Face The Music: The Racialicious Roundtable For FlashForward 1.21

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

You know what might’ve made “The Countdown” a little easier to handle? Just one more word in the title:

But seriously, this was your standard “darkest before the dawn” episode, where everybody battled the Determinism blues before next week’s Big Finish. While we’re waiting to see if this follows the finale trend set by BSG and now Lost, the Roundtable focused in on one specific plot thread: the final descent of Demetri.

demdoor1So, you had Demetri finally ‘fessing up to Zoey. Props to John Cho for mustering up the right amount of groveling and contrition for the moment. But it left Dem having to hitch his wagon to Janis and Simon of all people. Your take?
Andrea: I thought Gabrielle Union also brought the right amount of heartbrokenness, incredulousness, indignation, and upset to the scene. All I can say is I’m so happy she dumped Dem’s ass right there then took her freshly done sun-kissed weave and went to Hawaii with her parentals. As for Dem’s infidelity leading to his having to hang with Janis and Simon: Fuck him.
Mahsino: 1.) I hated her highlights, they should’ve been a warmer tone. 2.) I almost felt bad for Demetri. It’s like he got 20 points for fessing up before it’s too late, but -1000 when he cheated in the first place. I do like how she brought up how she risked everything for him, I hadn’t even thought of that.
Diana: I thought it was pretty realistic. Really, it made no sense to him to sleep with someone else because he thought he was going to die? That’s when you hold on to those you love the most. So I’m with you, Andrea, fuck him. Highlights or no, the weave was fresh.
jen*: As much love as I have for Cho, I’m beginning to be ok with Demetri eating it in the finale. He should be in something else, anyway. Continue reading

DC Comics Kills Off Ryan Choi

by Guest Contributor Jenn, originally published at Reappropriate

Ryan Choi

I have to preface this post by saying that I have not been collecting comics lately. Thankfully, a friend of mine, who still keeps his finger to the pulse of the comic world, tipped me off to a major development in the world of comic books that has ramifications for the Asian American community.

Four years ago, after the presumed death of Ray Palmer, DC Comics introduced a new Atom, remarkable because he quickly ascended to being one of the foremost Asian American superheroes in comic-dom. He was one of the few Asian American superheroes to receive their own comic book title — All-New Atom — which was penned by Gail Simone. Simone developed Atom, and his alter ego Ryan Choi, as an Asian-American in virtually every sense of the word; although he was born and raised in Hong Kong, Ryan lived and worked as a professor in an American university. Part of his personal evolution involved struggles between his more Americanized identity with the expectations of his strict, overbearing father.

Now, when Atom first launched, I heavily criticized the book for its persistent dependence on stereotypical Asian/Asian American tropes. Choi was still one-dimensional and his book contained inappropriate racially-charged jokes that seemed out-of-place in a book that should’ve been a landmark for Asian American comic fans. Despite being set in at an academic institution, the series suffered from a bizarre absence of Asian American female characters. To me, All-New Atom was jarring — Ryan Choi had none of the ease in his Asian-American identity that Asian American characters written by Asian American writers do. Unlike the characters of Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese, or even the writing of Greg Pak’s Amadeus Cho in World War Hulk, Gail Simone’s Ryan Choi felt like a character forced into an Asian American skin. His relationship with his Asian-ness seemed fake and inauthentic. All-New Atom felt like a book about Asian Americans written by a non-Asian. Continue reading

Who Do Americans Prefer Not to Have as Neighbors?

By Guest Contributor Lisa Wade, originally published at Contexts.org

recent study by Chelsea Schafer and Greg Shaw found that, as of 2006, over a quarter of Americans would still rather not live near homosexuals.  This percentage has been decreasing, however; in 1990 and 1995, 38% and 30% of people, respectively, wanted to keep their distance:

But tolerance for Muslims and immigrants has not increased alongside tolerance for gays and lesbians.  The data show that rather high levels of tolerance in the ’90s (with about 90% of people being happy to have these groups as neighbors) disappeared and, by 2006, 22% of people did not want to live near Muslims and 19% did not want to live near immigrants.

The data on tolerance for Muslims is likely due to the way the attacks on September 11th, 2001, have been spun to stoke hatred against Muslims.  What do you think about the increased intolerance for immigrants?  Have “foreigners” been collateral damage in the smear campaign against Muslims and Arabs?  If it were simply growing conservatism, wouldn’t we see the same pattern for homosexuals?  Other explanations?

