Colorize | who you and me be

hghG4gOQJournalist and Author Jeff Chang@zentronix, on Facebook, on web – was host of the June 7 Bay Area Book Festival event at a panel titled Who We Be: An Un-Panel About Our Colorized Futures described as –

Featuring
Favianna Rodriguez, Oakland artist
W. Kamau Bell, comedian, FX Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell
Adam Mansbach, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Dead Run, You Have to Fucking Eat

Who’s afraid of 2043? No, really?

WhoWeBe_CoverBannerAt this Un-panel, author Jeff Chang (Who We Be, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop), award-winning visual artist Favianna Rodriguez (Migration Is Beautiful, CultureStrike), comedian/philosopher W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America, Totally Biased) and author/parenting expert Adam Mansbach(Rage Is Back, The Dead Run, Go The F***k To Sleep, You Have to F****** Eat) riff and rant on art, culture, race, and demographobia.

Chang, as host of the Sunday afternoon book festival event, provided a brief overview of the panel composition – Favianna Rodriguez, Adam Mansbach, and  W. Kamau Bell. (My brief overview of each over here – Rodriguez, Mansbach, Bell.) Chang shared a little about his background (more on his bio), including his recently having published Who We Be: The Colorization of America (on web, NYT book review). I jotted down a few words from Chang’s intro –

… year 2043, demographics Y2K
… the majority-minority
… culturalization
… colorization

What is with the year 2043? In a December 2012 press release, the U.S. Census Bureau summarized its projection through 2060  – U.S. Census Bureau Projections Show a Slower Growing, Older, More Diverse Nation a Half Century from Now – stating the following –

The U.S. population will be considerably older and more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060, according to projections released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. These projections of the nation’s population by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, which cover the 2012-2060 period, are the first set of population projections based on the 2010 Census.
. . .
The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. While the non-Hispanic white population will remain the largest single group, no group will make up a majority.

All in all, minorities, now 37 percent of the U.S. population, are projected to comprise 57 percent of the population in 2060. (Minorities consist of all but the single-race, non-Hispanic white population.) The total minority population would more than double, from 116.2 million to 241.3 million over the period.

Fast-forwawrd to November 2014, from the Huffington Post’s Braden Goyette’s interview of Chang – Jeff Chang Talks ‘Who We Be’ And Why We Haven’t Had A Real National Conversation About Race

The book explores how race has figured in American visual culture since the 60s, and the rhetorical imagery that’s driven American politics. “We can all agree that race is not a question of biology,” Chang writes. “Instead it is a question of culture and it begins as a visual problem, one of vision and visuality. Race happens in the gap between appearance and the perception of difference. It is about what we see and what we think we see and what we think about when we see. In that sense, it’s bigger than personal affinities, preferences, tastes and bonds.”
(emphasis added)

Inspired. An idea, reignited – bi-cultural improv. Chang’s Un-Panel reignited an idea that had sparked in me earlier this year, an idea that I have had in the back of my mind – bi-cultural improv. The idea is simply to be part of a troupe with members who are at least bi-cultural and who may choose characters and environments inspired by one’s bi-cultural upbringing. Me? I am Filipino-American, who grew up (for the most part) during the 1980s in East Bay part of the San Francisco Bay Area* since I was about 9 years old. (And if you ask family and friends, my brother and I likely may be considered more Americanized than other contemporaries.)

Thanks to Chang, Rodriguez, Mansbach, and Bell for a Sunday afternoon of inspiration and unknowingly reigniting the idea of a bi-cultural improv troupe.

* … and then there is Oliver Wang’s book
Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews
in the San Francisco Bay Area (Refiguring American Music)

Race | microaggressions and whiteness

kamau_bell_rectSocio-Political Comedian and Podcaster*  W. Kamau Bell@wkamaubell, on Facebook, on web – was part of this past Sunday’s Bay Area Book Festival event at a panel titled Who We Be: An Un-Panel About Our Colorized Futures, hosted by Jeff Chang and described as –

Featuring
Favianna Rodriguez, Oakland artist
W. Kamau Bell, comedian, FX Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell
Adam Mansbach, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Dead Run, You Have to Fucking Eat

Who’s afraid of 2043? No, really?

WhoWeBe_CoverBannerAt this Un-panel, author Jeff Chang (Who We Be, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop), award-winning visual artist Favianna Rodriguez (Migration Is Beautiful, CultureStrike), comedian/philosopher W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America, Totally Biased) and author/parenting expert Adam Mansbach(Rage Is Back, The Dead Run, Go The F***k To Sleep, You Have to F****** Eat) riff and rant on art, culture, race, and demographobia.

