Mercedes Sosa (July 9, 1935 – October 4, 2009) can be remembered as one of the most memorable, famous, and great singers of the 20th century. She was known as “La Negra” — the Black One, symbolizing the fact that she often sang for and with, giving voice to, those that are “darker,” and “blacker” –who are now expendable in a global structure, silenced and shunned.
She spent much of her life in prison, then had to live in exile from her homeland because of her leftist views. She united many music aficionados across South America and in Europe by singing her native Argentinian folk songs as well as those of Cuba and Brazil, often singing of heartache. longing in their connection to loss, politics, and cultural survival.
Here, the video is one of my favorite songs by her: Todo Cambia, (Everything Changes).
I thank Nancho21 who uploaded this nice video on Youtube and I offer an edited version of the translation below the video.
What is superficial changes
What is profound also changes
The mind changes
Everything changes in this world.
The traveler changes his way
Even if this harms him
And just like everything changes
That I change is not strange
Some people are confused……confused about “social justice” and what it is.
I am not seeking to define it. I am seeking to carve some intelligence into the word, term, concept, action.
So much of the US notion of social justice is from within the reality of living in the Empire.
It is a crumbling empire, no less. But it is empire.
When Americans think of people who are “activists,” they think of a whole array of people who seem to be shouting out for things that they feel are morally right, necessary, necessary for their particular concerns and people and political persuasion.
Disconnectedness—it is one of the main effects of extreme individualism. Individualism, is different from empowered individuality. Individualism is somewhat of an ideology, something made superior.
With US concerns for individual freedom, communities suffer. Since most white people and wealthy people in the US, as well as a good portion of the middle class and the homeless, do not think of themselves as being part of any community, it even gets more precarious when working with struggling for a different world. The legal structure and the institutions in the US, provide legal freedoms to some degree, for individuals. For groups, communities, there is very very very little, if any, recourse. Case after case is thrown out in favor of 5000 individuals having to file individual claims to right a wrong done to a whole community. In most cases, these individual cases are drawn out over years. For the economic and social underclass, funds run out and energy is sapped and the three jobs they may have to go to becomes priority. The cases become weaker. Or the powers hire the attorneys that are high-powered and block any power that the underclassed individual may have.
Disconnected individuals (a fair amount of “normal” and not-so-normal people in the US especially–and increasingly in all first-world countries) tend to sabotage works and solidarities and political commitments that could be good for everyone, or at least a larger population of different kinds of people of differing socio-economic, ethnic, cultural, genders and sexual orientations, etc., feeding into division and conflict, violence and rupture. They become “identities” which are separate from other “identities.” So goes the ongoing disconnectedness. But I do think there are those forces that create these isolations need rupturing.
And when we speak of activism, those people wanting their “rights” to privileges, and the right to maintain them, are put on equal footing with those fighting for difference, for survival. Fighting to MAINTAIN PRIVILEGES is NOT social justice. Privilege and how it operates, makes invisible and priority, over those who have and are considered less, must be looked at and actions taken in regards to what is seen and realized, for a “social justice” to actually happen. In other words, as many US Americans seek to access privileges of something that is defined as the “freedom to get, the freedom to be….” social justice is diminished because privileges cannot afford an “other.”
Here, we see the link between what many Americans call “Freedom” and the middle class ideals. As I’ve mentioned before, people often confuse the access to middle-class, European elite (white), masculine and militarized material, emotional and spiritual values, as “freedom.” Then this gets confused with “Liberation.” Going on vacations, to “get away from reality” and “rest”—which are bourgeois leisure ideals made socially dominant as a desire in life by elites during the colonial days between the 17th to 19th centuries, becomes somewhat like the popular confusion about “liberation” these days. Social liberation means, in this scenario, some kinds of escape. And then guess what? Things deemed “in the way” of this escape, is deemed as some word exaggerated and confused with non-liberation. We learn to block anything that stands in the way (or seen as standing in the way) of our disconnected and individualized freedom to escape, as needing to be disappeared, violated, jailed, tortured, maimed, stopped, killed. Psychologically, culturally, intellectually, with the variety of arms and weapons of mind, heart and body that we have learned in the system of continual disconnection and valorized individuality (above solidarity, community, living with difference).
So in these ways of thinking and thrusts of behavior that I have mentioned above, social justice is suffering. It is definitely not dead or gone. It is in pain. It is in pain because fewer and fewer people have the inclination, desire, time, and/or energy, to struggle with self and community enough. Fewer and fewer people have the creative thinking enough to get out of the box that the Empire holds us in. As the social-political forces that we have all internalized, confuse us and run our bodies as “spectacles” —as Guy Debord (December 1931-November 1994, French postmodern philosopher) has pointed to for us, we have a harder time interpreting the difference.
It is made worse by the crash of cultures, values, times and places that are incoherent. Incoherence is NOT THE PROBLEM!! It is our inability to not do violence to incoherence that is the problem!!!! We incorporate, assimilate, violate, manipulate, imprison, sequester, make sick, make knowable–and therefore no longer that thing itself but our own other interpretation of that thing–person–place–time) that we create. Now the world seems smaller and more alike. Less diversity.
