Month: July 2012

by Guest Contributor Aditi Surie von Czechowski

Recently, the New York Times has been beefing up its coverage on India.

Presumably, there is no quality journalism about India that isn’t produced by an American news outfit. Associate Managing Editor at the Times Jim Schachter notes “…I don’t want to cast dispersion [sic], but there is not a great media diet for the non-resident Indian.” The assumptions embedded in his statement are staggering. What would a “great media diet” look like? Is it only constituted by bourgeois forms of media consumption? Are NRI’s unable to seek out a “great media diet” for themselves? Must they be spoon-fed by the venerable New York Times? It appears that knowledge about India from India (or the Indian diaspora) just doesn’t cut it.

In addition to the new blog entitled “India Ink,” which has been operational for just under a year, I’ve seen an uptick in articles on India recently–a very unscientific and cursory perusal of the more recent articles reveals news on “dirt-poor farmers,” sex crimes, and corruption, or about how India is a growing economic powerhouse. This is of course, followed by discussions of how India is “between two worlds,” with respect to “tradition” and economic disparity–with no indication about how neoliberalism is complicit in the widening income gap, not just in India, but worldwide. Combined with Nick Kristof’s regular martyring operations to rescue underage trafficked prostitutes in Kolkatan brothels, what we have here is a consistent picture of an India that is not yet “fully modern,” informed by the liberal discourse of rights and progress. It seems that the New York Times will never, ever tire of incessantly replicating imperial tropes.

So, I was naturally curious to see whether there might be an alternate, less polarizing narrative about India when I came across this New York Times Modern Love column; a Canadian woman’s account of her trip to India and how she (maybe) fell in love with an Indian man nearly twice her age. At first pass, I found myself caught up in her stylish prose. But there was something about her essay that unsettled me: Jeong’s writing is of a piece with that familiar eroticization of India–Orientalist imaginings of the lushness of nature combine with the well-worn tropes of India as chaotic, as a seductive and sexual place of pure experience, spirituality and true self-knowledge, with sinewy yet docile natives. If I had a penny for every time a (usually white and almost always North American or European) person has gushed to me about how much they love India because they found God or themselves there/how it was wild and filthy and beautiful all at the same time, I’d have a serious amount of change by now. Read the Post Modern Love In Mumbai’s “Wild West”: A Critique Of Orientalist Fantasies In Contemporary Travel Narratives

July 31, 2012 / / Quoted
July 30, 2012 / / fashion

By Andrea Plaid

I knew I was “pro-choice” since about the age of ten. I remember watching the nightly news at my aunt’s house (this was in the late 70s), and there was a segment on about the abortion debates. I don’t remember the images, just the words, “a woman has the right to bring a child into the world.” I thought no truer words were spoken and, thus–with some permutations, like understanding the nuances of “pro-choice/pro-reproductive rights” and “reproductive justice” and moving my thinking toward the latter–I’ve stayed in that stance ever since.

And–yowza!–I remember conversations my mom and I would have about it throughout my ‘tween and teen years. I told my mom–she was the only grown person I could talk to about this–that I wasn’t going to have kids, full stop, and would seek an abortion if necessary in order to remain childless. (I thought my love life at that time would consist of a series of lovers, none of whom I knew I wouldn’t want to be attached to via a child. A husband? Yeah, perhaps, but I thought the lovers thing sounded infinitely sexier in my head.) Mom wasn’t hearing any of this. And her trump card in this argument? “Only white women kill their children. We”–meaning Black women–“don’t do those things.” I didn’t know how to argue against respectability politics then. I just knew that it wasn’t going to by my life, dammit.

And I knew not every Black woman believed what my mom believed about abortion and its role in our lives.

So, imagine my joy when I saw Faye Wattleton.

