Burroughs Adding Machine

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

Promoting–or Pigeonholing?–Pacquiao

I worry about media representations of Manny Pacquiao.

Forget the ignorant, racist comments of Adam Corrolla. I worry about the coverage of Pacquaio that promotes the idea of the savage; the subtle, perhaps unnoticed ways he is represented as the “little brown brother”–a pejorative concept introduced more than a century ago, during the Philippine-American War. The culture of forgetting seeks to characterize and categorize non-white people. Presenting Pacquaio as eccentric (a karaoke singer! a boxer! a religious zealot from the Philippines! and a man who runs for Senate?) serves to exoticize his image in Western media. How can we view a man with this kind of wacky, far-flung, misguided, ambition as an equal?

My students gave a presentation on Filipino stereotypes last week. When they asked random students on campus to name stereotypes of Chinese, responses ranged from hard-working and good at math to reducing a group of people to “Chinese Food.” Stereotypes of Europeans produced no better soundbites. But common stereotypes of Filipinos? The students couldn’t think of any.

The shock for my students came in the fact that Filipinos are the second largest Asian community in the U.S. Not Japanese or Koreans, ethnic groups with clear imagery in our minds. Filipinos? An invisible population, despite a population of 3.1 million, according to the U.S. census. The dearth of commonly-known images of Filipino Americans only adds to my concerns in how Pacquaio is presented.

Shaman or athlete? Political force or punchline to a racist joke? Little Brown Brother redux?

Filed under: filipino, media, , , , , , , ,

Where Are All the Black Teabaggers?

A stupid question, but worth asking: Are there any members of the Teabag party who are also people of color? I’ve tried to find images of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, or Native Americans to no avail. The right’s extremely popular wingnuts don’t seem to have a place at the table for non-whites. What’s up with that?

Bob Cesca wrote a fantastic deconstruction of what I’ve sensed–but lacked the directness to state: the Teabag Party is racist. What’s his evidence, you ask?

This isn’t an epiphany by any stretch. From the beginning, with their witch doctor imagery, watermelon agitprop and Curious George effigies, the wingnut right has been dying to blurt out, as Lee Atwater famously said, “nigger, nigger, nigger!”

Take a look at the image above, of the boy holding a white protest sign. It reads “Obamanomics: Monkey See, Monkey Spend!” The cartoon image of a monkey’s face correlates with the text of “Obamanomics”. Does this young person see no problem in comparing a black man to a monkey? The historical implications of the savage, of an ignoble beast rather than a human being, possessing the capacity for reason, for logic, for an intelligence higher than the animals of the earth, is undeniable.

How often do we find images comparing white folks to monkeys? In contrast, how often are African Americans caricatured as monkeys?

The baggage of racism has been going on for the last two hundred years. It seems the Teabag party may just be a product of cultural hegemony, useful for those who want to maintain racial hierarchy. Perhaps the Teabaggers might garner more respect if their messages were rooted in concrete arguments rather than racist iconography.

But maybe it’s better to just let the Teabaggers speak for themselves (weekend roundup compiled by Mediamatters.org):

Filed under: race, racism, , , , , , , , ,

Intimidation and hate is the province of cowards

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Rather than intellectual debate, anonymous homophobes in Seattle and Dayton, Ohio, are simply attacking gay establishments. As reported by Dan Savage in The Slog, GLBT folks in 11 establishments in Seattle were threatened this weekend with ricin, a toxic chemical, that was allegedly placed in patrons’ drinks. In Dayton, animal rights activist Nathan Runkle was attacked by a stranger after leaving a gay nightclub on Saturday. From a press release from the Mercy for Animals organization (the nonprofit Runkle founded):

Runkle was briefly hospitalized after sustaining two facial fractures, a broken nose, deviated septum, and severe facial bruising. The incident has been labeled a felonious assault and is currently under investigation by the Dayton Police Department. Runkle believes the assault was motivated by hatred toward gays and was intended to send a fearful message to the local gay community.

It’s sad to see this trend of intimidation and visceral hate continue; for anyone who thinks that the gay rights movement is not under attack (see Mike Huckabee’s recent homophobic comments to Jon Stewart), one only need learn about this attack and this attack and this attack, all occurring in the last month.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I wholeheartedly believe that each of us has our own values and opinions–and that these sentiments are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

But when individual thought becomes violent action? This is when our government–and everyday citizens–must step up to the plate.

Filed under: gay rights, government, 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)
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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