Friday, June 20, 2008

In L.A., race kills


Black-Latino tensions, not gangs, are at the heart of the county's violence, Sheriff Baca says.

That's the stark comment coming out from the Sheriff of LA County. "Let me be very clear about one thing," he says. "We have a serious interracial violence problem in this county involving blacks and Latinos.

"Some people deny it. They say that race is not a factor in L.A.'s gang crisis; the problem, they say, is not one of blacks versus Latinos and Latinos versus blacks but merely one of gang members killing other gang members (and yes, they acknowledge, sometimes the gangs are race-based).

"But they're wrong. The truth is that, in many cases, race is at the heart of the problem. Latino gang members shoot blacks not because they're members of a rival gang but because of their skin color. Likewise, black gang members shoot Latinos because they are brown."

There is interracial fighting in the prisons; in the schools; out on the streets. Gangs are often no more than collections of individuals looking for members of other races to target. It is a disturbing and pressing problem, made worse by the wider society's refusal or denial to accept that such issues are taking place.

The Sheriff has formed a Gang Emergency Operations Center to understand where and why such crimes are happening, as they happen. He makes some interesting insights into programmes that tackle such issues in jail but it remains to be seen just how much of a lone voice he and his teams are.

Read it in full.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chinese now black

Intriguing ...

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Chinese South Africans now black

The High Court in South Africa has ruled that Chinese South Africans are to be reclassified as black people.

It made the order so that ethnic Chinese could benefit from affirmative action policies, aimed at improving living standards for black people.

The Chinese Association of South Africa took the government to court, saying its members had been discriminated against.
An estimated 200,000 ethnic Chinese live in South Africa.

The association said their members often failed to qualify for business contracts and job promotions because they were regarded as whites.

The association said Chinese South Africans had faced widespread discrimination during the years of apartheid when they had been classified as people of mixed race.

The BBC's Mpho Lakaje in Johannesburg says the Broad-Based Economic Empowerment and the Employment Equity Acts were designed to eradicate the legacy of apartheid which left many black people impoverished.

The laws give people classed as blacks, Indians and coloureds (mixed-race) employment and other economic benefits over other racial groups.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chinese 'ghosts' in Britain


The book Chinese Whispers uncovers a hidden and disquieting world of illegal workers, exploited and maltreated, coming to Britain from some of the poorest regions of China.

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This book based on undercover journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai's experiences among Chinese illegal labourers in this country is vital reading for all who campaign about workers' rights, racial and sexual exploitation, globalisation, trafficking and forced migration.

The tale (or tail, in this case) begins in globalisation and the massive impact of opening China to market capitalism on certain areas, especially Fujian (in the south-east), Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin (in the north-east) and those who have migrated to or been thrown out of state industries in Shanghai. Just to subsist, to ensure parents can eat and children get education, family members have to get to the West to work.

However much they have to pay to trafficker snakeheads (with heads in the UK and tails in rural China) they believe it will be worth their while. But, according to this brilliant book, Chinese Whispers: the true story behind Britain's hidden army of labour, based on investigative journalism by a committed Chinese post-graduate, it never is.

The traffickers always extort more and more, threatening family members back home, the gangmasters in the UK always take more and more for your keep, to register you for work, for sweeteners to agencies, as penalty for illness, lateness and not meeting targets. And now, even those dirty, backbreaking, jobs at the bottom of the illegals' pile, are harder and harder to come by as cheap, 'whiter' labour becomes available from eastern Europe.

Taken from the Institute of Race Relations website.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gay travels in the Muslim world?


I came across this rather unusual title (of a book), from one of my travel industry email lists. Take a look at the interview here with author Michael Loungo. As he says:

"It’s a collection of essays by gay Muslim men and non-Muslim Men. I write about Afghanistan; there are 17 other writers who write on countries ranging from Iraq, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Marisha, and even Los Angeles...

"I think historically when we look at countries like Morocco, countries like Egypt, really since the Victorian era, there has been a lot of quote unquote gay tourism within North Africa. As an example, we know that even people like Oscar Wilde would travel there. There’s also… in Morocco; entire history in the 1940s and 1950s of gay men would didn’t feel welcome in the West, traveling to these countries where sexuality was very fluid and undefined, so we have that historical niche. I do believe that within the context of Shariat law, which allows a certain amount of activity in a private setting, that homosexuality isn’t as frowned upon as the news would have us believe."


Interesting stuff.

Read the full interview over at eturbonews, the travel industry newsletter.

Here's an article Loungo wrote in the UK's Independent newspaper.