Month: August 2009

August 26, 2009 / / LGBTQ

by Guest Contributor Andrés Duque, originally published at Blabbeando

What’s up with the Spanish-language version of “Yahoo! Answers”?

As the moderator of a couple of online news lists on LGBT issues, I sometimes rely on Google Alerts to keep up with the latest news on the LGBT community. Once in a while the results will highlight links to some homophobic content on the internet, but that’s to be expected.

A few months back, though, I noticed one interesting trend: While LGBT-related questions to the “Yahoo! Answers” English-language service rarely popped-up and were inoffensive when they did, questions submitted to Spanish-language versions of the service (mainly to “Yahoo! Responde Mexico” & “Yahoo! Responde Spain“) showed up frequently. And, more often than not, they were also tinged with homophobic drivel.

So I geeked out and started keeping those Google Alerts last February. I probably missed a few, and there are probably a lot more questions submitted that were not captured by the Google bots, but I’ve posted the “Yahoo! Response” questions that came my way during that period of time (below I’ve included the original question in Spanish and provided a translation. I have also provided a link to the question if they are still on Yahoo!’s servers).

Results:

Obviously, there are some questions that might have been submitted from a lack of knowledge on LGBT issues rather than homophobic intent (questions about homosexuality and religion or whether gays are ‘born or made’), or those posed by people making sense of their sexual attractions (“How do I know I’m Gay?” “Does this make me a lesbian?”), or those that might be from people just joking around (“Is My Cat Gay?”).

Surprisingly, though, I’d say that roughly half the questions I collected seemed to have a specific homophobic intent which seemed rather high to me and, of those, only a few had been removed from the site after being posted. Read the Post What’s up with the Spanish-language version of “Yahoo! Answers”?

August 25, 2009 / / politics
August 25, 2009 / / On Beauty

by Carolina Asuquo-Brown

Just a few weeks ago I was flipping through the pages of a fashion mag with a friend.

An editorial featuring an obviously biracial black/white model sporting a huge curly ‘fro caught our eye and that I have to say – I just loved the style.

I have been natural most of my life (not necessarily out of conviction but due to the chronic and persisting shortage of German hairstylists who can deal with wild biracial hair more on the afro side-or with any kind of biracial or black hair) save a few relaxed spells every few years after which I desperately longed for my kinks and curls to come back.

Anyway, my style of the moment is natural and the model’s medium-length curls were something I really considered desirable. The hairstyle did strike a chord with me, but my friend Jen, who has two African parents, is many a shade darker than I am and has shiny and fantastically healthy-looking relaxed tresses (which I have never managed to obtain) was a lot less enthusiastic about the model’s look.

“That’s something mixed girls get away with” she said, “They can get their hair to look like that – I couldn’t. I feel that curls are something like the latest fetish – it’s like there are black girls with great curls all around, advertisement, movies, magazines. And lately it has become a bit like what straight hair used to be-you’ve got to have it.”

It had never occurred to me, but speaking to Jen, I realised that she might be right. Over the next weeks everywhere I looked, be it the streets of my city or most of he few female black German TV-presenters – it really seemed that nowadays the fly mixed or black girl hast to have curls. Generous, semi-loose curls that is, tight enough to give you the volume but loose enough to be considered beautiful in a more mainstream way. Read the Post Are curls the new straight hair? [The Germany Files]

August 25, 2009 / / books

by Guest Contributor Neesha Meminger, originally published at Justine Larbalestier

This essay was originally meant to be a short comment in response to Justine’s post on why her protags aren’t white. In one of the comments, someone brought up the old argument: if white people can only write white characters, then should people of color only write characters of color? Here is my response . . .

It’s a question of power and privilege. Most white people grow up thinking they have free range in everything from the political to the personal. People of color in Europe, Australia, and North America (and women everywhere), do not grow up learning these things. We learn to BE colonized. We learn, through history lessons from our colonizer’s textbooks, that we are not the invadERS, we are the invadED.

People of color know more about white people than we know about ourselves and one other because everything we are taught in the schools is by and about white people. Everything we see on television is by and about white people. Everything in magazines, on film, in books and on book covers is created by and about white people. Writers of color in the west almost always have white people in our books because that is what we know; it’s what is all around us.

Given this context, people of color writing *only* about people of color is an act of self-validation. It is an attempt at balancing something that is heavily skewed in one direction. (This reminds me a lot of the discussions and debates we used to have about why it is critical within a patriarchal/sexist context to have women-only spaces, and why in campuses all across the nation there are LGBTQ groups, etc.).

I create worlds in my books where people of color and women are at the center—not at the margins where we are habitually cast in the everyday world. This is a conscious decision. It is a political choice. Just as writing a book, film, or television series peopled ONLY with white folks is a political act, be it conscious or not.

On white authors writing characters of color: because the power imbalance leans so heavily to one side over the other, white authors absolutely must support the efforts of authors of color. White authors absolutely must people their stories with characters of color to reflect a reality they often have the privilege of ignoring, if they so choose. Read the Post From Margin to Center: Writing Characters of Color

August 24, 2009 / / Uncategorized
August 24, 2009 / / film
August 24, 2009 / / race

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published What Tami Said

My blogsister Professor Tracey has me thinking about “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Yesterday, on Aunt Jemima’s Revenge, Tracey asked whether the hit Bravo show was “a guilty pleasure or embarrassing as hell for black folks, particularly women.” And so, as a regular watcher of the show, I pondered the lightning rods that the Hotlanta housewives have become.

Yeah, I watch RHOA. It’s shamelessly trashy, quite obviously scripted, drama-filled reality TV. But after a week of working and thinking and stressing and getting caught up in our country’s all-too-real political drama, sometimes I want to rest my brain by consuming something simple, indulgent and without value. “Real Housewives” is like a Hostess cupcake for my gray matter.

To be sure, the women on RHOA are no role models. They are alternately bullying, narcissistic, back-stabbing, money-grubbing, cliquey, disloyal, arrogant, self-involved, willfully ignorant, poorly spoken, wasteful and tackily nouveau riche. The show features street fights, wig tugging, name dropping, pole dancing, sugar daddy-funded goodies, “baller” fetishizing, vanity business projects, cattiness, loud arguments in nice restaurants (and nice offices..and nice homes), and whole lot of “flossing” and faux importance. Whether editing or reality is to blame, the women read like gross caricatures of the bourgie set, garnished with a little Jerry Springer.

But here’s the thing: These traits are not solely the hallmark of the black housewives of Atlanta. Reality shows are cast and scripted for drama, and the “Real Housewives” franchise serves up plenty of it with each and every season. So I find it curious that these five, black women are singled out as egregiously off-the-hook. Oh, I’m not saying that the white Real Housewives don’t catch hell. Half the thrill of watching all the RH series is snarking on the excess and ignorance afterwards. My problem is HOW the Atlanta wives are criticized. Read the Post What’s worse: Real Housewives of Atlanta or race-based criticism of it?