Quoted: Rebecca Walker on Capitalism and Transracial Adoption

It is beautiful that people can open their lives to human beings of any background, but I think that all of us – every human being – runs the risk of being commodified in a hypercapitalist culture. For example, I feel that as a biracial person I have more social currency now that we have a biracial president. So when we think about which bodies have currency, it’s an interesting question.

One of the writers [whose piece] didn’t make it into One Big Happy Family wrote about how the process of adopting a child from another country made her more aware of human trafficking. Ultimately, she had to question whether her child had been put up for adoption or was stolen. If we look at plunging fertility in developed nations and raging underdevelopment and poverty in others, we can see how children can become the ultimate product.

Many people don’t realize that there are more human beings in slavery today than ever before. The discussion of transracial adoptees should be part of a growing awareness about the modern slave trade, but I think the glamourization of them in popular culture often does not lend itself to a deeper dialogue.

— “All In the Family: A Q + A with author Rebecca Walker”, Bitch Magazine, Fall of 2009, interview by our own Nadra Kareem

Note: Racialicious often critiques transracial adoption practices. However, we prefer to not demonize the participants, and to respect the narratives of those most directly affected. Please keep this in mind when commenting.

More Supermarkets, Please.

by Guest Contributor G.D., originally published at PostBourgie

Up until last fall, I lived in Bed-Stuy, and the only supermarket near me was so far away that I would just do my food-shopping on the way back from my gym — which happens to be in a completely different neighborhood.  The bodegas on either end of the block where I lived only sold white bread; fresh fruit and vegetables were completely out of the question. Fast food restaurants abounded. After 10 p.m., you had to stand outside the bodega and tell the store employee what you wanted through bullet-proof glass; they handed you your goods via a rotating carousel. If you were hungry at that hour — and I usually was, since I work evenings — there was no place to get food, except Papa John’s. (Ugh.)

Then my lease ran out and I stumbled into an apartment for slightly less than I was paying — in Park Slope, that notorious bastion of upper middle class liberalism and helicopter parenting. My mind was blown. It’s just two miles away, but the demographic chasms are ginormous. This is the whitest, most affluent place I’ve ever lived, and the nutritional options border on the cartoonish. There are supermarkets two blocks in every direction, a surfeit of top-shelf restaurantsthe famous Food Co-Op, and the 24-hour bodega on the corner sells fresh herbs and organic kale. As dope this is for me now, I had to move to a completely different neighborhood in order to have regular access to fat-free milk.

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Your Joke is Not My Joke: Racism and Sexism in Jokes and Satire

By Guest Contributor Princesse de Clèves, islamogauchiste, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

Have you ever noticed how minorities—and oppressed people in general—lack a sense of humor? Lately, there have been plenty of jokes about Arabs and Muslims. So why aren’t we laughing?

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux recently felt his joke fall flat after this year’s summer congress. One of his traditional supporters, Amin Benalia, asked if he could take a picture with the minister. A woman in the crowd jokingly introduced Benalia to the team as someone different because he “eats pork and drinks beer”. Ah, a meeting of old friends and politicians united under the banner of pork, beer and the finest French jokes. The Minister explained about Benalia:

“He doesn’t fit the prototype [of an Arab Muslim] at all. Not at all. We always need one. When there’s one, that’s all right. It’s when there a lot of them that there are problems.”

This moment of free expression had been launched on the website of Le Monde and raised lots of questions, reactions and criticism. But the merry minister did not apologize. He simply said it was a joke, and most journalists gave it legitimacy by saying the minister was “very laid-back”.

David Gee, the author of Shaikh Down—a  very “funny” novel about the Arabs (again)—claimed he “spent six years in the Gulf and never met an intelligent woman”, ignoring the fact that intelligent women had better things to do than meet up with a poor so-called satirist.

In Shaikh Down, Gee writes:

“Nayla was tall, olive-skinned, voluptuous, at twenty-six two years younger than her brother Ibrahim and exactly half her husband’s age, a feminist intellectual in a society that tended to ignore women and mistrusted intellectuals .”

Exclusively focusing his attention on the body of Nayla, the author completely ignores the role that high-profile women play in the Gulf. The “feminist intellectual” is at some point described as if she was either a prostitute or a commodity: by the size and the color of her “voluptuous” Orientalized body.

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Links for 09-29-2009

Compiled by Thea Lim and Jessica Yee

    The celebrities will march to Washington with activists next year, when Congress is expected to take up the issue in January. The actors participating include Vicente Fernández, Marco Antonio Solís, El Buk
    and Graciela Beltrán, in addition to the campaign’s official spokesperson, Mexican telenovela star Lucía Méndez.
    Despite [District 9's] elaborate critique on systematic racism, though, the movie itself prescribes liberal racism and elitism to overcome the systematic racism.

