To Dr. Min Zhou, Dr. Don Nakanishi, the Asian American Studies department faculty, the Asian American Center staff, Dr. Sue Ann Kim, Dr. Kay Song, Irene Soriano and the student graduation coordinating committee, and most of all, to the 2005 graduates of the UCLA Asian American Studies Department, please let me extend my heartfelt gratitude for being granted the honor to speak to you this afternoon. To you graduates, let me offer a hearty congratulations on your great achievement.
You are graduating into a dangerous world, a much more dangerous world than the one I graduated into 10 years ago.
During the time you have studied here, you have witnessed the unveiling of the U.S. as a warfare state. Indeed, the last three decades of wars—in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East, in domestic wars on graffiti, on drugs, on gangs, and on youth—seem but a prelude to this imperial moment.
In Afghanistan and Iraq, the kind of politics that conditioned the emergence of the hip-hop generation—namely the politics of containment and its twin, the politics of abandonment—are on view daily.
The logic of abandonment that left the Bronx and Watts to burn now leaves Kabul and Baghdad shattered. The logic of containment that has led to the incarceration, disenfranchisement, and dehumanizing of 2 million people in the U.S. takes on an ugly, globalized form in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
War is the backdrop to even the most pressing local issues. The plague of joblessness, the resurgence of gang violence, the explosion of interracial and interreligious tensions, and the debt-driven real estate speculation that is driving massive racial displacement are all effects of war.
Every day we ask ourselves the question: how do we begin to turn back such catastrophic trends?
In a single, startling line of hope, Arundhati Roy has written, "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way."
But what will that world look like? And will Asian Americans be there to help midwife her birth?
ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES AND TRANSFORMATION
Twenty years ago, I took my first Asian American Studies course at UC Berkeley, a freshman composition class. On the first day, the teachers told us the theme would be "transformation".
Now when you take an Asian American Studies class, things happen. Some people get very good grades. Other people get a lot of phone numbers. But everyone undergoes some sort of transformation.
You start thinking about the way you grew up, how you were socialized, who influenced you. You remember the first time you were made to feel different, and the way you reacted. You look at the dry cleaner, the bus driver, the waitress, the seamstress, your parents, your grandparents, your siblings and cousins, all a little differently.
Sometimes you develop a profound rage that you feel you have to unleash.
You walk into an Abercrombie & Fitch store and you can't believe they're selling t-shirts that say "Wong Brothers Laundry Service: Two Wongs Can Make It White".
You watch a sports show and you can't believe a basketball superstar is insulting another by making fun of his Asian accent.
You turn on your favorite hip-hop radio station, and you can't believe the African American host is defending a racist song about the tsunami by saying Asians who don't like the song probably think they're superior to Blacks.
Sometimes you stay there in your anger. Your first rage is so powerful, it's blinding.
Sometimes you think about it a little more, and you wonder about the sweatshop workers being forced to manufacture those racist t-shirts. You wonder what kind of masculinity requires an athlete to mock his opponent in racial terms. You wonder what happened to make that Black radio host want to be so hurtful.
Sometimes you then acquire a deep sadness, a disabling melancholy that you don't feel you can overcome.
Asian American Studies is a different kind of intellectual experience. It always takes you somewhere, and it also never leaves you.
THE CRISIS AFTER MULTICULTURALISM
When I was at UC Berkeley during the 1980s, multiculturalism was our rallying cry.
At its best, rainbow multiculturalism unveiled race in the production of knowledge, culture, and power. And it proposed alternatives, such as affirmative action or independent community-centered arts. Jesse Jackson's presidential bids and Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Have It", the anti-apartheid movement and the redress and reparations movement, the push for diversity graduation requirements and Don Nakanishi's successful tenure fight—they were all part of this moment.
Times have changed.
