Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

The Journal Or The Journalist? Jin, Oliver, and Me

So OK, finally got the Jin package today for a review I’m doing for next week’s Bay Guardian. This here is kinda a throat-clearing, a warmup and a digression from the writing I’m gonna do for that.

Once again, it all starts with a blog post.

In February, Madison at Diesel Nation had a strange, fascinating post about Jin. Noting Oliver’s sharp critique of Jin’s video, he made a canny point: “And so begins the culture critiques that will mark Jin’s career more than his musical talent.”

The post ends with Madison’s comments about how he thought Jin’s presence might actually displace me and Oliver from some imaginary position as the Asian American vox populi.

He wrote:

“I think O-Dub, as an Asian hip-hopper himself, is asking too much from the young kid. But I understand what’s up. When Jin’s album drops he’ll become the resident hip-hop pundit that will represent the voice of all Asian rap fans out there. Who needs a quote from Oliver Wang or Jeff Chang when you got a Ruff Ryder ready to speak? I’m not saying O-Dub is jealous, but I certainly understand if he’s scared. I’m a conservative leaning Black man who has to deal with the stupid things Stanley Crouch writes three times a week. Trust me, I understand.”

I found the post weird–esp. the assumption that there’s a limit on the number of Asian American males that can take up media space. And I certainly don’t waste any time waiting on Dan Rather or Ted Koppel to call me for “the Asian American male opinion” on anything. Most folks who call me for an opinion on hip-hop–and it ain’t like my phone is ringing off the hook–aren’t trying to get a specifically Asian American one anymore anyway.

As another digression, I do have peers and elders that set out in their lives to be “an Asian American voice”, a necessary and very important role in a media that’s antagonistic to expressing race in America in anything other than white, white, and a little bit black. This is a country in which right-wingers make Michelle Malkin a centerfold, and progressives will be happy to have one Asian surname in their Palm Pilot to ignore. It’s a thankless task, and I haven’t had enough patience, persistence, or focus to try to make that my life.

So anyway I just noted Madison wasn’t bearing any ill will, just making an observation, and I ignored it cause it didn’t really make any sense in the world I actually live in.

When I think about it now, Madison actually was taking a slightly different spin on a point I had made–per Greg Tate–in an article about hip-hop journalism for a book called Pop Music and The Press. I couldn’t imagine Madison had read that article, hell, I barely read it. Anyway, here’s what I had written, in respect of hip-hop journalism’s plunge into celebrity circle-jerking:

“Hip hop journalists are regularly forced to confront holy-rolling baby-boomers like Joe Lieberman and C. Delores Tucker whose reactionary politics obliterate the sore to save the cancer. So these kinds of narratives can serve as defense mechanisms: a way of protecting and justifying the existence of a generation so debased by outsiders and elders. In fact, many hip hop writers are cowed by the power that rappers claim in the act of representing. As Rakim put it, “In this journey, you’re the journal. I’m the journalist.” Intimidated by such hypertextuality, writers reduce themselves to confirming a rapper’s “reality” or conforming to it in order to defend it. Authenticity marks the hip hop nation’s borders.”

I don’t think Jin’s presence diminishes the presence of any other Asian American males. There’s a scale question here: Jin’s life is what’s being written. Us AAMPCs are just the readers.

That’s the brilliance of O-dub’s now infamous AAMPC Clones post. None of us ever got into this low-paying, always hustling, so-called career to get gassed by some talking head. Generally we’re some ugly motherfuckers with a fairly pathetic obsession. And when we aren’t mistaken for each other, we all pretty much get ignored equally.

In Ta-Nehisi Coates’ forthcoming Village Voice piece–next week, most likely, I’ll link when it’s up–the presence of Jin opens up the subject of Asian American masculinity and manhood. Not talking Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat, or Bruce Lee. Asian American male-ness becomes the subject. The better Jin’s album, the greater the likelihood this conversation gets moving. For the piece, Ta-Nehisi called a bunch of us to chat, and in truth, it was maybe one of the first times many of us got to talk about these kinds of issues outside our own rarefied circles. The point is: Jin’s the myth, we’re just here to tell it again.

The interesting thing for us AAMPCs and AAFPCs–and BTW can we give some love to the AAFPCs? They’re the ones who are really making it happen–is now there’s a subject to match our own subjectivities. The question is how we respond. Do we get magnetized? Or do we mix it up? In a way, it’s a teaching moment we shouldn’t miss.

