Saturday, September 03, 2005


Please direct some of your prayers to our brothers and sisters in Japan and Korea. Typhoon Nabi is headed toward Okinawa, Kyuushuu and Korea at the moment. It was also a category five yesterday, but has weakened to a category four.
Props to Kirk Masden on the link.

How could anyone watch this happen?

A Reuters report from the Convention Center.

They just kept them there to die. They rounded up all the poor and black of the city and held them there against their will until many were dead. Those who tried to be heroic and get help, they killed.

They just cared that little about other human beings. They put them into a concentration camp setting and waited for them to die.

I don't care anymore whether the people in charge hated blacks, or poor people or whatever. I don't care whether it was on purpose or not. When they chose to protect themselves and the rich folks in New Orleans' property instead of people, they crossed the line of what decent, loving human beings could ever do.

How could they? They have kids and parents and loved ones at home! How could they do this to anyone?

More Kanye

Looking at West's transcript from Lisa de Moraes' beautiful write-up of the benefit concert (please read the whole article): (props to mike2cents on the link)

I hadn't seen the whole transcript up until now. Reading the transcript, now I'm really confused what West's critics are talking about. I mean he is self-deprecating in order to try to get people to donate. He is saying, "I'm not a great person, but I got myself up to donate. Bush and others aren't doing shit, so you better give some money!"

What more honest, motivating message could he have said? I'd like to encourage people to call their local affiliates in support of West and his comments. Maybe this will help reverse the tide against West.

Here is the email I sent to NBC5 Chicago (contact them here):

I wanted to tell you that I really appreciated Kanye West's comments. A lot of us in the City of Chicago were waiting to hear someone actually speak to what was going on in New Orleans, not just some canned celebrity comments. This was not an awards show, it was something to address the suffering of the poor in New Orleans and elsewhere in the South.

Could you please tell your newscasters and parent station to stop bad-mouthing Kanye for speaking what heavy on his (and my our) heart?

Please consider consulting Kanye to see if he would be willing to speak more on the station. After all, he is one of Chicago's own.

Thank you very much,
Xian Barrett

Why Colored Folks Must Have the Souls of the Phoenix

I wanted to share with you a piece I put together last year for the Fighting 44s site. It is about the atrocities that have been committed against the Asian American community and how the individuals suffering those atrocities might respond. I thought it was relevant because this week the African American community has suffered what is likely the worst racial atrocity to be inflicted in our country in this era.

This piece is not a call to violence, it merely asks a question, "Where will we go from here and where are our leaders going to come from?"

I realize the potential misogyny present in me casting my voice into a grown victim of contemporary American kidnapping. Am I replicating the injustice by stealing her voice? If when Anna Mae He can speak for herself, she wishes me to change it, I certainly will.

By the way, the references in the piece are all 100% real events (with some future speculation on my part), so if you want to learn something hunt them down or ask me and I'll illuminate. Some of them have seen further progress in the last year such as the David Wong case.

What's in a Name?

Fighting Feature

It is a movement with humble beginnings—changes so subtle they are undetectable to the untrained mind. It is a yellow teenager learning to see the beauty in his own countenance; a little brown girl discovering that art and power flow from her hands, her mind, her body. It is the first time a black boy realizes that it is not his instincts that are twisted but the judgment of a system that attaches value to wealth and skin tone; the time that a poor white woman realizes that her poor black neighbors hold more love than the empty words and missing deeds of the white politicians and TV preachers in whom she has placed her trust. It is a long journey that starts with the person next to you beginning to appreciate the significance of her race and class, and matures into an ability to teach others how to see beyond those confines to something better.

Then, while no one is paying attention, it grows into something slightly more significant. It is a couple of frat boys stuttering, frustrated on a balcony after their vulgar comments directed at a yellow man walking with his girlfriend are met with sharp, quick-witted ridicule. It is a white woman being thrown off a plane after expressing one too many reservations about the small group of brown men and women who engage in behavior that seems, to her, to be suspicious, and “Why do they fly in groups anyway?” It is a small group of rich kids walking out of a class mid-period, never to return, having found it not slanted in the “objective” direction that they have grown accustomed to. It’s the first time that a major election is not just one candidate in the pocket of one group of rich, white men opposing another candidate in the pocket of other rich, white men. It is a three-dimensional yellow man who speaks perfect English sucking up every inch of the spotlight as he vanquishes his foes, finding glory and love, in a real motion picture that millions of people actually pay to see. It is a few less teenagers saying, “I’m sorry I just don’t date people who look like you—it’s not prejudice—it’s just my personal taste.”

