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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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Top 10 Victories for Immigrant Rights in 2013

While Congress struggled in 2013 to enact just and meaningful reform, and the President is close to surpassing 2 million deportations, immigrants won victories in many states and many levels.

In no particular order:

1. The Supreme Court Strikes Down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act

Undoubtedly, the fall of DOMA’s Section 3 has brought much-needed relief among members of the LGBT community. While there is much more left to do in terms of winning rights for all members of the LGBT community, over 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples can finally live together without worrying about imminent family separation …

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Why Are Asians So Racist?

I get asked that question and various riffs on it like “why do Asians hate black people?” and “why do Asians only stick with other Asians?” all the time.  While these questions may seem rude, I take them seriously, not least because they contain seeds of truth, even if they’re ultimately based on misinformation.

Before I get into what I meant by that, perhaps, confusing statement, let’s get real about racism. Racism is distinct from ordinary bias because it was created as the justification for and original blueprint of a society in which race and class were pretty much the …

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What Is Racial Justice?

I recently received this email from a reader.

Hi.  Came across your website.  What exactly do you mean by “racial justice”?  I realize the question might sound trollish, but it’s a serious question.  Does your definition include settling old scores?  Is it more focused on current injustice?   What are some policy recommendations?  Do you believe disparate impact to be racially unjust?  Is equal opportunity only truly equal when there is equal results?  Thanks for your time.

Duke of SaMo

Troll or not, the questions are interesting. So, I figured I’d try offering some answers. Here goes.

First, no, my …

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Yuri Kochiyama

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Appropriately, the month is marked by the anniversary of the birth of Yuri Kochiyama, on May 19, 1921. I’m guessing neither the month, nor the anniversary, nor even Yuri Kochiyama is known to many of you.

For the uninitiated, Kochiyama’s life story is documented beautifully in an inspiring political biography by Diane C. Fujino entitled, Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama.

Reading Kochiyama’s biography is an act of remembering that’s good for the soul. It reminds us that during WWII, without trial and without evidence of wrong-doing, …

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The National “Conversation” Brad Paisley Would Like Us To Have About How He’s Not A Racist

Country singer Brad Paisley wants to have a national conversation on race. Paisley began that “conversation” with his single Accidental Racist, a painfully tortured defense against accusations of racism brought against him for wearing a rebel flag.

The rebel flag, I remind you, is a symbol of white supremacy, raised by the rebel army in defense of slavery, and then brought back after the war by the Ku Klux Klan as a symbol of resistance to Reconstruction.

The song includes a performance by rapper LL Cool Jay who provides the counterpoint in the conversation. He asks, among other things, that …

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Why Immigrant Rights are Human Rights

A few years ago, a former Mayor of Portland, Oregon asked me the question “why are immigrant rights human rights?” I responded with a clumsy jumble of words having something to do with the United Nations and about ten other things adding up to a total of about 11 too many ideas all poorly articulated.

5 minutes after leaving his office the answer I wish I’d given came to me. I ran it over in my head all the way home. It went something like this:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written in 1948, three years after the …

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Constructing Race: Pew Center Report On Asians

The June 19 release of the Pew Research Center report, The Rise of Asian Americans is generating buzz that is, frankly, giving me a headache.

The report summary opens with the following:

Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success….

Asian Americans trace their roots to any of dozens of countries in the Far East, Southeast Asia and the …

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The Privilege Game

In the classic book, Faces At The Bottom Of The Well:  The Permanence of Racism, legal scholar Derrick Bell put forth this proposition: “Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those herculean efforts we hail as successful will produce no more than temporary ‘peaks of progress,’ short-lived victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways that maintain white dominance. This is a hard-to-accept fact that all history verifies. We must acknowledge it, not as a sign of submission, but as an act of ultimate defiance.”

I consider Derrick Bell a racial justice …