Are you wearing red today?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Learn more about the Wear Red campaign and how you can lend your support:

In a Litany of Survival, Audre Lorde writes, “When we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” These words shape our collective organizing to break the silence surrounding women of color’s stories of violence. We are asking for community groups, grass-root organizations, college campus students and groups, communities of faith, online communities, and individuals to join us in speaking out against violence against women of color. If we speak, we cannot be invisible.

Heroes recap of episode 206: The Line

by Racialicious guest contributor David Zhou

Yes.

It finally happened.

Hiro Nakamura got some action from the girl we’ve come to know as Yaeko… and was then screwed over by a double dealing white man named Takezo Kensei. (I’m joking, but…)

There were, though, many peculiar little things about this kiss scene. (I’m not going to complain too much about them because I’m still getting over the excitement about Hiro getting some play.) They didn’t actually show them kiss. None of the lip-locking, spit-churning face sucking that you see in other such scenes. They did show their heads coming together, the back of their heads slowing gyrating to weird “Asian” music… But I wonder if there was anything of the actual sensuality and physicality of a first kiss between two people. Should this kiss even count? Are Masi Oka and Eriko Tamura just bad kissers/kissing actors? I don’t know if this was all what I was hoping for, but then again not every kiss scene in the typical television scriptbook has our protagonist stop time first and wonder: “But the space-time continuum…” I have every reason to be happy for now that an Asian male on television had a substantial romantic encounter. Goal number two: massive sexual innuendo… and after that, a sex scene. (I know you can do it, Hollywood!)

Another amusing part of Monday’s show was the encounter with “civilian border patrol”, or what we know in real life as the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps/Minutemen Project. (We at Columbia had an interesting encounter with these guys last year, but that’s an aside…) As the Nissan Rogue from Mexico crosses an unfinished border fence, they meet up with these civilian border watchers. Maya kills them quickly with her lethal superpower and drives into the States, leaving the cowboy hat-wearing, shotgun-toting vigilantes dead in the desert with black tears running from their faces. If that’s not a political message, I don’t know what is.

And still, Maya refers to America, New York, and the supervillian next to her as the “salvation” in which they must “poner el fé” (put faith). I ask, please, no more Christian-Latino stereotypes!

There has been talk about the psuedo-empowered blonde women on this show, who are still pigeonholed to roles as cheerleaders and strippers on Heroes. I think, however, that in this episode there was a sideways attempt to address the issue. People who watch the show will look at me and say, “Huh? How?” … I’ll say that as Claire joins the blonde-brigade, they seem to make a point of emphasize a black-haired cheerleader… just to complicate the blonde-cheerleader correlation. (Big deal!) In the meanwhile, Claire continues her inane high-school games and Nikki/Jessica still uses her superhuman strength (almost sexually) for harm.

All in all, this episode was not too bad. None of the trying-to-pronounce-Mohinder Suresh or the geisha fantasies that we’ve seen before in other shows. Basically in this episode, Maya and Alejandro cross the border with Sylar, Claire dupes the lead cheerleader, Monica is used as a lab rat, and Noah shoots a man. But you could’ve gone to heroesrevealed.com for that.

That’s all. Until next time!

To read past Heroes recaps, click here.

links for 2007-10-31

Reasons I Hate Halloween

by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch.

I hate Halloween. Now that I’m a grown-up, it’s just lost its appeal. Especially when I look at what some adults do for Halloween.

  1. Slutty costumes (I just had to say it)
  2. Slutty “ethnic” costumes: Native American girl, geisha, etc.

In particular:

1. Harem girl costumes
2. Belly dancer costumes
3. Genie costumes
4. Cleopatra costumes
5. Arab sheikh costumes

These costumes reinforce the eroticized and/or dangerous stereotypes associated with Muslim and Middle Eastern men and women. Plus, it’s doubly insulting because (usually) white people will “play dress-up” in these costumes, to supposedly “live like we do” for one night. The only missing detail is: none of the institutional oppression that we face as Muslims and Middle Easterners comes with the costume.

Just looking at the names of the costumes is informative enough: “Exotic Belly Dancer Costume” and “Sheik of Persia Arabian Costume” can tell you that these people have no idea about the culture they think they’re appropriating. (History lesson: Persia didn’t have sheikhs, they had shahs. And Persia and Arabia were two different places! AKH!)

