Category Archives: activism

The Perils of “People of Color”

E. TAMMY KIM: Rejecting the term “people of color” may be of little consequence, but rejecting the solidarity it implies can result in an inaccurate and unduly limiting world view.

As Margo Okazawa-Rey, a professor emerita at San Francisco State University who participated in the Black feminist Combahee River Collective of the nineteen-seventies, put it, “The history of this country is told from the East Coast,” thereby privileging the Black-white binary. This lens is foundational, and central to our racial imaginary, but it should not be the only one. The enslavement of Black people on this continent—and the caste system devised to maintain it—cannot fully explain the attempted genocide of indigenous peoples, a decades-long ban on Chinese immigration, the mass deportations and lynching of Mexican migrant workers, the crackdown on Arab and Muslim communities after 9/11, or our wars in the Philippines and Iraq. The wealth of the United States owes not only to slavery but also the exploitation of migrant workers and poor whites, and the theft of land and natural resources here and abroad. And although it is now common to attribute the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 solely to the civil-rights movement, its more proximate cause was the injunction of anti-Communist foreign policy.

Recognizing the various strands in the warp and weft of our history, alongside slavery and Black liberation, should be possible without unravelling the whole into “All Lives Matter.” This more complicated telling incorporates those who defy stereotypes of color and race: Black refugees, Samoans, biracial Arabs, Asian adoptees, and Latinx “immigrants” whose families have been in the Americas for centuries. The University of Connecticut philosopher Lewis Gordon, the author of “Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism,” told me that it’s crucial to be “precise about how American racism manifests” while understanding “that there were internment camps of Japanese-Americans, that there are reservations for indigenous peoples that were basically the inspiration for the South African Bantustans.” More here.

How a handcuffed Black man suffocated as Rochester police restrained him

A Black man died of asphyxiation earlier this year after Rochester police officers trying to take him into protective custody pinned him to the ground while restraining him.

The incident occurred in March — two months before George Floyd’s very similar death in Minneapolis touched off nationwide protests — yet it didn’t become public until now.

The curtain was lifted on the death of 41-year-old Daniel T. Prude at a late-morning news conference Wednesday at which Prude’s family and local activists called his death a murder and demanded that the officers involved be fired and charged in his homicide.’

instead of being accountable, the rochester police decided to arrest activists asking for justice today. more here.


The Injured Body: Tonya Noel Stevens

Transcribing interviews for my new doc ‘The Injured Body’

Tonya Noel Stevens, co-founder of Flower City Noire Collective and Director of Cause and Effect Greenspace, talks about processing racist micro-aggressions:

That’s really something I’ve been working on, like not harboring those feelings or the negative things people give me, and it’s not even just microaggressions, it’s any negative energies fed my way. If it’s not something that I can process and turn into light, and that I could share back with that person… then you can keep it, it’s all yours, and I try not to take it in.

Because then I end up with it… And I’m really about taking ownership – ownership of one’s body, and what’s mine and what’s not mine. When you hit me with that negative energy and add those negative vibes, and then that negative talk, that’s not mine, none of that is my language, none of that is how I’m moving in the world. So you just have to keep that. And I’m good for saying I don’t accept that. You keep it, I’m just not even gonna take that in, because when I do, then I have to find space for it.

So gardening is a big thing for me. And that’s really what I try to harness and tell people like, we’re in a garden, this is your place to bury all that, put it into an affirmation and put it into a seed, put it into the ground and like let it grow into something else because if not, it’s still growing inside of you.
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microaggressions #racism #LGBTQrights #womenofcolor #film #documentary #theinjuredbody #neelumfilms #rochesterny #urbangarden #communitygarden #eatwhatyougrow #microaggressionsareracism #microaggressionsarereal

