slanty

API: MUSIC ART CULTURE & RESISTANCE

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

12th Annual Women of Color Film and Video Festival

Calling filmmakers, videographers, artists, and performers for submissions to "Disrupting Borders: Seeing Silences and Imagining Trans-formations." The festival will take place April 23-24 at UC Santa Cruz. The organizers recognize the urgency to imagine the transnational as a disruption of the border - borders of identity, disciplines, gender, regulation, time, criminality, sexuality, space, surveillance and nationality. Deadline for all submissions is Feb 10. For further details, contact Rosa at rrastega@ucsc.edu or Susy at szepeda@ucsc.edu.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Fred Ho responds to Kenyon Farrow's Piece

Kenyon Farrow recently wrote an article criticizing the current erasing of Black presence in hip-hop in his article entitled: We Real Cool? On Hip-Hop, Asian-Americans, Black Folks, and Appropriation By Kenyon Farrow. Fred Ho has asked me to post his response to Kenyon, please forgive me of the typos, it came through e-mail and I was too tired to thoroughly edit all the things that email does to text.

everett hoagland sent me the below essay. i have attached the introduction (still in draft formation) to the anthology soon to be published by duke univ press AFRO/ASIA: REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL AND CULTURAL QUESTIONS BETWEEN AFRICAN AND ASIAN AMERICANS co-edited by myself and bill v. mullen as well as three other interesting essays included in the anthology:

1. My own “Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen: The Roots to the Black-Asian Conflict through a Socio-Historical Comparative Analysis Between Asian Americans and African Americans”;

2. “Yellow Lines: Asian Americans in Hip Hop”; by Thien-bao Phi

3. “Why Do We Lie About Telling the Truth?” by Kalamu ya Salaam.

the fourth attachment is my “notes on the national question”; which should give more political explanation of my theoretical assertions below in points 2 and 3.

i hope you that will read these carefully as a very strong contextual foundation to the below comments. My points are numbered not for any order of priority, but simply to keep what i have to say organized and succinct as i want to respond with brevity.

1. i reject and disagree greatly with oliver wang and jeff chang's writings on hip hop. they had submitted essays to our anthology but i found them to be very politically problematic and reflective of the (unfortunate) direction taken by the univ of calif-berkeley asian american studies department (of which wang and chang are proteges and graduates), namely privileging a “polyculturalism”; framework (an ideological outgrowth of post-modern theory with its myriad of political problems of obfuscation and relativism in its rejection of “grand narratives“; “essentialism“; etc. and as a covert and perhaps not-so-covert opposition to marxism and especially the third world variants that emanated from mao and the chinese revolution, etc.). the asian arts initiative in philly, which i'm well aware of, considers someone like myself an “old head“; since i still uphold revolution, marxist-leninism-mao zedong thought, anti-imperialism, national liberation struggles, etc. it doesn't surprise me that names like tricia rose and nelson george are thrown out since these are their black counter-parts in academia and commercial pop culture punditry. neither rose nor george have my respect as what they've done is glamorized hip hop in either self-serving post-modernism (rose) or as commodity spectacle and hype (george)they are both seeking the big pay day as INTERPRETERS or cultural tour guides for the white establishment (academic-intellectual or commercial media). the same petty-bourgeois wing of academia and cultural criticism love paul gilroy, bell hooks, cornel west, skippy gates, etc. the reasons should be clear: these talented tenth-ers don't want revolutionary struggle, so they assert that the cultural exists independent of the systemic, and thereby systemic change is misguided, wrong and simplistic because what they argue really needs to happen is someone kind of metaphysical, abstract, non-economic cultural-based change.

this is the political background of the people and the institution and probably why the event was framed the way it was.

a similar panel called BEYOND BLACK AND WHITE was organized by other uc-berkeley asian am studies folks about a decade ago when the so-called “black-korean“ conflict ensued in nyc. the title of that panel/event also reflected the same political problems and conscious black folks in the audience criticized and challenged the panel organizers for thinking that the dynamic of black oppression and white supremacy has been transcended.

while my friend who i respect greatly, robin d.g. kelley, has taken up the term “polyculturalism“ along with vijay prashad, it doesn't surprise me as both scholars have drifted considerably away from marxism and thereby have fallen into the liberal trap of “hybridity“ theory which takes a blind-eye towards any dynamic of oppressed-oppressor relations in u.s. society today and simply argues for cultural “mixing“ without a real analysis of appropriation, rip off, theft, plunder vs. creolization, mutual inspiration and third world unity. the materialist question of “who benefits“ from the mixing isn't asked any more. yes, borders are fluid in one sense (both as commercial exchange and ideological exchanges occur) and in one sense they are still very hard-fast (segregation, oppression, stratification and unequal exchange).

what we have today is a strata of asian american petty-bourgeoisie (and/or aspiring petty-bourgeoisie), highly influenced by academic trendy theories of post-modernism, polycultural hybridity theory, etc., attempting to assert their proprietary interests in the intellectual and cultural marketplace. rather than seek unity, mutual exchange, collaboration, and coalition-building, they want their own nationalist “space“; and “props“; especially in areas of trendy and profitable youth culture. african american culture has greatly influenced all of u.s. culture, especially in the vernacular or popular spheres. asian/pacific americans have been among the influenced and inspired. some, like those on this panel, seek to adopt it for profiteering (as pundits-theorizers or as performers and cultural capitalists); while others adopt it for liberation (identifying with the critique of oppression and the assertion of identity, national pride, and even revolutionary spirit and consciousness)--apparently none of us liberation-types were invited to be on the panel since we are deemed “old school”.

2. kenyon farrow's objections are a reaction to the blackfacing done by yellows (see my critique of the japanese gangaru sub-culture in the intro attached). while righteous, kenyon misses the mark by incorrectly asserting that asians haven't faced the same forms of national oppression and racism but they been ethnic success stories riding upon the backs of african americans. a true examination of hybridity would do what we hope our anthology is doing: trace and analyse the real-struggle connections, collaborations, intersections and mutual exchanges and inspiration made by african americans and asian americans. he perhaps is ignorant of asian american history. once a true class consciousness is attained, i.e., understanding imperialism as the outgrowth of colonization, capitalist accumulation, eurocentrism, white supremacy, etc., then the genocide and oppression of entire native nations, the importation and forced labor of asian/pacific peoples, the colonization of puerto ricans and caribbean peoples, the subjugation of the southwest and the oppressed nation of atzlan, etc. comes into sharper focus and clearer understanding (see fourth attachment, my “Notes on the National Question“ and then “race“ becomes much more precisely and accurately understood as a manifestation of colonialism and imperialism and black becomes a “political color“ as “races“ become nations (oppressed and oppressor ones). i'm sure none of the asian americans and the token black panelist would subscribe as i do to an oppressed black nation or for that matter asian/pacific americans as oppressed nationalities, for which liberation for both peoples respectively requires revolutionary struggle against u.s. white settler-colonialism/imperialist national oppression.

3. the pitting of “class“ against “race“ is an “old“ploy (take that you young folks!) for which the sad, tragic, despicable history is all too evident to anyone who cares to do any serious historical research. the real-deal is class IS race in the context of white settler-colonialism! u.s. capitalism divided this part of the north american continent into oppressor and oppressed nations and nationalities. for those who only see “black-white“ it is because they fail to see historical development as it truly happened in the formation of the multi-national/linguistic/racial u.s. society (that still has colonies, the majority of which, with the notable exception of puerto rico, are in the pacific, including hawaii, guam, american samoa, etc.). while many caribbean nationalities have strong african ancestry, as kenyon notes, he doesn't appreciate that national distinctions that have developed over the past 500 years among these caribbean, central and south american african descendants. certainly a pan-africanist would uphold the shared african heritage and commonalities, but a pan-africanist anti-imperialist would assert that the black masses of haiti shared nothing with the duvaliers (who were very black and pro-african heritage) and were correct in their righteous hatred of that nationalist-clique propped up by western imperialism.

unfortunately the afro-asian dialogues that mostly happen today are fraught with such political narrowness and errors. for me, it is infuriating and often times disheartening, tho i perfectly understand why. if kenyon reads kalamu's attached essay, he'll get a very profound understanding of what i'm talking about. hopefully everett hoagland, et. al. will rectify the situation and we can initiate our own dialogues. a good recently published book is bill v. mullen's AFRO-ORIENTALISM (Univ of Minnesota press) which i highly recommend everyone reads carefully.

your criticisms and responses are welcome.


peace,
fred ho


here are links to the other excerpts that he mentioned.

done by Fred
done by Fred & Bill V. Mullen
done by Thien-bao Phi
done by Kalamu ya Salaam
and another by Fred

AFRO/ASIA: REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL CULTURAL CONNECTIONS BETWEEN AFRICAN AND ASIAN-AMERICANS (to be published by Duke University Press)

excerpt from AFRO/ASIA: REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL CULTURAL CONNECTIONS BETWEEN AFRICAN AND ASIAN-AMERICANS (to be published by Duke University Press) co-edited by Fred Ho and Bill V. Mullen, re: ganguro sub-culture:

A complication to black facing is now rampant in Japan with the ganguro sub-culture of Japanese teenage girls wearing cornrows, adorning themselves in bling-bling ostentatious jewelry and mimicking black hip hop stars such as Missy Elliott and Lil' Kim. The exportation of hip hop is the Yankee-ification of black American culture as commodity spectacle, a case of race without the resistance, a fashion, a posture of hipness and coolness without the substance of struggle and self-respect. Black facing not done by whites but by yellows. Though, in the analysis of the money trail, certainly white dominated corporations (from merchandisers to Madison Avenue marketers), with residuals paid to certain black individual celebrities, are the primary profiteers. Individual black success stories who pimp and push stereotype portrayals are rarely condemned, but more commonly lauded and promoted by mainstream African American media (from Jet to Ebony to Vibe, BET, etc.). Rarely are such celebrities criticized for their low or lack of social consciousness, for their subservience to corporate interests, and for their nauseous super-patriotism. The era of a superstar black athlete such as Muhammad Ali refusing to join the U.S. military for both personal religious beliefs as well as political principle (“No Vietcong ever called me nigger”is pass) Individual black superstar athletes lucratively benefit from endorsement deals with athletic shoe companies with sweatshops in the Pacific Rim.

this is related to this.

