“When Gap changed its Twitter background to the picture of Sikh model Waris Ahluwalia, many commentators claimed a victory not only for social media, but for South Asians and Muslims as well. One blogger claimed the change was “to show solidarity and support” with those who were offended by the racist graffiti. But if solidarity simply means changing a Twitter background, then we have not only failed in some fundamental way in understanding the politics of that term, but we have also relegated our identity to merely that of a consumer. Gap has purposefully chosen to demonstrate solidarity with its brown consumers, but not with its brown factory workers. We have compromised our sense of racial solidarity for consumer solidarity, a solidarity between a corporation and its consumers that invites a racialized minority community to become rightful customers. Yet this image of inclusivity means little when the actual practices of the company continue to exclude Bangladeshi workers from having basic human rights. Changing a Twitter background is easy. Seeing through the smoke and mirrors, organizing to put pressure on Gap and policymakers, and demanding better working conditions for sweatshop laborers in Bangladesh–that is hard work.”—
Join me and Reappropriate tonight at 9pm EST/6pm PST as we talk about #AAPI feminism, what Asian American feminism means, and what it’s like to be a voice for AAPI feminism online!
The podcast will start recording at 9pm EST / 6pm PST tonight through this link and you are invited to live-stream the episode as we record! As always, the podcast encourages user discussion. Please submit your questions and comments either before the recording through Twitter to @reappropriate, or during the recording both through Twitter or on the Google+ Hangout.
“If Asian men are the vassals for white men’s domination fantasies, black men are the tools required for white male submissive fantasies. As Frantz Fanon explains, the black ‘man’ no longer exists in the white sexual imagination. Instead, ‘one is no longer aware of the negro, but only of a penis. The Negro is eclipsed. He is turned into a penis. He is a penis.’ Rather than existing as individuals, black men exist as sexual tools, ready to fulfill, or violate, white male sexual fetishes.”—Chong-suk Han, They Don’t Want To Cruise Your Type: Gay Men of Color and the Racial Politics of Exclusion (via rniguelangel)
Ryo Oyamada, a 24 year old student from Japan, was struck and killed by an NYPD vehicle in a hit & run. Witnesses say the police car had no lights or sirens on and was going over 70 mph. The released footage by NYPDwas proven to be heavily altered in a cover-up, showing “lights” on the vehicle, when compared to footage from the NY Housing Authority on the same street with the same timestamp.
On a personal note: I know that this will probably not be shared or reblogged very much, because Asians are not very prominent in American culture. I understand this, because Asians (like me) are partially at fault for being so passive. But I am begging you to please consider signing this petition out of human decency. Ryo was just a student walking home, then struck by a nearly silent police cruiser going at excess speed, and the NYPD covered it up.
Here is the side-by-side comparison of the released video footage, including updates from the case. *Edit* This article contains a link to a graphic video moments after the crash, showing the body of Ryo Oyamada and NY citizens yelling at the police. Please advise, it is highly disturbing.
And the following is an excerpt from the petition, which as of now only has 286 signatures.
On February 21st, 2013, Ryo Oyamada was struck and killed by a police cruiser while crossing the street. NYPD claimed that the cruiser’s lights and sirens were on before the collision, but multiple eyewitnesses stated otherwise, that the lights and sirens were only turned on afterwards, and that the cruiser was speeding in excess of 70 mph down a residential street. None of these eyewitnesses were interviewed for the police report.
Hey! A few of us in Black Tumblr are trying to start a #IWillNotSmile tag on August 26 against street harassment - targeting the demand of women to look happy/cute for the benefit of men, and we would like to ask our sisters in the Tumblr community to join in on the convo. There is a post on my blog with more info, would you be willing to reblog it to spread the word?
"I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world." - Tupac Shakur
This is the mission and vision that this project stands on. The Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy and Leadership (CAPITAL) is forming a new project called the CAPITAL CAL Mini-Grant program. CAL standing for Collaboration, Advocacy and Leadership!
CAPITAL is looking to encourage the community HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Grants will be focused on empowering youth to serve as catalysts in their communities and create impactful project. Projects could include but not limited to neighborhood revitalization, arts education, college access and preparation and more. Grants will be awarded through a application and committee screening process. Potential grantees will also receive training to to develop their planning and implementation skills, networks and overall leadership.