I was part of the first cohort of graduate students to enter the Masters Program here after the Los Angeles Rebellion in 1992. Those riots shook Asian American Studies to the core. The idea of Third World solidarity that had guided us from the founding of Ethnic Studies seemed to be in ashes. And in many ways, we are still sorting through the rubble.
After the rebellion, multiculturalism was absorbed into global capitalism, made easy for consumption. Its insurgency was contained.
Now dark skins—like Jet Li or the Wu-Tang Clan—provide global entertainment. Alberto Gonzales and Condoleeza Rice—not Yuri Kochiyama and Philip Vera Cruz—are presented as American icons of racial struggle and success. Universities and corporations increasingly see the value in diversity in a globalized world. And, post-affirmative action, it is Asian American bodies who largely provide that value.
For us, the Duboisian question is turned upside down, and is made to haunt us: How does it feel to be a solution?
TOWARD ANOTHER WORLD
Cast this way, we cannot avoid our responsibility. We can only dispatch ourselves with clearer purpose, principle, and integrity.
If we were to describe the world that we want, would it be a world in which professional athletes are tested for accent sensitivity the way they are tested for steroids? Would it be a world in which Abercrombie and Fitch only sells us yellow-power t-shirts?
I ask, because this world is certainly possible. But it's not what we should settle for.
Hot 97 radio personality Miss Jones tore open unhealed wounds with her comments on Asians' supposed perceptions of superiority over Blacks. But how do we heal those wounds? Where did those wounds come from?
We cannot begin to answer these kinds of questions if we allow ourselves to be caged by our first rage, or incapacitated by our first sadness. That rage and sadness can block us from understanding our truer roles, our unfulfilled responsibilities, our necessary allies, and the larger forces at work against us all.
They prevent all of us from healing. They blind all of us to the possibility of another world. We need to act from love.
So the transformation that we begin in Asian American Studies does not end once classes do.
As the great Glenn Omatsu reminds us, the fundamental practice of Asian American Studies is to build community. Building community goes beyond centering the self. It is about imagining what it takes to revere justice, to respect difference, to reduce hurt, to correct wrong, to nurture growth, and to discover joy. It is about activating and propagating these values within a conception of "we" that continually expands, and is always concerned with caring for the least of us first.
For us, the possibility of another world can begin with the project of recuperating a progressive Asian American identity, one that stands against the totalizing push of global capitalism and the new imperialism, the disintegration of an anti-racist movement, and the destruction of other oppressed communities, particularly African Americans and indigenous peoples.
That possibility, in fact, begins with you.
To you, the graduates of Asian American Studies, here in this dangerous moment, I regret to say—and I am also happy to say—that we place a lot of hope in you. I regret it because it means in some sense we have not fully done our job. I am happy because I know our faith is well-placed.
We look to you to lead the way forward toward a new Asian American left, a new progressive movement, and the shining new world waiting to be born.
Thank you for this opportunity, and once again, congratulations on your most important achievement.
Subject: HARD KNOCK RADIO UNDER ATTACK
Date: June 17, 2005 5:39:56 PM PDT
I hate that I have to reach out to you like this. Some of you know whats up, but most of you are hearing this for the first time. Hard Knock Radio is under attack. This is not a joke. HKR is in jeapordy, and only your support can save it. We are asking for our supporters to speak on our behalf at Pacifica's National Board Meeting tomorrow 11am-1pm at Doubletree Hotel 200
Marina Blvd in Berkeley. Supporters and allies will gather at 10am for breakfast and strategy at Westside Café located at 2570 9th St in Berkeley.
We have exhausted ALL internal processes, and putting this on BLAST is our last resort. Pacifica and the Local Station Board have ignored requests from KPFA staff and the KPFA Union to resolve the situation.
The situation is this: KPFA GM Roy Campanella assaulted me on the job; KPFA GM Roy Campanella has sexually harrassed several women at the station; there is increasing evidence that KPFA GM Roy Campanella and members of KPFA's Local Station Board are spreading rumors that I am accepting payola from local artists and that I'm laundering money. A recent "anonymous" note sent around the station states that I have "a rep for abusing young women" and that I'm racist and an Anti-Semite.
