runs through the park.

We approached a hot dog vendor and his wife and daughters, sitting
behind their carts on the low stone wall. The vendor had the hopeful, friendly
smile of someone who has no idea what is going on. He had brought his family to
keep him company while he sold hot dogs. I tried to get his daughters to move,
but it wasn’t fast enough. The police were on us. One of them grabbed the
vendor by his t-shirt and screamed “Move! Move!” while striking him the
chest with his baton over and over again. The policeman was standing
between the vendor and any hope of his moving - the vendor was trapped
between the cart, the wall, his family, and the policeman. I stood with his
daughters, my arm around one of them, all of us frozen. Eventually the
policeman must have realized that the man was not able to move, and he left.

The vendor was still smiling, as though to say, I mean no trouble, do not
hurt me, I’m just a hot dog vendor. We were all in shock. The police were
still coming, still screaming. I helped the family move their
carts across the street, and they started walking up Wilshire, away from that corner.

I could see, though, that the police had already strung a line
across Wilshire. Although they were screaming to people to get out, they were

beginning to block all the exits. By now the helicopter was hovering. It
was complete pandemonium. There was a deafening message from the
helicopter, but no one could understand it. Someone was trying to speak

from the rally stage. People were crowding around the news vans, as though
they would be safe there. The police were entering the park, shooting.
Women ran with their strollers and their babies and their children, trying

to get away. Men sat on picnic tables or wandered in groups, not knowing
where it was safe to go. I ran out at the corner of 6th and Alvarado. The
police were starting to block the corner, yelling at people who ran towards
them. I ran, a woman running beside me with
her three children, running
away from the police. In the parking lot of a store on Maryland and
Alvarado, I passed a young woman cradling an infant wrapped in a blanket,
sitting on the curb, dazed, hiding behind a van. Are you OK? I asked.
Yes, she said, and we nodded at each other, and I kept walking.

My courage was gone. I was glad to get out. I was glad to get out
because I had no doubt that, if the police had had real bullets instead of
rubber ones, they would have used them. For no reason at all. As we were walking
earlier in the march, my friend said, “This is why I am proud to be an
American.” We

saw peaceful people, laughing, singing, dancing, holding banners. We were
protesting, but we were also celebrating. We were celebrating our
constitutional right to come together in popular assembly, to make our needs

and concerns known to our government. I was surrounded by people who
believe in America, in being
here, in becoming citizens. What prouder thing
can you say of your country that people the world over want to be one of us,
to join our community, to have the rights and privileges and safety and
trust in our institutions that we do? This is what democracy is.

As I walked in front of the police line, my hands held up, I thought
about being an American, about being free. I am five feet tall. I was completely
unarmed. I had made no hostile move towards anyone. I could have been shot
at any time. It was unreal. It was not America, and yet it was.

The hot dog vendor smiled at the police, hopeful, friendly. This is
what happened.

Jennifer Snow
Associate Director, Progressive Christians Uniting
Please distribute widely…

Return to the Park:
Community Mobilizes for Thursday, May 17th March to MacArthur Park

PROCESSION AND VIGIL

FOR JUSTICE, CIVIL RIGHTS, LIBERTY,
AND IMMIGRATION REFORM

WHEN: Thursday, May 17th

5:00pm

WHERE: Starting at Immanuel Presbyterian Church
3300 Wilshire Blvd (corner of Berendo)
Ending at MacArthur Park

For more information, please contact:
(213) 353.3921 (Spanish/English)
(213) 385.7800 x131 (Spanish/English)
(213) 738.9050 (Korean/English)

SPONSORED by CARECEN, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of

Los Angeles (CHIRLA), COFEM, Garment Worker Center (GWC), Instituto

Popular de Educacion del sur de California (IDEPSCA), Koreatown
Immigrant Worker Association (KIWA), Los Angeles Archdiocese Social
Justice Committee, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Multi-
ethnic Immigrant Worker Organizing Network (MIWON), Pilipino Worker

Center (PWC), SEIU 1877, and the We Are America Coalition.

Suicide Among Asian American Women

CNN had a front page article the other day about Asian American women and suicide.

