Monday, May 31, 2010

Meeting Notes

Posted by Mandy and Priya

This meeting was held on Saturday, May 29, 2010 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Seattle, Washington

  • Debrief From Tuesday
  • Collabing with main campus/other UWB programs such as MAPS
  • End of vear- video and potluck (next year)
  • Website/discussion board
  • Open-blog, group closed
  • Becoming a club- “undermining our street cred”
  • Goals
  • Blog
Ideas to Reflect Upon:
  1. Why is it that the pain of people of color is looked at in certain ways- when our bodies are in that space, how we are viewed, and how that is looked at and put on display?
  2. The separation of issues- disconnect between what the dominant culture recognizes as oppression through the readings, but not connecting it with the real world, therefore the problem is about “us” without any accountability to their own action.
Official Club Status:
  1. Email S. to ask to become our advisor.
  2. Recognizing the problem of “official-izing,” losing our street cred as an organization for radical women of color—but buying into the model for now to better reach young women of color—becoming known
  3. Submitting origin story versus constitution—if that fails, then submit constitution—trying to undermine the process.
  1. Creating a space on the UWB campus that allows female graduate students of color to network.
  2. Creating a graduate-undergraduate mentorship program
  3. Discuss current issues that graduate students of color, particularly women of color, face in the academia
  4. Sharing different growing experiences
  5. Solidarity
  6. Recognizes ways in which oppression manifests within the classroom
  7. Safe space
  8. Having an outlet to share those experience and gain further insight- get advice for dealing with such issues from peers/mentors
  9. Collaborate between programs and among campuses
Process for Becoming a Known Collaborative Space on Campus:
  1. Became an “official” club--list of goals, mission, partnerships, course of action, faculty advisor, status as a club
  2. Send information to programs for inclusion in newsletters for fall
  3. Pick date of first event- welcoming new grad students of color- Friday Oct 8- doing it on campus for space- happy hour
  4. Promotions:
  • Send announcement to ASUWB president
  • Graduate programs ie send to Leslie equivalent
  • UW Diversity and Recruiting
To Do:
  • Blog article
  • Origin story
  • Class assignment, who did what—participants list
  • Meeting times, dates

In Remembrance of Ronald Takaki

Posted by Priya

One year ago this week, we lost one of the pioneers of multicultural studies in this country, Ronald Takaki. Known as an academic, historian, ethnographer, and author, Takaki’s work included texts such as A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, A Pro-Slavery Crusade: the Agitation to Reopen the African Slave, Iron Cages: race and culture in 19th century America, and India in the West: South Asians in America.

In 1972, Takaki began teach at Berkeley, where he is largely credited for the development of an undergraduate ethnic studies major and an ethnic studies Ph.D. program. For the next 30 years he continued to be an important contributor in the growth of the Berkeley program and was involved in developing the school's multicultural requirement for graduation. Takaki retired from Berkeley in 2004 and after a 20 year battle with multiple sclerosis, ended his own life on May 26, 2009.

I was first introduced to Takaki through his book A Different Mirror as a freshman at Shoreline Community College in my Multicultural Studies class. Up to that point, my experience in understanding the “the people’s history” was pretty limited, apart from watching the “Eyes on the Prize” series in a high school history class. Reading it was the first time I felt like my people were being acknowledged as a part of history, and it gave me a sense of importance and pride in my own ethnic identity. Takaki’s book opened me up to understanding ALL of our contributions to this country, apart from the stories told in history textbooks that left out so many of “us.” I had the privilege to meet Dr. Takaki later that year when he came as a guest speaker to the college, and he signed my copy of A Different Mirror. Several years later I graduated from UW as an American Ethnic Studies major and reading this book inspires my continued passion for the study of power and culture relations in the US. Reflecting on Takaki and his tireless efforts to implement ethnic studies programs within university establishments, I can’t help but think about the Arizona bill targeting ethnic studies courses in the Tucson public school system. Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, argues that ethnic studies classes teach children that they are oppressed and that they should resent a particular race. At the end of A Different Mirror, Takaki, referencing the title of the book, addresses the impact of ethnic studies and perhaps provides some insight as to his response if he were still with us today:

“To become visible is to see ourselves and each other through a different mirror of history. As Audre Lorde pointed out, ‘ It is a waste of time hating a mirror or its reflection instead of stopping the hand that makes glass distortions.’ By viewing ourselves in a mirror which reflects reality, we can see our past as undistorted and no longer have to peer into our future through a glass darkly.”(P 426)

This Memorial Day, Remember

Posted by Mandy

I ask you all to take a few moments this Memorial Day and watch the video embedded above, in which photographer Aaron Huey asks us to give recognition to the blood of Native soldiers and civilians spilled in the creation of the United States. Memorial Day often sees tribute paid to the American soldiers who have died in service of the U.S. government, yet little attention is given to the soldiers whose lives were lost in battles for survival against U.S. soldiers.

