Opinion

What is a Filipino Issue?

Daniel B. Eisen earned his Ph.D. In sociology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is currently an assistant professor of sociology at Pacific University. His research draws upon critical race theory to examine Filipino ethnic identity development, race and ethnic relations, and the ways in which parents interaction with children in regards to race. He also writes a monthly column on diversity and culture for the Fil-Am Courier in Honolulu, Hawaii. This article was origonally posted in the December issue of the Fil-Am Courier.


 

Election season is upon us, which brings increased hype and speculation about how a candidate will secure their party’s nomination. This often brings about discussions of how each candidate will secure the support of various racial and ethnic groups. For example, political pundits question how Bernie Sanders can secure the Black vote or how Donald Trump can secure the Latino vote.

While there are issues that disproportionately affect various racial or ethnic groups, constructing issues as “Black” issues or “Filipino” issues is overly simplistic. Every individual exists at the intersection of numerous social identities (e.g., race, social class, gender) and this combination of social statuses shapes the importance that one assigns to any given issue. I do not mean to suggest that race and ethnicity are not important in political decisions and debates, but that the reduction of race and ethnicity to single issues overly simplifies the within group differences and reinforces the stereotypes we hold about various racial or ethnic groups. (more…)

Dear Social Justice Workers,

 

Social-Justice

 

Talking about social justice is easy when those around you are working for the same issues. The real work begins when you talk about social justice issues with those who don’t see the world through the same lenses. Teach them what you know. Convince spectators to take action. Embrace the uncomfortable. Know that means you’re doing something right.

It’s okay to be vulnerable. Just because you see injustices that other people suffer from, doesn’t mean you don’t suffer from injustices of your own. Your struggles are not any less valid than theirs. Let down your walls. Take time for self-care. Vulnerability is not weakness.

Just because you see your privilege, doesn’t mean you are any less of a social justice worker. Privilege is not something to feel guilty about. It does not mean you cannot do social justice work or that the work you do is less real. Being an ally is a powerful tool.

Never stop learning or listening. If you’re brand new to social justice work or if you have years of experience, consider the value of other’s experiences. Listening to new ideas could very well improve your own movement.

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Black Appropriation in Music Industry

The guest author of this piece is Madison Thompson, a second year Pacific University student majoring in Philosophy: Ethics, Law, and Society and minoring in Creative Writing. In her spare time, she likes to read, write, surf, play Assassins Creed, and, most of all, play with dogs.

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Music’s highest earning musician, Taylor Swift, found herself amidst another controversy pertaining to her newest music video Wildest Dreams. The contention stems from the entirely white cast filming on location in Africa amongst lions, zebras, and giraffe – oh my! Many have taken to the internet to express their support for the video, but surprisingly, the negative seems to outweigh the positive feedback. On the U.S. NPR blog, journalists Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe wrote: “We are shocked to think that in 2015, Taylor Swift, her record label and her video production group would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa.”

kjuAPWjMMlxx.jpgThis isn’t the first time Swift has come under fire for cultural insensitivity in one of her music videos. Her hit Shake It Off has been criticized for portraying woman of color as the “ghetto” dancers, while having an all white woman cast for the parts of ballerinas. The singer was also forced to take a step back after a scuffle with Nicki Minaj over what Minaj said to be inherent racism in the music industry.

While she has yet to comment on the discrepencies in the two music videos, in response to the rapper she said, “I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke.”

The problem of cultural insensitivity in the music video rests on the fact that white artists who adopt black culture as their own reap the benefits of another culture that, mainly women, are belittled and trivialized for having. Khloe Kardashian posted a photo to Instagram of herself wearing a niquab (a traditional headdress worn by Muslim women, only exposing the eyes), and many people liked it because “her eyes looked beautiful”, whereas if someone saw a young, Muslim woman wearing the same thing, they might think “terrorist” before anything else.

I think Amanda Steinbleg said it best when she called out Kylie Jenner for posting an Instagram photo of herself sporting cornrows: “When you appropriate black features and culture but fail toyou’re your position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards your wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”

Glamorizing Crime with Beauty

Aside from being sexy, what do Stella Carlin, TJ Lane, and Jeremy Meeks have in common? They are criminals. Although Stella Carlin is a fictional character on the third season of Orange is the New Black, her role as the sexy new love interest lends itself to the newfound trend of admiring criminal’s physicality. It’s one thing if characters are sexualized, but an entire other field if actual convicts like high school shooter Lane and alleged gang member Meeks gain a following for being attractive. Idolizing criminals minimizes the seriousness of criminal activity and causes people to root for them instead of against them. Being conventionally attractive in this society helps excuse people from immoral behaviors.

Sexualizing felons shows young girls that it is okay to be attracted to a person who acts indecently. The fact that 17 year old Ohio shooter TJ Lane wore a shirt that said “killer” to his trial for three counts of aggravated murder was not enough to stop girls on Tumblr from making .gifs of him biting his lip in court and titling their blogs “TJ Lane’s Future Wife.” According to this mentality, violence is a good quality to look for in a potential partner. These girls showing their support for a corrupt yet attractive person further enforces a violent and abusive ideal

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