Look at the women’s costumes: all are revealing and hypersexual. How many Middle Eastern women prance around in sheer pants and face veils? None. These costumes scream sexist Orientalism!

Don’t worry, guys! There are plenty of racist costumes for you, too! Take this “Arab Sheik” costume: of course he has a knife! All Middle Eastern men are dangerous, didn’t you know? You can even tell by his face: he’s pissed, and he’s going to take it out on some infidels!

And, if you’d like to pass on your racist Orientalist fantasies to your children, there are belly dancer costumes for little girls! That’s right! Make sure that your daughter learns that her self worth comes from how much her coin-bedazzled bra reveals and how pleasing her dancing is to a man! You can start as soon as she’s a toddler!

Ick. Enjoy your free candy!

A Word I Hate to Say: “Hiatus”

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to inform you that I will be taking a break from blogging between now and January in order to study for the GREs, apply to graduate school, and tie up a million loose ends at my Clark Kent corporate day gig.

I will miss you all for the time being, but I’ll still check back in here and there to leave comments. I will be back in January, but until then, happy reading! :-)

~Wendi

links for 2007-10-30

Rendition humanizes Arabs

by guest contributor Manish, originally published at Ultrabrown

The new movie Rendition is more interesting for what it is than how it runs. It’s the first fictional film about the U.S. kidnapping-and-torture program, which began under Clinton but was expanded massively under Bush. It’s the first mainstream movie I’ve seen which gives Arabs and Arabic large amounts of humanizing screen time (the protagonist is an Egyptian-American who went to college in the States). And it’s the latest in this year’s wave of whistleblower movies against Dubya’s assault on American liberty.

Mired in noble savage stereotypes, the movie is more earnest than subtle. Moa Khouas, the Arab Romeo, looks like a brown James Franco, but most of the Arab characters are more archetypes than people.

The plot’s central Capulets and Montagues romantic coincidence is Rushdie-esque, a synthetic conceit for the sake of a more interesting story. It’s not a bad movie, just a slow and obvious one, never more so than in a scene where the magnetic Peter Sarsgaard needles CIA muckamuck Meryl Streep with the Constitution, and she responds with 9/11.

The movie is A Mighty Heart in reverse, where the kidnappers are the U.S. government rather than Al Qaeda terrorists. You’ve got the same pretty, pregnant wife embedded in a labyrinthine search for her handsome, intelligent husband. Reese Witherspoon isn’t given much screen direction beyond playing a grieving wife. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character may be suffering from post-traumatic stress sufferer, but the actor sleepwalks through the movie.

This movie was directed by Gavin Hood, the South African who did Tsotsi. The plotting uses the now-familiar Rashomon device of connecting subplots via a single climactic event. One of the subplots is unexpectedly time-shifted, which is great fun.

But the real-life issue is far more significant than the film: the president claims he can legally kidnap anyone around the world, jail him forever without trial, witness or evidence, and have him tortured. It shocks the conscience. Here’s an actual Dubya quote. I can’t figure out whether it’s duplicitous or just feeble-minded:

Q: What’s your definition of the word ‘torture’?

Dubya: That’s defined in U.S. law, and we don’t torture.

Q: Can you give me your version of it, sir?

Dubya: Whatever the law says. [Link]

With no sunlight and no trial, mistakes are inevitable:

  • We had Maher Arar wrongly arrested and tortured. We refuse to apologize. We refuse to take him off the no-fly list.
  • We had Khaled al-Masri wrongly arrested and tortured. We refuse to apologize. We refuse to pay him compensation.
  • We threatened to have the innocent Abdallah Higazy’s family tortured in Egypt:

… [The FBI agent] told him that he should cooperate, and explained that if Higazy did not cooperate, the FBI would make his brother “live in scrutiny” and would “make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell.” … [The agent] knew how the Egyptian security forces operated: “that they had a security service, that their laws are different than ours, that they are probably allowed to do things in that country… probably about torture, sure…” [Higazy said:] “Saddam’s security force–as they later on were called his henchmen–a lot of them learned their methods and techniques in Egypt; torture, rape…” [Link]

And to think America was founded precisely because of this kind of limp-dickery.