Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another Blogger Against Racism

So I found out, thanks to this post on the Angry Black Woman blog, about the fourth annual International Blog Against Racism Week (or IBARW, because really any title that has more than two words needs to have an acronym!). And since I see myself as constantly working against racism, internalized, individual as well as external/institutional, I have to post something this week to commemorate this worthy effort.

Since I've been fortunate to work in nonprofits that consider themselves racial justice organizations--although I struggle to discretely define what that term means exactly--I will use my airtime to point you towards a few of my favorite racial justice groups:

The Applied Research Center, which was founded by racial justice extraordinaire Gary Delgado, and is now led by the equally amazing Rinku Sen. ARC is a think tank, communications hub, resource for educational materials on race, and also the publisher of Colorlines magazine, as well as the excellent blog, Racewire.

ARC was instrumental in launching the organization that I spent my formative political years with, Californians for Justice, another brilliant racial justice group that has been organizing in communities of color for the past fourteen years on issues such as affirmative action, bilingual education, lack of resources in California public schools, and youth empowerment.

On the literary side of things, the Carl Brandon Society promotes and supports speculative fiction/science fiction (SF) writers of color. Recently, they put out a thoughtful and practical (aka 'Hey White people, here is how you engage in reasonable discourse on race without totally offending and turning off People of Color') open letter, prompted by the recent online racial brouhaha between/surrounding K. Tempest Bradford and Harlan Ellison.

Also, my favorite writerly organization, the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, or VONA as its better known, which offers an annual two-week workshop series for writers of color at the University of San Francisco campus. I was there this past year and got to study with one of my favorite writers of all time, Pulitzer-prize winning author, down-to-earth and super-hilarious Jersey homeboy Junot Diaz.

So now it's your turn to get with the program and do your part---write a blog post against racism, launch a new blog, whatever, just do it!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Another Goodbye: RIP E. Lynn Harris

I will admit that I've never cracked open an E. Lynn Harris book--mostly because I didn't feel like I was the 'intended' audience-- but even I knew that this man's contribution to the world(s) of African-American, LGBTQ and people of color fiction is outstanding. He was talking about the 'down low' way before Oprah did, and broke many barriers in literature and in book publishing that should put his name down in the history books.

Rest in peace, fellow writer, dreamer and artist, E. Lynn Harris. Here are a couple links with more information about this remarkable author.

Update: Thanks to my Goodreads friend Wilhelmina for pointing me to this tribute to Mr. Harris.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Well Said, White Lady!

Since I mostly gave up arguing about race with White people who refuse to listen long, LONG ago, I will post excellent response written by a blogger who is a White woman about the Henry Louis Gates racial profiling incident in Cambridge. Perfectly summarizes what I would have said anyway--except that I would've wanted to add something about how awesome it was that President Obama called out the racism of this incident during a prime-time televised press conference! Combine this with Rachel Maddow's recent excellent smack-down of Pat Buchanan's inane racial politics and I'd say it's been a good week on the anti-racist media front.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Nothing Like Getting Published to Make You Feel Like a Writer

This isn't a 'creative' piece in the traditional sense, it's a non-fiction, trade magazine piece, but it was creative for me in that I got to interview grassroots groups who are bringing more culture, fun and creativity to their fundraising events. This article is part of a special issue that the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, one of my all-time favorite magazines, did this month. The Journal's a great resource for how-to fundraising tips for small organizations, and I'm proud to have my article in this issue.

To give you a sneak peek, I profiled three cool groups doing work in the Bay Area and beyond: the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, and my former employer, Californians for Justice.

I'm also finishing up an article for Greater Good magazine, for which I wrote an article a while back on how my immigrant family dealt with the death of one our elders, and will start working soon on what should be an interesting piece about what nonprofits should consider when applying for money that comes from gambling casinos, for Blue Avocado magazine, an online publication for nonprofits edited by Jan Masaoka, former Executive Director at Compass Point.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Although the media circus surrounding Michael Jackson's death (the same that hounded him in life) will no doubt continue for weeks if not months after tomorrow's public memorial service at the Staples Center, I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge what Michael gave to me. He was probably the first young person of color I saw on TV dancing and singing like no one else could, at a time when I loved to dance (and sing a little) too. Michael gave his all in every performance, singing and dancing 'full out' and with such precision, grace, innovation and unique style that there is no way anyone could truly imitate him, although many have tried and will continue to try. MJ influenced my own dance style, partially because he was just the SHIT when I was a kid and a teenager, and we all wanted to move like him, and partially because I tend to move percussively, like MJ does. I've realized in the past week since he's passed that many of my own moves on the dancefloor come from him. (And yes, I can do a decent Moonwalk). Michael also had a huge role in popularizing popping and locking, the 'Robot' and breakdancing through his own dancing as well as the dancers he featured in his videos.

And this is all in addition to the great joy I've experienced over the years dancing to his songs, the music, his voice. It's almost unbelievable how much Michael has given the world, and me personally, as a performer. I've been obsessing a bit about him (my Facebook friends are no doubt rolling their eyes now) the last week or so, but I'm moving towards a place of resolution and peace now, and am now able to say 'Goodbye' to him, and to be at peace with the little girl in me that once dreamed of being a superstar like Michael one day.

So from one dancer to another, from someone who is forever grateful for the love of dance and music that I've been blessed with, Thank you, Michael. Thank you for everything.