rhythmia: (Default)
I refuse to link Elizabeth Moon's lovely (*sarcasm) rant about Muslims and assimilation and how WE MUST ALL BE ASSIMILATED (read: erase our own cultures to fit into WASP-y middle class US culture) for immigration to succeed. Yeah, um, no.

However! I'm doing a signal boost because [livejournal.com profile] shweta_narayan is a beautiful, brave person and wrote out her own experiences trying to assimilate. The comments are also kind of amazing, and unifying, because issues of assimilation and immigration happen world-wide, and history is cycling around again and things are getting a little hairy. *gives Arizona the side-eye*

Anyhow, love to all of you dears, this is me shaking a little and venting in the middle of the night when I really ought to be in bed.
rhythmia: (Default)
I'm not cutting this because this is very important to me.

A couple years ago, my friend M introduced me to this amazing animated show called Avatar: The Last Airbender. I was visiting him, he showed me the first episode, and I ended up watching something like four or five episodes in a row before we went for dinner.

Why was I hooked? I was 22 years old at the time, and it was the first time I had ever seen an American cartoon that had dark-skinned characters opening the shot, where their skin color was just part of them and not something to be "A special teaching moment for the white kids", and they were hilarious kids who didn't get killed off. Katara and her brother Sokka had me in the first five minutes.

They were heroes, they coded as Eskimo/Inuit/some flavor of First Nations and their fantasy world drew me in. Aang is a young boy trapped in the ice, they rescue him, and I saw him and was all "jfaojra he's adorable and he looks like a monk-let!"

This was an amazing world with different cultures that I could see were based on East, South, Southeast Asian, Tibetan, First Nations and Native American Indian, and Pacific Islander cultures. I learned from the community that the (white) creators were dedicated to accurately portraying those parts they drew from, and they didn't exoticize them, and they didn't screw it up. *_* This was the characters' world and they lived in it and it wasn't like anyone drawing attention to how cool and Asian it was. *__*

It was an animated show NOT, for once, based on Western/European aesthetics and cultures, and wasn't full of wince-worthy crappy kung fu wannabes. This had martial arts styles I (and my friend M) could actually recognize! :D

And then I learned the movie was coming out. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. And here is what the initial casting (not final, I hope hope hope it's not final) looks like.

D:

I just. I can't. This hurts so much to see. They whitewashed the leads. Completely. And it's like a slap to the face. It's already so rare to see people of color on screen, when a role calls for someone of "any race" it always seems to default to white. People of color get to be thugs, Magical Negroes or Mystical Asian/Indian Wise Man, the sidekicks, the token who gets killed off, the sexy native girl who snarks back and resists the Great White Hero but gets won over and falls in love with him anyway, etc. etc. And now this is a chance to have a full of cast of POC, with awesome roles that aren't stereotypical, for a smart show that has already won over kids and 'grownups' of every age, race and ethnicity.

I call bullshit. Complete bullshit on Hollywood, that you have to have a white face to sell to white audiences. First assuming that the only audience that matters is white, which makes me a nonentity, and then condescending to white people that they're so dumb that they won't watch anything with people that *gasp* don't look like them. Like I've been doing ALL MY LIFE.

You know what's really kind of a shock? Shyamalan is Indian, and he got interested in the project because his daughter wanted to dress up as Katara. Think of all the kids who love this show, who are people of color and get to see characters who look at least a little bit like them, and learn that Hollywood is saying, "No. You don't count, you don't matter."

Once the Christmas retail rush calms a little I'm going to be writing a letter as in the link below, believe you me. Please spread this around, it's not "just a kids show," it's about sending a message that we can't stand for this sort of institutional racism. It's going to be yellowface, people! Orientalism at it's finest!

Links with things to read here:
The Letter Writing Campaign!

