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.

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


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( 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:


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.


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
Wires On Fire
The New Rectangle