Oooh yes.

  • Jan. 18th, 2012 at 11:25 PM
la_vie_noire: (Stop with the idiocy)
Via [ profile] laurus_nobilis:

What's Wrong With #FirstWorldProblems.

I don't like this expression "First World problems." It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn't disappear just because you're black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here's a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.

One event that illustrated the gap between the Africa of conjecture and the real Africa was the BlackBerry outage of a few weeks ago. Who would have thought Research In Motion's technical issues would cause so much annoyance and inconvenience in a place like Lagos? But of course it did, because people don't wake up with "poor African" pasted on their foreheads. They live as citizens of the modern world. None of this is to deny the existence of social stratification and elite structures here. There are lifestyles of the rich and famous, sure. But the interesting thing about modern technology is how socially mobile it is--quite literally. Everyone in Lagos has a phone.

About London Riots

  • Aug. 9th, 2011 at 1:17 AM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Such a brilliant post. Panic on the streets of London.

Violence is rarely mindless. The politics of a burning building, a smashed-in shop or a young man shot by police may be obscured even to those who lit the rags or fired the gun, but the politics are there. Unquestionably there is far, far more to these riots than the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting sparked off the unrest on Saturday, when two police cars were set alight after a five-hour vigil at Tottenham police station. A peaceful protest over the death of a man at police hands, in a community where locals have been given every reason to mistrust the forces of law and order, is one sort of political statement. Raiding shops for technology and trainers that cost ten times as much as the benefits you’re no longer entitled to is another. A co-ordinated, viral wave of civil unrest across the poorest boroughs of Britain, with young people coming from across the capital and the country to battle the police, is another.

Months of conjecture will follow these riots. Already, the internet is teeming with racist vitriol and wild speculation. The truth is that very few people know why this is happening. They don’t know, because they were not watching these communities. Nobody has been watching Tottenham since the television cameras drifted away after the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

"Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ’’

You know I'm back when you see spam

  • Nov. 15th, 2010 at 3:52 PM
la_vie_noire: Yuuko, smoking and looking pensive (Yuuko thinking)
Interesting article about Hollywood, USA and class:

Hollywood's Vanishing Have-Nots.

Today if characters aren’t superheroes, teenage wizards or sexy vampires, they’re architects, lawyers, journalists and other professionals or successful entrepreneurs overseeing chic bakeries or floral shops. Those struggling to get by economically are relegated to crime dramas — white-collar crime offers too few opportunities for shootouts and car chases— or to low-budget, independent films like “Frozen River” and “The Wrestler.”

[...] “The studios feel that the only way to get people out of the house is to show them something that’s going to entertain them in a fantastic way,” he added, “whether it’s 3-D, fantasy or crude humor.”

The second prevalent theory is that Americans have always been skittish about class: Nearly everyone in this country self-identifies as middle class and thinks he’s just one good idea or promotion away from becoming a junior Donald Trump.

“Nowadays when a studio is only releasing several dozen films a year and wants the broadest appeal, why would you make films about working-class characters or class conflict?” said Steven J. Ross, a history professor at the University of Southern California and author of the 1998 book “Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America.” “Studios are still in the moneymaking business, not the consciousness-raising biz.”

Couldn't say how much it applies. "Nearly everyone in this country self-identifies as middle class..." sounds suspicious.


Jun. 7th, 2010

  • 1:45 AM
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
Tracing this Body. Transsexuality, pharmaceuticals & capitalism is one of the most (if not the most) amazing, complex, and intersecting articles I have read. A must-read written in 2003 by Michelle O’Brien and still holds true and how. Seriously, I'm making a crime just quoting a bit, you have to read it (if you haven't already):

These battles over HIV, transgender health and drug use are real, with millions of people's lives on the line. Politics is changing fast around the world, as old resistance movements have disintegrated, and new forms of domination are deepening their entrenched authority. Capital flows more and more rapidly around the globe, while access to health care is strictly limited and regulated. Wars of healthcare, over the terrain of our bodies, are among the most significant political battles in the world today. Healthcare is a major site in defining, and transforming, what race and class domination mean in our day to day lives. This fight is so profound, so real, so important, precisely because it is the place where the three levels of flows come together: 1. those flows of T-Cells and hormones, of viruses and antivirals, of methadone and heroin, within our own bodies; 2. those flows of our communities, families and lives through our communities; and 3. those flows of capital and institutional power across the globe.


