Race in Unexpected Places: Showtime’s Secret Diary of a Call Girl

by Latoya Peterson

A few weeks ago, completely burnt out on all things intellectual, I scooped up a copy of “Secret Diary of a Call Girl,” the book based off the blog of one Belle Du Jour. I had seen excerpts from her blog online and liked her voice and her writing style.

I noticed that Showtime had picked up the show, and retained the original actors instead of just remaking the show. I tuned into watch the first episode, but I wasn’t planning to blog about it – the book’s characters had been overwhelmingly white and I assumed the show would be more of the same.

And it was. Except for an interesting snatch of conversation.

Belle (played by Billie Piper) is meeting with her Madam and some of the other employees of the agency over lunch. Her Madam passes around an illustration of a man who has been accused of passing around counterfeit money. She passes the picture to the purple haired call girl, who immediately makes a snide comment:

Purple Haired Call Girl: Eastern European (said knowingly.)

Blond Call Girl: You can’t say that!

Brunette Call Girl: That’s racist! Continue reading

Longform Links – Black Hair, Feminism, The Lives of Women of Color

Kameelah Writes – the day i decided to never straighten my hair (well at least in joburg) because the voltage conversion messed me up

there was a point in my life where i made the simplistic assertions that if you straightened your hair as a black woman than you hate yourself and by extension your blackness. yes, this was my back to africa phase sans the kente clothe and red, black and green accessories but heavy on the rhetoric. you know the rhetoric of a young girl who started college too early, got caught up in the cliff note marxists and pan-african ramblings and unsaid persons while forgetting to think. luckily, i left that phase by 18 during the beginning of my sophomore year of college, shook off the militant midget label and went for a more nuanced pan-africanism that was metered by my own understandings blackness, politics and representation and not by the pre-packaged revolution boxes you can buy at your local corner store of college classroom.

while i sincerely believe there is immense meaning in the way we as black people approach our hair, i find greater meaning in the hierarchies of blackness erected by self-righteous folks who in whatever covert/overt way make the assertion that folks who sport dreads or fros are in some way more enlightened. if hair is the only litmus test for enlightenment then we are beginning on faulty grounds.

A Womyn’s Ecdysis – Questions Surfacing

What role do US feminist identified activists have in transnational feminist activism and issues?

If our systematic ways of life directly contribute to the oppression, killing, and starvation of women in the world, what becomes of our advocacy, our social activism here in the US?

What is the practical application of “intersectionality,” this popular term bounced around in the femosphere? Is it just a means to better under and construct our kyriarchal society, or is it meant to lead to something specific in action?

Renee (Womanist Musings) for Feministe – Black Women Are Worth 10K

I came across this story at The Root but it was originally posted at Aunt Jemima’s Revenge. Chiman Rai So hated blacks that he hired a hit man to kill his black daughter-in law, Sparkle. The case was labeled an honor killing. Eight years ago Rajeeve came home to find his daughter unhurt, and his wife brutally murdered. When asked by police during the investigation of his wifes death about his parents, he referred to them as “a little racist”. This from a man that told his wife, and her family that his parents were dead, rather than deal with their racism.Eight years later the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty, and a little girl is growing up without both of her parents. Yes I said both, you see since the death of his wife, Rajeeve has remarried an Indian woman, and has not bothered to see his daughter. It seems that Sparkle’s death taught him which bodies matter in this society. […]

I often wonder behind the PC speech where is the anger at our treatment. It seems it is fashionable to pay lip service these days to the oppressed but to articulate from a position of rage is a rare phenomenon. Passion and outrage are saved for the more legitimate causes, while daily the war against WOC is raged and the bodies are buried, unnoticed, unvalued, and forgotten. How many feminists have even bothered to ask the question why WOC are not featured when they are missing, or why there is no discussion when pregnant black mothers are killed? It does not diminish you as a woman to admit that WOC hurt too. How many men will continually privilege race over gender and in the process treat us, and our concerns as though they were invisible? I cannot sit in peace and watch as my sisters are made to pay the price for being black and female in our racist, and patriarchal society. I am an angry black woman and my rage is justified.

Diversity Inc – “Why Whites Can’t ‘Get Over’ Color”

by Latoya Peterson

Diversity Inc.’s Ask a White Guy Column has posted a letter that should feel all too familiar to any anti-racist activist. An excerpt:

I am a white female and I can tell you that I don’t talk about blacks for fear I will be called a racist or be called to the table, especially in the workplace, for discrimination. We (whites), at my company, are not allowed to talk about blacks or any other ethnic group because we would get fired. I will say that whites are very sensitive now because we are discriminated against. Blacks can have the NAACP, BET (Black Entertainment Television), Black History Month, United Negro College Fund, etc. If white people were to start something like the before mentioned there would be a huge uproar.

The writer also manages to fit in all of the following gems:

* “[B]lacks that keep bringing up how their ancestors were slaves need to look a little more into history books. Blacks were not the only ones who were slaves, all races have had slaves, and even whites. ”

* “Nobody is forcing anyone to stay in America, you are free to leave whenever you please (and that is for every race), and, nobody took YOU personally from Africa or Asia or Spain or Italy or from anywhere else.”

* “I love the fact that America is a big melting pot, full of color and different cultures. ”

* “Until we get over the past we will never fully get along.”

* “Get over the color!”

Deep sigh. Continue reading

links for 2008-06-30

links for 2008-06-28

Vogue Asks “Is Fashion Racist?”

by Guest Contributor Brigitte, originally published at Make Fetch Happen

“Are we still talking about this in 2008?” asks Iman in an irate voice kicking off the “Is Fashion Racist?” article in the July issue of Vogue. I’ve certainly pondered that question myself over the past few years and I am sure that many other fashion enthusiasts have as well.

Really, why is it that an industry such as this one known for embracing a variety of outlandish personalities and ideas is so blind when it comes to putting new faces in its clothes, on its runways or in its magazines? For example, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen designer Philip Lim glorified on the pages of fashion tomes but I struggle to remember when I last saw and Asian model featured in a multi-page editorial. In spite of the fact that Pat McGrath, Andre Leon Talley, photographer Mark Baptist and designers like Tracey Reese are influential enough to sit at the proverbial table, that diversity hasn’t tricked down to model employment office. This seems to suggest that people of other races are welcome to provide the glitz for a shoot but must never be the one to wear the accessories.

I think about this topic often and it’s become the main focus of my blog because it wasn’t like this when I was growing up and first became enamored with fashion. I still remember the day my English teacher brought in a stack of old ELLE magazines to give away and I got my first taste of it. I spent hours pouring over those images back then. It was superficial and I knew but I didn’t care. It still meant something to me. Seeing the Beverly Peele on the cover of Seventeen when I was in high school back then made me feel good. It made me feel included in that fabulous something even though my bi-level two toned jheri curl was decidedly not happening. Side note: I still haven’t forgiven my mother for making get a jheri curl. I honestly think of it as child abuse.

My fashion jones followed me to college where I always had the latest pictures of Naomi Campbell tacked to my mirror for fierce make up inspiration. But then it seemed, things started to reverse themselves. Instead of marching forward and including larger cross section of ethnicities, fashion started marching backwards. The change was slow but deliberate. Black models became less visible as lighter skinned, more racially ambiguous Brazilian beauties hit the scene. They started dropping off too, save Gisele, in favor of Eastern European models, each new batch even more nondescript than the previous seasons.

Nowadays, when I talk about how it used to be I feel like an old woman rocking on my porch talking about the good ole’ days when they let us colored folk take pretty pictures. Continue reading