Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez

By Andrea Plaid

Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez. Image provided by the interviewee.

Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez. Image provided by the interviewee.

When it comes to film editing, it’s about the cut, and this week’s Crush, Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez, is one of the most respected–and coolest–editors in the business.

Gonzalez-Martinez has worked with director Byron Hurt (the award-winning Soul Food Junkies) and Vin Diesel (yes, that Vin Diesel), among other directors. Here’s the Diesel/Gonzalez-Martinez short called Los Bandoleros, a prequel reuniting the Fast And Furious crew:

Los Bandoleros from Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez on Vimeo.

Gonzalez-Martinez is a director, too: she helmed the documentary, Bragging Rights: Stickball Stories, about the sport dubbed “the poor man’s baseball.” She’s currently directing comedy shorts for T&A Flicks, a production company she co-founded, as well as running her own production company, LaSone Studio.

And did I mention she’s a gracious and great interviewee? She took time out to answer a few questions about “the invisible art,” the effect of digital technology on editing, and how race and racism can creep their way into the profession.

Continue reading

Scandal Recap 2.17: “Snake In The Garden”

By Kendra James

Via. Broadwayworld.com

Via. Broadwayworld.com

Fatherhood was the theme of the night on this week’s episode. Fitz is horrible at it; Hollis wouldn’t know his own daughter’s ear from a clay prop; Quinn’s dad is having a birthday; Cyrus is most definitely not being cheated on by the co-father of his child, no matter how poorly he’s phrasing it. It’s just another week on Scandal.

Continue reading

The Racialicious Links Roundup 3.28.13

It looks like the media found a new group to throw under the bus this week: single moms.

I really just want to say…keep our names out your mouth, yo…but I’m going to take a more diplomatic approach.

After The National Marriage Project released a report detailing the pros and cons of delayed marriage, a flood of articles emerged tackling the “crisis” of unwed mothers.

The Wall Street JournalThe AtlanticThink Progressand a slew of blogs published essays discussing the decline in marriage rates and the rise of single parent households and what it means for America. In case you’re wondering, we’re doomed.

I am recommending that we close 54 schools because I believe, and I know that the Mayor believes, that we should not invest in buildings; we should invest in our children’s education. This is not about numbers on a spreadsheet for me. This is far more personal and close to the heart. This is about our children. This is about ensuring that they have a chance to succeed.

While some have called my recommendations racist, the true crime would be to continue to allow our children to attend schools not equipped to help them reach their God-given potential.

For too long, children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated. They have been denied the resources they need to succeed in the classroom. And in far too many cases, these children are black and brown. They are trapped in underutilized, under-resourced schools. They are stuck because no one took the decisive, responsible and progressive action necessary to better their education. We cannot, and I will not, bury my head in the sand and pretend that there is a level playing field for all our children.

If we are to decry inequality, if we are to teach our children tolerance and humanity; if we are to teach our children the principles of equity and democracy, how can we stand by while thousands of children are deprived of the resources they need to have a fighting chance?

As a former teacher and a principal, I have lived through school closings. I know that we have a difficult road ahead. I know that this is painful, but in my 40 years as an educator, I have never felt more certain that we need to take this action now.

The always-inquisitive Jada Pinkett-Smith recently posed a question that has many people scratching their heads and some folks outright upset. In short, she’s wondering if black women ask to be represented in mainstream media, on the covers of magazines like Vanity Fair, shouldn’t white women be represented on the covers of traditionally black magazines like EssenceEbony and JET?

The answer? Yes and no.

It’s not enough to have this discussion without a little bit of context. We didn’t come to this dilemma out of nowhere. There is a long, difficult history that informs our current dynamics around race that can’t and shouldn’t be overlooked. This country has a long history of exclusion and the many movements for equal rights and access including the women’s movement and the Civil Rights movement (both of which black women fought in) reminds us that every person is not considered deserving and some of us had to, and still have to, fight for representation.

Magazines like Ebony and Essence were created from a need for black people to see ourselves featured prominently and positively. Ebony, which was founded in 1945, aimed to focus on the achievements of blacks from “Harlem to Hollywood” and to “offer positive images of blacks in a world of negative images.” Back then it was rare for mainstream magazines like LIFE and LOOK to feature black people in a non-discriminatory way. During a time when blacks were fighting so diligently for equal rights, it must have been a devastating blow to morale to be disparaged in the folds of corporate media. We’ve seen other marginalized communities like the LGBT and fat communities create their own media for fair and just representation. This plight is not exclusive to black people.

Nearly half are isolated for 15 days or more, the point at which psychiatric experts say they are at risk for severe mental harm, with about 35 detainees kept for more than 75 days.

While the records do not indicate why immigrants were put in solitary, an adviser who helped the immigration agency review the numbers estimated that two-thirds of the cases involved disciplinary infractions like breaking rules, talking back to guards or getting into fights. Immigrants were also regularly isolated because they were viewed as a threat to other detainees or personnel or for protective purposes when the immigrant was gay or mentally ill.

