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Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Category

Iowa: the home for immigrants

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From Iowa, the home for immigrants by the Iowa Board of Immigration:

Native American populations in Iowa were conveniently “reduced” to make room for white settlers according to the text in this Iowa immigration advertisement from 1870.

The lowas, next to the Sioux, were once the most numerous and powerful of all the tribes between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. But before leaving the “Beautiful Land” to join their fortunes with other remnants of their race beyond the Missouri, they were reduced by wars, whiskey, and small-pox, to about 1,300 souls.

Whiskey: A gift from the white man
Small-pox: A tactical tool for genocide
Wars: This is what happens when other populations of Native Americans are bumping into your nation because of territorial moves/flight due to white settlement, murder, rape, etc.

Perhaps it is time to re-frame what happened to Native American populations in Iowa. “Leaving” just sounds a bit like a lie when you know what really happened.

When we consider that Iowa is the youngest sister of the seven—that the moccasin marks of the Indian are scarcely yet obliterated from her soil—we can justly claim that the above comparison reflects great credit upon her, and that she has achieved an enviable rank among the great agricultural and stock-producing States of the Union.

Wow. They didn’t have any issue with saying that Native American populations were literally being “obliterated.”

I guess it should be no surprise that my hometown actively celebrates Columbus Day… especially when you grow up in a whitewashed system that frames Native genocide as “leaving”.

If you ever wonder why present day Iowa is made up predominantly of white people, look no further than this:

The present English edition of this pamphlet is 35,000 copies. We also print in German 15,000 copies; Norwegian, 6,000 copies; Swedish, 4,000 copies, and Holland 5,000 copies.

The Iowa Board of Immigration targeted people in predominantly white parts of the world. Iowa’s whiteness is not an accident. It is an institutionalized (by the state) system of privilege for white people that is at the core of present-day Iowa. A discussion about present-day Iowa that is devoid of this context is a discussion that is devoid of awareness and reality.

Iowa, the home for immigrants

Written by Eric Stoller

August 9th, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Iowa: whiteness romanticized

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Driftless - Stories from Iowa
via Driftless: Stories from Iowa

Driftless: Stories from Iowa, is a MediaStorm project that features stories from rural Iowa from the point of view of photojournalist Danny Wilcox Frazier. Frazier, a white guy from Iowa City, Iowa, frames Iowa from a majority white, romanticized point of view.

I was raised in Southeast Iowa near Iowa City and have been to a lot of the towns that are featured in Frazier’s project. The project is split into distinct sections: Family Farm, Town Bar, Jumping Rock, Migrant Labor, Country Butcher, and Harry & Helen.

Kalona and Conesville are a couple of the towns that are featured in the project. I grew up in that part of Iowa – East of Kalona and West of Conesville. The film includes many of the things that most people associate with Iowa: farming, cows, hogs, cornfields, gravel roads, guns, tractors, and white people. Associating Iowa with white people is not a difficult thing to do as the latest U.S. Census numbers show that Iowa is 94% white. However, Iowa is not 100% white and I think that Frazier is barely aware of this fact.

Frazier’s interviews in the piece construct rural Iowans as being all white and that people of color, predominantly Latinos, are “newcomers” or semi-permanent residents. People from Mexico immigrated to Iowa as early as the 1800′s. Frazier’s subjects who are older than 50 are all white and are depicted as “true Iowans.”

Whiteness is romanticized. The video clip titled “Migrant Labor” and the transcript of the video provides ample fodder for critique:

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Pan Asian Rites of Passage

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Amazing videos by middle and high school students in Eugene, Oregon:

The Asian American Video Production course is a two and a half week program as part of the Pan Asian Rites of Passage Program at Lane Community College. Taught by Jason D. Mak from Eugene School District 4J and is also the Executive Director of the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon, middle and high school students are taught how to find their voice and tell their stories through video. The class is taught as a college level video production course. Students learn how to pitch their film ideas, write scripts, direct, operate video, sound, and light equipment, edit using Final Cut Pro Studio, and do sound production using Garageband and Soundtrack Pro. Most importantly, they learn how to be community artists with a social justice heart.

‘I Am Asian American’

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Written by Eric Stoller

August 9th, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Neutral Man’s Burden – Colbert on White Privilege

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Stephen Colbert on white privilege.
“In America, white is neutral.” Colbert describes white privilege via scathing satire. Brilliant.

