In memoriam: Aaliyah


Hard to believe it has been 15 years.

Requiescat in pace.

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Letters for Black Lives


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


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.


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Trump voters


(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


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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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

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


(have your way) have your way with me
Anytime anywhere
However I don’t care
Have your way with me
Cause tonight
Boy tonight


[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

simone-biles-photo-ian-macnicol -getty-images

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.


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.


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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Can Trump win?

A large crowd gathered at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Friday night for Donald Trump's rally. LOREN ELLIOTT Times 2016-02-12

Donald Trump at the USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Florida, February 12th 2016. (Photo: LOREN ELLIOTT | Tampa Bay Times)

Republican Donald Trump is now down by 7.5 percentage points behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in opinion polls of those likely to vote in the 2016 US election for president. It is now the middle of August 2016. The party conventions were three weeks ago and the election is three months from now. Trump needs a comeback.

Comebacks past: Since 1952, only one person was behind in the polls this late in the game and still won: Bush in 2000. He was down 5.5 points. He gained 5.0 and lost the popular vote, but made up for it in Florida, the Land of the Hanging Chads where his brother, Jeb Bush, was governor.

Comebacks present: Still, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog currently gives Trump a 23.8% chance of winning. That is based on state polls, the economy and historical data fed into his statistical model. Some of that 23.8% is due to polls not being a perfect measure, especially three months before an election, but some of it is due to a possible comeback, like through scandal or some other surprise event.

Skewed polls: Some polls do favour Democrats or Republicans or have other biases. Some are even fake. But Nate Silver accounts for that in his model by weighting polls according to how well they have done in the past.

Southern Strategy: Since the 1960s, Republicans have appealed to the racism of Whites to get their vote. At first their appeals were naked. That did not work – but racist dog whistles like “law and order” did. By 2012, though, there were no longer enough White voters for Romney to win. Whites have been having too few babies.

In 2016 Republicans could either:

  1. Change their message to appeal to enough non-White voters, or
  2. Double down on their racism to turn out more White voters.

The trouble is, becoming president is a two-step process: first you must win party support in state primaries (January to June) and then win broad public support nationwide in the general election (November). The Republican Party is full of White racists but has few non-Whites. That favours #2.

During the primaries, Trump was, in effect, #2, while Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were #1. Trump won. Racism won.

Human whistles: Trump did not just double down, he made nakedly racist appeals. The received wisdom among Republican media advisers is that that loses you more White votes than it gains. Maybe that will change in time when Whites become fewer and more desperate, but so far in 2016 the received wisdom still seems to hold true: Trump is polling at only 51% of the White vote in a two-way race, compared to Romney’s 56%.

Low propensity voters: Trump could still make up for that if enough White racists turn out to vote. He has been trying to get out “low propensity voters” but, so far, he has not been more successful at it than Hillary Clinton: during the state primaries they both got 88% of their vote from those who had voted in the 2012 general election.


Nate Silver’s polls-plus prediction of the likely outcome as of August 18th 2016: Clinton wins all the Obama states of 2012 and picks up the Romney state of North Carolina. Click on the map to get the latest.

– Abagond, 2016.

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