If you would like to also learn more about the organization, project and individuals involved please come to the second all CelebrASIAN dinner.
Attend the CelebrASIAN dinner!
Come to : CelebrASIAN of CAPITAL Unity
Place : Happy Garden Restaurant
Date: Thursday, August 21, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Sponsorship Levels ( Thinkers in History )
Socrates - $5,000
Aristotle - $2,000
Confucius - $1,000
Galileo - $650 – One Table of 10
All sponsors will get “ stage recognition” at the event and an Ad in our program.
"White feminism" does not mean every white woman, everywhere, who happens to identify as feminist. It also doesn’t mean that every "white feminist" identifies as white. I see "white feminism" as a specific set of single-issue, non-intersectional, superficial feminist practices. It is the feminism we understand as mainstream; the feminism obsessed with body hair, and high heels and makeup, and changing your married name. It is the feminism you probably first learned. "White feminism" is the feminism that doesn’t understand western privilege, or cultural context. It is the feminism that doesn’t consider race as a factor in the struggle for equality.
White feminism is a set of beliefs that allows for the exclusion of issues that specifically affect women of colour. It is “one size-fits all” feminism, where middle class white women are the mould that others must fit. It is a method of practicing feminism, not an indictment of every individual white feminist, everywhere, always.
The truth is, no one really knows what a society that does not privilege whiteness would look like in the U.S.; we haven’t seen it yet. How might we build such an alternative structure?
Asian-Americans — and all those desirous of a more just society — could fight the sort of one-way racial osmosis that permits only some groups to pass. For me and other biracial Americans, that can involve choosing to identify with our nonwhite halves. More broadly, it involves recognizing that big-picture issues (the criminalization of black bodies by the police and the media that we’ve witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri, the case for reparations, the surveillance of Muslim Americans, the racist roots of felon disenfranchisement and a host of other inequities) are not just problems for social justice advocates to fix. They are everyone’s battles to wage.
Perhaps part of the answer lies in redefining our perimeters. In her book “Boundaries of Obligation,” political scientist Cara Wong argues that self-defined membership in a community — one that is based on a sense of similarity, belonging or fellowship — “can lead to an interest in, and a commitment to, the well-being of all community members … regardless of one’s own interests, values and ideology.” Finding points of solidarity, regardless of what issues one is directly affected by, is crucial to erasing the historic lines that continue to divide our society.
The choice to reject white inclusion in favor of the less defined alternative is a gamble on an uncertain national community to be. But considering the racist origins of today’s social structure — and the possibility of a more just future one — it’s a leap worth taking.
I’ve got multiracial coalition on the mind today and so, clearly, do others. As Deepa Iyer wrote for The Nation, non-black people of color have a stake in the search for justice for Michael Brown.
But, efforts to move non-black people of color by reminding them of their own horrid experiences with the cops only have so much power. As Soya Jung, a Korean-American activist, writes for Race Files,
I do not move through the world in the crosshairs of a policing system that has its roots in slave patrols, or in a nation that has used me as an “object of fear” to justify state repression and public disinvestment from the infrastructure on which my community relies. I am not public enemy number one in the ongoing U.S. domestic war over power and resources that has systematically denied black humanity.
Communities of color have unique experiences that should not be equated with one another. People of color in the U.S. all live amidst white supremacy, but not everyone lives as targets of anti-blackness. Jung argues that Asian Americans have three options: “invisibility, complicity, or resistance.”
Far from being an academic issue for race nerds to debate, Asian-American business owners in Ferguson are immersed in the conversation in a very real way, and have called for “unity,” reports The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak. Mak’s story was slapped with an inflammatory headline though, which described the looting of stores as “Ferguson’s Other Race Problem.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA executive director Stewart Kwoh took issue with that characterization, and released a statement saying so:
In the coming weeks, we will likely hear stories from Ferguson about ongoing protests by African American community members and allies, similar to the days following the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles. At that time, the media pitted communities of color against one another. We cannot allow this to happen again. This is about dangerous, harmful law enforcement practices and the need to end racially-motivated police practices that target communities of color. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community stands in solidarity with the African American community in this fight.
