Friday, November 30, 2007


Race is a crazy thing and sometimes you just need to stop and say, "Wait...what?"

1) At Wednesday's YouTube debate, Mitt Romney suddenly employed a (fake) race consciousness by asking Rudy Guiliani if he approaches anyone with a "funny accent" and asks them if they're "illegal." This was in response to Guliani's comment that Romney lorded over a sanctuary mansion, his own house, since he apparently hired undocumented immigrants. When Guiliani did not answer, Romney barked out his question again. Still, no reply. A Republican trying to out a racist Republican?


2) While that tune by the Quad City DJs is still stuck in my head, my other non-soundtrack memories of Space Jam had floated away. That is, until, I read Paul Gilroy's fantastic book Against Race (a forced title by US publishers; Between Camps is the preferred UK title). At the end, he reminds us that Michael Jordan is enslaved in this movie to play basketball for the Monstarz. Enslaved. He argues that this process of slavery and physical shrinking of Jordan is to make his larger than life persona mesh with Bugs and the gang as well as to make Jordan's black male body mesh with us as consumers when we make the jump to buy a 12" Jordan. Gilroy is fierce. Corporation and empire hittin' us high again. Wait...what?

3) Brown Babies Unite! You'd think these babes of color were joining these organizations straight out the womb the way some people are talking. On November 26th, Pat Buchanan told Sean Hannity of Fox News that American abortions have led to "Asian, African, and Latin American children [coming] to inherit the estate the lost generation of American children never got to see." And, of course, he raged about the Southwest border: "You've got a wholesale invasion, the greatest invasion in human history, coming across your southern border, changing the composition and character of your country. You've got the melting pot that once welded us all together, which has broken down."

One of the most frustrating things about this immigration shouting match is that we continuously gloss over African-Americans and Native Americans and quietly sneak them in to the America that was always working until brown bodies rushed the border. FALSE! Since when did the melting pot burn our, unfortunately, very American experiences away? Our stories do not melt because their flames still run this nation. We have been and are the means of production, the first would be victims. And not in a Tancredo/Keyes way.

As silly as it may seem, every time we let this debate become a nation of immigrants vs. the illegals from the South, we are complicit in the erasure of our history and the creation of a new supposedly unified hyper-American narrative that perpetuates the same racialized dialogue of us vs. them that always leaves on the outskirts. Given this sort of dialogue turns neighbors against neighbors (legal or illegal), I believe we have the responsibility to elevate this discourse. Not only would that help dismantle the inaccurate portrayal of illegal immigrants as always Latino, it would force the telling of a different narrative. One where America has made mistakes through inaction and one where laws have been broken for the social good as a form of redress and an appeal for better laws. An America that I know as true.

Source: Media Matters know the drill.

4) Nooses are everywhere. Sometimes, students complain that there is no language to discuss race and other aspects of diversity. Unfortunately, I think some bigots think similarly about how to express their hatred. Well, nooses as throwback racist symbols caught the mainstream through Jena and those bigots never looked back. Looks like we have a not so new fight on our hands. Check out this graphic:

Source: Great NYT article

You said it, so I don't have to.

I'll try to leave on a good note with these so here you go...


Stay with it and then...WAIT WHAT?!

Have a good weekend all,

Thanks to Crystal, Naima, and Andom for 3,4,and 5, respectively.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

this speech will never set me free

a man calls for martial law...
a man calls black students responding to blackface "irrational" and "pathologizers" of white racists...

The YDN responds to "naysayers" of racist publications/acts by offering to be a place for the "debate" of free speech to begin.

what is it exactly about this speech that we may call free?

Making U.S. a police state will lower cost of health care, prevent national disaster

Anti-blackface columnists lacked rational argument

Towards solving the speech crisis at Yale

Graffiti, hate speech elicit Univ. response

(information about the spray painting of "N-Word School" on an exterior wall of a residential college at Yale).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Quick link: Chicago cops taser black grandma

One of the first lessons I learned as a little kid in Chicago was to watch out for the cops: at best, you can expect total incompetence, and at worst, government-aided racist hate & violence.

So, I'm never surprised by how low cops, and specifically the CPD, can stoop.

Unless an 82-year-old grandmother is holding a loaded gun, there's no excuse for police officers to use a Taser.


Police allegedly used a Taser on 82-year-old Lillian Fletcher when performing a well-bring check at her home.

But that's what happened Oct. 29 when Chicago Police officers went to a West Side home to make a "well-being" check. The officers were responding to a request from the city's Department of Aging.

Continue reading Mary Mitchell's column on this...

