Image

by alex felipe (alexfelipe.photographer@gmail.com)

The Connecticut mass shooting was a tragedy, it was the seventh this year alone. The media, mainstream and social, have been ablaze with justified outrage. Many fingers are being pointed in so many directions that for those seeking to understand why, they would equally be justified in being left in a daze.

The Western Left, in its decades long insecurity, has allowed the field to be dominated by voices placing blame on symptoms rather at the root cause.

The aftermath of Newtown has shown the need for a coherent and inclusive narrative from the Left. Instead, what we see are calls for small reforms to the system that has already failed us.

It’s time for the Left to step up. To again allow itself to think big. To again dare to put forward a grand narrative. (more…)

Image

Another Halloween is past and you know what that means my POC friends.  Yup, we just did another round of muttering “that’s racist” over and over again to ourselves.

… and while I fear I might be (ok, am) a minority on this one (see what I did there?):  I don’t entirely get it.

Now ruling out the extremely obviously racist costumes like the buck toothed Asian (a la Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Jim Crow era Black caricatures, or Islamic “terrorists,” which clearly are unacceptable, I don’t particularly agree with the uproar and activism over “ethnic” costumes.

When I say I don’t ‘get it.’  I mean that I don’t accept the rationale behind why the outcry is focused on the costumes themselves.  I don’t understand why the call is basically for White people NOT to do it.  Full Stop.

I mean why is it that we see costumes based on traditional dress racist?  The usual refrain is:  “we are a culture, not a costume.”  But if this is the case, would it not also be proper for Whites to decry costumes based on horned Vikings (which are historically inaccurate btw) or medieval knights?

Now the answer to my question is obvious: It’s not the same because of the disparity in power relations, and the vicious history of colonization that has imbued on to these images a different connotation.

I get that.

What I don’t get, is why this translates simply into:  Don’t wear that Whitey!  (more…)

*this is the copy of a talk I gave on 26 January 2012 at “The Politics of Protest” conference at the University of Toronto.

ImageAs one of the organizers of this event, wrote on her FB wall the other day (in all caps no less):  “OK SERIOUSLY, LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND HOW THEY NEGOTIATE POWER AND PRIVILEGE!!”

Ok.  Lets.

So let me start by saying something very bluntly: White people ARE superior to people of colour.  Men ARE more important and more valuable than women.  And greed IS far superior to “love.”

Let’s not beat around the bush about should be’s or the use of non-oppressive language.

THIS is the society we live in.  THIS is reality.  You don’t like it?  Good.  Change it. (more…)

Just a little gentle prodding and Canadians are tripping over with racist glee. All someone had to do is use the right politically correct code words for racism in the 21st century.

Canadians are too polite to tell the gooks to go home, that just wouldn’t seem right. (more…)

Happy Canada Day all!

Of course Canada has been a blessing for many Filipinos (the 4th largest visible minority in the country). It has provided us with opportunities that we would be hard pressed to find in the Philippines. I remember my first visit back home in 2001 when I saw how my relatives lived and I often still think about what would have become of me and my family had we stayed.

[above: my uncle’s neighbourhood, a squatter area by active train tracks in Manila. I lived here for four months in 2001 (photo from 2005).]

Of course all of our experiences are unique and with a community as large as ours the stories of migration vary widely, but when you look at the big picture a heart wrenching reality emerges. (more…)

Political cartoons are taken from the book "Iconography of the New Empire," by Servando D. Halili Jr. (UP Press)

I had long known about the phrase “white man’s burden,” but it wasn’t until recently that I learned that it originally referred to the ‘benevolent’ American occupation of the Philippines. I cannot come close to explaining how much that affected me.

* * * * *

White Man’s Burden, by R. Kipling (published 1899).

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child. (more…)