Month: April 2010

April 30, 2010 / / academia

by Latoya Peterson and Thea Lim

We’ve received about five or so emails about Harvard Law Student Stephanie Grace, and her email “clarification” after a group dinner where she made some racist remarks that were not well received (predictably). At the time of the first email, her identity was shielded – as of today, outlets like Bossip, Jezebel, and Gawker have outed her identity and posted her photo.

Again, on its face, this is a fairly simple thing for the Racialicious audience – this woman was basically spouting the foundation to eugenics, the idea that some races are genetically inferior. This isn’t exactly new or revelatory – it’s the same logic used to justify the white man’s burden. So, after arguing that she could possibly believe that black people are genetically predisposed to be less intelligent than whites, she sent out an email clarifying her beliefs. As Above the Law excerpts from her email:

I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair. (Now on to the more controversial:) Women tend to perform less well in math due at least in part to prenatal levels of testosterone, which also account for variations in mathematics performance within genders. This suggests to me that some part of intelligence is genetic, just like identical twins raised apart tend to have very similar IQs and just like I think my babies will be geniuses and beautiful individuals whether I raise them or give them to an orphanage in Nigeria. I don’t think it is that controversial of an opinion to say I think it is at least possible that African Americans are less intelligent on a genetic level, and I didn’t mean to shy away from that opinion at dinner.

I also don’t think that there are no cultural differences or that cultural differences are not likely the most important sources of disparate test scores (statistically, the measurable ones like income do account for some raw differences). I would just like some scientific data to disprove the genetic position, and it is often hard given difficult to quantify cultural aspects.

Then, the email went national, leaving us with an interesting other situation that cropped up: those rising to defend Stephanie Grace. Read the Post Stephanie Grace, Ivy League Racism, and the Seeds of Institutional Bias

April 30, 2010 / / Uncategorized
April 30, 2010 / / music
April 29, 2010 / / Uncategorized

by Guest Contributor CVT, originally published at Choptensils


I meant to write this post a long time ago – kept saying that I would – but it just didn’t happen, finally fell on the back-burner. Recently, however, I read another post (here) that addressed this topic, but in a manner that felt – to me – to retain the very same “Us vs. Them” theme that’s gotten us here in the first place. The angle taken, the examples given, some of the comments, etc. allow for a dangerous misunderstanding to continue (not the author’s intention, but nonetheless . . .). So I felt it’s time. Let’s do this.

A while back, I was talking to a friend of mine (a black female, which is relevant) – we’ll call her “W.” She’s telling me about this guy she ran into at some store; this Vietnamese guy (“or Chinese or Korean or something”) comes over and starts chatting her up, hitting on her, trying to get her number and all that. She’s not feeling it. She gets irritated on a number of levels. But her primary annoyance is that she feels like he’s just messing with her, so she ends up telling him “give me a break, you don’t date black women,” and (tamely) telling him about how racist Asian guys are.

She finishes her story, looks at me, and, laughing, says “can you believe that?”

I give a one-word response. “Yes.”

But my mind was reeling – because there was so much going on in this one interaction (sort of two interactions, including the re-telling) that just sum up the state of oppression-related affairs in the U.S. First, there’s a (black) woman getting hit on by some random guy, which always carries a tinge of objectification, dominance, etc. In this case, it’s an Asian guy – so we’re bringing together two notoriously “undesirable” race/gender combinations in this country. Then there’s her confusion over the exact ethnicity of this Asian dude. Then there’s her belief (based on real past experience) that he’s not really interested in dating her; that he’s more or less mocking her, because – as an Asian man – he’s probably crazy-racist against black people. And, finally, the beauty of it all – she’s casually relating this story to me, her friend – an Asian (okay, mixed-Asian) male.

And it all made perfect sense to me. Because, you see, I happen to be a sort of connoisseur of the black-Asian interracial experience, and everything that happened in that story follows the confusing, tense narrative of a relationship that has been being shaped for the last couple-hundred (maybe far more) years. It’s a long story – with a lot of loops and twists – but it’s one worth reading, so I hope y’all follow me to the end.

Prologue – “Setting it Straight” (aka “Prepare to Have Your Mind Blown”)

We “all know” that there’s this big rivalry between Asian and black folks. The “opposites” of the PoC spectrum, there just is no bridging the divide. I’ve heard it a million times (from both sides).