Environmental Racism + Denial of History

I don't often read much on Alternet beyond the headlines, because such high concentrations of privilege-blind white liberals usually make me nauseous. But every now and then they print a good article--and then the usual White Liberal Guilt pours out in the comments section.

Last week they ran an excerpt of the book Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots, in which the authors interviewed Van Jones, a black environmental justice activist. It's a great interview and a very quick read, so I encourage all of you to take a second to read it. Jones talks about sprawl and its ties to racism, through fear-mongering, media distortion, and classism, and what this means environmentally for people left behind in the city.

He then brings together (in my opinion, at least) two of the scariest things facing black people right now: environmental racism and the prison industry. The amount of money spent on sending disproportionately huge numbers of people of color to prison on trumped up charges could easily be spent thwarting off the environmental throwdown--or at least make cities decent places to live. He uses California as an example--there's a lot of talk in California about energy efficiency, but there's also things like Proposition 184, the Three Strikes Law [the link is a pdf].

If you don't read the interview, please at least read this gem, because it's a situation we all know too, too well:
Those folks [environmentalists] often speak about working together through "outreach" -- outreach in the sense of "outreaching to" these people or those people. Outreaching to the black community: "Well, we outreached to them so 'they' could hear our agenda and get onboard with what we are saying." This, as opposed to saying "let's go make some friends," building relationships, creating relationships. Figuring things out from a place where everyone's views are included. Relationships are give and take, mutual aid and help. Outreaching is the white thing, it's about bringing folks into what you are doing, and does not necessarily convey understanding. [emphasis mine]

My only beef is with what Jones says at the very end, about pushing the federal government into action--two things which I find absolutely antithetical. But, I suppose the anarchist people of color post is one for another day.

The comments, however, are disheartening. According to some, suburbs were not built on racism, and white flight is a thing of the past. Classism is the running theme. None of them are worth quoting here, but if you want to see how much history one can plainly deny while trumpeting their Liberal badge, take a look and keep a barf bag handy.

Monday, November 5, 2007

three ways to stand and move (in solidarity)


I am writing to invite you to participate in New Haven Solidarity Week. Over 25 student groups have been working in conjunction with City Hall and community organizations to mobilize Yale (students, faculty, workers) to support the Elm City Resident Card initiative.

This initiative is a way for members of the Yale community to identify as members of New Haven. Moreover, signing up for the Elm City Resident Card is a way of supporting the rights of undocumented immigrants in New Haven. This summer, New Haven became the first municipality in the nation to offer identification to all residents regardless of age or immigration status. The municipal ID allows cardholders to open bank accounts, have access to the New Haven Public Library, to have identification to show when contacting or confronted by police. This card has been important in the immigrant community because it enables undocumented people to open bank accounts so that they do not walk around with large amounts of cash and become the targets of violent crime. The card also enables undocumented immigrants to have a form of identification to show when contacting or confronted by the police.

The Elm City Resident Card also serves as a debit card for parking meters and about fifty New Haven businesses, including Atticus, Koffee?, and Viva's.

The card is useful in daily life for all of us who move around the streets of New Haven. Signing up for a card is an important way of showing your solidarity with the city of New Haven and moving towards supporting each and every member of our community, regardless of immigrant status....

And so, friends, here are three (of many) ways to get involved.

Bring your Yale ID, another form of identification (a driver's license, a passport, etc.) and $10 to Dwight Hall on:
Tuesday, 10 am - 4 pm
Wednesday, 6 pm - 9 pm
Thursday, 10 am - 2 pm
Friday, 10 am - 4 pm
If you do nothing else for New Haven Solidarity Week, stop into Dwight Hall for a few minutes and get this card! The card is only available on Yale's campus during the times listed above!

Tonight, Monday November 5th
from 7 pm - 9 pm in Dwight Hall Chapel, there will be live music, food from New Haven restaurant and speeches from Mayor John Destefano, Chaplain Sharon Kugler, Dean Jon Butler, and other stakeholders in the Yale and New Haven community.

This event starts after 7 pm in the Dwight Hall Chapel on Thursday, November 8th. There will be musical and poetic performances, communal singing in three languages, immigration stories, and interfaith community prayer. We will also be having desserts from different parts of the world. The event is completely free and will be a time to reflect upon and celebrate the ways that different faiths and cultural traditions value community and immigrant rights. Please come after you've signed up for your ID or before you do on Friday morning! This event is coordinated by the nascent Interfaith Alliance for Justice.

I hope to see you at New Haven Solidarity Week!

For a full list of ways to get involved, visit: