Monday, June 14, 2010

Turistas (no, not that one)

Posted by Mandy

*Recognizing that there is also a recent film of the same title about Natives in Brazil who steal organs from turistas (including an effort at those of the gorgeous Olivia Wilde from House), I'd like to state, right off the bat, this review is not of THAT Turistas, but the OTHER one. Cheers!

Last Wednesday, my mother and I went to see Alicia Scherson’s Turistas at SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival). Like my beautiful mother, the very talented Scherson is of the beautiful urban Santiago de Chile. In all honesty, this was our first SIFF film viewing (ever), so that experience in and of itself was quite interesting (i.e. why was there one woman wo-manning the will call/ticket purchase counter while five stood at the door of the theatre handing out voter forms?).

It is the cultural experience of seeing my first film of the motherland (the land of my mother) that I would like to speak about.

Turistas stars the hilarious and talented (alright, as well as insanely beautiful) Aline Küppenheim (how are these for "common" Latin@ names so far?). Like me, Aline is fair-skinned with brown hair (unlike me, she is very skinny!). I was thrilled throughout watching the film to see so many Latin@s who do not fit the stereotypes so tightly clung to in the United States. Latin@s with all colors of skin, hair, and eyes; speaking in a variety of accents and languages, and holding positions from biochemist to park ranger.

Carla meets a new friend!

Turistas follows the often slow-paced adventures of Carla (Aline Küppenheim) after her husband leaves her at the side of the road in a rural area when she steps out to pee (yes, there is a story there and a reason--whether good or bad, you must decide for yourself). While looking for a bus to take back to Santiago, Carla meets up with a young Norweigan man named Ulrik, who is a bit confused about his sexual orientation. The two end up at the amazingly lovely Siete Tazas (Seven Cups) National Park, where they camp among some strange company, a has-been singer of a park ranger, two eccentric look-a-like cousins, and a number of wild creatures demonstrating the chaos and beauty that is nature.

I was lucky enough to see the film at a showing that the director also attended, and a brief Q and A followed the film. One of the points that Scherson made during this time was the sad reality that the park’s eponymous Siete Tazas were destroyed by the February earthquake. The Siete Tazas are a group of seven waterfalls that have served as the park’s main attraction; since February, they have completely dried up.

Siete Tazas before and after

I wish that I could better articulate this experience and actually offer an unbiased review of the film. Turistas as a whole was undoubtedly witty and eccentric, two excellent qualities, in my opinion. Yet, I could not help but become almost entirely focused on the details, getting hints of the lost motherland, comparing ideas in the film with what I have heard from my family. One of the strongest themes that has stayed with me was the manner in which the main character so easily accepted her companion’s sexual confusion—she did not seem to care whether he was gay, straight, or bi, except as pertained to her own pleasure. I have been told so many times that queerness is equated with child molestation in Chile, yet this director, at least, remained far more open-minded in her analysis.

Certain other things stuck in my mind—avocados on hot dogs, free camping, bright ID cards. The manner in which the director simultaneously demonized the construction site tearing down the park while acknowledging its own mechanical beauty. The recognition that there is some beauty in destruction.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Next time you're in a poor community count the Money Trees!

Posted by Mona

Here is an article from the Indian Giver newsletter, it made me think of how many times I've been on the "poor side" of town and seen the street corners littered with Money Tress or Check into Cash types of establishments. One day when you have nothing better to do drive in a "poor side of town" and then drive near a "gated" community and do a comparative summary of the types of business you're likely to find operating in each neighborhood. While this article gave a perfect argument about predatory lending, what about strip clubs, adult stores, tobacco stores, casino's, etc...and poor sides of town? You are not likely to find the same types of business in a upscale neighborhood. What are the root causes? What needs to be done in-order to have more equitable neighborhoods? Happy reading.

June 2010

"This month we focus on: Predatory Lending. With the recent economic crisis, predatory lending continues to be a hot topic and Indian Country is stepping forward to protect Native people from financial exploitation. Learn about a Native American leader who spoke out when it was not so popular, and how you can help First Nations strengthen and protect Native communities.


Exhibiting Leadership for Indian Country, When Everybody is Watching
When it comes to regulating the payday lending industry in and around Indian reservations, some Indian leaders would just as soon let the fox guard the henhouse. But it is in moments like this that we get the rare chance to see great Indian leadership in action. On June 8, 2008, Senator Byron Dorgan (ND) held Senate Hearing 110-484, Predatory Lending in Indian Country, before the Committee on Indian Affairs.

At this hearing, when representatives from Indian Country were seemingly aligning themselves with the Community Financial Services Association (CFSA - a membership association that represents, by their own estimation, approximately 60% of the 25,000 payday lending storefronts in the United States), Indian Country was once again treated to Chairman W. Ron Allen’s undying devotion to Indian peoples.

During the hearing, one Indian leader testified that, “I would be willing to work with the people of CFSA and in the banking industry as a whole, to expand financial education to all of our people. Education ultimately is the answer to most problems, not regulation.”

And while it’s hard not to agree with the benefits of education, it is difficult to stomach someone extolling the virtues of working with CFSA as a way of protecting Indian Country from predatory lending.

Enter W. Ron Allen, Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and then Secretary, and present treasurer of the National Congress of American Indians, who made it clear the issues facing Indian Country:

“Because of the persistent lack of economic opportunity, sustainable financial services and tribal jurisdictional issues, there have only been a handful of banks that serve tribal communities. As a result, tribal citizens continue to lack basic financial services or choices that most Americans … take for granted. Tribal members have limited access when financing a home, starting a business or purchasing necessary property like cars needed to make a living.

