Credit Where It’s Due: Glee Gets ‘Sweet Transvestite’ Right

By Arturo R. García

Long-time readers may recall that I was turned off to Glee pretty quickly. But this week’s  Rocky Horror Picture Show-centric episode piqued my interest. And, thankfully, nearly completely rewarded it.

You see, this ep reached into some personal history for me. That’s yours truly on the right a few years ago playing Brad Majors for the now-defunct Justice League of Denton in Kansas(!). Both of the troupes I performed with, the JLD and Crazed Imaginations, were safe spaces for me as both a POC and a geek.

But I only started caring about the episode when word got out that the lead role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter would be played in the show-within-the-show by Mercedes, who was relegated early on in the series to Sassy Black Diva status.Yeah, I know she got to sing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” in an earlier episode, but, as she points out this week, she’d never gotten to play a lead before.

The music from the movie, of course, is just a backdrop for off-stage melodrama: Mr. Schu is putting on the show to stay close to Emma, who’s dating RHPS fan Dr. Carl; Coach Sue fakes supporting the show for the purposes of chasing a local Emmy; and the prospect of performing in their underwear stirs up anxieties for Finn and Sam. (Actually, the male body-image subplot might make for interesting stuff in future episodes, not to mention a welcome contrast to this kind of mess.)


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links for 2010-10-27

  • "Kim — who was awarded the festival’s 'Influential Asian American Artist' award — told that audience that he was currently in the midst of discussing what race the love interest of his 'Hawaii Five-O' character Detective Chin Ho Kelly should be — a conversation that was more difficult that he had initially thought. He noted that while he was excited that race was a topic of discussion, the decision was more difficult than he originally thought, because he realized that the ultimate choice would have cultural ramifications. He then took a quick poll of the audience to see if they thought Kelly should be with another Asian, another non-Asian minority, or a Caucasian woman. (The reply was weighted toward the first two options.)"
  • "More than 300 boxes of Maya Angelou's personal papers, including letters from Malcolm X and James Baldwin and several scribbled revisions of the poem she wrote to celebrate President Bill Clinton's inauguration, will be made public at a New York library, the author said.

    "The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture plans to announce the papers' acquisition this week.

    "Angelou, 82, said she sought out the Harlem institution — a research unit of the New York Public Library — as a home for works that include notes for her acclaimed autobiography 'I know Why the Caged Bird Sings' and the 1993 inaugural poem 'On the Pulse of Morning.'"

  • "I want to apologize to you for not doing a better job of handling the termination of our relationship with Juan Williams. While we stand firmly behind that decision, I regret that we did not take the time to better prepare our messaging and to provide you with the tools to cope with the fallout from this episode. As I’m telling our Member stations in a separate memo today, I also regret that this happened when the staff and volunteers of many stations were deeply engaged in pledge drives."
  • Reynolds' comments came in response to a question about increasing the number of black and Latino students at the University of Illinois.

    "'I've been in the city and the dichotomy of the women and the men in the minorities, there is a difference in the fact that most minority women, either the single parent or coming from a poor neighborhood, are motivated more so than the minority men,' he said. 'And it's a pretty good reason. Most of the women who are single parents have to find work to support their family. The minority men find it more lucrative to be able to do drugs or other avenues rather than do education. It's easier.'

    "'We need to provide ways that are more incentive, other than just sports avenues, for the men for the minorities to want to go to college and get an education and better themselves before the women have to support them all.'

    "The audience, which at that time numbered only about 25, seemed stunned."

  • "Right now, people are dying in Haiti not because we don't know how to save them, but because of a lack of access, both to clean water and to Oral Rehydration Therapy. In other words, they are dying not because of a disease, but because of poverty."

Going For Broke: The Racialicious Review of Black In America: Almighty Debt

By Arturo R. García

Soledad O’Brien and Almighty Debt come closest to the program’s stated goal toward the end, when she asks Pastor DeForest “Buster” Soaries if he “pulled strings” to help one of his parishoners, Fred Philp, get into college, leading to this exchange:

Soaries: I picked up the phone to make sure that nothing got lost in the sauce and that Fred didn’t fall between the cracks.
O’Brien: What’s that mean, “lost in the sauce”?
Soaries: well, Fred was not your classic college applicant, and he was not heavily sought after in colleges. He had academic challenges, financial challenges, and I didn’t want to trust his high school counselors to be his primary advocates. And so when I heard that Fred was having some difficulty with the college of his choice, I thought it probably would help if I let the president know that Fred is with me.

