When I met my fiance’s African-American stepfather, things did not start well. Stumbling for some way to start a conversation with a man whose life was unlike mine in almost every respect, I asked “So, what do you do for a living?”.

He looked down at his shoes and said quietly “Well, I’m unemployed”.

At the time I cringed inwardly and recognized that I had committed a terrible social gaffe which seemed to scream “Hey prospective in-law, since I am probably going to be a member of your family real soon, I thought I would let you know up front that I am a completely insensitive jackass”. But I felt even worse years later when I came to appreciate the racial dimension of how I had humiliated my stepfather-in-law to be.

For that painful but necessary bit of knowledge I owe a white friend who throughout her childhood attended Chicago schools in a majority Black district. She passed along a marvelous book that helped her make sense of her own inter-racial experiences. It was Thomas Kochman’s Black and White Styles in Conflict, and it had a lasting effect on me. One of the many things I learned from this anthropological treasure trove of a book is how race affects the personal questions we feel entitled to ask and the answers we receive in response.

My question to my wife-to-be’s stepfather was at the level of content a simple conversation starter (albeit a completely failed one). But at the level of process, it was an expression of power. Kochman’s book sensitized me to middle class whites’ tendency to ask personal questions without first considering whether they have a right to know the personal details of someone else’s life. When we ask someone what they do for a living for example, we are also asking for at least partial information on their income, their status in the class hierarchy and their perceived importance in the world. Unbidden, that question can be quite an invasion. The presumption that one is entitled to such information is rarely made explicit, but that doesn’t prevent it from forcing other people to make a painful choice: Disclose something they want to keep secret or flatly refuse to answer (which oddly enough usually makes them, rather than the questioner, look rude).

Kochman’s book taught me a new word, which describes an indirect conversational technique he studied in urban Black communities: “signifying”. He gives the example (as I recall it, 25 years on) of a marriage-minded black woman who is dating a man who pays for everything on their very nice dates. She wonders if he has a good job. But instead of grilling him with “So what do you do for a living?”, she signifies “Whatever oil well you own, I hope it keeps pumping!”.

Her signifying in this way is a sensitive, respectful method to raise the issue she wants to know about because unlike my entitled direct question it keeps the control under the person whose personal information is of interest. Her comment could be reasonably responded to by her date as a funny joke, a bit of flirtation, or a wish for good luck. But of course it also shows that if the man freely chooses to reveal something like “Things look good for me financially: I’m a certified public accountant at a big, stable firm”, he can do so and know she will be interested.

Since reading Kochman’s book, I have never again directly asked anyone what they do for a living. Instead my line is “So how do you spend your time?”. Some people (particularly middle class white people) choose to answer that question in the bog standard way by describing their job. But other people choose to tell me about the compelling novel they are reading, what they enjoy about being a parent, the medical treatment they are getting for their bad back, whatever. Any of those answers flow just as smoothly from the signification in a way they wouldn’t from a direct question about their vocation.

From the perspective of ameliorating all the racial pain in the world, this change in my behavior is a grain of sand in the Sahara. But I pass this experience along nonetheless, for two reasons. First, very generally, if any of us human beings can easily engage in small kindnesses, we should. Second, specific to race, if those of us who have more power can learn to refrain from using it to harm people in any way – major or minor — we should do that too.

tw-koreanhistory:

Gone In 41 Seconds — Police Quick to Kill Korean Artist

Feb 24, 2008

LA HABRA, Calif. — On the afternoon of December 31, 2007, two police officers encountered Michael Cho in the parking lot of a liquor store in La Habra, a small, generally quiet city in Orange County, California. It didn’t take long for the meeting to go bad. After less than a minute the officers unleashed a barrage of bullets on the 25-year-old artist, ending his life - and setting off an ongoing cascade of protests across Southern California’s Korean American community.

Computerized police logs obtained by New America Media suggest the officers quickly turned to deadly force when they confronted Cho, whom they suspected of vandalism. According to the Computer Automated Transcript documenting the incident, at 2:04 p.m. the cops contacted their dispatcher to say they’d located Cho. “Out with the subject near the liquor store,” the transcript reads. Just 41 seconds later they radioed dispatch again, this time saying they’d shot the suspect and now needed paramedics to attend to him. “Shot fired, Suspect down, Medics requested,” reads the transcript. In the aftermath of the killing, Cho’s family has publicly condemned the department, saying the officers rushed to shoot Cho, rather than using less lethal tools like pepper spray or Taser stun guns to subdue him.

“The police killed my son like a dog,” Cho’s mother, Honglan Cho, recently told the La Habra City Council. According to Shelly Lynn Kaufman, an attorney for the Cho family, the fusillade of bullets left ten holes in his body.

