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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What is actually happening in England?

This article by al-jazeera combats some of the propaganda of the bourgeois press about the London riots: these mindless youths, they’re violent and out of control, all we need are 30,000 cops to deal with them, but its a routine thing, no big deal.

Here’s an excerpt:

More broadly, any breakdown of civil order is inescapably political. Quite large numbers of mostly young people have decided that, on balance, they want to take to the streets and attack the forces of law and order, damage property or steal goods. Their motives may differ – they are bound to differ. But their actions can only be understood adequately in political terms. While the recklessness of adrenaline has something to do with what is happening, the willingness to act is something to be explained. We should perhaps ask them what they were thinking before reaching for phrases like “mindless violence”. We might actually learn something.

I have a lot of questions about whats happening right now. Everyone I know who lives in the UK and is commenting on it are on the side of the petty bourgeoisie, calling the rioters “idiots”, and so on. But what is the racial composition, what are the various political forces involved on the ground? Is the left agitating and organizing? Is anyone else? I hear armed Nazi gangs are roaming the streets, too, but this ISO newspaper article makes it seem like its just the state against the people, without mentioning the Nazis. They call it a “rebellion against racism” but they dont mention that many South Asians, for example, are setting up community defense and hence defending what they perceive as their own class interests.

They also emphasize that Mark Duggan was “a father of four” while elsewhere people talks about how he is a well-known crack dealer. He may have been both of these things, and if he was, his life needs to be looked at in its totality. He is no less a reason for people to protest police brutality if he sold drugs. Emphasizing that he was a father in this society where the question of Black men and family is so heated, seems like a cheap ploy to appeal to those who still hold onto “traditional family values” ie patriarchal values.

Its hard to know how to analyze it when you’re not there, and dont really understand the social forces and class tensions. This article by the Commune talks about from the perspective of some libertarian left revolutionaries. Their main point is pretty much that people need to get serious and politicize the riots, when right now they are almost purely economic. I agree with that, but I dont like how they talk about them needing to organize the rioters. I think the al-jazeera quote above gets at what needs to be done first: ask people what they are thinking. Most of them are likely highly aware of what is happening in their country in terms of race  and class. Maybe that is part of the Commune’s organizing method; I guess it is hard to tell since they urge people to organize but they dont talk about their own organizing. That doesnt mean that they are not organizing their asses off; maybe for security reasons they are not blasting their shit all over the internet. But I still dont really know whats going on.

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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True Blood: race, class and gender and so much more

***SPOILER ALERT***

I freaking love the HBO show True Blood. I love science fiction and I love fantasy, mostly when it does what Ursula K Le Guin wrote about in an introduction to her novel, The Left Hand of Darkness. I dont have it accessible right now, but I remember her writing that good science fiction is not meant to be an escape. Rather, it is meant to expose the contradictions and the beauty of our own society, by taking it out of context and giving us some perspective. I think true blood does that very well.

There are questions of addiction, trust and equality in relationships, parenthood, and so on. Its just complicated by the fact that Jason’s girlfriend Amy is addicted to vampire blood, that Sookie’s boyfriend Bill is a vampire and feels that he should protect her, both physically and also by lying about his past, and that Bill is forced to make a new vampire, Jessica, to whom he has to play father with no previous experience.

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