So I’d say it makes perfect sense for Oliver and the rest of us to be critical–in the same way Madison may be of Stanley Crouch. The world is big enough for all of that.

posted by @ 1:21 pm | 24 Comments



24 Responses to “The Journal Or The Journalist? Jin, Oliver, and Me”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The irony is that I am pretty sure I know which writers are Asian and which are Black (and even some of the Latinos). Yet I have no idea which writers are white. I was actually gonna spoof Oliver’s piece on AAMPCs, and do one for white people. But then I realized I had NO idea who is white. Oh well.

    I think the main benefit of my being white — aside from all the social and economic perks — is the fact that I feel no pressure to represent white people as a group. No white people ever tell me I am letting them down. There is no pressure to do justice to the story of “my people”. Shit, I’m not even sure what it means to be white. I don’t even know who “my people” are. I think being white in America is more-or-less defined by what I am not: a person of color.

    The bottom line is that Jin is largely famous because he is Asian. And it makes sense. Hip Hop is perceived as the domain of Black people. Jin gives all people something to cheer for (especially Asians). Rah rah rah… a non-Black person is a famous rapper!! Yippee!!

    _eric

  2. wayne&wax says:

    hey jeff,

    looking forward to your–and ta-nehisi’s–take on the new jin album. i’d also be interested in your take on the package itself: how is jin being promoted by rr? on the one hand, it’s fine to let the CD speak for itself, but i think it’s pretty inseparable from the marketing at this point.

    this was my take on “learn chinese” the first time i heard it:
    http://wayneandwax.org/wm-zunguzung.html

    btw, i agree that there’s no reason to assume the asian-american (hip-hop) community is univocal. that’s been a consistent racist trope in america for all kinds of groups. glad to hear multiple perspectives emerging on this one. plus, there will be other subjects soon, no doubt.

    peace,
    wayne

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey Jeff,
    “Madison” is the name I went by when I first started blogging. I go by gov’t name now- Hashim (of mixtapes-etc.com and http://www.hiphop-blogs.com).

    That response I wrote about Oliver’s post was not really focused in thought or clearly written. I stand by the “And so begins…” line but I other than that I find what I wrote to be a little overstated.

    I wasn’t trying to slight either you or Oliver. I’m glad that was clear.

    -Hashim

  4. Jeff says:

    Yes, I recognized that belatedly. I figured it’d be better to leave the post as-is, recognizing there might be some separation between the old and new, or old and older. Much respect to you, Hashim.

  5. ronnie brown says:

    “…a media that’s antagonistic to expressing race in America in anything other than white, white and a little bit black.”

    with all due respect Jeff, this sounds like a twisted sociological/journalistic expression of “penis envy”…it’s funny to me how other ethnic groups covet Black folks prominence in the national race debate while wanting nothing of the historical burden that created the prominence in the first place…Everybody wants a piece of Black cool, a slice of Black style, to kick the Black lingo…to have, like Jin, Eminem or any other non-African-American/Afro-Latino rap artist their contribution to Hip-Hop be validated by Black people, but no one wants to share our struggle of having to co-exist in this white supremacist society…i’m reading your blog on the run, so if i’ve misrepresented your take on this subject, i apologize in advance…it seems like you wanna be a Asian-American “voice”…be careful of what you wish for.

  6. Jeff says:

    Just to clarify to all the wish-making gods out there, I’m happy to talk shit anytime but, for reasons given above, I’m not trying to be “the Asian American voice.” I have mad referrals if you’re looking for some of those.

    And whoa Ronnie! Penis envy! There it is, the first unwritten rule of rap: when in doubt, talk about your dick. That’s the first great belly laugh of the week, man. Thanks for that.

    Real talk though. I think you have a point in there. One question is: does Jin’s presence make it possible for Asian Americans to get their slice of Black style, lingo, cool without paying respect to Black struggle? Yes, there’s that danger.

    But I think you can take the Eminem comparison too far. Will Jin go platinum and doing a movie set in Chinatown behind this album? I really doubt it. Apparently people still aren’t ready for Asian American male stars. But even if Jin does blow up, does the presence of an Asian American rapper erase African Americans the way Eminem potentially does? Not even close. We’re not talking the hip-hop Chinese Elvis here, come on.