Vejiicakes' post
Tablesaw's post
Rawles' post
Angry Asian Man's post
Angry Black Woman's post (faojra I love her writing)

Personal references during the bloghopping:

oyceter's post on films and tv: What These People Need is a Honky

Smillaraaq's post on Native American Indians portrayal in media

ETA:
A possibly hopeful note from vagabond_sal
Clearinghouse of info at glockgal's place and also here
More links and reactions from jbramx2
Racefail bingo on deadbrowalking comm
Lemon Press's reactions and links
old, but an interview with the creators of Avatar
rhythmia: (Default)
I'm not expecting to change anyone's mind about things at this late date, I just have some thoughts that I want to articulate that have been floating around in my mind. I'm letting the outrage simmer on the backburner for a while, though it does power this essay/ramble. ^^

Please be aware that I am willing to discuss things civilly (like an orange), and that I don't have sources and citations to back me up. Just things I've picked up and pulled out of my ass, so if there are facts I get wrong, tell me. ^_^V

I keep hearing ads for Yes on this proposition to Protect Marriage, sponsored by the Knights of something or other on my favorite radio station (which saddens me, but that's funding and advertising for you). And it made me think. Marriage as we know of it, as a bond of love and devotion and so forth, hasn't been around that long. Historically, marriage as an institution is for economic benefit, usually that of the husband's and/or the father/family of the wife. Women are commodities traded around that serve as a symbol of that economic tie. I'm not sure how recent it is, but the romance stuff as a reason to bind people together doesn't seem to me to be a driving force to marriage until the last couple of centuries, maybe? Anyone out there know better?

So my thoughts are, my big thing about marriage here in the United States is that it is tied to a slew of benefits such as reduced income tax, visitation rights in hospitals, power of attorney, custody rights of children, etc., etc. From my limited understanding, civil unions and domestic partnerships don't have the same spectrum of rights. So we have a separate-but-equal situation going on here, and we all know how well that idea goes down now. If the rights were the same across the board and it's just a matter of the term, then I don't care, whatever. But that's not the case.

Personally, I don't have any great attachment to the institution of marriage. From my observations of my family, other people, teevee, for all that marriage ceremonies seem to involve vows and promises, the marriage bond is no guarantee. It's not a guarantee of financial security, or happiness, or any affection at all, or a perfect home life, or even fidelity. Because people are people. We make mistakes. We aren't perfect. So I don't see how "granting" marriage (argh, so condescending) to a group of people in any way threatens marriage for anyone else.

Though that message on the radio having histrionics of 'gay marriage' being taught in schools did mention that certain groups of people were afraid of their children being exposed to gay people and *gasp* thinking that it would be okay to be gay and love each other. I'm thinking though, I was never taught about marriage, period, in the public schools that I attended. I learned a lot about STDs that I think were meant to frighten us into not wanting to have sex, but never about marriage.

If we called them all civil unions or whatever in the eyes of the law, in the sense that whoever is on either side of the partnership, the laws and benefits apply the same, that would be great. Then there could be separate religious/secular ceremonies that have more emotional impact for the people involved, for people to celebrate their bonds with each other.

Our bonds to our special people are precious, right? No matter what the gender is of the special person. So if some religions don't want to offer that particular ceremony, yes we could cry discrimination, but then again, freedom of religion. I feel that they would be the poorer for not providing a place to share in that joy for the people who believe in that religion, for better or worse, but that would be the way the religion goes. I'm not very firm in my argument here, hehe.

Anyhow, if anyone else has a better way of understanding the arguments for 8, I'd be interested in hearing them, because right now I'm just sort of confused about the logic there. I voted no on proposition 8, because we need to get beyond this discriminatory behavior. I personally am a very strong supporter of queer rights. You may not like the idea of gay people (or trans, or queer, or--) getting married, because the institution is tied to religion and your flavor of religion doesn't acknowledge gay people. But this is an issue of economic benefits, civil rights, as much as anything else, and taking rights away from a group of people does us all harm.