Among all women in this age bracket (18-24), AA women had the highest suicide rate. While some readers may flutter in surprise, my eyebrows remained stagnant. No surprises found.

Monday, May 21, 2007

No Manipulation

I take artistic breathers to give oxygen to my activism because I get so damn angry. To avoid burnout, I often turn to my photography or painting for release. As a women of color obsessed with color, here's my latest project.

If you wait long enough, a photographer once wrote, you will see brilliant colors everywhere. You just have to wait.

As a budding photographer, I debate the consequences of retouched images. There are times when the tools are useful to adjust the lighting or shadows. But the main obstacle I cannot hurdle is whether my images are, then, truthful, if I manipulate the image so it looks more dramatic or I fuzz something out so another angle looks sharper.

Over the past two weeks, I have brought Baby with me to numerous places and began shooting color, just color. A wedding, an independant coffee shop, downtown, a butterfly show, a Sunday afternoon in the park. Like the wise photographer said, as long as you wait, the color will come. The natural astonishment, natural lighting, natural majesty of nature, people, and the collision of the two worlds will surface.

What I found is that regular life is pretty spectacular. A broken wing, a blue alley wall, hands, girl dress straps, a hanging sash, a red purse, and stained glass windows are just a handful of the jewels I found on my escapade. No adjustments, no tools, no fix-ups. All these poetic encounters brought me to one joyful truth that I'd like to shout from the rooftops: the world is disarmingly beautiful, just as it is.

 

 

 

 
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Let Me Dismiss the Stereotype


Interesting image on Postsecret this week, where this postcard originates.
I'll be honest, I never really understood the whole Asian exotic thing. It wasn't until I began performing mental biopsies on stereotypes did I begin to understand that Asian women are stereotyped as sexual toys, to be dominated, played with, and understood in those contexts.

What could be understood as a trivial stereotype fuels much of the oppression of women and young girls in this world.

The power of stereotype is frightening. I understand it now, in the context of human sex slave trafficking, mail brides, prostitution, and pornography. Asian women, combined with the assumed docile and quiet chacteristic, are viewed as ultimate sexual enjoyment: do whatever you want and they'll never say a word.

I have two words for whomever this postcard was intended: WAKE UP.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Trans/Gender Focus

An interesting focus on gender and transgender issues in Newsweek.

Fashion "Sense"



Thanks to enough people who created enough uproar, this image was pulled from Dolce and Gabbana who did not think it would be viewed as promoting violence against women.

Notice the BYSTANDER issues here? The objectification? Fantasy rape? The CLEAR as day problems with these images? Sometimes I must remember that the fashion industry is run by humans who, oftentimes, are idiots.

What I'm Reading

To answer some questions, here is what I've been multi-reading:

For Inspiration
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Wounds of Passion by bell hooks
Colonize This! edited by Daisy Hernandez

For Debate Purposes
Full, Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti
Manifesta by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards

On Deck
Essential Neruda edited by Mark Eisner

Another Reason to Hate Bank of America

SERIOUSLY, is anyone surprised that this happens?

Bank of America sued for race discrimination


By Jonathan Stempe

Five black current and former employees of Bank of America Corp. have sued the second-largest U.S. bank, accusing it of racial discrimination by steering lucrative clients to their white counterparts.

The 29-page complaint, filed Thursday with the U.S. District Court in Boston, contends that the bank discriminates against African-Americans in pay, promotions, training and support services.

It said the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank regularly teams African-American workers together and assigns them to largely minority neighborhoods and low net-worth clients.

When the workers complained, according to the lawsuit, the bank said it believed that clients are more "comfortable" dealing with bankers and brokers of their own race.

A spokeswoman for the bank was not immediately available for comment.

"There is a perception at the bank that predominantly white, wealthy customers in high net-worth neighborhoods are only going to be comfortable with Caucasian financial advisers and bankers," said Darnley Stewart, a partner at Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP who represents the plaintiffs, in an interview. "It's a complete stereotype."

The complaint covers April 2003 to the present, and seeks class-action status. It seeks a halt to the alleged improper practices, back pay and compensatory and punitive damages.

According to the complaint, Bank of America's investment services unit employs 4,400 "premier bankers" and 3,000 brokers in 30 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. It is unclear how many African-Americans might be covered by the lawsuit.

