Friday, April 04, 2014

#CancleColbert? aka Claudia defends a white man

i'm having this weird feeling defending a rich white dude (especially when so many of his defenders are foul sexist or racist) but dang…

In a nutshell Colbert does a sketch.  Someone tweets a line from his sketch.  The point of the sketch is racist stuff is racist even when it’s a foundation that is giving stuff to the marginalized group it’s being racist towards.   Suey see’s the tweet and gets mad heated and starts a hash tag #canclecolbert on the twitter and gets all her friends to do the same and folks gets cray cray on the twitter for reals!

I’ma be real.  I think sista might be confusing activism and publicity.  Just a little bit. Cause now everyone is talking Suey this and Suey this and that.  Who is paying attention to the punchline of the joke?   But who am I to talk?  Not like I’m trying to get famous with my little blog but I get paid for my political poetry and I’m totes cool with that.  And it aint anyones place to say who get’s to be offended at what, but dang….

i saw the sketch. he's funny. he's anti-racist. that's the point of the sketch.

My pal on the facebook says it’s not cool cause Colbert is punching DOWN and that type humor is never cool.  But I’m all no he’s punching ACROSS.  He’s punching the Redskins not the Asians. Dan Snyder is the butt of the joke.  But seriously who the heck am I to have an opinion?  I’m not Asian. I’m not Native American.  I’m black and gay but I don’t think that counts.  I only recently attended a football game.  but dang...

"If folks put a fifth of the energy they are spending defending Colbert into calling and emailing Dan Snyder and company to demand they change the name of the Washington team in support of Native people, that would be the subject of a dozen major news outlet’s stories instead of this. If people put that same energy into supporting POC comedians like W. Kamau Bell, Hari Kondabolu, Gloria Bigelow, Pia Glenn, and so many others to control our own narratives, TV would already look a lot different than it does.
We don’t need white racial satire. Let’s invest in something else."
but dang...

sorry mia
sorry suey
sorry all y’all upset
justified or otherwise
but i do need white allies
and i need people who make me laugh
colbert does both and more power to him
that shit was funny

maybe I'm on the wrong side of this debate.  but that's ok.  POC's are not always right.
at least we're talking about these things.

also I wouldn't even be tripping over the redskins foundation if i hadn't heard about it on this rich white man's comedy show.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lucky Me

So we’re doing this privilege exercise with the leadership team because my job is cool like that and cares about diversity and stuff so that’s how we roll.  Whenever I do a privilege exercise Dora the Explora the Backpack song runs through my head. (this is a reference to the seminal Peggy Macintosh essay)

One of the exercises is a sectioned off circle with areas like race, religion, age, class, etc. You talk as a group and decide what groups have the “most” privilege in US society. I’ve done this exercise a bunch of times. Every time the white section is white. Then you identify your self in there and fill in the pie pieces where you have privilege. As a black bisexual Buddhist daughter of an immigrant raised in poverty living a check to check spendthrift lifestyle of pizza and Starbucks I don’t even bother bringing a highlighter. I’m cocky and more than a little defensive when it’s suggested that I might have one iota of privilege within the strata of the U.S. (I feel a rush of empathy for every white person who freaks out when they first hear of the concept of White Privilege)

Our facilitators point out that class privilege is not only about money. It’s about education, cultural literacy. The fact that I’m all smarty pants about Shakespeare and Foucaultt, is a point of privilege. The fact that I even have access to people with more money than me is a privilege. So, I color in the slice of the privilege circle.

 I finally got a piece of the pie!


 This gets me to thinking about the other slices. I’m Buddhist but I was also raised Christian. I’m mobility challenged but I can see. The world is intermently blurry sometimes but for the most part books computers signs are not a challenge. I can hear stuff without help. I walk with a cane and am often spastic and obviously in physical pain…ok that one sucks but because I walk with a cane people hold doors for me, give me seats and are generally thoughtful about my physical needs. Folks with invisible disabilities don’t get that. I am totally privileged!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Resources for conversations about race, ethnicity, and privilege in the US.

Barry Deutsch titled "A Concise History of Black-White Relations in the United States

Explaining white privilege to a broke white person. Gina Crosley-Corcoran

Eddie Murphy SNL "White Like Me" on The Critical Media Project (chock full of resources!)

Aamer Rahman (Fear of a Brown Planet) - Reverse Racism

Peggy Macintosh White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack 

A cartoon, links, and video resources!