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein spoke with U.S. mayors of cities where police have killed young men of color in high-profile case. Two said that looking back, heavy police repression in response to community outrage was a mistake which only further incited the community. Besides Ferguson’s aggressively militarized police response, what else was going on in the area before Michael Brown’s shooting set off his aggrieved, outraged community?
Everyone—or at least, every black person—can recall an incident. Everyone can attest to friends and relatives who have been harassed, assaulted, or worse by the police.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing cases was last year’s shooting of Cary Ball Jr., a 25-year-old black student at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park. The official police report is that Ball crashed his car after a high-speed chase, ran away, and aimed his weapon at officers after they confronted him. Witnesses say Ball had thrown his gun to the ground and was walking toward police—hands up—when he was shot and killed with 25 rounds. A federal investigation cleared the officers. Likewise, that February, surveillance video from a casino showed St. Louis police slamming a black man’s head into the bumper of a vehicle, after a dispute over gambling and trespassing. And in March of this year, a videoshowed St. Louis police officers beating a mentally disabled man in his home, after the family called police for help.
What are you reading today on Ferguson? Please share, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.
…lynching and empire were bitter fruits of the same tree.
—Nerissa S. Balce
In 1898, Tampa, Florida, a group of drunken American soldiers used a child for target practice. The soldiers were white. The child was black.
The Lost Bar is four blocks from my door and has quality bourbon, whiskey, and the like for cheap. I’m a new resident in Philadelphia. It’s Friday night and packed. As usual, the crowd is all white. NFL pre-season is on both screens. I’m trying not to think about recent news: the violence in Gaza, Eric Garner killed by police in Staten Island, Michael Brown killed by police in Ferguson. Maybe the biggest collaboration in failure between me and my formal education has been the belief that I am apart from history and history is apart from me. I have no interest in digging up ghosts. I don’t need to. They follow me. When the bartender asks if he can help me, I request my drink in impeccable English, and maybe I turn the Jersey volume up in my sentence. I wonder if the two men to my left with thick forearms (and necks to match) hear me say, “Rye, neat. And a glass of water, no ice.”
That summer when U.S. regiments were making camp throughout the Southeast for several weeks, they were en route to fight the Spanish in Puerto Rico and Cuba. And you can imagine how tense it got in those deeply segregated towns when among the troops were the hundreds of black soldiers from the 24th and 25th Infantries and the Ninth and Tenth Cavalries — Buffalo soldiers. Many, if not the majority, of the black troops had spent most of their time in the North and so were accustomed to doing business with local restaurants and shops. One black soldier, according to historian Willard B. Gatewood, reported his experience in a letter to a friend: “Prejudice reigns supreme here against the colored troops. Every little thing that is done here is chronicled as Negro brazeniness [sic], outlawry, etc. An ordinary drunk brings forth scare headlines in the dailies.” 
This went on, escalating for weeks, until a white soldier, a member of the Ohio Volunteers, snatched the black child from his mother and held him upside down by the ankle, spanking him with his free hand. The Ohio servicemen then decided a contest was a good opportunity to show off their marksmanship. The winner would be the one to shoot through the child’s sleeve. Hard to say how many rounds they fired, but accounts say they had their “fun” and finally released the child, who was, according to available sources, physically unharmed. With outrage brewing for weeks, the incident sparked race riots in Tampa proper, not to mention the military encampments themselves. The local news reported, “[T]wenty-seven black troops and several white Georgia volunteers from Tampa, all with serious wounds…were transferred to Fort McPherson near Atlanta.” The day after the bloody scuffles erupted, the soldiers, black and white, were deployed to Cuba. They were being sent to fight for American expansionism in the Caribbean and beyond. Expanding the borders of America, however, also meant the expansion of military occupation and racial segregation.
I moved to an old textile and ribbon factory in the Kensington section of Philly two months ago. The anti-Catholic “Nativist Riots” were here in the summer of 1844. Now, galleries, cafes, and vegan options have popped up for the new young white professionals and artists who have moved in. Much of the neighborhood is still working class Irish. The spire of St. Michael’s sits in my second-floor window.