Review of A Thin Wall by @ind.igenous

Repost from @ind.igenous


Filmmaker Mara Ahmed’s documentary, ‘A Thin Wall’ is a haunting and thought-provoking account of the partition. Strung together are stories, memories and experiences of those who suffered, leaving behind what they called home, plunging into the unknown. Yet, like wilted flowers inside an old book, love still remains on each side of the border. The documentary reminds one of Zarina Hashmi’s art, of a constant search for home, and the pain of separation.
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Heard this powerfully evocative piece named ‘Never’ from a short memoir, ‘Six Snapshots of Partition’ by poet John Siddique in the film. Here it is for you to read:
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Faizal carries his wife in his pocket: she is a white handkerchief. Faizal carries his three daughters in his other pocket: three small stones gathered from the side of the road. Their names are lost to walking. His sons Mohammed and Rafiq flank him. They carry the memories of their sisters and mother in their silence. Faizal closed down his carpet shop three months ago; he misses his days bargaining at his counter. No one has told Faizal why India has changed – he is not one of those men who drinks tea and talks politics at night. Every time he meets a dead person he asks them what his wife’s name was. He asks and puts his hands in his pockets.
Zoom out and it looks like the whole of India is walking. Walking towards a blue line on a rough map drawn on to a napkin. Mohammed Siddique, my father, is a young man of seventeen years on the road from Jullundur to Lahore. He will never be a Pakistani, he will always be an immigrant – a series of questions which Faizal cannot answer.
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A Thin Wall is streaming now on @mubiindia
(Partition photo by Margaret Bourke-White)
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athinwall #documentary #partition #indiapakistan #lahore #delhi #puranaqila #border #indiadocumentary #johnsiddique

Human development professor dies following brief illness

two year ago, in november 2018, i was invited to screen ‘a thin wall’ at a conference on ‘weaponizing people: militarization and armed conflict in asia’ at SUNY Binghamton. lubna chaudhry was one of the organizers and my primary contact there. she invited me to a literary evening the night before the screening, where i met the brilliant Shane Carreon. we all went out to dinner at a wonderful thai place afterwards. she was kind and generous but a strong presence in that space. i could feel it. she was loved by her students. that too was obvious. originally from pakistan. only 54. may she rest in power.

“I admired Lubna as a scholar, but her activism inspired me,” Denise Yull said. “Lubna was a founding member of FARAB, a faculty collective composed of people of color from across the University who assembled to protest a climate of racism and indifference experienced by both students and faculty of color at Binghamton University. Lubna stood at the frontline against racial injustice at [BU], standing shoulder to shoulder with students and faculty of color. To honor Lubna, we have to continue standing up against systemic racism.” More here.

Professional Athletes Are Showing America Just How Powerful Labor Really Is

naomi osaka has also withdrawn from her upcoming semi-final at the western & southern open to join in the protests.

Dave Zirin: By exercising their power as workers, the players are inspiring an incredibly dormant part of the resistance to racism and Trumpism: the labor movement. If the NBA can shut down in protest of racist police violence, why not other industries? Why not cities? Why not entire sectors of the country’s economy? Strikes do not have to be about wages and benefits. There is a long, hidden history in this country of striking for human rights—“not just bread but roses.” It’s a history the players could help revive.

By striking, the players in the NBA, MLB, and beyond have brought their bosses to the table and launched a national conversation. More here.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib

The subcontinent is one of the most multicultural, multi-religious, multilingual, multi-ethnic parts of the world. It holds a multitude of histories, some of them unbearably painful, that we need to acknowledge and work through together.

Much is wrong in Pakistan, but this is a lovely picture.
Sikh pilgrims arrive at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, in March this year. Photo by @abdullahfarooqbajwa

Facebook Has Begun Purging Accounts Tied to Anti-Fascist Groups

i want so much to leave fb. for me, as an activist/independent filmmaker, it’s difficult to jettison my community/network here. but it’s becoming morally impossible to continue to use (and therefore support) such a reprehensible company. on top of the purging of anti-fascist groups as described in this article, their whatsapp is used widely to organize lynchings of muslims in india. that’s something they are ok with. people can do anything they set their minds to. why can’t we develop our own platform on the left so we can leave en masse. 

