Video: Ta-Nehisi Coates Discusses Fear Of A Black President

Courtesy: The Atlantic.

By Arturo R. García

In “Fear of a Black President,” which appeared this past week in The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates takes on the entirety of President Barack Obama’s approach to racial matters during his tenure. Or, as Coates defines it, his lack of an approach.

Confronted by the thoroughly racialized backlash to Obama’s presidency, a stranger to American politics might conclude that Obama provoked the response by relentlessly pushing an agenda of radical racial reform. Hardly. Daniel Gillion, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies race and politics, examined the Public Papers of the Presidents, a compilation of nearly all public presidential utterances—­proclamations, news-conference remarks, executive orders—and found that in his first two years as president, Obama talked less about race than any other Democratic president since 1961. Obama’s racial strategy has been, if anything, the opposite of radical: he declines to use his bully pulpit to address racism, using it instead to engage in the time-honored tradition of black self-hectoring, railing against the perceived failings of black culture.

His approach is not new. It is the approach of Booker T. Washington, who, amid a sea of white terrorists during the era of Jim Crow, endorsed segregation and proclaimed the South to be a land of black opportunity. It is the approach of L. Douglas Wilder, who, in 1986, not long before he became Virginia’s first black governor, kept his distance from Jesse Jackson and told an NAACP audience: “Yes, dear Brutus, the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves … Some blacks don’t particularly care for me to say these things, to speak to values … Somebody’s got to. We’ve been too excusing.” It was even, at times, the approach of Jesse Jackson himself, who railed against “the rising use of drugs, and babies making babies, and violence … cutting away our opportunity.”

At the same time, though, he takes issue with Obama’s remarks following the killing of Trayvon Martin, saying his weighing in with empathy toward the Martin family and recognition that, if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon, took the case “out of its national-mourning phase and lapsed into something darker and more familiar—racialized political fodder. The illusion of consensus crumbled.”

As I’m still wading through the piece, I do feel the need to point out that, had Obama not said anything–or offered only encouragement that justice be served–that illusion would have crumbled anyway, from any direction. It’s not like Rush Limbaugh, The Daily Caller, or the conservative hate machine around them were waiting for that particular moment to bring out the torches; they would’ve just changed the vitriol to focus on some supposed callousness on his part.

“Trayvoning,” a meme too disgusting to dignify with a link, didn’t come about because of Obama’s remarks–it happened because there are thousands of people too insensitive and too emboldened by relative anonymity who can’t resist making jackasses of themselves online. No speech could have prevented it. As MacDaffy put it yesterday at The Daily Kos, “President Obama’s blackness does not ‘irradiate everything he touches.’ Racism does.”
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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Essence Revealed

By Andrea Plaid

Photo: Frederick V. Nielson II. Courtesy: Essence Revealed

When I saw my very first Brown Girls Burlesque show two years ago, my mouth was agape at BGB dancer Essence Revealed’s piece celebrating the life of Josephine Baker. To the sounds of the consummate performer’s live performance, Essence saunters onto the stage–really, her Josephine is strolling into her dressing room after a performance–in black tux, ‘tails, and top hat, with a newspaper in hand. Essence opens the paper to the audience, which shows factoids about Baker’s incredible life and takes off a part of her garb, as if undressing to go to sleep for the night. But this is burlesque, and Essence’s every move is all about the tease and that all-knowing smile as she also conveys the power Baker herself held over her adopted home of France and the world-outside-the-US through the power of her self-loving work expressed through her brown body. When Essence-Josephine lays her head down on the floor to exit this world, I, too, understood that Baker’s transition was of a woman of color who lived a gloriously full life. I slow-clapped–then shouted–my deep appreciation for what Essence brought to the audience through her sinewy, sublime performance, thankful for bringing Baker back to life just one more time to receive her just due.

Essence herself is all about living a gloriously full life. I asked her, via email, to discuss her life in burlesque and stripping, the larger discussions about race in both professions, and getting paid in both professions. Between her running-to-the-next-gig days she graciously answered them.

Of course, the basics: where did you go to school? What was your major? Have you always been so fabulous?