To end on a slightly silly note, think of it this way: Gay people getting married means they get to enjoy all the trials and tribulations of het people getting married. Including divorce and lawyers, trying to coordinate two sets of families joining together without crazy Uncle Lee dumping soup on Auntie May at the reception, and trying to decipher joint tax returns. :P

Okay, have at with the tomatoes!
rhythmia: (Default)
I'm alive. And I suck at updating on things that have happened, I know. Especially since every day is pretty full, and I'm learning so much every day. I keep a little summary for myself in my old Scripps datebook, but for my official journal that I'm keeping, I'm over a week behind, hehe.

So. It's hot and sticky, and I really keep doing the stupid thing of being moving outside during the hot parts of the day, which yeah, not so smart. So yay for air conditioning.

I make a lot of phone calls for PHRF, doing logistical work. It amuses me that for a grassroots organization fighting The Man, we're trying to get a lot of corporate help, like getting water and fruit donated. Malcolm (one of the leadership) calls it a form of getting reparations out of them without them knowing, haha. Also I've been doing a fair amount of flyering.

Why? Because of my bike, the community bike. (see my photobucket album, linked in the previous post) It's also apparently a flood bike, with rusted spokes, messed up tires, the works. So I ended up walking to Plan B, a cool bike collective where volunteers teach you how to fix up your own bike, and tool usage is free and most replacement bits are very inexpensive, about...oh...five times in two weeks. ^_^;; Mostly because the front tire kept going flat, often *right after* I fixed it and Tasia or I rode it back. But in the process I learned how to replace and adjust brakes, true a tire by twisting the spokes, and that there's a ribbon on the inside rim that keeps the spokes from puncturing the tire. Also I got bit by a lot of mosquitos.

Anyhow, as I walked my bike with its flat tire back and forth between the office and Plan B, I (and Tasia) handed out quite a few flyers and met some very nice people. I had a conversation with a man in construction about labor law, and whether Arnold Schwarzenegger had married Theresa Heinz or Maria Schreiber. Once a man in a minivan saw me with my flat and offered me a ride back to the office. This one group of men sat around looking all tough and with their beers and what enjoying the cool shade, and when we talked to them about the commemoration of Katrina, one man broke down, telling us about how his father was one of the elderly people who had been killed by the nurses and doctor that are currently on trial for euthanizing patients during the flooding. He said he was not ashamed to cry, because there is no shame in it, and it meant that God gave him a warm heart, and that his father's spirit was with him.

The interesting thing? All the nice folk were basically all the poor and working class black folks I encountered and was reaching out to with the flyering. Most of the white folks I passed were in the more affluent French Quarter and other areas, and they wouldn't even look me in the eye when I walked near them, but walked faster past me. Not too many Asians out, so Tasia and I go "Look, there's an Asian person!" when we do see one (mostly Vietnamese here). Lot of Latino day laborers being hired to do construction work, so there's a great deal of resentment as black and brown are being played against each other by the corporations and the powers that be. I could ramble on that for a while, but I'll leave it for another post.

Okay, the sun's going down, and I was going to write more about today's and the past couple week's adventures, but I'll leave that for another post.

But I want to add a mini-rant about Lebanon, just to get it off my chest, and I meant to write one in this post before it did the page-kablooey (thank goodness for autosave). First things first: The irony of the situation is killing me. Really, it is. Because what Israel's doing to the lands surrounding it, is basically like the domestic violence cycle of like, a father beating a kid and that kid beating their kid when they grow up. Remember the whole thing with world war II and Germany pulling all this occupation shit and Israel being created out of the treaties and whatnot? (which, hello, Palestine, but that's another rant, maybe). And now Israel is doing the occupation thing, and bombing the shit out of Lebanon (which it's been doing on and off since Israel was fucking *created*) which is such a repeating of history with what Germany did. And yeah, the irony is killing me.

Also, that drafted thingy that the US and France cooked up? Bullshit. I like Rice's statement that "whether the UN security council votes on it will show if you're for peace or against it." Mmhm. So Hizbullah has to cease all hostilities, but Israel only has to cease offensive attacks? Anything could count as a defensive attack if they decide it to be so. Yeah, that's a ceasefire that will last ten minutes.