I know this is last minute, but Pacifica just now told us when public comment would be. I hope some of you can join us for breakfast. For those who can't come through, there will be other opportunities to help us. Thank you for you support.
(Following is a letter from the KPFA Union attorney...)
Hoffman & Lazear
Attorneys at Law ARTHUR W. LAZEAR
180 Grand Avenue, Suite 1550 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oakland, CA 94612
Facsimile: 510. 835.1311
May 17, 2005
Local Station Board Chair
Dan Coughlin, Executive Director
1925 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley, CA 94704-1037
Dear Ms. Palacios and Mr. Coughlin,
Please be advised that I represent Communications Workers of America, Local 9415, the union representing workers at KPFA. My client is concerned about the conduct of KPFA General Manager Roy Campanella. The purpose of this letter is to advise you of the nature of that conduct and to alert you to possible litigation that may result from such conduct if it is permitted to continue.
1) A substantial number of women working at KPFA radio have reported sexual harassment, emotional abuse and discriminatory treatment. These accounts are numerous and have been documented. Such treatment has been perpetrated
both against employees represented by the Union and against unrepresented employees. This conduct constitutes violations of both California's Fair Employment and Housing Act and the federal Civil Rights Act. As a result of such conduct, the station may be held liable in civil litigation brought by the affected individuals.
2) Mr. Campanella was recently involved in an incident where he followed an employee, Weyland Southon, outside of the building apparently to commit physical violence. Such conduct constitutes an assault. The threat that formed the basis of the assault was witnessed by another employee. This witness is a very credible person with a sterling five-year record, who had no prior personal issues with Mr. Campanella. In addition, several other employees witnessed the act of Mr. Campanella following the threatened employee outside. No one, in fact, has denied that Mr. Campanella followed Mr. Southon outside. Mr. Campanella, in his position as a General Manager representing KPFA, is expected to defuse possibly violent situations,
rather than inciting or participating in them. It is our belief that this incident creates a potential for both criminal and civil litigation against KPFA.
Given the pattern of behavior that these instances portray, we insist that a thorough and fair investigation be conducted into Mr. Campanella's conduct. Mr. Campanella should not be on KPFA Station premises during the course of the investigation currently taking place. Any lack of action on the part of KPFA and other responsible parties would constitute a failure to protect persons on the premises of KPFA from exposure to a hostile work environment and from possible violence. Again, KPFA may be held civilly liable for damages that result from such a failure.
We ask that you ensure that Mr. Campanella does not work at KPFA Radio until the investigation has concluded and a final disposition has been rendered.
Thank you for your attention and anticipated cooperation.
Very truly yours,
ARTHUR W. LAZEAR
cc: Christina Huggins, Vice-President CWA 9415
Hard Knock Radio Mon-Fri 4pm PST
KPFA FM 94.1
Uniting and empowering women in hip hop, and encouraging them to collaborate, is certainly the shiny, happy side of a coin where the other option is the mainstream's violence and naked, gyrating women as props. However, if there was ever a ripe time in history for an event like B-Girl Be to occur, it's now. Over the past year, the hip-hop feminist movement has congealed somewhat magically. About a year ago, Spelman College initiated a boycott of Nelly for his graphic, misogynistic video for the song "Tip Drill"; subsequently, the Ying Yang Twins were barred from performing at Florida Atlantic University for their women-degrading lyrics. Essence magazine launched a "Take Back the Music" campaign, printing a series of articles addressing "hip-hop's outlook on black women's sexuality." And recently, the University of Chicago hosted a Feminism and Hip-Hop Conference, which brought together activists, academics, and critics for three days of panels on the mistreatment and degradation of women in hip hop. To some, these events and activities look like signposts that the ladies are getting organized: It's too soon to call it, but the signs are there for a critical mass of hip-hop feminism, which could, ideally, change the way women--especially women of color--are viewed in the hip-hop mainstream.
