Monday, May 31, 2010

i don't have no fucking button nose

I know, it's so passe to be outraged over a facebook group, but seriously (these links via @jennifergearing):

This Thursday is apparently Hug a Half Asian Day! and if any of you even think about it THERE WILL BE TROUBLE. BIG LOTS OF TROUBLE.

And also: I Have A Eurasian Friend, possibly the coolest, buttoned nosed, friends to have.

This had better be a joke. Because I know that I, as a Eurasian Person, really appreciate it when my friends exoticise me. It cements our friendship. It shows they respect me. Etc.

Also, I don't have a fucking button nose.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

beginning of the week linkies

This is a bit of a haphazard linkery, since it's been a little while (three weeks!) and I know if I don't post them I never will.

Some Apple things: I promise not to kill myself: Apple factory workers 'asked to sign pledge.' I am sceptical that signing a pledge not to commit suicide is really solving the issues that lead to this being a problem for Foxconn (but interestingly, an update as I write this post: foxconn are raising pay for workers). And Cleaning iPhone screens, 62 Chinese workers poisoned.

At Skip the Makeup, Marriage in Malawi a Gay Issue?, about the transphobic reporting of the case of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, who were engaged to be married. Also update: Malawi: Breaking news - Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga pardoned.

Educating Rosie.
However this is not the picture of the vast new contingent of female factory workers that was being presented through the media at the time. First of all, the women on the posters and in the newsreels – and who became collectively known as Rosie the Riveter from one of the songs that celebrated them – were unfailingly white. Secondly, and no less importantly, they hailed from the middle class.
I love Muslimah Media Watch so much: How Western journalists reported the ban on burqa
These women are visible and have an opinion worth considering. Yet they are virtually ignored by the media. These women simply don’t exist when lawmakers consider punitive laws affecting them and the cultural traditions they hold close to their heart.
The nature of journalism is to tell a story of conflict. No better example can be served than the burqa ban. Yet journalists can serve the international community better if it employed just a few of the goals of Search for Common Ground by seeking collaborative solutions to issues, and at the same time hold lawmakers and the Taliban accountable for the oppressive measures they force on Muslim women.
Also on this topic, at the Cast Iron Balcony: We must arrest this woman in order to save her.

Nation's first handicapped drivers licensed in Chengdul parking spots stir debate

Cosplay, race, ability and gender; or, who gets to dress up as whom?

some indigenous australian stuff:

Stereotypes ignore lot of hard work, on stereotypes of Indigenous Australians as naturals on the footy field.

5 young white men "of good character" beat Aboriginal man to death; and An example of systemic racism is Jo Tamar's take on it.

Just a quick summary: "Reject the Names Invaders Gave Us": Second New Way Aboriginal Summit

some language stuff:

A Quick Guide to Referring to People Who Aren't White, by Chally

A concern on appropriate language vs ESL speakers

Offensive Identities: immigrant, migrant, refugee

Saturday, May 29, 2010

imperialism in local sustainability initiatives

I work in environmental education and sustainable development. Recently, a colleague asked if what we do is like unto colonialism and, whilst I think there was a little bit of jest in his question, I do think he was overall serious.

In the anti-racism space we talk a lot about cultural imperialism: here and here and here are some examples. But I don't see a lot of talk about cultural imperialism in the environmental/greenie space.

That's not to say that there's no talk about environmentalism/ sustainability and racism. There is an awesome post up at debunkingwhite filled with links to posts about food/sustainability + whiteness/privilege: links here. I haven't read all of the links yet, but so far it has been good reading about class and privilege. And in the space in which I work, even as a highly educated, middle class person who passes as white, I spend a lot of time feeling excluded from the sustainability discourse by dint of the fact that it's so western/white oriented. But that's not really imperialism.

When we're working in the green space in specific communities in our own countries and areas, can this count as imperialism? We're coming in, sometimes from outside (especially if we're engaged by a school/a business/a local council to come in and educate the students/the employees/the local community), to educate. Often, at least in my role as facilitator and educator, I can't do a lot of top down legislative regulatory stuff, that is a cornerstone of imperialism, but there is an assumption that what I'm doing and teaching is right (do the right thing! be green! tread lightly! etc), and that everyone should change their behaviour to conform with what I'm teaching. Sometimes this is generalities (live green!) and sometimes this is made up of specifics (recycle! change your diet! use less water!). And certainly if I'm brought in from outside, there's an expectation there that I'm right and everyone should listen to me.

But is that imperialism?

I should note that I do think that a lot of sustainability initiatives on a larger, global scale often are sustainability imperialism, but that's not really what I'm trying to work out.