Put them away, make them criminals, make it hard on them, annihilate them, torture them, jail them, make them sick, control those people and those communities, feel sentimental about it after they are dead, it makes us good and holy. On and on. Refugees from ourselves—as we see refugees and the stateless, as if all of us were states. It’s a joke. But we have definitely internalized the state. There’s no escape. How about starting with a realistic assessment and then assessing how we may do things differently?
The reactionary definition of “community,” in the eyes of many individualists, is that communities are like herds of cattle and animals, without minds, aimless and not able to think for themselves. This dualistic notion of community has been developed through years and centuries of learning that the communities our ancestors killed or destroyed in order to create the wealthy “global” in favor of an individualism that was able to “capitalize” on making money for itself (not others). And furthermore, when we try to make communities and join them (because we sense our loneliness, disconnectedness and isolation), we (US Americans) tend to get very very uncomfortable with the differences, the conflicts, the games, the political jostling, and general psychological violence that is practiced in groups, no matter how lofty. If we don’t feel those things, it is usually because we have learned to ignore–or perhaps learned to become oblivious because no one is bothering “ME–THE INDIVIDUAL” and this asserts a “satisfaction” in the name of escaping the difficulty of being together with others of differences, and also the higher position of being alone and therefore “trouble-free.” This is an illusion.
Mourning but knowing that there are so so many in this world who understand enough and care enough about this in the world, to begin steps and to empower toward social justice. It is arduous and difficult and tedious, but must be done. Individual heroes will be squashed. Communities of difference, across different backgrounds of histories, etc. must learn to come together without the escape mechanisms we have all learned well. Empowering toward social justice is tedious, arduous, precarious, uncertain, not attainable in a finality, but is a pathway that is immensely more loving than the loneliness of dieing in an old folks’ home somewhere in a desolate urban landscape. Some are working now and we must work together, learn how to. The rest will most likely just wait for those few to do the work while they enjoy the fruits of empire, and maintain global injustice.
Singer-songwriter Malvina Reynolds (1900-1978), was a sensitive and powerful, straightforward singer-songwriter who wrote against the machine. There are so many in this world, who are unaware or just don’t care enough, that we live in systems in this world. Systems are created. And for those people who do resist, a problem comes up: the commodification and assimilation of resistance.
Writers such as Malvina Reynolds, understood this well, and sung against it. Her songs have been sung by Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and featured as a theme song for the hit television show “Weeds.” She sings to Americans and their easy willingness to think of themselves as “individuals” and “free” when in fact, there is so many brainwashing and levels of control. There are forces that control us—especially, the ways in which we think: the contours, the frames, the terminologies and “natural” ways in which we think we are in the world, are given to us by the cultures into which we are born. When we benefit from what is there, we rarely think of this as being brainwashed, being privileged, or being stupid. We think that we are “free.”
And often, when people speak and relate to each other, we think we are “free” individuals that are “freely” expressing “our” freedom. So-called.
Think about it people.
We are grown in a culture or cultures.
We are grown in certain particular ways. When we say “human” and “humanity” — what is it are we referring to? Who has the power to speak for everyone?
And does our own morality become automatically better than others? And if ours is “better,” then what hierarchies are formed? What allows a person or group, community, institution, state or nation-state, to allow, to ignore, to make, to create, to change, to resist, to create that through which we work, play, relax, “have fun,” react, fight, cling, let go, hide from, jump into, speak against, speak for?
I also understand that those sensitive to democratic ideals, will understand what I mean here. Others could care less about democratic ideals. Those others only care about being right and above, looking down and being happy. Or ignoring and being “care free,” silently colluding with those who are happy with other’s downtrodden or less privileged, or suffering positions. It’s usually the individualists who often think that it’s “those others” who have brought on what they have brought on themselves. It is truly sad that those people who think this way, do not understand the contours and histories and development of such an “individualism.” And it’s made stronger by resources, beliefs, institutions and others who may reinforce and protect our ideology. Yes it’s an ideology. Whenever one is not willing to re-think the suffering of others, or our refusal to think, then we should question that thought as an ideology implanted in us.
Malvina Reynolds speaks to many of these problems. I include one of her songs, via video below, entitled: It Isn’t Nice.
I also include the lyrics to her song: It Isn’t Nice.
This song is particularly interesting to me, since it was BANNED IN JAPAN. It was banned only in the Japanese translation, but not in the English version. Hmmm….. and make no mistake, there were people arrested and jailed for singing and or passing this song around, in the Japanese language. Japan’s “peaceful” quality–which so many people I know believe in, hides the tremendous violence of suppression and bullying and marginalization that the so-called “civilized” countries practice. Japan is one of the most brutal. I am interested in this because I was born and partially raised there, and have Japanese background. This doesn’t mean I hate Japan. I love it, like I love the US. This doesn’t retract from the violences that the US perpetrates. And what I mean by “the US” doesn’t just refer to “those others” in governments or elsewhere.
