links for 2011-08-31

  • Demographic shifts ahead! – LDP "Along with Washington, the regions surrounding New York, San Diego, Las Vegas and Memphis have become majority-minority since 2000. Non-Hispanic whites are a minority in 22 of the country’s 100-biggest urban areas."
  • 'On the morning of Aug. 29, an off-duty Washington, DC Metro police officer fired five times into a car whose passengers included three transgender women. Three of the passengers were injured, one critically, in the second instance of anti-trans violence by an off duty DC Metro police officer in the past nine months.

    The officer apparently solicited one of the women for sex, according to the Washington Blade, then harassed and pursued the group until crashing his vehicle into their car and firing upon them."

  • "This loofah isn’t just commercialism taken to an illogical extreme, as it has been understood on DCentric. It is a deliberately irreverent product, the reverse of this exfoliating glove proclaims ‘I have a clean…’. If you were looking to cash in on Martin Luther King’s image you’d pick something in keeping with the way he is understood. This item’s selling point is its humour, its play on words, its ability to be flippant about a popularly respected figure. I don’t find it offensive, but then I am a reluctant fan of puns. However, I can’t think of a single person who would buy it. Caricatures of human beings?  Maybe. The kind of people who populate their homes with joke accessories like money toilet paper? Perhaps. Finance guys who live in 80s style loft conversions and own more stainless steel stress toys than books? If they still exist and want to give a jaded giggle to their guests, possibly. Culturally astute, hyper clean racists? Probably. Honest to goodness actual people? No."
  • "Comedian Katt Williams finds himself embroiled in controversy after going on an onstage rant last week on the subject of Mexicans. As the YouTube video of the incident makes the Internet rounds, his first mistake was performing in Phoenix, Arizona in the first place. 

    "Things started innocently enough with Williams saying in regards to Mexicans, 'It appears to me y'all like it over here a lot,' feeling like a humorous reference to the demographics of immigration, but then things, inexplicably got ugly. 'If y'all had California, and you loved it, you shouldn't have gave that motherfucker up! You should have fought for California, goddamn it! Since you loved it.' The tone was patronizing and moved beyond the bounds of comedy into that of a rant as Williams continued on."

  • This mofo will not stop, will he?–AJP

    "Beck notes that, in South Africa, recognized races and ethnicities include black and 'colored' (Wikipedia explains the term thusly: 'In the South African, Namibian, Zambian, Botswana and Zimbabwean context, the term Coloured (also known as Bruinmense, Kleurlinge or Bruin Afrikaners in Afrikaans) refers to an ethnic group of mixed race people who often possess some sub-Saharan African ancestry but not enough to be considered Black, either by themselves or by others.')
    "So is the term 'colored,' Beck and co. wondered, really such a 'bad thing' as we're lead to believe? 'Only here,' he lamented, referring to the U.S. 'Why are we made to feel bad?'"

  • "When interviewer Alex Bogusky suggested it was hard to difficult to respond to critics of increased emissions regulation, Gore replied: 'It is no more difficult that it was for southerners to talk about the evil of racism.'
    "Project 21 spokesman Jerome Hudson noted: 'When Al Gore compares those who question his perception of man-made global warming to racists and segregationists in an attempt to ‘win the conversation,’ he reveals a disturbing desperation that not only alienates him from the mainstream but marginalizes his logic and nullifies his already flailing credibility.'"
  • "President Obama can’t do much more to ease the doubts and fears of many whites that he vowed to fulfill his duty as president of all the people, and to do the best job he can on legislation and public policy to serve the needs of all constituencies. He has even repeatedly drawn the wrath of the Congressional Black Caucus, publicly resisting their loud appeals for him to do and say more about the crisis of black joblessness and poverty. He’s paid a price for that as his approval ratings have dropped among blacks. But his unswerving race neutral, low-keyed, scrupulously non-confrontational, approach to presidential governance has meant absolutely nothing when it comes to changing the attitudes of many white voters. It’s in part the ancient mix of white suspicions and doubts about black competence, intelligence and ability, pure blind, naked bigotry, and unease with an African-American holding the world’s most visible and important political power position."
  • "It looks like Da Brick is a go at HBO. I hear the pay cable network has handed out a pilot order to the drama project about a young boxer from Entourage creator Doug Ellin, filmmaker Spike Lee, former boxing champion Mike Tyson and writer John Ridley. Ridley wrote the script for the pilot, which will be directed by Lee. Set in current-day Newark, NJ, nicknamed “brick city,” The Brick is described as a contemporary exploration of what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America and is loosely inspired by aspects of Tyson’s youth. Search is under way for an young back actor to play the lead."

