Volume 6 Issue 4 - October 3, 2008 minagahet@lists.riseup.net

 

Hafa Adai, yan welcome to i mina'trenta ocho na Minagahet

Last month I was fortunate enough to be in Denver, Colorado to witness the nomination of Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States of America by the Democratic Party. My presence there was part of a program called the "State Blogger Corps" whereby a grassroots blog from each state and territory of the United States would not just be allowed to attend the Democratic National Convention, but also be given full media access and even a seat on the floor of the convention with your state or territory's delegation. Through my blog "No Rest for the Awake" I covered the convention from the perspective of Chamorro, Guam and US territorial issues. I ended up writing several dozen posts and even had a few other people write guest posts. To this day I am still backposting notes, interviews, funny stories, cute/crazy moments with delegates, bloggers, media people, security and elected officials. 

I've decided to use this issue of Minagahet to gather up several of my posts and also act as a sort of conclusion to my experiences, and share what I learned from being so close to the halls of American history and political power. I was absolutely an outsider in this process, coming from a colony of the United States and not one of its blessed 50 states, and in my presence there I was representing both ideas and people which don’t really have a place in the convention itself.   Although I do support Barack Obama, for a variety of reasons, and have been basically a “radical” Democrat for all my life, that hasn’t kept me from criticizing Obama or the Democratic party and also hasn’t let me forget my political commitments to Guam’s decolonization and not an American progressive politics, but a Chamorro one. And although the Democratic party is a far bigger tent than the Republican one (proved again when 93% of the RNC delegates were white), that doesn’t necessary translate into better treatment for those at the edges of America ’s empire.

  I’m sure that If I was more connected to the Democratic party or its corporate sponsors, and if I was from a more important “political community” in this election, such as from a larger “minority” group or from a swing state, then I would have taken away very different lessons from my time in Denver . But since I was an outsider there in so many ways I can only offer lessons from that perspective. A perspective which sadly got me very little respect, attention or access at the convention. Despite my repeated requests and calls to people at the Democratic National party level, the Obama Campaign or individual politicians' offices, I was not given any access to any elected officials or their representatives, except for the Democratic non-voting delegates from American Samoa, Guam, The Virgin Islands and Washington D.C. Para este siha yan i tentago'-niha, bai hu sangani hamyo "Si Yu'us Ma'ase." The lesson from this? The delegates of the territories stick together, but in relation to the rest of the United States, whether you mean anything or not is always in question. 

Although this issue is dedicated to the Democratic National Convention, there are still plenty of things happening on Guam and in the Pacific, and as always you can keep up with those issues by checking out the JGPO Blog and the Decolonize Guam BlogTaitai hafa masusesedi giya Guahan yan i CNMI, meggai na debi di ta cho'guiyi i taotao-ta!

As for all my other blogs and websites. Chamorro.com is still a great resource and source of info on Chamorro events in Guam and in the diaspora. Famoksaiyan is still around, and right now planning a trip to the United Nations this month, and several report backs in the Bay Area, Southern California and Guam. For more info on all these things, you can check out  its blog, or look for it on Myspace or Facebook. There's also a Famoksaiyan Youtube channel, with some videos of the most recent Famoksaiyan conference "Guma'Famoksaiyan: Gathering Strength for the Journey Ahead."

I don't post much anymore on Voicing Indigeneity or Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World, but there's still plenty of information there to read or download and so check them out.

 

Sahuma Minagahet yan Na'suha Dinagi

Sahuma

 

ARTICLES

 

May 15, 2008 - Bei Falak Denver - I'm Headed to the Democratic National Convention

Yanggen ilek-hu na "excited yu'" siempre ti nahong este na fino'-hu para u na'tungo' hamyo i tinahdong-hu i minagof-hu put este! Mampos excited yu'! Mamposssss.

 

May 19, 2008 - From a Footnote...To the Democratic National Convention

My new audience, and one which I am definitely happy to engage with is a liberal, Democratic, progressive one. There is so much terrain, so many issues and so many ideas upon which there is a strong affinity between what I believe and what these other bloggers believe, but I know that given my political status, there will be very fundamental divisions and distinctions, that cannot be simply explained away as "politics" or simple differences of opinion, but stem directly from the ambiguous and colonial status of Guam.

