Education Town Hall

I participated in an education townhall at the National Opportunity to Learn Summit. I was slotted because Dr. Isabel Castillo was unavailable and the event took place right after my Federal Income Tax final! Needless to say, I was brain-fried but did manage to tell the story of Joaquin Luna, an undocumented youth who killed himself due to his lack of legal status, and how making sure that this doesn’t happen to every undocumented youth was a moral imperative.

This just about sums it up.

As a response to Luna’s untimely death and the deportation of another undocumented immigrant, Yanelli, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance unveiled “Undocuhealth.”

Reading and Rioting

My dear law school friend Sam Ames, tells all current and budding lawyers to read Tips for Communicating with Transgender Clients in Prisoners’ Rights Cases that was published by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

If you are starting law school this week, check out How To Read A Legal Opinion from my criminal law professor, Orin Kerr. It’s a must-read guide for new law school students.

For the desis, please read A note to all non- queer desis from a particularly agitated queer desi. I’m glad there are some things I don’t need to say because there are increasingly more people who say it for me.

Want to know what on earth went down in London? If you want some critical perspectives on the riots in England, you should check out don’t moralise, don’t judge, don’t take pictures – it’s time for the riot to get some radical politics by Daniel Harvey and An open letter to those who condemn looting (Part one). That’s just a start.

Which movie will alleviate your white guilt? Hat tip from Jose Antonio Vargas, if you are really into movies like “The Help,” check out A Better Life. After all, it is undocumented immigrant workers that are “the help” today and maybe we are the ones who should be telling our own stories.

And of course, I’m just going to see One Day.

Reading List: “I am A Terrorist”

I often have allies and well-intentioned people asking me what they should be reading and watching and while I am not interested in serving as a “portal” for anyone, I don’t think it hurts to list some of the things that catch my attention during a week. You are always free to send me your recommendations as well.

I am A Terrorist” has to be the most powerful piece of writing I have read this year.

Books: Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage and The Revolution Starts At Home. You won’t find them on the New York Bestsellers lists but you should be reading these books.

Equality and the Limits of LGBT Politics by Urvashi Vaid is a critique of the word “equality” in the context of LGBT politics. I find it fascinating that from Jasbir Puar to Manish Vaidya to Yasmin Nair, queer South Asians seem to make some of the best critiques of the mainstream LGBT movement in the United States.

On a related note, Ifti Nasim, a pioneer gay Pakistani-American poet and activist just passed away at the young age of 64. Pick up a copy of Myrmecophile: Selected Poems, 1980-2000.

If you are interested in the politics of imperialism, check out Fuel on the Fire – Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, which is the first book to answer one of the largest unanswered questions of the U.S.-Iraq war: what happened to the oil?

Kemi Bello’s new poem, Battling Silence. It lays out her thoughts about the evolution of a  movement.

My friend Taz is visually curating political images from the American Desi Diaspora. I learned more browsing through it than I have learned in a class about Asian-Americans.

California – Failure of a State

Nativists blame it on ‘dirty illegal immigrants.’ Economists are quick to point out the crash as part of a larger recessionary period that the global economy is undergoing. Politicians groan that California’s budget crisis is really Prop 13, an anti-tax measure that not only put a cap on property taxes but also requires 66% of the legislature approval to pass a budget.

It’s a little bit more complicated than that when Mark Yudof, the President of the failing University of California system, is compensated over $800K per year while students are forced to pay 33% in fee increases and thousands of teachers lose their jobs. It is a smart play: make a good public education almost unaffordable for the majority of people so when things go from bad to worse, only a few labeled as ‘Marxists’ can really explain why things are so terrible.

Supply-side economics–a neo-liberal experiment now extending to three decades–only works for the supply-side of the equation. Deregulation and privatization of public goods while making deep cuts into the social sector has led us down this path. Corporate tax loopholes are increasing while cuts to the public sector are deepening. Not everyone is suffering equally.

The state of California is not a failure–it is failing to take care of its ‘plebs.’ The rich are still getting richer.

I don’t know how this story ends. Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost.

Book Review – Beyond Walls: Reinventing the Canada-United States Borderlands

I just finished a book review for the Journal of Landscape Research. The book is aptly titled ‘Beyond Walls: Reinventing the Canada-United States Borderlands‘ because the entire book is a complete reinvention, devoid of much historical understanding or exploration of how the Canada-U.S. border is so ‘benign.’ Of course, I was nicer in my book review parts of which I can share:

Konrad and Nicol claim that their purpose is “not to attempt a comprehensive history in a book devoted largely to contemporary border issues…[but to] entice readers to search beyond the national narratives…” (64). While the last chapter on transnationalism provides some narratives of people living in the borderlands, it leaves out much of the complications from the new security border. For example, the border fence between Canada and the United States in Derby Line, Vermont is spreading hatred and discontent among residents as they can no longer see long-time neighbors.

Additionally, while recognizing that it is futile to talk about the border without talking about immigration issues (210), the authors shy away from delving into this homeland security imperative, which has completely transformed the cultural landscape. The fact that Canada and the United States do not dub each other as ‘foreign’ is worth further historical examination than the book provides.

Since the evolving borderlands are not cloaked by violence and anguish of power struggle and the changes are aligned in the interests if both countries, Konrad and Nicol conclude that the Canada-United States border offers a model of future borderlands.

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