In his memoir, Black Elk reflects on the Wounded Knee Massacre, the turning point in Native history, which saw the transformation of all Native people into prisoners of war:
…it was all over.

I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.

And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth,- you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead (207).
Some further memories of the Wounded Knee Massacre are remembered in Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee:
We tried to run, but they shot us like we were a buffalo. I know there are some good white people, but the soldiers must be mean to shoot children and women. Indian soldiers would not do that to white children (444).
-Louise Weasel Bear
I was running away from the place and followed those who were running away. My grandfather and grandmother and brother were killed as we crossed the ravine, and then I was shot on the right hip clear through and on my wrist where I did not go any further as I was not able to walk, and after the soldier picked me up where a little girl came to me and crawled into the blanket (444).
I also ask that you consider the plight of the Nez Perce, who, after choosing to flee their land in hopes of escaping the brutal attacks and repeated broken treaties of the U.S. government, were pursued and systematically slaughtered while trying to escape to Canada. The path that these exiles traveled has become known as the Nez Perce Trail. The efforts of Chief Joseph and the remaining 431 Nez Perce were ended in 1877 at the Battle of the Bear Paw, in which an armed civilian makeshift militia fought and lost against U.S. army soldiers. The battle took place just 40 miles from the Canadian border.

This short video offers a brief history of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce:

I will conclude with Chief Joseph’s speech of surrender to General Howard, words which I hope express the importance of remembering the legacy of Native soldiers:
Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before I have in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Tu-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food; no one knows where they are – perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.

Works Cited

Black Elk, Nicholas. Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux. Ed. John G. Neihardt. Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P, 1979.

Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. New York: Owl Books, 1970.

Chief Joseph. “Surrender at the Battle of Bear Paw.” Chinook, Montana. 5 Oct. 1877.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Arizona- Everyone’s Injustice

Posted by Priya

Today I was privileged to participate in making my voice heard on main campus during a demonstration in Red Square. Organized by the UW chapter of MECHA, a few hundred students gathered to oppose the myriad of racist Arizona initiatives and spread awareness about the effects these laws have on all of us. Some of the phrases being chanted included "education not deportation," "Si Se Puede" and "Mr. Obama, please don't deport my mama!" The location of the protest was appropriate, as not only is Red Square one of the most frequented areas on campus, it is also right outside of UW President Mark Emmert's office. Armed with megaphones, a diverse group of speakers, including students, Seattle Public School teachers, and UW employees provided words of inspiration, rage, and passion. The crowd consisted of a sea of mostly brown faces, an uncommon occurrence on a campus where Caucasians make up 50% of the undergraduate student population, and even more of a percentage when graduate students, staff and faculty are taken into account. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) this population was largely missing from the demonstration. The president of the UW Black Student Union chapter spoke at the march, representing BSU's support and showing solidarity for both the cause and MECHA. She summed it up when she quoted Dr King during her speech: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

This is exactly why everyone should be concerned with what is happening in Arizona, because it is a reflection on all of us, whether we fit the targeted description of "illegal" or not. We can't just think about this as someone else's problem, and breathe a sigh of relief because this time the group we identify with has been overlooked- we must realize that our group could be next. As UW African American Studies professor John Walters used to say in his classes, the success of the civil rights movement could not have achieved the success it did without the participation of "good black people, good brown people and good white people…" I am reminded of white participants such as Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964 while registering black voters during Freedom Summer. Just because I am not of Latin descent doesn’t make me feel any more disconnected to this issue. This is my issue, because when my friends or family or colleagues or cohort are targeted, then I am as well. When I stood there in Red Square today, amongst a predominantly Latin population, I did not feel like an outsider because our outrage and desperation to do something and make our voices be heard was a commonality that bonded us. And in that brief moment, I actually felt connected to a UW campus community for once.

