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Aaron Mak

aaron-makAaron Mak (c. 1995- ) was the news reporter who was beat up at the Milwaukee riots that followed the police killing of Sylville Smith. He is Chinese American.

Mak, who goes to Yale, was a summer intern at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the biggest newspaper in Milwaukee and in the state of Wisconsin. He was sent to report on what was then still a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.

By the time he got there, people were starting to push the riot police. One man had tears in his eyes as he did it. Years and years of anger were boiling over. Pushing and rock throwing turned to smashing cars and burning buildings. By the time it got to shooting, Mak hid behind a car in fear for his life.

The Sentinel later sent another intern, a White photographer. Protesters told him to leave and then ran after him. When Mak tried to help him, they started beating up Mak. He was curled up into a ball as blows came down on him. And then he heard a voice:

“Stop! He’s not white! He’s Asian!”

And they stopped. He was taken to safety. He suffered only scrapes and bruises. He saw it as the actions of a few, not Black Lives Matter.

The thing that most stuck in his mind, though, came before the riot. A woman asked:

“You’re Asian, right? Why are you even here?”

The simple answer is that, as a journalist, it was his duty to “convey the pain and grief that can result from misuse of power.”

But as an Asian American should he support Black Lives Matter?

As Mak tells it, Asian American activists seem to be divided into two main schools of thought: the colour-blind and the colour-conscious (my names).

This came out dramatically in the case of Peter Liang, a Chinese American police officer in New York who shot and killed Akai Gurley, an unarmed Black man. Some Asian Americans sided with the colour-conscious Black Lives Matters and wanted Liang held to account. But others, like the Chinese Action Network, wanted the courts to be colour-blind and let off Liang just like they would any White police officer.

The colour-blindness goes beyond the Liang case. The Chinese Action Network, for example, also wants New York prep schools to be colour-blind when admitting students. And some of the same Asian American rights groups in California which do not support Black Lives Matter fought SCA5, which would have allowed public universities to use colour-conscious admissions.

The colour-conscious see redlining, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk and mass incarceration. They see the Pacific Islander and South East Asian men being sent to prison in high numbers. They see how the fight for Black civil rights helps everyone, not just Blacks.

The colour-blind see only their own battles, using the Bootstrap Myth to dismiss Black concerns. They think that bringing race into it, as Black Lives Matter does in its very name, only winds up making things worse not better.

– Abagond, 2016.

Source: Politico.

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In memoriam: Aaliyah

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Hard to believe it has been 15 years.

Requiescat in pace.

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Letters for Black Lives

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Letters for Black Lives (2016) is a letter written by Asian American and Asian Canadian activists to their families in the wake of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile killings. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages. There are even versions of it for Latino and African immigrant relatives.

The Asian American English version says in part:

“Even as we hear about the dangers Black Americans face, our instinct is sometimes to point at all the ways we are different from them. To shield ourselves from their reality instead of empathizing. When a policeman shoots a Black person, you might think it’s the victim’s fault because you see so many images of them in the media as thugs and criminals. After all, you might say, we managed to come to America with nothing and build good lives for ourselves despite discrimination, so why can’t they? …

“It’s true that we face discrimination for being Asian in this country. Sometimes people are rude to us about our accents, or withhold promotions because they don’t think of us as “leadership material.” Some of us are told we’re terrorists. But for the most part, nobody thinks “dangerous criminal” when we are walking down the street. The police do not gun down our children and parents for simply existing.

“This is not the case for our Black friends. Many Black people were brought to America as slaves against their will. For centuries, their communities, families, and bodies were ripped apart for profit. Even after slavery, they had to build back their lives by themselves, with no institutional support — not allowed to vote or own homes, and constantly under threat of violence that continues to this day.

“In fighting for their own rights, Black activists have led the movement for opportunities not just for themselves, but for us as well. Black people have been beaten, jailed, even killed fighting for many of the rights that Asian Americans enjoy today. We owe them so much in return. We are all fighting against the same unfair system that prefers we compete against each other.

“When someone is walking home and gets shot by a sworn protector of the peace — even if that officer’s last name is Liang — that is an assault on all of us, and on all of our hopes for equality and fairness under the law.

“For all of these reasons, I support the Black Lives Matter movement. Part of that support means speaking up when I see people in my community — or even my own family — say or do things that diminish the humanity of Black Americans in this country. I am telling you this out of love, because I don’t want this issue to divide us. I’m asking that you try to empathize with the anger and grief of the fathers, mothers, and children who have lost their loved ones to police violence. To empathize with my anger and grief, and support me if I choose to be vocal, to protest.”

– Abagond, 2016.

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reverse racism

aamer-rahman

Reverse racism is racism against White people. Many Whites say it is more common than un-reverse racism.