    Re: the national race debate…I want to make a couple of points. One, any statement that begins with “everybody” or “in general” isn’t automatically helpful. After 9/11, I did a story for a hip-hop magazine on if and how racial profiling views had changed. I was disappointed to find that many young Black males I interviewed in Brooklyn favored racial profiling (and worse) of the young Arabs, South Asians, and Muslims they went to school with, rode with on the subway trains and hung out in the streets with every day. I thought that the fight against racial profiling–just months before with the Diallo and Dorismond and Louima cases–had taught us all not to type a whole race based on the beliefs or actions of a few. In fact, many other Blacks kept a strong line on racial profiling–if they come for you in the morning, they come for me in the afternoon.

    But in the end, Blacks were not going to be the folks to state the case against these insidious post-9/11 forms of racial profiling–involving police and intelligence abuse, court injustice, indefinite detainment, family separation, and illegal deportation. Young South Asians, Arabs, and Muslims were, because they were the target of that profiling.

    Let me be clear: to say this doesn’t nullify 500 years of struggle, or the fact that many of these practices were honed during those years, it understands the way that white supremacy changes and updates itself to the new conditions it creates.

    If we are really about ending white supremacy, we have to be just as smart.

    The second point is that there are different interests at work sometimes, because there are different historical burdens. I happen to think that the African American struggle has been the most constitutive American burden to address. The way we understand race in America depends so much on the African American struggle.

    Since the civil rights era, the mass media in this country has accommodated–”opened up” is overstating it–black struggle. Hence I write “white white white and a little bit black”. Now you might call that “penis envy”, I call it “respect.” My thing is this: to not to talk about all of the struggles and try to figure out how they link together is to let white supremacy off the hook.

    Everyone who knows me knows I haven’t been romantic about Asian American-African American relations; Death Certificate and the LA rebellion ended all that for me. I’ve been very critical of Asian Americans for sitting on the fence when it’s uncomfortable to take a stand–we do it all the time and it’s plain fucked up. Some of my friends have been happy to hear it. In other cases, I’ve lost them as friends. My point is if the national race debate doesn’t include Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native peoples, it’s not a real debate. White supremacy won’t be overturned unless all of these struggles can find their voice and their place in the movement. As I said, we have to be just as smart.

    Jin’s “Same Cry” has these lines: “Them sneakers on your feet cost a hundred a pop, my peoples making 15 cents a day in sweatshops.” That’s what I’m saying. Is the freedom struggle over because now some of our folks can afford revolutionary Nikes? Nope.

    He also discusses the Golden Venture refugees–and calls it modern-day slavery. Let’s not compare forms of slavery. That’s not the point. The point is to find out what the links are, and to make room for a critique that challenges both of them at the same time.

    That’s where I’m coming from, holla.

  7. eric says:

    Admitedly, my perspective may be a little skewed on this, but I think it is less productive to focus on white supremacy and racism, and more constructive to focus on the things which we can each do to be shining, positive examples of our… selves.

    For me, it is simply a matter of time and space. Trying to change the racist attitude is futile. Sick people need time to heal, and you should stay away from them.

    To me, the antidote to racism is individualism. When a person is true to themselves — as opposed to a group — they are less likely to put themselves in a situation where they will feel required to defend that group. This isn’t about abandonment, it is about freeing your mind of the sickness of racism.

    The attitude of “Let’s all fight racism as a group” is part of the problem. It grants legitimacy and relevance to the problem: that people can be accurately and effectively be lumped together based on their skin color and/or ethnicity. It answers the problem, with the problem.

    I think the strongest defense against racism is to be true to yourself in all respects. This may sound like a callous, capitalist, Clarence Thomas type of argument, but this argument is also the basis for tolerance of gays, women, and martians. How many people do we know out there would like to see racism go away, and yet don’t respect women and hate on gay people?

    _eric

  8. Jeff says:

    just fyi, the two deleted posts above by me and by wayne were just duplicates. i’m not in the business of censoring folks unless it’s viagra spam…oops, there we go again with the dick stuff…

  9. ronnie brown says:

    Jeff,
    I use the term “everybody” with specific intent. You state correctly that our understanding of race is primarily rooted in the African-American experience. The assaults of white supremacy upon the Asian-American, Latino, and Native peoples may differ in intensity and brutality, but the history is no less relevant…which brings me to my point…I believe that the national race debate is so BLACKcentric for this reason: The white power structure “rewards” other ethnic groups for NOT making any meaningful political/economic/cultural alliances with Black people.

