About Us

In 1995, STANDARDS became the first online journal for international cultural studies. We were then, and remain, a small collective of over-worked volunteers, who complete production on this project annually as a labor of love.

Since 1989, our production costs have been funded, in whole or in part, by the University of Colorado at Boulder. While this issue marks the end of our formal association with CU Boulder, we have recently accepted an offer from the University of California at Berkeley, to provide permanent home on their web servers for STANDARDS. All current and back issues will be held in archive by UC Berkeley; nothing will be lost, and our pages will become more widely available to international users.

We will post notices of the change to keep our readers informed.



About Our Name | Mission Statement | Journal History

| Copyrights and Acknowledgements |

| Editorial Board |

 About Our Name


We think revolutionary filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs said it best, in his introduction to the first online edition of this journal:

Americans have always been more and at the same time less than what we pretended. With the quickening approach of the twenty-first century, greater numbers of us are giving testament to this inescapable fact, challenging the cozy myths by which America has been ritually defined. Who are we? Who are we becoming? Who and what have we been? In the next century, can we even continue to speak (could we ever?) of a collective "we"? For the longest, of course, these questions had simple answers.

America was white. America was male. America was heterosexual. America was Christian. America, above all, was a melting pot into which diverse cultural communities gleefully descended to achieve the social and ideological transformation necessary for inclusion within the American Dream. That many of us -- marginalized and oftentimes invisible Americans of African, Asian, Latino and Native descent, as well as women and the working poor -- never quite melted and metamorphosized according to this traditional prescription for social progress, hardly mattered. The great distance between the Dream and our actual lives was not due to any fault in the Dream: the defect was in us. The Dream thus survived intact, its seductive power sustained by America's stubborn refusal to look too closely at the hidden but terrible costs of "the good life" and at who actually could -- much less wanted to -- afford it.

The sixties, of course, spotlighted the complex oppressive regime of thought, politics and culture which underlay the myth of America. For the first time in U.S. history, the ideological fabric of white heterosexual patriarchy was exposed for the life-constricting straightjacket it had always been. Despite conservative attempts during subsequent years at repair, the old social fabric has been steadily unraveling. Thus we have arrived at this present moment, wherein a nation historically averse to serious introspection now exhibits -- in its politics and popular media as well as its universities -- an almost obsessive reflexive preoccupation with our national identity.

To be expected, much of the current debate is simply a re-hash of old opinion -- an attempt to forcefully rebut and undercut the de-centering politics of radical multiculturalism (i.e., the kind of multiculturalism where difference actually makes a differ-ence). Bring back the melting pot. Restore "traditional values." Re-institute prayer in schools. Preserve the primacy of Western civilization (the only one that matters anyway). And not least, protect that critical bedrock of American greatness, "the American family": such pronouncements reveal an intense, even pathological desire to perpetuate a thoroughly obsolete myth of America, and through this, a repressively orthodox system of sociocultural entitlement.

While the ideas of conservative/fundamentalist America are hardly new, the typically strident pitch with which such ideas are now being argued betrays how acutely anxious many conservatives have come to feel, due to both real and anticipitated loss of privilege and power. What is more, arch-conservative rhetoric -- as should be evident to anyone watching our presidential elections for the past quarter century -- has found a certain public resonance. Difference, in the traditionalist outlook, has been regressively equated with disunity; and disunity with profound social chaos and collapse. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so, it seems, do many Americans with regard to the social-political myths by which they organize and make sense of their lives. Even a fundamentally flawed, repressive, inequitable social order seems to many better than none at all. A clear imperative thus confronts American progressives -- that intricate (and frequently fragile) web of communities comprised of people of color, feminists, gays and lesbians, the poor and working class, as well as ethnic whites who value ethnicity, indeed all who have been systematically disenfrancised and dehumanized under the once ascendant "traditional values" of pre-Civil Rights America.

It's no longer enough, if it ever was, to critique interlocking systems of oppression without offering affirming alternatives of how society should and can reconstitute itself. As we move into the inevitably more demanding multilingual, multicultural environment -- both nationally and globally -- of the next century, our greatest task will be an inversion of the commonly assumed equivalence between difference and disunity. We must re-write this equation, demonstrating again and again that unity does not require unanimity, that unity -- that is, a sense of social cohesion, of community -- can and does derive from the expression, comprehension, and active nurturing (and not merely tolerance or fetishization) of difference.

This is the new standard of civilized life that now demands our urgent labor, a new world order, if you will, that subverts traditional conceptions of social order: a standard which in effect subverts the meaning of the word "standard" itself. For the new order must be comprised of multiple standards: shifting, open-ended, dynamically transforming, so as to engender ways of thinking and living that privilege no one set of cultural differences over another, but affirm virtue in all.

This perspective forms the key inspiration and overarching theme in STANDARDS. Page after page eloquently testifies to the commitment of a new generation of America's best and brightest to shaping a radically redefined vision of our future, where old repressive dualisms of race, class, sexuality, gender and nationality no longer reign -- a future in which not merely some but all of us are free to explore and express our richest humanity.