I know that many people have barely heard of any political issues in Japan aside from the Atomic bomb of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pearl Harbor of 1941, or geishas and samurai and manga and anime. Japan has been a country built, as all other powerful nations (yes all), on suppression. Smoke and mirrors, violence and hidden truths. It is no secret. And hello– it is not “natural.” Those of us sitting on sidelines and just making it “natural” and therefore focused only on personal “success” and struggling to free oneself from something, have bought into this game and are just as much culprits as the elites who govern and make the contours and choices that we choose from and call “free.” But I am not “against” these material or capitalist freedoms. What I am against is that we spend too much time on these things at the cost of real freedoms and liberations, and democracy. Democracy has been founded on exclusion and violence. Democratic ideals are a constant struggle that we live every moment, everyday. Democratic systems and nations have been built on genocide and marginalization.
The system creates enemies within and without, in order to valorize it’s own system. The system itself, doesn’t care about people. It is created for itself to survive. A system is created by people who benefit from that system. Can you see it? The system is not out there, we live through it and with it. How can we make new systems while we live in our current ones? It must be. We can never be truly outside of it. Anyone who claims to be “outside” can claim this position if they, again, develop a colonizing, missionary-style mindset of “those people should follow us–we are right” kind of thinking. It is ugly and ultimately cold. There are those who are naive enough to think that everyone who joins “us” will be “good” and those others are “bad.” Does this sound familiar? This kind of thinking does not take diversity into account. It assumes that their own cultural and historical ways of thinking and ordering reality, is universal, cancelling out difference. In order to create new societies, there must be negotiation and dialogue and struggle together, with difference, not in spite of it.
Powerful countries, the media and educational systems and now the internet, play a large part in how we come to believe in “our” democracy, event though as a people and nation, it is no such thing. However, it becomes difficult because there are “democratic elements” in our societies. We have to recognize these democratic elements and learn how to nurture and fight for them.
Make no mistake, there are reasons why people would want to harm. They do not happen “by themselves.” Society—all of us, in whatever circumstances, culture or nation-state we live in, play parts—both as victim and as perpetrator, in our system. In order to now, deconstruct and re-evaluate, and re-think and respond in a changed way, acknowledging that it cannot be perfect but the path becomes slightly more clear, we must realize that it is a battle.
It’s not going to happen in safety, comfort, privilege, high morality, and laziness.
Please visit YouTube to listen and hear her other wonderfully playful but serious songs.
It Isn’t Nice
– by Malvina Reynolds
It isn’t nice to block the doorway,
It isn’t nice to go to jail,
There are nicer ways to do it,
But the nice ways always fail.
It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
You told us once, you told us twice,
But if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
It isn’t nice to carry banners
Or to sit in on the floor,
Or to shout our cry of Freedom
At the hotel and the store.
It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
You told us once, you told us twice,
But if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
We have tried negotiations
And the three-man picket line,1
Mr. Charlie2 didn’t see us
And he might as well be blind.
Now our new ways aren’t nice
When we deal with men of ice,
But if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
How about those years of lynchings
And the shot in Evers’ back?
Did you say it wasn’t proper,
Did you stand upon the track?
You were quiet just like mice,
Now you say we aren’t nice,
And if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
It isn’t nice to block the doorway,
It isn’t nice to go to jail,
There are nicer ways to do it
But the nice ways always fail.
It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
But thanks for your advice,
Cause if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
Understand the particulars and rejoice in them. Most are afraid.
I say I am ‘black-japanese’ or ‘afro-japanese’ or ‘african-american japanese’ or ‘blasian’ or ‘blackanese’ or ‘japanegro.’ These are racial terms. Meaning: we create race-terms to point to differences. We use the language and cultural milieu of our locations. In the UK, or the Netherlands, Germany or Argentina…..wherever….the terms and meanings will change. However there is one fact: without it, there is the ‘color-blindness’ that makes many people disavow their racism and the racism of the national systems that perpetuate it. ‘Normal’ is infused with ‘race.’ Racialization!
Periods and times make differences. I think we have to dialogue between and across generations and social classes, gender and national and cultural locations, sexualities and orientations, size and occupation, abilities and other differences. Being a ‘Konketsuji’ — which is the old terminology for Mixed-blood people in Japan in the 1950s through the 70s, is no longer in use and that is why I use it for myself. To designate and point to the intense stigma and ostracization that has passed for Japan’s democracy, while hiding racism in the US against those like me in those days.
In the present, the multicultural movements have offered spaces for empowerment. But as I have mentioned in previous postings, whenever there is a black-mix somewhere, it is seen as tainted. Taintedness may not mean direct hate or condescension. It could be as inocuous as subconsciously expecting a black-mixed-race person to be ‘better at playing drums’ or more athletic or a ‘mix’ of chitlins and the ‘other’ culture. And black individuals may see that person as tainted (not black enough) with another ethnicity and/or race or just ignores that aspect and continues to see them as a threat if that person doesn’t say they’re ‘black’ and only ‘black.’
In being ‘accepted’ in multliculturalism, there is the tendency to think of the humanist definition of a ‘fully-arrived’ human– which is usually very whitened. Even though people may look different due to anthropomorphic features and skin color, the behavior signifies an upward mobility and/or perfection, or a downward mobility and a ‘tainted-ness.’ The European and American colonization that passes for ‘globalization’ is also quite hybrid and has mixed with elite governing peoples globally, joining the wishes for social control and wealth production in localities. Transnational capital continues to also make things more complex. In this, racialization plays a huge role in the positioning of a person, nation, community, area, people, group, corporation, business—–all in very minute and diverse shiftings that include the other ‘isms’ of difference (gender, size, socio-economic class, etc.). So history is always with us in the present, as much as we would like to think that we are progressing and the past is past. But the past changes as the present changes, which then guides the future.