Looking Good in Leather: True Blood S4, E10

This ep is called “Burning Down the House” – and if it means that they are going to keep actually moving the show plot points along, then we don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn! Jordan, Joe, and Alea join me this week for a surprisingly sad goodbye, post-breakup angst, and demented fantasy karaoke.

Slaughterfest Concludes

Jordan: When did Bill pick up these handy shooting skills?
Latoya: Oh Nan, that was really classic Buffy of you.  Pencil staking, ha!

Joseph: And Marnie just used the word slaves to refer to a race of people. Marnie, notsogood.
Jordan: Oh, the old Eric seems to be coming back. I wonder if he will show proper shame for the pathetic sappy creature he’s been the past couple weeks
Latoya: Finally, fairy powers re-emerge
Jordan: I know… Sookie really needs to train those up so they can be of some use
Latoya: And thank God, – I couldn’t take another week of baby Eric
Jordan: Call me a crazy feminist, but if I had powers like that in a place like BT, I would take some time to develop them. Seems like a more worthwhile investment in my safety than say playing house with one vamp after another
Latoya: @Jordan – right – isn’t there normally a scene where people learn to use their powers? In oh, every single superhuman thing ever.
Jordan: Then again, thinking about anything unrelated to her undead paramours seems beyond Sookie.
Joseph: I dont think I can take much more of The Sweet Kissy Corner Hour with Sookie and Eric.
Jordan: Wait I just saw a glimpse…ERIC!!!! The real ERIC! I love Nan always the PR Woman
Latoya: Right!  Let the glamouring begin!

Jessica and Jason, Post Hook Up

Jordan: Jessica, let’s not try to rationalize
Latoya: Jason is in leather.
Jordan: He’s turned to the darkside and has the wardrobe to prove it. We’re all grown up boys and girls here
Latoya: Oh lord, Jessica – Jason is trying to explain how important Hoyt is to him
Joseph: I think Allsaints must be sending them stuff.  Cause when I have half the wardrobe of a TV show, either I spend too much money or they have some sort of deal.
Latoya: Wait, wait, wait – Jason is asking to be glamoured, and she has the NERVE to get on her high horse?
Joseph: or both
Jordan: Oh yes, Jessica has taken flawed logic to the next level. If we are going to feel guilty, we’re going to feel it together dammit! Continue reading

Is the Black Dandy the “Civilized” Black Man?

by Guest Contributor Alex Jung, originally published at Fashion Mole

Nivea Ad
Late last week Nivea set the Internets atwitter with an ad showing a black man, with a shaved head holding a mask with an afro and facial hair à la Cornel West. The image was emblazoned with the tagline: Re-civilize yourself. A study in contrast, the white version of the ad had the message: Sin City Isn’t an Excuse to Look Like Hell. Other Nivea ads also show other white men – some with facial hair with clean edges, some without – with the simple slogan: Look Like You Give a Damn. Why does Nivea think that the slow crawl towards civilization for a black man requires shedding an afro and facial hair?

The problem, as many bloggers have pointed out, is that the ad relies on the trope of the savage black man, an idea as old as the nation that has only changed rather than disappeared over time. Today, there are “good” and “bad” black men – the former are what then Senator Joe Biden thinks are “articulate and bright and clean” and the latter are probably what he sees on the Music Television. It must have been quite a shock for Biden to see that then Senator Obama did not end his campaign speeches with Yo yo! 

The recent Times piece on black dandyism, “Pushing the Boundaries of Black Style,” which ran just a day before the Nivea controversy, has received a favorable reception. And yet for me, raises feelings of unease not unlike the Nivea ad. While the article is a celebration of the style and savvy of the bloggers of Street Etiquette, Travis Gumbs and Joshua Kissi, the article takes on a slight tone of wonderment I imagine Biden experienced when he saw this young, black man whip him during the Iowa caucuses. Continue reading

“Oops”: Vogue Italia‘s Slave Earrings

By Fashion Correspondent Joseph Lamour

“Slave Earrings” are in Vogue. Literally. According to the Italian fashion outlet, “Jewellery has always flirted with circular shapes, especially for use in making earrings. The most classic models are the slave and creole styles in gold hoops.”

