Friday, January 29, 2010

Books I will be reading this semester

Harriet Jacobs. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Published in 1861, this is an autobiographical novel that Jacobs published under the pen name "Linda Brent." The manuscript was edited by Lydia Maria Child, a popular white female novelist in the sentimental style.

Octavia Butler. Kindred. First published in 1979, this is a time-travel novel by Butler, the most well-known African American woman writing science fiction. The “present” of the novel is 1976, and the “past” is in the nineteenth century.

Nora Okja Keller. Comfort Woman. Keller’s is a mother-daughter novel, where the chapters jump back and forth between Becca, who is mixed-heritage Anglo and Korean, an American citizen growing up in Hawaii, and her mother, called Akiko, who grew up during the Japanese occupation of Korea which only ended in World War II.

Linda Hogan. Solar Storms. Linda Hogan is a Chickasaw writer who has published several novels and books of poetry. Solar Storms is set in a native community north of Minnesota and takes place in the early 1970s. It draws our attention to the James Bay Hydroelectric project in Canada, and its affect on First Nations peoples.

Alicia Gaspar de Alba. Desert Blood. This is a mystery novel which draws our attention to the murders of women in Juárez, Mexico (across the border from El Paso, Texas). The accidental detective is Ivon Villa, a Chicana lesbian who is supposed to be writing her dissertation.

Maythee Rojas, Women of Color and Feminism. Which I'm a few pages into and loving.

Marysol Asencio, Ed., Latina/o Sexualities: Probing, Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies.  Which I haven't started yet, but it's brand new, which is pretty cool.

And then the normal slew of ereserves readings, and two pretty good looking anthologies that I'll only be reading a couple selections from.

It's shaping up to be a good semester, I think.  If you follow my Tumblr you'll  probably be seeing some quotes popping up from these now and again, because, like the one I was reading last night: "Coalition Politics: Turning the Century" by Bernice Johnson Reagon, just made me want to throw quotes around all over the place, so, if they're all that good you might be getting some of that sporadically. 

Last but not least, Grad school app goes in on Monday and next month the app for a fellowship I'm seriously considering is due, so, busy busy busy...  But if you miss me I can often be found on Tumblr or Twitter. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

African migrants rebel against racist attacks

With a hat tip to Womanist Musings where I read this all too familiar story, happening in what is to me a new context.

By Monica Moorehead
The worldwide capitalist economic crisis is hitting tens of millions workers hard to one degree or another, be they in the poorer nations or the rich capitalist countries. Many of these workers are forced to migrate from their beloved homelands to look for work that will provide a decent wage to help them and their families survive.
Immigrants are amongst the most exploited and oppressed workers. They make tremendous profits for the capitalists. Not only do the bosses pay them starvation wages with no benefits, but many face political and social injustice, especially racism. The recent developments in Rosarno, Italy, are a prime example of this outright bigotry and repression.
In Italy sign reads: ‘We are people like you,<br>don’t let them kill.
6 are dead.’
In Italy sign reads: ‘We are people like you,
don’t let them kill. 6 are dead.’

On Jan. 7, African migrants, including some from Nigeria and Togo, rebelled against racist attacks by white Italians and the police in this working-class town near the western coast of Calabria. Many of these workers, who are both documented and undocumented, work in the citrus groves in the poorly developed southern part of the Italian peninsula.
Characterized as “rioting” by bourgeois news sources in order to demonize the justifiable nature of the rebellion, some African immigrants were provoked to rebel when an immigrant was shot by a vigilante in a nearby city. It has been reported that organized crime figures helped to instigate the attacks.
The immigrants used rocks to fight back and torched cars against the vigilantes and the police. Some migrants were shot with pellet fire and beaten with metal rods, warranting surgery.
On the weekend of Jan. 10, more than 1,000 African workers were transported to detention centers, which are nothing more than jails, for an indefinite amount of time with no charges.
Thousands of African workers pick fruit during the harvest season for many hours a day for less than $200 a week. This is work that many native-born Italians feel would be degrading for them to do.
The rebellion reflects the deepening economic crisis in Italy and Europe in general: In the absence of a strong anti-racist, pro-working class movement against the bosses, migrants are being scapegoated for the loss of jobs. Public statements and policies of the xenophobic, right-wing government of Silvio Berlusconi have given the green light for these racist attacks to intensify.
Treated as social outcasts, these African migrants are forced to live in makeshift shanty towns with much of the housing being subhuman. On behalf of the tourist industry, a majority of these makeshift houses have been bulldozed at the same time these workers are being detained.
A spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration in Italy, Flavio Di Giacomo, commented, “This event pulled the lid off something that we who work in the sector know well but no one talks about: That many Italian economic realities are based on the exploitation of low-cost foreign labor, living in subhuman conditions, without human rights.” (New York Times, Jan. 11) He went on to describe the conditions of the African migrants as “semi-slavery.”
The Italian section of the Anti-imperialist Camp, commenting on the rebellion of the African workers in Rosarno, while recognizing the extreme poverty of the region, made it clear that “We must be on the side of the Black laborers, no ifs or buts. ... It is a good thing that they have risen in rebellion, demonstrating that if they are human beings, the others are no more than pigs.” (
This is not the first time that African migrants have been targeted in southern Italy. In 2008, six Ghanians were killed, execution-style, resulting in a rebellion near Naples.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Puzzlements in Online Community Building, Blogging, Tweeting, etc.