    For the most part, (yes, i dare to paint with a broad stroke) Asians, Latinos, Native-Americans, Arabs are still tempted to bite the apple of assimilation…purely in the spirit of self-interest, putting their finger to the wind to see where it’s blowing…betting on white people to hold the scepter of power for a few more generations…The offer is a slice of inclusion (on the white man’s terms, of course) with the promise that you’ll never be as bad off as Black folk!

    Wanna know why you’ve lost friends on this issue?…wanna know why your community is standing on the fence?…wanna know why there’s no unified stand among people of color against white supremacy?…EVERYONE IS HEDGING THEIR BETS ON WHITE FOLK TO HOLD THE LINE!…the Black power and Civil rights movements created the tide that raised all boats of people of color…EVERYONE who has a group beef with the state or federal government uses the struggle of Black people as the pattern of resistance and to give legitimacy to their cause…but nobody wants to be on the frontline with Blacks when the sh** gets thick!…When other ethnic groups of color get to the point where it’s “freedom for ALL or freedom for none” the “race debate” will not only be more inclusive, it will have the force of action behind it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ronnie…

    You act like the only barrier to inter-racial political alliances is the willingness of different groups to build inter-racial coalitions.

    Yet my observation is that the main barrier to inter-racial coalition building is simply cultural. As befits the problem, most ethnic and racial groups are relatively isolated from each other. They often live in different neighborhoods, eat different food, and speak different languages. It has been my experience that whites aren’t the only ones who cling to stereotypes, prejudices, and misconceptions.

    Another observation of mine is that White folk and Black folk probably have more in common with each other — culturally — than Blacks have in common with Asians, and maybe even Latinos. This may sound like a ridiculous — and also sweeping statement — but Whites and Blacks are the two oldest coexisting racial groups in this country. But again, for me an essential part of solving the “problem” is for each of us to practice thinking about each other as individuals and not simply as members of our respective racial groups.

    And I’m not sure I understand what it means to “be on the frontline with Blacks when the sh** gets thick!”, as you stated. Are you suggesting I show up at a protest, or are you suggesting I drive to my nearest Black neighborhood and tag along behind the police?

    Call me naive and simplistic, but I think their is only one successful strategy to addressing racism. The social programs which will benefit the Black community most — education, health care, and job training — will also benefit ALL people. And that is key. We need to focus less on those things which will help the Black community specifically (which reinforces the notion that the Black community has Black-specific problems) and more on those things which will help ALL people. This will also make it easier to build coalitions, because everyone will stand to benefit.

    One of the biggest arguments against helping the Black community is that the families and culture are so messed up that social programs are a waste. But if we look at it from the perspective that ALL people have a right to fundamental education, health, and job needs… then nobody can argue with that.

    Instead of fighting for the rights of specific groups, we should fight for the basic rights of ALL people. I don’t believe that raising up Black people first, or dragging them behind other groups is a constructive paradigm. We need to focus on raising up all groups together.

  11. Anonymous says:

    _eric

  12. Jeff says:

    Ronnie, I have no argument with anything you’re saying–I’m definitely in agreement.

    Eric, the problem with designing a one-size-fits-all solution is that the historical burdens are so different. Look at welfare deform. You cut folks off welfare–which admittedly many Blacks called for–and it impacts African Americans, Latinos, and Southeast Asians multiple times more and in different ways than it impacts poor whites. You can’t ignore race even if you think it’s the moral thing to do. The results of race-blind policies end up looking immoral. Look at the University of Michigan.

  13. ronnie brown says:

    Eric,
    400 years of chattel slavery and 100 years of Jim Crow were specific in intent. To reduce the significance of that horrific period to make your case for Black folk merging our unique history into some “general needs file” is naive and simplistic to the extreme…

  14. Anonymous says:

    OK. Name the three most effective pro-Black, anti-racism programs.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Er, I should rephrase that.

    Name the three policies that will most benefit the Black community.

    Along your lines of thinking, Ronnie, I would guess something like…

    1) Police reform
    2) Criminal justice reform
    3) reparations

    How am I doing so far?