Fred Ho's “Notes on the National Question”

from Fred Ho's “Notes on the National Question”

National oppression defined is simply the oppression of nations and nationalities. It is the systematic, historical oppression of an entire people, of all the classes of the oppressed nation or nationality. Historically, national oppression includes all of the forms of oppression including discrimination, racism, ethnocentrism, stereotyping, disenfranchisement, genocide, violence, injustice, and inequality. It is fundamentally a by-product of the division of the world between oppressed and oppressor nations, accentuated and globalized by the advent and growth of the imperialist stage of capitalist development. This division is marked by intense inequality between the affluent imperialist and developed capitalist “centers” and the impoverished “periphery”of the “Third”and“Fourth”worlds (a more recently coined term that refers to the indigenous peoples who are oppressed nationalities and nations within third world countries, and in the case of Australia and the U.S., oppressed nationality indigenous peoples within first world nation-states). Imperialism, from a Marxist viewpoint, is not simply a nation carrying out a policy of nastiness and aggression towards other nations, but a system of monopoly capitalism in which large corporations (finance capital) extend across the planet and dominate and control vast areas far beyond their home borders...

While a few colonies still remain in the world, and the U.S. still has colonial territorial possessions including Puerto Rico, American Somoa, Guam, the Marshall Islands, the U. S. Virgin Islands, its largest control extends over “oppressed nations”that have been annexed and geographically incorporated into the American empire nation-state, including Hawaii, the southwest territory Chicano liberationists refer to as “Atzlan”and what I and others argue as the oppressed New African (Black-belt) nation, and the on-going prison house of Native First Nations. At one point, some American radical sociologists (confused by the methodology of bourgeois sociology and not radical enough to study the national question) described the oppressed black nation as an “internal colony”as it seemed to share features of other external colonies such as an external police force, external businesses profiteering from ghetto cheap labor and consumers, etc.

this is related to this.

Kalamu ya Salaam “Why Do We Lie About Telling the Truth?”

from Kalamu ya Salaam “Why Do We Lie About Telling the Truth?”

We can argue about the causes of our oppression and exploitation but the effects are real and deadly. Moreover, the major issue to deal with is our collusion with capitalism and hence our own resultant racism. Do you think Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods could get away with endorsing Nike if the shoes were manufactured in Haiti or Senegal for ridiculously low wages under neo-slave conditions? Unfortunately, the answer is: Yes -- if our leadership continues to be apologists for capitalism and mesmerized by glitz.

Asia will unavoidably be the dominant battlefield of the 21st century, especially India -- the world's largest English speaking country -- and China. Which is not to say that Africa is insignificant or irrelevant, far from it. Africa will remain a major site of ongoing struggle and will remain particularly relevant to the future of Black people worldwide precisely because, as a result of disease (particularly AIDS) and famine, and as a legacy of the slave trade, in the 21st century Africa will be severely underpopulated. That is an important point to keep in mind. the needs of Africa notwithstanding, I believe Asia will be the major arena of future north/south, east/west clashes.

Only those of us who are prepared to relate to the whole world will develop and prosper. Everyone else will be left behind to wallow in their own parachialism. For too many of us “integration”has meant, as James Baldwin so prophetically argued, rushing into “a burning house.” But the future is not White. The sun will set on Europe, and when the new day dawns, global cooperation will be the order of the day. Now is the time to prepare for that future. Why do we lie about telling these hard truths? Our leaders lie to us for the benefit of short term material gain -- a salary, proximity to power, a high ranking career, a lucrative endorsement or consulting contract. Korean shop keepers, Vietnamese merchants, Chinese restauranters, none of these are our real enemies. Multinational corporations, the American government, academic citadels, none of these are our real friends.

this is related to this.

“Yellow Lines”by Thien-bao Phi:

from “Yellow Lines”by Thien-bao Phi:

Besides white people, African Americans are the most visible race in America, and Asian Americans are the most invisible. Part of this invisibility is due to our dubious privilege, the relative ease of assimilation for us if we choose to play the white man's game. But this invisibility is also rooted in a lack of knowledge and awareness of Asian American history and issues, an ignorance that we, as well as non-Asians, carry. Consequently we, and non-Asians, fail to identify Asian Americans as people of color, or fail to understand the specific ways in which we have, and still suffer from racism. Everyone constantly talks about the black-white divide when we talk about race. Sometimes people throw in the words Latino or Hispanic for some flavor, and if they remember to mention Native Americans at all, most people will concur that they are oppressed racially. However, it is entirely possible that you can be considered by most people in this country to be a progressive or radical without knowing or mentioning a thing about Asian American history or issues. In James Loewen's National Bestseller Lies My Teacher Told Me, nowhere does he mention the complete lack of Asian American history in classrooms and education. In his introduction, he states that African American, Native American, and Latino students view history with a special dislike. No disagreement there, but he uses this pronouncement to insinuate that people of color do not like history classes because there is nothing about their history or culture reflected in their education and excludes Asian Americans from that racism. In a later chapter, he states:

Caste minority children-Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics-do worse in all subjects, compared to white or Asian American children, but the gap is largest in social studies. That is because the way American history is taught particularly alienates students of color and children from impoverished families.

Again, no argument there, but by lumping Asian Americans in with whites in the above paragraph, Loewen insinuates that Asian Americans are learning what they need in American history as opposed to other people of color, and that Asian American children do not suffer disproportionately from class oppression based on race. This is further magnified by the fact that his book does not talk about Japanese American internment, Chinese American workers on the railroad and gold mines, plantation workers in Hawaii, the extreme poverty and lack of access to education for Southeast Asians, the past (and present) exploitation of Asian Indian and Filipino workforces, or any other of the many ignored facets of Asian American history. There's a single picture and a short blurb about sweatshops in Chinatown. And although he does devote part of one of his chapters to the war in Viet Nam, it is presented as a foreign dynamic and not a domestic one: common enough, that the most visible issues regarding Asians are the ones that concern us in Asia, not America.

This is not a value judgment, a plea to make the case that one group is more oppressed than another. In terms of race, there are advantages and disadvantages to being visible and invisible. For example, there is a romanticizing of visible minority status among liberals and progressives, the same for invisible minorities amongst conservatives and assimilationists. Neither is entirely accurate or preferred, and both rely on ignoring the very real complications that permeate race. But in the case of Asian Americans, who are often incorrectly lumped in with whites, it can be challenging to even engage in dialogue or action against white supremacy: what do you people have to complain about? Aren't you better off than the others? Haven't we whites been good to you?

In this sense, hip hop mirrors mainstream and progressive culture: you don't have to know a thing about Asian American history or issues to be engaged in hip hop culture or lifestyle. At its heart, hip hop is an Afrocentric culture. You have to at least have some semblance of knowledge regarding African American history and culture in order to be truly hip hop. In order to understand and appreciate the vocab, references, and music, you must be familiar with the culture. Part of culture is knowledge and the recognition of symbols, names, and events. If you drop the names Diallo, Farrakhan, and Mumia in your rhymes, most hip hoppers will know who and what you're talking about. What if you up and try to drop Vincent Chin, David Wong, Thung Phetakoune, Thien Minh Ly, Richard Aoki, and Bill and Yuri Kochiyama up in your lyrics5? Who the hell is going to know what you're talking about? Most Asian Americans wouldn't even know, let alone anyone else. Back when Ice Cube's “Black Korea”came out, I encountered far more hip hop fans of various races, including Asians, who understood, sympathized, and defended his ignorant diatribe than ones who considered the Korean perspective or even empathized with Koreans. This is especially problematic because the larger mainstream press and academics also effectively silenced the viewpoints and dynamics of Koreans and Asians in L.A. As Ishmael Reed states in his essay An Outsider in Koreatown, “thousands of black and Asian American businesses were destroyed by a minority of blacks, whites, and Hispanics, who have been described by some talented tenth intellectuals and academics, safely ensconced on college campuses, as “warriors”participating in an “uprising.”The mainstream press was able to distract the national consciousness away from issues of white racism, police brutality, economic devastation, and institutional oppression by hyping the tensions between Blacks and Koreans.

