Addicted to Race 56: Asian outmarriage, race and genetics

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

addicted to raceA brand-new episode (No. 56) of Addicted to Race is out! Addicted to Race is New Demographic’s weekly podcast about America’s obsession with race.

Carmen is joined by guest co-host Jennifer Fang in this super-sized episode. Jennifer blogs at Reappropriate primarily about issues dealing with Asian American feminism and race activism. She is also the webmaster for, a syndicated blog of a number of political Asian American blogs.

First up is listener feedback. Then, Jenn, Carmen and sociologist C.N. Le discuss the high rates of interracial marriage among Asian-American women and its implications on community-building and Asian-American feminism. Finally, Jenn discusses the politics of research on race and genetics.

This episode features music from Psalm One and Madlib, courtesy of Spectre Music.

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Duration – 1:21:18
File Size – 74.6 MB
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DJ Drama raid shines spotlight on record industry’s hypocrisy

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Last week, the Atlanta police took a SWAT team to raid the offices of DJ Drama, one of the top mixtape producers in the industry. He and his partner Cannon were held without bail, and the police seized 81,000 CDs, as well as their recording equipment. The raid is speculated to have been prompted by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

What’s fascinating about this case is that while these mixtapes usually use beats without legal permission, in actuality, the record industry has always implicitly or sometimes even explicitly supported mixtapes, because of their ability to launch new artists. From 33jones, who has a great analysis of the story:

…record executives are just as implicit as Drama in the whole mixtape game. I receive numerous emails from label reps that mention the mixtapes that their artists are appearing on, and I have been sent leaked singles from upcoming albums from labels’ p.r. staffs. Where do you think these mixtape djs are getting all of their “exclusives” from? Yet you will never see a record label executive charged with what Drama is facing. Its ok for the execs to make some illicit money off of the underground market, but once someone outside of the system starts earning money off of it, its time to call in the SWAT team.

Also, check out Jay Smooth’s vlog entry below in which he breaks down the idiocy of the way this story has been handled in the mainstream media (though The New York Times seems to have gotten it right in the article they ran earlier this week):

[If you’re reading this in an RSS reader and can’t view the video, please click on the post title.]

links for 2007-01-24

Should Isaiah Washington be fired?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Update: Lyonside totally called it. They just announced that Washington entered some kind of rehab. Um… for what, exactly? This story just gets more and more bizarre.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the controversy surrounding the actor Isaiah Washington, who plays Dr. Preston Burke on the hit show Grey’s Anatomy. If you’re not familiar with the story, you can read a pretty detailed account of the events so far in this New York Times story.

So what do you think? Should Washington be fired for his homophobic slur? If Washington wasn’t black, would ABC have moved more quickly? If the situation had involved a white actor calling his castmate the n-word, would things be any different? I don’t mean to play oppression olympics here, of course, I just think there are some very interesting race implications in this story worth exploring.

I also can’t believe that Washington had the balls to tell an outright lie in front of all his coworkers and the international press corps. People who are so comfortable lying, even when they know that everyone knows they’re lying, have always amazed me. I used to work for a woman like that, and she’d always put me in these incredibly awkward positions where I had to choose between revealing her lie or having everyone think that I wasn’t doing my job.

Celebrity Big Brother teaches us how to deflect accusations of racism in 3 easy steps

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

The UK’s Celebrity Big Brother reality show has made international headlines because of the racism endured by Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty at the hands of her housemates, particularly a woman named Jade Goody, who has since been evicted. (Thanks to Rochelle, Vandia, Rob and Rachel for the tips!)

From Wikipedia:

As of 16 January 2007 this series has attracted the largest ever number of public complaints to the UK broadcasting watchdog Ofcom about a Big Brother series. The complaints received detailed concerns that housemate Shilpa Shetty had been subjected to bullying, allegedly with undertones of racism. As an example, one English woman even called a fellow Indian participant “a dog” and that she should “fuck off home”. This sparked widespread anger and demonstrations in India, where the alleged racism was reported on the news, and led Big Brother’s main sponsor Carphone Warehouse to sever ties with the show.

It’s been interesting to see some of the similarities between US racism scandals and this one in the UK. It appears that there’s a set of rules that people follow when accused of racism. Now obviously these are not the only three techniques for deflecting accusations of racism or suppressing conversations about race. Be sure to check out How to Suppress Discussions of Racism and Jeff Yang’s terrific breakdown of the typical non-apology, or what he calls the Rosie Carolla defense. But these are three tactics that seem to come up most frequently.

1. Deny that you are a racist, no matter what.

Michael Richards went on David Letterman to apologize but simultaneously declare that he is not a racist. Rosie O’Donnell apologized for her “ching chong” remark while expressing skepticism that it was considered a racial slur. By calling into question the racism of the remark, she of course defused accusations of her being a racist.

According to the BBC, a spokesperson for Goody said: “Jade will be mortified when she comes out to learn that her conduct is being interpreted as racist. Anyone who knows Jade knows that she is not a racist.”

2. Invoke your non-white relative or romantic partner as proof that you’re not a racist.

According to the same BBC article, Goody’s mother Jackiey Budden suggested that Goody couldn’t possibly be racist because she’s mixed: “Jade has never been racist, she is mixed race herself and suffered racist abuse as a youngster.”

We’ve seen plenty of examples of people denying accusations of racism by pointing to the fact that they have been in interracial relationships before and/or have mixed race children, or (my personal favorite) that they live in the Dominican Republic.

Newsflash: Interracial couples and mixed race people can be racist too. Which by the way, also means that increased numbers of both does not mean our society is heading towards an inevitably racism-free future.

3. Point to a non-white person (preferably the focus of your remarks) who was not offended by your behavior as proof that you’re not a racist

After Arnold Schwarzenegger was caught on tape discussing state assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia’s spiciness (“I mean Cuban, Puerto Rican, they are all very hot…They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it”), he trotted her out at a press conference so she could say that she was not at all offended, and actually refers to herself as a “hot blooded Latina”.

Rosie O’Donnell also used this tactic. At the end of her non-apology, she pointed to two Asian women in the audience and said, “You two weren’t offended, right?” and used their smiles and applause as evidence that she was in fact, not racist.

According to this report (hat tip to Angry Asian Man), Shilpa Shetty is taking back her earlier statement that she felt like a victim of racism by saying instead, “I don’t feel that there was any racial discrimination happening from Jade’s end … I think there are a lot of insecurities from her end, but it’s definitely not racial.”

I’m sure that by the time this post comes out, someone will have said: “See? Shilpa doesn’t think it was racist, so it must not be.”

links for 2007-01-23