Month: November 2008

November 4, 2008 / / black

by Racialicious Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

As some of you Racialicious readers know, quite a few of us love some fine men around here, regardless of our genders and orientations. And what I mean by “fine” is how Lisa Jones, author of Bulletproof Diva: Tales of Race, Sex, and Hair, means it: “cute with a story.” So, I’m getting this out of the way right now.

I think Senator Barack Obama is a fine-looking man.

But what’s been said recently about this sexy man and his self-identified Black phallus is causing some consternation and situating his sexuality in a strange dichotomous discourse.

Former Playgirl editor-in-chief Nicole Caldwell wrote a feature in last week’s NY Press about how obsessed some people are about Obama’s looks, by how sexy he is, and how their ideas about his sexiness falls into racialized sexual fantasies, namely that his Black maleness makes him good in bed and how that stereotype may anchor some of the buzziness in folks’ erotic fantasies about him and may be the reasoning behind their voting for him. However, that stereotyped-based buzziness, Caldwell contends, may be the very thing could ruin his chance to become president.

This being a sex-centered issue of the NYP, Caldwell tried hard—maybe a little too hard—to bring the bawdy talk about Bama. In her lede she interviewed a 52-year-old white moderate Republican man who had sex with a white twenty-something Obama supporter. During the sexual encounter, the Democrat moaned a name: Obama’s name. In the piece itself, she describes how women have written to her about how Playgirl perpetuates racist stereotypes about Black men by featuring brothas with long penises, the post-Kennedy/Nixon debate mindset of the physical and the visual mean the political, and the US celebrity culture and race operating in our collective erotic imagination. Then she calls in the cultural and political analysts, including our own Carmen Van Kerckhove.

(Note: Caldwell called Racialicious “salacious.” Like I said, we can get down like that over here—and, yes, Carmen starts a lot of it with her Keanu Reeves posts–but La Playgirl EIC is seriously reaching, like all we do is write about the folks we want to sex up and how, served anti-racism style.)

“I’ve always been a little perplexed around the media’s obsession with Barack’s looks,” says Carmen Van Kerckhove, co-founder and president of racial consulting firm New Demographic and head of the popular and salacious blog, Racialicious. “He’s good looking for a politician, but he doesn’t have movie-star good looks.” Van Kerckhove calls this overemphasis on the candidate’s looks trite. “People think, ‘I can’t be racist, I think Obama is good looking.’ I’ve always interpreted people tripping over themselves to say how good-looking he is as revealing a level of [embedded] racism.” Read the Post Go Ahead, Vote for Obama’s Body (Slightly NSFW)

November 4, 2008 / / addicted to race
November 3, 2008 / / politics

by Latoya Peterson

It’s the day before November 4th, and it occurs to me that we have not provided much coverage to other candidates outside of Obama. Obama is not the only black candidate in the race – Cynthia McKinney is running at the top of the Green Party ticket and Rosa Clemente – hip-hop activist and Afro-Latina – has been tapped for Vice President.

However, my lack of posting does not mean I have not been paying attention. Jeff Chang posted an interview with Rosa Clemente back in August. (Chang also posted more background on Clemente.)

Q: Talk about the platform. What do you think the Green Party has over the other parties?

This is the only party that even has social justice as its core principle. When we say ending the war, we mean all the wars. We need to get all the military out of every country, we need to begin to deal with issues of what peace can look like, how do you sustain that. Obviously, the green party is at the forefront of pushing the environment as a core value, that was innovative then. There should be an end to imprisoning young people, an immediate stop to the death penalty, a livable wage, not a minimum wage. Impeachment for George Bush and them is critical. I think if we don’t hold them accountable as a people, then anybody can do the same shit that they did.

Words are words, but we can make the words into deeds. If people would even open up the platform, they would see that neither the Democrats and Republicans would even talk about young people having rights and that we should be signing some of these international treaties, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The hardest part is to literally get people to open it up and want to be exposed.

And indeed, looking in the corners of the progressive blogosphere, one can find more and more to like about the Green Party platform. Read the Post What’s the Deal with the Green Party?

November 3, 2008 / / activism

by Latoya Peterson

In this month’s issue of Vibe, Barack Obama receives a formal endorsement from the magazine. Danyel Smith’s Editor’s Letter is an impassioned plea to get involved and help push Barack all the way into the White House. She writes:

We value freedom and aspire to be better than we are, and to live in a country that will be better than it is. We must vote for Senator Obama and for Senator Joe Biden. We must make sure our friends get to the ballot box. We must reach deep for every bit of idealism we had at the beginning of rap music. We must not be cool. We must not again make manifest the “apathy” label that has been thrust upon us. This is not a moment to be reviewed or dissected, or gazed upon from an ironic distance. This moment in history is ours. Our country will not be okay if Obama loses.

The issue goes on to provide three key pieces of political commentary: Obama’s own letter to Vibe readers, Jeff Chang’s “The Tipping Point,” a piece that explores the shifting nature of our political landscape, and a compilation of 99 hip-hoppers positions on politics.

Obama’s letter cuts straight to the heart of the apathy Danyel Smith describes in her intro piece:

Now, I’ve heard people say, “My vote doesn’t matter,” “My vote won’t count,” or “I’m just one person, what possible difference can I make?” And I understand this cynicism. As a young man attempting to find my own way in the world, I faced many of the same choices and challenges facing many of you today. I sometimes doubted that my thoughts and actions really mattered in the larger scheme of things.

