Recently in Whiteness Category

5933_138844056102_615201102_3187376_1816497_n.jpgI met playwright, hip-hop artist, and performer Idris Goodwin in Chicago in 2002. Our friendship and his finesse as a teacher brought him to teach at the high school I started in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

A prolific artist whose talents have won him a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Goodwin now lives in Iowa City with his wife, a graduate student in the Department of English at University of Iowa, .

Here Goodwin discusses the problem with Black History Month, teaching, performing, and why he loves his mama.


My mama is the coolest. . . She's the first one on the dance floor.

LA: What do you like to be called?

Do you mean "professionally"? A break beat poet, playwright, hip hop performer, teacher and video artist

LA: Where are you from?

IG: I spent the early part of my youth in Detroit, MI and my adolescent and teen years in a nearby suburb.

Why do you love your mama?

IG: I love my mama because she's both a mentor and a best friend. She's the first one on the dance floor. She cries in church and laughs at all my jokes. My mama is the coolest. My dad is pretty dope as well. Smartest, hardest working guy I know. The second one on the dance floor. I learned to have a diverse breadth of experience from him.


At Steppenwolf theater, one of the more prominent companies in Chicago, the only time you'll see black and brown people on stage is when it's an adaptation of some sort of slave narrative or some story that takes place in the early 1900's, down south somewhere. Meanwhile, there are a slew of new works by middle-aged white, mostly male playwrights. It limits the imagination.

LA: You left Chicago a while ago. You lived there for a minute, no? Why did you move to Chi-Town in the first place?

IG: I lived in Chicago from fall '96 to March 2008 - so just under 12 years. Damn! I came to Chicago because I was 18 going on 19 and desperately wanted to be in a thriving urban setting. Though the proximity to the city of Detroit was only about 40 minutes, there wasn't much going on there. God bless it. It's the place where my grandparents migrated and where my parents and uncles and cousins and we were born and where my church family worships. But whenever we would go there to visit family and friends, all I could focus on was the neglect, vacant houses, crumbling neighborhoods. 7126_1199858151971_1094056778_30705852_8132381_n.jpg I knew I wanted to be in a place where there was some energy and life, a creative environment. I wanted to experience real diversity, ethnically, economically, and culturally. New York and L.A. were a little too intimidating for a suburban kid from Michigan by himself, so I picked Chicago. The catalyst was an arts school in the downtown called Columbia College. I enrolled in their film/video and screenwriting program.

LA: Tell me about Chi. Those of us who have lived there know it's a hard place to live with integrity. The City always seems to be pushing folks to step over people. Did the context of Chi's quid pro quo political system and the way it does "bidness" influence the content of your music and plays? If so, in what ways and through which media?

"Fear of a Black C-SPANet"

This is absolutely hilarious and just might make you rise up and shout Hallelujah!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Fear of a Black C-SPANet
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

JaneTrenka.jpgIf you're in the Twin Cities, I highly recommend that prospective and current adoptive families go - with an open mind - to hear Jane Trenka. What she has to say about adoption is extremely important to consider before adopting and after.

Author and activist Jane Jeong Trenka is presenting a lecture titled "A Million Living Ghosts: Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea" tomorrow

Date: Thursday 11 February 2010
Time: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Location: @ University of Minnesota, 100 Smith Hall
Cost: Free

Description: Since the end of the Korean War, South Korea has sent away more of its citizens to be adopted than any other country in the world. If we count

For Whom is "Precious"?



5 February 2010

"Fade to White"1
BY Ishmael Reed
Oakland, Calif.

JUDGING from the mail I've received, the conversations I've had and all that I've read, the responses to "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" fall largely along racial lines.

Among black men and women, there is widespread revulsion and anger over the Oscar-nominated film about an illiterate, obese black teenager who has two children by her father. The author Jill Nelson wrote: "I don't eat at the table of self-hatred, inferiority or victimization. I haven't bought into notions of rampant black pathology or embraced the overwrought, dishonest and black-people-hating pseudo-analysis too often passing as post-racial cold hard truths." One black radio broadcaster said that he felt under psychological assault for two hours. So did I.

UPDATE: "Stealing the Babies" - Americans Charged with Abduction

Ruth Fremson NYT.jpg0204-Haiti-Americans-Detained-600_full_380.jpg0204-Haiti-Americans-Detained-2-600_full_380.jpg

The New York Times
4 February 2010

10 Americans in Haiti Charged With Abduction, Prosecutor Says

Ten Americans [from the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho] arrested in Haiti last week as they tried to take 33 Haitian children to an orphanage across the border in the Dominican Republic were charged on Thursday with abduction and criminal association, according to prosecutors.