Unfortunately, aside from that sequence and a couple of other statements later in the show, the issue is ignored. The irony of her church-oriented report is, the devil isn’t in the details – it’s in the lack thereof.

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The Racialicious Roundtable for Undercovers 1.5

Hosted by Arturo R. García

For a fleeting moment, Undercovers was on to something good. In introducing an Evil French Spy Couple, finally we had the chance to see the Blooms test themselves against real adversaries.

Naturally, by the end of “Not Without My Daughter,” they were dispatched. What with the show seemingly stable, ratings-wise, and more episodes on the way, one can only hope that they come back – and bring much-needed tension with them. But the Roundtable certainly won’t forget about them, nor one particular exchange between Steven and Hoyt …

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Science and Faith in the Black Community

by Guest Contributor Hemant Mehta, originally published at Friendly Athiest

Howard University recently hosted a panel of atheists to discuss the topic of “Science and Faith in the Black Community” — certainly a topic that needs far more attention that it has received in the past.

The event was sponsored by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and the panelists included Richard Dawkins, Anthony Pinn, Sikivu Hutchinson, and Todd Stiefel. Mark Hatcher, the president of the Secular Students at Howard University, was the moderator:

Professor Anthony Pinn, Religious Studies at Rice University: “This is an ideal time and this event is an important opportunity to stress the importance for African Americans to critically engage the world and, through reasonable means, assess the issues impinging upon quality of life for African Americans across the country.”

Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, noted author and activist: ”The Black Church’s policing of the bodies and destinies of black women and the lives of black gays and lesbians represents a bankrupt ‘morality’ which is just as pernicious as that of the Religious Right…if being black and being Christian are synonymous, then being black, female and religious (whatever the denomination) is practically compulsory. Insofar as atheism and humanism provide an implicit rejection of both black patriarchy and ‘authentic’ blackness, those who would dare to come out of the closet as atheists are potential race traitors.”

I only had a chance to watch the beginning, but I can’t wait to sit down and see the entire thing.

In the meantime, any thoughts on what they discuss in the video? Any parts we should watch in particular? (Please leave a timestamp if that’s the case!)

(Thanks to Claudia and Mab for the link!)

links for 2010-10-26

  • "In 2009, I produced a reality show for BET. It was called FIRST IN and the show followed the daily lives of the Compton Fire Department, which has the distinction of being the busiest department and is headed by the youngest battalion chief in the country. BET ordered a 10 episode first season, which did well in North America and also premiered in the U.K. The production experience on FIRST IN was intense and extremely satisfying. I’d gotten the reality bug and started thinking about the next project: K-TOWN. If Aaron Sorkin’s thesis of THE SOCIAL NETWORK was that Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook as a way to reinvent himself, then that was what K-TOWN was to become for me."
  • "But in California, as everywhere else, the racial lines are blurry, and old stereotypes might prove a poor predictor of how the various populations in the nation's largest, most diverse state will vote when it comes to Proposition 19. As November draws near, there are increasing signs that race will play an important role in the upcoming vote on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults, though not in the ways one might expect."
  • 'The Call to True Beauty' is the historically black college's zero-tolerance attitude attitude toward the issue.

    "The school hopes to create a network of research, advocacy and prevention across the country, and especially among other HBCUs."

  • "…[s]tudents are concerned that the ongoing suspension could be an indirect way of eliminating the program by starving it of new students and resources. The suspension comes as other U.S. universities are launching similar programs amid growing interest in the study of Islam.

    "'This is just the wrong time to take UCLA out of the dynamic process of teaching about Islam,' said Khaled Abou El Fadl, a UCLA law professor and chairman of the Islamic studies program. 'I'm baffled because UCLA has such a large Muslim community and has had an Islamic studies program for 60 years and has such a good reputation internationally.'"

  • A video from Playboy featuring Sara Jean Underwood, a former Playmate of the Year, performing yoga poses, has angered Hindu elders, in what they see as the latest in a string of attempts to commercialise an ancient and spiritual practice.