Some further reading on global sustainability imperialism:I couldn't find any articles on the idea of imperialism at the educational-local level; I wonder if I'm looking in the wrong places?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hear Me Roar: A forum to consider the parallels and intersections between equal rights and animal rights in society and law (a talk)

I went to a talk last week, which was discussing some of the links between animal rights and other social justice issues, most notably feminism and refugee rights. It was an interesting, and not overly faily talk, and I've reviewed it over at the other blog.

I've left it over at the other blog because it is largely about animal rights issues, but it does, as the title suggests, talk about some other intersectional issues. Going in, I was a bit cautious, because the ease with which vegans have appropriated other issues, and the frequency with which they misuse some of this intersectional stuff, gets me very frustrated all the time (see the comments of this repost of a great Ida@theveganideal post for yet another example of vegans Getting Intersectionality Wrong). But coming out, as I note, I only used my red pen three times in an hour and a half, which I was really pleased with!

And it was an interesting pair of talks, though as I note in my review, it definitely came from a middle-class western feminist view point.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[links] adventures in australian racism

oh i know you love it.

Veiled Censorship, at Media Watch, about banning the burqa.

I linked this yesterday, but again: Indigenous Trans Woman’s Death in Custody in Australia Last Year; and also at the Curvature: Demand for Open Investigation Into Death of Aboriginal Trans Woman in Custody

Release of Innocent Man Shows Huge Flaws in Sexual Assault Prosecutions. If you read this article, it's pretty clear how much racism played into this prosecution.

Police media played gatekeeper over brazen attack on Indian man Narendrakumar Patel | Courier Mail, about the police cover up/non-publicisation of an attack on an Indian man.

I think I've linked these last two before, but in case I haven't: Police racially abusing African youths: report; and Pricking the culture, on gentrification, and a chat with the guys from Fear of a Brown Planet.

I <3 Fear of a Brown Planet. I can't wait to be the brown majority. It'll be awesome.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

idaho(t) (the t is silent)

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, known in its abbreviated form as 'IDAHO.' You may notice that the 'T' is invisible, which is why I write it as 'IDAHO(T)'. Also often people write 'and transphobia' in very small letters, and on Saturday at the rally for Same-Sex Marriage they said the 'and transphobia' really really quietly, away from the microphone.* Because silence isn't dangerous or invisblising or anything.

Silence isn't awesome, not even a little bit, not even if 'IDAHO' is a cooler acronym than 'IDAHOT' (it's not - IDAHOT is an awesome acronym). There's a bit of me that's kind of like - if you're going to make the 'T' silent, then just make it fucking silent and stop pretending like it's an inclusive event! The 'T' was clearly an ad hoc addition that is ignored more often than not, and the preponderance of #IDAHO on my twitter is making me pretty angry.

This is the IDAHO(T) website, where the 't' is allegedly silent (as you can see from the web link), but I can't get it to load so I cannot confirm that.

In related news, Danni has a link and a discussion of an article about a trans model that's a bit enragening.

Here are some links about transphobia, and how it impacts trans women and men, that I have been meaning to link to for a while and in the blog-switch failed to link:

Transgender women in Singapore launch campaign to end discrimination

Indigenous Trans Woman’s Death in Custody in Australia Last Year

video: Yahoo! SEA: Why did you choose to become a woman? on Yahoo! Video

I sometimes bookmark things! I have a tag! (It is a bit all over the place) You can check it out here.

*by which I mean, not at all

'stuck at home' kind of misses the point

Ardhra linked to this article, Gen Ys stuck at home for longer, and I'm so sick of these articles. They're so 'Anglo is the central experience' and I really don't enjoy how they ignore the experience of many, many Australians.

I don't talk about my family very much, but here is a little thing I would like to share with you: my sister lives with my parents (I hope she doesn't mind the reveal! Also her favourite food is noodles*). She is in her mid-twenties. I moved out the year I turned twenty, and with the exception of a brief period where I had to avail myself of their hospitality for a few months before moving in to Animal House, I have stayed out for the last eight years. I moved out in order to be closer to uni, and *I* am the black sheep in our family. Not my sister, for living with my parents. I am, for moving out of their house.

Before my Ahpoh passed away a couple of years ago, there were five people living in my Aunt's two bedroom apartment. That's crowded, but that's not something I think even twice about. It's cultural, I know that, and I don't know if it comes from being Chinese or Malaysian or what, but it's not something that's unusual to my family - so many family friends, both here and in Malaysia, have multi-generational living arrangements.

Anyway, my point is kind of: although this article says this:
The factors converging to keep young adults in their 20s and early 30s living at home are many. Delayed marriage, extended study, later house purchasing, a propensity not to get serious about career until their mid-20s, and an attitude that places lifestyle factors – living close to the city, public transport and mum's seemingly automatic washing machine and oven – over chasing the home ownership dream that was popular with older Generation Xers and the boomers. Another factor affecting the official statistics is that families who have moved from overseas to Australia in recent years are more likely to come from cultures where young people stay at home for longer.
which is nice, thanks for giving us a nod, the entire article is super duper Anglo-centric. Like - hey, guess what? Those of us who fit into that category are automatically excluded by your title! ('stuck at home for longer' sort of doesn't apply, is what I mean).