My first few weeks here, at another bar farther down Frankford, one long-time resident sitting next to me told me, with a touch of brogue, “This neighborhood is going through changes. A few years ago, me and you couldn’t walk outside on this street together.” He paused and gave me a hard look, a lot like a kid who, unprovoked, snarled at me and gave me the finger earlier today. “I hope you enjoy living here.” I’m cursed: everywhere I go, no matter what corner or room or stairway, I get this feeling, this pulse of history, like the place is throbbing with what used to be here, though I can’t always name it. And what used to be here often echoes exactly what still is.
Tonight, on the TV at the Lost Bar, the Eagles turn the ball over in their own territory and the Patriots take over. I down my rye, leave the water, and go home.
Before Michael Brown, before Kimani Gray, before Oscar Grant, before Sean Bell, I’ve wanted know: How does a state justify the killing of black men and boys? I don’t have a better answer than, they just do. They justified it in Tampa in 1898. They justified it for 300 years in America before that. They justified it for more than a hundred years since, in L.A., Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Ferguson, Detroit, Oakland, New Orleans. Every time I start the catalog, I know I could go on a long time. I’m afraid if I open my mouth, the litany won’t stop.
There’s this story I want to tell about how Filipinos in a town called Balangiga were fed up.
U.S. soldiers had come to occupy the town, and before long, they rounded up dozens of Balangiga men, commanding them to chop down edible crops, which the military called weeds, growing around their huts. After a long day’s labor the Filipino men were forced to sleep, not at home with their families, but in groups of four dozen in a single Silbey tent designed for six men to lie down, which meant they slept sitting up. There was also more than one allegation that an American soldier had raped a woman from Balangiga. And on top of all of that, the townspeople just didn’t want the Americans there.
So, one night, several Filipino men dressed like women and carried a number of undersized coffins to the town church. When American guards stopped the cross-dressed men, they told the Filipinos in disguise to open the coffins. Inside, the sentries saw the actual corpses of children. But also hidden in the boxes were the blades the men would hand out to other men gathering at the church. The Filipinos told the guards that the children had died from cholera, which startled the Americans and cut the impromptu investigation short. The mourners were told to carry on.
Despite being at a severe disadvantage in weaponry, the Filipinos attacked before dawn and chased the Americans out, killing close to fifty marines using mostly just machetes. It was the bloodiest single skirmish suffered by American forces during the Philippine-American War.
"Occupied territory is occupied territory, even though it be found in that New World which the Europeans conquered," writes James Baldwin, "and it is axiomatic, in occupied territory, that any act of resistance, even though it be executed by a child, be answered at once, and with the full weight of the occupying forces." In response to the battle at Balangiga, General Jacob Smith immediately ordered his marines to return and kill every Filipino over the age of ten and to turn the landscape into "a howling wilderness."
Today, I’m in a cafe to write my way through this essay, and a tall, thin, white man probably in his twenties works in the kitchen. His scruff grows around a narrow chin. His hair is pulled up into a short ponytail. When he turns around, I can see his t-shirt for the heavy metal band, Dead Child. I can see him draw the knife to chop the vegetables, assemble a new sandwich, and wipe down the chopping board.
Here’s what it’s like to be Filipino and curious about history. Most everything you see in your daily life, including what ends up in the news or in books or on social media or in the songs and diatribes of white people, has a second story. How often I enter a room and that story seems to have never been told. Or the story is finally read but with utter disbelief. Or irony. Or pity. I am at once amazed at the complexity and multiplicity of this country’s history and at the same time exhausted — and sometimes devastated — by having to walk among white people as if I haven’t witnessed something that they haven’t seen yet. I watch the video of a boy shot by police at Fruitvale Station or a man strangled by police in New York. Sometimes I see a brick wall in northeast Philadelphia with a giant confederate flag painted on it or I see something simple as a concert t-shirt. Did any of it happen? Is it really there? Like a mad man. I feel like a mad man. Or I feel like I’m not a man at all.
I’ve had to hone my seeing twice, like most people of color, but I want to be clear that I have never been at risk the way that Michael Brown was at risk or the way other young African American men have been and continue to be at risk. The fact that I can choose to name what I see already eases me out of a danger that Michael Brown, at the hands of police power, couldn’t escape. But I am directly descended from people who were named savage, criminal, bandit, freak, expendable. It was one hundred fifteen years ago a representative of the state held a black child upside down so other representatives of the state could shoot at him.