Unlike the civil rights generation, which was often consumed with defending its legitimacy in the face of an all-too-present white gaze, the hip-hop generation rejected the significance of the white gaze, defining the real within the context of black community instead. What is at stake in this quest for the real is the very real possibility of rejection and censure from the community. It's a product of the apprehensions and ambivalences associated with coming of age in an era where you are free to be whatever. And it was Blige's vocals -- ragged, displaced and aching -- that summoned all of these emotions, as she struggled with the demons of betrayal and abuse in her own life. Blige quickly became known as hip-hop's Aretha Franklin, not so much for her technical proficiency but her ability to speak for a generation, much the way Franklin spoke for the civil rights generation.
...when you ignore the youth of America- they always find a creative outlet. Car culture has always been a big part of urban life for many young people. The evolution of the sideshow is a direct result of cities shutting down the youth’s ability to cruise at a 5MPH pace throughout the night. Review all the overtime that the Oakland Police Department has cost you and the great city of Oakland. Can you afford NOT legalizing sideshows? For the sake of Oakland’s economy? You must agree that it is time to review the issue at hand and find a balance between the City of Oakland and its youth.
R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop Reports to the Community on “Stop Hot 97” Campaign
Kevin Powell, Ras Baraka, Kuttin’ Kandi, Rosa Clemente, Youth and Others
Speak at Townhall Meeting THIS SATURDAY: June 11, 2005 at 1:00 pm
June 3, 2005 - - Join R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop [Representing Education, Activism and Community Through Hip Hop] this Saturday, June 11 for a Community Town Hall Meeting that will address the latest developments of the “Stop Hot 97” campaign that began earlier this year. The free event will be held at Unity Hall, located at 235 W. 23rd Street (between 7 & 8 Avenues) in New York City from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Confirmed speakers include activist and author Kevin Powell; Newark Deputy Mayor for Youth and Social Services Ras Baraka; media reform activist Rosa Clemente; and R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop co-founder DJ Kuttin Kandi. The program will also feature poetry and Hip Hop performances by local high school youth, DJ Boo, and the UN Ambassador of Hip Hop, Toni Blackman. The program will be MC’d by activist and cultural arts entrepreneur April Silver.
The community-at-large is encouraged to find out the facts about this campaign, learn about the most effective ways to effect change in media, as well as join in on a celebration of the positive aspects of Hip Hop culture. As a courtesy, R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop will offer free on-site childcare for parents who want to bring their children.
WHO and WHAT IS R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop?
R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop (formerly known as the NYC Hip Hop Coalition) is a diverse coalition of artists, activists, Hip Hop legends and historians, journalists, educators, students, and parents within, and in alliance with, the greater Hip Hop community. Our initial call to action was in late January 2005, when commercially owned radio station Hot 97 aired its now infamous Tsunami Song. With a long history of radio programming that is racist, sexist, and obscene, Hot 97 produced and broadcast an offensive parody of the We Are The World song which became known as the Tsunami Song.
The parody included bold racial slurs and unapologetically mocked the deaths of Asians and Africans. In the aftermath of one of the world's most devastating natural disasters, Hot 97’s racist Tsunami Song parody was broadcast continuously for 4 days in late January 2005. Though it was played exclusively on Hot 97 airwaves, it was disseminated internationally via that station’s website. The song not only offended people across the world, but especially the 5 million people abroad and in the United States. People around the world called for immediate action against the radio station. In New York, R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop has been at the forefront of that movement.