Also, petty side note: when we're included as a nod to blah blah blah, it makes me really frustrated because it is a tiny bit more difficult for me to get my words together in order to criticise the article! What a hard life! (I criticise things anyway)

*I made that up. I think it's claypot rice

Thursday, May 13, 2010

may 13

So many people are posting about May 13, this being the 41st anniversary, and with the exception of Jha and Tariq it's all very 'why can't we come together now?' sort of things. It's really odd language for me, particularly because I don't know what my mum was doing at the time, I don't know if any of my family were caught up in it. I do know how they feel, sort of, (penang was going to secede, you know, mostly sums up how they talk about any of this stuff) but I don't really know. Not really.

I'm not going to post about this, because today I just don't feel like I can. But Jha has organised a May 13 Blogswarm. You should head over and read - there's some good stuff there.

And also, this is a link I got from E a long time ago: Creating identity at the fringe
One particular sentence from the movie struck me to the core of my very being: a young Chinese man living in Malaysia tells a young Malay woman living in Malaysia "I wonder if sometimes people like you understand how hard it is for the rest of us. It's like loving someone who doesn't love you back." The irony was that after all these years of my ambivalent feelings about being Malaysian - it took a Malay woman filmmaker to articulate succinctly exactly how many of us feel about being Malaysian.
This is sometimes how I feel, and this is always what I think on this day, anniversary of this thing that happened years before I was born.

Monday, May 10, 2010

normalising ableism (ahaha, like it's not already)

I like this article (it's from 2005); it's got some really lovely ideas, about creating your own paths, and educating and design through what people choose and it's a nice 'think outside the box' sort of article.

I just wish it didn't start with this:
In the park where we play, there are nicely laid out concrete paths, leading from the swings to the picnic tables, from the castle to the soccer field, from the water fountain to the bridge, from here to there, from A to B.

And then there are the real paths, the dirt ones, the ones that shoot out from the concrete to connect where people really go, to memorialize the real actions of children playing, to acknowledge the real patterns of living, of human purpose, of some honest destination.
Because those are the "real" paths, the ones you can only get to if you're temporarily able-bodied, if you, I don't know, can walk up over an uneven surface okay. And those are the "honest" destinations, the ones you can only get to, again, if you're temporarily able-bodied, and don't need that path to access those places because of, for example, wheels.

I mean, screw you if you need a path, obviously. If you're blind, or use a wheelchair, or a walking aide, or something. I don't know.

I'm not super experienced at talking about disablism/ablism, and I can suck sometimes at spotting it, so I apologise if this seems out of line! But mostly I am just sad that we're so focussed on 'everyone is equal until we use ourselves to BREAK FREE' that it means cool posts about thinking start out with something that so clearly says, 'we use ourselves to BREAK FREE except you nonTABs who don't exist.'

Thursday, May 6, 2010

billy sing, chinese-australian and dude

So Yuey at Asians Down Under has a post up with the text of an article from, over the new mini-series about one of the awesomest Chinese-Australians ever, Billy Sing.

A mini-series about a Chinese-Australian war hero! Amazing! Awesome stuff!
Davis said the problem in casting Sing as a Chinese-Australian arose when he couldn't find a 60-year-old Chinese actor to play his father.

"Asking Tony to play it as Chinese would not only have been racist and demeaning. It was also financially irrelevant -- we could not have afforded the make-up," he said. "Whatever his genetic background, his culture was Australian. To me, he's very representative of every Australian whose parents were not born here.



From the article:
Former Nationals senator Bill O'Chee, who became an army reservist when he left parliament in 1999 and was born to a Chinese father and an Irish-Australian mother, was "deeply disappointed" by the production.

"We'll now have people growing up thinking Billy Sing was white. But we are jealous of his memory," he said. Federal Queensland Liberal MP Don Cameron, who found the site of the South Brisbane boarding house where Sing died in 1943 with five shillings on his bedside, said it was "tragically wrong" to have the sniper played by a white.
When conservative, old, white guys are telling you that you can't whitewash someone, MAYBE IT IS TIME TO REALISE YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG?!

But it's not like media representation is important or anything. I mean, it's not like people would come* out of watching this mini-series thinking Billy Sing was white or anything! We can just tell him that he was Chinese-Australian! BECAUSE THAT'S WORKED SO WELL BEFORE.


Here is some more reading on representation on Australin tv:

how would we look from outer space? by Shiny New Coin

The lack of Asians on Australian TV, and why it matters at Eurasian Sensation.

And the wiki link for Billy Sing.

