You Can Help People of Color Alt Media Survive in Two Easy Steps

Step One: Donate to BrownFemiPower one of the most consistent voices of female empowerment from a working class woc perspective (what I’d call feminist if she’d let me) on the internet.

Every person who donates will receive a gift!

For those who donate between:

$5-25: You will get a personalized thank you note from yours truly!

$26-50: You will get the personalized thank you note and a newly published zine!

$51-100: You will get the personalized thank you note, and two newly published zines!

Over $100: You will get the personalized thank you note, two newly published zines, and a surprise gift (I will tell you once you order–I only have certain quantities of each, so I don’t want to list them online!).

The bad news: Because this computer breaking down has taken me by surprise, I am only in the planning stages for the zines. So it will be up to two months before those of you who order zines will get them. So that you know what stage I am at making the zines, I will be documenting the process I go through to make them here on the blog. This has the added bonus of hopefully helping other people–so many people I know have expressed interest in making zines, but have also expressed not having any damn clue how to.

So, that’s what is where things stand right now. I hope that you are excited–I sure am. I’m a bit apprehensive as I know it will be a lot of work–but I also am really excited for the motivation to get these new zines out! I love zine making, and I’m really excited to get back to the drawing board again–see how things flow out of the mind this time.

Please donate and/or spread the word–and THANK YOU so much for your continuous support!

Step Two: Bid on Nezua‘s Sheriff Joe painting which gives you both the chance to raise awareness about the blatant racism in Arizona and keep an amazing activist blogger and multimedia radical working/eating.

HARD TIMES HAVE FALLEN UPON US ALL! I know this for sure simply watching the donations I once received from readers—unsolicited aside from the buttons on the page—dry up over the past year or two. It’s tough out there, and it’s not just blog donations but even work online with graphics that has tapered off a lot. In fact, I was bumped offline for two weeks for not being able to pay all the bills this month. And to be honest, this is the first time since I’ve lived in this apartment that I don’t have all the rent this close to the first of next month. Ouch. That’s four days away.

I’m not trying to paint a doom n gloom scenario. … So I’m going to do something here I’ve not done in a while and humble myself to make the direct request to my philanthropist friends, or the ones who have a few to throw down to support their friendly neighborhood nezua: if you have a few, throw ‘em in the bucket!

Alternately, I have put one of my paintings up at eBay, and I invite you to bid, or spread the link around if you want. It’s an 18 x 24″ Lotería card of the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Times are tough for everyone, but with both activists asking for as little as $5 a person, we should all be able to come up with a little something to help them out. The coffee and pastry I bought today cost more than their minimum donation request. And if a distaste for “blegging” (a multi-directional derogatory term that conflates the use of online media and the desire to be paid for one’s writing, film, or activism work with the “undeserving poor”) is getting in your way,  just remember all the times you have talked about, worked on, or simply lamented in the front of a classroom, staff mtg, dinner party, etc. about the absence of radical, engaged, people of color at your events, jobs, or in the media and know that this is the tiniest of steps toward making the connection between words and action. For my POC readers, all I can say is, community means sharing the wealth even when you don’t have any; the wheel will turn and someone will have your back too.

Happy 40th Sesame Street

Today is the 40th anniversary of the groundbreaking children’s television show Sesame Street. Marking this moment, and reiterating a commitment to education that was sorely lacking from the White House rhetoric in the past 8 years, First Lady Obama will be on the show today.

Billy Idol Tribute “Rebel L”

In a transparent move, Fox News wants to vilify the show b/c Oscar the grouch was in a skit in which both his fake news channel Garbage News Network and fake Pox News were referred to as “trashy.” This skit originally aired over a year ago w/out comment from either channel. The timing of Fox News’ complaint is clearly about discrediting the Obamas and continuing the Republican thread of “indoctrination from the White House” by once again targeting programming that encourages learning. 4 or more generations of children have grown up with Sesame Street without any major concern about partisanship until now, the complaint is obviously ridiculous. Worse, anyone who has ever watched Sesame knows that ‘trashy” in this context was a double entendre that children will interpret in only one way:

Sesame is not about politics but rather culturally relevant education and entertainment. It’s reach is globally, airing in translation all around the world. It has also inspired multiple other educational based children’s television in the U.S. and abroad; my personal favorite is Salsa which airs in the Southwest and in some areas of Latin America and is a Sesame Street style show with Latin@ specific cultural references.

