Thursday, May 28, 2009
With President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, we are hearing from certain quarters (Republicans, conservatives, some white guys) complaints about the judge’s invocation of her Puerto Rican cultural heritage as an important part of who she is and why she might make a good Supreme Court Justice. Moreover, President Obama made a big deal of Judge Sotomayor’s personal story, along with her stellar legal credentials, when he announced her nomination to the nation’s highest court.
This matter of her cultural heritage and background – as well as the fact that she is a woman – re-animates a continuing debate in America about power and equal opportunity. It’s often labeled “identity politics,” which is a battering ram in the quarters that are whining about Judge Sotomayor’s invocation of her cultural heritage to pummel those of us from the historic margins of American life – women, and non-white ethnic minorities.
Frankly, I’ve wearied of shouting out my ethnic heritage, not because I am ashamed of who I am (working-class Chinese American son of illegal immigrants from China), but because our body politic since the great civil-rights wars of the 1960s and 1970s has tried to shame us for exhibiting pride in who we are, and for trying to expand the truth of the historical record of America as a place that once shamelessly and legally discriminated against women and non-white people (but that has also made impressive progress, the election of Barack Obama as president being the prime example).
Remember, “liberal” and “affirmative action” have become dirty words in certain establishment circles that abhorred and possibly feared the advancement of women and non-white minorities through affirmative-action programs spurred by the civil-rights legislative victories.
Yet, the old white-guy establishment, aided and abetted by some women and some of our “colored” brethren, resisted and fought back, and is still doing so, despite the inevitability of America becoming a more multicultural, multi-racial society, to say nothing of being part of a much more interdependent world. Thank goodness for what seems to be a natural progression toward social justice, slow and bumpy as it may be at times.
When Barack Obama launched his seemingly quixotic bid to become President of the United States, I was most taken by his personal story of coming from the margins of American life. As an Asian American, I was especially drawn to his experience living among Asian Americans (in Hawaii) and Asia (Indonesia). That -- along with his smarts, his being a community builder, and his liberal politics -- was enough for me to volunteer for and monetarily support, for the first time in my long adult life, a presidential candidate.
When I read of Judge Sotomayor’s life in The New York Times (“Woman in the News,” May 27, 2009), I felt the same way about her that I felt about President Obama. I confess to even tearing up when I read details of Judge Sotomayor’s personal background of living in a Bronx housing project and her helping break gender and cultural barriers in the haughty and once white-male-only Ivy League institutions of Princeton and Yale.
One’s life experience – such as for President Obama and Judge Sotomayor – ought not be THE determining factor in rising to the top in American public life because other qualities and achievements are equally important. But the kinds of personal journeys taken by President Obama and Judge Sotomayor enrich their other qualifications to make them – and others like them hitherto invisible to (and perhaps threatening to?) the old white-guy establishment – superbly capable of leading our nation.
Whatever public decisions President Obama and soon-to-be Justice Sotomayor make are surely shaped in some way by their life experiences – as is the case with all of us, white guys included – and that’s a reality that continues to inform the way we Americans live our lives. And that’s the kind of progress all of us should celebrate.
William Wong is a freelance writer, former journalist, and author of Yellow Journalist: Dispatches from Asian America, Images of America: Oakland’s Chinatown, and co-author of Images of America: Angel Island.
http://www.picanrestaurant.com/index2... - Pican Restaurant, at 2295 Broadway, at 23rd in Oakland, (California 94612 510.834.1000) is the brainchild of Michael LeBlanc. In this video, LeBlanc shares his vision for the new eatery and we see the excellent food dishes and the warm interior.Video also at Blip.tv
For the Love of Marriage and the Hatred of Gays
By Davey D
I am always amazed at the type of excuses one makes and the type of reverting to hate that one takes when it comes to the issue of homosexuality and in recent days Gay Marriage.
Over the past year since Prop 8 was introduced on the California ballot, outlawing Gay Marriage, but worded in such a way as to let people think they were 'protecting marriage' I have had more than my fair share of spirited discussions that have resulted in one too many people screaming and shouting and really getting bent out of shape.
The usual argument that's put forth is one steeped in religion. People wanna quote Leviticus , Mark, Romans and every other book as if a few quotes from the Bible should suddenly be the final word when they themselves have ignored the demands of those quotesthat apply specifically to them and their own behavior before and after the passages that referred to man sleeping with man. I tell you its funny when you think about it..
It wasn't to long ago that I ran into a brother who went on and on about how immoral it was for gay marriage to take place and that it was an affront to God. He talked about the sancty of marriage and all that good stuff. Dude was on a roll until I quielty reminded him that he was living in sin. At the time dude was living with his girlfriend. I reminded him that his 'choice of behavior' (him playing house) was doing very little to promote marriage he held in such high esteem. What made it even worse was that homeboy is a bit of player -he wasn't the most faithful crayon on the box. It was no big deal for him to get alittle on the side here and there, yet he felt compelled to stand before me and talk about the evils of gay marriage. I was like; 'Son shouldn't you clean your own house first?'
As I often have to remind folks-here in California, amongst a younger generation of people marriages end in divorce to a whooping 70% of the time. What are these self righteous people that hate gay marriage and want to keep the so called sancty intact doing to to lower that rate?
Are they writing the ABCs, NBCs and CBS' of the world demanding that they put out more programming that nurtures values that would lead to longer marriages? Are they demanding more Bill Cosby- 'Huxtable type shows? Are they demanding that these multimedia corporations cease doing reality shows that routinely mock marriage by making it a shallow commodity that is won and lost in a 'reality TV contest? The answer? Nope they're pretty silent.