 

June 26, 2008 - Fache'

TRUE RUMORS ABOUT OBAMA: Barack Obama is spearheading a movement to rename “Marine Corps Drive” “Marine Drive Magazine Drive.”...Barack Obama is the white lady in Mai'ina...Barack Obama was really the one who grabbed the gavel from Judi Won Pat...Barack Obama closed down Gameworks...Barack Obama is the reason that it always rains on Liberation Day...Barack Obama is the one who keeps putting casino gambling on the election ballots and who also keeps organizing the Lina’la’ Sin Casino movements...Barack Obama is the one who wrote all the terrible Guam jokes for Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Jon Stewart...When the Marines and their dependents get to Guam and the roads get worse, the infrastructure becomes even more strained and the cost of living shoots up even more, it will all be Barack Obama’s fault

 

July 9, 2008 - Racial Fantasies

From this perspective Obama does represent a huge shift. He is not just another rich white guy, who came from a perfect American home and had plenty of perfect American opportunities. He is not part of that fallacy of American normativity. Since he comes from modest means and a broken home, he does have a much more actual American story than most Presidents. But as a person of color, he also knows the pain of being an American who must constantly endure the racism of American race relations, where those with different names, skin colors, phenotypes or religions can always be treated like outsiders and always be told in both polite and impolite ways to "go home" or back to where they came from. Obama, as a Presidential candidate still isn't exempt from this. Despite being born in the United States and being a US citizen, there are still very strong rumors working their ways through "hard working" communities that argue that he isn't an US citizen and was in fact born in Kenya, and that he believes in one of those "non-American" or "anti-American" religions.

 

August 15, 2008 - Bloggers at the DNC

Whether this year results in significant gains for racialized groups is unlikely, but the Democratic National Convention will be a potent symbolic event, creating a huge emotional bubble amongst people in the United States, built from two very intimate, yet transcendent hopes. The first is the laudable hope that racism in this country can be surpassed and that dream of Martin Luther King Jr.'s is possible. The second is the selfish and self-protecting hope that should America at last elect a black person to its highest office, then white people who never owned slaves or killed Native Americans, will no longer have to feel guilty for the slaves owned and indigenous people that their ancestors killed or profited from

 

August 23, 2008 - Kao Sina Hu Interview Hao?

To tell you the truth, there is some hope on the horizon for this dream of decolonization for Guam, a faint trace fell into my inbox this evening. It is not much, and probably won't amount to anything, but it is still something.

 

August 24, 2008 - DNC Preview

Tomorrow is the first day of the convention and I'll have a lot more. I was able to meet up with the Guam delegation today. They all sported red Hawaiian shirts which made them very popular with the other delegations and they were often asked by complete strangers if they could take pictures of them. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this...

 

August 25, 2008 - DNC Day 1- The AAPI Matrix

I attended four Asian Pacific Islander Events today, and for the part of me that has lived out in the states for the past four years, and become accustomed to pan-ethnic rubrics such as “Asian Pacific Islander Americans” it was an exciting day. For the other part of me which is rooted in Guam, and had never even used the term “Pacific Islander” until I came out here, the day has been a bit disconcerting.

 

August 25, 2008 - DNC Day 1 - The Return of the Native

I think the crosswalk lights had been white for a while. Because he immediately darted off, in a different direction than which we had both been initially facing. In the last look that I got of his face, I saw a mixture of fear and confusion, as if the foundation for his identity in that moment had just completely collapsed and fallen away, leaving him to dangle without any certainty. I imagine that so many people who come to Guam serving in the military, or even tourists who visit Hawai’i get that look after they realize that a place that they imagined as theirs, whether it be a paradise or just another military base, in reality belongs to someone else, and has natives who claim it.

 

August 26, 2008 - DNC Day 2 - The Half Vote Dilemma

I've written before about the half-vote delegates that Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Americans Abroad receive in the Democratic Presidential primary process. For me this is just another sort of way in which the island is included and excluded, how it is never made a full part of the United States, but instead treated to small token gestures to make it feel more American then it really is. But this is my view on things, a member of the Guam delegation Taling Taitano...looks at it in a different way.

 

August 26, 2008 - DNC Day 2 - Okinawan Realities

I briefly met one elected official this afternoon, who had spent several years of her life in Okinawa. I introduced myself as the blogger from Guam. She mentioned having always wanted to visit Guam but never having the chance too. I took this opportunity to discuss the impending military buildup there...At first her face went ashen, and she said, oh no, how terrible.

 

August 27, 2008 - DNC Day 3 - Another Dispatch from the AA/PI Matrix 

Guestblogged by Rashne Limki

The fundamental difference between the two groups (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) can be captured in one word – ‘colonization.’ The AAPI rubric is as absurd as AANA (i.e. Asian American Native American). But what makes the indifference, lack of awareness and absurdity starkly evident is that the majority of the speakers at the caucus stumble over the ‘PI’ part, hesitating about where exactly the letters P and/or I fit into the label. And of course, when not using the abbreviated version, the group is addressed simply as ‘Asian American.’

 

August 27, 2008 - DNC Day 3 - Looking for the Other Side of American Militarization

Coming from an island which has a far more intimate relationship to the military than any other military community (with the exception perhaps of the Marshall Islands), I'm struggling to find a place for the expression or even just mention of Guam's particular relationship with the United States military. Can any "real" "formal" American community, meaning those in states, know the feeling of being occupied in an American war, being displaced from your land to transform your island into a massive base, and also have your people then serve and die in that same military in record numbers? And this is all history which is not ancient, but has all taken place in the lives of my grandparents and thousands of other Chamorros.

