Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This is written by James Perkinson, author of White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity. JPerkinson is Associate Professor of Ethics at Ecumenical Theological Seminary.

I’m a white man, today, quite downcast with the outcome of the Obama-Wright media spectacle. I have spent much of the recent weeks—since the sound-bite of Wright’s sermon was looped ad nauseum—profoundly angered at white media belligerence in creating a caricature of black anger by which to try to besmirch Obama’s campaign. Not surprisingly—it worked.

The attempt to undercut Obama’s packaging of himself as the candidate of unity, post-racial, black-and-white all rolled into one, committed to a different politics beyond the facile markers of race, was so transparent as to be laughable if it were not so reprehensible. That the sound-bite was simply cast as hate-speech, entirely removed from context, and pushed as the rallying point for white well-to-do chatter-gangs to whip up a frenzied demand that any black man daring to project himself as Oval Office material had damn well better strip off any recourse to black anger over continuing black oppression, and coddle whimpering white sensibility, was so much evidence of how far we have not come in this country. That Wright could find a venue after a month of incessant vilification to finally speak back, with a quintessential mix of precision and passion, a resume of historical fact and a rhythm of hilarious riposte, was a breath of highly public fresh air not experienced by this author since Dr. King’s palaver of 1967-68.

I was astonished that so much accuracy could be joined with so much artistry in mainstream media for a brief moment of release from the typical white rant that so insipidly casts anything other than utterly supine acquiescence to rabid American exceptionalism as unpatriotic.

But the veil of mainstream (largely, though not exclusively white) demagoguery quickly closed out the glimpse of truth that had cut to the bone of American fear and viciousness. This is not the place to recount the facts of our history as Wright did; it is not the place to reiterate the warning of reaping what is sown. I only wish to weigh in with the opinion that, strangely, black anger represents one of the only hopeful energies left in the country, that we will have transcended race only at the point where white self-delusion stops dissembling before legitimate excoriation for what our policies actually have done and continue to do to people of color here and abroad, that healing from that history of policy and plundering requires an emotional confrontation with the human meaning of the violence done, that a culture frightened of indignation as presumptive evidence of hate rather than a possibility of love is itself already pathologically narcissistic. And probably doomed to self-destruct in its ever-more histrionic self-aggrandizement and congratulation! Do we really think we can have enslaved for three centuries to the continuing benefit of pale-skinned elites with no apology ever offered and not reap? Do we really believe we can bomb hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens into early graves in an illegal invasion based on a lie and not rot psychically or spiritually?

Watching the halt and defeated repudiation of Wright delivered by Obama at midday was, for me, a bonfire of inanity. In his haggard face, I saw a whole country defeated by its incapacity to know itself. In the mainstreaming of Wright’s comeback to his critics, it had come to the brink of a new level of self-confrontation . . . but turned savagely away. The choice Obama was forced to make may or may not save him the nomination. It clearly cost the country another—and rapidly dwindling—shred of integrity.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A white Catholic priest defends Rev. Wright and Louis Farrakhan.

Fr. Pfleger: "when white people criticize America, they are raising issues; when black people criticize America, they are haters of America. that's double standard!"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

This essay is still around. . .and if you follow the link at the end of the essay, there will be two more discussing the same essay.

A friend is trying to set up a lunch with me and Peggy McIntosh but I will be in the Philippines when she comes to town. Peggy's essay (1988) is one of the first to bring attention to the concept of white privilege. I've used this essay many times and I have also published an essay on teaching about whiteness when you're not white.

At a recent diversity workshop, panelists talked about the need for people to develop cultural competence. The latter usually refers to the understanding of the experiences of "others" -- which is all good and necessary. But I think the work is only half-done if those who are privileged by dominant categories in US society do not also begin to do their own work of deconstructing the privileges they take for granted. What is the social mortgage that has to be paid by "others" who often remain invisible and silent? What is the cost to the privileged person?

Often my privileged students believe that their wish for "others" to have the same privileges they enjoy is enough. Is it?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Taking a break from political campaigns, I seek refuge.
And in these side conversations: a calm at the center.
I wish to meet you there.

and on the lighter side, Oscar Penaranda tells a good Charles Mingus story here:

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Vote's for Obama...(Michael Moore)...here are excerpts:

Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I've watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name "Farrakhan" out of nowhere, well that's when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the "F" word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama's pastor does -- AND the "church bulletin" once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!

This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!
There are those who say Obama isn't ready, or he's voted wrong on this or that. But that's looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.

That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what's going on is bigger than him at this point, and that's a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Connect the dots of torture* and let's ask ourselves where this is headed...

*from Bagram, Abu Ghraib, to Guantanamo...and the escape route for Bush that can keep him from being tried for war crimes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Critical Thinking and critical multiculturalism is unpatriotic?

This is what happens when xenophobia rears its ugly head : Full text below.

"Arizona public schools would be barred from any teachings considered counter to democracy or Western civilization under a proposal endorsed Wednesday by a legislative panel.