The vacuum created by the lack of responsive and regulated financial institutions offering competitive consumer financial products has been quickly filled by predatory lending firms that have proliferated after usury laws were lifted a few years ago—especially in transient and unbanked communities, like military bases and reservations. The effect of having a tribal population unbanked and subject to predatory financial firms is that it strips an already vulnerable population of the opportunity to advance by preventing them from building assets, equity and wealth. And the result of individuals having limited and sometimes no viable options for responsive bank products means tribal citizens pay higher fees and much higher interest rates, leaving tribal citizens that live check-to-check more vulnerable when one of life's predictable emergencies arises such as a death in the family or a medical bill, forcing a cycle of debt.”

For Mr. Allen, it all came back to the core Indian Country asset – sovereignty. Ron’s testimony concluded with:

“The last item is jurisdiction. This is an area where, as we move forward, we want the financial institutions to come onto our reservations or around our communities. But we need some sort of controls over that industry. So as we explore these issues, it really becomes an issue of, should there be some additional legislation that provides clarity about the tribes' authority over these institutions, whether they are banking or non-banking lenders on the reservation.

Congress should consider giving tribes the same capability to protect their citizens with the ability to opt into models such as the military fix. Congress should also consider promoting responsive community banking in tribal communities by giving tribes the authority to approve banks that do business on their reservations in a manner similar to state governments.”

Emerging leaders in Indian Country would do well to emulate Mr. Allen’s continued commitment to Indian peoples and Indian Country’s fight to retain its sovereignty."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Who's your sHero?

Posted by Mona

The sky is blue and I'm happy! Talking to a friend of mine today I had the chance to share a little about one of my sHeros. I admire Maya Angelo for so many reasons, her talent, her honesty about her life, but most of all her commitment to not speak hateful! She said in an interview she considers hateful speech, "little murders" and won't even allow people to speak hateful in her presence.

This made me think of a couple of questions, who is your sHero? What won't you allow in your presence?

I have several people I look up to, Oprah, Maya to name a couple, but the unsung sHeros gets most of my affection. Caregivers in hospice, Sunday school teachers, especially when only one or two kids show up, any teacher, but my mom & daughter are at the top of my list! I honestly don’t know how my mom raised three small children, survived boarding school and the Indian Relocation Act of the 50’s, the loss of her husband and many friends, a grandchild with cancer, and so much more! Yet she is so full of life, so happy and faces life head on! My daughter, well, what can I say, she is smart, strong, fights for the underdog, beautiful, and is a peacemaker. She sees the good in everyone but often overlooks it in herself. I am the most fortunate mother on earth. And to top it off she has given me the best gifts in life, my two wonderful grandchildren!

What I won’t allow in my presence? Someone to die alone if I can help it, someone to sit in a hospital waiting room alone, and on a happy note, a girlfriend shopping alone on Black Friday

Please share your sHero & what you won’t allow in your presence story.

As always,


Seattle Campus Course- Women of Color in Academia

Posted by Mandy

Dear students,

If you are looking for courses for AU 10, consider the course I will be teaching Women 577: Women of Color in Academia. In this course we will explore how "women of color" in academia are positioned, through scholarship and identities, to question and redefine academia, education, and the established boundaries between academia and other communities. Discussion focuses on understanding institutional sites and forms of knowledge production and validation in academia in the United States.

This course will be taught MW 1:30-3:30 p.m. I will appear in the time schedule as soon as a room is assigned.

Please share this information with other students who may be interested in this topic.


Angela B. Ginorio V: 206/685-2238
University of Washington Fax: 206/685-9555
Women Studies 35-4345
Seattle, WA 98195-4345

Caminante, no hay camino/Se hace camino al andar. Antonio Machado

Note: The quote that Angela has posted translates loosely to "Wayfarer (lit "one who walks the path"), there is no road./ You create the road by walking." Oh, okay, here's a better translation than my crappy Spanglish one- "wanderer, there is no road,/the road is made by walking."

Webinar about Women of Color

Posted by Mona

I'm at work today and can't participate, I hope one of us can join the webinar & share some of the things they discussed. Best, Mona


Women of Color, Wealth and America's Future

Join us for a Webinar on June 8 from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT

Register Now!

New Report Exposes Damaging Wealth Gap for Women of Color

Women of color face an enormous wealth gap when compared to the rest of society, one that undermines their future economic security and that of their children, according to a groundbreaking report from the Insight Center's Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative, Lifting As We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America's Future.

The report by former Harvard associate professor Mariko Chang, Ph.D., author of the forthcoming book Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth and What Can Be Done About It, for the first time brings together a wealth of data to detail the dire economic realities facing women of color. It finds that single women have only one third of the assets of single men. But due to the compounding of race and gender disadvantages - families of color have 16 cents to the white family's dollar - the economic situation of women of color is tenuous at best. It's findings include:

Single black and Hispanic women have a median wealth of $100 and $120 respectively. Nearly half of all single black and Hispanic women have zero or negative wealth, the latter of which occurs when debts exceeds assets. Never-married women of color have a median wealth of zero.

Join the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative for a webinar for an in-depth discussion of the report's findings.


Mariko Chang, PhD., Author, foremost scholar on the gender wealth gap

Meizhu Lui, Director, Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative

Melany De La Cruz, Assistant Director, Asian American Studies Center, UCLA

Sarah Echohawk Vermillion, Vice President, First Nations Development Institute

Janis Bowdler, Deputy Director, Wealth Building Policy Project, National Council of La Raza

Register: Click Here

Follow us on Twitter

Title: Women of Color, Wealth, and America's Future

Date: Tuesday June 8, 2010

Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Favorite Native Prayer

Posted by Mona

Well, I know prayers can be controversial, this is one of my favorites. It sums up personal responsibility and the connection to nature that are common threads among Native Americans. I thought it was so beautiful I'd share it. While I've known we were always a civilized people, it also shows the wisdom that Native Americans possessed in 1887 for those who doubted that and felt we needed to be assimilated!

Best, Mona

An Indian Prayer

Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
 hear me! I am small and weak, I need your 
strength and wisdom.

Let Me Walk In Beauty, and make my eyes
 ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make My Hands Respect the things you have 
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make Me Wise so that I may understand the
 things you have taught my people.