Read More: http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=ad58d8b8031a47854d3676200f5c5be5 

(via thisisableism)

browngirls4bindis:

Bharti Singh

Arthur Chu Feature Film

Arthur, that outspoken Asian-American Jeopardy! champ, now has a feature film being made about him. It’s time for more Asian-American superheroes in the media, and Arthur has ironically become one, even if it was a trivial pursuit (pun intended). Through Arthur, filmmakers Scott Drucker and Yu Gu (a Chinese-Canadian) hope to give viewers a different, more intimate portrayal of the game show. We are exploring such themes as: the nature of viral celebrity in the modern world, ethnicity and new media, and the American Dream. The film also examines the link Arthur has made between his success on Jeopardy! as an outspoken “Asian-American” champion and the immediate backlash he received as a result. But we also have access to film in the Jeopardy! studio and interviews lined up with notable figures such as Ken Jennings and *Alex Trebek. We are a very small team working with this giant in Jeopardy! (don’t forget the exclamation point) and could use all the help we could get to tell our story about the Arthur Chu (also don’t forget the exclamation point). I think a lot of people would love to hear Arthur’s story but we need your help. So support the film at the link below and help us spread the word…with those other links below that.
*His representation is still reviewing our request

Bajau Laut girl saves capsized boat! Badass!

(Source: youtube.com)

halftheskymovement:

A feminist group based in Guangzhou, China staged an online protest against the sexual exploitation of women in the workplace, revealing a photograph with a message boldly written in red on a whiteboard behind them: “My vagina does not come free with my labor.” More words were written on the women’s thighs, reiterating: “Not freebies.” 
The campaign was in response to a recent fatal rape case involving a 20-year-old woman at a state-owned company who was asked by her boss to a dinner. She was sexually assaulted by her boss’s friend and died as a result of her injuries.“Don’t ask your staff to provide part-time escort services. Women should only be asked to provide knowledge or technical skills in the workplace, but not other things,” says Ye Haiyan, an advocate of women’s and children’s rights.
Read more via The New York Times.

halftheskymovement:

A feminist group based in Guangzhou, China staged an online protest against the sexual exploitation of women in the workplace, revealing a photograph with a message boldly written in red on a whiteboard behind them: “My vagina does not come free with my labor.” More words were written on the women’s thighs, reiterating: “Not freebies.” 

The campaign was in response to a recent fatal rape case involving a 20-year-old woman at a state-owned company who was asked by her boss to a dinner. She was sexually assaulted by her boss’s friend and died as a result of her injuries.“Don’t ask your staff to provide part-time escort services. Women should only be asked to provide knowledge or technical skills in the workplace, but not other things,” says Ye Haiyan, an advocate of women’s and children’s rights.

Read more via The New York Times.

(via thisiswhiteprivilege)

Tags: china feminism

Pamiri girls in Dushanbe. Tajikistan. (x)

(via everythingcentralasia)

halftheskymovement:

A feminist group based in Guangzhou, China staged an online protest against the sexual exploitation of women in the workplace, revealing a photograph with a message boldly written in red on a whiteboard behind them: “My vagina does not come free with my labor.” More words were written on the women’s thighs, reiterating: “Not freebies.” 
The campaign was in response to a recent fatal rape case involving a 20-year-old woman at a state-owned company who was asked by her boss to a dinner. She was sexually assaulted by her boss’s friend and died as a result of her injuries.“Don’t ask your staff to provide part-time escort services. Women should only be asked to provide knowledge or technical skills in the workplace, but not other things,” says Ye Haiyan, an advocate of women’s and children’s rights.
Read more via The New York Times.

halftheskymovement:

A feminist group based in Guangzhou, China staged an online protest against the sexual exploitation of women in the workplace, revealing a photograph with a message boldly written in red on a whiteboard behind them: “My vagina does not come free with my labor.” More words were written on the women’s thighs, reiterating: “Not freebies.” 

The campaign was in response to a recent fatal rape case involving a 20-year-old woman at a state-owned company who was asked by her boss to a dinner. She was sexually assaulted by her boss’s friend and died as a result of her injuries.“Don’t ask your staff to provide part-time escort services. Women should only be asked to provide knowledge or technical skills in the workplace, but not other things,” says Ye Haiyan, an advocate of women’s and children’s rights.

Read more via The New York Times.