Racial ignorance is rampant. If Asian Americans had as much access to popular culture and hip hop, sure we would be saying all kinds of ignorant racist shit about Black people and each other. We've all internalized racist stereotypes about different races and ourselves. I'm not arguing that Blacks are inherently more racist or powerful than Asians or anyone else. I'm mentioning these things to point out the way that white supremacy, as a system, both encourages and reinforces racial ignorance, hatred, and objectification.

this is related to this.

“Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen"

excerpt from “Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen: The Roots to the Black-Asian Conflict: through a Socio-Historical Comparative Analysis Between Asian Americans and African Americans”(originally published in the Brooklyn African American newspaper, The City Sun):

In my view, neither Asian Americans nor African Americans are to blame for the prejudices, ignorance, misunderstanding and racism (2) held against the other. In a white-racist, oppressive society, the victims of that racism and oppression can be expected to harbor the racist attitudes, xenophobia and even self-hatred fostered by segregation, Eurocentric education and endemic powerlessness, which fuel frustration, fear and mistrust. What is needed from educators, activists and intellectuals is dialogue and knowledge about each other's experience and social history of oppression and struggle rather than convenient, copout (quick) explanations of “cultural differences.”(The “cultural differences”thesis presumes that what is needed is greater “cultural sensitivity”and not political consciousness and organizing around common interests as peoples of color).

The primary difference is that the experience and historical process of slavery forged African Americans into a distinct nationality while Asian Americans are a composite of diverse minority nationalities: Chinese American, Japanese American, Korean American, Filipino American, Thai Pakistani, Asian Indian, Cambodian, Hmong, Vietnamese, etc.(3) Generations of slavery fused the diverse West African peoples brought to the Americas into one common people who no longer trace their ancestral origin to a specific West African people; the varying languages of Yoruba, Ibo, Wolof, etc. were replaced by the language of the slave master (English in the British colonies). Their identity, religion, music and history were no longer any specific African tradition, but became definitively African American. Thus, some contemporary African Americans, endeavoring to reclaim their African heritage, divest themselves of “slave names”such as Smith, Jones, Johnson, Washington, etc. for a range of self-identifications, such as X, Islamic and other non-European adoptions.

Asian Americans are a plurality of nationalities that retain their ancestral family names and specific national cultural heritages including language, customs and traditions, as well as national histories. Chinese Americans are quite different from Japanese Americans, who are also quite different from the more than a dozen varying Asian/Pacific Islander minority nationalities in the United States. They are Wongs, Chins, Yamaguchis, Salvadores, Parks, etc. Obviously, the first generation of Asian peoples in American retain more of their ancestral identity, while subsequent generations in the United States experience identity crises and cultural confusion.

Under slavery, African Americans could not hold illusions about their status in U.S. society. They were simply property, a condition maintained by total force for virtually two and a half centuries prior to the mid-19thcentury. Asian immigration into the United States began in the mid-1800s, and was the result of a combination of what social historians term “push/pull”factors.”Pushed”by the devastation of their ancestral homelands from crushing poverty, semi colonial penetration, government and social corruption and varying types of cheap-labor recruitment (a semi slavery or indentured servitude). “Pulled”by hyped promises of America as the “Mountain of Gold”(the Chinese _expression for the United States was literally that) and promises for opportunities to make a new and better life. Because of this combination of ambivalent, contradictory impulses, between the sojourner (who came to work with the idea of returning to Asia) and the immigrant (who came to stay), Asian Americans reflect ambivalent responses to their conditions in America, rooted to the questions: Is American home? Immigration has prefigured as a critical and dominant characteristic in the Asian American experience.

In U.S. society, one is either white, Black or foreign. American racism has lumped its Latino, Asian and even Native American groups into “other.”Even fourth-generation Asian Americans still face this condition of subtle racism when told to “go back where you came from” or that they “speak good English”as well as not-so-subtle racism as targets of racist violence.

Prior to the 20th century, the concentration of African Americans had been the “Black Belt”region of the South. For Asian Americans (mostly Chinese until the 1900s), it was the West Coast and Hawaii. Even well into the 20th century, there was little social intercourse or contact between these peoples, except for a small population of resettled Chinese laborers in the South as a short-lived experiment to replace slave labor. Two significant contrasts between African Americans and Asian Americans were evident in late 19th century U.S. society: the failure of Reconstruction for African Americans and the period of exclusion for the Chinese in America, which eventually befell to all Asian immigrants until well into the second half of this century.

The smashing of Reconstruction by what DuBois noted as an alliance between Northern finance capital and Southern agrarian interests thwarted the possibility of genuine emancipation for the African American people. Furthermore, without “40 acres and a mule”the granting to African Americans basic capital through ownership of land and basic means of production, African American economic (as well as political) empowerment was restricted and suffocated. While a tiny African American middle class (petite bourgeoisie) did emerge under segregation, it was not until the Great Migrations of World Wars I and II to Northern industrial urban centers did African Americans achieve some measure of social mobility and economic advancement. Indeed, the proletarization of the African American masses, with increasing presence and activity in the burgeoning labor movements and trade unions, was probably the chief means of economic advancement. African Americans joined the ranks of trade union workers in steel, auto, municipal and public-sector employment. African American economic life, though having a distinct segregated market, increasingly became part and parcel of the general functioning of the U.S. capitalist, industrial and urban economy.

This was not the case for Asian Americans. The anti-Asian and Yellow Peril racist movements of the late 19th century were in large part led by the white labor movement, culminating in a series of Exclusion Acts passed by Congress that halted Asian immigration to the United States with the exception of members of the merchant class and students. Heretofore, Asian laborers were overwhelmingly single, young men. The few Chinese women in the mainland United States invariably were prostitutes. The halting of immigration made it impossible for the wives or families of these male laborers to join them. Thus, these single Chinese male workers were condemned to an enforced existence as a bachelor society, unable to find love and to procreate. It was tantamount to genocide. Consequently, the Chinese population in the United States severely declined from 1890 until the mid-1960s.

The ghettoization of the Chinese, from a rural/farming-based existence, to Chinatown urban, isolated communities, led to the formation of the ubiquitous Chinese restaurant and laundry trade employment in which the Chinese would not find themselves in competition with hostile white labor. The Chinese and other Asian laborers were effectively denied proletarization; confined to marginal small business economic activity, dispersed to West Coast cities such as San Francisco (which were not industrial centers). Since their days as workers on the transcontinental railroad, the Chinese have tried their hand at every possible kind of work, only to be scapegoated and targeted by hostile white labor. They were eventually excluded from virtually all forms of economic activity except for a small handful of occupations. By World War II, African Americans, however, had become a significant presence in key industries and unions.

As noted earlier, merchants were one of the classes of Asian immigrants who were not excluded. Trade between Asia and the United States made for the presence of a merchant, entrepreneurial class in the various Asian communities scattered across America. These merchants ran the social-political-economic life of these communities through clan-based merchant associations. The Asian continent was penetrated by European colonization to varying extents (from total colonization as in the case of India to total independence as in Japan, which made for Japan undisturbed development into an independent industrial capitalist power by the 20th century whereas most of the non-European world had its economic course of history dominated and disrupted by the West). Africa, in contrast, was thoroughly colonized; its very borders redrawn and parceled out to European powers. Asian merchants, one the one hand, serviced a unique Asian American market in these ghetto, urban, isolated communities (the demand for Asian foods and other cultural-based products, sharing a common language); on the other hand, import-export trade influenced relations with the mainstream of American economic and political life; e.g., the silk trade was big business until the development of nylon.

African Americans had no African merchant class that maintained a distinctive connection to Africa. Both African Americans and Asian Americans have been greatly influenced by the geo-political changes in Africa and Asia, respectively. Malcolm X so forcefully made the connection:

“There was a time in this country when they used to use the _expression about Chinese, 'he doesn't have a Chinaman's chance.' You don't hear that saying nowadays. Just as a strong China has produced a respected Chinaman, a strong Africa will produce a respected Black man anywhere that Black man goes on this earth.”(Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary, Pathfinder Press, 1970, p. 136.)

Middle class Asian Americans grew in part due to the influx of merchants and educated classes. African American mobility was largely a result of unionism and industrial urban concentration.

this is related to this.

POWER 99 FM Star & Buc Wild controversy

This was sent out on the APOC list, it pertains to the Star & Buc Wild program on Philadelphia's station POWER 99 FM. You can listen to it here. Or if you just want to read a written transcription click here. In this segment the hosts take on the persona of some white people who spout bigoted statements about Asian Indians along with serveral misogynist statements. Sites such as Turbanhead and Moorish Girl are covering it as racist and misogynist. This is not to downplay the statements, or give you the impression that I don't believe that said statements were blatently disgusting and violent, but it is interesting that Turbanhead has a clip for Conan O'brian which they say does a "great job" on the matter of outsourcing. See it here.

This is interesting because the protagonist (Andy) goes to India to find the outsourcing person he had contacted about a computer question. While there the camera picks up various "native" looking scenery and people who just don't seem to understand Andy and don't get a chance to really say anything either. At the end Andy contorts his mouth while a "funny" song with "funny" (yet degrading) lyrics flash as subtitles at the bottom of the screen. Andy even does a dance that the "natives" are doing, but of course it's funny because he is not native, he is a white tourist. In the end the Conan segment ends up degrading the native people, the culture and the land, through words, images and actions.