Photos courtesy of MEChA de UW:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Constitution for Club Status- Rough Draft

Posted by Mandy

So, apparently we need a "constitution" in order to get "official" club status and money: Really lame requirements, so I kinda put together a sassy "no, we ain't buying into your method of governance" constitution.

Please comment! Say, "really, you think they gonna fund you with sass like that?" Particularly in light of the readings this week for BCULST 502 (most came from INCITE!).

Also, we need a name. All the naming we've done for this group so far can easily be changed. Cheers!


Article I: The official name of this campus organization shall be the University of Washington Bothell Graduate Women of Color Collective (GWoCC). This group shall be affiliated with the Women of Color Collective (WoCC) on the UW Seattle campus.

Article 2: The purpose of this organization is to create a space both online and on-campus for community building and a sense of belonging among graduate women of color. The women in this collective will furthermore act as a support network and group within which to speak of issues pertaining to being a woman of color in the academia, and will purposefully seek to act as mentors for undergraduate women of color considering graduate school.

Article 3: Membership in this organization will be limited to current graduate women of color, though further collaboration will be actively sought to include graduate men of color, undergraduate women of color, and other women graduate students.

Article 4: As an egalitarian organization, no hierarchical system of governance shall be put in place. The founding members will take responsibility for organizing events and furthering the organization’s cause throughout the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years.

Article 5: See Article 4 for information pertaining to practices of governance suggested but refused as per the mission of this organization.

Article 6: Due to the both internet-based and in-person nature of this collective, regular meetings will not be scheduled. The group shall attempt to meet in-person at least once a month, but expects that these meetings will become more frequent in Fall 2010. Any member may call a meeting and there is no minimum for number of students who need be involved.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

La Sebastiana

Posted by Mandy

La Sebastiana is the vacation home of Chileno poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Pablo Neruda. It is located on the sea, amid the many colored buildings in the town of Valparaíso, Chile. While Neruda loved to visit Valparaíso to escape the political tensions of the capital, he had a difficult time finding a house to meet all of his artistic requirements. It would have to be "far from everything, but next to transportation," "light but firm," "original but comfortable," and "lonely, but not too much."

Finding no house that was wholly satisfactory, Neruda purchased La Sebastiana, settling for something that was cheap instead. He then spent the next three years creating of this house the beautiful home that would become a staple in Chilean poetic imagination. On completion of his home, Neruda wrote the poem "To La Sebastiana," which included the lines:

I built the house.

I made it first out of air.
Later I raised its flag into the air
and left it draped
from the firmament, from the stars, from
clear light and darkness.

(Full text)

As the child of a Chilena immigrant to the US in the wake of Chile's sad history in the 70's and beyond, La Sebastiana and the poetry of Pablo Neruda have felt like my links to the motherland. With a lost sense of belonging in a country that seems to grow ever more resentful of people of the Latin races, I look to La Sebastiana and wonder if it might be the home I have sought since childhood. With its strange configuration of structure, color, stairs, and greenery, it seems so purposefully out of place- so perfectly out of place.

Neruda was not himself well or widely accepted, yet he did not hide himself or make attempts to "fit in." I hope that I can learn from his life this quality of self-acceptance, peace, internal beauty, catharsis through creativity, and general disregard for the unwarranted ill opinions of others.

La Sebastiana
Amanda Martin Sandino

I can imagine the waves keeping a steady tempo
(they come)
(they go)
and I inhale, sigh deeply, keep the pace within me
ocean smells connecting
memory to dream

All this talk of basements, hidden rooms, secrets and banishment
You were never illegal to me
You were a house
you touched the sky with finger ripples
and whispered into the unseen ears of rain-filled clouds
You were thousands of colors, clashing against yourself
and you were a thousand words
“solitario, pero no demasiado”
“lonely, but not too much”
in a kingdom by the sea

I can imagine you sitting by the window on the highest floor
You look out at the harbor, at the ships
And imagine mermaids thrown from the sea
You see in the void
The eyes of some lost lover
¿Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos?
waiting for years
that go by slowly like an age of war
the sound of the clock
the heartbeat of your home, your heartbeat
the rhythm of disappointment

To me, you were and are, in your death, my pride, my nationalistic fervor
the lost motherland
you are la Sebastiana
a stranger
a translation
an unknown home
searched for
in translation
or somewhere among those thousand steps within
your skyscraper of a house
sitting beside the stretching Pacífico