Written by Eric Stoller

July 18th, 2009 at 6:14 pm

California targets undocumented immigrants

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The state of California has done a horrible job of managing its budget. Perhaps it’s due to having Conan the Barbarian as its governor. Perhaps it’s due to a lack of responsible budget governance. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that whenever the economic status of California is undergoing a gloomy situation, the state likes to target its marginalized populations as the reason for why things are the way they are….

For example:

As the state tries to dig its way out from under a massive deficit, some say cutting off benefits to undocumented immigrants should be part of the solution. One proposal would stop welfare payments even to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. via NPR.

The majority of undocumented immigrants in California are Latino. According to the quote from NPR (via an unattributed proposal) the suggestion was made to eliminate welfare payments to U.S. citizens because their parents are undocumented immigrants. That seems to be just a tad bit illegal and racist.

You are a citizen of the U.S., however, because your parents are brown and undocumented, well, we just want to lump you all together and penalize you. What??!!

If you are born in the United States, then you are legally entitled to all of the privileges that accompany being a citizen of the U.S. Apparently, Californian’s have just decided to stop veiling their racism and come out with an overtly discriminatory proposal that targets immigrants of color. Also, the parents of these U.S. citizens contribute ridiculous amounts of money to the Californian economy. California is targeting marginalized populations and using lies to attempt to pass and/or create overtly racist public policies.

Written by Eric Stoller

July 16th, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act

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The Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act is ironic and discriminatory in that it contains language that does not promote or protect religious freedom:

“No teacher in any public school shall wear any religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher. A school district, education service district or public charter school does not commit an unlawful employment practice under ORS chapter 659A by reason of prohibiting a teacher from wearing religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher.”

via the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):

“This legislation forces Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and others to choose between their faith and entering the teaching profession,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “Those who wear religiously-mandated attire are not proselytizing; they are practicing their faith, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Concerns about religious neutrality in schools can be adequately addressed through professional codes of conduct.”

He said the legislation also raises the question of whether a Christian or Jewish teacher wearing a prominent cross or Star of David would face removal from his or her teaching position.

Written by Eric Stoller

July 16th, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Pat Buchanan = blatantly racist

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Dear Pat Buchanan,
I’m still not a fan. Why are you on TV spewing such racist rhetoric?

Sincerely,
Eric

PS: You are a racist asshat.
PPS: Your racist asshattery is phenomenally disgusting.

Written by Eric Stoller

July 16th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Iowa school district revises fluency list

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Lori Phanachone is fluent in both spoken and written English. However, in March, Storm Lake High School in Iowa mandated that she take an English fluency exam because English was not the first language spoken in her home. “School officials told [Lori that] she [was] considered to be illiterate based on her refusal to satisfactorily complete the English Language Development Assessment.” The assumption by the school was that Phanachone, born in California, was not fluent in English because it is her second language. It’s an extremely racist assumption.

An honors student, Phanachone was suspended from school after refusing to take the test. According to Phanachone, “administrators… told her her college scholarships — $86,000 at Buena Vista University and more at Iowa State University, would disappear” if she didn’t take the test.

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Tennessee schools restore access to LGBT content

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Rainbow flag

The default Internet filter setting for the Tennessee state-wide public school system was automatically blocking LGBT-related web content. I’m guessing that Education Networks of America (ENA) does not have a default filter setting for heterosexual-related content. They really could use a filter for heterosexism…

Dozens of Tennessee schools have restored students’ access to online information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues, just a few weeks after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against two Tennessee school districts for what the ACLU claimed was an unconstitutional blocking of student access to such sites.

David Pierce, president and CEO of the company that provides internet filtering services to as many as 107 Tennessee schools–Education Networks of America (ENA)–confirmed to eSchool News that his company has adjusted the software to allow access to a variety of educational and political LGBT web sites that were blocked before the ACLU filed its lawsuit.

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Written by Eric Stoller

July 12th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

So messed up that I’m speechless

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This guy is the co-host of FOX’s morning show, FOX & Friends. According to Brian Kilmeade’s website, “FOX & Friends,” “has been the No. 1 morning program on all of cable news for more than seven years.”

WTF? Who watches this garbage? Hitler Youth Recruiters? Anti-miscegenation Hobbyists? Stormfront Forum Posters? Racial Eugenics Supporters? This guy makes overtly racist and derogatory statements on a popular news program and he gets to keep his job!?? Race is a sociological construct…we are all the same species you moron!

Dear Fox News, Fire Brian Kilmeade immediately.

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Written by Eric Stoller

July 12th, 2009 at 2:16 pm