Why is this more acceptable than the Star & Buc Wild program? Is there a deeper level of anti-Black racism going on here? Let us not forget that Star & Buc Wild took on the persona of white people who were appropriating Black culture (the hair bead machine) and took on sentiments of anti-asian & anti-outsourcing that the majority of white folks regularly practice. This is a critical question to the API folks that are outraged pertaining to the aforementioned examples: is it not okay for Black folks to practice white supremecy but okay for white folks to practice white supremecy? Let's put it another way, would we be this outraged if an API person from the U.S. said the same statements toward, or made the same "comedy" type segment, in Africa?

Petition for Parole of Eddie Zheng

Eddie Zheng is a politicized prisoner who is a writer, a poet and organizer. The following was set to me by Anmol Chadda (thanks Anmol):

The time has come to put pressure on the Governor to accept the paroleboard's recommendation that Eddy Zheng finally be released from prison. Last week, Eddy completed his 19th year in prison on a7-years-to-life sentence. The Governor now has less 2 months toannounce his decision of whether to accept or reject the parolerecommendation. However, the Governor will likely reach his decisionwell before then -- within the next couple weeks -- and announce itlater. It is critical to send letters supporting Eddy's parole to theGovernor *now*.

We know that you often receive appeals to send letters to support arange of causes. Here, the 3 minutes you take to print this letter,sign and mail it can make a huge difference in the lives of Eddy andhis family. Over a dozen state legislators, members of Congress, andthe judge who sentenced Eddy in 1986 have already expressed theirsupport to the Governor. It is absolutely necessary that Eddy showsthat he has community support for his parole.

Below is a form letter you can use as a template. You can just printthis out, sign and mail it to the address below. Please e-mail me(achaddha@gmail.com) to let me know that you've sent a letter (it isextremely useful in keeping track of his support). If you know Eddypersonally, it would be good to personalize the letter if you can.

We will keep you updated on any developments. Until then, keep up withEddy at his blog: http://eddyzheng.blogspot.com.

[date]

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
ATTN: Peter Siggins
Re: Parole for Eddy Zheng, D-42837

I strongly urge you to accept the parole recommendation of Eddy Zheng,who was found suitable for parole by the Board of Prison Terms onNovember 10, 2004. Mr. Zheng has now served over nineteen years of aseven-years-to-life sentence and would no longer pose a threat tosociety if paroled.

Mr. Zheng earned his GED after being incarcerated at the age of 16,and he went on to earn a college degree in the San Quentin CollegeProgram. He has participated in every prison program available to him,reflecting an unwavering commitment to rehabilitating himself. Hiswork with at-risk youth through the Alternatives to Violence programstands out as a meaningful contribution he has already made to societywhile incarcerated.

He has always accepted guilt and show remorse for his crime. Now, atthe age of 35, Mr. Zheng has spent more than half of his life inprison and truly represents a model of the potential forrehabilitation.

He has several job offers available to him upon his parole. At least adozen state legislators support Mr. Zheng's parole, in addition to thejudge who sentenced him in 1986, the attorney who prosecuted him, andseveral key community leaders. He has strong community support which will play an important role in making a smooth transition intosociety.

Mr, Zheng was previously found suitable for parole over six years ago.Since then, he has only continued on a path toward rehabilitation andshown that there is nothing to suggest he would pose a dangerousthreat to society if released.

I strongly urge you to accept the recommendation of parole for EddyZheng and allow him an opportunity to make positive contributions tosociety.

[name]
[address]

Monday, January 10, 2005

Artist: Todd Hyung Rae Tarselli

Thanks to Ben Wang for mentioning Hyung Rae's name. I really don't know too much about Hyung Rae, other than that he serving time in SCI Greene maximum security prison. If anyone could send me some additional information on Todd Hyung Rae Tarselli, that would be great. He is a witty, amazingingly detailed and politically on-point illustrative artist. Some of his work can be found here at AAZINE. Also at American Friends Services Commitee. And in addition at Guerilla Underground, where you can also get his zine.

Seatte, WA: Wing Luke Museum presents an exhibit on API adoptees

I've not been to this museum so I don't know first hand what it is about, but the subject matter is interesting as the trans racial adoption trade is rife with social/political issues that pertain to imperialism, white supremecy, capitalism, API identity etc. The exhibit is presented with a brief paragraph:

While many adoption trends are tied to specific historic events, such as war and poverty, Americans adopting children from Asia has grown in demand. As thousands of children and babies enter into the United States each year from Asia, many prospective parents face challenges in raising a child of another ethnicity from their own, as well as the general questions of identity adoptees acquire through adolescence. The adoption experience is complex and very personal. This exhibition captures the brave journey adoptees make in pursuit of self-identity. This intimate exhibition is a unique melding of history, personal testimony, culture, and art from adoptees, adoptive parents, family members, and those involved in the adoption process.

The above view is obviously very conservative in its outlook, but it would be interesting to witness the actual exhibit. The exhibit will be up from January 7 -September 4, 2005. It will be located at the Wing Luke museum, more information can be found here.

UC Santa Cruz, CA: From Monument to Masses + others

I've been listening to this band a lot recently, they remind me a lot of fugazi and godspeed you black emporer. If you want to hear some of their stuff go here. As for the show info it's as follows:

Kresge Town Hall, Kresge College
UC Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
$6 - All Ages - 8:00 PM Campus doors close @ 8:00pm
From Monument To Masses
Tenebre
Wires On Fire
The New Rectangle

Friday, January 07, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO Benefit for Bayan US - Eskipo, Flattbush, Kadena, Lost in Amerika, Dogs of Ire

Legendary hardcore band Eskapo along with other radical bands: Flattbush, Kadena, Lost in Amerika and Dogs of Ire are playing a benefit show at Blindstiff Alley in San Francisco. For more information click here. Should be a great show. $5 for 5 bands. Punk can still be great!


NYC: Brown Like Dat: South Asians And Hip Hop

This was forwarded to the APOC list by Suneel, below is a brief write up about the films being shown in NYC on Saturday January 15, 2005. For more info check out: the 3rd i website


About the Films
Brown Like DatDirector: Raeshem Chopra Nijhon 2005. Video. 34 mins.

Brown Like Dat: South Asians and Hip-Hop gives a voice to South Asian MCs, beatboxers, spoken word artists and producers. With hip-hop as its lens, this documentary is a colorful portrait of the rainbow of political ideals, social messages and experiences that is in part young South Asian Americans today, revealing an emerging layer of this second generation community. Through their music and their lives these artists speak on everything from racial profiling post-9/11 to identity in second-generation immigrant communities, forcing us to question "traditional" South Asian existence in America in fresh new ways. Featured Artists: Abstract Vision Humanity, Chee Malabar from Himalayan Project, D'Lo, Jugular, Karmacy, and MC Kabir.

Resistencia: Hip Hop In ColombiaDirector: Tom Feiling2002. Video. 51 mins.
This video offers an unusual look at the current political and economic crisis in Colombia -- including a decades-long civil war, a rampant drug trade, kidnapping for ransom, and financial scandal at the highest levels of the government -- through the eyes of young Colombians, in particular the country's finest rap musicians, DJs and breakdancers. These young artist-activists turn out to be surprisingly articulate in their analysis of the nation's deteriorating situation and its role within a global economic system dominated by the U.S. They also provide rare insights into life in the poor barrios of this volatile country and how traditional Latin music has been surpassed in popularity by rap music. Resistencia is thus not only youthful and entertaining, it is also angry and enlightening.

Best Music Film, Portobello Film Festival
Best Foreign Documentary, Urban World NYC Film Festival
Special Jury Prize, Bogota International Film Festival
Honorary Mention, Oakland Film Festival
About the Director


Eddy Zheng

Eddy Zheng is a talented Chinese poet serving time in prison, his blog is at http://eddyzheng.blogspot.com/ . Thanks to Ben Wang for informing me about Eddy.
This is a brief bio at the beginning of Eddy's blog.

Eddy Zheng is an inmate in a California State Prison. He was sentenced to 7-years-to-life for a robbery when he was 16 in 1986. He has served over 18 years and is now 35 years old. While incarcerated, he has learned English, completed his GED, earned a college degree, and has worked with at-risk youth. He is an avid writer, and he organized the first poetry slam at San Quentin State Prison. This is Eddy Zheng in his own words. More info at http://www.eddyzheng.com.