Since the birth of our coalition, we have been actively targeting Hot 97 for numerous offenses to the communities they claim to serve. Though we came together in response to the Tsunami Song, it is understood that our fight against corporate media includes much more than that. It is a fight to reclaim Hip Hop culture from corporate media’s co-optation, unbalanced representation, and exploitation. Our fight is also to support and create the balance that is so direly needed on our airwaves and other public media. We assert that our efforts are to not only demand ethical corporate accountability, but also to protect, preserve, and regenerate the great legacy of Hip Hop culture by Representing Education, Activism and Community through Hip-Hop.
OVERVIEW OF COALITION DEMANDS
Of its core demands, the R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop coalition has called for Hot 97 to immediately stop allowing the use the "N" word, other racial slurs, and misogynistic terms in the music played and by its on-air personalities. The coalition is also calling for Hot 97 to implement and maintain a public awareness campaign against racism, discrimination, hate crimes, substance abuse, and other ills that affect the Hip Hop community. The coalition will also continue with its demand that Miss Jones, host of the Hot 97 Morning Show, be immediately fired for her participation in the broadcast of the aforementioned Tsunami Song.
R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop will present a full report to the community regarding Hot 97’s response to the list of demands, as well as the outcome of the meeting that was held with Hot 97's Program Director, John Dimmick, on April 5, 2005. For a full list of the demands, see attachment below.
R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop MISSION STATEMENT
R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop Coalition is dedicated to encouraging and creating fair and equal representation of the diversity of Hip Hop culture, including, but not limited to; race/ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability. We are a pro-active body made up of activists, artists, teachers, performers, organizers, and individuals all dedicated to positive change within our communities. We believe Hip Hop’s true legacy belongs to the people, and we strive to utilize Hip Hop as a vehicle of social and political justice to promote education, information, and empowerment for the masses, while preventing the dissemination of negative stereotypes, discrimination, and violence.
For more information about R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop, please visit www.HipHopLivesHere.com.
Somethings to Ponder…Hey Game-When is Enough, Enough?
By Davey D
Before I began, I wanna let everyone know I been writing up my final four picks for Greatest All-Time Hip Hop albums. I’m trying to really mash this out and offer up some good history and keen insight. Trust me you will not be disappointed, but it takes time... In the meantime, I had to comment on the following situation…
So this past weekend radio station Hot 97 in New York held its annual Summer jam Concert which was packed with the ultimate Hip Hop line up. Everyone was on board including; Common, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube just to name a few. They even had a surprise visit from Jay-Z.
However, it was Game who overshadowed the proceedings with his first New York appearance since his infamous altercation with 50 Cent resulting in a shooting outside the radio station. This as we all know, was followed up with a public burying of the hatchet with 50 and Game donating a ton of money to the Harlem Boy’s Choir.
The public peace making suggested to everyone that the pair saw themselves as key figures in the public and wanted to set a positive example for all to follow. It seemed like a good end to what was a tumultuous situation. A lot of people were hopeful that the Game vs. 50 cent beef would not go the way that the Biggie vs. Pac beef went.
Lurking in the backdrop of all this, was Reverend Al Sharpton who exploded onto the scene a few weeks back demanding that warring artists and the radio stations that play them clean up their act and stop being the facilitators of their conflicts. He held a town hall meeting. He went on all the news talk shows and he wrote a scathing letter to the FCC asking them to pay close attention and to put pressure on the radio stations that providing platforms for artists to promote their conflicts with one another.
In addition to all this, Game found himself in hot water when he got hit with a 280 million dollar lawsuit because of an altercation he had with a DJ Xzulu who was formerly with Radio One’s WYKS in Washington DC. The DJ accused Game’s entourage of the unprovoked beating resulting him getting his ribs busted and him having to spend a couple of days in the hospital.
For those who don’t know what allegedly prompted the beating was DJ Xzulu remarking that the Blue Tooth headset worn by one of Game’s people looked like something a Vulcan wears. Dude apparently didn’t like the Vulcan reference and the rest is history. According to Xzulu, he wasn’t going to sue until Game went and re-recorded vocals to his hit song ‘Hate It or Love It’ and made reference to the DC incident in the hook.
