Table For Three: The Racialicious Roundup on ‘Run The World (Girls)’

By The Racialicious Editorial Board

Beyonce might not completely run the world, but she’s certainly dominated the blogosphere news cycle since the release of the video for “Run The World (Girls).” Rather than each of us having a go at analyzing the song and the video, we decided it best to get together online and talk about not just the message Beyonce’s song is promoting, but how it fits in with other representations of Girl Power, as well as the song’s problematic backstory.
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Who Runs The World?: On Beyonce, Sampling, Race, and Power [Essay]

By Guest Contributor Isaac Miller

While some critics are rightly noting the confusing and inaccurate message of Beyoncé’s new single “Run The World (Girls)” in the context of a world controlled by patriarchy, her song/video also raises the issue of how peoples, artists, and cultures from the global south are referenced and represented by artists from the first world. Several layers of referencing go on within this song/video, which makes this discussion a lot more complicated, lengthy and, at the same time, all the more necessary.

Please bear with me. This is an important conversation to have because of the ways in which this kind of sampling reinforces disparities of privilege and power. Furthermore, its important to note the ways that the profits and opportunities produced from this referencing are disproportionately transferred to people with white privilege or benefiting from larger structures of white supremacy.

I want to be upfront about my position as a white man from the United States. Recognizing my own privileges in this dialogue, I welcome critique and debate and I’m writing this in large part because I want to see what kind of conversation these issues can generate.

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The Big Chill: Shaquille O’Neal Retires

By Arturo R. García

Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement from professional basketball Wednesday in the video posted above, telling his fans, “We did it. Nineteen years, baby. Thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first: I’m about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon.”

O’Neal leaves the NBA with four world championships under his belt, capping a resume that includes 28,596 points scored – good for fifth place on the all-time scoring list – along with 14 All-NBA Team selections, 15 All-Star Game selections, an Olympic gold medal and 13,099 rebounds. But – and this is a guess – it’s perhaps more satisfying for O’Neal that he was able to one-up his idol, Wilt Chamberlain: not only did he win, not only did he command attention, but he got people to “root for Goliath,” defying Chamberlain’s famous lament.
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links for 2011-06-01

  • "One question asked respondents whether they expected to be better off economically in 10 years than they are today. Two-thirds of blacks and Hispanics said yes, as did 55 percent of college-educated whites; just 44 percent of noncollege whites agreed. Asked if they were better off than their parents were at the same age, about three-fifths of college-educated whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics said they were. But blue-collar whites divided narrowly, with 52 percent saying yes and a head-turning 43 percent saying no. (The survey, conducted from March 24 through 29, surveyed 2,000 adults and has a margin of error of ±3.4 percent.) What makes these results especially striking is that minorities were as likely as blue-collar whites to report that they have been hurt by the recession. The actual unemployment rate is considerably higher among blacks and Hispanics than among blue-collar whites, much less college-educated whites."
  • "It’s a bit of a shock to hear all those slurs popped out in a row and not everyone’s loved the PSA for exactly that reason. But derogatory language, if not these explicit slurs, abounds on television and in daily life. The r-word, I’d add, is not the only derogatory slur that compassionate, thinking people should consider dropping from their lexicon.

    "The real question, it seems, is whether or not it’s okay to compare one derogatory slur with another, which can often feel too much like equating the suffering of one group with another. In the end though, the PSA is meant to create awareness about a word that’s hurtful to people who are disabled, and those who care about them."

  • "The legal claims by hundreds of American survivors like Ms. Firestone have set off an intense lobbying campaign in Washington on their behalf. But opposition from the government and even from leading Jewish groups has created an uncomfortable rift between groups that are normally in alliance and has created a potential minefield for President Obama."
  • "The Justice Department’s inspector general found that the Bush administration — which changed hiring rules to give its political appointees at the Civil Rights Division greater control over civil service hiring starting in 2003 — had violated hiring rules by screening out liberals and by actively seeking to fill civil service vacancies with conservatives, referred to privately by one Bush official as 'real Americans' and 'right-thinking Americans.'"
  • "Perhaps we’ll never fully know if the drug-addiction and other dependencies that so often derailed Scott-Heron’s vision was part of some COINTELPRO inspired conspiracy to deny our most gifted and passionate, access to the thing that matters the most—their right minds (surely cheaper and neater than assassination). When Albert King sang “I Almost Lost My Mind” he wasn’t just whistlin’ in the dark about the warm body that had just left his bed—somewhere folk like Huey P. Newton, Etheridge Knight, Esther Phillips, Sly Stone, Flavor Flav, and a host of others, including Scott-Heron, fully understood what he lamented. Yet can’t help to think though, that Gil Scott-Heron knew that he was not here to be simply loved; that there were hard truths that he had to tell us and his addictions would always guarantee that we would keep him at an arm’s distance."