  16. ronnie brown says:

    Eric,
    The history of Mankind is the history of power arrangements among GROUPS…Egypt and Nubia…Greeks and Romans…Spain and The Moors, etc., etc., etc…raw individualism doesn’t have the force to transcend this reality…white supremacy is the latest form of group oppression. For Black folk, it’s the ultimate scarlet letter…In the form of public policy, it has marginalized us politically and economically…In the form of the historical record, it has minimized (and in some cases obscured) our existence…In the form of culture, it has appropriated and exploited our great contributions to the Arts for their own enrichment without giving proper credit…it has mocked and ridiculed our very humanity, right down to our physical features; reducing our very Blackness to the level of shame and loathing…I can go on and on…

    but you think you can pick remedy like fruit off the vine!…police reform, reparations, a national apology, etc.
    are methods of redress that can only be implemented
    when America decides to exercise its will as a Nation. History has shown that America only moves when it’s compelled by the power of GROUP energy…The freedom YOU have as an individual came as a result of mass effort…you could never duplicate those gains as a single entity.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I agree that “The history of Mankind is the history of power arrangements among GROUPS”, but concurrent with that history is the history of the relationships between individuals and groups. It began with nomads, then feudalism, then monarchy and dictatorship, then representative government. Some people are still nomadic, while many countries enjoy socialist democracies.

    In addition to the succession of empires you mention, there has been a steady crawl toward the notion of a “human right”. The concept of a human right — which was the basis of the Civil Rights movement — is that INDIVIDUALS should have certain inalienable rights that supersede the power of group to oppress them unduly. Yes, this is total idealism. The actual practice of respecting human rights is an inconsistent one, even in America. But I think even you would agree that we should strive for human rights, right? You support human rights, correct?

    My honest reaction to your views, Ronnie, is that you are a fatalist. Instead of focusing on the things that CAN BE DONE, you instead focus on the most difficult and slowest problem to solve, racism. I would never claim that a few government programs could make racism go away. But improving social and economic conditions in the Black community would go a hell of a lot further than doing nothing (because I haven’t heard you suggest anything at all, as a course of action).

    The other thing is that you speak of a sort of national group critical mass that would be necessary to bring about significant change for Black people in this country. Yet do you really think whites, Latinos, Asians, and others will align themselves with an overtly pro-Black agenda. As I stated, when we start seeing ourselves as individual Americans, and not strictly as advocates of “our people”… then we will start to make some progress. If you’ll remember, that was the basis of the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King did ask me to do the right thing as a white person… he asked me to do the right thing as an individual human being.

    _eric

  18. Anonymous says:

    I meant “Dr. King did NOT ask me as a white person, but as an individual human being.”

  19. ronnie brown says:

    Eric,
    I appreciate your honesty, but you’ve got a major blind spot in your analysis. The rise of African-Americans from the degradation of chattel slavery and Jim Crow segregation had everything to do Black folks desire (as individuals) to be free at any cost reaching critical mass AS A GROUP! That’s how movements are birthed…that “inalienable right” as an individual morphing into a collective force to compel change…This has been the springboard for every revolutionary overthrow of the status quo since the birth of mankind!…It boggles my mind that you can overlook such an obvious historical pattern…

    Regarding my focus on what can be done…i choose to set my sights on what you called “the most difficult and slowest problem to solve…white racism. I’m fully convinced that white supremacy’s (that’s quite a term, the alleged cultural superiority of white people; the root of the race issue…sigh!) expiration date is slowly but surely approaching. I relish playing a part in its eventual demise.

  20. Oliver says:

    There’s not much I can state here that someone like Jeff couldn’t do far more articulately but I’m going to try anyway.

    Ronnie – if there is a breakdown in inter-ethnic collaboration on a civil rights, anti-racist front, would you agree that the responsibility lies on BOTH sides? I’m sorry but I’m just not buying into this martyristic attitude that some how, African American groups/movements take all the risks while other people of color wait by the sideline, nominally rooting for the Black side but secretly, they’re holding tickets with a bet on Whitey.

    Yes, certainly, there are many Latinos and Asian Americans whose political stance, especially in regards to progressive racial politics, is notably conservative or at least self-serving (“let’s get ours, fuck the rest”). But, by the same token, there have certainly been times where African Americans display a breathtaking embrace of nativist bias, especially against immigrants of color. Crabs in a barrel mentality, you know? African Americans are no less vulnerable to a divide-and-conquer mentality than the rest of us.

    Speaking from experience, as someone who has worked in multiethnic, community-based environments and who studies race as a scholar, I can say with full confidence that there are many, many non-black, people of color who are down with causes that have been spearheaded by African Americans. You don’t think that civil rights leaders like Yuri Kochiyama or Cesar Chavez recognized the import of cross-racial collaboration and cooperation? Or that they saw their own, specific struggles in the wider context of anti-racist movements and civil rights advancements?

