links for 2010-11-29

Canada’s Maclean’s has a whiteness problem

By Guest Contributor Restructure!, cross-posted from Restructure!

“‘Too Asian’?” was not the first racist Maclean’s article lamenting the quantity of racialized people displacing white people and white power.

In 2006, Maclean’s published “The future belongs to Islam” by Mark Steyn, who assumed that Muslims all over the world were primarily focused on a shared goal of imposing Islamic law globally, and tried to bring to everyone’s attention that the birth rates of Muslim-majority countries were higher than the birth rates of European countries. Steyn also pointed out that although “Africa” has a high birth rate, it is “riddled with AIDS” and “as we saw in Rwanda, [Africans'] primary identity is tribal”. Steyn then invoked a white colonialist narrative by describing Muslim-majority areas as “Indian territory”, “lawless fringes of the map”, and “badlands” that needed to be “brought within the bounds of the ordered world.”

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Excerpt: The Rise of Reality TV Racism

Note: video slightly NSFW – bleeped out profanity

IN THE BEGINNING, the Network Suits said, “Let them be white,” and reality TV cast members were white. Seasons passed, and they multiplied to a mighty celluloid nation, populated by dominant men and decorative women, Bachelors and Top Models, Apprentices and Swans. We shall remember this age as “BF.”*

After half a decade the Cable Suits gazed upon their Network neighbors’ unscripted creations, saw the ratings bounty sexism had provided, and grew envious. Then the Cable Suits decreed that producers must layer racism atop their misogynistic bedrock, saying, “Let us remake Black people in advertising’s eternal image.” So producers birthed a minstrel show and called it Flavor of Love, and it was bad, and Kentucky Fried Chicken was happy.+ Flavor of Love begat Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School and I Love New York, which begat Real Chance of Love. And lo, people of color began to rule over their own plots of televisual land. But there was much suffering; visibility became a plague on their McMansions. Competing Cable Suits discovered Black Housewives in Atlanta, reformed Black and Latino men From G’s to Gents, and taught White Rappers their place.

And so it was, and so it still is today.

* Before Flavor Of Love
+ For the viewers, it was bad. For VH1, it was the biggest hit they’d ever had. And KFC? Their product placements figured prominently
# After Flavor Of Love
- From Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, by Jennifer Pozner (site includes more video excerpts)

links for 2010-11-28

  • "Unfortunately, I fear that racism — whether realized or unconscious — is doing damage to the LGBT community’s continued fight against HIV/AIDS. Instead of seeing the human person in need of aid and healthcare, many see skin color. At the same time, some folks inside communities of color aren’t seeing past sex, letting homophobia and heterosexism — whether realized or unconscious — cloud their view of HIV/AIDS and who it affects.

    "When we allow ourselves to give into racism and homophobia, we prove to be no better than the absent federal government officials of the 1980s, who ignored AIDS because it primarily affected gay men. What are people who are LGBT and of color to do? These divisions hurt them, and in the long run make everyone a loser."

  • "BUSINESS IS booming for the Islamophobia industry. Some examples, according to Smietana: 'IRS filings from 2008 show that Robert Spencer, who runs the Jihadwatch.org blog, earned $132,537 from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative nonprofit. Brigitte Tudor, who runs the anti-Islam groups ACT! For America and the American Congress for Truth, earned $152,810, while her colleague Guy Rogers collected $154,900.'"
  • "The campaign, labeled "Take Back Yoga," does not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach more about Hinduism. The small but increasingly influential group behind it, the Hindu American Foundation, suggests only that people become more aware of yoga's debt to the faith's ancient traditions. 

    "Organizers of the Take Back Yoga effort point out that the philosophy of yoga was first described in Hinduism's seminal texts and remains at the core of Hindu teaching. Yet, because the religion has been stereotyped in the West as a polytheistic faith of 'castes, cows and curry,' they say, most Americans prefer to see yoga as the legacy of a more timeless, spiritual 'Indian wisdom.'"

links for 2010-11-27

links for 2010-11-26

  • “Why does remix culture, a recent and largely synthetic idea, get more coverage, attention, and defense than the enduring and organic mixtape culture? Remix culture as epitomized by its DJ poster-boy serves as a whitewashed screen for a mixtape culture whose obscenity, violence, and blackness some academics and activists could not defend without blushing.
    The obvious answer is race. Mash-up DJs tend to be whiter than mixtape rappers, and it could be that the poster boy for a para-academic intellectual property movement has to be, in the minds of those in charge, a certain color.
  • “So what makes New York a more complementary fit for her than her hometown? Maybe that has something to do with the creative economy, a concept much discussed by ‘urban expert’ Richard Florida in his book ‘Who’s Your City: How the Creative Economy is Making the Place Where You Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life,’ which explored an interesting pattern of how one’s city environment influences productivity and creativity.

    “When applied to the Black experience, will analyzing the creative economies explain why cities like Brooklyn or Philadelphia produce so many musical artists or why Atlanta has such a high percentage of Black entrepreneurs? According to the social theory, location is critical whether you know it or not. It’s not only about infrastructure and city government but also about the atmosphere created by people themselves. For many Blacks, just having a presence within a city is a major element.”

  • “Latinos represent more than 30 percent of Arizona’s population and bring more than $31 billion to the state’s economy, according to a recent study by Arizona’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, reports Maritza Lizeth Félix for Prensa Hispana. The report, ‘Datos: Focus on Arizona’s Hispanic Market 2010,’ finds that Latina women have become an economic engine in the state. The study does not include the economic impact of undocumented immigrants.”
  • “Bay Area local Martinez started to hone her craft at age 2. This classically trained vocalist is known for her funky, feel-good vibe. To date, Martinez has 50,000 subscribers and 2.3 million total views on YouTube.

