Categories
Blog Guest Bloggers

Jeh Johnson, Can You Hear Us Now? #15YearsLater Queer & Trans Muslims and South Asians Demand an End to Racial and Religious Profiling

“I’m going to need you to step aside for additional screening.”

As queer and trans Muslims and South Asians, this phrase is deeply familiar to us. We live in a time when the color of our skin is cause for suspicion, our names are reason enough to deny our civil liberties, our bodies are assaulted with impunity. Our hearts are weary and bruised. This past Sunday, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, we collectively spoke back.

“Up up with the people, down down with Jeh Johnson!”

On that day, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and KhushDC took …

Categories
Blog

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 …

Categories
Blog

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 …

Categories
Blog

A New Slant on Hate Speech

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is refusing trademark protection to a Portland, Oregon based rock band called The Slants. Apparently, they believe the name the band is seeking to protect is disparaging to Asians.

When I first heard about this I wasn’t sure what to think. On one hand, it seems like a marker of progress that the U.S. government would deny trademark protection of a racial slur. But, on the other, this sounds like censorship, right?

Wrong. The fact that trademark protection is being denied doesn’t mean the group can’t use the name. This isn’t censorship. This …

Categories
Blog

The Colorblind Racism of Michael Bloomberg

The September 7 issue of New York Magazine featured an interview with outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that I’m guessing you’ve heard about. In it, Bloomberg accused Bill de Blasio, the Democratic frontrunner in the current mayoral primary, of running a racist campaign because some of his ads feature his black wife and bi-racial children…seriously.

It’s a case of the salt calling the pepper white that would be funny is it wasn’t an example of colorblind racism, the prevailing racist logic of our supposedly post-racial age. Here’s what I mean.

Bloomberg’s accusation imposes a double standard on de Blasio …

Categories
Blog

Race Beyond Black and White: Four Reasons to Move Beyond the Racial Binary

I was recently featured as a guest on the National Public Radio program Tell Me More in the week leading up to the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, The interview was a discussion of a piece I wrote called Three Things Asian Americans Owe to the Civil Rights Movement. Close on the heels of that broadcast was the release of a video interview I did with GritTV’s Laura Flanders about the unique place of Asian Americans in our national civil rights history.

Too often, the history of race and rights in this country is a story told only in …

Categories
Blog

Our Turn to Dream Video Share

My friends at Project South, a member of the South to South collaboration, shared this video with me, a project of the Brave New Foundation. Together, these groups are working toward shutting down the school to prison pipeline as part of their effort to lead a new Southern Freedom Movement. I hope you check it out.

As you do, consider this:

Rates of illegal drug use are consistent across race. Approximately the same percentage of whites and blacks, for instance, use illegal drugs. But there were 223.5 million white people and 39 million black people in the U.S., according …

Categories
Blog

Still Dreaming About Jobs and Freedom

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is probably best remembered today for Martin Luther King, Jr’s march address, “I Have A Dream.” That speech, along with dramatic media accounts of black struggle inspired a generation to take action, including LGBT activists, feminists, immigration reform advocates, and anti-imperialists, each of whom would also make their mark on society.

But, 50 years later, the economic demands of the marchers, including for decent housing, educational equity and school integration, full employment, and a livable national minimum wage, remain little more than dreams. Meanwhile, a growing percentage of whites believe …

Categories
Blog

Same Sh*t, Different Decade: Trayvon Martin and the Politics of Race

When the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial was announced on Saturday I turned off the TV and went to bed, emotionally exhausted. My exhaustion surprised me, though the verdict did not. The verdict was all too predicable.

It is simply a fact that the racial composition of juries makes a difference in cases where the victim and/or the perpetrator are black, yet five of six jurors were white, and none were black. And in cases of murder where the victim is black, both the rate of conviction and severity of punishment are suppressed by this fact of race, …

Categories
Guest Bloggers

Stop and Frisk Affects Us All


Campaigns that put racism front and center are not popular these days. Just ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He recently claimed that the New York Police Department stops whites “too much” in reaction to two pieces of legislation aimed at putting an end to the NYPD’s practice of arbitrarily over-targeting blacks and Latinos. This tactic, better known as Stop and Frisk, has resulted in an estimated 5 million or so stops, 85 percent of them involving blacks and Latinos, over the last ten years. And the topper, only 12 percent of those stops resulted in arrests, mainly for minor offenses.

The …