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Why We Can’t Trust the US State

A version of this talk was delivered originally at a teach-in on “Ferguson and Beyond: Race, State Violence, and Activist Agendas in the 21st Century” at the University of Washington on January 23, 2015. Video of the teach in can be viewed here.

Let me begin by pointing out some obvious, but oftentimes overlooked, points. We live in a society where we can’t escape the US state and its insistence on allegiance and loyalty. But, for many of us, the US state—and I use that term to refer to all levels of government, be it local, state, or federal—has …

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Be The Change: A Call for Tolerance

A discussion of race such as we’ve not heard for decades is being inspired by the mass mobilization against police shootings of Black people, and in particular the remarkable determination of activists in Ferguson, now in their 133rd consecutive day of protest over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. More and more of us are talking, and the passion behind these conversations is rising.

I’ve been following some of these discussions, a few of which have been taking place in my inbox. Many of them center around arguments over racial theory and analysis. Questions like, who’s the most

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This Is What Solidarity Looks Like: #Asians4BlackLives

New video captures Black-led, multiracial shut down at Oakland Police Department

For interviews with arrestees and members of #Asians4BlackLives, contact: Marie Choi, 510-239-7891, or Chinyere Tutashinda,  216-849-7172

On Monday, Dec 15th 2014, members of newly organized all-Black groups, including The Blackout Collective, #BlackBrunch and #BlackLivesMatter, joined with Asian allies in #Asians4BlackLives group and white allies in the Bay Area Solidarity Action Team to lead an occupation of the Oakland Police Department and demand an end to the war on Black people in Oakland and everywhere. Approximately 50 people participated in the action and were joined by a crowd of around …

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The Language of Anti-Racism

The term “anti-black racism” seems to be gaining in popularity lately. Liberal and progressive pundits use the term with regularity when describing the remarkable frequency of officer-involved shootings of Black people, or the fact that one in thirteen African Americans have been stripped of their right to vote by felon disenfranchisement, a form of collateral punishment that has always disproportionately affected Black people.

By the way, in case you were wondering why felon disenfranchisement is listed among expressions of racism, these laws were first popularized in the U.S. in the late 1860s through the 1870s. This was the …

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State Power and Police Violence in Ferguson

In my last post, I recalled an incident that occurred decades ago in Hawai’i. In that incident, I was assaulted by police officers on my 18th birthday. I assume I was targeted because I lived in a small town where I had developed a reputation as a trouble-maker. I opened the door to violence by resisting arrest by asserting my rights.

The cops involved in this incident were white, and they were acting on a description of a perpetrator that was so loose as to invite the kind of harassment I faced: “young, black hair, brown eyes, some kind of …

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Calling for a Model Minority Mutiny: #fergusonoctober

Your silence will not protect you – Audre Lorde

The almost daily news reports of police brutality toward African Americans, and the #fergusonoctober mobilization had me thinking about my 18th birthday. I know that probably sounds pretty random, but bear with me.

My 18th birthday presents included a case of beer split among friends (18 was still the legal drinking age in Hawai’i in that year), and a beat down at the hands of police officers who stopped me on my walk home from the party. The beating I took was so brutal that I was physically unable to speak …

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Welcome to the Hunger Games: Ferguson, Gentrification, and Power

I wrote a post about Ferguson earlier in the week that got me thinking of The Hunger Games. Not the movies. I mean the books. You can call them “Young Adult” if you like, but I loved those books. And now, I feel like the author, Suzanne Collins, may be a prophet.

Play along with me for a minute. The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future land called Panem. The center of Panem is a wealthy capitol city surrounded in concentric circles by 12 districts, each poorer and browner than the last. In order to maintain order, …

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What Goes Down in Ferguson is an Asian American Concern – In Fact, It’s a 99% Issue

Precariat: A social class defined by the shared experience of precarity, a condition of existence without predictability or stability, particularly as pertains to employment and economic security

What the news media has euphemistically referred to as the “situation” in Ferguson, Missouri is driving home a point that too many of us have managed to miss before Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. The Black body count resulting from police actions against unarmed African Americans is mounting. To view the situation as merely tragic (if, indeed, one can rightly put “merely” and “tragic” together) is to downplay the broad scope of …

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The Prophet of Ferguson

…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 …

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“Asian Privilege”: Racial Stereotyping 101

File Bill O’Reilly under “unoriginal” and “unsound.”

As the Ferguson crisis continued to roil this week, the Fox News talking head chimed in to deny the existence of “white privilege” in the United States. The implication, of course, was that deeply-rooted, historical patterns of anti-black racism had nothing to do with African American poverty, unemployment, disenfranchisement, and criminalization. To prove his point, O’Reilly turned to “Asians,” trotting out decontextualized numbers to “prove” that our nation is a land of unlimited opportunity for those who conduct themselves in the right ways—including people of color. “Asians” succeed in America because “their families …