    “Hindus are upset over what is the misuse of the age-old and revered system of yoga by Playboy for mercantile greed, and we are urging the organisation to withdraw all its yoga-related products,” said Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism.

    The criticism is the latest salvo to be fired in what some dubbed the yoga wars, a series of disputes over the alleged hijacking of yoga for profit.

    The yoga industry is estimated to be worth $6 billion a year in the US alone, where recently-invented variations include yoga for pets and hot nude yoga.

  • "Los Angeles-based hip-hop group Far East Movement (FM) has topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with their song 'Like a G6,' the group announced on their Twitter site Thursday.
    'The group, comprised of four Asian-Americans including two who are ethnically Korean, is the first Asian group to make the Top 10 in the Billboard charts and moved to the No. 1 spot ahead of their 'Free Wired' album to be released on Oct. 25."
  • "With the midterm election fast approaching, African American women are emerging as crucial to success for Democrats according to voting analysts and the Democratic National Committee. In 20 House races, mostly in southern states, African American women could be the deciding factor.

    Analyst Page Gardner, founder of Women’s Voices, Women Vote, follows women’s voter enthusiasm. Her review reveals a recent increase in interest among unmarried and minority women. And small blocs of voters can be decisive. As Gardner recalls, in the last midterm election, there were 15 House races that were decided by only about 2000 votes. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released an October 14 report by David Bositis, a longtime political analyst, which confirms African American voters could tip many of the most competitive races. Hence, voter turnout among African American women is the key for Democrats success."

  • "Businesses wondering how to crack the huge lower middle class consumer segments in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico will get some answers this week when Razorfish releases its latest report, "The Stampede." IT details the purchasing power and preferences of "Classe C" consumers, with a focus on their digital aspirations.

    The report's lead author, Joe Crump, speaking with Fast Company from Brazil, shared key findings, and explained what exactly businesses should be doing to reach consumers with a household income of $700-$2,000 per month in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.

    While the Classe C segment is traditionally thought to be primarily television consumers, Crump's research shows that in fact they are just as digitally savvy as the upper classes, if not more. "They want phones that are smart for their lives. They like phones that look high-end, but that have features that suit their lives," says Crump. "YouTube, for example, is key for Brazilians."

Introducing: Culturelicious [The $2 Challenge]

by Latoya Peterson


When I first described the idea to Arturo, it took me close to ten minutes to relate my frustration with our limitations, the problems with our ever growing inbox, the desire to expand our content mix, and the ultimate goal of creating a space which showcased the work and creations of artists and creators of color.

Arturo thought for a minute, then summed up the entire project in one sentence:

“So, if Racialicious is the adversary, Culturelicious is the advocate.” Continue reading

The Weave and I: A Love Story

By Guest Contributor Alona Sistrunk, cross-posted from HairPolitik

When I was in eighth grade, my English teacher asked each student to place five items in a box that best represented him or her. In my box, I placed a pair of scissors, a brown crayon and three other items I’ve long since forgotten. When it was time to present my “Alona box” to the class, I pulled out the scissors and cut off a piece of my weave! Holding the borrowed hair next to my heart, I professed my undying love for weave. That day, I knew that other people’s hair would always have a special place in my heart!

As I made my way back to my seat, amidst much applause from ALL of the black girls in the room, I felt conflicted. With the same zeal it took to love and publicly praise other people’s hair, privately I hated and damaged my own. Even at the tender age of thirteen I knew that didn’t make sense. The fact that I hated my kinky hair is remarkable since I’d hardly ever seen it! It was always chemically straightened or hidden underneath a barrage of ever-changing weaves. Since all I knew about my hair was that it was “bad”, not having to “deal with it” was quite alright with me.

As I grew older, my love affair with extensions grew even more complicated. How could I continue to despise the thought of “freeing” my naturally kinky hair while at the same time wholeheartedly embracing weaves (read: straight and loosely curled hair) with an almost obsessive devotion. How could I become the strong black woman that I wanted to be, that I claimed to be, if I hated who I was made to be? By the time I reached college, shouts of betrayal from the few black women who were “brave” enough to “unleash” their natural hair made me question my authenticity even more. They asked, “Why do you hate yourself, Sistah? Why are you trying to be White-something you’re not? Why don’t you embrace who you are and let your natural self show?”

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