One Day at HCC

I grew up in a really white town. There is a large Latino population in the region, but segregation, though informal, is very considerable, and most Latinos lived in areas away from whites. Meaning I was usually one of two or three people of color in my class at school. There was a smattering of people of all races, other than white and Latino. For example, at my high school of 1400, I think there were about 8 “Asians,” including myself. (My brother told me yesterday that he has friends that refer to such places as “counting places”- towns or locations where you note the presence of every poc besides yourself. When my sister came to Austin recently, she would point out every desi person on the street even though I was like, dude, you are going to count over 100 desis in the next hour if you keep this up.)

Then I escaped and went to college on the west side and after that, I lived in Seattle, where there are definitely more people of color, but the character of the place can still be considered very “white.” This is not to downplay the histories of Natives, Black folks, Latinos or Asians in these places. Our history there is incredible, and our presence notable. There remain neighborhoods which are historically Black or Asian. But the overall character of the city, what it is known for, is shaped overwhelmingly by white bougie people.

I felt the difference immediately when I moved to Austin. Even though Austin is one of the whitest cities in Texas, I would sit on the bus and be surprised by the number of people of color. This, despite the fact that gentrification has reduced the number of black folks in the city by half over the last several years. I noticed how Chicano and Latino culture had shaped the overall culture. In the northwest, you would never look on a non-Latino restaurant menu and see Spanish words used, like queso. Queso would just be called cheese dip. I also observed racial segregation on UT’s campus in a way I never noticed on campuses in Washington. I rarely saw kids of different races socializing together, unless it was through a more lefty project, like the poc queer group on campus.

Houston, now, is a whole nother story. It, like Texas as a whole, is majority poc. I go to the Whole Foods sometimes (because there’s no discount health food stores that I know of) and am shocked when its mostly pocs in there, too! I am happy in Houston, with the huge Little India and Little Saigon right next to each other in the SW, I feel at home.

But I dont think I am used to this majority poc thing yet, in a visceral way. I still get surprised in new situations by the number of pocs.

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i think i need a tumblr. discuss.

Reflections on Family and Class, Pt. 1

I recently spent a few weeks with family. This family time has given me the motivation to write some reflections on my experiences of class growing up. To me, the most empowering thing initially about revolutionary politics was the revelation that I wasn’t forever relegated to identifying/being identified as middle class. In the general liberal and progressive left, class is usually understood as income, and not a social relationship between workers and management, or between a housewife and the worker-husband. This emphasis on income and not social relationships means you usually have “poor” people or middle class people, but not working class people.

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The Mother by Gwendolyn Brooks

Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.
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Female revolutionaries and alienation

I just read Selma James’ pamphlet “Marx and Feminism.” It is helping me untangle a pressing question that has affected my political life almost constantly in the last three years.  I believe in building multi-racial and multi-gender organizations. I also believe in the importance of having all women, poc or queer groups and spaces. Is this a contradiction? Is it impossible to have both? I dont think so, but sometimes it feels like it in my political work.

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Assata- thoughts on strength

I just finished the autobiography of Assata Shakur. I picked it up because I had been busy finishing my thesis and didn’t have much time for political reading outside of some study groups I am in, but autobiographies are usually like novels, easy to read and yet very compelling. I would read Assata while in the tub after a long day. I also picked up the book because I have been having trouble with motivation- to do political work, but to do anything at all, really. I was spending hours watching tv and reading fashion blogs, things that I think are okay to do, but not when they’re used to escape reality for hours and hours at a time, as I was doing. I was hoping her example would steel my resolve to be an active political person.

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