links for 2011-05-31

Dark Girls: A Review of a Preview [Culturelicious]

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

**TRIGGER WARNING**

I recognize the women in this preview: these women were me when I was growing up. The kids at my mostly black Catholic school called me just about every black-related perjorative ever since 3rd grade, letting me know and telling others within my earshot that I was physically inferior solely because I was dark-skinned. I even remember a boy in my 7th grade class drew a picture of me being nothing more than a solid black square. Even though the same kids voted me 8th grade class president…I was still considered in their estimation an ugly (vis-a-vis my skin tone) girl. Even had the only boy who was my boyfriend (we were in 8th grade) dump me for a lighter-skinned and younger girl, to the mocking laughter of the lighter-skinned students.

My mom—a dark-skinned African American herself—told me something that didn’t make any sense through my woundedness: “You know those light-skinned girls people think are pretty in school? Wait ‘til you’re grown and see where you’re at and where they’re at.” Added to this was my mom’s constant admonition to “get an education.” Well, sure enough, what my mom said came to pass. I’ve had photographers approach me and ask to photograph me. I had lovers of various hues—even had a husband. (He was white.) And women of various hues, races, and ethnicities have given me love on the streets, at the job, and at workshops.

I’m not sure how—or even if—some of the women in the clip worked through the pain some black people have inflicted on them. But, instead of the usual devolving, derailing, and erasing conversations of “that’s happened to me, too, though I’m a lighter-skinned black person!” (that’s a thread for another post) or “it wasn’t me! I’m a down black person!” (will be met with an exasperated eyeroll)…it would be a really good thing to simply listen to these women’s truths, as uncomfortable–sometimes, as implicating–as they may be.

Transcript after the jump.

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

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In Or Out: On Keanu, Akira, and expectations for multiracial actors

By Guest Contributor Monique Jones, cross-posted from moniqueblog

If you’ve been following the news surrounding Akira, you might have heard that Keanu Reeves was circling the film and probably would have been cast in the role of Kaneda. But Reeves has dropped out of the film. Also, according to CinemaBlend, a big chunk of the staff on the movie have been let go and the previsualization department has been shut down. However, WB says the movie is still in development in the following statement:

Production on Akira has not halted or been shut down, as the film has not yet been greenlit and is still very much in the development stage. The exploratory process is crucial to a project of this magnitude, and we will continue to sculpt our approach to making the best possible film.

Reeves, whose background includes Hawaiian and Chinese heritages, may have been considered by the studio execs and/or the casting agent over “Akira” to be a good pick for the film because of this. Racebending.com seems to think so. However, Racebending explains their hesitance to see Reeves cast as Kaneda:

We can sort of see why Warner Bros. would want to go with one of their previously established stars–Reeves is arguably Warner Bros. biggest actor of Asian descent (granted, only 2% of WB films from 2000 to 2009 had an Asian lead, and they were mostly Asian nationals like Jet Li and Rain.)

At the same time, it’s unsatisfactory to see Reeves (who has played white characters, multiethnic characters, and even Siddhartha) default to Hollywood’s only go-to actor when they need to find someone to portray an Asian lead character. Hollywood isn’t exactly hard at work to discover this generation’s next hot “Keanu.”

For Asian American actors who aren’t Keanu Reeves, opportunities to play lead characters continue to be few and far between. Will Warner Bros. exceed expectations and cast an Asian American actor alongside Reeves to play Tetsuo? Can a $230 million Akira project that barely resembles the source material make enough to make a profit?

Now, I understand what Racebending is saying here. They would like to see Asian/Asian-American actors who aren’t the typical Hollywood type cast in the film adaptation of one of the biggest Asian art exports ever. They are also slightly annoyed at Reeves being constantly picked for these types of roles instead of Hollywood execs trying to find someone new. To be clear, I’m not knocking what Racebending’s opinion on the matter is; they are, after all, an Asian-American group and I’m African-American, a person on the fringes. And their opinion is partly the impetus behind my epic Akira Asian shortlist posts, because it does get tiring to see the same people get cast over and over again. But something that I noticed in the comments section of various movie websites paints a different picture about Keanu-gate. Yes, the commenters are just as annoyed as Racebending, but there’s a large number of people who think Reeves is white and white only, thereby not suitable for the role.