 

August 27, 2008 - DNC Day 3 - War Reparations and Self-Determination are on the Table

Pilar Lujan also made an impact on the proceedings with her short, but to the point introduction to Guam, prior to providing the tally for the Guam delegation. She began by invoking that they were the delegation from Guam, "Where America's Day Begins" which was met by applause. She followed up this statement with a reminder that the Guam delegation seeks self-determination and war reparations from the United States. She again repeated a moment later, the reminder about self-determination for Guam.

 

August 28, 2008 - DNC Day 4 - The Lost Pacific

To say that this convention has been frustrating because of a lack of Pacific Islander presence would be a sen dongkalu na understatement. I've attended this week all of the events which were marked as "Asian-American Pacific Islander" or "Asian Pacific Islander American" and even "Asian Pacific American." I've had little to no luck. The delegates and representatives from these islands haven't been attending these meetings or even speaking at them.

 

August 28, 2008 - DNC Day - Operation New Life

She was considering how far things had come, how things had changed, how they hadn't, and how people came full circle. She is currently teaching journalism at Kent State University, and more than thirty years ago, over that war and its expansion into Cambodia had sparked even more protests, and at her current university several protesting students were killed to protect that idea of American exceptionalism, and that it above all has a right to wage whatever war it wishes.

 

August 28, 2008 - DNC Day 4 - Of Course...

I spent Barack Obama's speech crawling around on the floor of Invesco Field, trying to worm my way close enough to the candidate so I could get a decent picture of him with my cheap digital camera. Unfortunately, the closest I was able to get was right in the middle of the Texas delegation, so I have several dozen photos of a brown blur in a black suit that still has plenty of gravitas.

 

August 29, 2008 - DNC Day 5 - The War We Fight

Guestblogged by Victoria Leon Guerrero

Like Obama’s advisor, most political advisors know nothing about Guam . The DNC taught me that we will never have a presence until we make a statement. No one is going to listen until we shout loudly for our rights. There is no hope in fighting another country’s war. It’s time to fight for our own nation and her people.

 

August 29, 2008 - DNC Day 5 - Breaking News - Sarah Palin as Republican VP

I'm watching CNN right now and it seems that the Republicans have decided to make major history this election, by not just picking a woman for Vice President, but bringing together the first Father -Daughter Ticket in History!!!!

 

August 29, 2008 - DNC Day 5 - Some Quotes from the Week

Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo: "When I first sat in the Armed Services Committee, my first meeting. They said now, the question you ask, I was on the lower tier, the first row, now I'm on the second row. They said the question should be kind of generic and not too specific. So I had this question written out. Then I heard the rest of them, "my base" and "my state." I says, "Hey!" So when it came down to me, I said, "I want a carrier sent to Guam."

 

September 4, 2008 - Why Obama Has a Vision, While Palin Doesn't...Or Why I'm (sort of) a Community Organizer

When organizing communities, you are often working with an injustice and a vision. A community which is being mistreated, is not getting their fair share, has been ignored or forgotten, and you reference this historical or contemporary mistreatment in order to activate them, to propel them forward into a progressive, more inclusive, more prosperous, more equal or simply, just a better vision of the future. In Barack Obama's campaign you can see this, and contrast it with the McCain campaign's approach.

 

September 7, 2008 - Change You Can Handle - A White Compromise

But whereas Obama represents a change that "you can believe in" or a change which is derived from hope or dreams in a better future (something which, even if incrementally pushes you forward), McCain's campaign has changed this race back into the question of "change that you can handle." For all of those white voters out there who are uncomfortable or uneasy about voting for black man, who might be Muslim, and talks like he's smart and "uppity" McCain has offered them a chance to still change this country, but to still protect its perceived identity as a "white" nation. Protect the whiteness of America, but still be part of that bold pioneering American spirit!

 

September 13, 2008 - An Indigenous View on Palin's Alaska

There is far more to "Native America" than just casinos, and if you don't know about the fragile relationships that reservations or tribes have with their state governments in your state, its probably not because it doesn't exist, but its either because of the metaphorical erasure of Native Americans from American consciousness, or its because they were physically erased and displaced from your area or state.

 

 

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MINAGAHET is published by the Chamorro Information Activists, a non-profit, poorly funded, poorly staffed yan machalapon activist organization, created for the benefit of the people and the futures of Guam. Non-profit doesn't imply "non-profit status or anything" just that taya' suetdon-mami nu este. Pues an kala'u este, ti isao n-mami. Mismo i isaon i tinaigefsagan-mami. Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008  MINAGAHET. All rights reserved. We aren't sure what that means, but we see it put at the bottom of other things, and the last thing we want to do is get in trouble for not telling people that all our rights are reserved as well.  EMAIL minagahet@lists.riseup.net PARA UN TUNGO' MAS