1-20-12 Links Roundup

In a passionate, sermon-like speech about building unity, King said she didn’t care if people were Hindu, Buddhist, Islamist, were from the North side or the South side, were black or white, were “heterosexual or homosexual, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender” — that all people were needed to create unity.

LGBT people who attended the rally said they were shocked that King – who has a long anti-gay past — actually acknowledged the community in a public speech, but said they were also glad because it shows people can evolve.

There was nothing voluntary about the punishment Chen and Lew experienced, and it was designed to alienate them from their peers, not create a path to solidarity. In Chen’s case at least, the program of isolation included being repeated called racial slurs like “gook,” “chink” and “dragon lady” by his tormentors (all of whom were white).

The more appropriate term for what Chen and Lew faced is targeted bullying — and it’s something that’s hardly limited to the military.

In fact, recent research suggests that young Asian Americans are facing a bullying epidemic. Last year, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a joint study showing that over half of Asian American teens said they’d been the subject of targeted abuse at school, versus around a third of blacks, Hispanics and whites.

The picture gets even fuzzier when you consider race and class. Most viewers understand that the housewives in Orange County and New York City are not the “real upper class,” because we know there’s a different kind of white upper class that we see represented elsewhere. The black upper class, though, is harder to find. Even the fictional representations of black affluence that were on air in the 1980s and ’90s have become less visible. Some of the most widely known and longest-running television shows featuring mostly black casts have told stories of affluence: the upwardly mobile entrepreneur on “The Jeffersons,” the doctor and lawyer parents on “The Cosby Show,” the mostly privileged college students on “A Different World,” the street-smart kid transplanted to a wealthy neighborhood on “Fresh Price of Bel Air.” These shows didn’t ignore broader discussions of race and racism: The Jeffersons addressed the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow that had profound implications for the characters’ poor beginnings; A Different World dealt with race, class, and gender relations head on, discussing fraught subjects like date rape, the ERA, HIV/AIDS, and the Clarence Thomas hearings. These shows set the bar high, not just in terms of diversity, but in regards to social commentary and humor generally. Still, by virtue of their affluence, most of the characters represented a narrow facet of the black American experience.

Today’s “Real Housewives,” by virtue of their excessive wealth rather than mere upper-middle class stability, represent an even narrower demographic. When one of the few shows that overtly portrays black wealth (“Basketball Wives” is another) is mostly a montage of “catfights” and shopping sprees, it is problematic. Without counterpoints, misrepresentations like these feed the narrative that black people “don’t deserve” or “can’t handle” money.

The complexity of race in America can even be addressed in two lines from the second season of “Treme.” Harley, a white street musician in a post-Katrina New Orleans, is robbed at gunpoint by a black teenager. As the teen flees, Harley says, “You’re making a bad choice, son.” The boy stops, turns around, replies, “I ain’t your … son” — and shoots Harley in the face. In under a minute we’re confronted with the history of white American paternalism and its many consequences.

“Parenthood’s” silence about its black characters’ blackness reflects our genuine desire for things to be different, but also our willingness to ignore the reality of the experiences of people of color in an eagerness to move ahead to post-racialism. This underlines two things: Things have changed, in that there’s a collective desire for equality. But the main problem remains: It is still a white playing field, with white main characters who want to enjoy a world without racism. They’re the ones who have decided to move on.

The beginning of the story is Arpaio’s anti-immigrant policies, according to Rubén Gallego, Arizona State Rep. District 16. He told NewsTaco that organization began around the sheriff’s bad policies, and galvanized with SB 1070, spurring widespread grassroots organization that culminated in not only protests, but political and voter registration campaigns. In the face of inactive Latino politicians, Gallego and others like him “cut their teeth” in elections, Democratic ones, since he noted that SB 1070 was the breaking point where Latinos realize that Republicans were not squarely on their side.

“That law is what people will remember for years. For the first time in a long time within a have our voting numbers to be able to match our ability to fund raises the community, as well as to be able to run campaigns, in order to win coalitions to win races,” Gallego told NewsTaco. “The genie is out of the bottle now, the question is how is everyone else going to react to the new reality of the Latino community that wants to be politically involved?”

  • Anonymous

    On the article about “Parenthood” — I thought that Haddie’s parents’ reaction seemed pretty realistic for upper-middle-class “progressive” white parents.  They didn’t want her dating Alex, and they tried really hard to find a reason other than his race for that.  (And there were plenty of reasons, starting with the fact that she was 16 and he was 19, and he had been living on his own for several years already.)  But there was a lot of, “No, I’m not objecting because he’s black, I’m objecting because he’s ….” that seemed like protesting a bit too much.  There was also a scene where Haddie’s younger brother, Max, who has Asperger’s and tends to say things that aren’t really socially appropriate, starts speculating on what Haddie and Alex’s kids would look like, and their parents get really embarrassed, but it’s not really clear whether their embarrassment is more about the fact that he’s speculating about kids (and thus sex) or about the fact that he just bluntly said that Alex was black.  I think it’s more the latter, since Alex is the one who does the, “No, no, it’s OK, you didn’t say anything wrong, Max,” thing.  So, fairly typical of my experience — they’re trying to be “colorblind” and don’t really get how that doesn’t actually work.