Bell (who quickly pointed out his not being an author however being part of the Un-Panel at a book festival) was the third and last to speak at the Un-Panel. (over here for my post on Adam Mansbach and on Favianna Rodriguez) He shared a little about his background, where he has lived (Chicago, San Francisco) and his ultimately choosing to live in Berkeley. Bell mentioned that while urban areas may have diverse demographics, those areas may actually be (and are) segregated. By the way, this immediately reminded me of a FiveThirtyEight article I read a while back, The Most Diverse Cities are Often the Most Segregated. I remembered the term integration-segregation index. ANYWAY, I only jotted a few phrases down, which is not to say there was not noteworthy information Bell shared –

… your artisnal fans (on being recognized at the Lake Merritt farmers market)
… microaggressions
… live their version of whiteness proud and out loud (on people living in select San Francisco areas)
… it’s like a telethon, white people (on encouraging people to take part in the race discussions)

Bell also referenced some of his work – his cable show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, his stand-up The W. Kamau Bell Curve, and his upcoming CNN show United Shades of America, which is described in a CNN press release as –

United Shades of America follows comedian and political gadfly W. Kamau Bell as he accepts the challenge to boldly explore the far corners of our country and its various groups and subcultures. Along the way, he will ask questions, get himself into some awkward and at times unpredictable situations, and – most importantly – make people laugh. The series will strive to show the United States is not built upon just one, but many diverse and colorful definitions of America. (Produced by Objective Productions).

– and which he describes to The Verge in this brief interview.

Given the location of the book festival – Berkeley – he briefly mentioned that audience members may know him because of his sharing his experience about and incident at the Elmwood Cafe – Bells’ blog post Happy Birthday! Have Some Racism from Elmwood Cafe! and Bells’ hosting of a Public Conversation with the Elmwood Cafe. Here is San Francisco’s KALW’s summary of the public conversation. Here’s an excerpt from KALW’s summary –

Bell says that moments like this, happen all the time when you live in black skin. “People of color experience what is called microaggressions or implicit bias all the time, everyday, all the time.”

Here, we get into the language that has developed to talk about race, which is part of what the forum is all about. According to the panel, a microaggression is basically an underhanded compliment that conceals a racist stereotype. Like saying to your black friend: “Wow, you don’t act black.”  These seemingly harmless moments accumulate over time and people internalize them, it’s a way of hiding stereotypes in everyday life.

– which cites Bell’s request to continue the conversation beyond the event and KALW’s closing –

The panel ran longer and later into the evening than planned, but people stayed, including the TV news trucks parked outside. W. Kamau Bell had a request of the crowd: Don’t let the media define this event as a one-off.

“They’re going to report on this that they had this event, and this event happened, and at the end, there going to get some clip of someone saying, ‘I thought it was good, I thought it was bad,’ and that’s going to be the story allegedly.”

. . .

But he implored the crowd to take the conversation out of the middle school auditorium.

“Please take this out there out there into the streets, it’s not about the Elmwood Cafe. It’s not about what bad things happened to our family — we’re all here because this has happened to us, or we want to know more about it.” The crowd cheered. “This is so Berkeley,” Bell says.

And that’s the hope, to take the conversation to corners where people might not throw around phrases like implicit bias and microaggression; for people to feel comfortable about calling others out when they do something they might not realize is racist; to not be embarrassed to have embarrassing conversations.

 Microaggressions. Have you heard of this before? Experienced it?

*Podcast:
Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period

Culture | narrative creation

FaviannaR_bioArtist Favianna Rodriguez@favianna, on Facebook, on web – was part of this past Sunday’s Bay Area Book Festival event at a panel titled Who We Be: An Un-Panel About Our Colorized Futures, hosted by Jeff Chang and described as –

Featuring
Favianna Rodriguez, Oakland artist
W. Kamau Bell, comedian, FX Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell
Adam Mansbach, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Dead Run, You Have to Fucking Eat

Who’s afraid of 2043? No, really?

WhoWeBe_CoverBannerAt this Un-panel, author Jeff Chang (Who We Be, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop), award-winning visual artist Favianna Rodriguez (Migration Is Beautiful, CultureStrike), comedian/philosopher W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America, Totally Biased) and author/parenting expert Adam Mansbach(Rage Is Back, The Dead Run, Go The F***k To Sleep, You Have to F****** Eat) riff and rant on art, culture, race, and demographobia.

Rodriguez was the first of three panelists. (over here for my post on Adam Mansbach and on W. Kamau Bell) Rodriguez described her perspective of the importance of culture, especially how powerful culture is to shape the narrative – not only through narrative correction but also through narrative creation. Although she was unable to show her work at the event because of the venue setting, Rodriguez did describe some of her past work on immigration and current project Pussy Power. Her main website also includes links to her artwork/portfolio at  Flickr, to her online store at Flying Cart, and to her blog. Here are a few phrases that I jotted down during her talk –

… people defining culture are creating laws, affecting laws, etc.
… culture surrounds us everyday … we form our opinions based on what’s around us, … allows us to define ourselves
… narrative correction is important and narrative creation is important
… stop being the NO culture … what does the YES look like?

As a side note, I was introduced to Rodriguez’s work at Jeff Perlstein’s SoleSpace (on Facebook, on web) – shoe store, art gallery, event venue –  in Uptown Oakland. In fact, I have her Migration in Beautiful V-Neck T-Shirt – with the image described as –

WhiteShirtImage3The monarch butterfly has come to represent the beauty of migration. Adopted by various migrant rights organizations, artists, and lovers of justice, the butterfly symbolizes the right that living beings have to freely move.
 
Like the monarch butterfly, human beings cross borders in order to survive.

This design is Favianna’s artistic adaptation of the butterfly. Each wing shows a human profile.

What is your narrative creation?
What does your “YES” culture look like?