This is where ‘change’ comes into play. Change may influence the past, present and future. How we see the past and how we act in the present and how we change, affects the future. There’s lots to be done. Racializing must be seen as a way we see difference through the prism of 16th to 19th century scientific discourse developed in order to justify colonial rule and social engineering.
If we talk about cultural inheritances, legacies, then it’s different. We can be proud of our people, but see it as socially contingent and resting on the problematics of social and cultural dominations, technologies of ‘difference-making’ in relation to domination and institutionalization, and is often the measure of how much and how far we ourselves are willing to shift in order to maintain or change these things.
I, will continue to racialize in the name of social justice. But I understand that categories of ‘race’ are contingent, dependent on who I’m speaking with, and my own continual education on what ethics I bear in the world in relation to my wish for the lessening of purposeful and meaning-making structures that force a face-to-face clarity and negotiation toward working TOGETHER to alleviate suffering.
Nowadays some people still feel that majorities are ‘allowed’ more power and control, that the majority makes the rules and the minority must suffer. I hope we begin to start understanding, at least, that suffering in some form, is a fact of life, but that decisions on the welfare of humanity cannot be expected to be democratic when the parameters of these decisions will FAVOR a few or even most. Instead of deciding in relation to what WE KNOW, we should enter more complex and ethical forms of communication, understanding that tension and contradiction and conflict are inevitable. Right now, capitalist finance controls and effects decisions. What in the future? Where are the questions? What do we ask ourselves?
We must struggle to do it. Here lies the issue in modernity. We want it comfortable, safe, secure. These three things are contradictory to social justice.
“From the mid-1960s until the early 1990s, Texaco (now Chevron) dumped 18 billion gallons of oil and toxic waste into the Amazon rain-forest of Ecuador, creating a 1,700-square-mile “cancer death zone” the size of Rhode Island.” – from wikipedia
This movie is of the quest of activists to bring accountability and conscience to our world. The plight of ecology and the people of the world who have not severed human relationship to earth and creatures, should not be something sensational but should be seen as something we have chosen or willed to forget, or do not understand as having been ‘forgotten out of us’ –meaning that sometimes our forgetting is not personal, so much as having been a strategy by larger forces, so that we may drive our cars and keep our lights on and party in all-hours of the night without a thought to the violence this attests to.
Our world, a neo-colonialist world, has made natural the exploitation. Of each other, of others, of ourselves. We make the abusive corporatocracy unapproachable in our self-hatred. Our ignorance is a child of self-hatred and ineptness. We shrink and sometimes feel paralyzed and small. That’s what many of the elites who are exploiting our earth and communities want us to do. Are we that obedient? Are the indigenous people just people with colorful clothes that we think are behind us in history? I am certainly not. I have Cherokee heritage. All of us are indigenous. The indigenous communities who still lived as linked with the earth thrived in all of Europe and Asia and the Americas and the Middle East. Those ties have all been systematically severed in one way or another and at different speeds and intensities that usually mirror the amount of modernization that has accumulated. The Irish and Welsh Celts and the Ainu and the indigenous of Okinawa and others continue to battle. Are the indigenous people of the Americas indigenous? All of us come from earth. Why is it that the ‘brown people’ with colorful clothes are left to fend for a life on this planet that doesn’t equal plunder and genocide while the rest of us have ambivalence about all of it? We are humanity, we are earth. Do we ignore our mothers and foremothers and forefathers as a ‘progress,’ as some kind of maturity? Who taught us these things?
Instead of guilt, there needs to be a reckoning. A courageous facing, shifts in behavior, but not a reconstitution of a heavy punishment-as-morality, but a compassionate turn, a vigorous turn to actually care for our ancestors, for our planet. Not just in our own recycling projects and moral superiority in not driving SUVs. I’m talking more about working with those, like the gentlemen, women, children, ladies, lawyers, and all others who are struggling and need our creativity, alliance, knowledge, privileges. Act. And hopefully movies such as this, can inspire, inform, shift you and those you know, with a ruthless love of life and diversity.
For Immediate Release
November 5th, 2010
WHAT: Protest at the Indian Consulate: Revoke the Barring of Professor Richard
Shapiro, End the Isolation of Kashmiris
WHERE: 540 Arguello Boulevard, San Francisco, CA,
WHEN: November 8th, 11am-12pm
Organized by Students and Friends of the International People's Tribunal on Human
Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK)
Press contact: Amanda McBride, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415.627.7675
On Monday, November 8th, at 11 am, a group of students and community members will be
protesting IndiaÕs banning of Richard Shapiro, a US scholar, without any reported
legal basis. The protest will take place at the San Francisco Consulate General of
India, at 540 Arguello Boulevard.