Let Me Learn the lessons you have hidden 
in every leaf and rock.

I Seek Strength, not to be greater than my 
brother, but to fight my greatest 

Make Me Always Ready to come to you with 
clean hands and straight eyes.

So When Life Fades, as the fading sunset,
 my spirit may come to you
 without shame.

(translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887)
published in Native American Prayers - by the Episcopal Church

What I've learned this year

Posted by Mona

What I've learned this year, by Mona Halcomb

After reading a multitude of theorist I am finally able to have a clearer picture of some of the complexities in my life that have frustrated and eluded meaning for me until now. Like the chemical reaction that happens when film is processed which brings the amber silhouettes of a negative into a positive image I am able to take the theories (chemical solution) and submerge my experiences (negatives) and come to a more informed understanding of these experiences. While there could be several sites of investigation to consider in my life, as a Native American woman, I will concentrate on two very important and fundamental ones. I’ll take two situations with my dad and brother and putting them in to a broader context that allows me to look at them through a more compassionate lens. As the quote, “I am all the daughters of my father's house, And all the brothers too” - William Shakespeare suggest the relationships of daughters, fathers, and brothers are worthy of deeper contemplation.

One Saturday my dad and I were shopping at Costco for a family picnic. A man approached us and said, “I like your boots sir.” My dad proceeded to put one hand on his waist and the other in the air and twirl around in a 3600 circle saying, “I have a matching belt.” I was so embarrassed I leaped three aisles in a single bound with a heavy cart all the while saying to myself, “I don’t know him!” When I returned to work on Monday morning I talked to a friend who taught Native American Studies about the episode. He kindly shared with me the experiences of some Indian children in boarding schools, their school clothes, which usually consisted of ugly, green, and cheaply made uniforms that resembled current day scrubs many hospital workers wear. My parents were stripped of the self-expression as many young people typically are allowed to experiment with clothes and hair when discovering “who they are.” The fact that both my mother and father were raised in boarding schools, and were both “fancy dressers” and could even be labeled as “Clothes Horses” which refers to a person excessively or obsessively interested in clothes was a result of being in boarding school. As Stanley J. Grenz states, “truth and even the way we envision truth are dependent on the community in which we participate.”[1] When my friend shared with me the boarding school experiences, I was given the gift of looking at my parents through the lens of the community they were a part of and not see their love of clothes as personal idiosyncrasies and flaws of theirs but rather in the larger context of historical domination and the results of that domination.

I have never heard either of my parents speak about their personal boarding school experiences in great detail. I do know that the affects that boarding school had on both my parents extend far beyond their clothing choices. Nor have I had the opportunity to learn about boarding schools during my education, even in a master’s level program about culture, the attention of Native American policies and experiences remains on the peripheral of inquiry and only receives a modest level of inclusion. Therefore, the implication of Michel Foucault’s theory of power-knowledge[2] is critical in understanding why this is. As Foucault explains power is based on knowledge, yet power (re-) creates itself through knowledge. We are often ambiguous to the fact that knowledge being produced has it’s own intentions. Some of these intentions are to make invisible in a systemic way the experiences of marginalized groups. Another theorist, Chela Sandoval claims, “Under conditions of colonialization, poverty, racism, gender or sexual subordination, dominated populations are often held away from the comforts of the dominated ideology or ripped out of legitimized social narratives, in a process of power that places such constituencies in a very different position from which to view objects-in-reality than other kinds of citizen-subjects.” (104) [3] Had some of the events of boarding schools been taught when I was in school I might have understood my parents a little more as a young person. However, as Ien Ang points out this is not a problem that only Native Americans face, she says that cultural studies is not in daily conversations of people because it is not considered relevant. She cautions that research institutions collaborating with outside funders must be able to look at a situation in its complexity, and not “name a problem” to research.” And lastly, that cultural study must contest meanings negotiated and constructed for these groups and become relevant. [4]

Moving from a daughter / parent relationship to one of a sibling / sister I would like to look at an exchange between my older brother and a neighbor. I had just moved to Washington State from California, it is prudent to say something about the cultural norm in California, you could be in a supermarket and meet someone in line and be invited to a bbq at their house on the spot. People may not have been deep life long friends but they were often very friendly. In my new apartment I expected similar types of interactions. There was a neighbor who was a middle aged white woman. Our doors faced each other. I tried everything I could to be friendly with her, I’d always say hi, good morning, or can I help you with those bags? She never spoke or replied in any way to me. After eight months I began to think she was a deaf mute. One morning around 4:00 a.m. the fire alarm sounded. We all rushed out our doors and in her panic she looked at me and said, “What’s going on?” I was stunned, not by the alarm but by my neighbors voice. I replied, “Oh, you can talk!” Which angered her beyond measure and she rushed down the stairs. My older brother who grew up in the Northwest was over for a visit just after this incident. He and I were running an errand and the neighbor was coming up the stairs as we were walking down. Being the eternal optimist I looked her straight in the eye and said, “Hi!” She in her usual manner ignored me. My brother on the other hand (who was loud and outgoing) dropped his head immediately to the ground and refused to make eye contact with her. He became meek and subordinate in a split second. I was furious with him. I’d lost a lot of respect for him in that moment. How dare he become humble and timid because of this one individual! I needed an older brother I could look up to and emulate. Someone to be a role model for me not someone who had learned the lesson of subordination.