Other brokerages have also faced bias lawsuits accusing them, among other issues, of steering wealthy clients to particular groups of workers.

Merrill Lynch & Co. faces an 18-month-old lawsuit in Chicago by African-American brokers and trainees. Morgan Stanley, meanwhile, last month agreed to pay $46 million to settle bias accusations by six former female brokers.

The Bank of America plaintiffs work or have worked for the bank in the Atlanta, St. Louis and south Florida areas, according to the complaint.

Stewart said that while the alleged discrimination differs from accusations other brokerages have faced of creating hostile work environments, she said "it's equally pernicious."

"The tone from the top needs to be that the bank will treat professionals equally, and that is not happening," she said. "Too many decisions are left to people at the local level."

Freak Out Fridays

Fridays are really just invisible partitions, a long line at your favorite rollercoaster, extra John Handcocks on forms before you receive cash. Fridays are fillers that make you wait before you get what you really want: time, freedom, and doing whatever you want.

I will spend Fridays very deliberately from now on. I will be choosing one significant issue and exploring it into the ground. Perhaps it will be trivial or something of the dead-serious variety. We shall see.

I'll check back soon. I need time to select.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Immigration

From New America Media

A trend of targeted violence is erupting.

When you hear "immigration," most people think of Mexico, or the Latino population. I can't disagree that even I tend to focus on the plight of our Latina/o sisters and brothers when I see their peaceful protests raided by police, or racist signs about immigrants needing to "go home," or when I witness billboards like the one I pass everyday that has a picture of a White man, arms folded staring into the camera, wearing a sheriff's outfit that reads, "NO ALIENS ALLOWED HERE. We do not support illegal immigration."

I am a child of immigrants. My parents came to this country from the Philippines over thirty years ago and have endured more stories of racism, shame, and forced assimilation than I can possible communicate or fathom. Their stories are real yet unbelievable. Most people wouldn't believe that my father lost his front tooth because a stranger threw a glass bottle at his face while he crossed the street. Most people wouldn't believe that my mother received a failing grade in her nursing clinical courses, not because of academic performance in which she was receiving good scores, but because her instructor wrote, "Language Difficulties" in the side margin and she was asked to leave the program after years of academic slaving. Never mind the lawyers who told her she'd never win a case in Ohio about racial and ethnic discrimination, "the jury would think exactly like the instructor," they advised. And they were right. My mother is perfectly bi-lingual and speaks English more frequently than Tagalog. Whose story would you believe?

When I think of immigration I think of my father's frequent fights he had with strangers who demanded he return to his own country. I think of my parents strength and how often even I have overlooked their stories of survival and bitterness. When I read stories like the one above, I think of my father's angry retort to that racist demand to go back to one's own country.

He replied, "I'll go back to mine if you go back to yours. This isn't your country. It was founded on stealing it from Native Americans. This is their country. So I'll go back, if you go back, that is, if you know your history. Do you?"

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Carnival of Radical Action

Original Link Found Here

Announcing:

The Carnival of Radical Action

Most of us are organizers or activists in our real lives. Or at the very least, we think about it an awful lot and wish we had the skills and/or knowledge to organize. But contrary to the images of protest that make front pages and cause our hearts to swell–actual organizing is not as easy as it looks–nor is it very glamorous.

More often than not, the process it takes to actually get to the glamorous protest part is boring, tedious, filled with infighting, or done by one or two overburdened people who haven’t quite figured out how to say no.

And yet, the organizing part is so vitally important to achieving liberation (whatever that may be). It was through tons and tons of grass roots organizing and hard work that the right managed to come to power in the U.S. the way it has. The Zapatistas and the U.S. based Civil Rights movement both also have a history of achieving goals towards liberation through grassroots organizing.

So how does one go about doing this grassroots organizing?