Emphasis mine, ridiculousness… all theirs.

Two weeks ago, Vogue Italia found itself under a deluge of criticism for declaring “Slave Earrings” in fashion. Originally, they thought to qualify the name they gave them. “If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom. Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.” Does it go on to declare “necklaces with detachable chains,” “hillbilly slingbacks,” and “Holocaust tattoos” in fashion? None of that is me, by the way, this is taken from the 21 pages of comments, nearly all chiding the wording choice in English and in Italian.

Allow me to fill you in on the latest: Vogue Italia gave an apology earlier last week that was more like an “Oops!” than anything. The style bible’s editor, Franca Sozzani released a statement Monday that said, “We apologise for the inconvenience. It is a matter of really bad translation from Italian into English.” Again, emphasis mine, but let’s be honest, the emphasis should have been theirs. They continued, “The Italian word, which defines those kind of earrings, should instead be translated into ‘ethnical style earrings.’ Again, we are sorry about this mistake which we have just amended in the website.”

From the myriad of complaints, tweets, and articles that has inspired this fashion nightmare, it was pointed out the word “ethnic” translates to “etnico” and slave is “schiavo” in Italian. Completely dissimilar words.  So obviously, Sozzani’s statement needs to be taken with a… grain of salt. My thought is, in the surprise this wording… mistake… caused, they had to say something. Like equate ethnicity to slavery. Oops! I think Iman said it best to Style Bistro: “Slave does not make it ethnic. Mind you, it’s not lost in translation–the word slave, we know what it is. They might as well have called them n***** earrings.” Snap. We should know by now that it’s best not to anger Iman. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson would be none too pleased, either.

Really, these earrings do originate from the time of slavery, however… let me throw out an example. Right now, I’m wearing a Calvin Klein buckled leather bracelet. I am not wearing a Calvin Klein shackle cuff. See the difference, Franca? I know this all may be confusing, but maybe the word should have been edited out before released to the public, as editors are wont to do. And what if, (and this is completely hypothetical of course) the model on the site was black?

Now do you see why that term shouldn’t have ever, ever, ever have been used? I felt wrong even cutting and pasting another face into this. Imagine how we feel knowing that you wrote, edited, approved, coded, and posted the article without even so much as a “Uh… guys?”

As of last Wednesday evening, the post holds a message saying, nay, shouting:


Now, there’s a real apology. I think.

I so want to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, this isn’t their first language. Ignore the fact that it appeared in Italian as well. But, this is the same team that came up with mainstream fashion’s first all black issue. And they also started Vogue Black, even though I side-eye the name a little bit. I was talking to Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid about this, and she bought up something rather interesting:

Vogue Italia is doing the post-racial mulitple-oppression sell: under the guise of thinking they’re being all ‘We did the Black Issue, so we’re cool in doing this’ using the myriad of oppressions of women of color to sell some damn gold-tone hoop earrings named after…WoCs’ oppression! And that oppression, in many cases, melded sexual oppression (Antebellum US, the Japanese and Korean “comfort women,” etc.) This, coming from the magazine whose brand is all about the sexy framed as stylishness.”

Though they may not deserve it, as a gesture of good faith, I took a peek around Vogue Italia’s trends section. Maybe this was just a one-off terrible mistake. And I found another post about… Jungle Bracelets. My first inclination was to shout “Why!?!” But, false alarm, as I read, there was nothing really- “…manchettes in python for a night marked by tribal rhythms,” huh? “Turn your evenings into “jungle nights” characterized by tribal music, wild dancing and a bit of aesthetic rebellion,” you say?

Less malevolent, sure. But I’m uncomfortable anyway, and while relatively tame, is this something to be angry about? Maybe. But, to be honest, should I be bracing myself for racism on their website now? Slave Ethnic Earrings should be completely gone from the site as that “gesture of good faith.” As of Wednesday afternoon, the Ethnic Earrings post is still up, complete with the slide show.

