Blogs

Towards a Pro-Migrant, Pro-Worker Platform

By: on 7 Jul 2008

As I noted earlier, a coalition of South Asian organizations (spearheaded by SAALT?) released a national policy platform for South Asian American progressive politics.  I want to use that here as a jumping off point for talking about migration politics in the U.S. - but I think that this conversation will have uses beyond the U.S.  Although the specificities of conditions differ, I would speculate on the basis of what I've read and seen that there's a lot that "guestworkers", undocumented people, and others who are performing low-wage labor have in common in the United States, the Gulf, Lebanon, Europe, etc.  Global migration with its accompanying abuses, norms, economics, and all is just that -- global -- so we should try to  understand it in that context, even as we pay attention to the specifics of the national, the state, the local, the family, the individual.

Tidbit: July 4, 2008

By: on 4 Jul 2008

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

-penned by someone who held 150 other people as slaves at the time.

Lots of Pride

By: on 30 Jun 2008

Loved ones in India give firsthand reports that queer pride marches yesterday in Bangalore were fabulous, in Delhi were mixed or positive, in Kolkata no word.  No word yet from the desi contingents in San Francisco, New York no word or elsewhere.

From past experience in New York, I can tell you that the consumer capitalist festival that is the pride march is usually just an add-on to a fun weekend, if you even show up.  Last time I was in New York, I partied until 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. at Color Me Queer and then watched Rang De Basanti the next day with good friends.  On the other hand, the Queens Pride March, which happens a couple weeks earlier, ends in New York's South Asian mecca, Jackson Heights, which makes for interesting and some surprisingly uplifting conversations.

On the other hand, in the three Indian cities, a total of over 1,000 people probably marched, which I would imagine is a really big deal in terms of visibility and a challenge to social norms. It also is a stronger response in comparison to past years, as far as I know, particularly as AFP says this was Bangalore's first march.

Diversity and Ethnic Minorities in University Faculty

By: on 28 Jun 2008

This is just one of those things that I still don't completely understand from when I came to the US and into university life 10 years ago: tokenism / diversity in faculty representation. I know we've done the race-vs-class thing a million times on this blog, but I really want to find out what anyone thinks about this: what diversity do privileged minority faculty members bring to the academy?

Here's a bit of background from my own context:

Tidbit: Do You Cry?

By: on 27 Jun 2008

I have been going through some things recently, and I've realized that I don't know how to cry.  I've been aware of this for a long time, but I started wanting to do something about it recently.

Crying, and whether you're able to and willing to, is related to issues of gender, masculinity, and other issues.  but I don't know whether they come from South Asia or whether they come from the United States or whether they come from The Empire.  For example, consider this:

Historically, men have been free to cry.

A National Action Agenda for South Asian Americans

By: on 27 Jun 2008

Well, the South Asian-American organizations have come up with their action agenda (pdf). If you're up for it, you should take a look at see what you think. It would be nice if the South Asian blogosphere had the same role as the mainstream blogosphere in connecting with real world initiatives, evaluating them, commenting on them, criticizing them, applauding them, etc., as we see fit. It's sort of momentous for South Asian-American politics for this many South Asian organizations to endorse one policy platform, and it provides a point of reference for a lot of the conversations about what "South Asian" means that we have here and elsewhere.

It also raises the question of whether more South Asian American progressives and radicals should do 1) identity-based activism or 2) issue-based activism or 3) ideology-based activism and whether they should pursue things in a 1) centralized fashion or a 2) decentralized way. Both of these questions about how to conduct activism don't involve such mutually exclusive methods in real life, but this is just a way of putting things in my mind to make the distinctions simpler - in real life, most South Asians, as the agenda makes clear, deal with a million and one intersectionalities and that will play itself out in activism too.

Anyway, take a look, and see what you think. Summary of issues and recommendations from the document below the fold. All typos below my responsibility:

Action Alert: Domestic Workers Protest Tomorrow in New York

By: on 26 Jun 2008

Andolan is circulating this on behalf of two of their members. They're a really great bunch of people that I used to work with and are having a press conference on rally tomorrow, Thursday, June 26, 2008 10:00 am at Suffolk County Criminal Court, 400 Carleton Ave. Central Islip, NY (Long Island) 11722-4504.

Update: Venue Change!!!!