Australian comedian Aamer Rahman gives by far the best answer to this Broken Record argument:

A lot of people don’t like my comedy, a lot of White people don’t like my comedy, a lot of White people say this to me:

“Hey Aamer, hey. Get on stage, you make your jokes about White people, you say “White people this, White people that.” What if I did something like that, huh? What if I got on stage and said yeah, “Black people are like this, Muslims are like that.” You’d probably call me a racist, wouldn’t you?“

And I say, “Yeah, yeah I would. Yeah, you should never do that. That’s bad for your health.”

They’re like, “Well you do that Aamer! You do that. You get on stage, you make your jokes about White people. Don’t you think that’s a kind of a racism? Don’t you think that’s – dun dun duuun! – reverse racism?

I said, “No, I don’t think that’s reverse racism,” not because I think reverse racism doesn’t exist. If you ask some Black American people they’ll tell you flat out “There’s no such thing as reverse racism.” I don’t agree with that. I think there is such a thing as reverse racism, and I can be a reverse racist if I wanted to. All I would need would be a time machine, right? And what I’d do is I would get in my time machine and I’d go back in time to before Europe colonized the world, right? And I’d convince the leaders of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America to invade and colonize Europe, right?

Just occupy them, steal their land and resources. Set up some kind of like, I don’t know, Trans-Asian slave trave, where we exported White people to work on giant rice plantations in China. Just ruin Europe over the course of a couple centuries, so all their descendants would want to migrate out and live in the places where Black and Brown people come from.

Of course in that time, I’d make sure I set up systems that privilege Black and Brown people at every conceivable social, political and economic opportunity. And White people will never have any hope of real self-determination. Every couple of decades make up some fake war as an excuse to go bomb them back to the Stone Age and say it’s for their own good because their culture’s inferior.  And just for kicks, subject White people to coloured people’s standards of beauty, so they end up hating the colour of their own skin, eyes and hair.

If after hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years of that, I got on stage at a comedy show and said, “Hey, what’s the deal with White people? Why can’t they dance?” That would be reverse racism.

reverse-racism

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Trump voters

trumpland

(Photo: Getty Images)

Trump voters (2015- ) are those who have voted for Donald Trump for US president – or say they will in opinion polls. Because they are mainly written about by White liberals, they have been stereotyped as White working-class men with high school educations who have been thrown out of work by US free trade policies. That is misleading.

Median household income: $72,000 according to exit polls during the state primaries. Compare that to $62,000 for Whites and $56,000 for Americans. Nor do they suffer from high unemployment, whether from free trade, immigration or other causes.

Education: 54% do not have a university degree, according to exit polls during the state primaries, But neither do most Americans (71%) or even most Whites (67%). If anything, Trump voters are on average more educated.

Race: 87% White, 5% Hispanic, 1% Black, like they come from some lily-White suburb. In fact, they do tend to live in the Whitest places within their commuting zone. Most live far from Mexico in places with few Hispanics.

Religion: Trump polls above 50% only among White Evangelical Protestants (63%). But even they are more against Hillary Clinton than they are for him.

Gender: 58% male. Trump polls at 30% among women – almost as bad as among Hispanics (26%).

Age: 63% are 50 or older. Trump polls under 30% among those under 50, who make up nearly half of all registered voters.

Party: 69% are Republicans.

Loyalty: 53% are not so much voting for Trump as against Hillary Clinton.

Opinions: What most Trump voters think:

  • 87% There is a a big chance Clinton would make major mistakes that would hurt the country.
  • 81% Compared with 50 years ago, life for people like me in America is worse.
  • 79% Government regulation of business usually does more harm than good.
  • 78% Clinton would continue Obama’s policies and that would be bad.
  • 76% Government should not raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • 72% Clinton would be a terrible president.
  • 71% Government cannot afford to do much to help the needy.
  • 68% Trump would be a good or great president.
  • 68% Free trade agreements have been a bad thing for the US.
  • 68% Free trade agreements have hurt my family financially.
  • 68% The future of the next generation of Americans will be worse compared with life today.
  • 66% Immigration is a very big problem.
  • 65% Terrorism is a very big problem.
  • 58% There is some chance Trump would make major mistakes that would hurt the country.
  • 57% To fight terrorism, the government should subject Muslims to more scrutiny.
  • 52% Crime is a very big problem.
  • 51% Relations between racial and ethnic groups is a very big problem.

Xenophobia: Terrorism, immigration and free trade mainly seem to function as dog whistles for xenophobia. Most Trump voters do not live in places with high immigration, nor do they suffer from high unemployment. Places with the worst terrorist attacks by Muslims (New York, Virginia, California, Florida) are hardly hotbeds of Trumpism.

