Black Freaks, Black F**s, Black Dy**s: Re-imagining Rebecca Walker’s “Black Cool”

By Guest Contributor Darnell L. Moore; originally published at Feminist Wire

15037_10151311871680791_1210328814_nEnter Scene: I am walking in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn—where we do more than die, by the way—rocking a close fade with two parts on the side, a full beard and mustache lined up perfectly, eyes protected by a pair of fresh chocolate browline frames (I was two blocks from Malcolm X boulevard, after all). I am donning a fitted button-up white shirt, closed off with a pink and gray striped bowtie, form-fitting charcoal gray blazer, dark blue kinda-skinny jeans, and a pair of hot pink and silvery gray kicks.

Passerbyer 1 checks out my footwear.

Passerbyer 2 offers up the obligatory, “Yo, son, your kicks are hot.”

Passerbyer 3 is looking at me like I’m way off, as if to say, “Really, you got on pink sneakers, sucka? That’s gay as hell. You are doing way too much!”

Passerbyer 4, my neighbor repeats, like he always does, “You cool, brother.”

My representation as a certain type of black man often transgresses the accepted boundaries of black masculinity. The ways I cut my hair, shape–or refuse to shape–my beard, style my clothes, walk, talk, and gesture tend to confound some folk and, on occasion, anger others because of my seeming transgressions. Sinning ain’t easy.

Indeed, some will stare at me as I make my way down any street rocking a beard, frames, “man bag,” and a little less than loose clothing because my gender presentation seems to be read as a sign of non-heterosexuality, deviance. In fact, most folk are okay with what they “see” until they notice that I am wearing something like hot pink (!) sneakers. According to some, a black man wearing hot pink sneakers, like a black woman wearing a suit, ain’t at all “cool.”

The notion of “black cool,” in particular, seems to be limited, limiting, and quite “straight” (as in hetero and rigid). I am thinking, for example, of one of the inspirations that motivated Rebecca Walker’s investigation of “Black cool.” She mentioned during an interview on NPR that an image of then-Senator Barack Obama exiting a black Lincoln Town Car during the 2008 campaign “was really, at that moment, the epitome of black cool.”

She went on to say that she was “drawn to that image because [she] wanted to decode it and to see where it fit into this Afro-Atlantic aesthetic.” And while that image is but one of Walker’s inspirations (and while her book, Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness, actually includes critical and beautiful essays that think through the gendering of “black cool”), that particular picture of Obama locates the quotidian “black cool” in a male-bodied, masculine, straight black man and leaves me to wonder: does coolness exist anywhere beyond black masculinity, maleness, and heterosexuality? As some of the writers in Walker’s Black Cool argue, I think so.

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Beauty In Color: Oscar Highlights

by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour

Quvenzhane Wallis and Halle Berry bond at The Oscars. Image via Buzzfeed.

We’re trying something new here at The R. In coverage of awards shows I’ve noticed fashion writers tend to completely ignore people of color, since there are so few nominated for the big awards. This holds true much more so for white-centric awards like The Oscars–less so for The Grammys. Unless you’re Halle Berry (and even then), beautiful people of color have to clamor for the spotlight. That’s where I come in.

There’s so much beauty in the world and, while I love Jennifer, Anne, and Jessica, I would like to shine a light on Inocente, Quvenzhane, and Octavia–some of the best dresses of the night. Beauty in color, under the cut.

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The Walking Dead Recap 3.11: “I Ain’t A Judas”

by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joe Lamour

Image via Spinoff Online and AMC.

Lots of moving chess pieces this week. I tend to dislike these discussion-heavy episodes, but a lot happened. So, let’s get straight to it, shall we?

The breakdown: Each week, a Walking Dead roundtabler or I will provide a recap the day after the newest episode airs. The next Friday morning a roundtable discussion of the episode is posted hosted by me, Joe, and a variety of guest commenters.

Spoilers for The Walking Dead 3.11 “I Ain’t A Judas” are under the cut.

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Apparently, People Have Beef With Quvenzhané Wallis

By Arturo R. García

We are not running The Onion’s tweet involving the misogynist slur about Quvenzhané Wallis here. Because she’s a nine-year-old girl and we’re not reprinting that language. (A screencap of the tweet can be found here.)

But for many fans and supporters of the Best Actress nominee, Sunday’s Academy Awards turned into a horror show.

Update: The Onion has posted an apology for its actions Sunday night. A transcript is available under the cut.

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Racialicious Review: Who And What Really Has A Place At The Table?

By Andrea Plaid

Via jonathanjphalperin.com

Via jonathanjphalperin.com

 

Taking a break from the Crush column to review one of my favorite kinds of movies–documentaries–but I promise to include a Crush alum to keep some continuity!

So, let me keep my promise: I saw CrushR Raj Patel in a celebrity-powered version of Food, Inc., the well-regarded exposé on the effects of agribusiness and the US government subsidizing it on people living in this country and Latin America, the other night. The documentary, called A Place At The Table–as powered by Top Chef‘s Tom Colicchio (and co-directed and produced by Colicchio’s spouse Lori Silverbush), actor Jeff Bridges, and musicians T Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars–takes Food, Inc.‘s initial nugget of criticism on how agribusiness and its federal subsidies helps create food insecurity to create a solid framework on exactly how it’s done, from the Reagan-era dependence on food charities to fill in the needs of food-insecure USians as the administration cut federal spending on food programs (the film states that the US had 200 food banks in 1980 but now there are 40,000 food banks, soup kitchens, and pantries) to pricing many people living in this country out of being able to get healthy food (according to the film, the relative price of fresh fruit and vegetables has gone up by 40% since 1980, while the price of processed foods has gone done by about the same percentage) to business policies (like the fact, says the documentary, that we subsidize the basic ingredients in processed foods but don’t subsidize fruits, vegetables, and whole grains because the producers tend to be small producers as well as food suppliers and business owners determining that it’s simply not cost-effective to make fresh produce available to certain locations because they’re considered “out of the way”).