Louis CK on Historical Context

Race and Racism Illumination Project Curriculum Materials By Dr. Rowan Wolf, Sociology Instructor and Caroline Le Guin, Writing Instructor Portland Community College

Tim Wise: On White Privilege (Clip)

The Color of Fear. edited by Richard Bock

Different types of privilege

On appropriation

How to deal with racist people

Five Ways to Respond to a Racist Joke
By Nadra Kareem Nittle

How to tell someone they sound racist. Jay Smooth

The privilege of colour-blindness

Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

The N-Word Double Standard

Try This instead: Don't Say the N-word
How not to apologize Like a fartbag

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

You are not a green screen

inspired by some movies.  (still need to make it sound good but this is a good rough sketch)
update:  after reading at open mic -- first edits!!

by claudia alick 2014

Let me paint you a picture
You are not a green screen
These hose are not nude
Those crayons from 1962 are not flesh colored
And your body is not a neutral canvas for art
You are always present
Like a background noise
Or embedded image

When a white female plays a character based on a real person of color
When a cisgen male plays a transgender woman
when a white actor voices a POC Cartoon Character
When an able bodied actor plays a paraplegic
When a hearing actor plays a deaf person
We applaud the virtuosity
The talent
The research
Their heroic humanity that eclipses ethnicity, identity, authenticity

To the members of the privileged class who play those from under represented communities
to the story tellers who use culture as aesthetic seasoning
to the creatives who sample from real peoples lives
You are not a gateway drug
You are not a safety net
You are not a guiding hand
You are not part of the solution
You are not a green screen
Our experience is not something you can map onto yourself like you are invisible
You are always present
Like a background noise
Or embedded image
And some of us are tired of always having you in our pictures

I’m done applauding masquerades
I’m done ignoring inaccuracies
Forgiving the necessities of the business
I used to be grateful for simply having a piece of our story on a screen
It was progress that our existence was even acknowledged
and play a caricature of her own people 
but she was in the room

It is not enough
We deserve more
There are barely any roles out there in the first place
And we fill them with the bankable
Those with the social capital
And ultimately it isn’t helping my people
 I could direct this to producers
Writers, Casting directors
Even the audience who pays and enjoys and tacitly approves
But this however is directed to the actors
In all their sincerity
In all their virtuosity
who need the money
Who want the challenge
Who take the job
because they can
You are not a green screen
And yellow face is still a thing
If someone offers you the role
If the script makes you feel uncomfortable
if you're taking a gig from a person of color
Maybe you should say no

Your ethnicity is not neutral
Your body is not neutral
Your gender is not neutral
Your choices are not neutral
You are not a green screen
You are not a blue screen

And for some of us
These pictures matter

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Dance with me on birthday! There’s this song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams that just makes me feel happy to dance to. The world is full of such negativity, and stress, and inequities that it's important to remind yourself of joy.

Sometimes shaking your booty can make you feel better and watching others shake their booty can make you feel better too. What better gift could you give myself and others than to dance with us?

Near my birthday Friday Feb 28 I will begin dancing at 12:00 on the bricks at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival with some friends. You’re my friends! Come dance with us!

If you cannot join us dancing in person please tape yourself dancing and post it to my facebook page. It can be an improvised solo recorded on your cellphone, or a choreographed full out group piece (I will be very impressed if anyone does that!) My only request is that you dance to the song. I want you to post video so i can dance along, but if you can't post video JUST DANCE

Dance for those suffering. Dance for those you love. Dance for yourself!

Thanks for dancing with me.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Wahoo Opening weekend!

Opening weekend of the first 4 awesome show of the 2014 Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Every year I am amazed at the litteral blood, sweat, and tears folks give towards creating emotional experiences for folks. It takes some crazy talent, supreme organization, and a lot of hard work done by a lot of people. We clap for the folks on stage but it's a big effort that takes hundreds of people to pull off. These shows will make you think about the world, about yourself, and about really silly things. Seriously, there are a couple of productions that are so funny I literally hurt myself laughing. I am grateful to have this gig. Now to boogie dance with theater makers in celebration.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

State of Black Oregon

Just met with some local black leaders and The Portland Urban League to discuss the next upcoming State of Black Oregon report  It's an impressive document that has helped to educate and set policy that changes lives.  We ate pizza, chatted about projects we're collaborating on in arts, activism  and social justice, and introduced each other to the folks we didn't know.  I LOVE meeting black people!  I think this comes from growing up in Montana but to this day when I see a brown person I run and introduce myself.  I've made some great firends that way :) After an informative powerpoint we began discussing what the 2014 report could include. I being the egoist I am had to ask WHERE AM I?  I've been here since 2008  and OSF has been here for a long time and there's no sign of us in the 2009 report.

2009  Report

I think our work in the arts has served to further diversify Southern Oregon and help it be a healthier more inclusive place over the past 50 years...but what do I know? Which is why I'll be helping these folks on their next report.  I need infographics and charts and moving essays about what we are doing.

Read below and support this work.  It's important and results in actual change for the better and a stronger Oregon.

Monday, January 27, 2014


So I'm chilling at the Stratford Theater Festival for the Shakespeare Association Conference... literally chilling. There's a thing called the polar vortex that has made cray-cray cold weather.  When folks in Canada are saying "Woah, this is cold"  You  KNOW it's cold!  I'm from Montana.  I once got snowed into my house.  We had to wait for the weather to get better to open the door.  Even I was saying this is mad cold. Also I don't have chains or snow tires for my walker so it was pain in the butt. It was totes like that Disney musical except without the music or pretty girls or added unnecessary male characters. I do think I saw Marshmallow somewhere near the theater.