It shouldn’t be, so let’s all just face the fuc— I mean facts. Face the facts. I’m sorry, it was a really bad translation. But I caught myself.

Image credit: Vogue Italia and Joseph Lamour

links for 2011-08-30

  • "Jim Crow segregation survived long into the 20th century because it was kept alive by white Southerners with value systems and personalities we would applaud. It’s the fallacy of 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' a movie that never fails to move me but that advances a troubling falsehood: the notion that well-educated Christian whites were somehow victimized by white trash and forced to live within a social system that exploited and denigrated its black citizens, and that the privileged white upper class was somehow held hostage to these struggling individuals.
    But that wasn’t the case. The White Citizens Councils, the thinking man’s Ku Klux Klan, were made up of white middle-class people, people whose company you would enjoy. 
  • "Following the events in Norway and PxC's growing protagonism in Spain, the blog Unite Against Fascism and Racism (Unitat contra el feixisme i el racisme [cat]) exposes the ideological similarities between Norway's murderer Anders Behring Breivik and Josep Anglada, which is based on the belief that European principles are threatened by Muslims and the effects of immigration.
    "The conflation of immigration and Islam is evident, clearly, in point 5 of the PxC Programmatic Declaration [es].  According to this document, globalization is associated with 'massive waves of illegal immigration,' which in turn, endanger the social well being and identity formation of the welcoming States." 
  • "Such parents are certainly more disadvantaged than suburban parents, but that's not the point: To be demonstrably superior, selective charter school students should outperform comparable students in regular schools. Perhaps they do, but that has yet to be shown. And there is now considerable evidence that both KIPP and the Success Academies have high attrition rates. Students who don't succeed are encouraged or required to return to regular schools. For selective charter schools, this may not be bad policy, but it vitiates comparisons with regular neighborhood schools that must take all comers, including students who rebel against learning, those with expensive and difficult-to-treat disabilities, and those who flunk out of charters."
  • Just. No. Words.–AJP

    "A photograph uploaded on Facebook of a white South African man posing like a hunter near an apparently lifeless body of a black child has created a furore as South African police try track him down.

    "The man has a Facebook user profile with the name "Eugene Terrorblanche," an apparent play on the name of Eugene Terreblanche, an extremist Afrikaner leader murdered last year, and has 590 'friends' as of Saturday. Authorities are yet to confirm the authenticity of the undated picture and have not ruled out the possibility of photograph manipulation."

  • This story has the full fauxpology. As with fauxpologies, color me unimpressed.–AJP 

    "The photo, briefly run on the Qantas Twitter site, was the result of a competition asking Australian fans to tell how they would show their support for the team and depicted two fans impersonating Fiji-born Australian team player Radike Samo at a Saturday night international game.
    "'We apologize that the photo of two Radike fans offended some of our followers,' Qantas said in a statement.
    "'We've spoken with Radike and whilst he is not offended we decided to remove the image.'"

On Interracial Dating – The Outside of the Constructs Panel (2 of 2)

Irene Bedard and Husband Deni

Welcome back to the Outside of the Constructs panel on Interracial Dating.

Our panelists are: Cecelia, friend of the blog and blogger at AnishinaabekweJulie, friend of Cecelia; Brandann, friend of the blog and occassional contributorLyza, friend of Cecelia; Andrew, blogger at KABOBFestMay, blogger at KABOBfest;Fatemeh, Racialious crew and Editor of Muslimah Media WatchEl, long time friend of the blog; andRichard, friend of Cecelia.

Since minorities are seen in different lights (and with different accompanying stereotypes), what types of reactions have people had toward you and your partners? How are white partners perceived, as opposed to minority partners? Were any partners considered “off-limits” or “forbidden?”

Cecelia: I have been fortunate to be in spaces where I have not had odd reactions towards me and my partners. Generally, people have been interested in my Ojibway/Anishinaabe heritage in a very respectful way. Friends of the past and current friends have been very mindful and culturally sensitive towards me and my partners. In some cases where there have been comments made about me or my partner we were quick to stop the assault before it got bad.