The politics of our bodies - as trans people, as drug users, as people living with HIV - require a sophisticated grasp of multiple contradictions. We are dependent on the very systems that oppress us. We make demands for change, and appropriate the refuse of capital for our own survival. We live in the flows, suffer in the flows, envision a new world in these flows.

Many theories of power and politics offer little to grapple with such a struggle of bodily survival. I grew up working in radical environmental movements in Oregon, using direct action to defend ancient forests. The anticapitalist analysis of many such activists relied on a fanatical commitment to purity and an attempt at a total refusal to participate or be complicit in any form of corporate rule. Veganism, do-it-yourself punk ethics, buying natural and local, Lesbian-Feminist separatism, back-to-land self-sustaining agriculture and especially eco-primitivism and other movements common around Eugene, Oregon, all frequently rely, to various extents, on a commitment to non-participation in global capitalism and certain idealized notions of purity. Since then, I've encountered similar phenomena in many political spaces, from AIDS denialists working in animal rights organizing to the MOVE family of Philadelphia, from genderqueer denunciations of medicalized body modification to the glorification of drop-out travelers by the anarchist writing network known as CrimethInc.


These languages of purity and non-participation are frequently counterposed by the glorifying ideological cheerleaders of capitalist domination. Every major U.S. newspaper, every president and senator, every corporate trade journal is aggressively advancing the absurd notion that capitalism is the best avenue to manage and stop human suffering. Believing that state power and corporate tyranny will somehow make a decent world have a major impact on the popular discourses of science, technology and industrial production. Such pro-capitalist perspectives are of no use to me.

Instead, I've tried through this paper to trace other ways of thinking through the relationship between my body and capitalism. Each step, I've tried to simultaneously recognize my participation and complicity, and trace the possibilities of resistance and liberation. In trying to describe the complexity of these relationships, I've found inspiration in Donna Haraway's essay "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." A truly remarkable text, Haraway's essay brilliantly cut through polarized debates characterizing science as either a wonderful tool of capitalist improvement or the evil bane of patriarchy. Instead, Haraway describes the figure of the cyborg. The cyborg is the bastard child of the patriarchal realms of capitalism, nature and technoscience. Rather than reproduce their systems of command, control and communication, the cyborg ran radically challenge, undermine and resist domination. The cyborg is a new vision of feminist consciousness, a radical means of relating to technology and science. The cyborg is never pure, never free of the systems it subverts, never belonging to a realm before or outside of capitalist technoscience and patriarchy. But the cyborg is also a revolutionary, an effective, empowered, conscious being that reworks, redirects and restructures the oppressive systems that birthed it.

This vision of the feminist cyborg has been very useful and inspiring to me in understanding my own body and in struggling to the liberation of trans people. Like the cyborg, we are both complicit in and a challenge to the biomedical industries. We are drastically rebuilding our bodies with the aid of technology, surgery and drugs. And we are doing this all on our own terms, committed to our own well being, striving to our own liberation. Far from dupes of doctors or the crude escapists of ecoprimitivism, we are living amidst the systems we are always subverting. Trans people live in that hybrid edge of technology, science, nature and capital that Haraway correctly and brilliantly identifies as a tremendously power space of resistance and movement.

We are all in the midst of structures of tremendous violence, oppression and exploitation. There is no easy escape or pure distance from them. Our ability to resist, in this world, at this time, is deeply inseparable from our ongoing connection to these very systems. But resist we do. Every day, in so many ways, we are all struggling towards a new world of liberation, healing and respect.

Here is Donna Haraway's 1991 essay: A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century, if you want to read it.
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
Oh God. I want to marry this post. It's amazing how it really really really really talks about the situations of developing countries. I was so going, "OMG yes!" while reading it. It's a post about a complex socioeconomic situation as well as it is about fiction:

[personal profile] ephemere, No country for strangers

First things first: specific points, based on the aforementioned perspective. Charles Tan talks about the "small but growing awareness of the literature of other cultures" as a "liberty that occurred only because of humanity's continued struggle for 'enlightenment'". I find this exceedingly ironic when taken in light of the past history of the Philippines and of the present state of education in the country. I was very aware of the literary classics of other cultures when I was growing up, and I don't doubt this applies to many members of my generation who had access to the same educational resources I did. Most of my books as a child were simplified versions of books by authors such as Dumas, Stevenson, Alcott, Carroll, and others. In high school we were required to make ourselves familiar with Shakespeare, Hugo, Poe, Marlowe, Steinbeck, etc; our school's reading room was dominated by British, French, and American writers. We were supposed to know the figures of speech and the literary conventions used by these writers -- so where does "small but growing" come from? We, of the upper and middle classes, who had the means to access "superior" educational materials, were immersed in this from childhood. This is not an expression of unalloyed liberty to progress further toward 'enlightenment'. It is part of an educational system that was to a large extent instituted during the American occupation, whose so-called benevolent rule has not been fully extricated from either the public consciousness or our political decisions up to this very day. It is an outgrowth of a dominance that may have been thought to have eased when we were 'granted' our independence, but has in fact never disappeared, only become more subtle in its influence on our psyches.


I also find the parenthetical remark regarding migration to the U.S. as "typically a dream" rather problematic. It is true that many Filipinos migrate to other countries, among them the U.S., for various reasons. However. These patterns are not confined to "poverty-stricken" Filipinos (many of whom are not so much struck with it as trapped in a system that encourages sick, downspiraling cycles of negative feedback from which it is excruciatingly difficult to escape). And to say that migration is a dream, even for these people, is to denigrate, with a casual, offhand remark, the human cost -- in terms of separation from family members and loved ones who can't migrate; in terms of leaving behind all one has ever known; in terms of starting over with very little; in terms, even, of not wanting to leave, except that staying has become untenable and thus going seems like the choice that will offer a better standard of living -- associated with migration. It is to trivialize the weight of the choice. Even with how difficult life is here, especially for the poor classes, leaving is not costless, it is not always a dream, and to typify it as one is insulting both to those who have gone and borne the cost of going and those who have stayed and borne the cost of staying. What is typically a dream? Living a better life. And that is not, by default, going to the U.S.

YES. Make "U.S.," Spain or another European country and you have my country.

In the case of the Philippines as it's portrayed in work written by non-Filipinos, assumptions do dominate and skew these portrayals. It isn't a rare occurrence, and the assumption isn't always so obvious as to be instantly identifiable. One assumption I find particularly galling is the idea that if something works in more developed countries such as the U.S., it should work here, too; thus an array of well-meaning foreigners touting ideas about freedom and justice and showing that if only one person is brave enough to speak out against the system, change will happen. Look, I don't doubt that speaking out is important. I don't want to diminish, in any way, the significance of courage in a society such as this. But you have to consider that the institutions here are very different from those commonly found in more developed countries. The rule of law, the democratic process, the essential functions of government -- these are broken in ways that it is very difficult to communicate to people from developed countries, because they assume that certain defaults apply.


I will not say: no foreigners allowed. That is a rather horrible thing to say considering an overwhelming tendency here to welcome foreigners with open arms and bend over backwards for them, at the cost of discriminating against our fellow Filipinos. It is a statement that assumes we have the power to say such a thing and enforce such a rule when we, well, don't. "No foreigners allowed" is a fantasy -- a short-sighted, narrow-minded, twisted fantasy, but a fantasy nonetheless.

Instead I will say: this is no country for strangers. This is not a people that can be known by observation alone, without the risk of actual engagement. This is no land where you can set yourself apart and then delude yourself with claims that comprehension naturally comes with high-minded goals and noble intentions to enlighten a system whose only fundamental flaw is ignorance of your ways. This is not a place that needs more foreigners coming in to visit, then taking away with them their misconceptions and their privileged judgments -- because we have been misrepresented enough, not just in the international community but also amongst ourselves, and false categorizations and claims about who we are and where we came from and where we should go are unneeded and shouldn't be welcomed.


So (and I address this now to the theoretical audience of those on the other, privileged end of the inequality) if you, as a white person, are afraid of writing about us: then be afraid. Carry in your heart the fear of doing further injustice to a people into whose blood oppression has become so incorporated that our institutions and our media echo with the dual strains of self-loathing and adulation for those who are not us.

Dear God. I just... love it. So much.

Naveen Andrews

  • Feb. 14th, 2010 at 4:04 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Happy Lunar New Year, people!

I was supposed to do this yesterday, but the heat here made me dizzy and I ended feeling like shit all day.