Interview with Fred Ho

Fred Ho is a musician, composer, writer and activist. A couple of books he edited, contributed to and helped get published were Legacy to Liberation and Sounding Off! Music as Subversion/Revision/Revolution. He is also a well renowned Jazz musician/composer and has led his own music group around to perform around the world. In addition, Fred Ho has been a member of the Nation of Islam, I Wor Kuen and the League of Revolutionary Struggle. You can check out his site big red media for further information about Fred Ho. I recently was able to conduct a very brief interview through e-mail, as Fred was currently in Costa Rica, performing. Many thanks to Fred as he seemed very busy, yet nicely enough replied quickly and concisely. My questions are in lowercase and his are in uppercase.
1. First off how would you state your own political theory?
IDEOLOGICALLY AND POLITICALLY I CHARACTERIZE MYSELF AS A MARXIST-LENINIST OR A MATRIARCHAL REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST SINCE I BELIEVE MARXISM IS ESSENTIALLY A REVOLUTIONARY FEMINISM THAT ASSERTS THE FIRST CLASS STRUGGLE WAS THE VIOLENT OVERTHROW OF WOMYN WHICH LED TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF PATRIARCHY, THE STATE AS AN INSTRUMENT OF CLASS RULE AND TO SOCIAL CLASSES. BUT MY TRAJECTORY AND HISTORY IN THE M-L MOVEMENT COMES OUT OF THE U.S. OPPRESSED NATIONALITY MOVEMENTS, SPECIFICALLY THE API AND AFRICAN AMERICAN LEFT. I COUNT MY PRINCIPLE INFLUENCES BEING CABRAL, MAO, FANON, NGUGI, MALCOLM X, MARIA MIES, ALEXANDRA KOLLANTAI, ETC.
2. How do you see it working in the U.S.? Or will it ever work in theU.S., if so do you feel optimistic that it is in the near future?
THE U.S. IS A WHITE-SETTLER COLONIAL NATION-STATE ERECTED UPON THE OPPRESSION OF NATIVE NATIONS, THE NEW AFRIKAN NATION, THE CHICANO-NATIVE NATION, THE HAWAIIAN NATION, SEVERAL COLONIES INCLUDING PUERTO RICO AND OTHERS, AND MILLIONS OF OTHER OPPRESSED NATIONALITIES INCLUDING FORMER OPPRESSED NATIONALITIES FROM SOUTHERN AND EASTERN EUROPE WHO WERE ABLE TO ASSIMILATE INTO THE WHITE OPPRESSOR NATION DUE TO THE RACIAL DIVIDE BASED ON WHITE SKIN PRIVILEGE AND PRIMACY. THAT MAKES NATIONAL LIBERATION AND SOCIALIST REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE EXTREMELY COMPLEX AND FRAUGHT WITH HUGE CONTRADICTIONS. THE IMMENSE WEALTH WROUGHT FROM NATIONAL OPPRESSION AND IMPERIALISM HAS CREATED AN ENORMOUS FALSE CONSCIOUSNESS AND SOCIAL CHAUVINISM AMONG ALL AMERICANS, WHO ARE MISLED IN IDENTIFYING WITH YANKEE IMPERIALISM OVER THEIR CLASS INTERESTS OR ANTI-IMPERIALISM BECAUSE IT MEANS "SACRIFICING" THAT TERRIFICALLY PRIVILEGED STANDARD OF LIVING AND SENSE OF SUPREMACY. SO THE ROAD IS TOUGH AND TORTUOUS WITH MANY COMRADES GIVING UP, BEING BRIBED OR BOUGHT OFF INTO COMPLACENCY, ETC. IN THE HISTORY OF THE U.S., THERE HAVE BEEN HUGE UPRISINGS, REBELLIONS AND CLASS AND NATIONAL WARFARE. THE PROBLEM IS THAT NONE OF THESE UPSURGES HAS CRYSTALLIZED INTO A LEADING, DEEPLY ROOTED, AWESOME REVOLUTIONARY PARTY (OR PARTIES). THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY WAS THE PRIMARY MOVEMENT FOR ARMED STRUGGLE IN THE U.S. DURING THE 20TH CENTURY BUT IT LASTED ONLY A FEW YEARS. THE NEW LEFT M-L MOVEMENT ALSO BARELY MADE IT BEYOND A DECADE AT THE VERY MOST. THE REASONS FOR THE PARTIAL SUCCESSES (OR YOU COULD SAY PARTIAL FAILURES AS WELL) ARE STILL BEING ANALYSED AND SORTED OUT. SHOULD WE BE HOPEFUL? OF COURSE, UNLESS YOU THINK YOU'LL BE FORTUNATE TO HIDE OR JUST COAST ALONG WITH RACISM, SEXISM, CLASS EXPLOITATION AND INCREASING JINGOISM AND FACIST ESCALATION. THE PROBLEM IS THE RACE AGAINST THE ECOLOGICAL CLOCK, BEFORE CAPITALISM DESTROYS TOO MUCH OF THE ECOSYSTEM TO A POINT AT WHICH IT BECOMES UNSUSTAINABLE AND IRREVERSIBLE. I GIVE IT ABOUT ANOTHER 100-200 YEARS, BUT SOONER WITH MOUNTING CRISES AND INTERNATIONAL ERUPTIONS.
3. What do you feel is the role of radical (and I'm going to defineradical as left in action and thought of progressive/liberal) APIcommunities in order create true social justice within North America.
THE API LIBERATION MOVEMENT IS A MULTI-CLASS STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM FROM THE MYRIAD EFFECTS OF NATIONAL OPPRESSION. THE WORKERS, BOTH IMMIGRANT AND U.S.-BORN, ARE THE BACKBONE, THOUGH THE ENTIRE "COMMUNITY" OR "PEOPLE" WILL PARTICIPATE TO VARYING LEVELS OF INTENSITY AND CONVICTION AS "RACISM" AND NATIONAL OPPRESSION EFFECTS THE ENTIRE NATIONALITY. WE SEE THIS IN EVERY ISSUE TAKEN BY BY APIs. THE UPPER CLASSES (PETTY BOURGEOISIE AS APIs DON'T REALLY HAVE MEMBERSHIP IN THE BIGGEST BOURGEOISIE, THE IMPERIALIST CLASS THAT RUNS THE U.S. ECONOMICALLY-POLITICALLY-MILITARILY-CULTURALLY) TAKE UP ISSUES THAT EFFECT THEM AND IN THE MOST REFORMIST WAY, ISSUES SUCH AS GLASS CEILING, RACIST IMAGES IN THE MEDIA, JOB DISCRIMINATION, ETC. THE WORKERS AND LOWER STRATA IMMIGRANTS (WHO OWN VERY SMALL BUSINESSES AND BARELY EAK OUT AN INCOME) USUALLY CONFRONT ISSUES THAT AFFECT THEM MOST DIRECTLY AND IMPACTFULLY: SUCH AS RACIST VIOLENCE, RACIST IMMIGRATION ATTACKS, CUTS AND LOSS OF SERVICES, ETC. THE KEY IS TO UNITE THE API, AND OTHER "THIRD WORLD" (OR OPPRESSED NATIONALITY) MOVEMENT WITH THE SOCIALIST (PROLETARIAN) REVOLUTION TO END U.S. IMPERIALISM. THIS INCLUDES SPECIFIC DEMANDS AND STRUGGLES AS THE SUCCESSION/INDEPENDENCE OF HAWAII, AND OTHER SUCCESSION/INDEPENDCE STRUGGLES BY NATIVE, NEW AFRIKAN AND CHICANO NATIONS; THE ENDING OF ALL FORMS OF INEQUALITY AND WHITE PRIVILEGE/SUPREMACY; ETC. THIS IS WHAT IS CALLED UNITING THE NATIONAL STRUGGLES/MOVEMENTS WITH THE PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION, MEANING FORGING A UNITED FRONT AGAINST THE COMMON ENEMY OF U.S. IMPERIALISM; CONSTRUCTING NEW NATION-STATES AND ACTUAL INDEPENDENT POLITICAL GOVERNMENTS SEPARATE FROM THE U.S. WASHINGTON-D.C. BASE.
4. How and when did you first get into music?
AS A YOUNG TEENAGER, SEARCHING FOR WAYS TO EXPRESS THE POLITICAL AND CULTURAL EXPLOSION I WAS GOING THRU, DISCOVERING MY IDENTITY AS AN OPPRESSED NATIONALITY, INSPIRED BY THE BLACK LIBERATION MOVEMENT AND ITS ATTENDANT REVOLUTIONARY CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS, AND MY CONSTANT INVESTIGATION OF WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO END ALL FORMS OF OPPRESSION AND EXPLOITATION THOROUGHLY, AT THE ROOT SOURCE AND NOT SUPERFICIALLY OR COMESTICALLY.
5. How and when (if ever) did you make the link between music/art/cultureand resistance?
THERE NEVER WAS A SEPARATE LINK. TO THIS TODAY, I'VE BEEN PLAYING THE SAXOPHONE AS LONG AS I'VE BEEN IN THE STRUGGLE AND I'VE BEEN IN THE MOVEMENT AS LONG AS I CONTINUE TO MAKE MUSIC. SOMEHOW, MIRACULOUSLY, I WAS ABLE TO MAKE A LIVING JOINING MY MUSIC AND POLITICS WITHOUT HAVING TO TAKE A JOB AT A UNIVERSITY TEACHING OR WORKING IN ANYTHING THAT DIDN'T DEVOTE ALL OF MY ENERGIES, ABILITIES, IMAGINATION AND SPIRIT TO REVOLUTIONARY CULTURE AND POLITICS. AND IT HASN'T BEEN EASY, BUT YOU LOOK AT MY LIFE AND COMPARE IT TO OTHERS OF MY AGE AND GENERATION WHO ONCE WERE LEFTISTS. THEY HAVE THE ACCOUTREMENTS AND TRAPPINGS (AND PERHAPS TRAPS) OF PETTY BOURGEOIS, MIDDLECLASS SETTLER-COLONIAL LIFESTYLES AND CLASS POSITION: THE SPOUSE, KIDS, HOME, CAR(S), REFRIGERATOR AND CABINETS AND CLOSETS FULL OF PROCESSED CONSUMER GOODS, ETC.
6. What role do you feel does music/Arts play within the radcial APIcommunity today compared to the 60s/70s?
ALL OPPRESSED PEOPLES NEED A CULTURE OF RESISTANCE AND STRUGGLE THAT AFFIRMS WHO THEY ARE WHICH ISN'T WHAT THEIR OPPRESSORS MAKE OF THEM (THE STEREOTYPES, ETC.). AS CABRAL SAID, CULTURE IS THE FIRST PROCESS IN NATIONAL LIBERATION. WITHOUT A CULTURE OR IDENTITY, A PEOPLE WILL SIMPLY BELIEVE THEY ARE IMITATIONS OF THEIR OPPRESSORS OR WORSE, INFERIORS. WE NEED A CULTURE THAT AFFIRMS OUR UNIQUENESS AND NOT IMITATE OR IMBIBE WHITE SUPREMACIST FORMS SUCH AS BOURGEOIS CLASSICAL MUSIC, COMMERCIAL POP CULTURE, ETC. UNFORTUNATELY, TOO MANY OF THE SO-CALLED HIP HOP GENERATION HAS SWALLOWED THE MOST VACUOUS, SUPERFICIAL AND SHALLOW ASPECTS OF BLACK URBAN CULTURE THAT HAS BEEN CO-OPTED BY MADISON AVE AND HOLLYWOOD. RATHER THAN BECOME INNOVATORS, REVOLUTIONARY ARTISTS WHO SEEK TO TRANSFORM THE FORM OF THE CULTURE AND ITS CONTENT, THEY'VE BECOME SHALLOW IMITATORS AND POSEURS. "ATTITUDE" IS SIMPLY THE MARKETING OF FAKE OR FAUX MILITANCY AND NOT REVOLUTIONARY IDEOLOGY AND PRAXIS (UNITY OF THEORY AND PRACTICE, PERHAPS A SARTREAN TERM).
7. Are there any people or organizations (politically/musically) thatimpacted your life the most?
MANY, MANY, MANY. AND IT CONTINUES EVERY DAY. EVEN BY NEGATIVE EXAMPLE: TELLING ME WHAT I DON'T WANT TO BECOME OR GET INVOLVED WITH.
8. I recently read an article by Kenyon Ferrow, in which Kenyon critiques the appropriation of Black culture (eg:hip-hop) by API folk who seem to beusing it as a "radical" form of expression. What are your feelings ofBlack cultural appropriation and exploitation by non-Black folk?
BLACKS ALSO APPROPRIATE. THE QUESTION ISN'T APPROPRIATION VS. BORROWING AS ALL PEOPLE DO IT (OPPRESSED PEOPLES STEAL FROM THEIR OPPRESSORS AND COLLABORATE WITH OTHER OPPRESSED FOLKS LIKE ON A PLANTATION SYSTEM), BUT WHY AND HOW THAT APPROPRIATION/BORROWING IS DONE. IF API FOLK UTILIZE, INCORPORATE, GET INSPIRED BY, TAKE INFLUENCES FROM RADICAL AND REVOLUTIONARY BLACK POLITICS AND CULTURE, AND USE IT TO FASHION SOMETHING FOR THEMSELVES, GREAT. WE ARE NOT ARGUING ABOUT OWNERSHIP OR PROPRIETORSHIP: THAT'S CAPITALISM! BLACK MUSIC IS A MISCEGENATED MUSIC (HEY, THE SAXOPHONE, THE PIANO ARE ALL WESTERN EURO INSTRUMENTS!). THE POINT IS WHY AND WHAT IS BEING FASHIONED. IS IT FOR PROFITEERING AND PERSONAL AGGRANDIZEMENT OR IS IT FOR SOCIAL LIBERATION? UNFORTUNATELY TOO MANY API HIP HOPPERS HAVE TOO LITTLE CONSCIOUSNESS TO UNDERSTAND THE REVOLUTIONARY RESPONSIBILITY TO INNOVATE, SO THEY JUST COPY, IMITATE, MIME AND REGURGITATE, OFTEN OF PREDICTABLE AND NAUSEOUS RESULTS, SO BLACK FOLKS ARE RIGHTEOUSLY ANGERED AND THINK APIs ARE DOING A BLACKFACING JOB ("COVERING" LIKE HOW ELVIS DID ON FATS DOMINO). BUT TOO MANY OF THESE API HIP HOPPERS ARE CAUGHT UP INTO THE CONSUMER SPECTACLE HYPE THAT HIP HOP HAS BECOME AND CAN'T DISCERN ANY REVOLUTIONARY ELEMENTS AND ASPECTS. AND MOST OF HIP HOP IN THE MAINSTREAM IS SO REACTIONARY TODAY THAT EVEN WITHIN THE BLACK COMMUNITY THERE ARE SO MANY CONTRADICTORY RESPONSES.
9. Are there any new upcoming or unknown radical API musicians/artist orevents that you would like to shed some light on? (this of course includesyour own stuff)
LET ME JUST POINT OUT MY WORK AT BIG RED MEDIA.
10. And finally a geeky audiophile question: do you enjoy analog ordigital recordings?
I ENJOY BOTH. BUT DIGITAL IS FAR MORE COST EFFECTIVE FOR US GUERILLA ARTISTS. UNLESS YOU ARE POP OR HIP HOP AND HAVE RECORD LABEL ADVANCED BUDGETS, WE CAN'T AFFORD ANALOG ANYMORE. BUT MOST OF MY MUSIC IS STILL VINYL BECAUSE THE TOUGHEST MUSIC WON'T BE RE-RELEASED ONTO CD FORMAT UNLESS THERE'S A SIZEABLE ENOUGH MARKET TO WARRANT A RECORD COMPANY DECISION TO DO SO. AND I LOVE THE 13 INCH COVERS AND LINER NOTES AND I DON'T WANT TO SPEND THE BREAD TO RE-DO MY ENTIRE MUSIC COLLECTION.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

