links for 2011-02-04

  • "Eltawahy calls herself a feminist; here she is on Bloggingheads talking about feminism's compatibility with Islam, and here she is talking about where she parts from an earlier generation of Muslim feminists. And it doesn't take much digging to find that Eltahawy's critics — who call her an 'Israel normalizer,' disagree with her support of France's niqab ban, and generally accuse her of being a neocon — have also availed themselves of some pretty sexist descriptions. Looks like Eltawahy can more than handle it. She recently wrote, 'To be a Muslim and a feminist is to stand in the crossfire and yell 'Shut the f**k up!' to everyone around you because you know that anything you say can and will be used against you by everyone.'"
  • "Thanks to the folks over at ChinaSmack, we’ve learned a little belatedly that a U.S. President Barack Obama lookalike was used in a KFC television ad to promote a new Fish Fillet Soft Roll. (The commercial was aired for a limited time in Hong Kong only just ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the U.S. last month.)"
  • "The ways in which we are out and assert our visibility in our families and communities must be unique as well. The mantra of "We're here! We're Queer! Get Used to it!" may suit us at the Gay Pride Parade and can even be part of our demand for the full inclusion of our AAPI communities within the LGBTQ rubric. But as we engage our own racial and ethnic communities, often including our own biological families — our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, even great grandparents — we have had to find different mantras and strategies that better fit into these distinct cultural contexts."
  • "Yes, Miss Lawrence and Dodson have every right to be on TV. They are indeed a reflection of one portion of the population. It's just unfortunate that, since a sizable chunk of visible gay blacks are found on reality TV or YouTube, that reflection has increasingly become the only one we see of the black gay community.

    "Where are characters like Six Feet Under's Keith Charles (Mathew St. Patrick), the bold and openly gay police officer and companion to the other stereotype-defying character on the show, David Fisher (Michael C. Hall)? Where are those like The Wire's Omar Little (Michael K. Williams)? In some ways he perpetuated the myth of the black brute, but he did challenge the myth that all gay men are effeminate. And what about Kima Griggs (Sonja Sohn), also from The Wire? Why are lesbian characters so often depicted in the context of some cliché-riddled male fantasy?"

  • "[A]ctual smartphone penetration is much lower among Whites than Hispanics and Asians. So even though Hispanics and whites use the same types of phones—when they do use smarpthones—whites use smartphones a lot less."
  • "Israelites regard themselves not as members of a religion, but as a nationality, tied to a land, language, culture and heritage. The lives of the temple members are defined by an unwavering belief that they and all black people, not the Jews, are the true children of Israel, descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes. For the people of Kol Sh’aireit, every day is a fight to reclaim and maintain that history and identity, which they feel was taken from them throughout centuries of slavery and oppression."
  • "The minute Jeff Chang heard that the pioneering Bronx hip-hop D.J. Kool Herc was having health problems, he knew it was time for payback. Mr. Chang, a prolific writer on politics and culture, was honored when Herc wrote the introduction to his hip-hop history book “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.” But this week he was alarmed that Herc, born Clive Campbell, was in financial straits because his lack of medical insurance was complicating his treatment for kidney stones.

    "Mr. Chang worked quickly and for free to set up a Web site to collect donations to the D.J. Kool Herc Fund."

  • "On the occasion of the reissues of the two most indispensable books about Astaire, it’s worth taking another look at “Bojangles.” Though blackface certainly often expressed racist sentiment — I shudder to recall the TV “Black-and-White Minstrel Show” of my youth — it was often used subversively. Here Astaire is subverting racist caricature to celebrate the black tradition of tap dance. His is not a specific imitation of Robinson: Astaire’s torso moves a great deal, whereas Robinson’s deportment was far more upright. In fact, there were black tap dancers whom Astaire admired much more than Robinson: notably John W. Bubbles, whom he found truly great. But Robinson, thanks to his movies with Shirley Temple (“Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” and more), was the most famous black tap dancer in the world; this “Bojangles” song congratulated his achievement."
  • "More than one in four U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery. These presidents bought, sold, bred and enslaved black people for profit. Of the twelve presidents who were enslavers, more than half kept people in bondage at the White House. For this reason there is little doubt that the first person of African descent to enter the White House — or the presidential homes used in New York (1788–1790) and Philadelphia (1790–1800) before construction of the White House was complete — was an enslaved person. That person's name and history are lost to obscurity and the tragic anonymity of slavery, which only underscores the jubilation expressed by tens of millions of African Americans — and perhaps billions of other people around the world — 220 years later on November 4, 2008, when the people of the United States elected Barack Obama to be the nation's president and commander in chief."