Oprah: inner-city kids want iPods and sneakers, not education

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I was watching Paula Zahn last night (By the way, is Asian eyelid surgery really still news anymore? They spent a whole segment on it!) and they had a panel discussing the recent opening of the $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Oprah recently gave an interview to Newsweek and explained why she decided to do this project in South Africa instead of in the States:

“I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isn’t there,” she says. “If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don’t ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school.”

Sigh… her remark frustrates me on so many levels. Please excuse the incoherent rant that is about to follow.

First, I hate this hypocritical assumption that poor people shouldn’t be allowed to have/buy nice things. I recently read a really great blog post that broke it down nicely, but unfortunately couldn’t find it anywhere (if anyone knows what I’m talking about, please post a link).

All of us, regardless of our income/wealth level, spend money on things that we really can’t afford. We all aspire to own objects that are out of our reach. This is not some kind of “inner city mentality.” It’s a mindset that we all buy into, pun intended.

Also, don’t we all go for the instant gratification over the long-term gratification? Can you really blame a kid for wanting an iPod more than something as amorphous as “education?”

Is it any different from giving into that craving for a piece of chocolate cake (instant gratification) instead of denying yourself so that you can stick to your diet (long-term gratification)? You’d think Oprah would know a thing or two about that, considering how much time she devotes to discussing her “struggle” with her weight.

Between this and her comments about hip hop, I feel like Oprah is setting a dangerous example for her demographic (i.e. white soccer moms and their families) to believe in these essentialist notions about young black and Latino youth.

“Even Oprah thinks that all they want to do is buy sneakers. If Oprah says it, it can’t be racist!”

Link Love: MultiCultClassics

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Introducing a new series on Racialicious: Link Love! I’m going to use this series to shine a spotlight on some of the blogs that I consider daily must-reads. So if you’re looking for new blogs to add to your daily media diet, you’re in the right place.

First up is MultiCultClassics, written by HighJive, an anonymous person or team of persons (it’s all very mysterious) who are insiders in the ad industry. They do a great job of tearing apart those lame-ass “we care about diversity” ads that every company nowadays seems to run, and also weigh in on general race and pop culture issues.

MultiCultClassics has also done a phenomenal job of covering the ongoing investigation by the New York City Human Rights Commission into the advertising industry’s hiring practices (check out episode 43 of Addicted to Race for more on that). Basically, the ad industry is so incredibly undiverse that the entire industry is under investigation.

So go check it out and say hi to HighJive for me. :)

Video from The Charlatans UK: Asian woman sells body to support white boyfriend

by guest contributor Kevin

Here is a new high concept video by the band The Charlatans UK called “Blackened Blue Eyes” being aired nationally. The lead female role is played by an Asian woman. You’ll never guess what role she plays. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the pimp role or the john role. If you guessed anything more prestigious than a prostitute… well, you’re headed for disappointment.

The archetype of the eager to please Asian woman doing anything for her charmingly reckless white suitor has become a celebrated ideal of oriental romanticism. Pursued by evil Chinese thugs, who (surprisingly) are easily swayed by the almighty dollar, one would assume any reasonable woman would leave her dirtbag pimp-boyfriend. Not so for this Asian woman. She seems to suggest that despite being a whore and getting slapped around by her customers… there are worse things in life? Probably things like a stifling Asian culture and cold Asian men who are always accused of… treating their women like property?

The moral of the story: Stand by your white man, even if he whores you out for money.

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

links for 2007-01-03

I’m back, almost

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m back from vacay and am slowly catching up with emails, etc. Please bear with me as I ramp up to my usual speed.

I have a new episode of Addicted to Race almost ready to go (couple days late, sorry Jenn), but it probably won’t be out till tomorrow morning more like Thursday morning at this point. I’ve been experiencing annoying server problems.

No new post for today, but if you’re looking for something to read, definitely check out Rachel’s The I’m So Hot I’m on Fire List of The Most Fashionable Racial Trends of 2006 post – it’s great stuff! :) Happy new year everyone!

Yellowface at the DMV

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Check out this video of two Jackass wannabes punking the DMV by putting on ridiculous disguises to see how ridiculous of a drivers license picture they can take. Of course, the first disguise is all-out yellowface, buckteeth and all.

You know it’s a slow news week when this story makes it to the Associated Press. (Thanks to Rob for the tip!)

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

links for 2007-01-01