Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Raging Grannies Raging at BP

Even the Raging Grannies are giving BP and Halliburton a piece of their mind.

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Filed under: age, environmentalism, oil spill, social justice, , , , ,

BP to Reporter: “What are You Doing Here?”

Vodpod videos no longer available. Seems that BP is giving the press–and its workers–a hard time.

Despite BP’s recent statement that open access is allowed to the press (excepting security or safety concerns), reporters like Dan Harris, in the clip above, are continuously blocked in their efforts to cover the oil spill and its ramifications.

The trickle-down effect of BP officials not speaking to the press extends to the more than 20,000 workers cleaning up the beaches. Harris says that workers are reluctant to speak on camera because they have been told by BP not to do so. After all, who’s going to bite the hand that feeds you?

Workers use absorbent pads to clean oil from the Pelican Rookery near Grand Isle, La., on Thursday. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Still, some of BP’s workers are speaking out. George Jackson, a 53 year-old fisherman in Louisiana, took work for the BP clean-up after the company eliminated any hope for his fishing business. Not only has the disaster affected his livelihood, it has created health problems. Jackson told The Los Angeles Times:

As he was laying containment booms Sunday, he said, a dark substance floating on the water made his eyes burn.

“I ain’t never run on anything like this,” Jackson said. Within seconds, he said, his head started hurting and he became nauseated.

Like other cleanup workers, Jackson had attended a training class where he was told not to pick up oil-related waste. But he said he wasn’t provided with protective equipment and wore leather boots and regular clothes on his boat.

“They [BP officials] told us if we ran into oil, it wasn’t supposed to bother us,” Jackson said. “As far as gloves, no, we haven’t been wearing any gloves.”

Commercial fisher-woman Diane Wilson of Seadrift, Texas, pours a jar of syrup made to look like oil over herself as a police officer drags her from a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing yesterday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Seems that BP’s efforts to contain the bad publicity are failing. In addition to the press and workers talking, activists like commercial fisherwoman Diane Wilson are speaking out. Wilson interrupted a Senate hearing in which Senator Lisa Murkowski sought to limit BP’s liability. Murkoswki has been in bed with the big oil companies nearly $150,000 in campaign funds from the oil industry.

Wilson doused herself in fake oil at the beginning of the session to express her outrage over BP support on Capitol Hill. A powerful action that received lots of media attention and continues the public pressure on BP to act more responsibly.

Filed under: environmentalism, labor, media, oil spill, , , , , , , , , , ,

Colbert Sets the Birds Loose on BP

Vodpod videos no longer available. Stephen Colbert gives BP honcho Tony Hayward a piece of his mind (and muscle), on behalf of the American people. My favorite bit is his nod to Hitchcock’s The Birds.

If only Colbert’s humor could truly alleviate the tragedy of this epic disaster.

Filed under: environmentalism, humor, , , , , , ,

Indian Americans and the Usefulness of Covering

Southern governor (and candidate) Jindal and Haley are Indian American

If Nikki Haley wins her bid to become the governor of South Carolina, she will join Bobby Jindal at the highest level of Indian Americans in contemporary politics.

This should be a moment of triumph, right? Indian Americans around the country should be rejoicing at the representation, the similar-toned faces and shared priorities, shouldn’t they?

Or, like me, did you not realize that both of these high-profile politicians were of Indian heritage?

Born Nimrata Randhawa, Nikki Haley is the daughter of Indian Punjabi Sikhs who emigrated from Amritsar, India. Her colleague, the current governor of Louisiana, Piyush Jindal, was raised in a Hindu household by Indian immigrants, converting to Christianity in high school and eventually baptized as Roman Catholic while at Brown. It’s telling that both politicians converted to Christianity at an early age.

In The Daily Beast, Tunku Varadarajan analyzes the success of these American-born politicians: not only have they removed the ethnicity from their birthnames (essentially whitewashing their public title) or exchanging their family’s religion in favor of the majority’s faith, but both public figures have adopted radically conservative stands that mirror the views of their Southern constituencies. As Varadarajan asks:

What explains the success of Jindal and Haley in their respective states? In posing this question, I hint, of course, at the South’s lingering reputation for racial intolerance; and who can deny that the two states in question have not always been at the forefront of America’s historical striving for racial amity?

I was first introduced to the concept of “covering” (as opposed to “passing”) by NYU Law School professor Kenji Yoshino in his book of the same name. Covering, essentially, is actively playing down one’s difference, whether racial, ethnic, sexual, or physical.

FDR covered his physical disability when he presented himself to the public behind his desk, chest-high, his wheelchair absent from view. Vanessa Hudgens and Nicole Sherzinger cover when they play ethnically ambiguous roles and decline to discuss their Filipino heritage. Anderson Cooper and Jodie Foster cover when they purposefully avoid disclosing their sexuality to advance career and avoid controversy. As Yoshino writes:

Everyone covers. To cover is to tone down a disfavored identity to fit into the mainstream. In our increasingly diverse society, all of us are outside the mainstream in some way.

Haley and Jindal are only the latest in the long history of American covering. What’s frustrating, for me, is not the theory of covering but the actuality of it: that public figures must conform to whitestream notions of normalcy to achieve success. What if Haley or Jindal expressed outrage over racial profiling in Arizona? Would it jeopardize their conservative political careers?

And by covering the essential, indivisible part of their ethnic identity, what kind of message are these very public figures sending to Indian American children? That to take pride in one’s heritage–or to speak against discriminatory policies rooted in xenophobia–creates unnecessary dissent?

For M. Night Shymalan, who whitewashed the summer blockbuster The Last Airbender, issues of covering are irrelevant because people of color are literally represented in his film. That all of the heroes were cast as white actors and the villains played by people of color does not trouble him:

Maybe they didn’t see the faces that they wanted to see but, overall, it is more than they could have expected. We’re in the tent and it looks like the U.N. in there.

What’s the use of a place at the table if we have to cover our identity to get there?

Filed under: asian america, government, india, media, politics, race, racism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rounding Up the Illegal (European) Immigrants

Cops: Racial Profiling Edition.

The provocateurs at Joshonthestreet.com created this mockumentary to arrest illegal immigrants, in what looks like a suburban shopping mall somewhere in southern Cali. Props to these folks, and let’s hope the satire goes viral.

What do you think? Send all the Europeans, who are here illegally, back to their native land?

Filed under: history, immigration, social justice, , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
June 2010
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About Me

https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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