Are these folks going to local school board meetings demanding that we have classes that teach people how to communicate and have 'healthy' wholesome relationships? Are they out there petitioning the governor or the legislature to demand that those seeking a marriage license take some sort of class or orientation to help lower the divorce rate? The answer? Nope, again folks are pretty damn silent.
Are they putting forth their own youtube videos and going directly into the places and spaces where relationships are most troubled and offering guidance? The answer? Hardly. But talk about gay marriage and all the stops are pulled out.. All the troops are called. People are up in arms carry signs and acting all appauled.
Last year I saw an entire family complete with kids come out in full force to another part of town to protest Gay Marriage. They were out everynight for two weeks leading up to the election come rain or shine . They were outraged that gays wanted to get married.
I went out to interview them, cause I was curious and awestruck by their commitment to be outb there everyday grinding away against gay citizens. I went to interview them and they hit the roof. They got pretty upset and demanded I oput my camera awy. they covered their faces with placards admonishing gay marriage.
One of the family members bragged how she was from the 'Murder Dubs' (the 20s) in East Oakland so that somehow gave her street cred when debating this issue. They were loud and proud that they werre people of color who were standing up to Gay marriage, but didn't wanna be filmed. I thought it was ironic that they would leave their own troubled community where you have large numbers of unmarried people with kids and broken homes to protest gay marriage.
I was just in the murder dubs the other week and didn't see that family out and about protesting fathers who weren't paying child support or protesting young people fornicating without protection and then having kids. Didn't see them before, didn't see them then and I don't see them now. But like I said, talk about Gay marriage and the entire family comes out-How laughable is that? It was even more laughable when one of the family members of this Christ fearing church going family called me a 'faggot'.
Here I am a proud member of Allen Temple Baptist church who is heterosexual, but when having discussion amongst these so called fellow Christians... well lets just say the convo and the names they called me weren't very Christ-like-What would Jesus do if he there to witness that? I prayed for them and kept it moving. I also resisted the temptation to be vindictive and put them on blast by showing their ugliness in the video I shot.
The other argument that is often put forth is 'These gays want to have sex and its wrong, wrong ,wrong'. I have to again remind people, that gays do not need permission or laws on the books to have sex. The sodomy laws of this country have been struck down years ago. You can sleep with who ever you want.
I also have to remind people that its pretty shallow and ass backwards to get married just to have sex. I know I wouldn't go out like that? Why would Gays? The last point to this argument is that very rarely-in fact I have never walked down the street and saw a couple engaged in passionate sex. Last I checked its against the law. You would be charged with lewd behavior. Hence I think just as common sense applies to me it would apply to two gay adults. No lewd and lascivious behavior or go to jail. Memo to those opposed to Gay Marriage : It Is Not About Sex. Personally I oftyen wonder why the folks so opposed to gay marriage always bring up the sex thing. Makes me wonder whats up with that? Are they repressing something? mmmm
The third argument we often hear is people claiming being Gay is choice not something that comes from birth.. For the moment lets agree to disagree and follow this twisted logic. We allow marriage license to those who have in the past and presently make all sorts of choices that challenge 'sociatel norms' Case in point, there was a point in time where interracial marriage was not allowed. If my grandfather wanted to marry a white woman as a youing man in South carolina, not only would he not get the license he might've gotten his as hung on a tree by some funny guys wearing hoods and white sheets carrying and quoting from the Bible.
There were all sorts of well meaning people who put forth a variety of social reasons and concerns that justified the laws on the books preventing Blacks, Browns and Asians to marry whites people. There was concern about the kids. There was concern about diluting the race. There was concern about sparking racial unrest. In some communities there were religious implications.. i.e. One did not marry outside the religion. Jews and Catholics come to mind. In spite of those supposedly compelling social concerns and the desire to keep societal norms in tact those laws were struck down.
So in 2009 if I want to leave a Afrocentric Church where we talk about re-building the Black family, I can be sporting dredlocks, quoting Malcolm and wearing all sorts of kente cloth and go out and marry blonde haired, blue eyed Pamela Anderson and there's not damn thing anyone can do except scowl, get mad and shun me. They can do all that and maybe they won't agree to grant me a marriage ceremony at their church, but I sure as hell can get that marriage license. Why so?
For starters we live in a country where one has a right to assemble and associate. We also live in a country where I am free to choose my religion. So in other words if Jewish people feel that they should marry other Jews for whatever social or religious reasons, that'stheir prerogative if I wanna marry someone from a Jewsish background as did my mother I have that right. Sure, I might be able to go to Temple and partake in their particular marriage ceremonies, Churches have a right to uphold their traditions, but as a tax payer I sure has hell should be allowed to go down to city hall and pick up a marriage license. My tax dollars pay for it. Gays pay taxes and should have a right to that legal document. Why is that child molesters, rapists, serial murders can all get marriage license but a hard working, law abiding tax paying gay adult cannot?
And really folks that's the bottom line here. All this other talk is mute. All citizens who pay taxes have a right to go to public school. We have right to have the potholes repaired in our neighborhood. We have right to be protected by the police and fire departments. We have a right to address our grievances at city hall. We have right to pick up land deeds. We all our required to pay taxes. And we all have a right to be married by the justice of the peace in city hall. It don't matter if I'm a Black man wanting to marry a devout white Catholic. It don't matter if I'm a dog killer like Michael Vick who who himself is set to get married.-No one is holding back his license. It don't matter if I'm a atheist or agnostic or even a devil worshipper. I am under the laws of this country allowed to obtain a marriage license-Why can't gays? Why are people so afraid?
mmmm thats a few words to ponder..
Below are a couple of videos from the discussions that ensued during the May 26 supreme court decision in San Francisco.
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