-- Marlon Riggs, 1995


MARLON T. RIGGS was a producer, director, and writer, who graduated with honors from Harvard in 1978, and received the MA from UC Berkeley, where he later taught Documentary Film in the Graduate School of Journalism. His films include Tongues Untied, the acclaimed account of Black gay male life; and Ethnic Notions, for which he was awarded the Emmy. Mr. Riggs' work has been published in the anthology Brother to Brother, as well as in arts and literary magazines, including High Performance, Black American Literature Forum, and Art Journal. A media activist, he testified before the U.S. Senate, and wrote extensively on the issue of censorship. Mr. Riggs was also on the policy committee of the national PBS, and served on various other panels, including the National Endowment for the Arts. Marlon T. Riggs died of AIDS-related complications in 1994. We remember him with deepest respect and admiration.



 Mission Statement


One of the most frustrating things about the term "multicultural" -- and possibly one of the best -- is that is has been widely and vaguely interpreted. As we wait for the term "minority" to outlive its usefulness, and as we debate the intent and impact of "affirmative action" and "equal opportunity," we have begun to discover the need to address further complexities of the study and practice of "multiculturalism." Within the pages of this journal, "culture" has been broadly defined, to include not only racial and ethnic heritages, but gender, sexuality, economic class, access to education, religious affiliation, political network, physical ability, and the contemporary cross-cultural issues of survival/recovery from addiction or abuse. We recognize that "multicultural" indicates the interplay between the composite elements of individual communities, and the cultures they create. And we acknowledge that this is, at best, a working definition.

We are proud to present the works of a few of those authors whose names have long been on the frontlines of cross-cultural activism. It brings us equal pleasure to introduce the works of new writers and artists, first published in STANDARDS. Some of our contributors are young enough to have recently experienced a first exposure to U.S. military conflict. Most are veterans of the daily battles to bridge identity, community, tradition, and the efforts toward education within the academy. All are aware that these battles are part of the larger, daily struggles within the various communities represented here. And all have chosen creative expression as a way of bearing witness, marking time or place, and moving on.

It is our aim to engage visual artists, writers, and thinkers around the world in an active dialogue on the appearance and effectiveness of cultural and postcolonial studies. By creating a forum that raises controversial issues, we hope to begin to define our places in the academies, the nations, and the communities in which we live. Work from these diverse arenas has begun to find a place in the serious study of art, literature and scholarship. We are committed to being a part of that process. STANDARDS is an expression of that commitment.



 Journal History


STANDARDS began as a print publication at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and later was published as a collaborative effort between CU Boulder and Stanford University. In 1995, we went online, as the first international journal for multicultural studies on the world wide web. While we no longer publish a print version of STANDARDS, all back issues are held in archive on this web site.

We are currently sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Equity, in Academic Affairs, at the University of Colorado at Boulder. We thank the CU Boulder campus administration for their continued support.

STANDARDS is a not-for-profit cyberjournal which is free to the public, and shall always remain so. There are no subscriptions for the journal, nor any members areas.



 Copyrights and Acknowledgments


Notice and Terms of Use: This site contains copyrighted materials, including but not limited to all portions of texts, photos and graphics. It is therefore illegal to use, copy, publish, upload, download, post to a bulletin board or otherwise transmit, distribute, or modify any contents of this site in any way, with the single exception of downloading one copy of these contents to any single computer, if for an individual's personal non-commercial use,and with the provision that no contents are altered and that there shall be no removal of any copyright, author/artist attribution, or other proprietary notices.

Each work published in STANDARDS is copyrighted to the individual contributor, as well as to the STANDARDS Editorial Collective. Works reprinted in STANDARDS are shown with the original publication information. It is illegal to use, copy, publish, modify, or distribute any work, including reprints, from this site, without express written permission from STANDARDS.


Every issue of STANDARDS includes publication information for all reprinted works. For this issue, we gratefully acknowledge the following individuals and groups for permissions to use materials in this volume:


Augie N'Kele, and his agent, Dorothy Hamm, for allowing us to publish images from N'Kele's Forgotten Heritage series and other sculptures; Dr. Manning Marable, for permission to reprint "Stealing the Election: The Compromises of 1876 and 2000," from his newspaper column "Along the Color Line"; Sherry Russell, of the Read/Write/Now Center in Massachussetts, for permission to reprint poetry by Karen Gladden and Karen Rivera, from the booklet Out on a Limb.


 Current Editorial Board



Canéla Analucinda Jaramillo, Editor-in-Chief

Emmanuela Copal de León, Web Page Design and Graphic Arts

Jim Davis Rosenthal, Graphic Arts


We thank these volunteers for their additional support on this issue:


Jim Burton Lawrence: Photography, modeling, and accounting services.

Paloma Sierra Calipo Jaramillo: Modeling, design consulting.

Joshua Robin Wiles: Technical support.


Have skills to contribute to STANDARDS? Visit our Volunteer Opportunities page, at the link below.






Original Graphic, this page, "Wall 3: Jim," © 2001 by Emmanuela Copal de León


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