links for 2009-12-31

  • "With that said, I don't think there's a single human being in Crash. Instead you have arguments and propaganda violently bumping into each other, impressed with their own quirkiness. ("Hey look, I'm a black carjacker who resents being stereotyped.") But more than a bad film, Crash, which won an Oscar (!), is the apotheosis of a kind of unthinking, incurious, nihilistic, multiculturalism. To be blunt, nothing tempers my extremism more than watching a fellow liberal exhort the virtues of Crash."
  • "Australia's Tourism Forecasting Committee (TFC) has said the students are choosing to stay away due to a series of attacks in mid-2009. Australian police blamed the attacks on opportunistic criminals, but some Indian students see them as racist. The drop in the number of Indian students is expected to cost Australia almost $70m (£44m)."
  • "Another reason to pay attention to women’s needs in this recession? In a word: poverty. The poverty rate for black women is 26.2%, and it’s 25.5% for Latina women — more than 4 times higher than the white male poverty rate. And it is not surprising that children are the collateral damage when we fail address the unemployment and poor pay that is behind these numbers. Even in a recession, it is shocking that 30.6% of Latino children, 33.9% of Black children, 15.8% of white children, and 13.3% of Asian children live in poverty."

Last Minute Links Before the New Year

by Latoya Peterson

Alright people, we are officially on vacation, starting now. Comment moderation will be spotty until January 4th, when we resume regular schedule. Until then, a couple things to mull over.

Nisha over at Politicoholic mentioned the Twitter based campaign to remember Gaza on December 27th.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the 22-day Israeli military raid on Gaza. Gaza, one of the two Palestinian territories currently under Israeli occupation.

I know Gaza is not a topic of polite cocktail party or happy hour conversation for most people. Most people probably aren’t quite aware of where Gaza is (here is a map for that), especially since it’s a tiny territory that’s only about 139 square miles on the coast of the Mediterranean.

So it is probably not widely known that one year ago, Israeli military forces killed 1,400 Palestinians, of which over 900 were civilians and over 300 were children. And considerable damage was done to Gazan roads, houses, and infrastructure — most of which has still not been repaired. [...]

Buoyed by the success of the Iran election activists, who tweeted their observations about the controversial Iranian election and subsequent protests using the hashtag #iranelection, and capured the world’s attention — now Palestinian activists are hoping to start a movement of their own using Twitter as their primary tool of communication.

Their hashtag is #gaza, and today, December 27, from 3 pm – 7 pm GMT, they are encouraging everyone they know to tweet using the hashtag #gaza in the hopes of making Gaza the #1 trending topic on Twitter — which is no easy feat, given the millions of people using Twitter everyday.

But that didn’t quite happen. Last night, Global Voices posted a report by Anton Issa, explaining how the campaign did not go as planned:

Twitter has been accused of attempting to silence tributes to Gaza one-year after an Israeli onslaught devastated the Palestinian enclave.

Pro-Palestinian and human rights activists used the influential Twitter portal to mark the one-year anniversary of the Gaza War, and express support for the besieged territory.

Tweets using the hashtag #Gaza flooded in on December 27th, peaking at number 3 on Twitter’s top ten Trending Topics list.

However, complaints emerged of users being briefly blocked from tweeting #Gaza, with the trend being forced downwards and off the Trending Topics.

Bloggers all over the world speculated about why this happened. According to Issa, some thought that it was Twitter editors suppressing the topic, others thought that pro-Zionist activists were reporting the tweets as spam, others thought it was due to Twitter’s algorithms balancing the discussions differently. However, it does shed some light on the issues with using New Media to organize – I’ll expand on this a little more in the New Year. Continue reading

links for 2009-12-30

Ching Chong Beautiful Exposes Racism in Video Game Design

by Latoya Peterson

On Christmas, reader Mel sent us a little present. He wrote in about a flash based indie video game covered by the Escapist. The title? Ching Chong Beautiful.

I click over the link, expecting to see a take down. After all, the Escapist does publish a lot of progressive gaming commentary, and our blog bud Pat over at Token Minorities has been known to bless them with a piece or two. So imagine my shock when I checked the endorsement:

That’s kind of the principle behind Newgrounds’ latest well-promoted title, the kind-of-offensive-but-actually-really-funny Ching Chong Beautiful, developed by The Swain. Your brother is kidnapped by Mr. Beautiful, whose obstacle course is A.) known to be deadly and unbeatable and B.) the most popular TV show in Japan. In order to save your brother, you must get a thoroughbred horse, and the only way to do that is – you guessed it – enter Ching Chong Beautiful.

I clicked over and prepared to play.

The game starts throwing stereotypes in the blender from the intro page:

A Game of Great Endurance Challenge!

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/520768

The game features the new High Scores system and Newgrounds medals! So go grab some green tea, get drunk on sake, and maybe poach some whales if there’s time…the Bang Wong Fishhead Corporation challenges you to defeat Mr.Beautiful’s ancient obstacle course: Ching Chong Beautiful!

And it goes from there.

Now, before some gamers wander over here from other sites complaining about our general lack of humor and understanding, let me make something crystal clear: I get all the fucking jokes. I know what MXC is, I used to watch it on Spike. I know what Takeshi’s Castle is, I’ve watched it online. I know what this is:

The green can next to the television labeled “Sweat” is a play on the sports drink Pocari Sweat, which normally comes in a blue and white can or bottle. (And yes, I’ve tried that too.)