Other shows more clearly tied to a time period or political message (or the political decision of dumbing down our youth) have come and gone, but Sesame is still with us.

And like the President’s speech on education earlier this year, that Republicans also created a huge “indoctrination” scare around, Sesame Street’s goal is to help children commit to and find joy in learning. Sesame not only teaches math and reading, it also teaches important social skills, encourages health (anyone else remember Snuffy working out to Jane Snuffleupagus?), and how to talk about & address your feelings.

If you scroll to the bottom of this post, you will also see that they have always made cultural references that make the show relevant to all ages watching, so you can put it on with older kids or adults in the room without driving them crazy the way that purple dino used to do.

So for everyone who understands parody and supports children learning in a fun and entertaining way, let’s celebrate this day together with some clips:

“La La La … L lights up your face”

“Near and Far”


Counting Cookies

Harry is Sad

City and Country Equally Good

And for all you 80s folks who read the blog, who could forget

Madonna Tribute “Cereal Girl”

And for you “70s folks” who read the blog, can anyone top

Springsteen Tribute  “Born to Add”

Prefer Disco? (I used to sing this one to my little sister while dancing her around the living room; and yes we did own the Sesame Street Fever record):

Sesame Street’s 40th anniversary is a testament to what television gets right: providing entertaining, relevant, educational programming especially to children who may be under-served in their schools. Perhaps its most controversial act was daring to show a multicultural, multi-lingual cast that would appeal to children across socio-economic, linguistic, and racial backgrounds, something that does in fact frighten the folks at Fox News but is needed as much today as it was 40 years ago.

The show has never been about targeting or indoctrinating children. If we want to have a discussion about those issues, we need to turn the focus on to Republicans who have twice targeted the Obama girls’ school for political actions (first a pro-life rally in Sept. & now a tax/hcr tea bag protest yesterday that stopped traffic in the area). Both these acts intentionally targeted innocent children and made them potential problems in the eyes of the school administrators in order to vilify their father. Or perhaps, we could look at the ongoing work of Texas owned textbook companies and their successful attempts to remove liberal, radical, and socio-cultural history (including women’s rights) from text books. They have systematically removed references to some of the greatest leaders for social justice this country has ever known and down played inequality and violence against marginalized people (including the working class) with little consequence. These are the acts of indoctrination aimed at our children not a simple show that reminds us how much fun bath time is:

Happy 40th Sesame Street and thanks for all you do!

I can only hope Sesame Street is still on if and when my partner and I have children.

Pizza Man Saves Alleged Rape & Kidnap Victim

RETRACTION 6/08/09:  Despite what was originally reported here, that “Jansen is potentially a repeat offender” (emphasis added) , it appears there are two David Jansen’s in the GA area potentially involved in sex crimes. David J. Jansen (whose name and source for the image were listed under his photo) was arrested for allegedly kidnapping and raping a GA woman in a cabin in TN. David James Jansen (whose name and source for the image were indicated under the photo) was arrested for “child sexual abuse activity and using a computer in the commission of a crime” with what he believed to be a GA teenage girl.  According to David J. Jensen’s legal team, these are not the same men; the former Jansen’s middle name (not given in any of the articles used for this piece) is Joseph.

We at Like a Whisper make every attempt to cross-check our facts with various mainstream news sources and/or interview and primary resource data.  When searching Google Images for a photo for this piece, the name used in the articles consulted, ie David J Jansen, resulted in David James Jansen’s image appearing at the following Macomb Co Sheriff’s Office link: here. However, we apologize for including information about David James Jansen in this post as a result and for any resulting equation of David J. Jansen and David James Jansen. All reference to David James Jansen has been removed from the post. End Update.


(David J. Jansen 2009/AP Photo)

David J. Jansen has been arrested in a case that statistics indicate would likely have turned deadly if not for quick thinking pizza delivery man Chris Turner. Jansen allegedly invited the co-owner of a GA restaurant and bar he frequented to see his new car after pulling up alongside her jogging route. When she got in, she claims he tied her up and took her across state lines to a remote cabin in TN. He then allegedly raped her and kept her tied up for days. Often in these cases, suspects have already planned out the murder of their victims or eventually kill them because they cannot think their way out of the multiple crimes they have already committed. According to his alleged victim, Jansen didn’t have time to escalate but she believed he intended to kill her.