On November 1st, 2010, Professor Shapiro was denied entry by the Immigration
Authorities in New Delhi. Professor Shapiro is a US Citizen and Chair, Anthropology
Department, at California Institute of Integral Studies. Professor Shapiro traveled
to India with his life partner, Professor Angana Chatterji, a citizen of India and a
permanent resident of the US. Professor Chatterji, a prominent and frequent visitor
to the region, was granted entry to India while Professor Shapiro was prevented from
entering the country. Reports indicate that no legal basis was given for the
decision to deny his entry. Professor Shapiro was in possession of a valid passport
and visa. Given that Professor ShapiroÕs work focuses neither on South Asia nor
India, it appears that his right to travel has been restricted in an attempt to
further intimidate Professor Chatterji, and to discourage her from continuing her
work as Co-Convener of the International People's Tribunal for Human Rights and
Justice in Kashmir (IPTK).
Since 2006, Shapiro has regularly traveled to Kashmir, and interacted with various
human rights defenders, scholars, and youth to bear witness and to learn from their
experiences. He helped form a Jewish-Muslim Friendship Circle. The focus of his
scholarship and academic work is not India or Kashmir, but issues of race, class,
gender, and alliance building in the United States, and discourses on power and
subjectivity. Richard Shapiro had written an op-ed on Kashmir in 2009 and another in
September 2010. These were analytical pieces based on articles and newspaper
reports, and not on primary research that had been conducted by him. Any scholar can
do that. This is a matter of academic freedom, and beyond the control of states and
their desire to regulate thinking on the injustices they perpetrate.
On November 1, when Professor Shapiro first presented his passport to the
Immigration Authorities, he was stamped an entry permit. Then, they started
processing Professor Chatterji's passport. She has been stopped regularly since the
inception of IPTK in April 2008. As they paused over her passport, the Immigration
Officer again asked Richard Shapiro for his passport. Then, he was informed that he
may not enter India, and that the ban was indefinite. The Immigration Authorities
refused to pay for his return airfare. He was made to leave at 11.50 am that same
morning. The Immigration Authorities refused to give any reason, while stating that
Professor Shapiro had not been charged with anything.
This arbitrary and undemocratic act by the Indian government is an affront to
academic freedom, the right of families to be together, and further isolates
Kashmiris from international solidarity in their struggle for peace and justice. The
barring of an international scholar to Kashmir raises serious questions into the
functioning of democratic rights and human rights conditions of Kashmiris. Denying
Shapiro entry without due cause impinges upon academic freedom, freedom of movement,
and the right to travel with his legal partner and to visit his family in Kolkata.
The Indian state has regularly targeted those that have been outspoken on injustices
and military governance in Kashmir. The Indian state has targetted Professor Angana
Chatterji and her colleagues in Kashmir, Parvez Imroz and Khurram Parvez, for their
work defending human rights. Recently, writer Arundhati Roy was a target. When
academics, writers, and journalists are banned, such actions speak to the intent of
the Indian State in maintaining impunity, and in deliberately isolating Kashmiris
from the world and the world from Kashmiris.
We call upon the Government of India to:
* Revoke the entry ban of Richard Shapiro from India.
* Stop obstruction of the IPTK's work.
* End barring without due cause.
* Support democratic processes, the exchange of ideas.
For more information on the IPTK, see www.kashmirprocess.org.
For a press note by Scholars at Risk regarding Professor Shapiro, please visit:
The op-eds by Richard Shapiro:
Governing Kashmir (August 2010):
A Just Peace in Kashmir? (August 2009):
Our students in the Social Cultural Anthropology (SCA) at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where I received my Masters degree in 2001 and where I continue my PHD studies, has been busy the last few days as we intensify efforts to intervene in solidarity to the people of Kashmir and all those who are democratic in spirit, in a world increasingly divided along lines inherited from our nation-states and communities. Richard Shapiro, who is the department head of the SCA department, was denied entry into India at the airport, where he was to meet his partner Angana Chatterji, who is also one of our faculty at the institute and is co-convener of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir.
This situation merits attention for those who want and need more democratic processes in the world, and to acknowledge the way states work in convening monopolies on power, even where there has been no crime committed. How can he be turned away for doing nothing? Why do states have more power than the people they are supposedly serving and protecting? This is the crucial question of our historical present.
The below article from Yahoo News explains:
This coming Monday, November 8, at 11:00 in San Francisco, there will be a protest at the Indian Consulate, protesting this turn-away and the divisions and policies, actions and heritages that prop up these kinds of actions. We must demand accountability to rights granted by our constitutions in democratic states and all states.
US professor sent back from Delhi airport
Wed, Nov 3 12:18 PM
Yahoo News. India.
A prominent US academic was sent back to America from Delhi airport on Monday, allegedly because his partner is associated with a human rights group in the Kashmir Valley.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition for Civil Society (JKCCS), immigration officials at the airport initially put an entry stamp on the passport of Prof Richard Shapiro, but cancelled it after they examined the passport of his partner, Angana Chatterji.
Chatterji is co-convener of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice, a voluntary organisation investigating alleged human rights abuses in Kashmir. She is professor of social and cultural anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), where Shapiro is Chair and associate professor of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthopology.