Long Island Courthouse
United States District Court
Eastern District of New York
Long Island Courthouse
100 Federal Plaza
Central Islip, NY 11722
Main Telephone Number
(631) 712-6000

If you can show up, it would be tremendous.

Here's their press release; their response to a NY Times article on the issue that they felt was too sympathetic to the Indian immigrant abusers in this case is below the fold:

Community Seeks Justice and Rallies Around Workers

Domestic Workers Outraged by Long Island Case, Call for Justice and Labor Standards

Central Islip, NY -- In support of the two Indonesian domestic workers in Long Island who were held as virtual prisoners, physically abused and underpaid for five years, New York domestic workers rallied on Thursday at 10:00 am at the courthouse, during the sentencing of the employers, to demand justice, basic labor protections and recognition for New York’s 200,000 domestic workers. The two women, still living in fear, are receiving support from other domestic workers. “It’s not right to treat workers like slaves and beat them up. It is wrong and it must stop. We will be there for her,” says Rosa, also from Indonesia and a member of Andolan Organizing South Asian Workers, a domestic worker organization based in Jackson Heights, Queens.

In Long Island, many domestic workers work live-in, isolated for weeks at a time, often far from any public transportation or the general public. In gated communities, like where Samirah and Nora worked, one can go for days without seeing anyone but your employers. Even screams won’t be heard. Unity Housecleaners, a cooperative of housecleaners serving the area, claim they are not surprised. “The reason why we formed a cooperative, was so that we could know what to expect--the fairness that we deserve. Most employers will take advantage if you are not organized,” says Lilliam Juarez of Unity Housecleaners. “Many people like me thought this case was outrageous and rare. But it happens right here on Long Island which is why new worker protections need to be enacted. Samira and Enung, the workers who were abused need reparations to make their families whole again.” stated Lisa Tyson Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

Tidbit: National Coalition of South Asian Organizations Forming in U.S.

By: on 23 Jun 2008

SAALT announces a "webinar" tomorrow.  Here is the announcement with details for how to get on the call if you want to go voice your approval, comments, concerns, or complaints.  If you happen to be on the call, can you let us know how it went?

Coalition of South Asian Groups Unites, Unveils National Action Agenda

WHAT: Announcement of formation of National Coalition of South Asian Organizations and unveiling of national policy and action agenda, a document that lays out issues and policy recommendations

WHEN: 12:30PM EST/ 11:30PM CST/ 9:30AM PST on Tuesday, June 24th

HOW

Darjeeling Shut Down

By: on 22 Jun 2008

Al Jazeera reports in this video that a six-day-old indefinite bandh in Darjeeling was called by "the Gorkha community" in a demand for "a separate state," and is costing $500,000 a day. "The Gorkhas" refused to speak to the West Bengal government, according to Reuters, preferring to speak to New Delhi directly and "unconditionally." Reuters also reports that the Darjeeling bandh has ramifications beyond the immediate area: the government says the bandh is costing Sikkim $2.3 million a day from lost tourism and presumably other factors and is also affecting army activities.

Conflicts in South Asia (and elsewhere) are frequently depicted to the general public in ethnic terms without looking at other factors that might be causing them as well. For example, who is driving the demand for separation; what is "the Gorkha community" and why does "it," whatever "it" is, want a separate state within India? If "the Gorkhas" are doing things, what does it means if non-Gorkhas in the area support the demand?

Deepak Kusaryi, a Bengali whose grandfather migrated from Kolkata to Darjeeling, said: “I always support the Gorkhaland demand. Though I don’t belong to the Gorkha community, I can easily relate to their problems as I have been born and bred in Darjeeling.”

...Mustaq Ahmed, who took part in a rally at the Darjeeling Chowrasta, said: “This place has a composite culture. We have no enmity with the Bengalis. But it is just that we don’t want to remain a part of West Bengal.”

Dispatch from Jaipur: Playing Dress Up

By: on 20 Jun 2008

So this little khargosh managed to hop across the pond and...um...Eurasia for the summer for the AIIS Hindi program in Jaipur.  So far I can't recommend the program enough.  Jaipur is gorgeous, my home stay family is wonderful, and my professors are a dream come true (and that is no small compliment coming from a highly critical doctoral student in education and former public school teacher).

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