‘This is the first time a coordinated removal of multiple U.S. anarchist and antifascist accounts has happened on Facebook. In addition to It’s Going Down (IGD) and the CrimethInc Ex-Workers Collective, banned accounts include the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, which has organized some of the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Portland, Oregon; Enough is Enough, a German anarchist news platform; various chapters of the John Brown Gun Club, an armed left-wing community defense group; a number of members of the anarchist think tank Center for a Stateless Society; and accounts for the radical musicians Sole, Time, and Calm (the latter two belong to freelance writer Chris Steele, who has been published in Truthout). News about more may emerge later.’ More here.

The Injured Body: Sady Fischer

Transcribing interviews for my new doc ‘The Injured Body’

Sady Fischer, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, describes her vision for a better world:

The first thing I would say is for everyone to get the term colorblind out of their vocabulary. We do see different races, different communities, different looks. There’s this Audre Lorde poem, it is my all-time favorite, and she says: ‘It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.’

[…] I tell people all the time, I want you to see who I am, I don’t want you to pretend that you can’t see that I’m female. I’m proud of being a woman. Don’t pretend that you don’t see that I am a Latina, I’m very proud of my background and my heritage. I don’t want you to pretend that I’m not a queer woman. People say, ‘I don’t even see you as that, I just see you as Sady.’ But I see myself as that. I’m proud of my partner, our household, our family and the community that we belong to. I want you to see all those things. What I don’t want is a value judgment assigned to any of it.

microaggressions #racism #LGBTQrights #womenofcolor #film #documentary #theinjuredbody #neelumfilms #microaggressionsareracism #microaggressionsarereal

Fight on two fronts

Kali Akuno: The focus on accelerationism in the debates about the threat of Trump’s continued rule I think is misplaced. The surprising movement that we have now, with all of its faults and contradictions stems from the clarity provided by the Trump regime. This I think is beyond a doubt. But, more point of fact tactically, is the reality that Trump is dead set on staying in power by one means or another. Even an overwhelming vote against him, which is being rendered physically impossible as we speak, isn’t a guaranteed protective or preventative measure. If he decides to stay, something else will be needed. To that end, all those really concerned about the continuation of even basic bourgeois rights better start preparing to engage in some serious mass action to stop production, distribution, and consumption to beat back the slow motion coup and the full on Jacksonian order that will come with it. With a quickness.

However, the revolutionary forces within that mix best have their eyes also fixed on the Democrats and how they will relate to this mass motion. To the degree that this mass uprising only focuses on removing Trump from the white house they will support it. Should this movement go further then that, and start really challenging capital and the state, which I think large segments of it will, then it will need to be prepared to confront the containment measures of the liberals – who are not adverse to the restoration of order, which if anything is the main focus of Biden’s campaign.

The good thing about the Floyd rebellion is that considerable elements of it have insisted on political independence and autonomy from the liberals and the Democratic Party machine. The consolidation of this on a mass level could be a real break through. With the understand that as it now stands, it would be a necessary, but insufficient force and that it would have to convince larger and deeper sectors of the multi-national working class to move the needle.

The Floyd rebellion, the economic crisis, and the pandemic have changed the equation. More austerity is on the way, regardless. The neoliberals don’t have many cards left to play at the end of the day as a result. In real time, they are busy trying to buy the Movement for Black Lives off, playing up the “good protester, bad protester” narrative up to the hilt, and sowing clear seeds of division between liberals and all of the forces to their left in the process. On top of that, they have been just as engaged in rounding folks up to the tune of several thousand for engaging in acts of confrontation with the police and the institutions of capital. Biden said to expect more. Kamala is his demonstrated commitment to restoring “law and order’. So, we need to be preparing to fight on two fronts at once, as hard as this might be given the motley nature of the resistance that “we” pose.