We are not couch surfers. We don’t own a couch. However, we host (for the lack of better word) people who travel and they sleep soundly on the cement floor (of course, we provide thin layers of comforters and pillows) and every morning, without morning will be serenaded by Luna’s melodious barks.

Anyways, we just recently hosted four friends Australia. Very nice people and were looking forward to this gig at One Café in Kuala Lumpur. I would like to establish a few things. I am not in the punk music scene. Some may say that I am in the outskirts of the punk music scene but I think I am actually not but that does not stop me from making snappy comments or observations or doing things in solidarity with them. I know a lot of people who are in the scene and I enjoy the music but I am not in the scene. I probably only go to gigs when relantionsheep, the garrison, or some bands, actually friends that I really wanna see play, which I must admit not that often. Then again, as I said that doesn’t mean that I am totally isolated from these people. They are some of my very good friends.

Getting back to the story, I know, I can digress. It is a skill which I have mastered. So there was a gig last Friday night and a lot of friends were there too. It was a punk gig. Somewhere during the gig, there was some sorta altercation between some our Australian friends and some Nazi punks who were there to “set up the venue” for their gig the following day. In other words, they were there to hang a couple of banners. The banner, my gosh, was so disturbing. It was a picture of a skull with four keris at very corner of the skull. Encircling the disturbing image was the infamous phrase “takkan melayu hilang di dunia” meaning “the malays will never vanish from the face of the earth”.

The keris has been somehow misinterpreted as the symbol of Malays when the keris is a hand held weapon which was used all over Southeast Asia. The phrase on the hand was supposedly coined by Hang Tuah, a Malay warrior who was recently taken out of the history text books upon recent discovery that he is indeed of the Chinese descent. What do you know?

So the assholes first grabbed one of their beer bottles and didn’t wanna return it. So one of them (the Australians) had to go back and ask them to return it. After that, the Nazis went up to one of them and told them to get out of this country as this country is not theirs (!!!!) To that one of them replied, “Fuck off you racist!” or something like that. Then, the gig ended and the attacks started. They started throwing bottles at the Australians and a couple of Singaporeans who were there. One bottle hit of the Australians head and she busted an artery in her head. So you can imagine the amount of blood that she lost that night. A few of them got hit my some bottles too but they were not “physically injured”. I saw t-shirt that she was wearing and it was drenched with blood.

There are a few things that I truly hate. One of them is the healthcare system and industry. She was driven to the hospital by two friends from here while two of her friends stayed back. I don’t understand this. You have someone drenched in blood and you can clearly see that this persyn needs immediate attention but you make them wait anyways. For hours! Because she had to wait for awhile, they decided to go to a private hospital nearby. There she was asked to pay a deposit of RM 3, 000 in order to get someone to attend to her. They went back to the public hospital and she was given 7 stitches, I suppose. I know that it’s no less than 7.

After the incident, one of her friends spoke to manager of the place to try to get the Nazi gig the following day banned. While the guy she spoke to understood the gravity of the issue, he asked her to call them back at 3pm the following day. They didn’t call and we didn’t hear that it was cancelled. Just so you know the persyn who spoke to him had blood splashed all over her face. Seriously, if that doesn’t do the trick, I don’t know what will.

Clearly, One Café, if I may quote my friend, is a capitalist scum. All they care is about making money. They don’t really give a shit about who does what there. As long as you can provide them the rent, that’s all that matters. Come on, the persyn who was talking to the manager or someone had blood splashed all over her face and the whole incident happen in the venue and they still wanted to consider canceling the gig the following day and subsequently banning those assholes. When someone from Crimescene unintentionally showed some penis (which means some pubic hair and skin), they totally flipped big time and almost stopped the show immediately. Was not there but that’s what I heard. Crimescene are banned from the venue. Or so I was told. So to be correct they just want “decent” shows and cash.

I don’t like that place but I don’t expect much of the place as it is not like Noisy, a community space. One Café is merely another café which is accessible and “affordable”. But I think even then they should have some sorta stand. Like some things are completely intolerable. I also question friends/punks who go to gigs at One Café. Why would you go to a place when you know the place has no sorta political stand or stand for that matter? I think it is very important how people associate or disassociate themselves with places or people who they know are, for the lack of better word, fucked up.

I was totally furious over the incident. From talking to a bunch of people after the incident, I learned that the punks always second thoughts on reacting against the Nazis as they know for a fact that those assholes have parang and other weapons in their cars and have crazy affiliations and connections.

