WAM!2008 Post Conference Wrap-Up

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Carmen, Wendi, and I just got back from WAM!2008 and I think I speak for all of us when I say the conference was amazing.

Some quick highlights:

* I get to Boston and my cab driver is also African-American. He informs me that when he came to Boston in the 1970s, there were not a whole lot of African-Americans living in the city. In 2008, this is still true. Considering the weather conditions which converted my hair into a birds nest, I have an idea why more black women aren’t there. Also, people were jogging in the 35 degree wind and rain like it was nice outside, as I was shivering and miserable. Amazing. Me, Wendi, and Carmen learned the hard way that Boston tends to shut down around 10:00 PM – tough finding a restaurant, even tougher to find alcohol. Oy.

* Wendi and I got lost on Saturday but managed to make it to the conference in time to participate in the caucus and the session hosted by the Radical Women of Color Bloggers, titled We B(e)lo(n)g. Sudy, Black Amazon, Alexis, and Nadia managed to hold a session that was audience driven, cathartic, and informative which was a welcome change of pace from the standard presentation style. We also got to meet BrownFemiPower, Donna from the Silence of Our Friends, Angry Black Bitch, Thea from the Shameless Blog, and Elisa Gahng of the Women of Color Resource Center during the caucus. And there were a lot more people representing in the session, including the Op-Ed Project, the Culture Kitchen, Feministe and Viva La Feminista.

(Note from Carmen: sorry to hijack this post, but I wanted to point everyone to a great story in the Utne Reader about feminist blogs – and it includes many of the  WOC bloggers mentioned here. Congrats, y’all!) Continue reading

Has multiracial identity become more accepted?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

When I first moved to the U.S. and people asked me why my last name was Van Kerckhove, I would go into the whole explanation about how my mom is Hong Kong Chinese and my dad is Belgian. After I answered the question in detail, inevitably people would reply: “Oh. So you’re really just Asian then.”

I realized then how uncomfortable Americans were with the idea that you could be more than one thing at the same time. Eventually I also learned about the one drop rule and how deeply ingrained that mentality was in this country.

The clips above are from the workshop Cute But Confused: Myths and Realities of Mixed Race Identity. When Jen and I started New Demographic in 2004, one our primary goals was to dispel common stereotypes of multiracial people as being confused about their identity, trying to escape racism, trying to be white, and so on.

Since then, I’ve noticed that while those stereotypes still persist — ahem, see this or this thread for instance — overall, there seems to be less resistance to people identifying as multiracial.

Multiracial folks, what do you think? Do you get less pushback now than maybe 5 or 10 years ago when you identify as mixed, biracial, or multiracial? Are there any differences in the reactions you get?

A story in today’s New York Times explores how multiracial folks are identifying with Obama’s frank discussion of his own racial background:

Being accepted. Proving loyalty. Navigating the tight space between racial divides. Americans of mixed race say these are issues they have long confronted, and when Senator Barack Obama recently delivered a speech about race in Philadelphia, it rang with a special significance in their ears. They saw parallels between the path trod by Mr. Obama and their own.

…Carmen Van Kerckhove, a diversity consultant who runs a blog on race and popular culture, racialicious.com, said she doubted that the uproar that greeted Tiger Woods when he described himself as “Cablinasian” (for heritage that includes Caucasian, black, American Indian and Asian) in 1997 would be as strong today.

“When you’re multiracial, you can be several things at the same time,” said Ms. Van Kerckhove, 30, who is white and Asian and has endorsed Mr. Obama on her blog for moving the race debate away from “who’s black and who’s white, or who’s a victim and who’s an oppressor.”

Unfortunately, Ms. Van Kerckhove added, suspicions persist about the motivation of people who identify themselves as mixed race. Many people, she said, wonder, “Are multiracial people trying to be multiracial as a way to escape racism?”

In the Moment: Racism and Our Reactions

by Guest Contributor Tara, originally published at Bias Cut

I think the Universe has been testing me lately.

Over the last several months, I’ve been confronted with some pretty blatantly racist statements about Asian folks, and each moment has been pretty intense in a lot of ways.

