As you might have heard, the ballot initiative banning gay marriage in California may pass by a small margin (something like 52% to 48%). Maybe it won't - Alice Walker just said on BBC that it was voted down. Regardless, it is close.
What is disturbing to me, but wholly unsurprising as a queer person of color, is that people have started to blame Black people for supporting the ban on gay marriage in large numbers (70% to 30% based on exit polls). You can see the full exit poll results here.
Here is why I have a technical problem with this:
1) it's a small sample, and it's exit polls. Black people were 10% of 2240 respondents, leaving 224 people. I don't know what that means exactly in terms of margin or error or reliability in a narrow sense because I don't have enough stats, but it certainly shouldn't be taken as an indictment against Black people in California purely on social science grounds AT ALL without actually looking at the process in depth of how this came to be. It's a single initiative based on a single history on a single day, and they asked 224 people who identified as Black (or "African American").
2) It ignores whether other variables might be as or more pertinent than race, and frames the narrative in a kneejerk and divisive way before looking at what's going on. For examples:
82% of a sample of @650 Republicans voted FOR the ban.
85% of @672 self-identified conservatives voted FOR the ban.
81% of @381 White Protestant Evangelical/Born-Against voted FOR the ban.
76% of @672 of the people who said they would be optimistic if McCain was elected voted FOR the ban.
65% of @672 White Protestants voted FOR the ban.
84% of @493 people who go to church weekly voted FOR the ban.
68% of @179 people contacted only by the Obama campaign voted AGAINST the ban.
83% of @470 people who have never been to church voted AGAINST the ban.
90% of @358 people who said "None" for what religion they are voted AGAINST the ban.
And so forth. So we have to look much more of the story if we're going to understand what's actually going on, not jump on whatever story we want.
This is the second piece of news I came across in the last few days. As you might remember, there were scores of Indians and Gulf Indians who were trafficked to the U.S. and put to work on Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts in the equivalent of labor camps. Some of them escaped and they started a hunger strike along with local NGO assistance.
Now it turns out that some of these workers got counterfeit documents and applied for work in North Dakota at an ethanol plant (will complain about ethanol in another post). Their employer then reported them to the government, and the government arrested them despite that they were claiming trafficked status. The nut graf:
"It is an outrage that workers who courageously came forward at great personal risk to cooperate with the Department of Justice in a federal trafficking investigation were targeted by ICE and then denied access to their own legal counsel," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. "Why isn't ICE spending national resources investigating criminal traffickers, instead of targeting and terrifying the victims?" asked Saket Soni, director of the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. "Since these workers have come forward to report Signal International, LLC, to the Department of Justice, they have faced ICE surveillance, ICE arrests, and now an ICE sting operation." [New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice 10/29/08]
Read the whole account from Immigrant News Briefs, a service I strongly suggest you sign up for - it's an e-mail or so a week and you get a much better idea in more concise terms of what's going on in terms of immigration enforcement than relying on having to find articles yourself or relying on whatever comes across your screen:
*2. INDIAN WORKERS ARRESTED IN NORTH DAKOTA
On Oct. 28, ICE agents arrested 23 workers from India at the construction site for an ethanol plant near Casselton, North Dakota. All 23 had been hired several months ago to work for Wanzek Construction Inc. of Fargo. A task force led by ICE made the arrests without incident when the workers showed up for what had been announced as a staff meeting at the Wanzek Construction office west of West Fargo. The raid was prompted by a tip from Wanzek Construction. Company president Jon Wanzek said members of his staff contacted authorities after noticing irregularities on the workers' identity documents, a few weeks after they were hired. The workers "just went through the normal process" to get hired, Wanzek said. "They just came in and applied just like everyone else." Company officials "have cooperated throughout the investigation in this case and they are to be complimented for making this investigation possible at all through their initial report," said Drew Wrigley, US Attorney for North Dakota.
I am commenting on one of two recent incidents which I found out about these past three days. To me, thinking about them is more important than thinking about how to vote in the election, which I still haven't and may not altogether, for the reasons outlined below.