Faye Wattleton. Courtesy: Black Enterprise Events

Read the Post Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Faye Wattleton

The summer heat is closing in, and this season drags on. Each week, we lose more roundtable members. For episode 5.7, “In the Beginning,” only Joe, Tami, and Alea are with me to share their thoughts on an increasingly dull season.

Sookie’s Fae Powers
Joe: Half fae? That’s a marked increase from the books of about 30%.
Alea: There has to be something else that makes her special. Just being half-fae doesn’t seem to be enough.
Latoya: Be interesting if the vamp who killed her parents was Bill. Or maybe Eric.
Joe: It will be. That’s the only reason they aren’t showing the face. She’ll find out as her and Eric have sex up the stairs again, cue crying, woe-is-me stances, and the like.

The Hate Group, Revealed

Joe: “Lamestream media?” I’ll take “Go-to GOP Satiric Phrases” for 100, Alex.
Alea: This whole scene feels like such a cheap shot at rural Southern folk, a group the writers seem to think of as “real racists.”
Joe: This hate group seems like a bunch of whiny idiots. And they don’t even know why a hate group is called a hate group. I really hope they aren’t going to attack Jessica.
Latoya: Let’s discuss this hate group a bit more. Because WTF. What did they do, watch a couple old eps of Jerry Springer and pull together a plot arc around it?
Joe: Yes, lets. I love how they stuck in a token black guy (I see you, Damien from Harry’s Law) so that the hate group doesn’t read “racist” but “supernaturalist”. P.S. I’m totally claiming the supernaturalist.tumblr.com.
Alea: Token black guy, token hapa-looking guy. We finally get to see two types of PoC in a room together and they’re exercising their agency by being in a hate group [that’s all about love]. Clayton Bigsby they are not. Can the title of this roundtable be “O Hai, Shark! I’m Jumping You: Alan Ball Has Lost His GD Mind”? Read the Post Close To The End: The Racialicious Roundtable For True Blood 5.7

July 27, 2012 / / art
July 26, 2012 / / asian

by Guest Contributor Terry K Park, originally published at Hyphen

Celine Parreñas-Shimizu begins her latest book, Straitjacket Sexualities: Unbinding Asian American Manhoods in the Movies, with a close reading of the controversial “Gay or Asian?” photographic spread from the April 2004 issue of Details. For those who need a refresher, the spread featured an Asian American male model accompanied with captions that conflated stereotypes of Asian American and gay men, such as this gem: “One cruises for chicken; the other takes it General Tso-style. Whether you’re into shrimp balls or shaved balls, entering the dragon requires imperial tastes.”

As you can imagine, this recycling of well-worn racist and homophobic images sold as “satire” did not sit well with a lot of folks, especially Asian American men, for whom this “straitjacketed” representation of Asian American male sexuality was a reminder of the many ways in which Asian American men have historically “fallen short.” But this crisis of masculinity, Parreñas-Shimizu warns, “must not lead to solutions that actually deepen and reemphasize Asian American masculinity as lacking such that the presumed and unstated racial problem is really the queer and the feminine.” Instead of beating up other men or conquering women to lick racial wounds, Parreñas-Shimizu wants us to consider “ethical” manhoods in which Asian American male sexuality is re-defined as the care for self and care for others.

Where can we find these alternative masculinities? In the same site of representational injury: the cinema. Parreñas-Shimizu, a professor of Asian American Studies at UC Santa Barbara, takes her readers on a critical tour of Asian American films, characters, and actors past and present such as James Shigeta, Bruce Lee, and the Hmong American actor Bee Vang from Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino. In fact, a fan of her work, I hope to work with her next year, on a fellowship at UCSB. I sat down with Professor Parreñas-Shimizu last March during the 2012 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, where she served as a respondent for a panel on Asian American media, to talk about her new book, the joys and challenges of being both an academic and a filmmaker, and of course, Jeremy Lin. Read the Post Ethical Manhoods: Interview With Professor And Filmmaker Celine Parreñas-Shimizu

July 26, 2012 / / african-american