Microagressions in Information

Microagressions are hot right now. I think a lot of the term’s popularity has to do with the smallness of it– it provides a framework for us to say “I’m not calling you a bigot, totally not calling you a bigot, but I’d like to have a conversation about how your words/actions made me hurt/uncomfortable/angry/etc.” Because everyone carries unconscious prejudices with them and this conversation isn’t about the sensitivity and morality of an individual. It’s about the cumulative affects of deeply seated societal norms. Tumblr, then, serves as such a perfect place to collocate microagressions because the platform matches the occurances. Tumblr can show microagressions as small, relentless, and repetitive. All this to say, there’s a new microagression Tumblr for you to follow–


The dashingly intelligent, passionate, and proactive Cynthia Mari Orozco has created LIS Microagressions, an online space for librarians, archivists, and information professionals to share our experiences with microaggressions within the profession. Never miss a post.


Making Precedents Count

Go, California!

Last week the state passed AB 351, a challenge to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2012). The bill protects Californians from unconstitutional actions by the federal government, like the NDAA’s ability to suspend habeus corpus (yeah, I linked to Wikipedia. Don’t be shy about using it to double check your understanding of habeus corpus.) It’s not the first state to challenge the NDAA (Alaska and Virginia), but what’s nice about the bill is:

1. It was introduced by a Republican (good for you, Tim Donnelly!) and sponsored by a Democrat (and to you, Mark Leno!). Even in these dark times of partisan struggle, it is possible to come together around the things that matter, like making sure that American residents and citizens cannot be held indefinitely without charges just because they are suspected of being enemy combatants.

2. It proves that we’ve learned at least a little bit from our past. Remember WWII when the government detained thousands of Japanese Americans without trial under suspicion of being “the enemy”? Remember all the mistakes we made after 9/11? This is a step away from all those mistakes. Towards something more just and constitutional. Ahilan Arulanantham has a nice piece connecting the JA incarceration and the passage of AB 351here. Short, too.

You can read about the bill’s passage or read the bill itself. Or, if you’re really excited about constitutional rights read both. While drinking a your required pumpkin spice latte (Seriously. Everywhere has a version now…) and thinking how nice it is that we’re trying to not repeat our shameful history.

Judging Us by Our Covers

I followed the Trayvon Martin case as a spectator. I read the official news. I read the progressive commentary. And the president’s comments on the case. Especially this:

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? (via Garance Franke-Ruta)

If Trayvon Martin could have been the son or the younger self of our president, what could he have been to me? I’m not black, not male, not living in Florida. I’m just a little mixed-race woman living in Seattle. I’m nothing like Trayvon Martin, right?

Of course. If a strange man followed me in his car and then confronted me, what would I have done? What would I have been expected to do? Probably scream and/or mace him and/or kick him in the nuts before running like hell. Because as a small woman living in urban areas, I’m not the threat. Never assumed to be the threat. Strange men are the threat to me because I’m trained to be afraid of rape.

Whereas if Martin had kicked Zimmerman in the nuts and ran? I have a nasty feeling that would have been considered an attack. Or proof of guilt. Or at least a justification for Zimmerman fighting back. But if Zimmerman had followed me, confronted me, and then shot me because I maced him? We would have a very different conversation on our hands.

The Presidential Race by Race

The racial breakdown of yesterday’s election is pretty darn extreme (click on the exit polls tab to see all the pretty graphics):

But what does it signify? Was the election really about race? Are politics in general? Is the Republican party hopelessly disconnected from the realities of non-white people? Does this breakdown reflect the reality of the candidates’ policies, or the public’s perception of what (and who) they stand for?

Better than Candy for Halloween

Talk about good journalism, and getting people to read your story, check out this headline:


Bam. Of course I read the article! A headline like that, on one level it’s hilarious and ridiculous (Come on, Cornel, make up your mind! Do you support him or don’t you? What a bad stereotype of activism–no one’s ever so good that there isn’t a reason for outrage, huh?). But if there’s one thing I can say about Cornel West, he can make himself understood. He can turn a phrase. This is how he explained his position (as opposed to the headline’s):

A Romney administration would be a catastrophic response to an already catastrophic condition. I still get in a lot of trouble with my left-wing comrades on this—that I would still support Obama winning while continuing to tell the truth about drones dropping bombs on innocent people, which I consider war crimes, about the Wall Street government, about the refusal to close Guantanamo, about [section] 1021 of the National Authorization Act where you can detain citizens without trial or even assassinate citizens based on the decisions of the executive branch. All of those things to me are morally obscene. It’s a matter of telling that truth, strategically. I think we have to ensure that we don’t have a takeover by conservative right-wing or we’re in a world of trouble.

Amid a frothing sea of election related information overload, a good headline is un-ignore-able.

Does This Mean We’re Mainstream?

My Facebebook feed has pinged several times now with friends posting an article called “What Muffins Say About Mitt Romney.” It’s a kind of funny take on the writer’s dad and the presidential race. Spoiler alert, the punch line is “My dad’s so Asian, he can’t vote for a guy who only eats the tops off muffins!” Because that’s wasteful.

(And kind of fussy, Princess Mitt. But that’s my opinion, not the writer’s.)

When did Asian American writers start getting humor op-eds in the New York Times? Taking into consideration that the Times is always well behind the culture curve, does this mean that all of America is aware of the way-past-expiration-date food that Asian parents eat? If the habits of Asian parents aren’t an inside joke anymore, are outside communities laughing with us or at us now?