So all this is happening in Game’s world, but as of late he seemed intent on trying to overcome all these past dramas and move to higher and hopefully more positive ground. For example, he recently donated a lot of money to local Compton community organizations. He participated in the recently held West Coast peace Summit which was organized by Snoop Dogg and resulted in the Dogg Pound reuniting and Snoop squashing his troubles with Suge Knight. Game also came together with Snoop to do a West Coast Unity Tour which was significant because Game is affiliated with the Bloods in Compton and Snoop with the Crips in Long Beach which are rival gangs and rival cities in Southern Cali.
Ok-so now you have the full picture…Now let’s get back to the Hot 97 Summer Jam in New York. According to reports from sources like Allhiphop, Game took to the stage and threatened to knock out G-Unit members Lloyd banks and Tony Yayo. He called 50 Cent a rat and then proceeded to beat down a rat mascot that appeared on stage. This was followed up with Game throwing his G-Unit medallion into the crowd, him yelling G-G-G-Unit Not throughout his set and him telling folks that 50 cent is not the King of New York because dude had relocated to Connecticut.
Upon hearing about this all one can do is ask, “Why Game why?” and “When is enough, enough?” With all these things going on, why was it necessary for Game to get on stage and start up the beef again with 50 Cent and the G-Unit posse?
I’m hoping that this is all just a staged situation and that all this was done to generate controversy and press. But even if that was the case, these beefs, staged or not, are getting old. Even if 50 and Game never come to blows you best believe there is likely to be drama amongst the fans that have love and passion for these artists. Have we not forgotten the huge brawl that took place in Long Beach shortly after the initial altercation between 50 and Game?. Furthermore since all eyes are on them, all this talk about peace goes out the window and sends a strong message to folks who look up to artists like Game-that all this talk about shaking hands and moving past the drama is pure bullshit.
Adding to all this, are the lack of steps that corporate radio giants like Hot 97 have taken. One would think this embattled media outlet would be the first to pull the plug and call it a day. One would think that Hot 97 would be the first to say to Game; you can have beef, but not on our stage and turn off his sound. We should also note that the station did cut the sound on Snoop and the D-Block camp when their sets went too long, so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities and was within their jurisdiction.
Lastly it will be interesting to see how Reverend Al Sharpton who as I mentioned earlier, publicly called for a 90 day ban by radio stations on any artists promoting beef. So here we have Game in New York City kicking up dust and promoting beef-now what? Will there be ban? I doubt it...is hot 97 really gonna pull an artists who is blowing up the charts?
I will say this for the record, several years ago when Too Short provoked an altercation with the Luniz he was banned from the local radio station His records did not get airplay for quite some time… so such things can happen if there’s a real commitment to bring about peace. Unfortunately, I guess asking for an end to drama is a bit too much especially since the marketing, fueling and maintaining of beef is a multi-million dollar industry. Even more disturbing is that this culture of beef has gone on to the point that people are addicted to it, so much so that you actually come across strange and may be accused of being weak for asking for peace. Imagine that?
Anyway, before I bounce I have a couple of questions... With the recent arrests of actors Russell Crowe who is accused of throwing a phone at a hotel employee during an argument, and Christian Slater who is accused of groping a woman, do we now refer to these guys as ‘gangsta actors’ After all, both Crowe and Slater have been arrested numerous times and some of their transgressions rival if not surpass those that are often attributed to some rappers. Yet the media still treats them as icons. Thus far there has been no Bill O’Reilly calling for a boycott on any of their films and DVDs or anything like anything like that. I’m just wondering why the special treatment? Anyway let me not digress...
It’s Something to Ponder
"Black music has always had a complicated relationship with big business. That this relationship has typically had little to do with actual music perhaps explains the often unbalanced quality of this thing we've come to call R&B. This complicated relationship also partly explains what exactly R&B is. "
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