Is this the time to be saying I'm heavily biased in Lebanon and Palestine's favor? If it wasn't obvious already? Ahahaha. If only because the U.S. government and media (don't even get me started on the "liberal" US media) is so clearly biased in Israel's favor, so I think of this as balance. Okay, that's it for now. Reasoned analysis? Not in me right at the moment, when one of my best friends has family that fled to the mountains in northern Lebanon, in hopes that Israel doesn't *decide* that Hizbullah is hiding there and decides to bomb the hell out of it.

done. if y'all wannna debate me in the comments, feel free but keep it civil, kay?
rhythmia: (Default)
Hey everybody, this post is gonna really suck, since I'm just doing a general check in to prove to everybody that I'm still alive, if eaten alive by mosquitos. :P

San Antonio was awesome, the train rides were decent and I met some interesting people, though the trains took forever because of all the delays. I'm amused that letting it be known that I dated [livejournal.com profile] calculusdude16 gets me all sorts of street cred with the really nice Mexican people I met on the trains from San Jose to San Antonio. XD I got into New Orleans all right, and I've been here a week and a half, every day being a little different with all the activities I'm getting into.

Let's see- quick highlights: Mostly I'm doing office work of all sorts, helping to prepare, because August 29th is the 1 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the People's Hurricane Relief Fund www.peopleshurricane.org is planning a united front commemoration, to remind people that hey, it's been a year and jack has been done with rebuilding, with bringing people in the New Orleans Black Diaspora home, with addressing issues of racism and classism that has permeated New Orleans from pre- and during Katrina, and since then.

So I've helped put names from 6000 people who were at the Convention Center (like the Superdome, only more so because that place was not equipped for evacuation, so no med or food or water supplies) in a survivors' database we're keeping, been to community meetings here and there, did administrative stuff, walked the streets of New Orleans doing flyering and outreach, and started learning the different neighborhoods that make this place unique.

Also I've seen the lower 9th ward (go to www.nola.com, to the Times-Picayune and they have a flash animation that shows the progress of the various levee breaks and flooding during Katrina- crazy) and the richer, whiter neighborhoods for contrast, and the divide is deep. I've hung out in the French Quarter with my lunchbuncher gal the Queen, watching tourists go by and marveling at the architecture and eating tasty Lebanese food at Mona's and lamenting the damage visible here, when it is so much worse elsewhere.

And I've been to a city planning meeting, where the city is planning to rebuild, and rebuild the black people right out of it. New Orleans here is the center of a storm, and at the PHRF we're trying to nurture a grassroots movement to get people organized, working class and poor folk across color lines, because the people most impacted negatively are the black people remaining in the city, and the Mexican and other Latino laborers being brought into the city to work in the construction and demolition and whatever.

It's kinda crazy, I guess. But I'm glad that I'm here, that I'm doing the work that I'm doing even if I don't see the results right away, like they do over at Common Ground where they're gutting houses in the Lower 9th for free because people are displaced and might not be able to come back to do it themselves. And meanwhile check out the UN Human Rights Committee, because they released a report July 28 criticizing and warning the US about human rights violations, and that is some interesting reading right there.

Am I sounding too radical and crazy for what people know me as? Maybe, but I've always had it in me. And now I'm glad I get to act, when at Scripps it was all talk-talk-talk, and all the action was limited to the campus. And yeah, I'm Asian American, but one thing I've learned is that movements that were led by and helped out African Americans, like the Civil Rights Movement, tend to bleed across society and help people across the board, so this is work that needs doing.

But since I don't feel like doing a crazy detailed online journal entry, when I've got various journal entries on paper, I'll link y'all to my photobucket. I've got photos from San Antonio posted, and some photos from New Orleans posted.

http://s21.photobucket.com/albums/b297/rhythmia/

That's all for now, I prolly shouldn't lollygag too much longer. I'm a volunteer, so I'm not stuck with 9-5, but since I get housing, I figure I should put in the time. Most of us here put in lots of time anyway. :P Gimme a call some evening if you're so inclined, I carry my cell around with me, and I'm at CST so two hours ahead of home in California.

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June 2012

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