We Real Cool? On Hip-Hop, Asian-Americans, Black Folks, and Appropriation By Kenyon Farrow

The following was reprinted with permission:

I went to an event in Philly on Friday, November 19 at the Asian Arts Initiative, an Asian American "community arts" space, entitled "Changing the Face of the Game: Asian Americans in Hip-Hop." I cannot pretend I didn’t already know what I was getting myself into. The title of the event itself expresses a level of hostility to Black people – Since Black people are the current face of the game, and for whatever reason, that needs to be changed. But anyhow, I went, ready to see what was gonna go down...

The Main Event

Oliver Wang, Asian American writer, cultural critic and graduate student at UC Berkeley (where he teaches courses on pop culture), the opening speaker and panel moderator, gave an opening talk about the historical presence of Asians in hip-hop. Mr. Wang’s research into the annals of hip-hop history unearthed an emcee (who claims to have cut a record before "Rapper’s Delight") from the South Bronx, whom Wang declares as the "first Asian in hip-hop." He then describes him as "half Filipino and half Black." I couldn’t help but wonder how this emcee identified himself and how he physically looked, and why his Blackness was now a footnote in Wang’s historical re-write.

As Wang continued on, he painted hip-hop music and culture as this multi-culti "American" artform that everyone’s had a hand in developing. By doing so, Wang very skillfully ignored the reality that Rap was in fact created by Black youth (and Latinos from the Caribbean – many of whom are also of African descent and certainly ghettoized as "Black" in the NYC socio-economic landscape) in the South Bronx (or in Queens, depending on whom you ask). Wang went on to say that the only reason why Asians were drawn to hip-hop was because of the music. He also said that "hip-hop is the most democratic music because it doesn’t take the same skill as playing classical music."

Wang then asked a follow-up question to the panelists. Uh-oh! The panel included spoken word duo Yellow Rage, DJ Phillie Blunt, Chops of the Mountain Brothers, a Cambodian-American rapper named Jim, and his friend, the lone Black panelist who is an MC from Philly. Borrowing from the hip-hop romantic comedy Brown Sugar, Wang asked each panelist to talk about when they "first fell in love with hip-hop." All of the panelists, save the Black man, talked about hearing some rap song on the radio and falling in love, because it expressed "who they were" and "their experience."

Jim admitted he grew up in the burbs and came to hip-hop out of his isolation. At least that was honest. Michelle, from Yellow Rage, anointed herself the hip-hop historian (or shall I shay griot?) for the evening. Making jokes about her age, Michelle reminded the audience to pay respect to hip-hop’s roots and remember "the old school." The panel was asked another question by Wang and then he opened the floor for questions from the audience.

After squirming in my third-row seat for the duration of the talk, I had my opportunity. Quickly raising my hand, I was passed the mic. My question/statement was: In all of the talk thus far, we have conveniently skirted around the issue of race. But let’s be real, when we’re talking about hip-hop and hip-hop culture, we mean Black people, which you de-emphasized and de-historicized in your intro talk, Mr Wang . . . Now, we know about the history of Black popular culture being appropriated and stolen by whites, as in the case of Blues, Jazz, and Rock & Roll.