The conference was very conferency with great meetings and workshops and wonky shakespeare stuff.  My fav was getting all deep into the verse and spitting it Tim Caroll style...well honestly that was my second fav.  My REAL favorite bit was THE SLINGS AND ARROWS panel!!!!!  It was like a Star Trek convention with all of Shakespeare heads loosing our minds, geeking out super hard core over every tidbit the writers dropped.  I love this TV show with a  deep passion.  It really get's theater right, and it's funny for anyone watching it.
 During the Q&A (me being me)  I asked about the lack of diversity in the show and admitted disappointment at not seeing myself in the show.  I was thinking they'd say it was on purpose because the show was reflecting the real life demographics of theater...but instead they got really cute and awkward and apologized and revealed that while they'd thought about it they didn't TALK about it (or at least not enough to be practiced at responding to a question like this).  Why can't I just let things be nice?  They were very cool but I am bummed we didn't have a deeper conversation.  There was an African immigrant character as a security guard/custodian, an asian intern, and a black actress, as well as a latino immigrant love interest.  There was also a character that had an Indian name but they ended up casting a white actor (who was hilarious).  This would make for an interesting paper. Well interesting to me. :)   

While in Canada I tried four different types of Poutine (which my sister tells me is a little like Disco fries)  and got a donut special at the Jim Hortons.  I also got harassed by Air Canada staff for being a cheap disable person.  The airline staff refused to help carry my bag to the conveyor belt to be checked, and got mad at me when I said I couldn't hold it on my lap without injuring myself, and laughed at me and called me a name.  Then the dude behind the counter made a "uh-huh" grunt and laughed too.  I refused to pay someone to help move the bag because by this time I was pissed. It's not access if you have to pay extra for it.  I'm already traveling with an extra $20 to tip all these folks pushing me in wheelchairs.  I don't have cash to pay porters too. I ended up hurting myself getting my bag and walker to the conveyor belt for international travel.  Then the dude gave me attitude when  I insisted they use the plastic bags (that they provide) to bag up the walker so it wouldn't get broken.  Sigh.  The plane itself was really nice...even though the Air Canada attendants at the end of the flight gave away my wheelchair and rushed me off the plane so I was leaning up against the wall injured and tired and feeing like Air Canada has a nice surface but crappy service.  That's said the Canadian Poutine was awesome!!  I shall return (possibly by train)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Privileged Denial

Privileged Denial or PD:  The act of denying that an act is racist, sexist, homophobic, or that anyone should be offended by it.  

The phrase "Political Correctness"  or "PC" is often used by people engaged in "PD" as something to be avoided or to be ashamed of.   Like using language that doesn't revel in stereotypes or hurts people is a bad thing. Below are some examples.  trigger alert, below are a lot of PD...users...PD engagers...PD-bags?

Folks who engage in PD often wear costumes or throw themed parties or use problematic language and wonder why people are upset.

PD users often accuse others of being hyper sensitive or unreasonable.

PD'ers will use the language of civil rights leaders and human justice workers to make their ugly arguments.  Always quoting out of context and missing the point.

P-D-bags often accuse others of having "cards" and request others stop "playing" them.  As if acknowledging reality makes something real. This is because PD-bags believe denying something causes it not to exist.

PD can also be expressed as denying that racism, sexism, homophobia etc exist at all.

 PD phrases are often preceded by "This isn't racist...", "I don't hate gay people..." or "Women need to get over..." or "My name is Sarah Palin..."

Examples of PD can be found in the comments section of the entire internet


 Real comments read by Stella Choe and Scott Beehner from Ken Tanaka's viral video "What Kind of Asian are You?"!

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 Martin Luther King jr Celebration!

artwork from LIFEART

What an awesome day!  What an awesome weekend!  What an awesome life!  So many celebrations ours was in support and collaboration and conversation with.  I'll post more details on the Ashland event later below. This quick note is me speaking from the heart.  I think programing like this is necessary for the health of communities and of societies as a whole.  We have to gather in song and dance with youth and hard history and recommit to the future we need to live in, and we will build together.  I get super angry at people who think of it as a day off, or a day to do get work done on other projects, or even the folks who HAVE to work because they don't get the time off.  I get pissed when people do not make their children attend. 
This is ridiculous and unfair of me, but I actually take it personally because to me these gatherings are holy.  I have faith in humanity, but only when we check in, in a VERY public way, and say loudly together we ALL belong here and will not hate each other, discriminate, or make this anything but a beautiful healthy place to live.  I throw an entertaining tight 90 minutes and want everyone to be down. It's streamed live online and afterward there's a march in the streets and a live public demonstration with song and Martin Luther King's words.  I didn't make any of it up, and I work in collaboration with a lot of others but and I am a driving force and I've been doing it for 6 years now.  I am a bit aggressive and subversive with my programming and I'll cop to it.  On the surface it seems like community niceness but there is totally an agenda.  Our show is diverse in age, ethnicity, where people live, and what they care about. The cutest kids ever were singing and dancing but the language in the songs the history, and ideals we grappled with were complicated and necessary. Reading the news story I can see my agenda was not subtle.   What is this agenda?  It is the agenda that Martin Luther King jr died for.  It is the agenda that is otherwise named The American Dream. 
I hope and believe it is a shared agenda.

Daily Tidings Article

KOBI 5 News Story

KTVL News Story

Mail Tribune Photo gallery