This wave of dissention from commenters raises the issue about the murky state of biracial or multi-racial actors and actresses in Hollywood. Some are thought of as a representation of one race while others are viewed almost like an “all-purpose” type person; both ideologies have a bit of error in them. The statement also raises an even bigger question–what is Hollywood’s role in our race perceptions?

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links for 2011-05-30

  • "Executives of the Academy have told us that it is necessary to erase and 'consolidate' these categories because 'the Grammies [sic] have become a huge collage.' The implication of this outrageous and blatantly racist justification is that it is necessary to disenfranchise Latinos, Native Americans, and other minorities for the good of the Academy,” the letter stated. “This is utter nonsense. The Academy was created to promote and ensure diversity and excellence in the recordings arts. The collage is our strength, not a weakness.'
    "Sanabria, of course, was among the letter’s more than 30 signees; also signing the letter were Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, Andy Garcia and John Santos. Academy officials have not yet responded to requests for comment."
  • "The family settings in the spots grew out of consumer research indicating that Latina mothers like to 'organize sessions for bonding, like eating dinner together or going to the park,' said Sivonne Davis, Kool-Aid senior brand manager.
    "Depictions of family get-togethers appeal to Latino parents 'who are really worried about how fast-paced the American way of life is today, and that kids could be growing up too fast and being pulled away from home,' said Ms. Davis.
  • …so "risque" is the new euphemism for "racist" Really?–AJP

    "The Duke has become renowned over the years for his risque comments.

    "Speaking to a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland, in 1995 he asked: 'How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?'

    "He told a 1986 meeting of the World Wildlife Fund: 'If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.'"

  • **TRIGGER WARNING**

    "'Homosexuality is seen as an import from the West. We are seen as betrayers of culture and betrayers of tradition … some kind of imperialistic force that is attacking the African way of life,' says Fikile Vilakazi of the Coalition of African Lesbians. The group's Western funding reinforces suspicions."

links for 2011-05-29

  • "Such obfuscation is familiar to Indians accustomed to federal government trickery since the beginning of contact. Still, some kept the pressure on the White House, saying forcefully that the leader of the military, Obama, should apologize because the negative Geronimo association was made under his command. Fort Sill Apache Tribal Chairman Jeff Houser sent a letter dated May 3 to Obama, explaining the pain felt by many Natives as a result of the slight. “Our tribal and most Native Americans would hope that you would issue a formal apology to the Geronimo family members, the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, and to all Native Americans for this action. Right now Native American children all over this country are facing the reality of having one of their most revered figures being connected to a terrorist and a murderer of thousands of innocent Americans. Think about how they feel at this point."
  • "Breaking down stereotypes about Asians is key for many filmmakers, but it's not easy to get money for projects.

    "Industry insiders said Asian-themed movies rarely get picked up for traditional distribution because they don't appear profitable.

    "Because of this, dozens gathered for a recent forum in Manhattan sponsored by the Asian American Arts Alliance, which encouraged filmmakers to produce their own TV shows, movies and film festivals.

    "'It's a challenging economic environment and sometimes the best way to make things happen is to do it yourself,' said Andrea Louie of the Asian American Arts Alliance."

