Miss Cleo comes out, joins ‘Surreal Life’

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

miss cleo surreal life comes out lesbianRemember Miss Cleo from those annoying late-night psychic hotline infomercials back in the late 90s? The one with the really fake Jamaican accent? “Call me now!”

Well, you’re about to. Miss Cleo (real name Youree Dell Cleomili Harris) came out in the October issue of The Advocate. In the interview, she credits her gay godson for inspiring her to make the revelation. That’s all well and good, but I share Dr. Marc Lamont Hill’s skepticism, since her confession is conveniently timed to coincide with the new season of VH1′s “The Surreal Life,” in which she will be a castmember.

Keith Boykin , however, is looking on the bright side:

Personally, I can’t see the future, but I’m willing to predict that her coming out will have a positive effect on the community. When someone who knows Miss Cleo finds out that she is a lesbian, that will help that person to re-think what it means to be a lesbian. The more people who come out, especially in the black community, the more we can challenge the stereotype of what it means to be gay or lesbian.

Should you use blackface on your blog?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

blackface liebermanUnfortunately, the resurgence of blackface is a trend we’ve documented extensively here at Racialicious. We’ve spotted the burnt cork on everyone from Kate Moss to Angelina Jolie (arguably), from Dave Chappelle to guests on the Tyra Banks Show, from hipster douchebags to Tokyo Fashion Week models, from white teenagers on YouTube to reality show participants.

One of the most egregious examples of recent memory was when The Huffington Post allowed one of its bloggers, Jane Hamsher, to illustrate a post criticizing Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman with this little number right here.

If you’re a blogger and you’re asking yourself whether you should follow in Hamsher’s steps, ebogjonson has some advice for you in the form of… a flowchart. You have to click over to view it — it’s absolutely hilarious:

This is a highly complicated question, requiring that one juggle a number of aesthetic, political and racial conundrums. During my time as an internet executive, I learned that basically anything could be explained to anyone using an Excel spreadsheet, so as an aid to bloggers and civilians everywhere I’ve put together a handy process-flow/spreadsheet that I believe should answer folks’ various questions lickity-split.

So: should you use blackface on your blog? Click here to find out! (It’s a big file; give it a minute to load if yer using a slow connection.)

links for 2006-09-27

Using those little icons

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Are you wondering what those little icons are at the bottom of each post? They’re all social bookmarking tools. In order from left to right, they’re icons for del.icio.us, Digg, YahooMyWeb, Furl, Newsvine, Reddit and co.comments.

What is social bookmarking? I would highly recommend checking out Wendy Boswell’s guide on the topic. Here’s an overview:

What are social bookmarking sites? Basically, these are sites that allow users to post their favorite sites, using tags (or keywords) to categorize and organize them; then other users can take these bookmarks and add them to their own collection or share them with even more users.

So go ahead and try them out! They’re a great way to share posts you like with your friends or bookmark them to save for future reference.

links for 2006-09-26

Survivor: Cook Islands episode two recap

by guest contributor Jeff Yang, SFGate.com columnist and blogger

survivor cook islandsThe first taste is always free, right? Then comes the downward spiral of shame and self-destruction. That’s what was running through my mind as I flipped through the recordings on my ever-faithful TiVo toward the second episode of Survivor: Cook Island. I watched the first installment rationalizing that it was for work, every penny goes to my son Hudson’s college fund, yessiree, but episode two? Lurid fascination, no excuses.

It struck me that it felt very much like sneaking a peek at, say, Playboy’s “Girls of the Ivy League” issue. One might reason that you’re just, uh, checking to see if there’s anyone you know in there– HOLY CRAP, THAT’S MY SECOND COUSIN!–but it’s mostly just prurience, isn’t it?

And this season’s Survivor is essentially pornography–the pornography of race. Fetishized situations, featuring idealized, archetypal and stereotypical performers, coupling and decoupling, and, well, people screwing each other. Figuratively. But probably, given the humpity-humpity flashes we’ve seen of the Caucasian Team, literally as well. (Burnett’s got footage, no doubt. One of these days, he’ll unleash an uncensored library, Survivors Gone Wild, and he’ll be rich, beeyotch! Oh wait, he already is. Beeyotch.)

So, anyway. This week is between columns for me over at SFGate, and yet, now that I’ve watched episode two, I figured I might as well froth about it somewhere. Thanks to Carmen and Jen for the temporary digital lodgings on the (presumably, by the time this hits) redesigned site–love what you’ve done with the wallpaper and drapes, guys.

I’m not a hard-liner against this show, as those of you who’ve read the results of my column last week, wherein I and a clutch of friends groupblogged the initial episode. As misguided and exploitative as the show is, I felt it at least had the possibility of forcing the American mainstream to address and debate aspects of race that all too often get swept under the rug. Like racial stereotyping, for example (although its M.O. seems to be framing entire story arcs around the depiction of stereotypes, then giving contestants five-second soundbites to testily repudiate them). Or the patent absence of Asian Americans on network TV, underscored by the recent release of the Asian American Justice Center’s latest annual primetime audit. Survivor: Race War essentially doubles the number of Asian lead roles on network primetime (this, counting Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy, Ming Na on Vanished, and the Puka Puka Tribe’s spiritual godparents, Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim of Lost ).

In short, I think the show is dumb and crude, but potentially useful–if it makes people think-talk, and not just trash talk. And…well…it’s kinda fun. Measured against most of the rest of network TV, Survivor: Cook Island is far from the first show I’d vote off the island.

So what gives for episode two? Continue reading

Welcome to Racialicious!

by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove

Thank you for visiting us here at Racialicious (formerly known as Mixed Media Watch). This is a blog about anything and everything at the intersection of race and pop culture.

So, what’s new?

New Name
Those of you who listen to our podcast, Addicted to Race, probably recognize the name from a regular segment we used to do on the show. So why did we pick it for this blog? Well, we thought it captured the spirit of what this blog will be like: irreverent, funny, pop culture-obsessed, but still with a critical eye towards issues of race and racism.

New Domain/URL
Of course, with the new name comes a new domain name as well. So please make sure you update your bookmarks and blogrolls! From now on this will be the new home of our blog. We will keep our Jan 2005 – Sep 2006 archives at the old www.mixedmediawatch.com domain and if you really want to go way back, you can still check out our 2004 archives at the old Xanga site.

New Ways to Subscribe
With the new domain name come new RSS feeds! To receive email updates whenever we put up a new post, click here. To subscribe to our RSS feed in your feedreader, click here. No idea what the heck we’re talking about? Not to worry, you’re not alone. Check out this excellent, easy-to-follow explanation of what RSS is all about.

New Email Address
Update your address books! Our new email address is team@racialicious.com.

New, Narrower Focus
Our old blog was a bit of a catch-all. Although our main focus was media, we would often also cover topics like parenting, education, the workplace and so on. Racialicious will be firmly focused on race as it relates to pop culture. Not to worry though, we still care very much about those other topics. So much, in fact, that they will each be getting their own blog in the weeks to come! We believe that organizing the info this way will allow for even deeper and more precise discussions.

As always, we’re looking for tips on stories we should cover from all of you. And if you’d like to be a guest contributor, check out this page for more information.

We hope you enjoy this revamped blog! Email us with your feedback, ideas and suggestions. :)