Reading scholars like Grenz, Foucault, Sandoval, and Ang shed some insight but did not completely rectify my disappointment with my older brother’s response. Then upon reading Carole Pateman describe the public / private debate in feminist theory a light came on for me. In, “The Disorder of Women” Carole Pateman speaks about the role of men and women. Men are seen as breadwinners and women are not seen to be owners of their own persons, and are not able to bring their persons to market.[5] She does a nice job or laying down the dichotomy and polarization of men and women’s roles, however she fails to articulate the complex space men of color inhabit. Despite the fact Congress enacted the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924, the right to vote was enforced by individual states and until 1957 some states did not allow Native American’s to vote. By looking at the complex relationship between men and women that Pateman outlines and then looking at even more complex policies that affected Native American’s to the mix, how can I be angry with my older brother for situating himself into a role that society had prescribed for him? Can I expect him to rise above the societal roles of dominated cultures single-handily? Of course I can’t and if he were he still with me I’d apologize for my anger. I didn’t say anything to him at the time but I am sure he could tell I was seething beneath the surface at something. I didn’t have the words to articulate my emotions at the time. But now having read some of the theorist I am able to see these in a new light.

Reflecting on the two experiences with my dad and brother reminds me of doing beadwork. When you are concentrating and focusing on the individual process: one red bead, two white beads, five black beads, etc…it is hard to see the larger picture. Once you are far enough along and hold the piece at a distance you can begin to make out a picture, which after some time comes into focus of what is being created. Looking at these two experiences closely and in isolation I only felt embarrassment or anger. Holding them at a distance and seeing the larger picture of what society has constructed through the lens of these theorist allows me to view them in terms of power-knowledge which has created roles for public / private citizens. And by having these roles come into focus the possibility to create paths that move beyond prescribed locations.

[1] Grenz, S.J. “Star Trek and the Postmodern Generation”

[2] Foucault, M., The History of Sexuality, vol. 1, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1981 (see pp. 92-102)

[3] Sandoval, C., “Semiotics and Languages of Emancipation” in Methodology of the Oppressed

[4] Ang, I., Who Needs Cultural research?

[5] Pateman, C., “the Disorder of Women” 1989

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Firefly and Latina Diversity

Posted by Mandy
My parents were classy beautiful Latin people. They grew up in the 30’s, a time when you looked clean, you were pressed; you looked people in the eye; you were gracious, no matter how much money you did or didn’t have. Those were the values I went into the world with. –Gina Torres, portrayer Zoe Washburne in Firefly/Serenity
Being born in Brazil made me who I am. –Morena Baccarin, portrayer of Inara Serra
As a second-generation Chilena Americana of a Pinochet-era immigrant mother, I am constantly amazed by the frequency with which I am interrogated about the legitimacy of my Latina identity. I am told that I do not “look” Latina, I do not “speak” like a Latina, my accent does not “sound” as though it belongs to a Latina. The implication being that I am simply trying to “pass” as a Latina, though for what reason, I cannot say. I did not realize that so many people were trying to achieve admittance to a group particularly targeted for banishment from this country in a time when "looking Latin@" is equated with "looking illegal" ("Arizona...").

In her article for VidaAfroLatina, Ivy Farguheson reflects on the many instances in which her race has been challenged:
They question our heritage, our legitimacy. Our Latino-ness, as it were. And the problem continues if you don’t have an accent and don’t look like what people think “Latinos” should look like.
So, what should I look like if I want to appear indisputably Latina? At times, the feeling that I don’t belong, notably as a result of primarily White people questioning whether or not I really belong to the race of my ancestors, becomes too difficult to deal with. I consider dying my hair black, getting a perm, I darken my eyebrows, put on thick, dark red lip liner and large, golden hoop earrings. I smack gum and refer to people as “mamí” and “papí.” I wear bright colors, skirts, and high heeled shoes.

I become a walking stereotype, and I look no more Latina than usual, for my usual appearance, no matter what it is, is Latina for I am Latina.
...the truth is most U.S. Latinos, especially in the Southwest, don't see skin color.

And the reason is simple.

Within Latino families, there can exist a variety of different skin tones. From the very fair-skinned to the very dark, families are comprised of members who may not even look like they're related but they all share the same blood and family history.
-Marisa Treviño

Anthony Quinn as "Zorba the Greek."
He was born Antonio Rodolfo Oaxaca Quinn in Chihuahua, Mexico.
There exists an immense rage related to this issue of having to “fit in” to White perceptions of what Latin@s should look like.

I recently tried to explain what I refer to as “the rage” to a White colleague. How can I explain that I am angry because my mother and tio were so mistreated when they first came to this country that the only place they could safely live was on the Yakima Indian Reservation? When cohorts express disgust at the new policies going into effect in Arizona surrounding the “illegal immigrant problem,” how am I to explain that I literally agonized over dropping out of school to become a lobbyist for Latin@ rights as a result of these new laws? What words can I use to discuss the turmoil during the summer of 2008 when I tried to figure out whether it would be better for the Latin@ community if I applied for a PhD or a law degree?

The rage is expressed so beautifully though still undefined in Sandra Cisneros’ Caramelo:
A part of me wants to kick their ass. A part of me feels sorry for their stupid ignorant selves. But if you've never been father south than Nuevo Laredo, how the hell would you know what Mexicans are supposed to look like, right?

There are the green-eyed Mexicans. The rich blond Mexicans. The Mexicans with the faces of Arab sheiks. The Jewish Mexicans. The big-footed-as-a-German Mexicans. The leftover-French Mexicans. The chaparrito compact Mexicans. The Tarahumara tall-as-desert-saguaro Mexicans. The Mediterranean Mexicans. The Mexicans with Tunisian eyebrows. The negrito Mexicans of the double coasts. The Chinese Mexicans. The curly-haired, freckled-faced, red-headed Mexicans. The jaguar-lipped Mexicans. The wide-as-a-Tula-tree Zapotec Mexicans. The Lebanese Mexicans. Look, I don't know what you're talking about when you say I don't look Mexican. I am Mexican (352-353).

So how does Firefly, the (far, far too) short-lived but much appreciated Joss Whedon space Western, fit into all this? Well, for starters, take a look at this picture of the show's female cast members.

