Mailbag – Odds and Ends

Over at the Fashion Bomb, Claire posits that this may be the year of the newest model dream team:  Arlenis, Chanel, Sessilee, and Jourdan.

Marie writes in to point out one positive aspect of Avatarthe female leads are Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver, all from groups traditionally underrepresented in Hollywood.

Indeed, Avatar is one of the most minority filled films we’ve seen in a while – but everyone is covered in blue body paint. Hmm.

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Disgrasian: Hyphen Cover Girls!

By Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Racialicious would also like to say congratulasians to our buddies at Disgrasian!

Yes, I’m aware that Olivia Munn is on the cover of Maxim. Looking good too. But whatever. Forget that. The real hottest ladies on the internet are currently rocking the cover of Hyphen. My pals Jen Wang and Diana Nguyen, the brainy and beautiful bloggers behind Disgrasian, are the cover gals of Hyphen’s “Trailblazing” issue.

I love it. Lots of good stuff inside too, including interesting features on Asian Americans serving in the Obama White House, to Asian Americans gaining visibility in the wine industry. Get your copy on newsstands, or better yet, subscribe to the magazine here at the discounted rate of $16 for 4 issues ($2 off).

“Drama Queenz” Returns With A Fierceness (And A Few Guest Stars!)

By Guest Contributor AJ Christian, originally published at Televisual

The vast majority of original, independent web series never make it to season two. Producing season one takes so much time and money, when the millions of viewers never materialize, creators can’t bring themselves to invest more precious time and money. (At this point, I’d almost prefer most market themselves as “miniseries until proven otherwise”!)

Drama Queenz, a show about three black gay men trying to make it in New York’s theatre world, and its creator Dane Joseph then deserve a huge pat on the back. It’s a Herculean effort.

Remarkably, Joseph edited and marketed the first season while in graduate school at Columbia University, then shot season two, which comes out today. Now that, as they say in theatre, is gumption!

What’s more, the second season promises lots of hijinks, along with guest appearances  from some of my favorite YouTube personalities! Continue reading

What I’m riding for this year – on horse – during my anti-colonial holiday season

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

As I rush off and dash to jet-set again for yet another destination and another area of Turtle Island – I’m reminded this time around that the place I’m going to requires me to stop, pause, and really think about what it is I’m about to do.

This year I’ve decided to join my Dakota/Lakota/Sicangu/Crow family on a journey they call the “Big Foot” or what it is now known as the “Future Generations Youth” ride. The story goes that 25 years ago, this ride started with the Lakota Youth of Pine Ridge (Red Cloud Agency) to retrace the steps of their ancestors from Standing Rock to Wounded Knee. This 7+ day non-stop horseback ride commemorates the December 1890 events with Chief Big Foot’s band, where more than 250 men, women and children were shot by the U.S. 7th Cavalry in the Wounded Knee massacre, including Sitting Bull.

I wrote about this ride last year, along with the Dakota 38, when I learned about them here: At the time I honestly thought it would have been at least a few years before I might eventually do one of these rides myself. It was one of those “yeah, I hope I’ll do it ONE day” type of things, but last month things changed for me and I knew I had to do it.

I’m riding because to be honest – my frustrations with differing opinions on what actualizing Aboriginal youth leadership really means have been maxed out on many different fronts and far too many occasions as of late where people saying they support youth is one thing, but actually DOING something where youth ARE actually in power and being leaders and taking up our rightful space is quite another (and in most instances not happening at all despite the nice and fine talk about it at conference after conference – or if it is happening it was short-lived since apparently people didn’t seem to be “used to” youth having “that much power”. It’s really just bullshit).

Knowing that so many of the youth on this ride live through countless hardships, chose not to celebrate Christmas, and decided themselves to give back their time, energy, and spirit to their community in this most honorable way by riding on the trails of the ancestors during the so-called “holiday” season fills my heart and soul with incredible hope for what are next generations are capable of doing. I’m so completely excited to learn from all these youth I will meet.

I’m also riding because I need to do my best to go somewhere where I’ll be forced to feel ultimately guilty for checking the Blackberry and doing work on the computer (or at least go to a place where I’ll have limited access so tough shit for me).
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News Updates – South Philadelphia High School, Amanda Knox

by Latoya Peterson

I’ve received some tips that serve to update some of the stories we have discussed on site.

In the matter of South Philadelphia High, Angry Asian Man has reported that the students have ended the boycott after a conversation with officials:

Tuesday’s meeting lasted more than two hours. Here’s the public statement put forth by the students of South Philly High School boycott:

Through our trials and struggles, we pushed the school to hear us. We have made change by standing together. We are proud of what we have done. If something happens again after all this, we know that we have strong wills and we will stand together again.