But I made a choice. I chose to check in, to get involved, and to try and make a difference in people’s lives. It’s what led me to my work as a community organizer in Chicago, where I worked with churches to rebuild struggling communities on the South Side. It’s what led me to teach and run for public office. And even today, I hear the skepticism. Too often, our leaders let us down, They don’t seem to do much to make our lives better. So I understand the temptation to sit elections out.

But this year, when the stakes are this high, and the outcome will be so close, I need you to choose to vote.

Read the Post Vibe Magazine Asks That You Barack the Vote

November 3, 2008 / / diversity

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

The ratings are down between 20 and 50 percent depending on who you ask. Entertainment Weekly has declared it “a series in crisis.” Even mild-mannered Yahoo has declared it has “jumped the shark,” forcing the typically fawning comic-book press to come to its defense. Clearly, Heroes has reached a turning point – or maybe the end of its’ rope? As the series moves into a new, decidedly soap-influenced direction, our roundtable convenes to focus on some troubling statements attributed to series creator Tim Kring over the past week.

In that EW cover story, Kring said the show is “at its heart, a family drama that deals with two main families in particular, the Bennet family and the Petrelli family.” What does Kring’s banking on these two clans say to you about his investment – and ours – in characters like Hiro, Suresh, Parkman, et al?

Hexy: Well, it says he doesn’t give a crap about them. But you know who I’m MORE pissed on behalf of? The Hawkins/Sanders. There we had another family being set up with its own internal dynamic and personal struggles, and this season we find out that (like the Petrellis) it has unexpected extra branches. Hell, it’s even got blondes, which seems to be a pre-requisite for getting any of the writers of this show to pay attention to your gene pool, and I distinctly remember a shocking promise of storylines to come when Linderman revealed that he’d somehow orchestrated the existence of that family unit.

But no. The mixed-race family containing the only sex working character we’ve yet seen doesn’t get to be part of the “family drama” side of Heroes, unless you count watching Micah pout at his newfound Aunt for thirty seconds before she runs off to spend time with the families that REALLY matter.

Mahsino: In the EW article, I will admit I learned something new: the new “P.C.” euphemism for Magical Negro is now “Noble Black Man”. I’d say that Kring’s analysis of the main characters in the show is very indicative of the sense of what I like to call the white default. Usually in the media, (this even includes books with the exception of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys) the main characters tend to be white. Every other character is defined by their ethnicity and is usually in the background. What partially drew me to Heroes was that, in the beginning, there was no visible white default- sure there was Peter, but he was getting equal airtime as Hiro. The fact that Mohinder was a constant presence in the show impressed me. But now, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that this show is going the way of Grey’s Anatomy — another show that began with a great sense of diversity that faded its characters of color into the background.

Erica: The term “family drama” typically means “family friendly,” and Heroes is really anything but family-friendly. It’s violent, dark, and scary. If it simply means, “drama about families”, then that’s just horribly boring. I thought we were watching to see people with mutant powers, not people who hug and cry and throw their brothers out of windows. (And from Racialicious commenters’ reaction to the latest recap, it’s clear that very few people liked
that quote!) Anyway.

I’m disappointed to see Kring’s lack of interest in his extended cast, and my hope for a resurgence of diversity (and interesting new stories) is swiftly dying. The quote confirms that other characters are just a support system for the Bennet and Petrelli families. No wonder many of them seem to be given far less time than their potentially interesting stories deserve. Given the breadth of characters we saw in Season One (remember those days, when the show didn’t suck much?) and the potential for variety, I don’t understand WHY. There’s not much suspense in showing Mama and Papa Petrelli fight for the love (or hatred) of their sons. Concentrating on their dysfunction is simply going to continue pissing off the fanbase, particularly people who are only casually interested — people who make up the bulk of the ratings.

(Am I the only one who’s surprised that the deep, life-changing secrets that Angela and Arthur like to throw at the boys are actually all true? Any self-respecting family drama would realize that either one would lie about anything to get the Petrelli Boys on his or her side.)

Clara: I started thinking of the two families as the Shiney Blondes and the Sparkly Dark-Brunettes this episode, because there really seems to be a hair-color coding system going on with the Bennets and Petrellis. (Yes, Noah does not have blonde hair, I know. But his hair color is pretty light compared to the Petrelli shade of brown.)

I am bothered by Kring’s statement because he ignores all the other family dramas present in Heroes, especially since there are so many to choose from. What about Hiro and his dad, Kaito? Kaito was one of the Company founders. He’s also supposed to be dead. Why can’t he come back to life all evil and stuff too, like Arthur Petrelli? And what about Mohinder and his daddy issues? Can’t Chandra Suresh have another secret and come back to life as well? How about, Chandra was actually the original author of the power-giving formula and somehow gave himself the ability to fake his death and bounce back two seasons later?

Basically, it’s like Kring is saying only the good looking white families matter in this show. And considering the fame Heroes has gotten for its multicultural cast, that’s pretty terrible. I’m betting the writers finally got overwhelmed by all the characters and decided to concentrate only the Blonde Bennets and the Brunette Petrellis. “Too many personalities. Just focus on the pretty ones!” It’s a shame that the other families don’t get this type of treatment. Read the Post The Racialicious Roundtable for Heroes 3.7

November 3, 2008 / / tv