The first is that someone in the federal government evidently illegally leaked the fact that Obama has a relative in Boston who is here undocumented and has a deportation order against her. Obama is advocat
Guardian reports that the latest bombings in Assam took 56 lives. Government blames ULFA; Guardian cites list of complaints by ULFA. As background, Assam, like several other regions of India, has been the site of anti-state political violence for a long time, usually, but not always, linked to an Assamese autonomy/independence movement.
From a friend's e-mail, names changed to protect the innocent:
I am sure there will be much foul play.....
I registered to vote in Pennsylvania a few months back through the obama website and hadnt heard anything from the voter registration people. Yesterday, I called them and they said they had an Annamma Mathew at the Phila address but someone had CANCELLED my voter registration. When I asked "who?" she said she didnt know.
Scattered and unconfirmed details, but from friends, I hear that in Bangalore:
Five hijras were arrested Monday for 'extortion.'
When five other hijra/kothi (members of a local sexuality rights group?) went to the thana to intervene, they were arrested for 'rioting', 'unlawful assembly' and 'assaulting a police officer.'
When at least 31 other activists from a local sexuality rights group went down to see what was going on and to help, they were detained/arrested and faced physical violence (I don't know one way or the other if the two contingents listed above did...but...in the absence o
So you have an enormous credit crisis, and then you get $700 billion - or more - to deal with the problem. Who do you put in charge of solving the problem? Apparently a 35 year old former investment banker from Goldman Sachs who looks like Lex Luthor.
There was another bombing in Delhi today, this time at a flower market in Mehrauli. Four people were killed, fifteen people were injured, hopefully no one I know. My heart goes out to them (from a universal? vantage point).
At the same time, I'm disturbed by news coverage of "bombings" or "terrorist" attacks in India. You can consider this post a working draft of sentiment here on the latest in a series of bombings to have happened for which I could imagine myself as potentially the victim. Let me explain briefly:
I know who's responsible in my mind for a bombing in Mehrauli - it's not "Islamists" or whoever is proximately the cause or will be blamed for being the proximate cause- economically it is ethanol subsidies, and WTO TRIPPS agreements; it is fuel price hikes and pollution; it is Reliance and Reliance ADAG; it is SEZs and the IMF; it is the U.S. and it is the British and it is the Indian government and it is you. More narrowly and politically, it is the dream of Delhi as a "world class city" - it is a subway built with Japanese money that is insulated form the reality of the city, it is the idea that the "middle classes" can live with servants in their houses and salaries from MNCs, that having backup electricity while people are literally being displaced from their land a kilo from your house in Gurgaon is sustainable. It is 160 story towers in Gurgaon and the naive belief that a) they'll happen and b) even if they do, someone won't destroy them or take them over in a country where 77% of the people are marginal and have no national political parties to turn to yet (pace CPI (Industrialists)).
I'm not talking about "moral" blame because I don't have time for that; I've read my Nietzsche- so if people want to have a conversation about the morality of violence, please do it elsewhere. I would rather be sad, angry, and aware of the overall political and economic circumstances to the extent that I can understand them, comprehend them, come to a standpoint; - and I was in New York City on September 11, 2001.
I would rather reflect on this escalating social violence, and pretend that the idiotic conversations that are going to ensue shortly about ISI and Pakistan and India and Hindutva and masjids and temples and secularism and civil codes - that all those are non-existent for this one brief second out of political time in which I can be in my own head. Because, for once, I can hear a voice of the other India through the rich people's media; it's sad that it takes a bombing for it to get there, and it's sad it's going to increase in frequency over time. And maybe when I find out more about it, I will realize that I don't like this particular voice. But this is how Indian politics works, so leave the shock at home and learn about it - and its heterogeneity and constant violence.
Sorry for the late notice...technical gurglings. Here are the deets and the facebook notice:
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is New York. Protest his dramatic human rights abuses.
The last few years has seen a dramatic deterioration of civil rights in India with several fake encounters, numerous arrests on false charges, widespread harassment, the creation of private militias that rape, kill and clear out entire villages.