On Monday night David J. Jansen ordered a pizza at his remote cabin in the woods. His alleged victim lay on the couch bound. The pizza delivery man, whose wife came with him on the delivery, saw the woman pop up on her knees and wave her bound arms above her. He said her eyes pleaded with him as she mouthed “call 911” over and over. Both the woman’s own self-advocacy and she and Turner’s quick thinking likely saved her life.

Turner went down the road to a neighbor and called the police, then waited to ensure the suspect did not leave the house and the woman was still alive.

Often, we see domestic and sexual violence incidents, and/or incidences of racial intimidation or homophobic bullying, as we are going to and from work or about our daily lives. How many of us call 911 or attempt to intervene? And when we do, how many times do the police turn us, especially if we are women calling about DSV or poc or trans, into suspects by interrogating us and questioning our motives or relationships to the incident? Often our own experiences with policing combines with the general societal attitude “not to get involved” to prevent us from acting. While Chris Turner certainly could have gone into denial or decided the incident was a joke, he didn’t and b/c the woman was smart and took the pizza delivery as an opportunity to alert someone and Turner put her safety over his own, she is now safely recovering in the hospital and an alleged rapist and kidnapper are in jail. Something to think about the next time you see violence against a stranger during your day. I know I will.


source for this article Yahoo News and MSNBC

Ronald Takaki Dies

takaki-r08Much like the late African American historian John Hope Franklin, Ronald Takaki’s intellectual and social contributions across disciplines is one that cannot be measured on a blog, in a NYT column, or in any other conventional way. He was instrumental in establishing Ethnic Studies, providing key texts in Asian American and multi-cultural history, mentoring students and inspiring colleagues. He died at just 70 years old, based on a decision to stop living with multiple sclerosis. His loss is heartbreaking.

Takaki’s book Strangers from a Different Shore is still quintessential reading. For many it provided the first indepth discussion of the Asian American experience they have ever gotten in school. His research for that book was as groundbreaking as Andy Smith’s work on Conquest, both books reshaped the ways we looked at oft poorly researched or erased populations or histories.

His Textbook A Different Mirror is standard intro reading material here at Pov U and dared to interweave the experiences of various people of color and ethnic white people to expose how race and racism work to create a supposed binary system of white and privileged vs. non-white (ethnic or white poor) and poc. I remember reading it in one sitting having waited excitedly for it to arrive. I’ve linked the first chapter in that book here, I often use the first paragraph to establish perceptions of citizenship and difference in my courses.

He was also an essential presence for students of color in general. He taught the first African American History course offered at UCLA. And he mentored black, Latino, and Asian students during his considerable career in the UC system. Takaki spoke about the need for multicultural requirements in education, the importance of mentors of color, and the need for diversity in faculty ranks, at universities and colleges around the country. Before passing, he became a mentor and a touchstone to students everywhere because of this tireless commitment to their success. He inspired many of my colleagues and graduate students to continue in their educations, to see themselves as subjects and intellectuals, and to reach for their potential.

Below, is his discussion of how having met and then being mentored by a faculty member of color changed his own life and a discussion about race, academe, radical pedagogy, and N. America. (It’s long, but well worth it):

Whenever I think of Ethnic Studies, Ronald Takaki’s name is one of the first that springs to mind. He was an critical force behind the creation of the ES Department at Berkeley. And while others mock the import of ES or daring to have or try to build an ES PhD, Takaki and others worked tirelessly to not only make it a reality but a critical force in the training of academics that now teach around the world.

I cannot put into words how important his work was for me to contextualize the Asian American experience for my students or to provide a broader socio-historical context for the memoirs and personal essays that so often typify the anthologized writing of Asian American feminists in the standard texts (when they are represented at all). All I can say is that Takaki challenged me to do better at filling in the blanks of my own education and making sure to honor all of the voices that make up our history. His talk above and much of his work provide critical context for the discussion surrounding the nomination of Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and the discussion about language requirements going on on many campuses and historiann’s blog right now. The sign of exceptional scholarship to me is always the ability to inspire, to change systems that needed changing, and to produce work that remains timeless. To lose two exceptional scholars in one year, is . . . words fail.

He will be missed.

Quote of the Week on Mandatory Membership

I don’t like that only paying members have the opportunity to speak, and to represent. This is what causes and perpetuates elitism, and marginalization.