And now there’s hip-hop, and since we live in this multi-racial state which still positions Blackness socio-economically and politically at the bottom, how does the presence of Asian Americans in hip-hop, this black cultural artform, look any different than that of white folks in Jazz, Blues, and Rock & Roll?

The jig was up. I was the rain that ended the parade (or shall I say charade?). The room quickly turned to palpable hostility and anger. Since they were already clearly pissed, I decided to throw out a follow-up question: Mr. Wang, you said that Asian people are attracted to hip-hop because they just like the music, which I find hard to believe since hip-hop also came into prominence in the day and age of music video – where image and representation are as important (if not more) than the music itself.

That being the case, what is it about Black people (and especially Black masculinity in the case of hip-hop), and what they represent to others, that is so attractive to other people, including non-white people of color?

The Body Slam

Well, that did it. They were mad as hell. I mean, how dare I bring up Black people and appropriation, as if Asians can’t possibly appropriate Blackness in the same manner that white folks do! It couldn’t be, not while I’m in a standing-room only crowd of "conscious" Asian youth with locks and hair teased out (and often chemically treated) to look like afros!

Well, that panel couldn’t get that mic around fast enough! Some of the responses were too asinine to even bother with a critique. But I will tackle the main points. The first to respond was the lone Black man on the panel. Responding to my second question, he spoke in a condescending, yet gentle tone (you know, "brother to brother") about us "being a soulful people" and that’s why everyone wants to get with our shit and how I should see it as a "compliment."

Well, I am fine with you getting with it – on the radio or video or whatever – but does that mean you get to have it? Better yet, take it, and then use it against Black people to promote the image of us as intimidating and politically and culturally selfish? This is exactly the narrative that was used to promote Eminem and is being used now for Jin: both of them are framed as real "artists" and "lyricists" who stand dignified in the face of Black "reverse racism" and hostility (watch 8 Mile, read much of the press written about Jin’s appearances on 106th & Park)—as if Nas, Bahamadia, or Andre 3000 & Big Boi aren’t really artists but, as Black people are expected to do, just use "the race card" to get ahead.

And to treat Blacks as "soulful people" is the same as seeing us as primitives (with some genetic code programming us to gleefully wail and shout, shake and shimmy) who make this lovely music yet are too docile to be really intelligent, ingenious and artistic.

Several of the panelists at this event went on to critique commercial rap artists for being materialistic, etc. For example, after putting his arm on his Black friend’s shoulder and telling me that we need to "recognize that Blacks are on the bottom," Jim concluded by telling me that "it’s about class, not race" and how he tries his hardest to be "conscientious."

This is the same guy who earlier emphasized how capitalism diluted the politics of hip-hop without talking about Asian Americans’ role in the capitalist structure. Instead of dealing with this very important issue, the Asian-American panelists acted as if they were "more real" than Black commercial artists. So, because they get to be "underground" (which loosely means someone without a record deal), they get to be "real" and "authentic" over Black artists who have been commercially successful.

I have my own critiques of commercially successful Black hip-hop artists and their materialism, misogyny, violence and homophobia – which I have written and spoken about as well—but I was not about to give that over to some hostile non-Black people to use to make themselves more "down."

Michelle of Yellow Rage flat out screamed on me, in an effort, I guess, to "keep it real" with her duo’s namesake. Starting several of her sentences with the phrase, "You need to acknowledge…" she went on and on about how she is sick of people (I guess Black people) saying that hip-hop is a Black thing.

This Ph.D. candidate (who specializes in both Asian and African American Literature) went on to tell me that I need to "stop being so divisive" and "read my history" via the likes of cultural critics Tricia Rose and Nelson George so that I can learn and ultimately "acknowledge" that "nobody has a monopoly on culture."

And least of all Black people. As the descendants of slaves, the property of others, nothing belongs to us. Everything we do, including hip-hop and spoken word, can be done by anyone else. And yet, Yellow Rage made a name for itself by critiquing appropriation of Asian culture by non-Asians, including Black people (specifically hip-hop artists).

So, to the author of Ancestor Worship (a phrase generally referring to Black African traditional religious practice) and member of Asians Misbehavin’ (which appropriates the name from the Black musical revue of Fats Waller’s music, Ain’t Misbehavin’), I say to you, Michelle, if Asians have certain cultural boundaries that need to be respected (e.g. Chinese/Japanese tattoos, chopsticks in the hair, etc.), then why does that not apply to Black people? Maybe this is something Michelle can ponder as she works on her dissertation called "Untying Tongues" (which appropriates the title of the late Black Gay filmmaker Marlon Rigg’s work, Tongues Untied).

So I asked the first, and apparently last question of the Q&A. Not caring to see the "performance" part of the evening (though I’d have to call the panel a performance as much as the concert), I left the event, dealing with the angry glares on my way out. I thought it was over. But then a friend sent me a link to a commentary on the cultural possessiveness of Blacks over hip-hop on Oliver "aka O-Dub" Wang’s site written by Mr. Wang himself (http://www.o-dub.com/weblog/2004/11/hes-your-chinaman-jin-jin-everywhere.html ).

The Aftermath

So, in a larger blog about Jin and Asians in hip-hop, Wang writes about the Asian Arts Initiative event. Describing how I raised the question I did, Wang responds:

"I’m constantly frustrated by these kinds of defensive attitudes around cultural ownership though I am quite aware of how they arise. The gentleman in this case was correct in noting that African American culture has suffered through a long history of being exploited to the gains of others and there is great concern that hip-hop is simply next on the list…Communities may think they ‘own’ a culture but that’s not how culture works. It’s not an object you can chain up. Culture doesn’t care about borders - it spreads as fast and as far as the people who consume it will take it.

I agree, yes, culture can also be misappropriated and exploited. But if people are really worrying about hip-hop becoming the latest example of Black culture being emptied of content and turned into a deracinated commodity, the problem doesn’t lie with Asian American youth. Or Latino youth. Or even white youth really."

It’s interesting – or more accurately, disturbing – that Wang uses the metaphor of culture being "chained up" in relation to African Americans. Wang, like Michelle from Yellow Rage, refuses to deal with what the legacy of being property (always owned, and never owners) means in the case of Black people and claims of ownership over culture. So, where Black people are concerned, both historically and contemporarily, it’s all good. We make everything for everybody.

Wang goes on assert that the "The color line here is painted in green. You want to talk about cooptation? Talk about corporations…" (right now W.E.B. Du Bois is rolling over in his grave). So I guess, as Wang puts it, the real (and I guess only) problem is corporations who promote hip-hop and make money off of it—of which some executives are Black, Wang is eager to point out.

That’s almost slick, Ollie. But not quite. People who don’t want to deal with their own complicity in the reproduction of anti-Black racism are very quick to point out corporations as the culprit. Interestingly, while emphasizing corporations, Wang doesn’t talk about his own relationship to them or that he makes a living writing for such corporations about a music that allegedly doesn’t require much skill or that he works for a university—which is also a corporation—and gets to have some control over the production of knowledge about hip-hop.

Instead of addressing this, Wang goes out of his way to point out that there are one or two Black people in some level of decision making capacity in the music industry. But why doesn’t he talk about how virtually none of them actually own the labels, and fewer are in control of any means of production and distribution?

The narrative of blame the corporation, but not me (or any living breathing person), and don’t talk about the bodies it oppresses in the meantime is such a mirror of the white nationalist narrative. It, to me, is the same as the white person saying, "Don’t blame me for slavery. My grandparents didn’t own any slaves. They came from Russia in 1902. And didn’t Africans sell their own people into slavery? And didn’t some Blacks own slaves?"

Well, maybe your "immigrant" ancestor did not own slaves, but they certainly benefited from a nation that valued whiteness above all else. And they got jobs in industry (that Black people clearly needed and couldn’t get easy or any access to) and amass wealth in a way Black people have been prevented from doing collectively.

A handful of rappers, athletes, and talk-show hosts doesn’t change the fact that a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center deemed that Black families are the only racial group in the United States who saw their wealth decrease in recent years. And your grandparents didn’t end up here by accident, no more than mine accidentally left the shores of Africa – "chained up." They came because the US wanted to balance a growing Black non-enslaved population with more white people. So the US took who they could get.

By the 1960’s the US again decided to balance a "mad and organized-as-all-hell" Black population by relaxing immigration to bring in more non-Black people of color. So, in many cases, the non-Black presence in the US was specifically set up in relationship against Black people. Even if your family was here before the 1960s, look at the history of every contiguous state formed between the American Revolution and the Civil War. The question of slavery is at the heart of the founding of every single one. The "slave," the "nigger," and the "criminal" are historical and contemporary positions that Blackness occupies. This reality is something everyone is forced to deal with, and yet nobody wants to be one of them.