Additionally, the measure would prohibit students of the state'suniversities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their members, such as the Black Business Students Association at Arizona State University or Native Americans United at Northern Arizona University. Those groups would be forbidden from operating on campus. The brainchild of Rep. Russell Pearce, the measure appeared as an amendment to Senate Bill 1108, which originally would have made minor changes to the state's Homeland Security advisory councils.

The House Appropriations Committee approved the new proposal on a 9-6 vote. Pearce, a Mesa Republican, said his target isn't diversity instruction, but schools that use taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate students in what he characterized as anti-American or seditious thinking. The measure is at least partially a response to a controversy surrounding an ethnic-studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, which critics have said is unpatriotic and teaches revolution.

SB 1108 states, 'A primary purpose of public education is to inculcate values of American citizenship. Public tax dollars used in public schools should not be used to denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization. 'For schools that violate the anti-Western-teachings provision, the bill provides the state superintendent of public instruction with the authority to withhold a portion of state funding. Rep. John Kavanagh, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said he hopes the measure helps return cultural studies in the state's schools to a 'melting pot' model.

'This bill basically says, 'You're here. Adopt American values,' " said Kavanagh, a Fountain Hills Republican. "If you want a different culture,then fine, go back to that culture.'

But Democratic committee members complained that the measure is overly vague, failing to define what constitutes teachings that 'disparage or overtly encourage dissent from the values of democracy and Western civilization. 'The result, said Rep. Pete Rios, would likely be a chilling effect on public instruction regarding diversity and other cultures. 'There's nothing wrong with being bilingual, bicultural,' said Rios, a Hayden Democrat. 'I like Mexican music. I like Elvis Presley. I'm bicultural. What's wrong with that? I think kids, students, need to learn about their culture.'"

NOTE: As the US economy and middle class Americans begin to feel the downward spiral of the American dream, people will become afraid. When people are afraid, they look for escapegoats that they can blame for their misery. They will hold on to the privileges of their whiteness and sense of entitlements instead of working to form social justice alliances between all working class communities (both white and of color) -- this is according to sociologist Andrew L. Barlow.
They will not be able to connect the dots between global climate crisis (produced by man-made and US-led pollutants) market values of capitalism, war and militarization, illegal human trafficking, global rice and food shortage, etc.

As this ability to "connect the dots" has been the strength of ethnic studies courses and cultural studies, this Arizona bill is just one evidence of the Fear that grips the heart of those in power whose view of the world is narrow and limited to the old and bankrupt mantra of "us versus them."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I am so proud of these sudents!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How do you keep the music playing?
(sung by my brother E -- thank you, Koya!)
How do you keep this song from fading too fast?
How do you lose yourself to someone and never lose your way?
How do you not run out of new things to say?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jean on the "reading experience": But newness in and of itself has little value (and besides, I have a peculiar relationship to time). And “adventure” to me, especially in the arts, is often suspect. Newness, unfortunately, often props itself up on a past denied.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I will be walking 10K in the Human Race next month to raise funds for the Sonoma COunty Chapter of FANHS. We need additional funds to finish our videodocumentary on the Manongs of Sonoma County. In these difficult economic and political times, it's tough asking for money but there are some projects that, in the larger scheme of things, need to be finished. When finished, this Oral HIstory Project will mark a historic moment for Filipinos in this part of the world. Can I count on your support? Email me, pls: lenystrobel@sbcglobal.net.

My local community involvement balances my tendency to focus on the Big Picture. I am reminded that in this big picture I am, ultimately, responsible and accountable to the local even while networked with others on a global level.

In my classes we often discuss what "community" means in this age of cyberconnectivity. I think one question posed to me sums up a quick answer: When a natural disaster happens and you have to rely on others to pull you out of the debris, will your cybercommunity be there? Oh, I know...we can argue what "there" means or what "community" means but in the end, it is always where the body is that matters, isn't it?

Friday, April 04, 2008

It's been around for ten years but I didn't get to see it till this week. I had to go because V has joined the cast this year. I'm so proud of the inner healing work she's done. And she's expressed it through her poetry, visual art, and now as actor.

I was raised to be mahinhin so I didn't know how I would react to VM. What I appreciated about this version is the inclusion of a video clip and a choral poem about the Lolas and Evelina Galang's ongoing fight for justice for the surviving comfort women. I also liked Charmaine Clamor's musical interludes between the monologues. Oh, but can she act as well! She did the monologue on c-u-n-t! As for all the stories about hair, floods, moans, mirrors...some of the lines were really funny.

But...why is it that when the monologues were about sexual and domestic violence, it was the "other" that told the stories -- the Native American women and Bosnian women. This didn't sit well with me...as if all the pleasure belonged to white women and all the pain to women of color?

The Filipino touch to the VM -- the colorful barongs...and later, the children joining their mothers on stage - that was powerful!

As usual, Marily Mondejar of FWN and her team, makes us all proud to be Fil Am women warriors. It was good to see Nida Recado (on the cover of FWN magazine and in person) and Elena Mangahas. Thank you, sisters!

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