White partners weren’t perceived as good because generally these folks [as individuals] were no good. They often did not take ownership for their various privileges even though they said they would attempt to. Where as minority partners were seen as good because they were good people. No partners were considered as off limits.

Julie: When with white males, I would get the side-eye from other asians (they would be wary of me) but would get the approving nod from all whites, or other white/asian couples. Reactions from non-asian PoCs were along the lines of: “asian girl with white male, nothing new”. When cozy with other PoCs, I would be considered less than, different by anyone with oppressive tendencies, be they marginalized or not, and targeted.

White partners meant that I was less targeted for outright racist comments (but there was no end to the subtle ones). PoC partners meant that we were both targets (let the bulls out!), or that we were ‘so cute’ (let the condescension begin…).

White partners earned me the honorary white badge but since it’s not what I wanted, it didn’t matter. I preferred the approval of my asian peers. With asians, it was ok to be a PoC, and by extension, all marginalized bodies became visible. With whites, it was never ok to be unapologetically PoC/handicapped/marginalized except to provide exotic flavor.

Forbidden to date lesbian and very forbidden to be trans.

Brandann: We’re a military family, and I think that adds an extra layer of stereotype, if you’ll bear with me for a moment. One of the most common interracial couples among military families, at least in our circles, is White Man/Asian Woman, which carries so many ugly stereotypes that it has basically become a trope, in my mind. We are read as the opposite of that, since I am read as white, much to my irritation.

Among the military I think there is a construct of gender and masculinity that does not exist outside in the civilian world, and often Asian men become shunted into a very narrow box of this stereotype. I think “white” is certainly seen as superior, even with all the military’s efforts to be racially sensitive, and despite the fact that Asian men are the largest and fastest growing demographic in the military. A white woman and Asian man flip the stereotype and I’ve noticed a lot of people have, in my opinion, a difficult time accepting this.

May: I have been told that one of the biggest cultural taboos in regards to dating in the Arab American community is that of a relationship between an Arab female and a black male. Someone has even told me, “good luck trying to find an Arab guy who will marry you if you have been with a black man.” To further enforce the point, I know an Arab American female who “admitted” to dating a black male and made recipients of that information swear to keep the information mums lest it hurt her future marriage prospects. Although marrying someone who is white is also frowned upon, it is not on the same grounds for familial or cultural excommunication. Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The Mixed Race Panel (3 of 3)

Tyson and Shanina

Welcome back to the Mixed Race panel on Interracial Dating.  Our panelists are:

Phil Djwa, technologist; Jozen Cummings, creator of the Until I Get Married blog; LM, long time commenter and friend of the blog; Liz, friend of the blog and co-founder of VerySmartBrothasJen Chau, Founder and Executive Director of Swirl and co-founder of Mixed Media Watch and Racialicious; N’Jaila Rhee, the mastermind behind (link NSFW); Holly, contributor at FeministeKen, friend of the blog; and A.C., friend of the blog.

Unfortunately, often mixed people are seen as public property – the idea that anyone can walk up to a person and demand information on their parentage, background, nationality, or ethnicity.  A similar dynamic is also something seen in interracial dating, where a couple simply being together in public can prompt unwelcome verbal and nonverbal commentary from passerby. Why do you think it is considered socially acceptable to do these things?

Phil: The “where are you from? No, I mean originally?” question used to drive me nuts, but I’ve calmed down a bit and try to be a little more positive in responding to the curiosity in the question rather than the ignorance. But it really has happened less. Sometimes now it’s “what are you” but that is usually after someone knows me a bit. I’m happy to talk about my heritage if someone asks politely.

Jozen:  Not to toot my own horn, but I’m extremely comfortable in my own skin and since I look mixed, I think it throws some people for a loop. A lot of mixed people play this role of having some sort of identity struggle, or they like to play up all their ethnicities, but that’s not me at all. So if I’m around a bunch of black folks who are unmistakably black (and this is the case 99% of the time), and I’m not missing one beat, not acting like an outsider in anyway. This causes a person on the outside looking in to wonder what am I? When I break it down for them, the reaction I get is usually, “Oh, okay.” And that “Oh” is funny because it’s almost like they were wondering why I was acting the way that I do or talking the way that I do, whatever it is. The other thing is, the group of people who ask me most often who I am is black people. Without a doubt, black folks are the ones who ask me most, “What are you?” I usually chalk this up to them not seeing enough black people in their life to understand black people look all types of different from other black people, mixed or otherwise. So the question is understandable. When people ask me what I am, and usually that’s the way they say it “What are you?”, I just think to myself it’s because they’ve never seen someone who looks like me before. When I told my high school counselor I wanted to go to Howard University she said, “You know I always wanted to ask you, what are you mixed with?” So that’s kind of what I mean, I was comfortable in the choice I made for college, and I think that made my high school counselor with asking me a question that prior to, she was uncomfortable asking.