Then it picks up momentum. Many are terrified, but don’t know what they can do about it. “How could this happen in this community?” “We learned today that we are not as safe as we thought we were!” Others feel invigorated. It is that feeling of a Serena winner that’s a generation faster than her opponent, a Barry Bonds blast that quiets haters with a finishing splash, Nancy Kwan leaving a ten-year trail of ice around her foes, or Yao Ming spinning and dunking over the man who used to be the best center in the world. It is all of these feelings except it lasts not for a fleeting moment, but substantially longer, it is a deeper feeling that is etched permanently on to the soul of every underdog, downtrodden soul in the country. It is the realization someone has tipped the scales and the daily climb will never again be so steep as it was yesterday.

A single shot explodes through the Louisiana evening and a man falls dead, prey to his own .44 Magnum. While his neighbors mourn, “He was such a good man!” a family in Japan finally feels a sense of justice that a racist court system has long refused them. A small group of youths sing, “Batter-up” but instead of taking aim at hard sliders and curves, they decide to use a couple of former Detroit men’s heads for batting practice. It is gruesome—an eye-for-an-eye—but on some level, an entire ethnic group takes solace in this grim sign that their lives are worth more than the paltry sum of three thousand dollars in criminal court. A naïve, loving, hard-working, young immigrant is finally exonerated of a crime he did not commit, he emerges a wise, piercing social theorist, his words shaking all those he encounters to the depths of their souls. Those who lied, cheated and threatened to keep him interned are heckled and spat upon as they attempt to defend their soulless actions.

We smile, as we feel the motion and distance we are covering. But we know not our destination and are forced to acknowledge that we may not be on a righteous path.

When were the first stirrings? She does not know what first sparked her inner strength. What moved her fingers the first day she Boogled her own name? Where did she find the nerve to respond the drunk calls of “Me love you long time” with a solid slap instead of a nervous giggle? At what point did she leave the tracks of her three weekly Bible studies and begin to seek for herself God's teachings of love? She doesn’t know the exact answers, but she does know that at a certain point, her motives and actions became utterly clear. She remembers the words, “This is the last time that I kneel and pray to the sky, cuz almost everything that I was ever told was a lie” and the kinship she felt to the speaker—a kinship that drove her to make a commitment to seek better answers. These answers would deliver her to a far more difficult, but ultimately better place than those principles she had been taught would save her. She remembers the months and years of planning that have brought her to this moment. Without joy or remorse, she completes her work, strips off her gloves and never looks back at the bodies of those who fought so hard to call themselves “Mom” and “Dad,” and were so sure that only they knew what was best for a poor little yellow girl like her. She remembers her name, and pauses.

My name holds everything. It holds the unjust suffering of my ancestors, the brutal arrogance of those who raised me, and it ties me to the pain of every subjugated person who has ever had the misfortune of setting foot on this continent. But it also holds my own suffering, my indoctrination, my spiritual death and rebirth as a wise, sexual, strategic, and utterly unstoppable young Asian American woman. Contained in it is the promise that I will crush these racist, classist institutions and lead all of my people to a better place. My name is Anna Mae He.

Asian Pacific Islander American Blog Network

I've started to participate some in this start-up APIA bloggers group. Check it out if you have time and want to absorb some fresh perspectives. It's already taught me some about writing. I'm so unconcise when I write for here, and it's been interesting to see others who have been covering the same events in so many fewer words.

I suppose some of it is an opinions/news split too. As you know, I can drop endless fire on some of these topics, while others are more willing to report and let others decide (actually, not like FOX). I guess I need this space sometimes to say what I'd like to punch folks in the face with when, as a teacher, I usually just put a multitude of perspectives in front of my students and let them decide.

Shoot the messenger because he's "selfish"

Kanye West committed the cardinal sin today of abandoning the lines provided him by the organizers of the "Concert for Hurricane relief" and using his speaking platform to direct his comments to the suffering of African Americans (remember the vast majority of folks in New Orleans are actually human beings and Americans too, not animals, refugees, looters or whatever slur is being hurled their way this minute).

The AP story is here. (Props on the link to ellencho at The Fighting 44's)
Kanye West takes Bush to task during NBC telethon

New York — It began, fittingly enough, with jazz from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis.