Dude was a dude, and he was a mixed-race Chinese-Australian dude, and everyone should know that, especially so we can combat that THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON WHITE ARMY HEROES IN THE WAR myth.


ETA: Yuey has posted a follow up post here.

*I say 'would' because this series has not yet been picked up for airing.

**I'm pretty skeptical of this, that there are no older Chinese Australian actors.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

mid week link town

The May Down Under Feminists Blog Carnival is up! Lots of great Antipodean feminist bloggers blogging!

Unusual Music has a great post up with a range of women's voices in rock, inspired by some great posts that were (as it was) centred on white women rockers. So she's centred this post on non-white women rockers.

Disclaimers, at Fugitivus.
But if you read my adoption post and thought, “Well, that’s not true, because my experience was good,” I don’t give a shit and I don’t want to hear it. That is you coming in here and demanding that the conversation be made about you. I’m not going to argue your life experience with you; that’s a losing goddamn battle from the start, which is why it’s called a derailment tactic. But the fact that your experience was good has no relevance to a discussion about bad experiences, unless you have a deep and abiding need to make everybody agree with and focus on your experience. That’s some privileged shit.
At Overthinking it, Is Doctor Who Bad for Women? (spoilers through to ep1 of season five of New Who)

Robbo at Biting the Dust blogs Australia Post and the Supply of Medications, looking at posting meds out bush and some issues in the system.

Really liked this post at The Double Standard: 2010’s TOP 10 EXCUSES FOR RACISM: How to Decode the New Sophisticated Lingo

La Vie Noire blogs:
I just want to show that this is what happens when marginalized people dare to talk against oppression. You see how vulnerable trans women are and how their bodies and identities are ridiculed by cis, white, straight men when they denounce privilege and problematic behavior.
The Problems with Multi-Culturalism at Fuzzy Theory.
Multiculturalism assumes stable, static, cultural boundaries. In its attempt to say different cultures are part and parcel of Canada, it also solidifies these into unwavering essenses.
At Racism Review, “Christian Racism”: These Wounds I Suffer in the House of My Friends
The study [pdf here], published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that people subliminally “primed” with Christian words reported more negative attitudes about African-Americans than those primed with neutral words. “What’s interesting about this study is that it shows some component of religion does lead to some negative evaluations of people based on race,” said Wade Rowatt , associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, who led the study.
On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Let’s ... Go Shopping! at Newsweek, on how green shopping won't save the planet.

the critical fashion lover's guide to (basic) cultural appropriation is a really excellent 101 sort of post on cultural appropriation in fashion, and why it matters.

Demand for Open Investigation Into Death of Aboriginal Trans Woman in Custody

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

working from the wrong assumptions

Today I was at a behaviour change + sustainability conference that worked on the open space format.* At the very last minute (literally, the facilitator said "I think this is our last one" and then I dashed past him to write one up) I put up a poorly articulated question that sounded like:

how can we work for/with people from disadvantaged groups in terms of behaviour change and other issues?

I wasn't sure if this would get much interest. Of the thirty to forty panels that went up, only mine and another even touched at all on social issues, so as the time I had assigned neared, I became increasingly concerned.

In the end, about 20 people turned up. Which was exciting!

I really wanted to talk about this topic because in the space in which I work (I don't mean my company, I mean the industry/area), I find that a lot of organisations and learnings are coming from a place of middle class assumptions. There's this basic assumption that when organisations (or me, on behalf of client organisations) do environmental/sustainability work in the community, that community has an equal level on which it stands.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is exactly what it sounds like, and at the bottom of the pyramid are physiological things like breathing, food, water, and sleep. The second level of the hierarchy looks at safety, like having shelter, being employed, having health, your family being okay. I find that a lot of programs, especially top down programs, assume that everyone is well above this level - that is, everyone has a job (or is supported), everyone is healthy, it is all things equal.

The reality is, that this assumption means that there are groups who don't fall into these sections, and they are completely unaddressed by most generic community sustainability programs in Australia. There are a few targeted programs, but not that many.

Anyway, here are my notes from today's session:

  • middle class attitudes to sustainability
  • inability and disinterest do not have a correlation (no greater than in any other group) - more that (low socio-economic) groups want to change but have many barriers
  • access - go out to groups, don't expect them to come to you (e.g. rural farms)
  • organisational flexibility is very important
  • ask them what works for them / what they are able to achieve (esp. if you give them assistance)
  • make consequences clear, work together
  • should we place greater emphasis on social change at a societal level?
  • social norms
  • people who are vulnerable want to make themselves and their kids/family feel not not-normal
  • many orgs are setting aspirational images that are unrealistic (eg marketing brochures of happy white families in clean houses)
  • the community often has the answer <--this also promotes engagement

* there's no timetabled talks. you sit in a big room and people get a piece of paper and write on it something they want to talk about, or a question, and then they assign it to a time slot, and hope that people turn up.