I’m aware that CCB is, in part, mocking the nature of these kinds of game shows that specialize in sadistic environments and public humiliation. But it’s still racist. Continue reading

What MTV’s Jersey Shore Means for White America

by Special Correspondent Wendi Muse

I admit that, despite its train wreck-like qualities (which Racialicious Special Correspondent Arturo so dutifully detailed in his post “Jersey Shore’: Believe the Hype“), I really enjoy watching MTV’s newest reality show Jersey Shore. In its attempt to portray the summer activities of a group of guidos and guidettes, the male and female versions of a subculture that sprang from groups of Italian-American youth only to spread like wildfire to a variety of other ethnicities, primarily in the northeastern region of the United States, MTV has created reality tv gold for people like me. In a voyeuristic way, I have always liked peering inside the television versions, albeit edited, of others’ lives. Jersey Shore is no different on the surface, really, though this show is a bit of an exception in another way. Unlike its glossy counterparts, The Real World, My Super Sweet Sixteen, and The Hills, Jersey Shore takes on an explicit case of ethnicity as its main focus. Sure, there are typical displays of salacious summer behavior: hot tub hook-ups, drunkenness, and a lot of semi-nudity. Where Jersey Shore differs, however, is in its cultural significance.

When I say “cultural significance,” I am not implying that archives of Jersey Shore episodes will make it into the annals of American life to be uncovered centuries from now. But what I mean here is that the show and those who participate in the guido/guidette subculture who also identify as Italian-American are making the choice to articulate their take on their ethnic identity through behaviors, styles of dress, and other aesthetic expressions despite Italian-Americans having been long-accepted as whites. In an odd way, this privilege of whiteness that was gained by the Jersey Shore cast’s ancestors by way of legal battles and hardcore assimilation in the past is exactly what gives them the privilege to then assert fabricated markers of their ethnicity in the present. Continue reading

links for 2009-12-29

  • Over the decades, new immigrants to these shores were obliged to fit themselves into this black/white racial scheme. Not surprisingly, most chose to identify themselves with the group that had full rights. In books such as "How the Irish Became White," scholars have traced the path that immigrant subgroups took to become considered part of the "white" race. It's a poignant and peculiarly American journey. The protection and status of whiteness was not without costs. Most distinct subgroups gradually lost their distinctiveness. Their members traded specific ethnic labels — Italian, Swedish, French — for the generic racial label of "white." They exchanged identities that told us something about their unique histories for an elastic racial category that mostly tells us what they are not.
  • Such encounters are rare for the thousands of American families who have adopted Chinese children. But increasingly these families are making the return journey to China, not merely as tourists climbing the Great Wall and steeping their daughters (and they are almost all girls) in Chinese culture, but as detectives trying to unravel the most elusive mystery of all: Who is my child?
    Who are her biological parents, and where are they from? Is she Han Chinese or a member of one of the many ethnic minorities? Does she have a biological sibling? And, most important, how did she come to be abandoned and referred for adoption?

Affirmative Action Revisited

By Guest Contributor Jenn, originally published at Reappropriate

I saw this short post on Time’s Detroit Blog today: Still Getting It Wrong on Affirmative Action. In it, blogger Darrell Dawsey comments about the recent news that civil rights groups in Michigan have brought an appeals case challenging the constitutionality of a rcent ballot measure banning the practice of affirmative action in Michigan state schools.

Dawsey doesn’t get into the constitutionality of affirmative action in his post; rather, he complains about the persistent perception of affirmative action as merely a “race thing”. Dawsey writes:

Yes, I think affirmative action is a palatable, if mild, remedy to the ongoing discrimination that women and people of color face in Michigan and around the country. But this take isn’t about cheering the court’s decision to hear the challenge to race preferences or even affirmative action itself, for that matter. Rather, it’s about the implications of the persistent, narrow belief that affirmative action is just a set of “racial preferences” — when the truth is that the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action have been white women.

No, I’m not saying that  blacks, Latinos, Arab-Americans and Asian-Americans haven’t also benefited. (The University of Michigan, for instance, has 11 percent fewer minorities than in 2006, in part because affirmative action was outlawed.) But it’s the idea that these minorities, not white women, are disproportionately helped by affirmative action that inflames much of the opposition that we saw here three years ago.

I agree with Dawsey: affirmative action suffers a public relations problem. Affirmative action is frequently discussed in terms of race — both by proponents and opponents of the practice. Yet, the reality of affirmative action is far more nuanced: affirmative action not only is intended to benefit members of all underrepresented ethnic groups (Native Americans, and underrepresented Asians to name a few), but it also benefits applicants who come from other underrepresented backgrounds including class, gender, and faith.

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Race, Gender, Art, and Yoko Ono

by Latoya Peterson

Bitch Magazine published an interesting piece called “Oh Yoko!: 20 Ways of Looking at an Art-World Icon.” There are 20 different takes on Yoko Ono’s body of work and perception in the media, many of which revolve around art and gender. Others dealt with race, self-perception, and darkness. Here are my favorites:

4. Offered Sacrifice
Back in the ’60s, I was peripherally involved in a Fluxus concert evening at the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York where Yoko did several pieces, [including] “Cut Piece.” People began lining up to cut little pieces of her skirt or sleeves or strands of hair as souvenirs, or artworks, if you prefer. Everybody was very respectful, [and] Yoko remained impassive, without any change of expression.

The atmosphere changed to dark and unpleasant when several young men who were obviously not members of the art community started taking off large parts of her skirt and sweater, disclosing her bra, and getting back on line after each of their cuts. They couldn’t stop laughing. I recall Carolee Schneemann going up to one of them and slapping him in the face, which didn’t faze him one bit. He was after Yoko—the offered sacrifice.

At the point where one of the grinning guys went towards her bra strap with the scissors, Yoko made a slight gesture towards the wings, and the curtain immediately closed on her before her breast could be revealed. The piece was over. Obviously, when you let the audience into the artwork, you can’t always predict the result.
—eleanor antin, performance artist, filmmaker, and installation artist

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