(Left to right) Jewel Staite, Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin, and Gina Torres

As the caption explains, the lady in the blue dress is the gloriously sexy, dark-skinned Gina Torres. To her right stands the classically beautiful fair-skinned Morena Baccarin. While Torres is often referred to as a “strong Black woman” in the Whedonverse, and Baccarin called a “wispy White woman,” both are Latina (Torres is Cuban/Puerto Rican, Baccarin is Brazilian). Together, they demonstrate how impossible it is to accurately define “what a Latina looks like.” As Ivy Farguheson explains:
You cannot tell every Latino by our looks or our names. You can only know us by learning about us and listening to our unique stories.

Note: Latina is used to refer to Latin women, while Latino refers to Latin men. Latin@ includes both an a and an o at the end, referring to Latin folks of both genders. It is not a typo :)

Works Cited
"Arizona governor signs immigration bill." CNN. 24 Apr. 2010. 3 June 2010

Cisneros, Sandra. Caramelo. New York: Vintage, 2002.

Farguheson, Ivy. “A Latina by Any Other Name Sounds Just as Dulce.” VidaAfroLatina 31 Jan. 2009: online ed. 3 June 2010

Torres, Gina. "Bio & Contact." 2010. 3 June 2010

Treviño, Marisa. “For Latinos ‘being white’ is more a state of mind than skin tone.” Latina Lista. 1 June 2010. 3 June 2010

Weltman, Wladimir. "Morena Baccarin: Brazilian Born Alien." The Rio Times 25 May 2010: online ed. 3 June 2010

2010 Seattle Out and Proud Pride Parade- Sunday, June 27th

Posted by Mona

The QFSUW is still seeking people to march in the 2010 Seattle Out and Proud Pride Parade to represent the the University of Washington for Sunday, June 27, 2010, 11am-3pm. We are inviting all members of the UW community to march with us in solidaritary to show our support for our GLBTQA brothers and sisters.

This includes not only those who identify as GLBTQ but our allies as well! This promises to be a great time for us all to come together and show our Husky Pride while demonstrating our acceptance and appreciation of each other!

For a university with a student population of at least 42,907 students, 5,803 faculty, and 16,174 staff, we should be able to break our record of 11 marchers from last year. If you are interested in marching the parade, please contact Aaron Olson ( so that we know to expect you. Please feel free to forward this email to friends and family who may also be interested in joining us!

Aaron Olson

P.S. One of the grand marshals for this year's parade is UW Alumnus David Kopay, Class of 1964.

Clean Greens Farm Visit- Saturday, June 19th

Posted by Priya

Teach Out! Engaging our Local Food Cycle
Coordinated by the Food Justice Project of the Community Alliance for Global Justice
Second Event of 2010! Clean Greens Farm, Duvall, WA
Saturday, June 19th, 10am-3pm

CAGJ’s Food Justice Project invites our members and others to learn about and build connections with key players in the local food region through monthly visits to farms, community kitchens, and community gardens! The site visits will include hands-on work that is needed by or is appropriate to the sites, opportunities to debrief and reflect at the end of the site visit, and calls to action! Each visit will allow for carpool options and many will also feature a bike route guided by a CAGJ member. Through these visits, CAGJ hopes to facilitate a place for the voices of our local food producers to be heard and their knowledge and skills to be recognized and celebrated.

The Black Dollar Days Task Force developed Clean Greens in response to the under-representation of African Americans among the ranks of those farming in Washington, as well as the lack of foods relevant to the African American as well as African immigrant food cultures locally. Operating on 22 acres, Clean Greens produces chemical-free, organic food for inner city residents.

**Please note, space is limited, so RSVP's are required. To RSVP, or for more information, please email Molly at We will send you directions and carpooling details upon receiving your RSVP, as well as information about what to wear and bring. All activities will be appropriate for children and we can work out disability accommodations if needed.

WOCC Social: June 9, 5-7, District Lounge in Hotel Deca

Posted by Priya

The Women of Color Collective Invite you to our End of the Year Social: Wednesday, June 9, 5-7pm, District Lounge in Hotel Deca. We hope you will take a few moments to stop by and enjoy good company!

Memory & Memorial Day

Posted by Mona

Memory & Memorial Day: A Native America perspective by Mona Halcomb

As we prepare to put away the final decorations of Memorial Day celebrations until next year’s festivities it is an opportune time to stop and consider the complexities this holiday holds for Native American and Alaskan Native (NA/AN) communities. While the contradictions may be many, they cannot overshadow the pride NA/AN have in serving their country. Attending any cultural event such as a pow wow will be evidence of this pride, where an Eagle Staff is first carried in then, the American flags, Indian Nation flags, and any other flags that are being displayed (e.g. the POW-MIA flag, a state flag, or the Pow Wow’s own flag etc…) The flags are raised while a flag song is preformed, which is followed by a veterans’ honoring song.

The patriotic commitment of NA/AN is not a new phenomenon. Even before NA/AN were citizens they served this country. Indian Scouts were used from 1812 until 1947. American Indians in the Military were finally granted U.S. citizenship in 1919. Five years later the Snyder Indian Citizen Act would grant all American Indians this.

While many think of military service with being a “warrior” and "men" there are many instances of women serving this country. During the American Revolution a Native woman by the name of Tyonajanegen was said to have fought along side her husband. In Alaska, the Alaska National Guard had over 60 women serve as of 1980. Four Indian nuns went to Cuba as nurses. And many have heard of the contribution made by Sacajawea. There are many more examples of contributions made by women however, for the sake of time I will leave this up to you to find them.

While the Navajo Code Talkers in World War II are credited with using their language to aid in the war efforts, this was also done in World War I with the Choctaw nation. During WWI it is estimated that as many as 12,000 Native Americans served their country. In light of the current immigration policies debate-taking place in Arizona, it is ironic that part of the Navajo Reservation is located in within it's borders. A Hopi woman by the named Piestewa from Arizona died in the Gulf War. In addition, Arizona is listed as one of the top five (5) states that NA/AN veterans are originally from. The battle over immigration, which targets “brown people” is brewing in Arizona where so many heroic minorities are from.