White mortality rates: There does seem to be some truth, though, to the bit about life getting worse: Trump voters tend to live in commuting zones where White people, particular the middle aged, are dying at high rates.

– Abagond, 2016.

Sources: mainly Pew Research (August 18th 2016), Vox (August 12th), FiveThirtyEight (May 3rd), Christianity Today (July 13th).

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Janet Jackson: I Want You

Remarks:

In 2004 this went to #18 on the US R&B charts and #19 in Britain. It probably would have gone higher, but coming out in the wake of her Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, CBS and Viacom would not play it.

Written by Burt Bacharach, Kanye West, John Legend and others. Produced by Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Kanye West. It sounds like a John Legend song to me.

In the video Los Angeles plays Brooklyn.

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Lyrics:

Feels like going in circles
You’re like a maze I can’t get through
Should I go left should I go right
Should I let you stay for the night
It’s like a see-saw when it comes to your love
Boy when you’re up this girl is down and I just can’t figure it out

[Chorus:]
Cause you know that I want ya
And you know that I need ya
Is that any way to be
Just have your way with me
My body is cryin
These tears can you wipe’em
Is that any way to be
Jus have your way with me

I’m goin out with guys I don’t wanna go
Places that I’ve been before
(they pitchen the same game)
Boy it’s a dam shame
(how I wish it was you) callin’ me
(I want it to be you) holdin’ me
(boy it needs to be you) kissin me

Cause it’s like a see-saw when it comes to your love
Boy when you’re up
This girl is down
And I just can’t figure it out

[Chorus]

[Bridge:]
(have your way) have your way with me
Anytime anywhere
However I don’t care
Have your way with me
Cause tonight
Boy tonight
Tonight…………….

[Chorus]

[Ad libs]
Cause you know that I want you
And you know that I need you
Huh huh huh
My body is cryin
These tears can you wipe them
Is it any way to be
Baby have your way with with me
Cause you know that I want ya baby
And you know that I need ya baby
In my life I need you
I want you
Right here
Cryin for you baby
Boo hoo hoo hoo
Boo hoo hoo hoo
Shoo doop doo doop doop do doooooo

Source: A-Z Lyrics.

Simone Biles

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Simone Biles, 2015. (Photo: Ian MacNicol / Getty Images)

Simone Biles (1997- ), an American gynmast, won four gold medals and one bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She is not just the first Black American female gymnast to win four gold medals at a single Olympics, she is the first American female gymnast period.

siome-and-gabby

Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, 2015. (Photo: Ian MacNicol / Getty Images)

Some mix her up with Gabby Douglas, but Biles is way better. At the 2015 World Championship (pictured above), Douglas won the all-round silver medal while Biles won the gold. But where others win by hundredths of point, Biles made two costly mistakes and still beat Douglas by more than a whole point! You did not see Biles at the 2012 Olympics because she was too young.

Mary Lou Retton, the top American female gymnast at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, says Biles is the “most talented gymnast I’ve seen in my life.”

Where Nadia Comaneci flipped once off the balance beam, Biles flips twice. (Part of why the US and Biles herself have become huge in gymnastics is because Comaneci’s trainers defected to the US. This will be their last Olympics.)

She has a stronger run and can jump higher, which means she is in the air longer and can do more. She can spin faster and land more firmly – and make it look easy and natural. Some top gymnast count to themselves when they are in the air to know where they are – she just knows. She can learn in days what it takes others months if not years.

Biles: “I kind of blow my own mind.”

She has even invented a move of her own, the Biles: a double backward somersault, followed by a half twist and a blind landing.

It helps that she has not grown much taller since 13 and has suffered no grave injuries, things that have sidelined other gymnasts.

Her style of gymnastics is more athletic or acrobatic-looking than the Soviet style common 30 to 40 years ago that was more like ballet. That comes from changes in scoring that take into account how hard a move is.

Biles was born in Columbus, Ohio. When she was two, her mother was sunk in drink and drugs and could no longer take care of her. She went into foster care. She grew up in Texas, where her grandfather and his second wife became her new father and mother. He is a retired air traffic controller, she is a nurse who is part owner of a chain of 14 nursing homes in Texas.

simone-biles

At age six Biles started to learn gymnastics. In 2013, some ten years later, she became world champion. Having outgrown her old gym, her parents built her a new one the size of a megachurch.

She now makes about $2 million a year and stands to make way more now that she has signed enorsement deals with Nike, United Airlines, Fanta, Special K Red Berries (not Wheaties) and others. She is charming and apolitical.

She wants to go to university at some point – and grow and inch or two! She is four foot eight inches tall (1.42m).

Thanks to MinnMom for suggesting this post.

– Abagond, 2016.

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