Here, back with this, and have Naveen Andrews. You all know him due to Lost where he is playing for 7 seasons. he is also hot. He started working in London, he had very important roles, starred a miniseries, The Buddha of Suburbia, and his role at The English Patient was acclaimed. He starred in Bombay Boys, and real-life based My Own Country. He debuted in USA by leading in The Chippendales Murder. He was in Rollerball, Bride & Prejudice and others. He was Menerith in The Ten Commandments, was in The Brave One... and God knows the heat is killing me and I can't keep naming his movies. He did a lot, and has a fucking great talent.

And he is gorgeous. But we know that.

Naveen Andrews

Naveen Andrews pics )

Born in London, UK. His parents are Indian immigrants. Attended Guildhall School of Music and Drama. IMDb profile here.


Because I don't want to spam you and this post stayed with me all day because I think it's very important:

Newsflash: Poverty is Bad for Your Health.

It would seem, then, that addressing poverty in order to prevent those negative health outcomes would be a public health priority. But it really isn’t – poverty programs are rarely described as health programs. When a politician starts talking about welfare, they’re talking about cash payments to help parents raise their kids, to preserve and support families. They don’t talk about how assisting a family out of poverty will make that whole family healthier, and less in need of health care. And addressing the negative health effects of poverty – safely removing all the lead paint, preventing slum housing conditions like cockroach infestations and mold that contribute to asthma, get them some access to dental care – would have an enormously beneficial effect on hundreds of thousands of individuals and on the health care system as a whole. However, addressing the systemic effects of poverty isn’t nearly as easy as shaming “the fatties” and slapping some calorie numbers on menus.

[...] A recent study found that almost half of working-age adults who experience poverty for at least a 12-month period have one or more disabilities. People with disabilities account for a larger share of those experiencing poverty than people in all other minority, ethnic and racial groups combined and are even a larger group than single parents. Families with more than one member with a disability are even more likely to be living in poverty. There are two things going on here. First, people who live in poverty are more likely to be or become PWDs, partly because of the health factors discussed above. But also, PWDs are more likely to live in poverty, partly because of the cost of health care.

Jan. 18th, 2010

  • 9:14 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Charity is not the same as Compassion by [personal profile] deepad. She, as always, talks about a lot of things that have been bothering me lately.

One of the most vicious and manipulative tools we humans have evolved is to use our individual impulses towards kindness and pity to build systems that reinforce oppressive and discriminatory practices.

"Clothe the pauper." "Heal the heathen." "Rescue the orphan." "Free the woman."

The discourse around disaster relief in Haiti has already begun to make me sick to my stomach. Because "natural disasters" are somehow painted apolitical, as though the sphere of human responsibility has been completely suspended.

This is crap, of course, because human beings and the things they do are as much a part of nature as the wind and water and earth and fire around us, and it is political when century-old housing habits evolved for a specific geological fault location get eradicated, or poverty forces urban encroachment into areas too close to the sea, or evacuation systems are ignored because the people they will save are considered expendible.

So donating money? Comes from a generous impulse, but is pretty easy to do. As Michael Maren says, "Although it's really easy to donate your dollars, it is unimaginably difficult to actually help people. The best fund raisers in the business are not the best relief workers in the business."

Jan. 14th, 2010

  • 8:02 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Both via [personal profile] the_future_modernes.

Shock Doctrine for Haiti:

Good to see that, in the midst of the today's confusion, someone's focusing on what really matters: making sure America's 210 years of superhuman cruelty toward Haiti continue without respite.

Catastrophe in Haiti

THE REAL state power isn't the Préval government, but the U.S.-backed United Nations occupation. Under Brazilian leadership, UN forces have protected the rich and collaborated with--or turned a blind eye to--right-wing death squads who terrorize supporters of Aristide and his Lavalas Party.

The occupiers have done nothing to address the poverty, wrecked infrastructure and massive deforestation that have exacerbated the effects of a series of natural disasters--severe hurricanes in 2004 and 2008, and now the Port-au-Prince earthquake.

Instead, they merely police a social catastrophe, and in so doing, have committed the normal crimes characteristic of all police forces. As Dan Beeton wrote in NACLA Report on the Americas, "The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which began its mission in June 2004, has been marred by scandals of killings, rape and other violence by its troops almost since it began."

First the Bush administration and now the Obama administration have used the coup and social and natural crises to expand the U.S.'s neoliberal economic plans. [...]

So while Pat Robertson denounces Haiti's great slave revolution as a pact with the devil, Clinton is helping to reduce it to a tourist trap.