I studied burlesque at the Brown Girls Burlesque’s Broad Squad Institute.  I have a master’s degree in educational theater from NYU.  Fabulous, no–and I have the elementary through high school pics to prove it!  And even now anyone can look fabulous with good makeup and lighting. :-)  Being fabulous is an ongoing self-improvement job with new projects that show themselves daily. But thanks!

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Ugly Americans: A Look At The Worst Of #NBCFail

Courtesy: New York Observer.

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

NBC tried, it really did.

It’s easy to say that one shouldn’t let one network destroy the way we view the Olympics as a whole, but when you’re nearly out of patience by the end of the Opening Ceremonies, you know it’s going to be an interesting event.

But after a week or so to consider and collect our thoughts, it’s time to acknowledge the “best” of the worst of the network’s telecast of the 30th Summer Olympiad–if only because the network has the Olympics through 2020. This is a fact, a fixed point in time and space, that we in America are going to have to accept for another three sets of Games (Sochi, Rio, and Peyongchang).
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Tune In Next Week, He Says: The Racialicious Roundtable For True Blood 5.11

As Alan Ball said in the bonus material, the penultimate episode is when the audience is supposed to put their tray tables up and prepare for landing. Trouble is, with all these random plot arcs running around, we have no idea where we will end up. Joe, Carly, and Tami join me to discuss the set up for the bloodbath season finale.

Lilith Plays Mind Games
Latoya: So Lilith appeared to Bill as the savior. Why are these people so quick to trust their drug-induced hallucinations?
Joe: Because with religion, anything and everything is possible. The problem is, for a lot of folks, they take that fact and they run with it. Cue Bill.
Carly: I like that they have tied in this large part of religious history–people using drugs to become closer to God and often going way off the deep end. Doesn’t hurt that it makes for interesting visuals.
Joe: It makes you wonder why he’s so religious now, all of a sudden. He was a Christian in his human life, and I remember the episode where he goes to Gran’s church, but then there was no mention or hint of it, unless I’m forgetting something. Not even a “this might be why he’s gone all Jim Jones” flashback. Maybe it’s the power that comes with this particular religion? That, and the only rule seems to be to eat people.

Speaking Of Bill…
Latoya: Bill’s speeches are like religious demagoguery 101. He even pulled the super villain “take her somewhere else to accomplish this dastardly deed instead of bringing him to our amazingly safe fortress because clearly Jessica is acting suspicious but would never try to escape.”
Tami: Bill is really being a dick. I really need there to be some consequences for characters’ actions this season. Bill has done some heinous stuff. I hope they show the fall-out from that next season. For instance, showing the fractures in his relationship with Jessica. They cannot have him go back to being noble Bill Compton after this. (Ditto for murderous Terry Bellefleur.)
Carly: As much as I would love for all the people on this show to be held accountable for their actions, I will be shocked if that happens. Not that TV characters can hold onto their ‘history’ for very long, but how quick did they all forget about the panthers and Jason’s endless rape?
Joe: Especially since that happened like four days ago in their world. Continue reading

Racism Ain’t Natural: Skip Bayless, RG3, And White Fans

By Guest Contributors David J. Leonard and C. Richard King

Washington quarterback Robert Griffith III. Courtesy: The Grio/ESPN.

The Washington R*dskins (given the history and meaning of this term, we have decided to disidentify with its accepted name) sparked a minor controversy with their selection of two quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft. The franchise had given multiple draft picks to move up in the first round to select Robert Griffin III and then surprised many fans and pundits by picking Kirk Cousins, suggesting the latter was a developmental project, who would be groomed with an eye toward a future trade.

For a team hurting at almost every position, this move struck many as imprudent at best. Simply, the R*dskins decided to draft Griffin, a.k.a, “RG3,” last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, for being the best college football player in America. Despite their weakness at virtually every position, the selection of Cousins, who was less vaunted and certainly less heralded at Michigan State, raised eyebrows because some saw him as someone with tremendous upside and potential to start one day. This decision undercut Griffin as leader, as franchise player, and as the future from day one.

Stephen A. Smith (l) and Skip Bayless.