Barbara Jane Reyes

I spend a lot of time on this blog highlighting conferences and events in academe. One of the things I try to push to the foreground is those groups/events that offer free attendance, child care, or otherwise offer access to conference information without added cost. My point has always been that while academia was expanding its ranks until the recent recession, it was not expanding its definition of “scholar” to include those who come from poor schools (ie no funding) or working class backgrounds for whom the cost of travel, stay, and attendance are not covered by the uni or their own savings but from loans or family sacrifice. Nor have we reached a point where “open to the community” translates to community members having the same right to speak as established academics since membership fees are still a requirement. Whether we are asking for fees from current academics with no funding, from independent scholars with formal credentials, or activists and other community members with no ties to academe it seems clear from those critiquing the system that the majority of these people will be excluded in favor of well established and well funded scholars. And how does one become established as a Junior in academe? Conferencing and publishing, and while it takes a recognized article to get attention if you don’t/can’t conference, it only takes a collegial demeanor at conferences (and not giving a horrible paper) to make connections that can get you employed later. So the system is broken in terms of inclusivity of all scholars regardless of relationship to the uni and new scholars trying to thrive in this environment.

Reyes’ quote reminds that for many people bringing important alternative perspectives to academic conferences the cost is not only prohibited but also the assumption of the cost as normative excludes many of the people whose perspectives have been traditionally marginalized in academe.  While I understand that we need those dues more than ever to pull off conferences and keep national organizations thriving each year, I wonder about why there are so many conferences doing it differently at the local and regional level while so many of us stay stuck in the same basic model of leisure-scholar?

I once had this conversation about the work for fees plan that allows those without funds to go to the conference for 1 day for full day of service they give the conference. For non-local people, that day of service is the equivalent of an extra day of hotel costs and for both local and non-local scholars that day is the equivalent of lost conferencing time.  There are ways to schedule one’s service to minimize both of these costs but those options are left to the scholars and community members themselves and not part of the aid process. Nor does either wave the required membership fees.

The funding thing is my issue. There is a whole lot to think about in Reyes’ quick post, beyond just the funding issue. In particular, she muses about the meaning of representation and what it means to be the go-to-gal.  I urge you to follow the link at the top to her entire post and think about the changes that you can help make in any of the conferences you will be involved in at the end of this academic year or the upcoming one.

Black History Month!: Important Black Women Quiz

(quiz link is at the bottom of the post)

It is almost February, the shortest month of the year, so you know what that means . . . Black History Month!

blfi(this amazing image is unattributed -grr- comes from here)

As long time readers know, last year I did a post on African-American feminists as part of my multicultural feminism(s) series (see sidebar for other multiculti feminisms links). I also decided to celebrate Female Presidents of African descent and key figures in African American women’s political history with a pictorial post at the end of black history month 2008. Despite the later having very little accompanying text, it was one of the most widely read pieces on the old blog – widely being defined as a geographic location – and was among one of a handful of posts that steadily brought in readers. Clearly there is a thirst for knowledge about black female political leadership.

Now I’d like to delve a little deeper into that same narrative of African American female political and social justice leadership by doing a series this month on African American women who have changed our political landscape. I have defined the category narrowly in the sense that I have not included female performers while I do think that artists, blues singers, and actresses did help shift the black political landscape by nature of being visible, regularly present, and often contributing subtly and/or pointedly subversive texts to the world. Instead, I am going to focus on African American women who started or participated in political parties and movements, as well as held government offices. And I am going to try and choose people you may be less familiar with, while still honoring those whom we should all already know.

At the same time, since I teach media, I also want to focus this month on African American women Directors, since many of them are unsung heroines of the craft who have given their savings, labor, and personal lives over to breaking into an industry that continues to largely exclude them. I hope that by highlighting them, I will encourage all of you to go out and watch their films an write reviews, encourage others to rent or purchase their films, and help keep their industry afloat in a world that has become less open to African American cinema rather than more open. And while I’m going to represent their craft and commitment here at the spot, I’ll admit that not all of them will be people whose films I have seen in advance; so in a way, this is a challenge for me to go out and do the work that I am hoping to foster with you, my new readers.

So, to start the ball rolling. Here is a quiz on “Important African American Women throughout history.” If you take the quiz, come back and tell us how you did. 😀

for quiz click here

Blog Love: Racialicious

Ok, I admit this blog love is a little old skool, as racialicious has been around a very long time and certainly morphed into ever expanding territory since I first started reading it, way back when. However, I was just reading it again for the first time in a long while and thinking to myself: not only do I love this blog but most of the people commenting are really astute.