while there is a specific thing-that-happened which served as a catalyst for what I'm puzzling through at the moment, I'm going to do something that often annoys me when-others-do-it and remain vague. partly this is because of the nature of the thing-that-happened and the fact that as I write I know people are doing their own puzzling out of what to do about it. partly because I do not want to "call out" anyone. that's been done, and for the my part, I said what I felt I needed to say at the time. of course, I don't understand every facet of what's going on for everyone involved, so it very well might be that I didn't speak to half the issues I should have. I'm uncomfortably aware of that fact.

Still. I feel as ok as one can when they have people-that-matter-to-them on both sides of a heated exchange. the sort of heated exchanges that our ability as a social justice community to actually practice justice kind of hinges on, because they exist at the points in time and space where we can be oppressive, or not. Where kyriarchal standards make it easy to marginalize those Others. Where everyone is fighting to make sure that doesn't happen but maybe we're doing it anyway because ffs that's how we're trained to do things. Anyone trying to do anything else is unlearning right along with learning too. That's not easy. That's where mistakes happen. Of course, it's also where growth happens.

but what I'm thinking more about is more general than just this ongoing situation, because what this all brought to the forefront of my attention is the borders we create. the position i've tried to create for myself since getting into this intersectional blogging thing is one where i take seriously the needs people say they have. to trust people. To trust especially, people I have been conditioned Not to Trust. to use what space I have to promote those voices (this is especially applicable to RTing on Twitter or reblogging on Tumblr, both of which I have kept more active on than I have here as this is my "serious" blog).

Now one of my basic assumptions that we're all going to fuck up at some point. I've seen other people say this sort of thing before, in all sorts of contexts; that if you refuse to associate with people who fuck up, you won't have anyone left to work with. We're all mired in the same kyriarchy, we're all imprinted in some way by it. And it's not that I'm going "oh well" and just ignoring it when people fuck up, it just means that when they do I don't immediately write them off (sometimes I do, but it has to be pretty massive repeated unrepentant fuck ups).

but something that has bothered me in watching many such situations where we are trying to figure this shit out (and by "we" I mean people I can see have a history of engaging on any variety of social justice minded issues, stories, work, etc. aka are promoting a philosophy I identify as working towards the same or similar goals as me and others) is that I don't see a lot of consistency (in the community at large), as I understand it, with what kinds of public statements are received as appropriate and/or helpful.

For instance, I will look at two posts with what I consider to be about the same level of harshness, or controversy, or whatever, "NO BULLSHIT" kind of posts, you know? And one will be heartily agreed with and the other will be belittled or responded to with (what oftentimes seems to me defensiveness and) anger. and as far as I can see both writers (almost always women) are doing essentially the same thing: "this thing you are doing hurts me, or hurts a group I am a part of, STOP DOING IT NOW!"

And some people do this in a way I personally would not, some do it in a way I would and have, but from my vantage point, I'm having a hard time telling the difference in message (which is what I look at, because TONE isn't the important thing, right? it's not a valid criticism, so I've read quite often, which makes sense to me). But DOES there ever come a point where it is too much? Is it important to cultivate safe space so that people don't feel intimidate speaking up? And what does safe space really mean in situations like this? Is it "unsafe" to be informed bluntly the true impact of something on another person? These are the borders I'm trying to figure out.

and i have reached an impasse with this, i hope it will be talked about more by others, because I've been trying to come to terms with this stuff on my own and it's just not working.