Chatterji was allowed to enter India, and is now in Srinagar. She said the immigration officials did not give any reason for denying Shapiro entry. No government official could be reached for a comment.
“This Monday, Richard Shapiro had travelled a long way from San Francisco to be with Angana Chatterji, who was travelling to Kashmir for work. When he first presented his passport to the immigration authorities, he was stamped an entry permit. Then they started processing Angana Chatterji’s passport.
She has been stopped regularly since the inception of IPTK in April 2008. As they paused over her passport, the immigration officer again asked Richard Shapiro for his passport,” JKCCS president Parvez Imroz said in a statement.
According to Imroz, Shapiro, a US citizen, has accompanied Chatterji, an Indian citizen and a permanent resident of the US, to India about 30 times since 1997. He does not work on Kashmir, but he has, since 2006, interacted with human rights activists in the Valley. He wrote two analytical pieces in local dailies in 2009 and September 2010, the JKCCS said.
According to Imroz, the immigration officials told Shapiro that the ban on his entry into India was indefinite. “They did not deport him or cancel his visa, but insisted that he return immediately. He was made to leave at 11.50 that same morning,” he said.
Sir Ken Robinson, who has recently received the Benjamin Franklin Award, is a renowned thinker of educational reform. He speaks to the Educational systems that have proliferated worldwide, through the nation-state system and global colonial enterprise. This has created increasingly similar educational systems worldwide based on European enlightenment-era thought on a biopolitical education system which rests many of its basic tenets on assumptions, structures, discourses, and patterns of human worldview, an assumption of a ‘human nature,’ and on hierarchical and miltaristic structures that benefit economic systems, not people.
In this video on changing the educational paradigm, he presents many important concepts that we should think about in relation to how we ourselves, have formed our thinking. In creating forms of education that are ‘meaningful,’ where do we construct continuities, priorities, and disjunctures? When we do, who benefits from it and who loses out? How can communties create a structure that is now attempting to accommodate more diverse aspects of information, culture, tradition, hopes, dreams and failulres, into itself? In our efforts to ‘replace’ and ‘re-do’ our systems, what assumptions from our own education do we latch onto our view of a more ‘creative’ educational system that can ‘hold’ our children and the future of our nations and communities?
Aspects of this question are not covered in this video, while others are brilliantly commented on. One person should not have to cover ‘everything,’ in an issue. That is impossible, and unfair. Sir Robinson does not attempt to say that he is covering ‘everything.’ That is up to the rest of us. The issue is domination, oppression, who is allowed and not allowed? Also there is the issue of privilege, entitlement and the kinds of questions we ask in order to decide how to re-structure something like ‘an educational institution’ when local schools are behoven to the most powerful, wealthy, and often most-corrupt and socio-pathic of persons who have constructed and *want to maintain* their wealth and privilege. Many of them will resist to the point of killing and disposing of their created enemies. There is accountability to consider in this picture as well.
I do not mention these things in order to ‘darken’ or to dampen the motivation for change. Why do I mention these things to begin? Because in order to transform education systems, we must acknowledge how our identities and ways we live and think and desire and dislike, are all bound-up with our histories within the global colonization of life. Thus, many of our most cherished thoughts may be continuities that may prevent more creative ways of working with living within the economies that exist, to adjust to changes (or not), and also to prepare to live in a world where the economies are absolutely nothing like what has existed in our lives or imaginations. Then the topic is “who is governing” or “managing” or “controlling” these things? And can every person on the face of this planet expect to get everything they want? Some are willing to concede and negotiate. However, there are a vast number of people who conceive of their lives as an entitlement to get everything they want out of life. This usually means someone else, or another community, will suffer because of it. What must go into a ‘re-education?’ Let us ask ourselves this and begin to build the *capacities* required of what we may desire. Does what we desire exclude?
This may also include ideas of multiculturalism. To me, multiculturalism is a failure. Multiculturalism seeks *inclusion.* Inclusion into a system of exploitation and economies that must exploit and depend on its maintenance through military and economic power, expressed and managed through social institutions and worldviews, does not do away with hierarchy and injustice. In disturbing this, many of us may react by doing opposites, while not questioning how anti-authoritarianism may destroy powers, certain people and structures that may be beneficial. Entitlement and inpatience (getting our own way NOW!!!) kind of thinking is very dangerous, especially when we understand that all of us have internalized as live almost every moment as enlightenment-produced peoples and cultures. Colonized minds tend to think into re-colonizing in different ways, calling it ‘creative.’ In reality, it may be the same things dressed in new clothes. But the good news, I think, is that not every moment of our lives is that internalized colonization. And in other ways, resistance to colonizing is also part of the same dynamic. Resistance and dominance go hand-in-hand. They are related. If we think in different ways, then what will that look like?