During WWII nearly 24% of Native American’s were involved in the war. With a population of less than 350,000, there were 44,000 NA/AN serving in WWII. In fact 99% of healthy Indian males registered for the draft during WWII; another 40,000 NA/AN left the reservation to work in industries that supported the war. NA/AN also made significant financial contributions to war bonds and organizations like the Red Cross and the Army & Navy Relief societies.

In the Vietnam War it is estimated that 42,000 NA/AN served. The report Senator Matsunage Project found higher levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among Native Americans. Of course there are many considerations that may contribute to this yet one in particular is usually agreed upon. The “stereotype” that all Indians are better trackers and scouts often put them in the front line and in dangerous situations more than their peers.

On a personal note, my dad served in both the Navy and the Army. This is something I did not even know this until at his funeral when both branches showed up to honor him. He had once told me a story, which is a perfect example of the dichotomy of this article. He had just returned from war, a number of his buddies and he got together to celebrate their safe return. A bartender refused to serve my dad a drink even though he was in his uniform and with his other returning comrades. Saying, "We don't serve Injuns here." A fight broke out because his friends were so outraged at the injustice of him not being able to be served a drink after fighting for this country.

According to the congressional testimony of Gordon Mansfield, a deputy secretary for veterans’ affairs, in 2004, Native American veterans are four times less likely to receive healthcare than other veterans. NA/AN’s are less likely to have health insurance than veterans of all races. And many NA/AN get caught up in bureaucracy, such as the case of former Army Sergeant Andres “Buzzy” Torres who has been fighting the VA for 21 years. He had barely enough to survive on and continues to get denied benefits even though he is unable to work due to being injured in the military and the care he received from that injury. The only reason he was able to manage was because of his wife’s income to supplement him; unfortunately he lost his wife to cancer. Now this man who sacrificed so much is about to lose everything because he is still fighting the VA. NA/AN veterans in general are more likely to have family incomes in the ranges below 30,000 dollars and less likely in the range of 50,000 dollars or more than all races.

For a community that believes it is an honor to serve, show strength, pride and devotion to a country who does not always reciprocate these stories and facts are extremely painful to hear. Native Americans have the highest per capita rate of enlistment of all races. Despite the long term affects of historical trauma Indian people have endured they remain very patriotic. Examples of this historical trauma which continues today include, ethnic cleansing which didn’t end with military defeat and occupation of their land. It has persisted for generations, losses that include language, religious practices, subsistence, traditional ways, taking children from homes, dress, and traditional healing practices. The toll on NA/AN is evident in their current economic status, educational attainment, health and life expectancy rates, and the number of NA/AN caught up in the cycle of addictions or the legal system.

And yet we see, more than 180,000 Native Americans and Alaska Native veterans living today. This number is projected to increase given the number of NA/AN serving in the military. Let us hope that our Veteran Affairs, Government and Society show the respect and support that these and all veterans deserve.

Resources/further reading:

Badkhen, Anna. September 17, 2007. “Native American Veterans seen at risk Region lags in efforts to help stress-afflicted” Boston Globe

Holiday, L.F. and Gabriel Bell, Robert E. Klein, and Michael R. Wells. September 2006. “American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans: Lasting Contributions” Office of Policy, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning, and Preparedness, Department of Veterans Affairs.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Children are Dying

Posted by Mandy
“White women fear their children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against them, women of color fear their children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and White women will turn their backs on the reasons the children are dying.”- Audre Lorde
While the approaching warm weather brings to some dreams of rest, fond nostalgia for childhood adventures, and the season of a slower pace, the first songs of the summer bird can be a death knell to the mother of a child of color. For with the heat comes the promise of repose from the heat, found through the participation in water-based sports and other activities.

With the usual warnings, cautionary tales, and kindly meant advice, I would like to offer a brief public service announcement regarding indoor and outdoor swimming venues, and highlight the dangers the season presents for young children of color.

Drowning has been a method of killing intertwined with the violent oppression of people of color for centuries. The cruel stories of watery murders sit fixed within our weaving herstories. From the 132 enslaved Africans of the Zong sacrificed to the sea in 1781 to the recent purposeful sacrifice of New Orleans’ 98% Black Lower Ninth Ward during Hurricane Katrina. In the mostly unseen sub-sections of our nation’s newspapers, there sit thousands of stories of “illegal immigrants” seeking lives free from the oppression of NAFTA found drowned in the waters surrounding the United States. Many victims of the various U.S. “military interventions” throughout the 20th and 21st centuries have fled their war-torn country in makeshift vessels, often fated to drown in unfamiliar waters. Yet the primary manner in which this drowning manifests today seems even further invisibalized.

According to a 2009 study at the University of Memphis, “drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 5-14 in the United States, and the inability to swim is one of the most often cited reasons why children drown.” Yet, as alarming as this statistic is on its own, the stress of this issue is further complicated by the reality that Black children are 3 times more likely to be killed from drowning than their White counterparts. In Washington, while 7% of children identify as Asian American, they account for 18% of deaths by drowning, the highest of any racial group in the state (Bock). According to the Center for Disease Control, the fatal drowning rate for Native children is 2.2 times higher that of White children. A 2006 study in the American Journal of Public Health surveyed the deaths of youth between the ages of 5 and 24 by drowning; 47% were Black, 33% were White, and 12% were Latin@.

Paula Bock of the Seattle Times offers a series of reasons as to why this racial disparity exists, including the following rationale: “Families, in general, hand down recreation through the generations.” In consideration of the reality that people of color have been and continue to be (see video below- note use of word "complexion") denied access to public swimming facilities, and the poor quality of waters in the lifeguard-less segregated swimming pools that eventually did emerge for the use of people of color, to what extent can swimming be viewed as an intergenerational pastime within communities of color? The reasoning is simple: how can I learn to swim from my people, those from whom I can achieve new skills most comfortably and inexpensively, if they were not given access to swimming places in which they might have learned the skill in their own childhoods?