Enter ESPN pundits Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, who have emerged as the sports version of the old CNN show Crossfire.Without a quarterback controversy to speak of, Bayless has created one. As our combustible elements, and avatars of the sports punditry industry, Bayless and Smith are often a bigger story than the athletes himself

It is fair to say Smith is known for bringing a type of “blackness” to his commentary while Bayless paints himself as being “traditional” despite his unfair and unbalanced sports commentary. Bayless, long castigated for his unrelenting criticism of LeBron James and Terrell Owens as well as a fascination with media darling Tim Tebow, embodies the reactionary racial politics of today’s mainstream sports media.
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Claudia Kishi In Comic Retrospective

Yumi Sakugawa for Sadie Magazine

This one is for the BSC loving 90s kids in the house. Over at Sadie Magazine, Yumi Sakugawa wrote a visual love note to Claudia Kishi, all around badass and one of the unlucky kids of color stranded in Stoneybrook. Sakugawa expounds on why Claudia was so major in the pop cultural landscape, and imagines who Claudia would be now, in her early 30s. The style is endearing, and really made me wish for one for Jessie Ramsey. Overall, well worth the read.

(H/T Angry Asian Man)

Video: Help The Sioux Nation Buy Back Its Sacred Land

By Arturo R. García

Tomorrow is the deadline for an online fundraiser organized by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Native American blog Last Real Indians in an effort to buy about 2,000 acres of land in the Black Hills of South Dakota, an area known in the Sioux Nation as Pe ‘Sla:

The land is central to the Sioux way of life, Iron Eyes said. Not only is it the site where, elders say, the Morning Star slew a creature that had killed seven women and took their spirits to create theSeven Sisters constellation, but it’s still used for religious ceremonies to this day. However, he added, the tribe bears no ill will toward the current owners.

“I only wish that he would do what’s morally right and work out a deal to sell this property to its rightful owners,” said Iron Eyes, who filmed a YouTube video explaining the tribes’ case for buying back the land. “We shouldn’t have to buy back something that’s already ours. But, we’re adaptable.”

The goal is to raise $1 million online. As of Wednesday morning their Indiegogo campaign had amassed just over $180,000. One of their biggest fears, Iron Eyes said, was that the state would build a road through the land. A spokesperson for the South Dakota Department of Transportation said that Pennington County, in which the land is located, does have a project on the table calling for the expansion of an existing gravel road. But, tribes in the area, including the Sioux, have been consulted on the project, and the option not to build on the land must be kept on the table at all times.

UPDATE (from Last Real Indians Tumblr):

As you have noted,the Fight for Pe’ Sla Campaign Team has decided to extend our fundraising deadline in order to raise more funds towards our goal of $1 million dollars. We are in direct collaboration with the Leaders of the… Great Sioux Nations (Lakota/Dakota/Nakota) and have made this decision with their agreement as well. This is especially timely given the announcement yesterday, by the Sicangu Nation, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, of their allocation of $1.3 million towards saving Pe’ Sla. The auction still occurs on August 25, 2012. The tribes must have 10% up front, per the auctioneers website, but the rest of the funds must be paid within 30 days.

This change in our fundraising deadline is also timely given today’s press release by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Professor James Anaya. Professor Anaya “urged today the United States Government and the local and state authorities in South Dakota to address concerns expressed by the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples about an impending private land sale in the Black Hills region of the central-northern state, that will affect a site of great spiritual significance them.”

We are excited and hopeful about this new development! Your letters, phone calls, petitions, and emails have helped! Keep it up!

Please continue to help us fund raise and spread the word! A miracle is happening and you are part of it! We now have 17 days!

Pilamaye! Thank you!
Mitakuye Oyasin, We are All Related!
Chase Iron Eyes, Dana Lone Hill, Ruth Robertson-Hopkins, Sara Jumping Eagle

 

Four Reasons Buzzfeed’s ’34 Celebrities’ Post Missed The Mark

By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris

Finding the fails in Buzzfeed’s recent article, “34 Celebrities You Never Knew Were Multiracial” is truly like shooting fish in a barrel, yet I can’t resist going in on this ill-conceived list–a bold illustration that, despite post-racial protestations, having a biracial, black-identified Commander-in-Chief hasn’t made mainstream conversation about race a lick smarter. Or rather, it hasn’t made Buzzfeed staff writer Dave Stopera any smarter. He endorses four Race 101-level fallacies:
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