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The Walking Dead Roundtable 3.10: “Home”

Hosted by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joe Lamour

TWD_GP_310_0829_0208

Gene Page. Via AMC.com.

Ghosts, psychosis, and the undead. As I outlined in my recap on Monday, things are completely normal here on The Walking Dead. Let’s take a look at the roundtablers’ thoughts. Ken Hwynn, Jeannie Chan, Kiki Smith, and NIkki Urban join me to chat about the episode.

The breakdown: Each week, a Walking Dead roundtabler or I will provide a recap the day after the newest episode airs. The next Friday morning a roundtable discussion of the episode is posted hosted by me, Joe, and a variety of guest commenters.
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Scandal Recap 2.15: “And Boom Goes The Dynamite”

By Kendra James

Kerry Washington in ABC’s “Scandal.” Image via Examiner.com

This was one of the more bearable (and by bearable, I’m only half-sure I mean “better”) episodes of Scandal this season. Meaning that, with that came the exposure of one of the major weaknesses secreted away in the show’s Writer’s Room: they’re having trouble seamlessly weaving in the procedural “Scandal of the Week” cases (that they, for some reason, feel obligated to produce) with the show’s main political intrigue-driven plot.

You can be a procedural-run NCIS or you can be a plot-driven Nashville. It takes a lot of talent and a primetime cable slot (or a neglected Thursday night 8pm blackhole on NBC) to pull off multiple genres. I’m not sure Scandal is there yet. Last night’s offering felt like two different episodes: one that dealt directly with the story and characters at hand and one that they just threw together to settle up whatever was left of Eric Maibus’ ABC contract from Ugly Betty.

SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT

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Racialicious Links Roundup 2.21.13

Conversations need to be had. But they’re not happening because the talking will be awkward, heated or uncomfortable. So, stupid me, I’ve been thinking about ways to start these dialogues. It seems to me that there’s a continuum of ways to talk about race, gender, class and other hot-button subjects. On one end, you have a sort of emphatic sincerity and on the other, you’ve got the sharp blade of satire.

The sincerity paradigm has manifested in things likeImitation of LifeGuess Who’s Coming to Dinner orMenace II Society. Works in this tradition try to authentically highlight aspects of real life to create an enlightening melodrama. There’s an assumption of good faith that’s key to the success of this kind of work. Satirical creations throw good faith out the window. Things like The White Boy Shuffle, Bamboozled or Chappelle’s Show throw darts at the polite silence of mainstream culture’s inequalities. You may laugh, sure, but it’s always nervous chuckles that come with engaging with work like this. To some degree, the audience is a target of the joke, too.

What about games? One game that gets the sincerity angle right is Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. It doubles as an earnest look at a moment in history and a game that draws on real-world racial dynamics to shape its mechanics. So there’s something on the sincerity end of the spectrum. But I think the issues swirling around sincerity are stifling increased diversity in game creators and characters. People don’t want to be taken the wrong way, especially if they want to make games that somehow touch on race.

In a recent interview with UK Channel 4, Tarantino stated his goals and interpretation of the Oscar-nominated film’s impact: “I’ve always wanted to explore slavery … to give black American males a hero … and revenge. … I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in a way they have not in 30 years.”

He went on, “Violence on slaves hasn’t been dealt with to the extent that I’ve dealt with it.”

My personal biracial experience growing up on both sides of segregated hoods, suburbs and backcountry taught me a lot about the coded language and arithmetic of racism. I was often invisible when topics of race arose, the racial adoptee that you spoke honestly in front of.

I grew up hearing the candid dirt from both sides, and I studied it. The conversation was almost always influenced by something people read or saw on a screen. Media portrayals greatly affect, if not entirely construct, how we interpret “otherness.” People see what they are shown, and little else.

It’s why my dad forced me to study and value history from an absurdly young age — to build a foundation solid enough to withstand cultural omissions from the curriculum and distortions from the media. It’s what led me to become a teacher of American and African history out of college. There is a glaring difference in outlook between those who have mined the rich, empowering truth about how we’ve come to be, and those who just accept that there’s only one or two people of African descent deemed worthy of entire history books.

If, like Tarantino, you show up with a megaphone and claim to be creating a real solution to a specific problem, I only ask that you not instead, construct something unnecessarily fake and then act like you’ve done us a favor.

Tuesday’s late-night TSN Sportscentre was hosted by Gurdeep Ahluwalia and Nabil Karim. There was a backlash on Twitter in 2012 when Ahluwalia and Karim, who are both brown men, debuted with the network. Tuesday was just as bad for comments that, rather than put a damning label on people, should just be called dumb.

One has to wonder where people are coming from when they cannot handle having two brown men narrating sports highlights. One can understand a disappointed reaction upon tuning in and not seeing the familiar faces of funnymen Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole at the anchor desk. But how does it go from that to this?

The report, released on Wednesday, said that the disappearances of some 149 people, many of them civilians, followed a pattern in which security forces detained them without warrants at checkpoints, homes or workplaces, or in public.

When families ask about their relatives, security forces deny that they were detained, or urge family members to look at police stations or army bases.

The group criticised former president Felipe Calderon for ignoring the problem, calling it “the most severe crisis of enforced disappearances in Latin America in decades.”

The report was a grim reminder of the dark side of the war on drug cartels that killed an estimated 70,000 people during Calderon’s six-year presidency. Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s current president, has vowed to take a different approach and focus on reducing violent crime and extortion rather than attacking the cartels directly.