Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We Interrupt Srs Blog Bzns to Bring You a Signal Boost!

A friend of a friend is creating a new game about colonialism and the consequences of imperialism. From the Kickstarter description:
Dog Eat Dog is a game of colonialism and its consequences. As a group, you work together to describe one of the hundreds of small islands in the Pacific Ocean, defining the customs of the natives and the mores of the outsiders arriving to claim it. One player then assumes the role of the Occupation force, playing their capable military, their quisling government, and whatever jaded tourists and shrewd businessmen are interested in a not quite pacified territory. All the others play individual Natives, each trying in their own ways to come to terms with the new regime. The game begins when the war ends. Through a series of scenes, you play out the inevitably conflicted relationship between the two parties, deciding what the colonizers do to maintain control, which natives assimilate and which run amok, and who ends up owning the island in the end. The game will come in the form of a book, with the full rules, author's notes that explain the design process, and a brief historical overview of colonization in the Pacific.
Liam Liwanag Burke talks about his fun and creative way to create conversations about the consequences of colonialism and educate people on the history of the Pacific Islands, his background and motivations that led him to create this game, and the plans for the Kickstarter monies.

If you have any spare monies, please consider backing this history-based POC-created project that is designed to communicate how colonialism systemically affects people psychologically. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Link of Interest: Tweets on White Media and Magical POC

My friend yeloson tweeted a series of observations about white media and how POC are portrayed in them, to the point that these portrayals are accepted as truth and become part of basic psychology. This is part of how racism works, repeating the same interpretation over and over again until it becomes just plain "logical" to take them into consideration. And this has consequences in our activism as well. 

On Aloneness, and Points of Reference

I have just devoured the fourth book of the Parasol Protectorate, which, as one can expect, is a terribly satisfying read, even with all the twists and turns and mistakes the characters have made, especially Alexia's, and I'm pleased to see her making such huge missteps. I'm not sure I buy the passage of time in this story, though, but that's not what I want to write about today.

Carriger has introduced a very different voice into the narrative this time, one distinctly un-Alexia, marked in italics. I was kind of confused at first (I thought it was an actual chicken! what with the discussion on whether animals have souls. The hardcore PETA kids are going to have a fit) but eventually pieced together who it was, and the sentiments expressed in it hit me in a peculiar place. Spoilers under the cut in case you wish to be warned.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Racist Things Steampunks Are Not Immune To: Dysconscious Racism

Dysconcious racism is a term coined by Joyce E King (in the Journal of Negro Education, Spring 1991, JSTOR, but you can get it through Google, too) as “the uncritical habit of mind (i.e., perceptions, attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs) that justifies inequity and exploitation by accepting the existing order of things as given.” It's pretty much the reason why Moff's Law exists as a comment policy on pretty much any blog that seeks to analyse pop culture.

Link of Interest: Anti-Chinese Riot in Seattle, 1886

From HarpWeek, a site that "will make it possible to take a detailed look at the various immigrant and ethnic groups that were a vital part of American culture during the second half of the 19th century", there're various articles from Harper's Weekly, which ran from 1857 to 1916. It appears to have done a really good job of living up to its name "Journal of Civilization" by chronicling how various ethnic groups contributed to the growth of the USA. This particular item was tweeted, but I do recommend browsing the whole site. A paragraph:

A deliberate and determined effort—an effort, too, without immediate provocation—was made on Sunday, February 7, to expel the Chinese from the town of Seattle, Washington Territory. By a preconcerted plan, of which neither the law-abiding citizens of the town nor the Chinamen had a hint, a mob invaded the Chinese quarter late Saturday night, forcibly but quietly entered the houses, dragged the occupants from their beds, forced them quickly to pack their personal effects, and marched them to a steamer. The mob was thoughtful enough to provide wagons to convey the baggage of its victims. Some had money enough to pay their fare to San Francisco, and many did not, but the mob made no distinction. The few policemen that became aware of the wrong-doing had no power and slight willingness to prevent it, and before the sleeping citizens of the town or the county officers knew what was going on, 400 Chinamen were shivering on the dock. The Sheriff ordered the mob to disperse, but the only result of his order was a hastening of the work of expulsion. The captain of the steam-ship admitted all the Chinamen who had bought tickets, but refused to allow the others to go on board. He armed his crew and attached hose to his boilers, and thus assumed the defensive. Not more than 80 of the 400 Chinamen purchased tickets and safety.

This is a part of US history that I very rarely see addressed at conventions and in steampunk literature: its utter racism towards racial minorities. I find the idea of multiculturalism being practically a playground for white people to dress up in non-white costumes quite problematic already, and there is often so little engagement with the histories associated with these costumes, it feels like our selves as people are redundant, and cast aside so people can have fun with our histories.

Especially when confronted with anti-Chinese screeds today, worrying over China's relationship with Africa, the ignorance surrounding how European and U.S./Canadian powers have treated both East Asian and African peoples on their own soils is deeply ironic, and I'm sure there are tons of scathing things to be said about white analysts judging China to be neocolonizing Africa whilst ignoring how Europe/US/Canada themselves continue to patronize and manipulate politics (oh, come on, Uganda having oil and Kony 2012 can't be just a coincidence). I'm far too tired at the moment to contemplate that, though.

Anyways, hope you enjoy the link.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Steampunk POC: Phil Powell (Mixed race: German, African, Cherokee)

It's the first Friday of the month again! That means, time for another Steampunk POC interview! This time, we hike over to DC metro, to talk to steampunk dandy Phil Powell, a man who colours up the sepia of steampunk, with more than just his skintone.
Phil Powell. Portrait by Denis Largeron

 How do you do steampunk? Or how do you steampunk or how do you participate in steampunk? Or what steampunk media do you do (lit, fashion, events)? Ay-Leen tells me you're a local organizer, but feel free to talk about anything else: costuming, roleplaying, etc.

I turn Steampunk on its ear.  I don't go for the generic guns/goggles/gadgets that permeate Steampunk; I feel that if we are going to recreate (and perfect) the Victorian culture, all of it must be represented, including the Dandy.  I am a Dandy, a proud one.  I wear very fancy outfits, feathers, accessories, pins, brooches.  THOSE are my gadgets.  Ay-Leen knows me well; I do events, small social outings for those of us wishing to encounter each other in a non-club setting to enjoy our mutual interests and to further my goal of global domination, ridding the world of mundaneness and general boredom.

How did you come to steampunk? What were your first impressions of it?

I am originally a Goth.  Dressing up fancy and having interest in all things Victorian comes naturally to me, so when I learned about Steampunk back in 2008 I was immediately drawn to it and wanting to explore further, thus, I did.  My immediate impressions were that of a very diverse group of people, mostly from the Ren Faire circuit, that were immersed in roleplaying and general nerddom, things that weren't necessarily my strongest suits, thus, I was in some ways coming into the Steampunk genre a bit, well, green.