…The truth is that this country does not know what to do with its black population now that the blacks are no longer a source of wealth, are no longer to be bought and sold and bred like cattle; and they especially do not know what to do with young black men…It is not accidental that the jails and the army and the needle claim so many, but there are still too many prancing about for the public comfort. Americans will, of course, deny, with horror, that they are dreaming of anything like “the final solution” – those Americans, that … Read more “The Prophet of Ferguson”
Then the door is before him. There is darkness all around him, there is silence in him. Then the door opens and he stands alone, the whole world falling away from him. And the brief corner of the sky seems to be shrieking, though he does not hear a sound. Then the earth tilts, he is thrown forward on his face in darkness, and his journey begins…
I was reminded of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room when it appeared on my favorite independent bookseller’s list of 25 Books to Read Before You Die. I’d read Giovanni’s Room years ago, along … Read more “Book Review: Giovanni’s Room”
I remember years ago when I was a member of ACT-UP, a woman who joined the group reviewed our direct action plans and said something along the lines of, “All this militant stuff must make you feel manly, and I guess that feels good since you’re hated partly because people think gay men are like women. But, um, how’s that supposed to make me feel?”
I got the message, though I still struggle to live up to it. It made me look askance at the texts of the 1960s and 70s that, indirectly but nonetheless effectively, led me to the … Read more “Book Review: Soledad Brother”
Historian Ellen Wu’s The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority just might be the best examination of the roots of the model minority stereotype in print.
More than just a connect-the-dots documentation of the rise of the model minority myth, The Color of Success succeeds at putting the myth in a much broader social and political context, positioning the model minority as a critical, even necessary, lever of white supremacy, resting upon and taking drawing its power from the fulcrum of anti-black racism. What’s more, it succeeds at making this history feel personal and … Read more “The Origins of the Asian American Model Minority Myth”
If you’re interested in Hawai’i or just interested in critical race studies, you ought not miss Haoles in Hawai’i. I found it to be a fast, accessible read, mercifully short and to the point, unapologetic without being polemical and one-sided, and highly educational.
Literally translated “haoles” are foreigners, but in contemporary Hawai’i, “haoles” include all white people, including those born in the islands. Living as they do in a state of racial limbo, at once the power elite by race in the U.S. (and Hawai’i is most definitely even if reluctantly part of the U.S.) and as both a racial … Read more “Book Review: Haoles in Hawaii”
Baseball in April and Other Stories is a collection of short stories written by one of the dons of Latino literature in the U.S., Gary Soto. It was first published in 1990, but it remains relevant today – a classic.
The stories in the collection filled me with nostalgia for my own childhood (or at least the parts of it where I wasn’t being beat up for being a fag). It reminded me of the resilience of children who, somehow, nearly always manage to find their way to the cracks in the oppressive forces that too often isolate and … Read more “Book Review: Baseball in April”
I found this book to be one of the most readable and entertaining texts on the history of Hawai’i since Cook, and I’ve read a lot of them. It’s practically the history of Hawai’i as a beach read. In fact, I read most of it on a beach in Hawai’i.
Vowell’s writing is accessible and her sources are contemporary. Contemporary is good, because a lot has been learned about Hawai’i history in the last 30 or so years, and a whole generation of Hawaiian academics have changed the way we understand the traditional English language historical materials while adding Hawaiian … Read more “Book Review: Unfamiliar Fishes”
Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders occupy an awkward space in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) coalition. Many groups call themselves API, but the PI is often absent. In some cases, it doesn’t appear that PIs were ever present to begin with. With this in mind, I undertook a project of reading everything I could get my hands on about Hawaii as a first step in building my knowledge of the PI in the API and toward grappling with my own history. This book, one that I first read many years ago, was the first in the series.
Shoal of … Read more “Book Review: Shoal of Time”
A must-read for those interested in Hawai’i. Much of the colonial history of the islands is built around the notion that the “bloodless revolution” was an indication of the passive consent of the Hawaiian people to the takeover of Hawai’i by white business interests. This book uses Hawaiian language resources to demonstrate that Hawaiians did in fact resist, and powerfully, and by so doing, puts a whole new spin on an often-told story that has served to justify the evil of colonization to Hawaii’s children for generations.
At the risk of sounding cliche, Amitav Gosh’s The Glass Palace is an important book. It’s importance begins with the subject matter – a one-hundred year span of history that unfolds in India, Malaya (now Malaysia) and Burma (now Myanmar), all countries of which most Americans, myself included, know precious little. The book addresses the impact of colonialism in the region over these one-hundred years by telling the stories of three generations of families whose lives are bound together by political change.
The sweep of history is breathtaking, carrying the reader through two world wars, and the independence movement that … Read more “Book Review: The Glass Palace”