Borrowed from Contexts Discoveries.

Mixed Race Mess: Alicia Keys and Unthinkable Interracial Dating [Mixed Media Watch]

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

Alicia Keys loves drama – and no, I am not referring to her current lovelife (you’ll have to read a different kind of blog to get that gossip, unfortch), I’m referring to her music videos.  When it comes to star-crossed histrionics, both Keys’ music and videos always deliver the goods. Which I kind of like, most of the time; woman’s got a good set of lungs and a nice scrunchy crying-for-the-camera face.

But her latest video just gets on my nerves.  “Unthinkable” stars Chad Michael Murray as Keys’ white lover, and shows reincarnations of the same interracial couple across several different decades, suggesting that from the 40′s up to today interracial relationships still face prejudice.

While I appreciate the way Keys uses time to show parallels between the racism of the past and the racism of the present, there are a few things about this video that strike me as deeply dishonest.  Broken down for your reading convenience, here are my issues:

1. Only black people hate interracial relationships!

Okay Ms Keys, why do you only have black people showing prejudice in this video?  From the 50′s to 70′s to the 80′s to the 00′s, all we see are black faces looking on at the Murray/Keys pairing with fury and even violence.  Oh no wait, we get a split second of a white cashier looking at black/white flirtation with disgust…and then it’s back to black folks.

A video doesn’t just pop out organically from the brain of its creator: someone makes very specific choices and then very specific casting calls to mark race in a video.  So why did Keys and her team choose to only show black people getting mad about the interracial love in this video?

This seems particularly problematic and dishonest in the “50′s” section of the video, where the optics, if you really look at them, are disquieting: a group of angry, bloodthirsty black men circle a defenseless white man with a puppy dog face.

So not only do we get a very racist portrayal of black people as aggressive and irrational in contrast to a lover-not-a-fighter white man, we get a profoundly skewed version of history.  Anyone with a 101 knowledge of Black History Month knows that in the 50′s it was black men, not white men, whose lives were in danger if they so much as looked at white women.  For some of our readers this will be well-trod ground, but let’s do a refresher just in case: Emmet Till was a 14 year-old black boy who was tortured and murdered for allegedly flirting with a white woman.  And his story was not an anomaly; this happened to many black men.  So much so that an all-white jury took all of 67 minutes to acquit both Till’s accused murderers.  This didn’t happen in 1897, it happened in 1955.

Continue reading

More Native Appropriations, Heritage Capitalism, and Fashion on Antiques Roadshow

by Guest Contributor Minh-ha, originally published at Threadbared

Antiques Roadshow

This post is inspired by Sarah Scaturro‘s comments to one of my previous posts about the Black Fashion Museum Collection. In her comments, she mentions the Save Our African-American Treasures program, which she describes as “an Antiques Roadshow (minus the price appraisal) type of event” that travels to different cities to discover, preserve, and celebrate the material cultural histories of African Americans.

One of the reasons I was so intrigued by this program is precisely because it doesn’t operate through the heritage capitalist logics of the Antiques Roadshow on PBS. From what I can tell, the Save Our African-American Treasures program is primarily a conservation effort and not a public display of one’s vested interest in the heritage of Americana. It’s the Forest Gump-like display and valorization of what I can only describe as “heritage capitalism” by the predominantly white appraisers and guests that irks me about the Antiques Roadshow. (Why is there so little scholarship on the Antiques Roadshow‘s circuits of commodities, capitalism, and racial citizenship?)

I began watching the Antiques Roadshow on and off just a couple of months ago. What I found amusing about the show is the guests’ reactions to the appraisals of their family heirlooms – you can tell when someone is genuinely surprised or disappointed with the estimate and when they’re feigning surprise. Also funny (to me, at least) are the various stories guests tell about how they or their families acquired these objects. Most are pretty quotidian stories about unexpected discoveries at yard sales, thrift stores, and estate sales but some are really grand narratives about their genetic linkages to American founding fathers, European royalty, and a motley crew of adventure-seeking, risk-taking, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants, off-the-beaten-path family relatives who acquired Persian rugs, Chinese Ming vases (always Ming era), French antique jewelry, and Native American dolls in their world adventures. I have to admit that I get a little giddy when the appraisers myth-bust these stories. There was an episode devoted to family myth-busting, if I remember correctly.  Actually, Marie Antoinette never owned this hair comb set you inherited from your great-aunt. It’s likely a reproduction made in the 1940s in Watertown, New York.