The charges, which carry prison terms of up to 15 years, were announced after a closed court hearing in which prosecutors questioned the Americans, most of them members of a Baptist congregation from Idaho. The case has become a flash point for Haiti's fears of foreign encroachment in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Read More here.

Photo credits:
1. "Charisa Coulter and nine other Americans were charged Thursday in Port-au-Prince with abducting 33 Haitian children." Ruth Fremson / NY Times | The New York Times

2. "Four of 10 Americans who were arrested while trying to bus children out of Haiti without proper documents or government permission, arrive to court inside a Haitian police truck in Port-au-Prince, Thursday." Rodrigo Abd / AP | Christian Science Monitor.

3. "In this photo taken Saturday, four of the 33 Haitian children that a group of 10 Americans were trying to bus out of Haiti without proper documents or government permission, are seen at a police station in Port-au-Prince." Labrousse Wadson / AP | Christian Science Monitor

Stealing the Babies: Baptist "Rescue Missions" in Haiti

| 1 Comment

Ten members of the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho went on a mission to "rescue" thirty-three Haitian kids by attempting to steal and take them across the border to the Dominican Republic. Fortunately, Haitian authorities stopped the church group. Central Valley's web site has this "news update" on their homepage:

A ten member church team traveled to Haiti to help rescue children from one or more orphanages that had been devastated in the earthquake on January 12. The children were being taken to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic where they could be cared for and have their medical and emotional needs attended to. Our team was falsely arrested today and we are doing everything we can from this end to clear up the misunderstanding that has occurred in Port au Prince.

If I were lying dead in Haiti and my baby was out there homeless, the absolute last person I would want to take my baby is anyone who thinks that their race, religion, family, country, and culture are superior to my own. The ideology of this church is best captured in the rationale that its "Minister of Connections," Drew Ham, provides for becoming a "strong Southern Baptist" (typos and capitalizations, his):

I was saved at the age of 5. It was very clear to me: I was sinner and headed to hell. However, Jesus Christ died on a cross for my sins. The choice was pretty simple: a.) accept Jesus and spend eternity in heaven or b.) reject him and accept the consequences of hell. It was pretty much a no-brainer for me. I often speak of my life a journey - a quest toward the KINGdom of heaven (Matthew 6:33). I am continually striving to be more Christ-like and know God at a deeper level.

Can it really be considered a "rescue" if a large group of unknown, white, "strong southern Baptists" who think anyone who isn't "saved" will be subject to "the consequences of hell" pick up black, Caribbean kids and take them anywhere? Talk about culture shock for those kids! I am not only galled but, perhaps, a little frightened of how fierce such church groups can be.

You can read "Haiti Detains Americans Taking Kids Across Border ," an Associated Press report on the group's failed attempt, in the Sunday (31 January 2010) World section of The New York Times.

Haiti_map.gifBelow is an important statement made by the Adoptees of Color Roundtable (a new site for discussion) regarding the fast-tracking of Haitian adoptions. (Thanks, Ron, for the link!) The group rightly critiques the concept of the Northern family as better, preferred, supposed haven and bastion of rationality for Haitian children. I find their statements significant in relation to international and domestic transracial adoptions.

Statement on Haiti by the Adoptees of Color Roundtable

This statement reflects the position of an international community of adoptees of color who wish to pose a critical intervention in the discourse and actions affecting the child victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti. We are domestic and international adoptees with many years of research and both personal and professional experience in adoption studies and activism. We are a community of scholars, activists, professors, artists, lawyers, social workers and health care workers who speak with the knowledge that North Americans and Europeans are lining up to adopt the "orphaned children" of the Haitian earthquake, and who feel compelled to voice our opinion about what it means to be "saved" or "rescued" through adoption.

evo morales relection 09.jpg

UPDATE: Evo Morales re-elected on 6 December.

Huffington Post
6 December 2009

In the US, presidential elections shift trillions of dollars and move armies across the globe. In Bolivia, the stakes are even higher.

Hoy, el 6 de Deciembre, nearly every citizen in the country - voting is obligatory here - will go to the polls for an election whose outcome is certain: a victory for the incumbent indigenous president, Evo Morales. And yet political energy has been vibrating plazas, radio stations and kitchens nonetheless. Because Bolivians are casting their ballots not to identify a new president but to take advantage of an even rarer opportunity: a chance to define themselves.

The 2001 Bolivian Census Survey on Race identified 12% of the population as white, 30% as mestizo (mixed) and the remaining 58% as indigenous. But such demographic studies of the population are more exercises in definition than data gathering; race is an inherently fluid notion in a country with 36 recognized ethnic groups and a 400+ year history of racial mixing and integration. In a country where the racial lines are so blurred, both "whiteness" and indigenity (to coin a term) are highly economically and culturally determined. And, as a result, somewhat self-defined.

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