    Let me also say this: educated, progressive Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans know far more about “the Black struggle” than most educated, progressive African Americans know about the key historical and contemporary issues that have faced other groups of color. I feel like this is a product of how powerfully Black/White relations have defined the American racial conversation and frankly, African Americans have been complicit in that silencing and exclusion.

    Maybe it’s because too many feel like you feel: that other groups of color are here to freeload off Black struggle without paying their dues or standing with them on the front line. I think there’s some truth in that but I don’t think it is The Truth. And meanwhile, as long as that attitude persists, then African Americans will rarely have a compelling reason to build bonds with other ethnic groups, especially if they fundamentally mistrust them or their motives.

    I’m rambling at this point but hopefully, somewhere in there, was a cogent thought.

    And Eric: the valorization of individualism is pure capitalist conceit (as you noted) but as an ideology for progress, it will never work. Despite the contradictions you noted (homophobia among race-centric folk for example), that is not, in and of itself, evidence that group movements are unsucesful or unimportant. Social change happens out of collective action – when else in history has it come about from anything but that?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Ok, I understand your position much better. I agree… white supremacy is fading… slowly… but it is fading.

    I definitely agree that group solidarity, purpose, and unity of message were key in all the advancements of the Black rights and anti-racism over the last century. And I am not suggesting that Black people shouldn’t coordinate. I simply don’t believe it is likely or even possible for Black people to have a successful, broad campaign against racism anymore. There isn’t the leadership, the solidarity is low, and the culture and communities have been fragmenting for many years.

    I guess you could say racism is not really a focus for me. Blame it on my privelege, but I don’t really believe there is much I can do to change racist attitudes, except be shining example of tolerance and wait for the racists to slowly die off.

    But back to my tirade… I DO believe there are many things we can do to improve social, economic, and health conditions in Black communities. And I don’t believe we should wait for racism to diminish, before we implement them. The strategy I believe will work best is to build broad coalitions wherein a number of different low-income groups realize that they can only achieve their goals by putting the coalition ahead of smaller group-specific interests.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ronnie. Must say I am still curious how you fight against racism. You must be a musician or artist… ;) peace…

    _eric

  22. ronnie brown says:

    Oliver,
    Thanks for your input. Now i’m gonna pull your card…gently.

    Using your quote: …”maybe it’s because too many feel like you feel: these other groups of color are here to freeload off Black struggle without paying their dues or standing with them on the front line.”

    Your response is that there is SOME truth in this analysis, but not THE TRUTH??…no my brother, it’s just true…period. If you re-read my previous posts, you’ll see that this is my major bone of contention. For the last 30 years or so, especially since the murders Malcolm and Martin, there has been a vacuum created by a lack of principled Black leadership. Certain groups who claim to represent Asian, Latino and Native communities have opportunistically stepped into the breach seeking to piggyback on our history of resistance for their own benefit…with NO INTEREST in establishing any meaningful coalition with us.

    You don’t wink at that kind of disrespect. Call it “nativist bias” if you like, call it “crabs in a barrel” if you must; but when you neglect to tip the waiter that graciously served your steak dinner, don’t be surprised if you find spit in your wine glass…

    Eric,

    my background includes 15 years of community activism in the Los Angeles area and 10 years as a freelance music writer (Urb, Rap Pages, XXL)

    Jeff, we’ve actually had e-mail contact in days past, we have a mutual friend, Sheena Lester…and i follow the writing of Oliver Wang as well…peace to you both.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Let me say I am amazed at the quibbles you guys are having over Black vs. other-people-of-color in the movement. Those coalitions you want to build are blocked by the fact that the “representatives” of the different groups are trying to speak for too many different people at once.

    One thing, I think we can all agree on… is that the current strategy isn’t working. And I haven’t heard anyone else suggest an alternate strategy.

    A successful inter-racial coaltion will go beyond saying “And if we get our way… Group A gets police reform… and Group B will get better access to education, and Group C will get this chapter taken out of the history books, etc, etc…” Besides, in a city like Los Angeles, I don’t see how one can clearly or effectively draw the line between communities. How are you gonna divide my neighborhood, which is like 40% latino, 40% black, 10% white, and 10% Asians and others?? Are you gonna come through my neighborhood and say, “OK… I want all the Black people to line up over here. We’re gonna have a talk about building inter-racial coalitions.” Think about it.