We have came back to stand with more students. We want to start a dialogue with other student organizations. We will continue to work with the community organizations. The struggle will go on until all the demands are met; we won’t give up. We ask everyone to continue to pay attention to what’s going on at SPHS. We hope that school can change their attitude for the benefits of all students. We thank our supporters. Without the support of everyone we could not go this far. We are excited for the future. We now believe in hope and change, like president Obama.

We want a safe school for everyone; we want everyone to have a good education. This is not the end, but just the beginning of the fight for better futures and better educations for all races of students.

~ Students of the South Philly High boycott ~

So it’s back to school. While the district has made a lot of assurances that it’s be taking steps to put a stop to the violence, I imagine this isn’t much comfort to the students who were on the receiving end of the attacks on December 3, or the students who have endured antagonism and apathy for years — often from the teachers and administrators. More here: Asian students ‘suspend’ boycott of South Philadelphia High.

However, in the comments to our original post, Asian Metal Chick dropped a link showing this isn’t just a problem at SPHS – it’s the whole district:

“If Chinese students don’t go to school, it’s a big problem—they don’t learn,” says Xu Lin, a Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation staffer who mentors Asian teens. “But it’s a bigger problem if they go to school and get beat up.” Continue reading

links for 2009-12-24

  • "When I was growing up, in Ann Arbor, Mich., there was a little debate: Should school officials try to prevent black students from using the N-word? I don't believe the issue was ever settled. And this brings up the question of whether "teabagger" could be kind of a conservative N-word: to be used in the family, but radioactive outside the family. "
  • "Mr. Petry, 38, and Mr. Greenblatt, 52, may spend their days poring over spreadsheets and overseeing trades, but their obsession — one shared with many other hedge funders — is creating charter schools, the tax-funded, independently run schools that they see as an entrepreneurial answer to the nation’s education woes. Charters have attracted benefactors from many fields. But it is impossible to ignore that in New York, hedge funds are at the movement’s epicenter."
  • "The report finds that the U.S. continues to move backward toward increasing minority segregation in highly unequal schools; the job situation remains especially bleak for American blacks, and Latinos have a college completion rate that is shockingly low. At the same time, very little is being done to address large scale challenges such as continuing discrimination in the housing and home finance markets, among other differences across racial lines."
  • "The Athletics Union (AU) of the London School of Economics (LSE) has condemned an incident in which some members of the society dressed up as Guantanamo Bay inmates and drunkenly yelled ‘Oh Allah’ outside the college bar.
    The Athletics Union (AU) of the London School of Economics (LSE) has condemned an incident in which some members of the society dressed up as Guantanamo Bay inmates and drunkenly yelled ‘Oh Allah’ outside the college bar. At least a dozen students attending the December 4th ‘Carol’, the annual fancy-dress Christmas party for all sports teams, chose to wear costumes deemed “racist, religiously insensitive and demeaning”. "
  • Five people, including three police officers, have been indicted on charges related to the beating death of a Latino man in rural Pennsylvania in July 2008, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

    Two indictments charge the five with federal hate crimes, obstruction of justice and conspiracy in what authorities are calling a racially motivated attack.

  • Jones' mother restores her faith with the tale of a chimney that appears after the child falls asleep, and along the way, Mom takes her place as the song's true hero. Jones soon turns her rueful declaration into a sort of celebration: "There ain't no chimneys — ho, ho, ho, ho, no, no, no — in the projects!" Because, ultimately, Santa Claus and chimneys are irrelevant when compared to another Christmas benefactor. "Mama," Jones sings, "you are the one."
  • Here's Lindsey Graham, again, equating poor people with black people, or some such. A charitable interpretation says that Graham, in his discussion of Medicaid, is citing his state's black population because we tend to be disproportionately poor. But this would be like discussing Medicare by citing your state's sweater-knitting population because they tend to be disproportionately old.
  • When scenes are muted, body language and facial expressions are enough to convey more negative attitudes towards black characters compared to white ones. This bias is so subtle that we're largely unable to consciously identify it, yet so powerful that it can sway our own predispositions. In some ways, racial bias acts as a contagion and television as one of its vectors.
  • Anywhooo, the militant in me fought with my taste. The militant wanted black faces on covers of all future King-Bey titles. Militant argued that Dee doesn’t write for whites and isn’t trying to gain their acceptance anyway, so make them look at our black faces. Taste was like, hold up. Dee writes the story that is in her, not to a targeted audience and she doesn’t like populated covers. 
  • So, what do you think:  Is this Gap ad featuring Black people dancing and singing about the “hood” using stereotypes to appeal to black people?  Or white people?  In the latter case, would you consider this a form of objectification?  
  • But the SoHo bouncers and the Chelsea graphic artist don’t have much to worry about, at least from the police: they are white. Even though surveys show they are part of the demographic group that makes the heaviest use of pot, white people in New York are the least likely to be arrested for it.
    Last year, black New Yorkers were seven times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession and no more serious crime. Latinos were four times more likely.