I would argue that in one hundred and fifteen years, the state has not changed the way it turns a man or woman into an animal in order to justify its own brutality.
A child snatched from a mother and gleefully fired upon by a group of drunken soldiers, the casual order to slaughter anybody over the age of ten, an eighteen-year-old gunned down by some half dozen bullets at close range — these are by no means equivalent horrors. But they do make a nation of ghosts. Those ghosts are made citizens of a bloody country by the charters of American silence. Those ghosts knock on my door. They talk to me when I’m awake and when I sleep. When I study history, I’m studying where the ghosts come from. I’m looking for their names. I’m looking for evidence of their bodies. When I, as a poet, study history, I’m calling the ghosts to come closer. And I’ve promised, when they don’t approach, I will go to them.
A man holds up a piece of police tape during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, August 11, 2014 (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
The images out of Ferguson, Missouri, these past two weeks have been shocking: tear gas blanketing suburban streets, law enforcement creating a war zone and defiant protesters braving it all. But it is important to remember that what started Ferguson’s fight is far too common: the police killing of an unarmed black teen.
In fact, Latinos and Asian- and Arab-Americans have a critical stake in reforming discriminatory police practices. While African-Americans in Ferguson must remain the primary voices and decision-makers calling for action to address the murder of Michael Brown, other communities of color can and must join Ferguson’s fight by linking the impact of racially motivated policing with the structural racial inequities that exacerbate it.
Latinos and Asian and Arab-Americans are no strangers to police violence and profiling based on skin color, accent, language, immigration status and faith. For example, Fong Lee, the 19-year-old son of Laotian refugees, was shot and killed by a police officer as he was riding his bike home from school in Minneapolis in 2006. For years, Latinos, along with African-Americans, have been the disproportionate targets of the New York Police Department’s “stop-and-frisk” tactic. And Muslim, South Asian and Arab-American communities have experienced ongoingsurveillance in mosques and student associations, all in the name of national security.
In their ongoing war on undocumented immigration, federal and state law enforcement agencies have been accused of engaging in rampant profiling of Latino and Asian-American communities. Federal programs such as Secure Communities and “Show Me Your Papers” laws enacted in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah have led to stops and detentions of people based on their accents or skin color, and deepened both documented and undocumented immigrants’ fears of engaging with law enforcement.
When law enforcement trample on the rights of any group, we must all resist: the oppressive, militarized tactics on display in Ferguson have undermined people’s basic rights to peaceful assembly and movement, and it’s not the first time. For Asian-Americans, the curfew that caused so much unnecessary violence in Ferguson over the weekend was reminiscent of the “enemy alien curfews” that restricted the movements of Japanese-Americans, as well as German, Italian and Japanese noncitizens, during World War II—also imposed for reasons ostensibly related to public safety. The military-grade hardware we’ve seen on the streets of Ferguson has also been deployed by law enforcement in border cities in California, Texas and Arizona, where reports of racial profiling, harassment and deaths of Latinos seeking refuge in the United States have been occurring for decades now.
How can we fight back against police brutality and profiling? To start with, we can push for concrete solutions already proposed by communities of color, such as requiring police to wear cameras, ensuring police accountability through the legal system, documenting police stops, ending racial and religious profiling, providing culturally and linguistically appropriate trainings for law enforcement that reflect the communities they serve, instituting diverse recruitment and hiring practices, and abiding by the concepts of community policing based on mutual trust and respect. Coalitions such as Communities United for Police Reform in New York City provide hopeful examples of how organizing black, brown and interfaith communities can lead tolegislative victories that maintain public safety, civil rights and police accountability.
But police brutality is just one symptom of this country’s larger structural racism, which segregates our schools and cities, increases the poverty and unemployment rates for people of color, has psychological consequences for families and young people, and decreases our life expectancy. African-Americans disproportionately bear the brunt of this structural racism, but it affects many immigrants and other minorities as well. In order to transform our communities, all people of color must find common cause in each other’s movements. We can only end racial injustice through strategic multiracial alliances at the local and national levels that are informed by an understanding of our connected histories, and through working within our constituencies to address anti-black racism and stereotypes about one another.