Still the other problem is ethics? I know many people who think in creative ways and have great ideas and attempt implementing them. However, I often see some problems with this (not that we can ever get away from problems). Yes, nothing is going to be perfect and total. So that is important to tell ourselves. However, I mention this in a way to point out a form of colonization of the mind that we often do not examine. That is the reality of unethical behaviors passing for good creativity. Ideas of progress, internalized, so that ideas of older persons and the wisdom of older ways or traditions can be relegated to ‘old’ and ‘outdated.’ In other ways, it is racialized or subsumed within hierarchies. So we can say that if a woman thinks it, then it’s not good enough (unless it matches with a few elite men’s ideas), or it’s too black and doesn’t include whites, or it’s too Asian and therefore doesn’t do this or that, or it’s too ‘gay’ or it’s too this or that. We may be creative but in service of a ‘progress’ that demotes sustainable solutions and ideas, traditions and methods that may have already been practiced in traditions that were devasted and killed during the rise of nation-building and industrialization that globalized through colonial expansionist practices worldwide, then maintained by the elites of the world nations. It is not a moral issue. Those of us who have studied the world-system currently in mode, understand that it has been an act of survival to do it, lest our nation or community is starved by the elite, or invaded. To join the global elite game has been largely both an act of wanting to be the boss, as well as an act of survival in the face of more militarily powerful and who have the more resources.
To reform education will return to the same problem. To transform it, to shift it, will take large efforts on our parts, and to truly re-organize how we think about how we work with each other and our planet. What must be laid for the conditions of possibility to give birth to more just, creative, and empowering ways that honor our lives and begin to heal as well as build?
Shanghai Express is an American film which came to the public in 1932, starring Marlena Dietrich. I remember myself, watching this movie which was replayed on televisions in the US over and over again , as I grew up in the 1960s in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Halawa, Hawaii after having moved from Japan in 1962.
I thank Kartina Richardson (her blog: http://www.mirrorfilm.org/) for this commentary on being mixed race and the ‘Eurasian’ (in this case White American/Chinese) character ‘Chang’ played by Orientalized Swedish actor Warner Oland. In the movie, the Eurasian character Chang was mysterious, trecherous, untrustable because he was not purely one nationality/race or the other. I remember those same accusations of me while I was a child in both Japan and in the United States. In this movie, Chang is presumed/assumed to be a traitor to American-ness and Chinese-ness and plays a shady revolutionary. I remember my friends asking all the time: ‘what are you??” I never thought that their curiosity was curiosity. I felt that behind the question, there was always a question of control and ‘goodness.’ In the beginning of this video clip below, there is one who characterizes the rotten-ness of both a white (European/American) soul and a yellow (pan-east Asian) soul as rotten in the case of two of the characters he refers to. His listener then questions the ‘locating of a soul’ and then supposing that this so-called ‘soul’ can be defined with a moral character.
Thus, the issue of assumptions of both an essential soul, un-changing ‘self’ within a body (a ‘soul’) or the absence of one, cover the fact of the dominance of others defining how an ‘other’ is live-able. Whether one attributes static and ‘original’ and essential markings of a person or people with or without the using of the soul, have both submerged and sought control over the bodies (including bodies of ideas) of difference. We create identities (of ourselves and others) through the identities that our cultural/institutional surroundings and education and families give us in order to show up as somehow having an unchanging essence and that others have these unchanging essences. Then we are able to control what happens in relation to this.
In the case of my statement on the maintenance of control and goodness–let us ask first: What do I mean by ‘goodness?’ Well, I think that there is the question of controlling the ‘other’–which in this case was me–the multiracial person or in the movie–Chang; and there was the control of the ‘self’ in order to be good. To be good, one must exercise control over one’s behavior for the kingdom of heaven or God. So saying something ‘wrong’ or ‘hurtful’ was not something a person ‘should’ do, so one carefully choreographs one’s behavior to ‘not hurt’ and ‘not say something stupid.’ Even saying something ‘uneducated’ or ignorant, could be ‘planned’ in the subconscious, in order to stack up the excuses one has learned in order to prove one’s non-intention to harm, even if in some ways, we wanted to maintain our superiority or privilege as far as the configuration of racial identity and color, nationality and domination/subordination positions. Being good also controls how one is responded to. We don’t want to deal with our own histories and views and impulses and shadows because we don’t want the responsibility of being attacked or accused or understanding that identities have been constructed an in fact, are not eternal and fixed. After all, we aren’t born with these things. We learn how to be ‘good.’ As much as we learn how to control the other through our knowledge of ‘their’ culture or nation. Controlling, then, our own knowledge in order to appear and present ourselves as ‘good’ and ‘knowledgeable’ is an important aspect of why racism persists. Racism is never dealt with, worked on, transformed, disfigured, and seen for what it is–a construction of the imperial/colonial enterprise of expansionism which excuses itself in the name of what it constructs for itself. So Christian ‘goodness’ and ‘progress’ conveniently covers over the racism of the past and brought into the acceptance category. However, it still hides in the subconscious. Ignored. Or for many people, un-healed. It is maintained as dormant but always alive and ready. It also corrodes in perhaps passive-aggressive ways. Many think that by ignoring it, it will go away or does not exist. It matches the nation-state’s forms of domination and control, and is criminalized for its rebelliousness whenever it is provoked and abused and begins to respond in ways that the dominant does not like. It is called ‘rebel’ and criminalized and pacified. Our ‘self’ does much of the same.