Not only do they write thoughtful pieces analyzing race and racism from many different vantage points and intersections, but they also have a pretty intellectually sophisticated and talkative audience. (And I like that they have increased their discussion of sexuality from the last time I was a regular reader as well.)

Honestly, I laughed out loud at one of their comment makers who responded to my recent Tropic Thunder comment by saying racial passing in film is ancient, and then just in case that “prof” in front of my name was actually real (and it is) added “I know you know that, I just like repeating it.” It was the perfect way to make a corrective comment so that the people who might not know that racial passing goes all the way back to antebellum, if not further, get the info, while people who already know are not insulted. Assuming your audience is mixed is also a great way to stop flame wars before they start.

It’s a really great blog. So here is to old skool love 😀

Miriam Makeba Dies

Miriam Makeba died after suffering a fatal heart attack on stage at one of her concerts. She was 76 years old.

Makeba was best known for having used her incredible musical talent and voice to raise awareness about Apartheid.

Makeba testified before the UN in 1963 about the extreme violence, repression, and inequality that were the backbone of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. The South African government retaliated by canceling her passport and her citizenship, having already refused to let her return to the country for her mother’s funeral a few years earlier.

Unswayed, Makeba continued to speak out and make music questioning the Apartheid regime. In 1966 she won a joint Grammy with Harry Belafonte for their album, An Evening with Belafonte and Makeba. The album was one of the first to address the violence and profound inequality in Apartheid South Africa that reached a global audience. It also provided the foundation for many other musicians’ protests around the world. The album and Makeba herself, through a requested collaboration with Paul Simon, also influenced the most memorable anti-Apartheid musical work in its finally decades done by Paul Simon and Lady Smith Black Mambaso.

Makeba’s musical career was nearly ended not by her outspokenness about Apartheid but her marriage to Stockley Carmichael and the subsequent backlash by the recording industry. Makeba was undeterred understanding that a global black consciousness was necessary to end racism across the globe and free all black people from the tyrannies of state sanctioned racism. She slowly rebuilt her career through this same global black network, playing in Africa and the Caribbean, until the West could no longer ignore her talent or her message.

During the 70s she served as Guinean delegate to the UN and in 1986 she won a Peace Prize. In 2001 the UN also awarded her a peace medal for her considerable activism. Despite these feats some felt she supported several questionable black leaders who committed attrocities against their own people.

Makeba was finally able to return to South Africa in 1990 at Mandela’s request. Though Apartheid had finally ended, Makeba continued to be a strong advocate. She appeared on a coming out episode of The Cosby Show lending her powerful presence to gay rights and in two films exploring the contribution of music to the fall of Apartheid.

Despite all of this amazing work for peace and equality, Makeba maintained that she was just a singer, singing about her own life.

The Audacity of Hope


I have never been so proud to be an American than today when not only did we elect the first black man to the White House but his opponent took time to mention how far we have come from the night Booker T. Washington was invited to eat dinner at the White house amidst racist outrage. Jesse Jackson, the first black man to win a primary and who many of us expected to be the nod for VP that year, cried heartfelt tears in the audience. White, black, Asian, and Latin@ people hugged and cheered. Pundits were choked up, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. And Barack Obama gave a speech in which he acknowledged not only the historical struggle of black people but also women. It is a moment in our collective history that can never be taken away.

As a girl who once put her little sister in a ditch to hide her from drunken klan, not knowing if I would live through the night to find her again; who was told to drink from the “fountain for n-s” long after those fountains should have been done away with; and who was threatened by klan riding the bus home from one of her first classes in undergrad, I, like many other N. Americans, know that this world is a very different one than it was yesterday. And even tho I also know that this is not the end of racism in N. America, I am still proudest of those among us who had to overcome racial prejudice to cast the deciding votes.

Though my mind is still on prop 8, prop 2, and all the others like it tonight, I cannot help but dance.

So dance with me y’all; now is our time:

Thank you PRESIDENT Obama for inspiring a nation and daring us to hope for a better country and a better world. And thank you FIRST LADY Obama for personally inspiring me to be a better woman in the face of the twin oppressions of racism and sexism that have typified this campaign. We are all made better by your joint willingness to risk everything and dare us to dream.

Yes, We Can!