    “On how YouTube has impacted her career, this singer and songwriter said, ‘Before YouTube, I was just a girl who sang anywhere I could. But now, the world is my stage.’”

  • “But this validation of physical beauty seems to be the culmination of that account, rather than a beginning to riveting dialogues between herself and this restaurant owner perhaps over two, three, or even ten more rounds of hummus and tabouleh. At one level, it may allow others to see how women in hijab struggle against the standard of beauty, which is an important note to make, but on another level, this story is no different from other portrayals (both positive and negative) that focus on the external representation of Muslims.

    “Going ‘under cover’ as a Muslim to get to know Muslims implies that we are a closed, isolated group of individuals whose experiences cannot be known and understood unless an outsider comes in to examine us, like an American safari team traveling to Africa to study the behaviors exhibited by the Chacma Baboon.”

  • “And yes, Johnny Depp will be playing Tonto. For what it’s worth, Johnny Depp does have is 1/4 Native American, with a Cherokee maternal grandmother and a partial-Cherokee father. As to who will be playing the actual Lone Ranger, that is still up in the air…”
  • “[P]rofessional connections have always meant a lot for people seeking managerial/white-collar jobs. However, Black people usually aren’t born with those professional connections. Histories of inequality among racial groups mean that some group’s are far more likely to have members with college educated grandparents and parents in upper-management than others. It’s not nepotism when your mother’s sorority sister passes your resume onto the hiring manager and gets you an informational interview at her company.

    “Another thing is that everyone is kicking up their networking. People who are in selection and hiring positions have a large pool of networkers to choose from and are passing Blacks over for jobseekers from other racial groups. Most corporations have managed to mask the overt racism where applicants get to the interview and are turned down. But Black jobseekers are less likely to get the opportunity to interview.”

  • More socio-biology used as a “reason” for racism. ::eyeroll:: –AP

    “What do these results mean? The authors are careful on this point. The idea that racism is built into our DNA is both unsavory and disappointing. Also, the sample is small: just 24 people. But the results suggest that we are programmed to see members of other races as, literally, different beings. The “‘all-look-alike’ perceptual experience,” as the authors call it, is real.

    “These impulses are almost certainly evolutionary: we react against a member of another tribe that may be trying to annihilate us. One silver lining: understanding these impulses may help us to overcome them.

Eddie Huang, Owner of Xiao Ye, Causes a Stir on Cooking and Asian American Identity

By Guest Contributor Jenn, cross-posted from Reappropriate

Caught this over at CNN’s Eatocracy today.

Eddie Huang is the owner of a Lower East Side Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant in Manhattan called Xiao Ye, which (if I think I understand my Taiwanese) means “midnight snack”, although Eddie suggests in the video above that it means “delicious”. By glancing at the restaurant’s menu, and by gleaning bits from descriptiong of the restaurant’s atmosphere, Xiao Ye apparently caters to the young (Asian American) club-going set, who’re looking for some good, home-cooked comfort food at 4 a.m. in the morning, after a night on the town.

And frankly, as someone who resigns herself to late-night IHOP (because nothing else is freakin’ open!) whenever she goes clubbing, the business plan is motherfuckin’ brilliant. I cannot tell you how badly I crave some pork potstickers, or some rice noodles with scaldingly delicious and hearty beef broth, after a night on the dancefloor and a few too many shots, all served in a place where the music just don’t stop.

Dear Eddie, if you are reading this, please open a branch in Tucson. Seriously.

Xiao Ye has only been open for a few months when, last month, Sam Sifton of the New York Times stopped in for a review. Although the review praised some of Huang’s food, the reviewer was critical of Sifton’s seemingly frenetic menu and hit-or-miss approach. He seemed particularly galled by the fact that Huang was — shockingly — eating food at his restaurant rather than cooking it. Since I’m used to Chinese restaurants where the waiters, kitchen staff, and owners regularly scarf down a meal at the restaurant, I’m not sure I get the issue. Yet, Sifton rated Xiao Ye a “fair”, which is the textbook definition of “damning with faint praise”.

This prompted Eddie to post about the review on his blog, Fresh Off the Boat. Specifically, he posted a most fobilicious email from his mother about the whole incident.

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links for 2010-11-25

  • “Coming out of the civil rights era, black feminism was a contentious, debatable, demonized and divisive notion. It was perceived to be a pro-white, anti-male doctrine that would destroy black families and prohibit unity. I can remember going to all-black gatherings and people asking me whether or not I was a lesbian, because being pro-female translated into a hate for men.

    “Now, though, black feminist thought is very much an important part of a broader women’s studies — it would be very difficult to avoid black feminism when speaking about a more general feminism. What’s interesting, though, is that black feminism is still very much a suspect politic in black spaces. Despite our progress, it seems that in some hetero-patriarchal paradigms, like black studies and black culture, feminism seems to be less accepted.”

  • “The Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference has been going strong for 17 years, but the mood this year was different. At a time when immigrants are under attack throughout the Southwest, with states and the GOP-controlled House of Representatives threatening to pass harsh new anti-immigrant measures inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070, many saw the festival as a symbol of defiance and ethnic pride.
    “’We are all proud to be Americans, but we can’t deny that the influence of the Mexican culture is all over this land, and we are proud of it, too,’ said Orlando Antonio Jimenez, a Mariachi singer who was serving as the master of ceremonies, as he stayed warm beneath a striped zarape, or blanket, in the red, green and white of the Mexican flag.”
  • “‘I was trying to invert [these stereotypes] so that people would become aware to their own unconscious racism,’ said Saliby, who tracks worker abuse on the blog Ethiopian Suicides. He shot the video on a cellphone as part of an interactive workshop run by the producers of Shankaboot, a popular online serial drama.”