Liz: I think minorities have been treated like a commodity in this country long enough that it’s okay to talk to them any way you like.

LM: This tends not to occur to me as an individual until after I’ve begun some sort of conversation, and my voice, or the subject matter, or my manner, something other than my phenotype or shade of skin causes them to ask, “What are you?” or some variation.  I don’t mind.  I’ve gotten the question from when I was in elementary school, though back then I think it was more of an institutional question — a class learning from where people’s parents or other ancestors came.  (As I write this, I wonder first if my memory is right and second whether that sort of exercise would fly today (or if it’s commonplace).

In my relationships this has occurred but not much.  On the whole the public acknowledgement that I’ve noticed and my partners have discussed has been positive — a smile here and there, mostly.  There have been a handful of frowns over the years.  There was one time outside of Savannah, Georgia this past year when my wife and I saw outright rudeness that seemed based on our inter-racialness — people in a vacation condo complex turning their backs on us when we said hello.  But if anything we’ve encountered less of this than we’d have expected.

I don’t believe it’s socially acceptable at this point to react this way publicly.   Of course not everyone behaves in a socially acceptable way, and particularly in communities with less exposure to inter-racial couples I can imagine things being different.  And although I wish people in the United States — white people in particular — were better suited to talk about race publicly, doing so as a passerby ain’t the time.  I’m not against people being curious, but curiosity ought not be intrusive.

Jen: While I don’t always appreciate feedback or commentary from strangers, I have committed myself to anti-racism work and education. This means that I hold myself to a standard of no public fights, as little anger as possible, and mostly giving people the benefit of the doubt and trying to engage them. Looks and comments are the result of curiosity. And perhaps lack of exposure. You watch things to try to understand them. To study them. Sure, this feels rude sometimes, but I try to respond with kindness instead of hostility. If strangers look, I look back and smile. If strangers ask questions, I ask questions too. To “What are you,” I will reply, “I’m mixed, Chinese and White/Jewish – What did you think when you looked at me? And what are you curious about?”

N’jaila: People seem to think that my identity is up for argument. I had a former manager ask me to my face, “ Well , your father can’t be all that Asian, your too dark and big to be Asian.”  This man was mixed race himself, White and Puerto Rican.   Not only was this ignorant because there are millions of brown Asians and big Asians but the fact that he was trying to argue with someone about the circumstances of their birth. As if my existence is somehow a bit less valid because I didn’t come out some fair skinned choco-dipped geisha. There’s an unspoken rule that I have to be what people see me as.   I think that’s why I choose to identify as Blasian.  I’m not  a fraction of anything I’m a whole Blasian. Continue reading

Five DC Comics Characters We’d Rather See On Television Than Deadman

By Arturo R. García

DC Comics’ Deadman brought to television by the folks behind Supernatural? Makes sense, if the story holds up.

Much like SPN’s Winchester brothers, Deadman (aka ghostly acrobat Boston Brand) would give showrunner Eric Kripke another outlet for his horror/comedy stylings. Since Boston has to possess people to do anything in the physical realm, one can only hope a Deadman TV show, if it actually gets past the pilot stage, would actually feature more people who aren’t white.

But we wouldn’t bet on it.

Still, the biggest problem with Deadman is, before recent miniseries like Blackest Night and Brightest Day revived interest in him, DC played Boston as more of a “professional” guest-star, to be called upon for stories involving demons, posession and whatnot, crack wise with the core characters, then shuffle off back to the afterlife. And with DC’s “New 52” relaunch starting tomorrow, it’s a good time to highlight characters who have come into greater prominence than Deadman over the course of the past decade, only to get passed up for bigger media opportunities.

Continue reading