But "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," a heartfelt and dignified benefit aired on NBC and other networks Friday night, took an unexpected turn thanks to the outspoken rapper Kanye West. Appearing two-thirds through the program, he claimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

The show, simulcast from New York on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and Pax, was aired live to the East Coast, enabling the Grammy-winning rapper's outburst to go out uncensored.

There was a several-second tape delay, but the person in charge "was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn't realize (West) had gone off-script," said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks.

Immediately after the airing was over, Marks said it was undetermined how much, if any, of the tirade would be included in the taped West Coast feed three hours later.

The host was NBC News' Matt Lauer, who invited viewers to contribute to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by phone or on the Web. Some 18 presenters performed musical numbers or gave information on the tragedy's huge scope.

Louisiana native Tim McGraw teared up as he told Lauer, "I know the citizens that weren't affected by this directly are gonna stand up and do good things for people." He sang two songs, then became the first of the evening's stars to sign a Gibson Les Paul Special guitar to be auditioned online.

Faith Hill, a Mississippi native, sang "There Will Come a Time," with the inspiring lyrics, "The darkness will be gone, the weak shall be strong. Hold on to your faith."

New Orleans son Aaron Neville performed Randy Newman's soulful "Louisiana 1927" with the memorable chorus, "they're trying to wash us away, they're trying to wash us away."

New York governor George Pataki presented the Red Cross with a check for $2.5-million (U.S.) and promised, "This great state will do far more."

"In terms of property damage," said actress Hilary Swank, "the estimate is at least $26-billion in insured losses and perhaps twice that in uninsured losses over a 90,000-square-mile area — approximately the size of Kansas."

Other speakers included Lindsay Lohan, Eric LaSalle, Glenn Close, Richard Gere, John Goodman and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Comedian Mike Myers was paired with West for a 90-second segment that began with Myers speaking of Katrina's devastation. Then, to Myers' evident surprise, West began a rant by saying, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."

While allowing that "the Red Cross is doing everything they can," West — who delivered an emotional outburst at the American Music Awards after he was snubbed for an award — declared that government authorities are intentionally dragging their feet on aid to the Gulf Coast. Without getting specific, he added, "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us."

After he stated, "George Bush doesn't care about black people. Please call —" the camera cut away to comedian Chris Tucker.

Concluding the hour a few minutes later, Lauer noted that "emotions in this country right now are running very high. Sometimes that emotion is translated into inspiration, sometimes into criticism. We've heard some of that tonight. But it's still part of the American way of life."

Then the entire ensemble performed "When the Saints Go Marching In."

In a statement, NBC said, "Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks.

"It would be most unfortunate," the statement continued, "if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion."

Friday's program was the first of several TV benefits planned through next weekend.

NBC and the five other major commercial broadcast networks, along with PBS, plan to unite next Friday for a special. The same night, BET will air a benefit. And on Saturday, Sept. 10, the MTV networks will air a special.

Is this supposed to be a "news" article? The journalist's lengthy rant against West's brilliant, brave comments soiled the integrity of the venerable Associated Press. When West merely gave his perspective, the "journalist" usedthe backhanded writing technique of using clearly connotative language to claim that Kanye was out of line.

I'm sorry though, I forgot, mainstream journalists "report", black artists who don't mindlessly parrot their marching orders "ruin the dignity" of an event.

Couldn't the journalist have just presented Kanye's comments and let readers decide for themselves if they were appropriate? NBC's reaction is priceless. They apologized because they assumed that the artists would not speak about how they really felt about the disaster. They just assumed they would say the normal canned drivel.

If Swank's statements are typical of the prepared dialogue, thank God someone actually decided to speak on behalf of the victims of the disaster, rather than just talk about the monetary losses.
Juicee News Daily really, truly, I'm not making this up, reported "Kanye West ruins benefit show" and accused him of being "selfish and unprofessional". I suppose that not reciting the weak determined content could be called "unprofessional". But how is speaking on behalf of those dying in the streets of New Orleans "selfish"? I mean, what is Kanye West supposed to be gaining from couragously expressing his dissenting views except sniping from the right-wing?

I'm sick of this anti-American tact of silencing dissent when it is most needed. The relief effort was fucked up and tons of people died. Now we can't even speak about it because it ruins the atmosphere? Of course Mike Myers was upset--there was actually a living, breathing human being next to him on stage and it made him uncomfortable.

Watch the linked video, and ask yourself, "What was Kanye thinking?" Was he nervous? Why did he do it?

If you can't understand, go back to your side of the country and be keep telling yourself that Bush loves all God's children of all colors. After all, if you say it enough and click your heels together, maybe it'll magically become true.