One thing which I probably can’t stand is when people tell me “back in 1997…”, “back in the days…”, “you know, before you did it we used to…” I can’t stand it because I get it a lot. Wherever I go. Yeah, I understand you did it but please spare me the lecture. Anyways, from my conversation with people, this is what I can say, people should for one, take a stand and two, there needs to be some serious community building. I am not gonna go further into that as I don’t think it is appropriate to write about here. Anyways, my intention was to write about what happened and that was all but then I digressed.

Note: I wasn’t at the venue. This is based on stories which I heard from people. I also didn’t wanna use names as I don’t know how people would feel about their names being exposed so used “Australians” and “Singaporeans” instead.

Justice for Jason

Justice for Jason

Anarchists in Trouble

In the early hours of February 3, 2008, twenty-two-year-old UMass Amherst student Jason Vassell was conversing with two friends in his dorm room, as university students often do. Trouble arose, however, because Jason Vassell is Black, his two friends white women, and standing outside his first floor window were two drunken white men, non-students with long records of racially motivated thuggery.

by Adrienne
BAAM Newsletter #18 (Boston)

In the early hours of February 3, 2008, twenty-two-year-old UMass Amherst student Jason Vassell was conversing with two friends in his dorm room, as university students often do. Trouble arose, however, because Jason Vassell is Black, his two friends white women, and standing outside his first floor window were two drunken white men, non-students with long records of racially motivated thuggery. The men started by yelling at Vassell, using such terms as `bitch,’ `nigger,’ `pussy,’ and `retard.’ While his friends went to call the police, the two men broke Vassell’s window. Gaining access to the dormitory, they attacked Vassell, breaking his nose and giving him a concussion. Vassell defended himself from this unprovoked attack with a pocketknife, injuring his attackers, Jonathan Bosse and Jonathan Bowes.

When the police finally arrived, they arrested Vassell, who had no priors whatsoever, referring to the student as a `drug dealer’ for no contextually clear reason, as well as an `asshole’ whose testimony was `bullshit.’ The district attorney charged him with two counts of aggravated assault and battery, charges that carry up to thirty years. Only one of his assailants, Jonathan Bowes, was arrested. The only charge he received from the DA was a misdemeanor civil rights violation, carrying 18 months max. Held on unreasonably high bail for five days and denied the meds that had been prescribed for his injuries, Vassell was subjected to many an indignity at the hands of law enforcement before his family finally managed to get him out of custody. Despite Vassell’s stellar academic record, he was forced to withdraw from the University.

Institutionalized white supremacy guarantees that atrocious crimes are committed against people of color every day, both by individuals and through institutions. Vassell’s case is exceptional only in that his friends, fellow students and enraged community members immediately organized a campaign in his defense. Through rallies, call-ins, editorials and general mobilizing in Western Mass, Justice for Jason has drawn so much attention to Vassell’s case that the obstinate DA has arranged for Vassell’s court dates to take place half an hour away in Northampton, fearing that a jury in Amherst would not be `impartial.’

Vassell’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the preposterous charges against the young man, but at the court date on February 18th, complicated, uninteresting legal barriers arose that must be overcome before the motion can be considered. An evidentiary discovery hearing was scheduled for March 2nd. Till then, check out and feel free to call the DA’s office and demand that they drop all charges against Jason Vassell. 413.586.9225

Marriage and Racism and Queers, Oh My!

from UltraViolet, December 2008

It is no secret that we in LAGAI – Queer Insurrection, like many other grassroots queer activists, are not big advocates of gay marriage. As with queers in the military, we think the overall political institution is wrong, and therefore we should not be struggling to have an equal place in it. Through legal marriage, the state coerces people into nuclear families, statistically the most dangerous place in the country, through a system of rewards and punishments. People’s rights in society, whether to health care or immigration should not be affected by the type of relationship they are or are not in. We wish the energy that goes into gay marriage could instead go into the other issues that affect us all, like making queer youth safe in schools and on the streets, providing economic support for queers and all people, and building a society where people’s needs are met, and we are free to live and love as we choose.

However, we opposed proposition 8. Proposition 8 wasn’t about the de-establishment of marriage, it was plain and simple about homophobia, or the maintenance of heterosexual privilege, however you want to call it. It was about religion controlling access to benefits of what is supposed to be a secular state. So we were appalled to see the No on 8 ads put on by the “Human Rights Campaign” (HRC) and other mainstream gay groups, that at best missed the point and were ineffective, and at worst were racist. No On 8 never showed the diversity of gay people who wanted to be married and they never talked about the impact of denying these rights on how queers perceive themselves and their place in society.

