Category Archives: Politics of Race

Why I Will Join Thousands of Women as we March on Saturday

January 19, 2017

When I first heard about a planned march to amass the nation’s women to highlight women’s rights and in protest against the Trump administration on the day after his inauguration, I was initially hesitant. In originally billing the event as the “Million Women March” and advertising it as the first street protest of its kind, organizers overlooked the original “Million Woman March” successfully organized by Black feminists two decades ago. When this appropriation of Black feminist history was pointed out by feminists of colour, event organizers were dismissive of (and even hostile to) the critique. Instead, (White feminist) event organizers and early supporters offered the same familiar, callous, and white-washing refrain: that feminists of colour were being divisive in raising the spectre of race, and that we should put aside racial differences to provide a united feminist front in opposition to the misogyny of Trump.

Never mind, of course, that we were being asked to rally in unity under the banner of White feminism, which too often overlooks and deprioritizes women of colour and other marginalized women through its uncritical universalization of the lived experiences of Whit straight abled cis-women. Over the years, I have been lectured at countless times by White feminists who resent and reject my brand of non-white feminism; I had no interest in voluntarily exposing myself to that kind of toxic and intolerant space yet again.

But then, something about the event changed. In response to criticism, event founders re-named the march the “Women’s March on Washington” and invited prominent feminists of colour to organize the event. The Women’s March began to embrace a more intersectional framework for its feminism. Organizers acknowledged the March’s relationship to Black feminist history and took steps to acknowledge and commemorate the earlier work of Black feminists. White feminists were reminded that even within feminist spaces, they should do the work of being better white allies to feminists of colour; and that there is never a time when they can or should stop reflecting (and respecting) more and “whitesplaining” less. When some early White feminist supporters spoke against the efforts to make the event more inclusive of women of colour, they were actually told they were wrong!

With these developments, my fears were (somewhat) assuaged. It seemed increasingly clear that while White feminism still has a long way to go, the Women’s March on Washington (and its many satellite events in local cities) was taking steps to be a safe(r) space for feminists of colour and other marginalized feminists.

And so, I have made the (cautious) decision: I will march on Saturday in the Women’s March in New York City.

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Donald Trump Fakes Indian Accent While Maine’s GOP Governor Calls Indians “The Worst Ones”

April 24, 2016
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. (Photo credit: Reuters)
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Did the RNC send out a memo instructing Republicans to be racially offensive towards Indians and Indian Americans this weekend?

It’s no secret that the GOP is campaigning on a platform of xenophobia this election cycle.

The GOP’s post-2008 autopsy — which recommended a more racially inclusive party platform that might attract new Republican voters of colour — is long forgotten. Instead, the RNC has spent the 2016 election cycle harnessing the politics of fear and nativism to compel White voters to the polls this November; a strategy that seems doomed to failure based on sheer voter math alone.

Nonetheless, Republican politicians have taken to the campaign trail to doggedly race-bait, and communities of colour — including Asian Americans — have found ourselves the routine target of their dogwhistle racism.

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GOP Autopsy: Dead and Buried

March 18, 2016

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By Guest Contributor: Bel Leong-Hong, Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s AAPI Caucus

Three years ago today, the Republican National Committee released a report as part of their “Growth and Opportunity Project,” known as the GOP Autopsy, explaining their overwhelming losses in the 2012 election. When it came to the issues that matter to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, the autopsy vowed to embrace comprehensive immigration reform and recommended that the GOP be more inclusive of the community in party messaging and flexibility in party policies. Basically, it recommended they be more like Democrats.

But it seems that the GOP has thrown this autopsy out the window, because the fear-mongering and anti-immigrant rhetoric has actually gotten worse since 2012, as often demonstrated by their presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.

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The Institutionalization of Islamophobia: How Congress May Let Fear and Hatred Dismantle the Visa Waiver Program

December 21, 2015

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GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has built his political platform on intolerance, Islamophobia, and nativism, but (at least for the moment) we can take heart that it’s mostly bluster. Sure, more than 40% of his supporters would support Japanese American incarceration, and one-third apparently want to bomb Agrabah — the fictional city that Disney’s Aladdin called home — into oblivion. But, as amusing as this national poll’s findings are, we’re still dealing in the realm of hatespeech. Trump may want to limit Muslim and Muslim American travel, but it remains (for the time being) all talk.

In truth, Trump is a distraction from the far more terrifying hatred that has taken hold of this nation. Since 2001, anti-Muslim hate crimes — which victimizes both Muslims and those whom racists mistake as Muslims — have risen 1600%. Since the San Bernardino shooting, those already high rates of hate crimes have further skyrocketed to even more alarming levels: there have been over 40 anti-Muslim bias incidents recorded in America in the last month alone.

We would like to believe that America’s rising nativism is the work of Rightwing extremists. We would like to imagine that middle-of-the-aisle Democrats and Republicans will do their part to push back against the irrational villanization of the Muslim and Muslim American community. But, we learned this week that our elected representatives are, in some ways, worse than the most outspoken of Trump’s supporters. Whereas Trump’s intolerance is all talk, our political leaders recently used the power of their political office to write Islamophobia into law.

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Richard Cohen is guilty of bad writing, but is he guilty of racism?

November 12, 2013
Richard Cohen, resident facepalm-inducing op-ed writer, who routinely makes me wonder how these folks get their jobs.
Richard Cohen, resident facepalm-inducing op-ed writer at the Washington Post, who routinely makes me wonder how these folks get their jobs.

Richard Cohen will never be accused of being a progressive on race politics: one need only look to his ham-fisted defense of New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” policy as evidence. This was an article wherein Cohen matter-of-factly stated, “The same holds for racial profiling. The numbers are proof not of racism but of a lamentable fact: Black and Hispanic men are disproportionately stopped because they are disproportionally the perpetrators of gun crime.”

Black people are criminal, argues Cohen, and we should treat them as such. Here, Cohen’s position on the supposed criminality (and therefore the humanity) of Black men is obvious. So, with this in mind, I cannot defend Cohen’s racial outlook: there is already ample published evidence suggesting that he has internalized a misguided and intolerant fear of African Americans that should not be tolerated.

But, is every article that Cohen guilty of that same overt racism simply by virtue of its author?  Today, Cohen wrote a brief op-ed in the Washington Post examining Governor Chris Christie’s chances in the Iowa caucus. That article has sparked massive Internet outrage, culminating in cries for him to be fired from the writing staff of the Washington Post.

While I’m not a fan of Cohen, I can’t help but wonder if this reaction is one I fully agree with?

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