The Racialicious Roundtable For ‘Heroes’ 4.1 + 4.2

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

Ando1

Why does Ando look so shocked? Probably because he saw the ratings.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Heroes placed fourth in its’ time slot, with a 46 percent drop in viewership from the Season 3 premiere. Start the deathwatch!

Meanwhile, the Roundtable invites you to join us in wishing a fond farewell to one of our charter members, Erica, who is about to embark on the most perilous of journeys: teaching middle school.

jen*: Good luck, Erica! My mom taught middle school and always said it takes a special person to work with middle school kids. I think she’s right.

Mahsino: Yeah, good luck Erica and may the patience you have had watching Heroes aid you in dealing with middle-schoolers.

jen*: As for the show? I can’t even articulate how much I hate Parkman. Teh stoopid must have rubbed off of Mo and landed on him. In fact, everyone I know hates Parkman

Mahsino (raises hand): I don’t hate Parkman. I kinda feel for the guy in the same way I feel for Ando and Hiro, he’s not a Benetrelli so it’s not like he’s gonna get any shine.

Arturo: Parkman’s decision-making process crystallizes one big problem for this group of characters: they clearly know they’re the only ones around who can understand and deal what they’re going through, yet they insist on not relying on each other. So it makes Big Matt look like a child not to tell anybody Sylar is in his head – especially with Angela asking for his help.

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Are you joining me tomorrow?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

About a year ago, I attended a marketing seminar. The woman who ran the seminar couldn’t have been more different from me. She was a real “girly-girl,” all pink, sparkles, big blonde hair.

I was apprehensive at first, but by the end of the event she had completely won me over. Why? Because I could tell she was totally comfortable in her skin. This was really who she was, and she was unabashed about it.

The ability to just be yourself is a lot harder to come by than we might think. And one of the biggest obstacles can be race. Specifically, racial stereotypes.

I’m not particularly meek, yet at almost every job I’ve held, people have thought of me as a shy and quiet Asian girl. Because of that, I’ve always had to project an exaggerated version of my personality, just to be perceived as normal.

What kinds of racial stereotypes do you find yourself battling on a daily basis? What elements of your authentic self are you suppressing? How is race getting in the way of your self-expression without you even knowing it?

I’m going to share that and much more on a FREE CALL happening TOMORROW, Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm Eastern time.

‘Just Be Yourself!’
How Race Gets in the Way of Expressing Our Authentic Identities

Sign up to reserve your line for this FREE call today!

On this lively, information-packed 60-minute call, you’ll learn:

  • How the quest for racial or cultural authenticity can thwart your true identity.
  • What “covering” is, and what it has to do with your civil rights.
  • Why it actually benefits you to know what racial stereotypes exist about your ethnic or racial group.

This call is a content-rich preview to the newest session of my program, The Racialicious Experience. If you’re a fan of our blog, you won’t want to miss it!

Limited lines are available for this call, so you’ll want to make sure you reserve your spot right away.

Just click the link above, enter your information in the boxes on the page, and you’ll receive the complete call details via email.

We will record the call, but only people who have registered will receive instructions on how to download the audio recording. So even if you’re not sure if you can make the call live, register now!

I’m coming to Boston this week!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Carmen Van KerckhoveIt’s amazing how quickly this summer flew by. Fall is definitely in full swing, as I’m headed out on the road again for speaking engagements. I’ll be in Boston this week for two events that are open to the public. Be sure to say hi to me if you come!

Friday, October 2
Workshop: “Love and Sex: What’s Race Got to Do With It?”
Stonehill College in Easton, MA
Contact the Intercultural Affairs office for time and location

Saturday, October 3
Keynote at 2009 Asian America Women in Leadership Conference
Boston University in Boston, MA
Register at this web site

Open Thread: Stephen Harper and Colonialism in Canada

by Special Correspondent Jessica Yee


“We’re so self-effacing as Canadians that we sometimes forget the assets we do have that other people see,” he said, speaking with a rare passion. “We are one of the most stable regimes in history. . . . We are unique in that regard,” he added, noting Canada had enjoyed more than 150 years of untroubled Parliamentary democracy. Just in case that was not enough to persuade doubters, Harper threw in some more facts about the geographically second-largest nation in the world. “We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them,” he said.

-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses a press briefing at the end of the G20 Summit on Sept. 25, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

No history of colonialism in Canada, eh, Harper?

I don’t give a flying f@#! if he’s really referring to “colonizing” other countries (so Afghanistan doesn’t count?), the fact is the man said that Canada has NO HISTORY OF COLONIALISM.

Oh. really. now.

So Mr. Harper, when you apologized to residential school survivors, when you talked about the Chinese head-tax, or Japanese internment camps, all happening in Canada, was colonization not a result of these very things occurring? That’s not even to mention the ongoing colonialism that’s alive and well in Canada (last time I checked Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was still in operation).

Feel free to leave your thoughts on the latest in oppressive Harper-dom.