While I was in Puerto Rico, my friends and I were at a restaurant, and started passing around our old college IDs to giggle at. Mine is a picture of me as a babydyke with short and spiky hair. The waiter (a young white guy) came over and and asked if we were passing around our fake IDs (which was funny, because all of us ranged in age from 25 to 37). I said that we were passing around our college IDs, and I suppose in an attempt to be friendly, he asked to see them. I passed mine over and he said something that I didn’t quite catch because it was noisy.

A little bit later during the dinner, I said to Anna, “I can’t believe our waiter thought we were under 21!” Anna said, “Um, I can’t believe the Asian comment that he made!” I asked her what he said, and she told me that when I had handed him my ID, he said, “Did you steal your ID from some Asian kid?”

Horrifyingly, the waiter heard us and came back over to the table. “Yeah, I asked her if she stole her ID from some Asian kid.” Anna asked, “Does that mean that you don’t think she looks Asian?” He answered no. “Well, I am,” I snapped at him. He then continued to stick his foot further in his mouth and explain that the ID did, in fact, look like something I stole. Continue reading

Garcelle Beauvais derided for her “white twins”

by guest contributor dnA, originally published at Too Sense

There’s a lot of hating going on over at Bossip on a thread that posted the cover of Jet, featuring the gorgeous Garcelle Beauvais and her adorable twins:

(The one on the right is making a black power fist. I’m for surrious.)

Most of the hating takes the form of the “why she datin’ that white man” or “them babies is white and ugly” or “I thought they had AIDS” ect, ect. The kids better get used to it though, because just judging by the choice of wardrobe, Mrs. Beauvais-Nilon is going to be raising those kids to think of themselves as black, so they’re going to hear a lot of this:

That white man got some STRONG genes. What is he german?


Not impresssed at with her ALL WHITE TWINS!!! Just what we need more white folks in this world. Pathetic!!!


If the first time is a coloring error…

…then what is it the second time?

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

So, another illustration and Vixen still has yet to return to her brown roots. (Thanks to Willow and Cheryl for pointing this one out!) No strange lighting in this one – the illustrator drew her this way intentionally. (And it is probably the same illustrator as last time, since the Wonder T & A are still in full effect.)

Cheryl over at Digital Femme broke down the response to my original post (see here) like this:

Thirty-six responses on Racialicious. And the majority of them are not focused on the fact that non-white female characters are whitewashed more often than their male counterparts. The responses plug other books. The responses drift to other topics. The responses tell the black woman that she’s pointing out a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s just a coloring error.

It is not just a coloring error. This does not fucking happen with the same frequency (if ever) to Luke Cage and Shang Chi as it happens to Storm and Jubilee. Skin colors are lightened. Features are changed. Why? I would really like to know why. But every time a person stands up and asks why, she’s shouted right down. She’s ignored. You’re seeing things that aren’t there. Let’s talk about something else. Right?

Fuck that shit.

The problem exists. I know it exists. You know it exists. We can joke about the Wasp no longer being Asian in Ultimates 3 (insert plug for 4th Letter awesomeness here) and make snarky comments about Storm’s features, but when it comes time to man up and talk seriously about this shit, everyone disappears. Except for the minority women. And no one’s fucking listening to us anyway. They just nod until they can interrupt and tell us how wrong we are or divert attention away to a topic they find important. You aren’t hearing us.

And Willow is going nuclear with good reason.

What never ceases to amaze me is how you can travel in different circles and different communities with completely different goals, aims, and ideas and still run into the same old tired bullshit.

Gaming, manga (which in my case loosely extends to American comics), anime, feminism, business – the same patterns emerge time and time again.

And when you document these incidents, people will accuse you of blowing things out of proportion. They brush these concerns aside, explaining them away as “coloring errors” or “coding difficulty” or my favorite, “we just weren’t thinking about that, we were making a game/comic/film/movement/company for everyone.” For everyone? Really?

As I continue to hear the same tired arguments parroted in different spheres of conversation, I find the same question keeps rising to the top of my thoughts.

How many times does something have to happen before it stops being coincidence and starts becoming a pattern?