According to the aforementioned University of Memphis study, “70% of white and Hispanic children of non-swimmers do not swim themselves; for black children the correlation is 91.”

The question thus becomes, who will teach our kids to swim?

If a child is lucky, she has access to a program like Make a Splash, a “national child-focused water safety initiative” with a mission to teach “minority youth” how to swim. If she’s really lucky, her guardian/s can afford to pay for lessons at her local YWCA. If she’s really really really lucky, she is able to attend a well-funded school where swimming classes are included in the P.E. curriculum.

In her essay “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” the fantastic Audre Lorde discusses how the loss of our children is the most violent oppression that women of color face today. Historically, we have been robbed of our children through forced sterilization and abortion. Indigenous children have been kidnapped be raised in state-run “boarding schools.” This theft and spiritual murder takes a more sinister, surreptitious turn in our present situation, it is ever-present but far less visible; Lorde explains: “violence weaves through the daily tissues of our living — in the supermarket, in the classroom, in the elevator, in the clinic and the schoolyard, from the plumber, the baker, the saleswoman, the bus driver, the bank teller, the waitress who does not serve us” (119).

In Latin@ culture, there exists a myth surrounding a woman referred to as La Llorona, the crier, the weeper. The most popularized story in U.S. society tells of a woman scorned by her lover, the father of her children. This woman, in a Medea-like rage, drowns her children, before taking her own life, and is left to search for her children as a spirit until the end of days.

Mural of "La Llorona" by Juana Alicia, San Francisco, CA

This story was revisited and reconsidered by a wonderfully talented Chicana professor with whom I had the pleasure of studying at Seattle University. She asked us to read the story in consideration of themes such as those addressed in Toni Morrison’s seminal novel Beloved, in which the titular child is slaughtered by her mother when she and her family are about to be discovered as runaway slaves. Why would a sane woman really kill her children?

It seems that only situations murder our children. In the case of La Llorona, we may more realistically imagine that her children were spared through death rather than be allowed to fight as child soldiers in one of the many U.S.-funded Latin American civil wars. The only option remaining when a child is to be taken, the parent deported, and culture forcibly removed through a cruel foster system.

The ghost of La Llorona is more present than ever in our problematic present, wailing for the children she has been lost in an inherently racist and cruelly apathetic environment. The children are dying, oftentimes within the womb of the mother hyperactively stressed from the terror of living while continuous oppressed (Allers). A beautiful post on the Womanist Musings blog asks “Who Will Love the Black Child?” “Whiteness would love to see us cast aside our babies,” this La Llorona weeps, “They are our future and the best of us flows within their tiny beating hearts.”

Works Cited

Allers, Kimberly. “What’s in Your Womb?” MomLogic. 13 May 2010. 1 June 2010.

Bock, Paula. “The Power of the Pool: Issues of class, culture and political priorities swirl.” Seattle Times 15 June 2008, online ed. 29 May 2010.

Brown, Sierra.“Everybody in the Water: Black People Too.” Brooklyn Ink 3 May 2010, online ed. 29 May 2010.

Guenther, Curt. “Civil Rights Leader Hooks’ Nov. 4 Memphis Talk Will Reprise Earlier Washington, D.C., Speech.” 26 Oct. 2009. U of Memphis. Press release. 29 May 2010.

“How Do I Talk To You, My White Sister?” Center for Gender in Organizations: GPO Commentaries 2 (2004). Newsletter.

Lorde, Audre. “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” Sister Outsider. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1984. 114-123.

Miller, Larry. “Black, Hispanic Children Turned Away From Philadelphia Swimming Pool.” New Journal & Guide. 1 June 2010.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Knopf, 1987.

Saluja, Gitanjali, et al. “Swimming Pool Drownings Among US Residents Aged 5–24 Years: Understanding Racial/Ethnic Disparities.” American Journal of Public Health 96.4 (2006): 728-733. 1 June 2010.

Thomas, Wendi C. “Pooling efforts at summer of safety.” Commercial Appeal 20 May 2010, online ed. 29 May 2010.

“Unintentional Drowning: Fact Sheet.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 17 May 2010. 29 May 2010

USA Swimming Foundation. 2004. United States Swimming. 29 May 2010.

“Who Will Love The Black Child?” Womanist Musings. Web log. 2 Nov. 2009. Blogger. May 29 2010.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Latinos & Immigration in America- Event

Posted by Mona

Latinos & Immigration in America
A Discussion about Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law
& Upcoming Legal Challenges

Guest Speaker
Thomas A. Saenz
MALDEF President and General Counsel

Jorge Barón, Director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Luis Fraga, Professor University of Washington
Pramila Jayapal, Director of OneAmerica
Shankar Narayan, ACLU
Rebecca Smith, National Employment Law Project

Dan Ford, Latina/o Bar Association of Washington

Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Town Hall
1119 8th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

Kindly RSVP to Fé Lopez at

The need for national immigration reform has never been greater. On April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070 which requires law enforcement to question people about their immigration status during everyday police encounters and criminalizes immigrants for failing to carry their "papers."

MALDEF President Thomas Saenz will speak on MALDEF's legal challenge to the Arizona law and on the pressing need for immigration reform. Following Saenz’s speech, a panel of speakers, moderated by Dan Ford of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington, will join Saenz to discuss these issues as well as the recent incident involving the beating of a Latino man and the use of racial slurs by a Seattle police officer.

Thomas A. Saenz
MALDEF President and General Counsel
Thomas A. Saenz is President and General Counsel of MALDEF. Previously, as Counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Saenz honed his leadership skills by serving on the four-person executive team to the mayor, where he provided legal and policy advice on major initiatives. Saenz had previously practiced civil rights litigation at MALDEF for 12 years. During that time, he was a leader in the successful challenge to California's unconstitutional Proposition 187, and he led numerous civil rights cases in the areas of immigrants' rights, education, employment, and voting rights. He gruaduated summa cum laude from Yale University, and he received his law degree from Yale Law School.