The last ads were, instead, appropriation of the history of people of color in the u.s. They equated the history of slavery and the fight for civil rights for African Americans, the internment of Japanese residents and citizens, and the struggle for justice for Latino workers with the struggle for legal recognition of gay marriage. White Europeans exterminated millions of Native Americans, and killed at least two million Africans who were abducted and thrown in the holds of ships to be sold as slaves. Slavery was legally maintained for over 200 years. White supremacy was maintained through terrorism (including lynching), as well as law. Legally enforced segregation persisted until the 1960’s. Although nominally able to vote after the Civil War, African Americans were effectively disenfranchised everywhere in the u.s., and legally disenfrancised in much of the south. The Civil Rights movement was about overturning this systematic legal oppression of African Americans, and thousands of people were injured and hundreds of people lost their lives in that struggle.

It is absurd to casually equate this experience with the experience of not getting state recognition for a marriage.

Racism is Not Over

Starting in the 1960’s pollsters have been asking white and Black americans about their views on racism in America. For example, in December 2006, a CNN poll found that 49 percent of Black respondents said that racism is a serious problem, and an additional 35 percent said it was “somewhat serious.” Compare that to 18 percent of whites who thought it was a serious problem, (while 48 percent at least thought it was “somewhat serious”). This only a year after the federal government abandoned tens of thousands of Black people in Louisiana and Mississippi to die in flood waters, or to beg for help by the side of the road or in a filthy and and overcrowded sports arena.

It is beyond the ability of this statement to address all of the forms and examples of racism against people of color in this country. We just want to say that racism is not over. It is still the very root and core of u.s. society, as is the heterosexual nuclear family.

Perhaps one of the most offensive manifestations of racism in the Prop 8 aftermath is the statement, seen on signs, and now as the front page of the Advocate, “Gay is the New Black.” It is amazing how much wrong can be put into five words. It seems to imply that either Black people are gone, or possibly that Black people are no longer oppressed, because otherwise how could anyone be the “new” Black? It clearly negates the existence, and certainly the oppression of Black gay people. As we said above, it appropriates African American history.

Let’s get it clear, it wasn’t Black people who created Prop 8, it wasn’t Black people who funded Prop 8, and it wasn’t Black people who made Prop 8 win. The vast majority of people who voted for Prop 8 were white. Black people make up only 6 to 10 percent of the California electorate. The CNN exit poll on which the media built the idea that African Americans were responsible for Prop 8 winning was based on 154 Black voters.

The media, including the left media, is titillated by the “conflict” between Black people and gays just as they have been by the “conflict” between Jewish and Black people for decades. Democracy Now has had more gay content since Prop 8 than perhaps in its entire history. We hear on KPFA and Public Radio that white gay people have never done anything to support struggles against racism, and we know that isn’t true. We hear that no queer people of color support gay marriage, and we know that isn’t true either. The impression is given that the people of color who voted for Prop 8 weren’t doing it because they were homophobic, but because they were angry at the racism of the No on 8 ads or because they are generally anti-marriage, and we think that’s not true either. Because there are better ways of handling this contradiction than by participating in a vote that brings out the homophobia in all communities, and particularly places queer people of color at risk.

The mainstream gay organizations, particularly the HRC, waged this campaign as they have waged all others, completely divorced from the community they claim to represent, hiring ad agencies and conducting focus groups, putting out single message bullet points (“It’s unfair. It’s wrong”). We have heard that ads were made and not used with diverse gay couples explaining why they wanted to be married. Probably some of those ads would have been more persuasive, but we will never know.

We still oppose Prop 8, and we are glad that the mainstream civil rights organizations, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Equal Justice Society, California NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. filed a petition on November 14 seeking to overturn Prop 8 on the basis that permitting a majority vote to eliminate rights for any group of people threatens the rights of every minority. “We would be making a grave mistake to view Proposition 8 as just affecting the LGBT community,” said Eva Paterson, president of the Equal Justice Society. “If the Supreme Court allows Proposition 8 to take effect, it would represent a threat to the rights of people of color and all minorities.”

Unfortunately, queer liberationists, and other progressive queers have a very low profile in both the straight and left media. On most issues, on any day, KPFA would rather put on the HRC than LAGAI or Gay Shame. Even though the HRC supports sweatshops, and sold out trannies on ENDA. But it is not fair to impute the history of the HRC to the many queers — queers of color and white queers — who fought in the civil rights movement, and continue to fight racism in our communities and elsewhere.

The campaign against 8 will move forward into the courts, and we can only hope the courts overturn it, because frankly we were sick of the gay marriage issue 10 years ago. But no matter how the court case goes, it is important that queer communities address the racism that has boiled to the surface in the Prop 8 aftermath.

We will never achieve equality as LGBT people until we join all the struggles for justice and liberation and against racism and class oppression. We need to honor and name the unique histories of queer people of color, not write them out of history, and out of the present for that matter.