Other than the human interest aspects of the show, I never found it that interesting. (It’s probably because I wouldn’t know a Biedermeier from an Oscar Meyer, as Martin Crane put it in the Frasier episode featuring the Antiques Roadshow called “A Tsar is Born”.) But my casual disinterest turned into a serious criticism of the show when I caught this recent appraisal of a Tlingit (indigenous people of Alaska) bowl and ladle.

The guest narrates a valiant story about Colonel Charles Erskine Scott Wood (the great-great-grandfather of the guest),who was on a “scientific expedition” to the Sitka area of Alaska in the spring of 1877 when he somehow came upon this bowl and ladle. The guest is unclear on the details: “And I don’t know specifically if he was given these or if he may have bartered something.” (That these objects might have been stolen is not a possibility imagined by the guest but one that I immediately considered.)

(Note the partial image of Colonel Charles Erskine Scott Wood decked out in classic imperialist garb.) Continue reading

Action Alert: Demand Asylum for Kiana Firouz

By Thea Lim

Kiana Firouz is an LGBT activist and film director from Iran currently seeking asylum in the UK. In late 2009 the trailer for her film Cul de Sac created controversy. This is the NSFW trailer:

In a letter published on the blog LGBT Asylum News, Firouz writes:

I, Kiana Firouz, an Iranian Lesbian, born in 1983 in Tehran/Iran, have sought asylum in the U.K but my application was turned down by the Home Office, despite accepting the fact that I am a lesbian. I accordingly submitted my appeal which was dismissed incredibly by the adjudicator. According to my solicitor’s point of view there is a little chance to grant a permission to appeal against the adjudicator’s decision. It means that I will face with deportation soon.

Homosexuality in Iran is a sin and offence which is subject to harsh punishment. According to the Islamic law, repeatation of this offence will be punished by death. The punishment for lesbianism involving persons who are mature, of sound mind, and consenting, is 100 lashes. If the act is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each time, the death sentence will apply on the fourth occasion. (Articles 127, 129, 130 penal code) The ways of proving lesbianism in court are the same as for male homosexuality. (Article 128)

Jezebel writes:

Meredith Yayanos from Coilhouse says Firouz will “most likely be sentenced to torture and death after being found guilty of the ‘unspeakable sin of homosexuality.’” In Iran, the punishment for homosexuality consists of up to 100 lashes, which can be applied up to three times. After the fourth violation, a woman can be convicted of “unrepentant homosexuality” and executed by hanging.

Firouz filed for a court appeal after receiving the judge’s decision, but it was swiftly overruled. She can appeal the decision, but as of now, Firouz is facing deportation. The international human rights organization the EveryOne Group is asking concerned British citizens to send an email to the British Home Office asking them to reconsider Firouz’s case (public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk). There is also an online petition circulating, which could help save Firouz from corporal punishment in her home country.

The petition is here, and you can visit the Facebook page to save Firouz here.

links for 2010-05-24

  • “All Souls’ Church, on St. Nicholas Avenue, and any number of the traditional neighborhood churches in Harlem that had for generations boasted strong memberships — built on and sustained by familial loyalty and neighborhood ties — are now struggling to hold on to their congregations.

    The gentrification of Harlem has helped deplete their ranks, as younger residents, black and white, have arrived but not taken up places in their pews. Longtime Harlem families, either cashing in on the real estate boom over the past decade or simply opting to head south for their retirement, have left the neighborhood and its churches. Then there are the deaths, as year by year, whole age bands are chipped away.”

  • “The Pulitzer Prize absolutely fundamentally changed my life and career as an artist,” noted Diaz, who says he grew up “working poor” in Parlin, N.J. “I keep thinking, `Wow, I get the chance to do that for a whole bunch of people. Not just me alone, of course.” Pulitzer officials say Diaz will be the first Latino to serve on the board…Co-chairman David Kennedy said the board looks forward to Diaz’s perspective. Kennedy describes Diaz’s prose as a mixture of Dominican Spanish and American English. “We hope that’s the voice he brings to the deliberations of the board as well,” Kennedy said. “Someone who is sensitive to and immersed in parts of our culture that haven’t received the appreciation … they probably deserve.”

    (tags: junotdiaz pulitzerboard literature litofcolor racialiciousmascots)

  • Lt. John Burge and his men electrocuted, suffocated and beat confessions out of black suspects in Chicago for 20 years, until 1993. Some of his victims ended up on death row. Jury selection has begun in his trial.