“So, transform yourself first…Because you are young and have dreams and want to do something meaningful, that in itself, makes you our future and our hope. Keep expanding your horizon, decolonize your mind, and cross borders.”—Yuri Kochiyama (via conversationpeace)
“Why are police calling the people of Ferguson animals and yelling at them to “bring it”? Because those officers in their riot gear, with their tear gas and dogs, want a justification for slaughter. But inexplicably…we turn our attention to the rioters, the people with less power, but justifiable anger, and say, “You are the problem.” No. A cop killing an unarmed teenager who had his hands in the air is the problem. Anger is a perfectly reasonable response. So is rage.
…How dare people preach and condescend to these people and tell them not to loot, not to riot? Yes, those are destructive forms of anger, but frankly I would rather these people take their anger out on property and products rather than on other people.
No, I don’t support looting. But I question a society that always sees the product of the provocation and never the provocation itself. I question a society that values property over black life. But I know that our particular system of law was conceived on the founding premise that black lives are white property…
Nothing makes white people more uncomfortable than black anger. But nothing is more threatening to black people on a systemic level than white anger. It won’t show up in mass killings. It will show up in overpolicing, mass incarceration, the gutting of the social safety net, and the occasional dead black kid. Of late, though, these killings have been far more than occasional. We should sit up and pay attention to where this trail of black bodies leads us….”—Brittney Cooper (via blue-author)
“I think when these Asian American cyberactivists drop sound bite rhetoric like “all of you are anti-Black,” I’m just going to ask them exactly what they mean. I want them to use specific historical examples, I want them to explain their framework, I’m going to ask if they even think about how often the Asian people with the *least* amount of privilege are rendered invisible and silenced by their rhetoric. I’m going to demand that they work as hard as the rest of us do when we bring up difficult subjects, because right now, they don’t. They drop these phrases in an attempt to shame those of us on the Asian left who, you know, think it’s important that cross-community alliance and transformation happens between communities, not self-righteous individuals seeking a pat on the back for being the most down for the cause exceptional Asian.”—bao phi (via rockstarchinaman)
“The “Asian accent” tells the story of Chinese-American assimilation in a nutshell. Our parents have the accent that white Americans perceive as the most foreign out of all the possible alternatives, so our choice is to have no accent at all. The accent of our parents is the accent of the grimy streets of Chinatown with its mahjong parlors and fried food stalls and counterfeit jewelry, so we work to wipe away all traces of that world from our speech so we can settle comfortably into our roles as respectable middle-class doctors, lawyers, engineers, hundreds of miles from Chinatown.
No wonder we react so viscerally to the “ching-chong, ching-chong” schoolyard taunt. To attack our language, our ability to sound “normal,” is to attack our ability to be normal. It’s to attack everything we’ve worked for.
I am sick and tired of reassuring myself that if their smiling faces can rejoice at the murderer’s freedom simply because the victim didn’t belong here, that I have any hope of belonging here either.
I am not an American. This is not my country. I have no country other than a China I barely know and do not love. Trayvon had no country other than the vanished West African kingdoms of centuries ago, replaced by post-colonial polities that know nothing of and care nothing for their long-lost sons and daughters of the Middle Passage.
To all youth in NYC, check out Chinatown Beautification Day’s Youth Conference: Breaking Barriers this Sunday, August 17. Registration begins at 9:30 AM at the Asian American/Asian Research Institute, 18th Floor, 25 W 43rd Street.
This year’s conference will feature keynote speaker will be Juliet Shen, activist and feminist as well as founder and writer of Fascinasians. Youth conference also offers a series of workshops with topics ranging from police violence to spoken word poetry to the changing NYC specialized high school system to immigration to gentrification to Asian American masculinity and more!
CBD youth conference is open to both high school and college students. Registration is free and copious amounts of dumplings and snacks will be provided throughout the day! Space is limited and fills up quickly, so register soon at http://cbd14.com/register_conference.
Youth conference is a great way to meet new people, partake in a series of thought provoking workshops, and connect with the youth activist community in NYC. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Ivy Pan at email@example.com.