How to Otherize Your Friends for Christmas

By Guest Contributor Jenn, originally posted at Reappropriate

(Hat-tip: Gawker)

So, let’s say you’ve got to buy Christmas presents for a friend of yours, but you just don’t know what to get her. A gift certificate from the local steakhouse? The latest 50 Cent CD? A gag gift from Toys ‘R Us? A new crockpot?

But what a minute! Your friend is Latina! Surely, that’s a hook to get her the perfect Christmas present! But, gosh, you just don’t know anything about Latina heritage. Well, New York Times has the perfect gift suggestions for you: how about a children’s book on Sonia Sotomayor? How about Iman’s book of beauty tips for women of colour? And, of course, there’s always a “Wise Latina” t-shirt! (Because apparently the hot thing for Latinas this year are Sotomayor-related products.)

And what if you’re buying me a present? Well, clearly, because I’m Asian American, I simply must have a copy of “Asian Faces“, a book that tells Asian women how we’re applying our eye makeup wrong, and how to do it right.

The New York Times isn’t exactly known for its racial sensitivity, but what moron green-lit this racist stereotype-perpetuating gift suggestion feature?

The assumption made here is that people of colour somehow need “race-related” presents, because our race is the be-all and end-all of our identities (and Christmas gift wishes). Not only that, but NYT readeres are encouraged to typecast their friends of colour to find “race appropriate” gifts — so, the friend is no longer just a friend, she’s “the Asian friend” or “the Latina friend” or “the Black friend”, and gifts should be bought reflecting your brand-spanking new racial categorization. Meanwhile, your White friends don’t need to be Otherized, since obviously they don’t have racial identities to contend with, so you can get them meaningful and non-offensive presents!

(Which makes me wonder what you do if you have mixed race friends? Do they just get multiple racist gifts? Or do you just pick the gift most in-keeping with the race you think they look the most like?)

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Have a Merry Colored Christmas: Tales of Holiday Racial Exclusion

by Special Correspondent Wendi Muse

This weekend, my mother called me on my cell phone, a bit frantic over Christmas gift shopping:

Mom: I have no idea what to get Lacey [one of my young cousins]. She has everything!

Me: Why don’t you get her a book, Mom?

Mom: Well I am here at the store, and all the books I keep finding only have pictures of little white girls. No brown children like Lacey!

Me: Well, you could always color them in.

Mom: Yeah, but the fact that I even have to…

Almost every holiday involves a conversation that goes something like that in my family. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day . . . you name it. Decorations, cards, and even gift wrap tends to forget that non-white people exist. When greeting card companies, toy stores, and all parties involved in the corporate holiday conspiracy to make us max our credit cards and pull out all our hair do decide to include people of color, they all look the same. All the black children have medium-brown skin and dark curly ‘fros (or Afro-puffs), all “Asians” become East Asian and are a faint yellow with straight black bobs, Latina/o children all become some derivative of Dora the Explorer, and children of other ethnicities somehow cease to exist. I give them credit for getting much better over the years. When I was young, even the aforementioned groups were virtually ignored, save the occasional black child featured on those “We Are the World” stick figure style Christmas cards.

It got to the point that just in order to make sure that holiday cards were appropriate for my family members, my mother and I would break out my box of Crayola colored pencils and use various shades of brown, yellow, and beige to get the skin colors right. Every momentous occasion involved a DIY craft project in the Muse household.

But now, in an era in which multiculturalism is more lauded by the powers that be in the merrymaking process (possibly because they recognized that POC had buying power and were active holiday consumers just like whites), it’s sad that we, as members of minority groups or even white parents and families who want to create a more inclusive environment for their children (and their kids’ friends), have to face the reality that there may not be a card, wrapping paper, or even a toy that is physically representative of non-whites.

Or if there is, there can be a tiring amount of digging involved. Mattel recently launched a new set of Barbies and have had Asian-American, Latina, and Black Barbies available for quite some time as well as their collectors’ set of international Barbies. Though Mattel’s nod toward expansion and inclusion has prompted several complaints, many of which you can find on this very site. The greeting card companies, as I mentioned earlier, have also improved, but I am still waiting to see people of color on cards beyond the special “ethnic” card section (which, even then, is only limited to black people, much like those ridiculously labeled “ethnic” hair care aisles. Wait, where are the Irish-American hair care products when you need them?!??!!). The same could be said of Christmas ornaments (painting the tree-topper angel was often easier than finding a brown one).

It is my hope that these improvements continue, and as I mentioned earlier, I give companies credit for their recent attempts to be more inclusive, particularly considering that some countries still face this issue in more glaring ways that we (For example, in Brazil, dolls of color are harder to come by. Most of the dolls are white with blonde hair and blue eyes, despite the significant phenotypic diversity of the population), but little moments like my mother’s phone call remind me that finding presents or gift accessories on which a person of color is one of the main points of focus, the protagonist, the central figure can be surprisingly still hard to come by.