    Unless all members of a particular racial group have nearly the same needs and interests — and we know they don’t — then it’s gonna be damn near impossible to get them to agree on priorities… let alone make the necessary sacrifices to achieve the goals of the movement. But back to reality… the communities which most need the leadership, don’t have it. It’s that simple. You gotta have a foundation like the church or universities.

    The individualism I suggest is more of an attitude and a way of looking at the world. It is only PART of the overall activist group strategy. After all, we are talking about legistlation and cultural shifts… all large-scale changes… group stuff. But let us not forget that the fundamental unit of a group is the individual.

    Fundamental: most people respond primarily to selfish interests of well-being and self-preservation.

    I have heard no suggestions from anyone here on how to bridge the racial divide. In fact, I see some very clear divisions.

    Even if my specific strategies make me sound like the white Clarence Thomas… well, at least I am posing an alternative way of looking at the problem. And the problem is this…

    How can we get people of different racial groups to put some of their group-specific interests on hold, with the purpose of building a larger inter-racial coalition?

    My own answer is that we appeal, not to group “power” interests, but instead we appeal to the ethical concerns of individuals within each group. This was Dr. King’s strategy, and it is the only strategy that has made any significant progress. The basis of the Civil Rights movement was an appeal to a notion of universal, individual RIGHTS and the responsibility of those in power to act morally and responsibly.

    My belief is that groups cannot act morally or responsibly. I believe only individuals are capable of ethical behavior. For me, a group doesn’t actually have any behavior, it is simply another way to view individual activity. Or maybe I’ve just read to many philosophy books.

    But definitely much respect to you guys. I appreciate the inter-racial dialog ;) ;) ;) Where my latinos at??

  24. Anonymous says:

    Let me say I am amazed at the quibbles you guys are having over Black vs. other-people-of-color in the movement. Those coalitions you want to build are blocked by the fact that the “representatives” of the different groups are trying to speak for too many different people at once.

    One thing, I think we can all agree on… is that the current strategy isn’t working. And I haven’t heard anyone else suggest an alternate strategy.

    A successful inter-racial coaltion will go beyond saying “And if we get our way… Group A gets police reform… and Group B will get better access to education, and Group C will get this chapter taken out of the history books, etc, etc…” Besides, in a city like Los Angeles, I don’t see how one can clearly or effectively draw the line between communities. How are you gonna divide my neighborhood, which is like 40% latino, 40% black, 10% white, and 10% Asians and others?? Are you gonna come through my neighborhood and say, “OK… I want all the Black people to line up over here. We’re gonna have a talk about building inter-racial coalitions.” Think about it.

    Unless all members of a particular racial group have nearly the same needs and interests — and we know they don’t — then it’s gonna be damn near impossible to get them to agree on priorities… let alone make the necessary sacrifices to achieve the goals of the movement. But back to reality… the communities which most need the leadership, don’t have it. It’s that simple. You gotta have a foundation like the church or universities.

    The individualism I suggest is more of an attitude and a way of looking at the world. It is only PART of the overall activist group strategy. After all, we are talking about legistlation and cultural shifts… all large-scale changes… group stuff. But let us not forget that the fundamental unit of a group is the individual.

    Fundamental: most people respond primarily to selfish interests of well-being and self-preservation.

    I have heard no suggestions from anyone here on how to bridge the racial divide. In fact, I see some very clear divisions.

    Even if my specific strategies make me sound like the white Clarence Thomas… well, at least I am posing an alternative way of looking at the problem. And the problem is this…

    How can we get people of different racial groups to put some of their group-specific interests on hold, with the purpose of building a larger inter-racial coalition?

    My own answer is that we appeal, not to group “power” interests, but instead we appeal to the ethical concerns of individuals within each group. This was Dr. King’s strategy, and it is the only strategy that has made any significant progress. The basis of the Civil Rights movement was an appeal to a notion of universal, individual RIGHTS and the responsibility of those in power to act morally and responsibly.

    My belief is that groups cannot act morally or responsibly. I believe only individuals are capable of ethical behavior. For me, a group doesn’t actually have any behavior, it is simply another way to view individual activity. Or maybe I’ve just read to many philosophy books.

    But definitely much respect to you guys. I appreciate the inter-racial dialog here ;) ;) ;) But where my Latinos at??

    _eric

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