Also, go ahead and read "The Emperor's New Clothes" again, you might understand it this time.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Treatment of those at the Convention Center

Here's a blog from inside N.O. that has talked to a source at the convention center. Where is the empathy? And what the fuck is up with this?

Before the supplies were pitched off the bridge today, people had to break into buildings in the area to try to find food and water for their families. There was not enough. This spurred many families to break into cars to try to escape the city. There was no police response to the auto thefts until the mob reached the rich area -- Saulet Condos -- once they tried to get cars from there... well then the whole swat teams began showing up with rifles pointed. Snipers got on the roof and told people to get back.

This sounds like the L.A. Riots again where the hierarchy is:

Things we care about:
Rich people's lives
Rich people's neighborhoods
Rich people's stuff
Line of not giving a fuck:
Police and folks in power washing their cars, picking their noses, etc.
Poor people's lives, neighborhoods and stuff

Your laziness has killed hundreds, maybe thousands of people

I'm proud that a lot of the three monkey media is actually questioning Bush in this case. It's about fucking time. But there's still a strong group of Bush apologists who are making excuses like, "I don't see what he could have done about this..."

This is judgment day. This is that day when those big shot lawyers you had on your payroll are supposed to defend you in court and instead they send their janitor. This is the shit he claimed that he was good at. He moved around all of these departments, took away all of our civil liberties, push racial profiling and stereotyping, convert us all to hateful, wacko fake Christianity, attacked a whole bunch of countries, and widened the gap between rich and poor. Shit, he even went all out and hired a guy who was fired by the Arabian Horse Association to run our entire Emergency Management association. I'm sorry, I voted against him, but my understanding was that he DID have magic snake-oil to save us in disasters and that was why we were supposed to overlook all of this other shit.

Instead, the wrath of God comes down on us and all he can do is say, "I didn't know this could happen" and watch people get eaten by rats? I could do that shit and I'd be a better looking president. He can't even pretend to care on the interviews. He just hates us. His FEMA assholes are blaming the people that Bush himself made too fucking poor to leave the area and people are actually buying it! What the motherfucking empathy gap is that supposed to be? Did they watch too many rap videos and think that all poor people have pimped rides to get them out of town? Nobody could leave town. They didn't have the means. We might as well have told them to learn to fly, head into the storm and fly counter clockwise to slow it down.

People sat around for days dying of thirst and without food, bathroom facilities or shit to do and it's all of their faults that some isolated assholes decided to start attacking people?

Fuck that. We, our government, was either too stupid to know, or too stupid to care what was going to happen and I don't think we should wait for Bush to get to the pearly gates for his to receive a grade on this business.

This is Pacific Heights and we took the psycho guy who talks a good game and doesn't look like those nasty colored people to take over our house and he filled it with roaches, fucked up the structure and basically ruined everything.

This week we learned what all that talk about Homeland Security was about besides making money for his friends: Absolutely jack-shit. He and his friends took all of the security money and spent it on extra houses and jobs for their friends and if God-forbid another disaster or attack comes our way, they are going to fly around in their airplanes and watch us die.

Think this is hyperbole? The Houston Chronicle reports that the Halliburton has been hired to do the clean-up work in New Orleans and Mississippi. Yes, the same Halliburton that was found to be overcharging our nation's military in Iraq and choosing again and again to prioritize oil over the safety of our troops and was at one time headed by our VP, Dick Cheney. Bush killed a bunch of people in the South and now his friends are being hired to sift through the bodies.

Welcome to Bush's new America, us poor colored folks have known this for awhile. Some of us have been wondering why conservative white folks have been too stupid to figure it out. Now another countless thousands are dead, are you still going to make excuses for our golden boy who talks big until there's actually something to done?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Heroic Story

I was going to put up another post complaining about media coverage of the Hurricane tragedy as public officials (like the president of our great land) called it "our tsunami" and said "I can only imagine this is what Hiroshima looked like 60 years ago". But Matt and Nerdmeyr (a Bloomington, IN blogger) have already discussed this issue some.

Instead, I'd like to link to a Houston Chronicle story that is sometimes frustrating, but ultimately pretty uplifting.

I want have admiration for the rescue workers who risked their own lives and never lost sight of the humanity of those whom they were saving. The police officers who are sincerely trying to protect a city that has lost its infrastructure and haven't allowed that power to go to their heads.

I have a deep respect for these folks who cooperated and worked outside of the system to get people safely to Houston. I was floored by these sections:

"Milling about the Reliant entrance, Sheila Nathan, 38, told her teary-eyed toddler that she was too tired to hold him.