At the same time, Clinton's plans for Haiti include an expansion of the sweatshop industry to take advantage of cheap labor available from the urban masses. The U.S. granted duty-free treatment for Haitian apparel exports to make it easy for sweatshops to return to Haiti.

No surprises here. But I just wish I could say fuck to them and get over it, but of course, that's never a possibility.

And via [personal profile] skywardprodigal:

Wonderful Why is Haiti so poor?. But please, do not read the comments.

Oct. 14th, 2009

  • 11:09 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
[personal profile] deepad has an amazing post about transnational adoption: One boy/ Boy for sale/He's going cheap.

There is a curious intersection with the feminist discourses around birth control and abortion - white western women are entitled to their right to abort and adopt. Meanwhile women in India and China and I presume elsewhere, are told about responsibilities. It is our responsibility to get married and give our husband a son. It is our responsibility to continue the family name. It is also our responsibility to not breed ourselves into overcrowded squalor. It is our responsibility to control our reproductive fecundity. Apparently, now, it is also our responsibility to give up our children to people who have more financial and material assets.

It is hypocritical to espouse the cause of capitalism and not follow that ideology's core principle to its logical conclusion - human beings are capital. They can be assets or expenditure depending on the value ascribed to them. And paying a human being money in order to get legal access to another human being is a commercial transaction.

What disgusted me the most about the article was the conclusion, which focusses on how, though the children are currently with their grandmother, who wishes to keep them, the woman who wants to adopt them hopes for a "a happy ending in which she gets the girls". Clearly if Charles Dickens were to write about Mr. Bumble putting young Oliver Twist up for sale today, we would be expected to find Oliver's escape from the undertaker who paid good money for him, into the eventual arms of his biological aunt to be a tale most tragic and woeful. [...]

This is neo-colonialism - where military and economic wars are fought and sponsored on other people's land, and the resultant orphaned bodies displaced to grow up bound by gratitude and love to a country that would deny their native counterparts the ability to choose immigration on more equitable terms. Where the individualistic and therefore unassailable morality of "right to choose" breeds a sense of entitlement that is fed by preaching a rhetoric of responsibility to the rest of the world.

Jul. 24th, 2009

  • 4:21 PM
la_vie_noire: (Meets Minimal Standards of Decent Human)
Wonderful links via [personal profile] the_future_modernes:

Self-Delusion and the Lie of Lifestyle Activism (Core Dilemmas of Community Organizing)

But, of course, the ecological impact of recycling one battery (or ten, or a hundred) is so miniscule as to make no discernable difference at all. It literally DOES NOT MATTER whether I recycle a battery or not.

This is true for so many things that we are urged to do as our civic contribution to the world. It is, in fact, NOT easy to make a difference.

The lie of lifestyle activism is important in part because it bleeds off much of the energy that does exist in the world for social action. It also reveals some of the ways we deceive ourselves about effective civic engagement.


We want to be able to stay within our comfort zones and still feel like we are "making a difference."

Part II: The Distortions of Lifestyle Politics (Core Dilemmas of Community Organizing)

Unintended Consequences and Middle-Class Organizing

Of course members of the middle class are perfectly capable of participating in collective struggles over power. Try to locate a group home in a middle-class suburb, or de-track a suburban high school, or cut down a beloved suburban oak tree, and you will quickly see the wrath of the relatively privileged.

Unless it sees its own privileges under attack, however, as Fred Rose notes, the middle class prefers to educate others about the truth and to model correct action.

As middle-class settlers moved into North Kenwood-Oakland, the key problem that affected them directly was what they perceived as unacceptable levels of crime and disorder. While their active efforts to alter this state of affairs did "improve" the community in some concrete ways, these changes did not address the core structural causes of the poverty that most affected their working-class neighbors. In fact the easiest solution to problems of disorder was simply "to drive out what is seen as the offending class" (268).

While the settlers came to "reclaim" the neighborhood for everyone," then, when they got to North Kenwood-Oakland, they ended up expending much of their energy to make it more comfortable for themselves. They sought to make it reflective of their own understanding of the "correct" urban lifestyle.

To improve their new neighborhood, the settlers actively supported three key strategies. They sought to limit public housing, they supported strict screening for new low-income renters in "mixed" public housing, and they brought in police from the University of Chicago to supplement the local district police.

Dude. Story of my life. Or better, story of the middle classes in Latin America.


la_vie_noire: (Default)
[personal profile] la_vie_noire

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