links for 2011-04-29

Race + Comics: When is Diversity ‘Contrived’?

By Arturo R. García

Marvel Comics has spared no effort over the past few years to redefine its’ Avengers franchise as a cornerstone: even before Marvel Films launched the series of movies – Iron Man in 2008, and this year’s Captain America and Thor releases – to culminate in the team getting its’ own movie, the company has made sure the Avengers were at the center of crossover stories like Civil War, Secret Invasion, Siege, and this year, Fear Itself.

“They’re the varsity. They’re the A-list,” Senior Vice-President of Publishing Tom Breevort told Comic Book Resources in an interview. “They’re the Man. They’re not about being super heroes because of demographics or ethnicity. They stand for something specific and occupy a certain role. If you don’t have some degree of that, then it doesn’t feel like Avengers.

Unfortunately, an ensuing discussion of the criteria needed for a story to bear the Avengers brand went to some depressingly familiar territory.
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Quotable: Hyphen Magazine on Hanna, Sexuality, and Asian Heroines

Man. Had Hanna been Asian American, it could have been revolutionary.

Just as a feebly comedic aside: Hanna is socially awkward, has encyclopedic knowledge of languages and geography, and her overprotective dad’s motto is “Adapt or die.” If that’s not an Asian American family, I don’t know what is.

But really, if there’s anything that we need when it comes to Asian American representation in media, it’s some damn re-centering.

A young Asian American female who is not marked by hypersexuality, passivity, or deviousness but by fierce strength and actual character development in a non-martial arts movie? We don’t have too many role models that fit that criteria, from any age range. Maggie Q is fairly sexed out as a spy in Nikita as was Michelle Yeoh during her stint as a Bond girl. Lucy Liu and her other Charlie’s Angels often used their booties to help them solve cases. Liu’s O-ren Ishii had some depth in Kill Bill, though that depth was presented to us via anime flashback (cuz she’s part Japanese, y’all!). Ishii’s sidekick Gogo Yubari, she who donned the school girl’s uniform, was crazy good at combat but also just straight up crazy. Kelly Hu was virtually silent as villain Deathstrike in X2. In Sucker Punch, Jamie Chung and Vanessa Hudgens get to battle but in an imaginary brothel world in skimpy costumes. African American, Latino, and other racial/ethnic groups have a similar laundry list of female archetypes that they wish they could finally shake.

- From “Lust Action Hero: Movie Heroines and Why I Wish Hanna Had Been Asian-American,” by Sylvie Kim

 

links for 2011-04-28

  • "Stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that an epidemic of joblessness has undone years of economic and social progress for African Americans. The report highlights both Detroit and Las Vegas the rates have gone even higher, hitting Great Depression levels. African American unemployment hit 25.7 percent in Detroit in 2010 and rose to 20.1 percent in Vegas. In Birmingham, Alabama, where the unemployment rate for blacks was 5.3 percent in before the recession – it reached 14.5 percent in 2010. In Miami the rate jumped from 6.7 percent in 2006 to 17.2 percent in 2010 and in Los Angeles from 8.6 percent in 2006 to 19.3 in 2010. In Charlotte the rate grew from 4.9 percent to 19.2 percent."
  • "'Just like the people of Wisconsin took a stand and said ‘enough is enough’, the youth of Tucson are standing up and letting it be known that they are fed up with these attacks on their education and on their future,' said Sal Baldenegro, Jr., a TUSD Ethnic Studies alum and member of the Southern Arizona Unity Coalition, AlterNet reported.

    “'As Arizonans, we absolutely must stand behind our youth and say ‘enough is enough’ with these attacks on their education. There has never been a more critical time to stand behind our children as they fight for their rights and for their futures.'”

  • "[J]ust 57 of 650 black or minority ethnic (BME) organisations were welcomed into the Arts Council's national portfolio (NPO) roster, down from the 74 that previously existed as regularly funded organisations (RFOs). Indeed, inner-city arts centres specifically targeting multi-ethnic audiences faced some of the biggest cuts: London's Rich Mix, Watermans and Yaa Asantewaa saw their funding slashed by more than half. Meanwhile, Greenroom, a performing arts venue in Manchester led by the country's only black British artistic director, saw its entire £295,000 grant vanish; 25 years after it opened, the space is set to close at the end of next month."
  • "Assuming that "ghetto" is some sort of lost-in-translation expression, her explanation still doesn't account for why these two 'body types' have been singled out. What about everyone who isn't black or curvy? Does Sozzani assume that the rest of those folks can just wear everything in Italian Vogue?"
  • "The Cosbys gave me what America, so far, had lacked. In the midst of my own rootlessness, I had the company of lovely, cultured, grounded people. In the middle of our own desperate, early immigration poverty, here was wealth on the American scale: an entire house, with multiple stories, all for one family. Children in separate bedrooms. A bathroom on every floor. Closets full of fancy sweaters. I had never seen anything like this in person, but I could aspire to it. I wanted Phylicia Rashad to be my stern but fair lawyer mom. I wanted to be Vanessa, with her fabulous hair and boy problems. I wanted to live in a household with siblings. I wanted to complain about not being allowed to drive and having an early curfew."