"I'm trying to make it a fairy tale so they won't panic," said Nathan, who had four grandchildren in tow. "I have to be strong for them."

"The group of mostly teenagers and young adults pooled what little money they had to buy diapers for the babies and fuel for the bus."

I don't agree with Bush or other community leaders who preach "zero tolerance for lawlessness". I believe that we must seek to prevent any violence and oppression of others that emerges from the chaos left in the wake of the hurricane.

However, in many cases, heroic, non-violent lawlessness might be exactly what allows great folks to survive this tragedy.

Welcome safe and sound to Texas, good luck getting out of here alive

In other Katrina news, what the fuck?
From Yahoo News, here.

Armed Texas game wardens surround a group of individuals who stole a mail truck to escape the flooded areas of New Orleans East August 31, 2005. The people were freed but forced to continue on foot.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

(White) Finders keepers, (Black) Looters weepers

Props to General Tojo from the Fighting44's for this find.

These are two photos released on Yahoo News that show the carnage left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The first one has this caption:

Yahoo Picture

Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.(AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythen)

The second has this caption:
Yahoo Picture Two

A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Now as is normally the case when you go beyond conjecture and start showing cold, hard racial inequity, all sorts of apologists came out of the woodwork to complain that the photos were from different organizations and that AP is calling all people taking goods "looters" while AFP is probably saying that they "found" stuff.

First of all, that doesn't make any fucking sense. There is no justification for using "finding" in this case. Maybe "scavaged", "took", or heck "liberated". But "finding" is some Columbus level shit.

Secondly, the justification that the organizations have different terminology just isn't true. The captions on Yahoo News are not determined by the organizations that provided the images. Here is the CNN caption for the picture:

A young man drags groceries through chest-deep water in New Orleans on Tuesday.

The other issue I have is with the outrage that is directed toward the "looters".
I'm sorry, but I don't know a good value system that rates, "Scavaging for stuff when your house is submerged under a fucking Gulf of a large-ass country" as a worse moral offense than sitting on your ass in your dry home judging people while those people are swimming/drowning through what's left of their city. I'm sorry, if some storm/cloud/whatever the fuck turns Chicago into Lake Michigan's new annex, I'm not going to be caught waiting for my VISA to clear the register at my neighborhood submerged Jewel Food Store. I'm not going to "find" any food there either. I'm going to be "swiping", "pocketing" or god-forbid "eating off someone's else shelf" if that's what's necessary.

That's not to say people should just grab everything they can like a British soldier invading a country full of colored people. I think it should be pretty clear that if people are not taking stuff to hoard or sell, it's fair game. It's pretty straight forward:
Food to eat-->OK Food to sell-->not OK
TV-->no, unless you are playing to install it in your submerged living room to catch submerged emergency reports
An inflatable raft-->Sure. Some bottles of water-->Of course.
A bunch of DVDs from Wal-Mart-->Not a lifetime sentence, in fact, it's fine, what else are you supposed to be doing while you are waiting in the Superdome swimming pool for the tourists to be bussed out.

Update: This is all over the nets (and probably was before I posted it). Many of the posts have the same lame title I chose all by myself. Great minds think alike--stupid, uncreative minds, too.

Yahoonews has put up a lame apology page here. They claim that they just run the captions from the different news services uneditted. Well, that's there prerogative, but it's also their prerogative to look like racist assholes. Incidentally, on the DailyKos, a user has posted other photos from the same news agencies that demonstrate that those news services are not only not consistent in defining "looting", but that they are inconsistent in the same racist way. (I suppose in a way that's consistency.)

So I correct myself--white people "find" and "look through shopping bags"; black people "loot".

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I'm number 1!

I finally got hooked up with SiteMeter so I can spy on how many folks come to the site and more interestingly how they get here.

Last week, I joked with my friends how disappointed that the searcher who linked to my site from a search for "Chinese Fucking" must have been.

This week when I checked, I found this entry. (Screenshot to come soon)

Except for my stunning good looks and unrivaled fashion sense, I've never been #1 at anything. To be number one on the "Asia Carrera's Ass" search with a piece on white guys with AFS at the showing of Darren Hamamoto's masterpiece on sexual stereotyping of Asian Americans is a veritable dream come true.

So Asian Fetishists beware, an angry asian man could be right around the corner of your next porn search!

I hope that somewhere, Kristina Wong is smiling...
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