That’s what this carnival is all about. I will be accepting any posts/submissions that have anything to do with organizing on a grassroots level. Some topic ideas that you might feel inclined to think about:

How do you do radical leftist organizing in the Midwest [or wherever you are]? How do you confront racism/sexism/disableism/homophobia/classism etc within your group? How do you work with a community instead of on a community? How do you confront accessibility issues (that is, you’re all working class mothers and there’s rarely a time to meet or the site where you meet is not wheelchair accessible etc)? What’s been the major problem/setback your group has faced? How did it over come it? What has been a successful tactic in your organizing (for example, you found that taking pictures of violent cops and posting them online is more successful in stopping the abuse than reporting them to their superiors)? If you’re a life time activist, what are some problems you see today with organizing compared to when you first started? Or, if you’ve never organized before, write about why you never have.

This carnival will be about sharing strategies more than finding a “right” answer. In the world we face today where there are so many intersecting forms of oppression, one answer will not fit every community. But something that worked for one community might work for another if they alter it and adjust it to suit their own needs.

[…]

DEADLINE: MAY 25th
and the carnival will be posted on May 27th.

I’ll be waiting!

and many thanks to fire fly for motivating me to organize this!

You can post links to your submissions in the comments or e-mail them to me at sylviasrevenge at gmail dot com.

Let’s turn this idea into an excellent carnival in honor of BFP and our dedication to human rights. :)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Reviews: Hello Dolly and Notes on a Scandal

Every now and again, I blow the dust off my cultural critic pen and lend my lens to shows, music, theater, food, and literature.

Broadway Musical: Hello, Dolly!
I purchased tickets to a community theater show in which a friend was performing in Hello, Dolly! As community theater is to Broadway what independant films are to Hollywood, I try to support art in these venues and believe that non-commercial creativity is the bed of great idea, inspiration, and rejuvenation.

That, however, does not excuse bad community theater, unfortunately. Hello, Dolly! is a comical musical that explores the intersection of lives through a match-making busy-body socialite wannabe in the 1800s. Think of a nauseating Paris Hilton superficiality inside the look of Queen Elizabeth.

Written with high right chords and a splittingly boring storyline, actress and actor must possess an unsual talent to sell this production. Adorned with baby cries of a lovestruck teen, corsettes, and vocal bravado, Hello, Dolly! had me buying a rare caffeinated beverage at intermission. On a thematic level, Dolly exudes Broadtriarchy, where Broadway meets patriarchy: women/actresses who are in the role of crying, pathetic, lovelorn elbow gloved damsels waiting with high scrunched foreheads for their men to wisk them away. The men/actors appropriately feed the Broadtriarchy with songs like It Takes a Woman with lyrics that warm the Conservative soul, such as:

O yes it takes a woman
A dainty woman
A sweetheart, a mistress, a wife
O yes it takes a woman
A fragile woman
To bring you the sweet things in life
And so she'll work until infinity
Three cheers for femininity
Rah Rah Rah...Rah Rah Rah
F. E. M. - I. T. Y


This was perhaps the fifth or sixth time I have seen a production of Hello, Dolly!. Now that my 28 years of maturation has resulted in highly selective tongue of entertainment, I can assure you, this will be my last. I can swallow Broadtriarchy every once in a while in good humor, but, should I decide to be entertained in such a manner, I really should head to 42nd street in NYC instead. At least there it will be only the highest quality of patriarchy performance.


Hollywood Film: Notes on a Scandal
If a 30-sumthin male sleeps with a 15 year old girl, what do we call that? I call it statutory rape. What do we call a 30-sumthing female who sleeps with a 15 year old boy? We call her Sex Teacher and label the behavior Unacceptable.

Is it just me or is there some form of imbalance when movies show "love scenes" between adults and 15 year olds without the blatant theme of RAPE? In fact, this movie, which is based on actual events, calls the rape of the 15 year old boy an "affair." Um, no, it's rape. And had the "rapist" been a man, the shock of the crime would not be overshadowed by Cate Blanchett's, "I don't know what's wrong with me," cries.

Obviously entertaining, in a disturbing Euro-manner. Judi Dench plays a Virgina Woolf wannabe writer, insanely isolated and dry who develops a psychotic connection to the new art "Sex Teacher" at her school (Blanchett). Think Single, White Female meets Mary Kay Laterno.
For as much as I love listening to those accents, when the "love" scenes are framed with unbridled lust with no mention of crime, I tend to squirm in my seat and wish I'd chosen Love Actually for the umpteenth time.