But, here I am, puzzling out loud. Unfortunately I don't know if I'm even being coherent, or, worse, maybe I'm talking out my ass in an exceedingly clueless manner. But hey, where better to do that than on one's own blog? eh?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ways you can help in Haiti *UPDATED*

A lot of people are on this way quicker than me, so below you will find links to their posts which together provide a slew of ways, big and small, that you can help the earthquake recovery work now going on in Haiti.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Check it out: Haiti Rocked By Worst Quake In 200 Years.

How you can help:
via Angry Black Bitch
via Vivir Latino
via Feministe
via The Wild Hunt
via Wandering Stars
via Enough, this is a great, comprehensive list of orgs and all other information one might need in informing themselves and deciding if and/or how to give a donation.

For my part, after doing some research I decided to send small donations (between 5 and 10 dollars) to: Partners in Health, OxFam, Doctors Without Borders, and the Humane Society. Every little bit helps.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

All Bay Area readers!

I got this in my email this morning:

40 years in the making...

Remember how Ethnic Studies changed your life? Now it's time to give back!
Please forward this email to our allies and get involved in our campaign!


Urgent First Action for Ethnic Studies in our
San Francisco Unified School District High Schools!

A right to reclaim and remember our his/herstories!
A right to create change in our schools and communities!
A right for a better and more hopeful education and future for all!

Forty years after the fight for Ethnic Studies at SFSU, we are continuing the fight for funding to pilot a 9th grade Ethnic Studies course in the SFUSD
during the 2010-11 school year.

This Tuesday, we will be mobilizing in front of the SFUSD building to proudly present our proposal and resolution for Ethnic Studies in our SFUSD high schools
to the School Board members.

In this current budget mess, we need as many allies, students, parents, educators, and community based organizations in support of the course to attend and show the School Board members we want and need this course for a better and more hopeful education and future for ourselves, loved ones, and communities!

We need to pack the room with supporters!

Tuesday January 12, 2009 at 5p.m.

Irving G. Breyer Board Meeting Room
555 Franklin Street, 1st Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102

Please wear RED to show our unity and passion for Ethnic Studies!
Bring your best signs and banners of support!
Food will be provided!


Write a letter of support to the School Board and email it back to us by
Monday 1/11 to present to them on Tuesday the 12th!

Join us and speak
to the School Board members Tuesday the 12th during public comment about why you believe Ethnic Studies is needed!
(1 minute maximum)

Sign our online petition!

Join our Facebook Group!

Follow us on Twitter for up to date news and actions!

We hope to see you all on Tuesday!
Stay tuned for more important actions later this month!

In Solidarity,
Campaign for Ethnic Studies


The Campaign for Ethnic Studies is proudly supported by:
HOMEY (Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth), The Filipino Community Center, POWER (People Organizing to Win Employment Rights, JACL (Japanese American Citizens League), The College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU, College of Education at SFSU, Pin@y Educational Partnerships, San Francisco Freedom School, ALAY (Active Leadership to Advance the Youth), Chinatown Community Development Center, Angel Island Association, Balboa High School, Mission High School, Thurgood Marshall High School, Washington High School, Lincoln High School, June Jordan High School, & Denman Middle School

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Pregnant, In Prison, and Denied Care

December 10, 2009

Over the past year, incarcerated women and their allies have achieved a remarkable string of victories against inhumane treatment. First, they persuaded the Bureau of Prisons to issue a new policy in October 2008 limiting the use of restraints on women who are in labor, giving birth or recovering after childbirth; the Marshals Service, which transports people in federal custody, followed suit. Next, they won legislation in the spring and summer of 2009 restricting the use of restraints on pregnant women in New Mexico, Texas and New York. Finally, they successfully petitioned the US Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit for a rehearing of the full court in a case from Arkansas, which resulted in a ruling in October that shackling women in labor is unconstitutional.

These developments send a strong signal to the rest of the country to stop subjecting women to this dangerous and degrading practice. But what happens to pregnant women in prison before they wind up in chains at a hospital?

Read the rest at The Nation