In the un-healed and the unexamined, it is either repressed and expressed later at times when the subconscious is pressured in some way (psychological-political), or it maintains an individualism (an ideology opposed to individuality) that keeps us from being able to understand and therefore be an ally to our friends and relations that are of ‘the other’ race/nationality, culture or color etc that undergo structural oppressions. It also leaves us blank in working with our own circumstances of oppression. It also forces a muteness, being silent/dead in situations that may want us not to be. In other words, the denial and submersion helps to maintain individualism (which serves capitalism and control) and also includes the repression of creativity that exists that allow for alliance-building with others–because it is never acknowledged. If we were to discuss individuality, instead of maintaining individualism, we would have to unpack our assimilation into becoming the morons the capitalist-elitist system wants us to be.
Being mixed-race has always been an affront to easy understanding. We are one thing or another, not two, three, seven, ten. How can that possibly be? In today’s overwhelm-society, with the culture-technologies of the digital age, complexity is still unaccepting. Perhaps it is even intensified. A single nano-part of a mechanism functions in one or two certain ways. That is that part’s distinctive form of being. Another part acts as another single or set of single actions. To make a whole, the parts come together. Each part can be defined in a bounded and specific way. Otherwise, it’s crazy!! How can that be? We have to get to the bottom of anything that is not acting the way it must or how we have created it? As there are hundreds or thousands or millions of parts, we can take things apart to form something. It is a very un-organic way of organizing thought and things. We have inherited this way of seeing and investigating, to look at people and cultures. Mixed-race-ness is seen in a similar way. We borrow from a self-understanding of a single race, or a single people or a single nation. We forget that these ways of seeing reality have been constructed in order to do violence, no matter how benevolent, to what is in the world in sacrifice and transform it into what is promised in a future not-yet-here. Progress and modernization have also re-inforced pre-colonial ways of looking at difference.
Mixed-race and multi-racial are much needed categories. How we use these categories and what is exactly changing or being prioritized and submerged is also an interesting question. I am one for not-forgetting. Forgetting the construction of our national and exploitative world in order for most of us to wind up with crumbs, is something I refuse. I am more than one culture and legacy. I sometimes will say ‘yes, I’m multiracial’ or ‘multi-national’ but do not define myself as such. They are constructs that restrict the reality of who we are. And on the other scale, if we are a conglomeration of multiple parts, then we’re all the same. We are *not* all the same. Nothing even within our own mind-hearts, if I can use this term like the Japanese ‘kokoro,’ is the ‘same.’ The efforts to reconcile and flatten worlds into something that doesn’t churn, contradict, challenge, shift, grow, change, transform–a one-ness, a singular object, is something I will die opposing. Nations, racial categories, cultures, are certain ways of seeing the world because this is what we have been taught. When someone takes these categories away, we become either anxious or more commonly, humanists who destroy diversity in the name of some ‘universal’ and/or ‘single’ humanity that erases differences and subsumes it under a human-ness that usually replicates white-dominance, or another national dominance that seeks to resist white-dominance.
So the mixed race person, a form of exotic beauty that is envied–begets violent resentments and self-hatreds. The mixed-race person, a form of something that contaminates simple, pure single cultures and nations and histories–begets violent resentments that seek assimilation and sameness. The mixed-race person, a form of something complicated–begets people simplifying worlds into questions learned and assumed from one’s own education or worldview (do you eat rice everyday? you must be confused! oh you’re so much more beautiful than most people, etc.). Do people know their own histories? Mixing is too fetishized? Yet I see that in our world of singularities and mainstream dominance, that it will have its advantages as well. I will use them to topple all the self-hatreds that visit selves that eventually want revenge and violence, dominance and submission. To drop the prioritizing of ‘goodness’ and to drop the prioritizing of ‘badness’ and to drop the fear of those ideas to be differently performed by different persons because of different cultural heritages and legacies, is to at-once begin the journey to alliance-building and creative new cultural formations and homes. As of now, we repeat over and over because we refuse the multiplicity and changing our priorities. Fearing a different good and bad, fearing the work of non-maintenance of those histories, leads the way to a forgone conclusion to be confirmed. And this confirmation, for many, is their self-congratulatory moment. For the rest of us, we wish that this confirmation were to be destroyed in the favor of new communities of justice which have existed and are fighting for survival. Fighting for survival because that reality is being repeated and managed by many of us and through our leaders. It is neither universal or natural.
The survival of the fittest has gone too far as a perpetuating series of actions, institutions, education and worldviews in the march of history. Perhaps this is where mixed-race people can truly work on our own forms of assimilating to easy cultural definitions or being happy being exotic–to truly really strongly resist the squeezing of definitions of any difference into dominant categories of perpetual war. Decolonize our self-rendering and the rendering of others. It isn’t enough to talk about identity and whether they should/could be ‘accepted’ or not. It is not about this incessant need to be accepted into the dominant which ‘allows’ acceptance–either psycho-culturally or nationally. It is important as a way to survive, yes. But this is also about legacies of perpetuation. Legacies of categories and worldviews that have long proven to be inadequate and failures. The legacies in this 1932 film are alive today, walking around, masquerading as enlightened selves and selves that know truths and ‘good’ people who are themselves but do not know how or even desiring alliance-building across identities. This bridge can and must be crossed.