And so the look of shock on the faces of this one particular group of Asian folks I was with shouldn’t have surprised me when I asked what should have been a stupid question: “You all realize that there are black Asian people, right?”
Read the Post Black AND Asian (and Jewish?)

April 29, 2010 / / diversity

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

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So, judging by last week’s responses, the future isn’t bright for this show, is it? Or was it something we said? Gang, what do you think?

jen*: That, or everyone was just thinking, “mmm. Cho.”
Diana: I was disappointed, but maybe this week will be better.
Mahsino: yeaaah. maybe it’s a proportional reflection of the decline in ratings?
Andrea: Mmmmmm. Cho.

In some ways, it’s a pity, as this episode was an example of the writers giving us more of what we’ve been after – a clear-cut story focused on action and possible consequences.
jen*: Um, Yeah! Is it really too much to ask to get this on the regular? Are shows just focused on the season open and then a 4-ep build to the finale? Cuz if that’s the case, I can skip the midseason and take up a craft.
Diana: Jen, it’s not too much to ask. But if you do start crafting, may I suggest knitting. You can throw one of the needles at the tv if you need to and not miss a stitch.
jen*: You know, I always did wanna learn how to knit…
Mahsino: I make and elaborately decorate cupcakes, but I hear knitting is nice too. But yeah, I haven’t even been as into an episode as this one. Read the Post A Game Of Inches: The Racialicious Roundtable For Flashforward 1.17

April 28, 2010 / / Uncategorized

by Latoya Peterson

road

In order to keep the peace around here, we have a policy against the Oppression Olympics:

Let’s avoid oppression olympics please. I’m not saying it’s never something to be discussed, but generally speaking, bickering over who has it worse off, or who’s more racist, is really kind of useless.

The reason why this policy is in place is simple: we are trying to organize outside of the traditional structures that separate us by race and ethnicity. This process is difficult. It is a constant negotiation of boundaries, an ongoing discussion about who we are and where we fit in race conversation, and requires a lot of weeding out of people who display that they could care less about other races/ethnicities.

However, the concept of Oppression Olympics is flawed. As I explored in an older post “Re-examining the Phrase ‘Oppression Olympics‘:”

Now here’s an example [scholar Andrea Smith sites in her chapter about Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy] that jumped out at me the most (and I think comes closer to what Black Canseco was trying to get at in the comments):

Our organizing can also reflect anti-Black racism. Recently, with the outgrowth of “multiculturalism” there have been calls to “go beyond the black/white binary” and include other communities of color in our analysis. First, it replaces an analysis of white supremacy with a politics of multicultural representation; if we just include more people, then our practice will be less racist. Not true. This model does not address the nuanced structure of white supremacy, such as through these distinct logics of slavery, genocide, and Orientalism. Second, it obscures the centrality of the slavery logic in the system of white supremacy, which is based on a black/white binary. The black/white binary is not the only binary which characterizes white supremacy, but it is still a central one that we cannot “go beyond” in our racial justice organizing efforts.

If we do not look at how the logic of slaveability inflects our society and our thinking, it will be evident in our work as well. For example, other communities of color often appropriate the cultural work and organizing strategies of African American civil rights or Black Power movements without corresponding assumptions that we should also be in solidarity with Black communities. We assume that this work is the common “property” of all oppressed groups, and we can appropriate it without being accountable.

Damn right. As we get deeper and deeper into the feminism debates, I notice a couple of bloggers who do espouse these anti-black sentiments while using the civil rights movement as a foundation to stand on. Particularly, those bloggers who continually refer to “the blacks” or “the black feminists” and the power of our numbers, as if every time we complain, something is granted and we never worked to be recognized or acknowledged in mainstream feminism. These bloggers are not white. But they are not black either. And it would be foolish to think that if someone is non-white, then they must be allied with black women, or a larger movement that advocates for the rights of women of color.

But that’s a discussion for another time.

After looking at some of the discussions about Black-Asian racism dynamics on Reappropriate, some conversations I’ve had with Thea, discussions of South Philadelphia High School, and some of our long standing conversations about inter-racial issues, looks like the time for conversation is now. Read the Post Talking About The Things We Do To Each Other