links for 2011-05-28

  • "Last week, a blog post about race and appearance by Satoshi Kanazawa was published–and promptly removed–from this site. We deeply apologize for the pain and offense that this post caused. Psychology Today's mission is to inform the public, not to provide a platform for inflammatory and offensive material. Psychology Today does not tolerate racism or prejudice of any sort. The post was not approved by Psychology Today, but we take full responsibility for its publication on our site."
  • "After watching this happen again and again, something occurred to me: Why don’t the white men who are asked to engage in this nonsense simply stop doing it? The boycott is a protest with a long history of success. If white, male elites started saying, 'I will not participate in your panel, event, or article if it is all about white men,' chances are these panels and articles would quickly dry up—or become more diverse."
  • "Many of these reverse migrants describe a sense of relief about working for African-American media after years in the mainstream. 'It was like coming home,' said Michael Cottman, a senior correspondent at BlackAmericaWeb.com, who in 1978 began his career at the Atlanta Daily World, the city’s oldest continuously published black newspaper. In between he worked for The Miami Herald, New York Newsday, and The Washington Post. Cottman said at mainstream organizations he sometimes felt resistance to story ideas or suspicion about his ability to be objective while covering black-oriented subjects. He said at Reach Media, his professionalism is assumed."

In His Own Words: Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

The catchphrase, what that was all about, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” that was about the fact that the first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move. So when we said that “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” we were saying that the thing that’s gonna change people is something that no one will ever be able to capture on film. It will just be something that you see, and all of a sudden you realize I’m on the wrong page, or I’m on the right page but I’m on the wrong note, and I’ve got to get in sync with everyone else to understand what’s happening in this country.

But I think that the Black Americans have been the only die-hard Americans here, because we’re the only ones who carried the process through the process that everyone else has to sort of skip stages. We’re the ones who march, we’re the ones who carry the Bible, we’re the ones who carry the flag, we’re the ones who have to go through the courts, and being born American didn’t seem to matter, because we were born American, but we still had to fight for what we were looking for, and we still had to go through those channels and those processes.
- Mediaburn, 1991

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links for 2011-05-27

  • "Establishment media fueled the fire of racism against First Nations people, reinforcing the stereotypes of Native people as violent 'savages.' When some native and non-native aboriginal rights supporters decided to peacefully keep vigil to prevent further destruction to the Snake Mound, one of 57 ancient burial sites in or near High Park, mainstream news reporters falsely described the group as 'Mohawk warriors' that 'hijacked' a public park. Mainstream media is not the watchdog of democracy; it is the lapdog of the elite."
  • "Until just recently, I have never given much thought to the Indian mascot dispute as I have always found competitive sports in the United States to be somewhat uninteresting, especially baseball (aye!). However, I have very gradually come to believe that American sports institutions have maniacally embraced American Indian imagery because Indians are – in the collective consciousness of modern non-Indian America – something to be almost eternally feared."
  • "The Pima County Sheriff's Department initially claimed (PDF) Guerena fired his weapon at the SWAT team. They now acknowledge that not only did he not fire, the safety on his gun was still activated when he was killed. Guerena had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home. After ushering out his wife and son, the police refused to allow paramedics to access Guerena for more than hour, leaving the young father to bleed to death, alone, in his own home."
  • "Dr. Prabhat Jha, a lead author of the study, noted that the use of sex-selection abortions has expanded throughout the country as the use of ultrasound equipment has become more widespread. Typically, women from wealthier, better-educated families are more likely to undergo an ultrasound, Mr. Jha said, and researchers found that these families are far more likely to abort a girl if the firstborn is a daughter. 'This is really a phenomenon of the educated and the wealthy that we are seeing in India,' said Mr. Jha, director of the Center for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto."
  • "Like many social businesses, KeBal exists to bring goods or services to people who otherwise can’t afford them. An influential book by the business professor C.K. Prahalad argues that there’s a fortune to be made at the bottom of the pyramid. And, in fact, some large companies, like Unilever, have had success selling things like single-use sachets of shampoo or detergent to very poor people who only have tiny amounts of disposable income at any point in time. But what KeBal is trying to do is harder: not just size-down its products to fit the poor, but build a market from scratch for a new food product that costs more to produce because it is healthier. KeBal has the double challenge of serving people who can’t pay very much while having to change their eating habits. If this were easy to do profitably, social businesses wouldn’t be necessary."