Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Race and I'm still running

Michelle Myers, a guest contributor at Anti-Racist Parent, penned an excellent essay about how wearying worrying about race all the time can be.

A few weeks ago while watching “Dancing with the Stars,” my husband tried to get me riled up over a routine that Kristi Yamaguchi and her dance partner were performing which had him dressed in a military uniform and she, his Asian lover, swooning on his shoulder.

I had cringed inwardly when I saw the set-up, but I wanted to just enjoy the moment—just relish something for pure entertainment without the brooding presence of racial stereotypes and hegemonic ideologies.

So when my husband whispered suggestively to me about the “soldier savior” and “What was she thinking?” I shushed him and said that I didn’t want to be Yellow Rage all the time. “She just happens to be Asian, not playing ‘Asian,’” I retorted. But when Bruno, one of the judges, referred to Kristi’s character portrayal in the routine as being a “Madame Butterfly”—which he meant as a compliment of the romantic qualities of their dance—my husband’s head snapped towards me, and said “See? You can’t give white people a pass.” And I could only sigh deeply.

Bruno’s reference to the Puccini opera reminded me that really only white people could find romance in the story of a Japanese woman who gives birth to an American sailor’s baby and then commits suicide when he abandons them and marries a white American wife. But even then, I tried to excuse it. “He didn’t mean it that way”—meaning she wasn’t playing the passive, love-toy of a white man who sees himself as superior to her, her people, and her culture. “What’s happening to you?” my husband wanted to know.

Honestly, I’ve been getting tired. I’m tired of fighting against racism and injustice—it’s a never-ending, exhausting battle. And what’s worse for me is that after years and years of harping and exposing and teaching, I see very little to indicate that any of the work I’ve done has made a difference.
Read more and be sure to weigh in in the comments section.

Feeling warm and fuzzy


You like me! You really like me!

Well, somebody does, anyway....Jennifer at Mixed Race America has awarded me the E for Excellent Blogging award. And I swear I didn't even know this when I gave MRA some love in my post earlier today. Like I told Jenn, it is always great to hear that someone admires your blog, but it is even cooler to know that someone whose blog you admire admires your blog.

So, as part of this meme, I am to pass the award to four bloggers that I admire. I like Jennifer's approach of focusing on blogs that don't get a lot of national attention. Racialicious and What About Our Daughters are daily must-reads for me, but EVERYBODY knows how awesome they are. For my choices, I decided to go back to some of the first blogs that I really loved and whose owners (like Carmen and Gina) were supportive of my early efforts. So, without further ado:

Black Women Vote: The work Shecodes has done to solidify and articulate a platform for female, black voters is phenomenal.

Boring Black Chick: My blog sister from across the pond is super-literate and a wonderful writer. She has a unique ability to lay it down eloquently on topics from music, to books, to politics, to travel...

Essential Presence: For Symphony's work on Dunbar Village alone, she should be commended. But, like Boring Black Chick, Symphony writes passionately on a variety of topics. She has a knack for finding people and things that the black community should be proud of.

Los Angelista's Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness: I just wish I could write like Los Angelista. She makes a post about a trip to Starbuck's award-worthy. I kid you not. This girl can WRITE! Also, she loves Depeche Mode and just hearing that band's name takes me back to my New Wave high school days.

A honorable mention goes to Mes Deaux Cents, currently on hiatus, whose blog was my first read every morning.

Now, I would like to thank the Academy...(cue music)

Blogs you should be reading (and opportunity for shameless self-promotion)

Darn you people and your talents! My morning perusal of blogs used to be so easy. Now it seems every other day I find a new great blog that I HAVE to add to my reading list. Here are just a few that have caught my attention recently:

Black Women, Blow the Trumpet!
Described as "a place where black women identify, organize and strategize solutions for societal issues that impact black women," BWBT has a wonderful post up now about alliances between white and black feminists. an excerpt:

As I read the conversations on the blogs of many black feminists, I hear a recurring complaint that white feminists do not fully understand the struggle of black women. I need to make this very clear to all of my sistas so we can stop whining about it once and for all: NO ONE understands the struggle of black women and NO ONE ever will. Can we agree that today shall be the last and final reality check regarding the fanciful notion that non-black women will ever fully understand our struggles?

Entering the mind and heart of black women can NOT become a criteria for our allies. It is an outlandish and unrealistic expectation. No one needs to understand my mind and my heart to contribute to the objectives that I have placed on the table. Do us all a favor and please leave your heart outside of the room when we come to the negotiating table as a collective to leverage the influence of our non-black allies.

Black women, we need to have some requirements for our allies. Our allies must:
(1) understand and embrace the objectives we have on the table
(2) understand and embrace the vision for how those objectives can be accomplished
(3) understand the resources that they are being expected to leverage in order for those objectives to be met for our mutual benefit
(4) have a clear understanding of how "mutual benefit" is being defined by us
(5) understand how the contributions of our allies will be defined and measured
(6) examine how milestones will be identified and measured

No one has to become an honorary black woman in order to advance the priorities that matter to black women. I would encourage all of my sistas to examine why it seems so necessary for someone to understand your personhood in order for you to extend trust. Read more...



Mixed Race America
Okay, so this blog isn't a new find. I link to my blog sister, Jennifer, often. But she has a wonderful post about the University of Washington belatedly granting honorary degrees to Japanese American students who were forced to leave the institution and face incarceration during WWII. Jenn says:

For more on the graduation, click on this link. I had tears in my eyes when I read it. Because it's true--it's never too late to do the right thing. It's never too late for us to remember that we CAN do something--we don't have to just sit back and say, "There's nothing I can do." The faculty and staff at UW who helped make this graduation ceremony possible should be commended. Because they didn't have to do this. But it was and is the right thing to do. Which makes me wonder, will our current administration ever be brave enough to admit its mistakes and apologize? Will we recognize, much later, the harm we've done to others--the racial profiling we do to anyone of Muslim or Arab descent--anyone who "looks" Middle-Eastern? Read more...


The Cruel Secretary
This blogger just got name checked in a recent Washington Post article (Washington freakin Post!) on critics of old guard black activists.

...I agree with the Post article about the traditional Civil Rights organizations losing their prestige. I just disgree w/ the major reason cited: IMO, these organizations seem to be on the wrong side of the right issues nowadays. If SCLC, CORE, and the NAACP worked with ColorofChange and secured the release, their prestige would have been burnished. If the NAACP would have supported the victims of the Dunbar Village situation (atrocity, really) in the first place instead of their violators, the group would have received some praise. (The last I heard, the NAACP, West Palm Beach chapter, who jumped in to defend the violators, didn't retract their support or apologize to the victims or has done anything else on the victim's behalf). The most sustained critiques and actions against rap's misogyny (in the music and the videos) haven't come from any of these organizations. That's why, moreso than not keeping up with technology or being a victim of their own success or their pool of middle-class donors leaving–is why these organizations are fading away. Read more...


Universal Blackness
Unlike the MSM, Mr. Shadow celebrated the anniversary of Malcolm X's birth yesterday by printing Ossie Davis's eulogy of the slain leader.

Writes Like She Talks
Jill Zimon has posted an interesting interview with John C. Green, director of the University of Akron's Bliss Institute of Applied Politics. Green tackles the issue of what Hillary Clinton supporters could do next.

Blogher
This diverse collective of female bloggers, secured an exclusive interview with Barack Obama. Check it out below.



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