So, what Asian Americans and Asian American politics (and I think "People of Color" politics as well) has yet to fully deal with is that we can’t talk about capitalism and corporations in some abstract sense. If we do then we ignore how one’s positionality against Blackness and Black people in a white supremacist context helps to define the issues of ownership, property and parameters and how they are racialized. Just because you aren’t phenotypically white doesn’t mean you can’t uphold white interests politically—as Wang likes to point out in his example of the Black executive—but Black people as a whole cannot function politically in the same way that non-Black people of color can in the current global paradigm (Yes! Global. Let’s talk about sub-Saharan Africa in relation to South America, the Middle East or Asia, if you must).

So, NOT being Black is what seems to matter more under capitalism than being white.

The Final Round

So, corporations are but one manifestation of the American project. But history and culture are also an equally important part of that project. History and culture inform narratives that form people’s logic and assumptions, which root themselves in the subconscious. We could overthrow all corporations tomorrow, and if our narratives stay the same, or simply shift shape without being utterly transformed, some other new and oppressive shit (aimed at Black people!) will take it’s place. And take the prison’s place. So, don’t put all your focus on corporations, or laws, or cages without dealing with the logic that makes us assume we need them in the first place.

There’s an old saying my grandmother has: "I’m not dealing with the form, I’m dealing with the essence!"

The essence is exactly this: Let’s un-assume that because we’re all up in hip-hop that we’re all on the same page. Let’s un-assume that because you might try to look like me or sound like me (or how you think I do both), that we are working towards the same goal, or that we even have the same enemy. I don’t think, despite efforts to think otherwise, that this was really ever Black people’s assumption.

To close, let me share a story that I think is very telling and illustrates everything I’ve been getting at here. I was living in New Orleans last year, and had just arrived for 2003 Satchmo Festival celebrating the life of Louie Armstrong. The event takes place in the gentrified Fabourg Marigny, and over that August weekend, cafes and restaurants fill with Brass Bands, Jazz and Blues artists.

I sat outside a coffee shop one day listening to an incredible quartet with a group of Black people I had just met, while the cafe was filled with folks from all over, including whites, Japanese tourists and Asian-American college students. One Black woman said to her friend, "Girl let’s go in!" The other replied, "No, I’d rather stay out here. I can’t experience it the way I would if it was just us. I always feel like part of the minstrel show when they be up in it. And there ain’t no place in New Orleans where they don’t go now..."

I turned to her, and gave an "Uh-huh," wanting her to know I was there to bear witness to what she’d said, and glad she’d said it. I, too, chose to stay on the outside for the very same reason. Asian Americans in hip-hop need to consider this Black woman’s concern, as well as this question: If first-generation white European immigrants like Al Jolson could use minstrelsy (wearing blackface, singing black popular music and mimicking their idea of Black people) to not only ensure their status as white people, but also to distance themselves from Black people, can Asian Americans use hip-hop (the music, clothing, language and gestures, sans charcoal makeup), and everything it signifies to also assert their dominance over Black bodies, rather than their allegiance to Black liberation?

People who now think that jazz is for everybody never think about what the process was to get jazz to that place, nor what that means for the people who invented it. This thought leaves me with one last – albeit very frightening – question: Will my niece and nephews be at a festival for Lauryn Hill fifty years from now, also standing on the outside looking in?


Kenyon Farrow © 2004

Sunday, January 02, 2005

this was sent out on the APOC list by M.Mayuran Tiruchelvam; I agree
that a lot of the major "charities" probably do not have the capacities to understand how to help the natives of the regions most affected. It's far better to try and find more specific organizations that actually have ties to the communities in the areas.

i really wouldn't give money to the Red Cross, as the take a lot out of the donation to pay their bloated bureacratic costs. here is some info on local charities, other more progressive international groups, and upcoming events to support the survivors.Please pass on infoPlease read the e-mail below from the Diaspora Flow. Diaspora Flow is a bad ass 4 year old non-profit social change org for people of color in Minneapolis. Both directors of Diaspora Flow are Sri Lankan American. I have great trust in the organization.Please Read................

www.diasporaflow.org/srilanka-relief.html

If you have questions about the fund, please feel free to contact us by email athttp://mail.riseup.net/squirrelmail-1.4.3a/src/compose.php?send_to=srilanka-relief%40diasporaflow.org or call us at thenumbers below. Thank you for your time.
Pradeepa- (co-director of D'Flow) 612-237-7670
Chamindika- (co-director of D'Flow) 651-489-8393
Vinothini (Vino) -Board Member 763-443-1320
Amirthini (Amu) -Board Member 763-639-6833
Diaspora FlowSri Lanka Relief FundAlso a group of progressive NYC Sri Lankan activists are currently organizing means to send money and resources to grass roots, community based groups and activists in Sri Lanka. Many of the groups are in severely affected areas where infrastructure is less and relief is slow to reach. More info to come.

SAVE the DATE!: January 15thBENEFIT for progressive Sri Lankan relief effortsEMBORA Movement and Wellness Studio900 Fulton St.,
Brooklyn 8pm
Performers include
Mango Tribe's Varuni Tiruchelvam and Marian Yalini Thambynayagammuch,
much luv marian


Greengrants to Match Donations to Tsunami Relief Effort -- Greengrants to Match Donations to Tsunami Relief Effort. Greengrants will also match the first $5,000 donated. We have a pre-existing relationship with the two organizations listed below, which allows for quick and easy transfer of funds. And we are currently working to identify groups in India that can accept immediate funds for relief efforts as well.
Sri Lankan Relief Effort The Saviya Development Foundation in Galle, Sri Lanka will respond tothe devastation caused by the Tsunami by providing relief resources tothe 25 refugee centers along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Saviyawill use donations to supply food and water to families in the area whohave lost their homes and property, support medical efforts at therefugee centers, and to resolve local residential problems. In the past,Saviya has received Greengrants funds to restore and preserve the Madu Ganga wetlands, and to engage local school children in this process.- Sumatra Relief Effort WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), has established the Indonesian Civil Society Coalition for the Victims of Earthquake and Tsunami to provide aid to the victims. The coalition has set up crisis centers in Jakarta and Medan, North Sumatra. All funds received will be allocatedfor emergency response as well as the post-emergency phase of rebuilding and restoration of shattered livelihoods. WALHI has received funding from Greengrants to protect forests in Indonesia. Daily updates on the relief effort in Sumatra are available at: http://www.eng.walhi.or.id
- HOW TO DONATE -
Global Greengrants' Fund is a U.S. 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and will match the first $5,000 donated to this special relief effort.100% of Tsunami Fund donations will be sent to these relief efforts.Greengrants' U.S. tax ID number is: 84-1612422- Credit Card Donations. To contribute using a credit card, visit www.greengrants.org/donate and click on the "donate now" button. Pleasenote that the donation is on behalf of the Tsunami Fund.- Check. Checks mailer and post-marked by December 31, 2004 areeligible for a tax deduction in 2004.
Contributions after December 31,will be deductible for 2005.
Mail checks to:
Global Greengrants Fund -Tsunami Fund,
2840 Wilderness Place Suite E
Boulder, CO 80301- Wire Transfers.

To send funds via wire transfer:
Account Name: GlobalGreengrants Fund;
account number: 558-611-8597; SWIFT code: WFBIUS6S;and routing number: 121 000 248.
- Stock Donations. If you are interested in contributing stocks,
call Kelly Purdy or Erika Carlson at 303.939.9866 to get our full bankinginformation, or email http://mail.riseup.net/squirrelmail-1.4.3a/src/compose.php?send_to=kelly%40greengrants.org / http://mail.riseup.net/squirrelmail-1.4.3a/src/compose.php?send_to=erika%40greengrants.orgFor additional information on international donors providing reliefassistance please visit the Grantmakers Without Border website at:www.internationaldonors.org/issues/tsunami_dec2004.htm, or the TidesFoundation at: www.tidesfoundation.org Thank you for your help with this important effort.Global Greengrants Fund (www.greengrants.org)

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Statement of Purpose

"In the case of political identity that's being threatened, culture is a way of fighting against extinction and obliteration. Culture is a form of memory against effacement."
-Edward Said

Being a filipino in Amerikkka who plays & records music, paints, sketches, designs, and writes, I'm definitely interested in knowing what other Asian & Pacific Islanders (API) out there are doing creatively. Also being anti-authoritarian, finding music and art (done by APIs) that actively resists oppression is pretty hard to come across. So I decided I'd try to start a blog that can collect information about radical API artists/musicians/wordsmiths etc. and in turn help create a network of solidarity in our fight against the oppressive dominant mainstream culture (which represents the perpetuation of racism/capitalism/imperialism/sexism/heterosexism/classism) . These different DIY/indie activities include but are not limited to: music, movies, spoken word, poetry, comics and zines etc.

"the power to analyze, to get past cliche and straight out-and-out lies from authority, the questioning of authority, the search for alternatives. "
-Edward Said

Some guidelines for this blog:

1. All individuals or groups covered in SLANTY must identify or contain a person who identifies as API or part API.
2. All content must have actual leftist thinking and inspirations behind it...no white liberal/progressive type bullshit. Let's keep it real and radical.
3. No reliance on corporations, this is not Giant Robot.

Please write in with comments, questions, or suggestions and especially if you want to contribute on a one time or continuous basis. Ideally, if successful, this blog will become collectively run. So please keep in touch.

Peace & Justice.