Another young black man has been gunned down. His name was Mike Brown. He was unarmed.
My [redacted] e-mailed me because she knew I would be upset about this story, because she knows all of my heart, and all I could say in response was, “I am numb.”
I don’t care if Mike Brown was going to college soon. This should not matter. We should not have to prove Mike Brown was worthy of living. We should not have to account for the ways in which he is suitably respectable. We should not have to prove that his body did not deserve to be riddled with bullets. His community should not have to silence their anger so they won’t be accused of rioting, so they won’t become targets too.
It should not matter if Mike Brown was a good boy but I have no doubt that he was. His life mattered, no matter how he chose to live it. He had family and friends who must mourn him and who must now worry about who will be murdered next. Every life matters. There are few things I believe more passionately. Unfortunately, we live in a country where your worth and safety are largely determined by the color of your skin.
Yesterday, a young black man was murdered in Ferguson, Missouri. Every day, this happens. This is the value of black life. We are targets. Our children are targets. This is the scarred reality in which we must raise our children.
The media, as usual, has no idea how to talk about Mike Brown’s murder ethically. They do not know how to talk about his community’s grief and anger ethically. They do not know how to overcome the profound cultural biases that have shaped how they understand the value of black lives or the tenor of black anger and grief.
Yesterday, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart hit and killed Kevin Ward Jr. with his car during a sprint race on a dirt track. Not much of that sentence makes sense to me because I don’t really follow car racing but I have been struck by the story and how clearly the proper language has been used to describe what took place. One man killed another with his car. It is a tragedy. Did Kevin Ward Jr. go to college? That will never be part of his narrative because we inherently assume his life matters. He is white.
There is no comparing Mike Brown and Kevin Ward Jr. not really, but I am still keenly aware of the differences in how their deaths have been reported. I am keenly aware of how deftly responsibility has been placed squarely on the responsible party in Kevin Ward Jr.’s death. The police officer who murdered Mike Brown is on “paid administrative leave,” while an investigation is conducted. This is what always happens. An unarmed young black man is shot multiple times and his murderer is given the compensated benefit of the doubt.
As we try to make sense of this latest tragedy and as we try to prepare for the next one, and there will, certainly be a next one and one after that for the whole of our lives, I think about how we rally and how we try to express our solidarity. We are. We are. We are.
We are not Mike Brown. We are not Eric Garner. We are not Renisha McBride. We are not Trayvon Martin. I understand the sentiment behind these cries of solidarity but we are not these men and women who have been murdered in different but similar ways for the exact same reason. I worry that we diminish their lives, their deaths, and the grief of those who loved them when we think we can simply say we are those who have been so cruelly lost.
We are not these people.
Maybe it is better for those of us with brown skin to say we might someday endure a fate like the one suffered by Mike Brown, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and countless others. Maybe it is better for those of us who could never possibly endure such a fate to say, “We will never know what it is like to live with such danger in a seemingly safe place.” These statements aren’t as catchy as “We are,” but they are more accurate.
What on earth is there to say at this point? Outrage has done nothing. Protest has done nothing. Grief has done nothing. Doing or saying nothing is not an option, and yet.
My brother is a 25 year old, self-employed videographer. He first sought out his dream in 2012, with a vision and a title “Snowglobe Perspective.” Within 2 years this name and production has grown significantly throughout the dance community.
Last week, during an exhausting 2 day shoot in Berkeley, California, my brother was robbed. During the few hours he rested, someone had broke into his car and took everything in sight. This including:
Canon 5D Mark III 35 mm Art Prime lens AT-X 16-28 mm 2.8 F, Tokina Wide angle lens 14 mm Ultrawide lens, Samyang GoPro Hero 3 32 GB SD card 32 GB CF card
Please help get my brother back on his feet. As a loving and supporting sister, it kills me to be a helpless witness. We ask for your help in a state of hope that Snowglobe Perspective can continue to produce entertainment for the community, and most of all that my brother can continue to live out his dream. Aside from my brother’s own creative mind, this equipment which he built over the past two years was the base of of his success.
The show must go on. Any donation is greatly appreciated and we thank you.