(via asianwomenbodyrainbow)

lastuli:

Illustrated poetry: ‘Oh rascal children of Gaza’

Rafah-born author and poet Khaled Juma wrote a heartbreaking tribute to the children of the Gaza Strip amidst the missiles striking his hometown. At least 506 Palestinian children have been killed since Israel commenced its latest invasion of Gaza on July 8, 2014

Photograph #1: A Palestinian boy, who fled with his family from their home during Israeli air strikes, bathes his brother at a United Nations-run school in the Jabalya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip on July 31, 2014. The school is a designated shelter for Palestinians who were displaced by Israel’s offensive. Photo credit: Mohammed Salem

Photograph #2: A Palestinian girl reacts at the scene of an explosion carried out by the Israeli military that killed at least eight children and wounded 40 more in a public garden in Gaza City on July 28, 2014. Photo credit: Finbarr O’Reilly

Photograph #3: A traumatized Palestinian child is comforted by a man arranging care for him in a hospital in Gaza City following an Israeli air strike on July 9, 2014. Photo credit: Momen Faiz

Photograph #4: A Palestinian child pulls out toys from a box at a local market in Gaza City during a temporary ceasefire on August 6, 2014. Palestinian and Israeli delegations met in Cairo with Hamas demanding an end to the siege on Gaza and Israel demanding a demilitarization of the territory. Photo credit: Lefteris Pitarakis

Photograph #5: A Palestinian boy sleeps at a United Nations-run school in Gaza City on July 14, 2014, after fleeing with his family from their home in Beit Lahya. Photo credit: Mohammed Salem

Photograph #6: Doctors tend to injured children while a young girl sitting on her mother’s lap cries at a hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on August 4, 2014. Photo credit: Eyad El Baba

Photograph #7: A Palestinian girl cries while being treated at a hospital in Beit Lahya following after sustaining injuries from an Israeli air strike on a United Nations school in the Jabalya Refugee Camp on July 30, 2014. Photo credit: Khalil Hamra

Photograph #8: Two Palestinians girls celebrate the first day of Eid Al-Fitr on the grounds of a United Nations school in the Jabalya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip on July 28, 2014. Their families are among the dozens that have fled their homes and sought refuge in the school. Normally, Muslim families in Palestine celebrate Eid Al-Fitr by visiting one another and gifting children with new clothes and shoes. Photo credit: Khalil Hamra

Photograph #9: One-and-a-half year old Razel Netzlream was killed after she was fatally hit by shrapnel from an Israeli air strike on an adjacent home the previous day. Her father carries her body to the funeral in Khan Younis on July 18, 2014. Photo credit: Alessio Romenzi

Photograph 10: A portrait of Shahed Quishta, 8, is fixed to a pillar in her home in Beit Lahya on August 16, 2014, after an Israeli tank fired a shell into the living room. She was killed on July 22, 2014. Photo credit: Khalil Hamra

(via allahyil3analsohyouniyeh)

cody-the-unicorn:

People often don’t realize how important preferred names and pronouns are to transgender people.

So that’s why we need to make them realize how big of a difference they make.

samjoonyuh:

Perspective. 

(via korraisnottan)

Tags: solidarity

everythingcentralasia:

Photos from the Holi Party vol. 02 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The festival was sponsored by “Alegria” and the restaurant “Delhi darbar”. It was dedicated to India’s Independence Day.

(via fuckyeahethnicwomen)

seokim:

a doodle comic

seokim:

a doodle comic

thisisnotchina:

xbeautiful-chaosx:

slaymonsters:

sunshineturds:

maakomori:

youre gonna make a biopic abt anna may wong, who left america because they werent offering her substantial roles who was passed over for playing a chinese woman in the good earth in favour of a yellowfaced katherine hepburn

but youre…

Feel free to correct me if im wrong, but your upset because because they cast a chinese woman instead of a chinese american?

I dont know…maybe its just me, but in my opinion thats about as bad as getting upset over casting a british person to play an american, or something of that nature.

Then again, maybe im just an uneducated fuckwit.

so i mean i’m glossing over a lot of anna may wong’s life here, but her entire career was full of disappointments because she was too “chinese” for hollywood and too “american” for china. she found fame in europe where they were fascinated by her chinese looks and american personality, both of which were “exotic” and glamorous to european audiences. she dedicated her later career to denouncing the negative views of chinese women in american culture. she’s become an icon and heroine to chinese and asian americans as a symbol of our specific histories of suffering in america. there’s a statue dedicated to her in hollywood. she’s a chinese american legend. her story is exactly one of the lack of opportunities afforded to asian american actors even still to this day. so yeah, not only is it fucking disappointing that an incredibly important chinese american figure is not being played by a chinese american, it’s also pretty hypocritical. you obviously have no fucking idea what anna may wong means to chinese america so please stop editorializing on something that has nothing to do with you.

-e

koreanmodel:

Min Joon Ki, Kim Hansu, Jang Kiyong, James Lee Mcquown and Park Jaegeun by Kim Youngjun for Arena Homme Korea June 2014

koreanmodel:

Min Joon Ki, Kim Hansu, Jang Kiyong, James Lee Mcquown and Park Jaegeun by Kim Youngjun for Arena Homme Korea June 2014