Libya: Uprising Revives Entrenched Racism Towards Black Africans

By Guest Contributor Simba Russeau

Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi’s use of African mercenaries to quell the uprising against his autocratic regime has revived a deep-rooted racism between Arabs and black Africans.

Though most will deny its existence, in Libya discrimination is common not only against migrant black Africans, but also against darker-skinned Libyans, especially from the south of the country.
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Baratunde Thurston on Donald Trump, Obama’s Birth Certificate, and the Degradation of Americans

By Andrea (AJ) Plaid

With all of the jokes about “Birthers” and Donald Trump’s toupee as well as the leftysphere excoriating the mainstream media for not taking Trump to task for his antics, Jack and Jill Politics’ Baratunde Thurston breaks down what we lost due to Trump’s BS.

Transcript after the jump.

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links for 2011-04-27

  • "Africans experienced racism daily, said Dr Ahmed, a refugee from Eritrea who arrived in Australia in 1987. ''Australia has a black history with black people, and Africans coming with a black skin, they are just copping that sort of Aboriginal black treatment.

    "'We should have been ambassadors of change and acceptance for blackness. The system still has a problem accepting that blackness.' Australia has a history of failure on blackness, he argued, 'and that's what's halting Africans in their settlement'".

  • "Plecker, registrar of the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics from 1912-1946, was instrumental in crafting that state’s law. He argued that there were no full-blooded Indians left in the state by the early 20th century; therefore, all who claimed Indian heritage were part something else, and he decided the best thing to do would be to lump them in with blacks, since, by his mandate as registrar, a person could claim only one of two racial backgrounds in Virginia: Caucasian or 'Negro.' People claiming to be Indians, Plecker said, were r­eally blacks trying to move their families into a position where they could 'pass,' or claim to be Caucasian."
  • "Is the "Age of America" drawing to a close? According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), its demise as the leading economic power is five years away and the next president of the United States will preside over an economy that plays second fiddle to China's."
  • "I think that a loose relationship with the scientific method surely helps conspiracies spread, but Birtherism draws on passions that depart substantially from greenhouse gasses. It is a putatively non-racial, vaguely constitutional way to challenge the legitimacy of the first black president and appeal to racists without sounding officially racist. Sure, there may be plenty of GOP tenets running counter to reality nowadays, yet none evoke the suppressed fury of the Birthers. They won't go away. They are an audience-in-waiting for any amplified race-baiter, from Lou Dobbs to unserious presidential candidates. Indeed, Politifact, the fact-checking site for politics, says its article about the issue, (with a link to the certification of live birth!), is the most read item that it has ever published."
  • "The most powerful form of racial animus in politics today is often called 'racial resentment,' as reflected in anger about blacks’ demands, criticism of blacks’ work ethics, and believing that racial discrimination has largely disappeared. Such racial resentments had stronger effects on candidate choice than in any other recent presidential election. Moreover, everything associated with Obama became racialized."

Quoted (Double Edition): Erykah Badu on Female Sexuality and Emotions

When Erykah Badu walked naked for 13 seconds (when the video was shot, she had the full song sped up to one minute and 32 seconds, then slowed back down in editing), it was for her art and not sexual consumption. It’s a stance she feels contributed to the outrage. “We’re just not fashioned for [nudity],” says Badu. “Especially the Black women, the ‘Hottentot Venus’ women, big-booty women, the large posterior, with no shoes on and a scarf on her head, you know that ain’t sexy.” [...]

“Society has a problem with female nudity when it is not . . . ”—Badu pauses to get her words together; she wants this point to be very clear—“. . . when it is not packaged for the consumption of male entertainment. Then it becomes confusing.” [...]

“To me it’s like traditional performance art like Yoko Ono, or Nina Simone. Research some of those women. They all seem to live by the same theme: Well-behaved women rarely make history. Even looking at people like Harriet Tubman and those types of women. When you have strong convictions about something you know what you already gonna do. I look at some other videos. I’m not naming names, because I don’t want that to be mentioned. There is the thing with sexuality. I’m naked for 13 seconds, and these people are naked the whole time and gyrating and saying come “lick on my lollipop,” and “suck on my cinnamon roll,” and, you know, suggesting sex. People are uncomfortable with sexuality that’s not for male consumption. Could be ‘cause I did it in public too. Do you think people would have been complaining if I had on high-heel shoes?”

— From the June/July Vibe Cover Profile of Erykah Badu

Arise: Earlier, you called performance your therapy. Is performance how you deal with pain?

Erykah Badu: I accept pain as part of growing. Everyone goes through it. And in the process of it, it’s unpleasant, but I’m still peaceful and happy. Continue reading