Race + Comics: DC Promises A ‘More Diverse’ Do-Over On Infinite Earths

By Arturo R. García

Once again, let’s take a comic-book company’s statement and compare it to what’s being presented. Our subject this time is Bob Wayne, Senior Vice-President of Sales for DC Comics. Here’s an excerpt from a letter he sent to comics retailers Tuesday:

In the time I’ve worked at DC Comics, I’ve witnessed any number of industry defining moments. But today, I bring you what is perhaps the biggest news to date.

Many of you have heard rumors that DC Comics has been working on a big publishing initiative for later this year. This is indeed an historic time for us as, come this September, we are relaunching the entire DC Universe line of comic books with all new first issues. 52 of them to be exact.

In addition, the new #1s will introduce readers to a more modern, diverse DC Universe, with some character variations in appearance, origin and age. All stories will be grounded in each character’s legend – but will relate to real world situations, interactions, tragedy and triumph.

Here’s the punchline: the statement was released the same day as the picture posted above: an almost all-white cast for a new Justice League comic. So right off the bat, this “more diverse” DC Universe looks like those “more colorful” NBC ads. But there’s other reasons Wayne shouldn’t be crowing just yet.

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Quoted: Fatemeh Fakhraie on Islam, Justice, Love, and Feminism

“Two things are important to me,” she says over a sushi supper in downtown Corvallis. “Justice and love, and both of them clicked for me in Islam.”

Fakhraie grew up in a family where religion was respected but not forced on her or her younger brother, Anayat, 24. Her father, born in Iran, did not practice his faith. Her mother, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, studied religion with another woman but didn’t attend services.

“I was raised as a white girl with a funny last name and a foreign dad,” she says. As an adolescent, she was “the black cloud” over her parents’ house. “I was sullen. I hated everything.” Today she says she and her family are close, but her brother, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, remembers her black cloud days.

“At Christmas, we’d be opening presents and she’d be sulking in the corner,” he says. “She didn’t want anyone to take pictures. ‘Do we have to do this?’ she’d complain. She embodied the quintessential teenager angst.”

“I was a ‘why’ person,” she says. “I always wanted to know why.” Why, for example, was her father so strict with her when it came to boys? An avid reader, she began reading about Persian culture, which led her to the subject of Islam. She kept on reading. When she got to college, she read Fatima Mernissi’s “The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam.”

It was a breakthrough moment for her.

“I could be a feminist and a Muslim,” she says. “I was a feminist before I knew what a feminist was.” Fakhraie’s mother was the family breadwinner and her dad was “Mr. Mom.” She remembers being upset that her mom came home from work and picked up household chores.

“It was like a double shift,” Fakhraie says. “Fairness has always been an integral issue with me.”

–Excerpted from Fatemeh Fakhraie: A Feminist Muslim Breaks Stereotypes

Photo Credit: Utne

Announcements: Tulpa, or Anne & Me Opens June 2nd

Compiled by Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Racializen and playwright Shawn Harris will premiere her play, Tulpa, or Anne and Me, this Thursday, June 2, at NYC’s Robert Moss Theater, the eco-friendly performance space located at 440 Lafayette Street in Manhattan. The show starts at 6PM.

Tulpa, or Anne&Me explores a strange friendship that begins with an artist whose lonely world gets turned upside down when Anne Hathaway crawls out of her television. As their friendship blossoms, they begin to examine how race impacts their lives as women, as friends, and as human beings.

The 90-minute show will also run on these dates:

  • Friday, June 3rd @ 4:00PM
  • Thursday, June 16 at 8:00PM
  • Sunday, June 19th @ 8:15PM

The play’s proceeds will benefit the anti-racism organization People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. While anticipating the show, you can follow behind-the-scenes convos about it, check out the show’s musical inspirations, and much more here and here!