Sponsored by:
Schroeter Goldmark & Bender
Latina/o Bar Association of Washington

Co-Hosted by:
CASA Latina
Columbia Legal Services
El Centro De La Raza
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Seattle University School of Law
University of Washington School of Law

The Traditional Asian Women

Posted by Phoebe

This blog contains a brief history of Asian American women:

"Asian women shouldered much of the cost of subsidizing Asian men's labor. U.S. employers didn't have to pay Asian men as much as other laborers who had families to support, since Asian women in Asian bore the costs of rearing children and taking care of the older generation."

This situation has not been a lot changed with time. The spirit still remains in Asian women's mind, that is, to support and take care of their husbands' family without asking for rewards.

My grandmother had her first child when she was 20 years old. She not only had to take care of my grandfather and my uncle, but also need to bring up my grandfather's younger sisters. She is illiteracy. In her generation, women did not have the right to receive education. The ultimate life goal of a woman in my grandmother's generation is to support and help her husband. There are three disciplines imposed on women in Chinese society: Women should obey her father before marriage, obey her husband when married, and obey her sons in widowhood. Women also need to possess four virtues, those are, morality, proper speech, modest manner and diligent work.

Since the western thought emphasizing women's right spread to the East, the situation has been changed. In my mother's generation, women can go to school and receive higher education. Women can also have their own careers. My mother is a working woman. She also earned college diploma. However, women in this generation still need to look after their husbands' families. My mother told me, "Your children and your husband are the most important things in your life. You have to spare no effort to support them." My mother also said that it is useless for a woman to get a high position at work or high education. If a woman pays too much attention to her work, she will not able to take care of her family.

Nowadays, in my generation, most girls pursue higher position at work or want to get higher education. They think taking care of family cannot only count upon the wife. Both of the husband and the wife should undertake the responsibility. Therefore, there is a huge gap between this generation and the last generation in my country.

Susan's response to our request

Hello Theryn
I am certainly very interested. It seems like an extremely important space.
I have a couple of questions I'd like to pose to the group.

From: Theryn KigvamasudVashti []
Sent: Sat 5/29/2010 3:48 PM
To: Susan Harewood
Subject: UWB Women of Color

Hello Susan,

Amanda, Phoebe, Priya, and myself have formed "The Graduate Women Of Color Collective" and we need a faculty advisor and of course we thought of you. We understand that you may be exhausted and we promise not to bother you too much but we need your ok sometime before Thursday.

This collaboration is born out of two different necessities. First, graduate women of color need a space to build community across disciplines that is safe and supportive that facilitates critical discourses that are not happening in the class room. Our goal is to create a place other women of color can come into and build on as they see fit during their tenure in their respective programs. We would love to give you more about it in person (hence, Amanda attempts to reach you) but in the meantime please check our our blog, our most public venue, at

Deeply appreciate your consideration!

Theryn, et al

Note: Mona was not included in this email as an error on the part of the ladies present at the (very long) meeting-- sorry Mona!!!

The Silencing Nature of the "Downer" Vibe

Posted by Theryn

A couple of weeks ago my graduate cohort viewed a debate between Michael Eric Dyson and Tom Horne, Arizona superintendent of public instruction. Their debate aired on Anderson Cooper 360 on May 13, 2010. The Dyson/Horne debate was about why Arizona public schools should no longer continue an ethnic studies curriculum. Coming on the heels of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 anti-immigrant measure that requires law enforcement to stop and interrogate anyone they suspect of being and undocumented immigrant, House Bill 2281 prohibits schools from offering courses at any grade level that advocate ethnic solidarity, promote the overthrow of the US government, or cater to specific ethnic groups (Mother Jones, Retrieved on May 31, 2010). According to, the House Bill 2281 was passed largely because Horne's personal distaste for the Tucson Unified School District's Chicano studies program, which out of 55,000 only 3 percent of the district's students actually participate. During the debate, when Horne was asked about his public responses to the elimination of ethnic studies programs, he kept repeating that ethnic studies preaches “a race obsessed philosophy, a downer philosophy” that in turn transforms otherwise peaceful students into angry militants whose rage threatens public safety and is essentially un-American. Now, for most of the students in my cohort, Horne sounded ridiculous. My colleagues were laughing, outwardly guffawing, shouting at the screen while cheering on Dyson’s rigorous interrogation of Horne’s statements. It all became quite a spectacle, albeit fun, but somewhat spectacle none the less because…

Since that time, there have been two instances were women of color have come under direct fire for sharing their truth. In the first case, I was told that the method of my truth sharing was “like getting kicked in the gut” by my professor. Then in another class a Native American woman argued with a fellow white cohort who is known for her ignorance of the complexities of racial discourse but constantly tries to debate racial issues often making highly problematic comments that go unchallenged. In each case, there were shocking silences on the part of the rest of the class. Now, while it is true that cohorts spoke to one another outside of class and show solidity for the women of color in different venues like Facebook or by phone and in the latter case, the professor did try and slow the torrent of errors from the white woman toward the Native woman, the majority of white people did not respond to the women in class the way they did to Micheal Erik Dyson’s critique of Horne on screen. Why is that?

Many of my cohorts and I have expressed feeling exhausted by the year’s worth of work and are greatly anticipating the close of the quarter, but is everyone too tired to support the subjectivities of women of color in class while supporting the distant subjectivities of the Brown people we engage with textually? My guess is that the “kicked in the gut” remark made by my professor lends a clue to what may be going on. Simply, the “downer philosophy” Horne name as the reason for his disdain for ethnic studies programs has found its way into the classroom astride the truths of women of color and becomes too much to handle and too threatening to the sense of social order. As long as the critique of colonialism, white supremacy and heteropatriarchy is made by the far away Brown male expert vs. the in-house woman of color, the “downer” consequence of marginalized people’s rage can be laughed off instead of engaged, ignored instead of interrogated as a result of in-house white supremacy.