The United States has come under sharp criticism at home and abroad for relying on solitary confinement in its prisons more than any other democratic nation in the world. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement places only about 1 percent of its jailed immigrants in solitary, this practice is nonetheless startling because those detainees are being held on civil, not criminal, charges. As such, they are not supposed to be punished; they are simply confined to ensure that they appear for administrative hearings.

In the weeks leading up to this 10-year anniversary of the 2003 war there has been precious little said about actual women’s rights in Iraq. Media venues and screens of all sorts instead are in full gear discussing feminist dilemmas in the US, from Sheryl Sandberg’s need for powerful women to lean in, to whether women – that fantasmatic unspecified category – can “have it all”, or “not”.

These are messy times we live in. Wars are said to end (and they really don’t) and the war/s on women across the globe – from Congo, to Egypt, to Afghanistan, to the US Republican party – are not counted amongst them anyway. There is much noise about Sandberg of Facebook fame telling women to lean in – meaning to stay at the table and persevere – to get top leadership roles, while most women here and elsewhere have no chance for the top rungs of power. Do not be confused by the fact that Secretary of States Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hillary – who leans in readily – spoke on behalf of women’s rights while getting little in return.

It is problematic and troubling that Sandberg readily claims to be a feminist, without qualifying that her kind of feminism is corporatist and way too exclusionary. Her notion of “true equality” requires more women to be at the top – in leadership positions in government and the corporate structure. She supposedly believes that these women can change the world for the rest of women, and men. But, so far, they have not done so in meaningful ways. Shall I remind us of Madeleine Albright’s famous statement when asked about US sanctions against Iraq that endangered the lives of 100 of thousands children? She said: “We think the price is worth it.”

So what is a girl or woman to think? Hillary finishes up her stint as Secretary of State and is lauded as one of the best, ever. She is acclaimed for her “women’s rights” foreign policy agenda and the gratitude of women worldwide. Little is said about the imperial stance of her framing, or the gender violence that US policy has triggered and continues for women across the globe under her watch. Women in Iraq, and Afghanistan and Egypt are standing up, what Sandberg might term leaning in, but against patriarchal practices that US policy is implicated in.

Trigger Warning before the next selection

What’s so scary about Ross’ line is that this is something that a good number of men and boys actually do. Maybe a rap lyric won’t inspire an impressionable young dude to go and try to flip a couple keys, but normalizing this sort of rape? I see it. I see it and it scares me.

Because he’s tied to a major label and because the rape reference was so blatant, it’s likely that Ross will issue some sort of apology or come forward to say that it was just a joke—“Don’t really go out and do that now, y’all!” To that, I’d say…the title of his last studio album was God Forgives, I Don’t and, well, that’s one thing I have in common with the  ex-cop. Not unless he commits himself to actively working to change his tune, and if that happened, he probably wouldn’t be signed to anyone’s major label anymore. So while this sister is praying for him and urging him to be some positive person that I’ve never observed him to be during his rap career, I just hope he goes away and fast.

Meanwhile, On TumblR: Still No Justin Timberlake, Y’all?

By Andrea Plaid

Justin TimberlakeI know some Racializens hold, at best, a complicated love–and some of y’all hold an uncomplicated disdain–for performer Justin Timberlake. In one of this past week’s most liked/reblogged excerpts on the R’s Tumblr, Colorlines’ Jamilah King seems to have echoed that sentiment:

With production by Timbaland, The Neptunes and P. Diddy, Timberlake’s solo debut, “Justified,” thrived on his novelty: He was the white boy with the bleached blonde fade and vague hip-hop swagger who could really sing the black music he unabashedly recorded. Image-wise, he picked, chose and performed suave and often provocative black masculinities embodied by the likes of James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Prince. For that he was richly rewarded; the album sold more than 7 million copies worldwide and he won two Grammys, ironically for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

But when shit hit the fan after the 2004 Super Bowl when he exposed Janet Jackson’s nipple on live television, he was able — after making a public apology on CBS — to easily revert back in the public’s imagination to the wholesome white boy who made pop songs for teenage girls. And that’s what becomes tricky with Justin, that his whiteness acts as both an entryway into a popular culture and a buffer against its criticisms. Janet’s career, on the other hand, stagnated. (Black comedy legend Paul Mooney famously dubbed the scandal her “n*a wakeup call.” And Chris Rock blamed her exposed “40-year-old breast” for creeping censorship in American television.)

Justin wouldn’t likely have that musical freedom without his work in very white Hollywood. Despite early, notable flops (“Black Snake Moan,” “Alpha Dog”) he’s been able to build a movie career, generating Oscar buzz by playing Sean Parker in the ”The Social Network,” doing raunchy, satirical comedy opposite Cameron Diaz (“Bad Teacher”), and straight-ahead romantic comedy opposite Mila Kunis (“Friends With Benefits”). Without Hollywood, his wedding to Jessica Biel might not have landed them both the cover of People magazine. He’s also hosted “Saturday Night Live” five times, a testament to his comedic chops and a larger-scale Hollywood visibility that he wouldn’t likely have access to without his whiteness.

See who and what else Racializens get complicated about on the R’s Tumblr!

Voices: On Adria Richards

Former SendGrid “developer evangelist” Adria Richards. Image via butyoureagirl.com

Let’s begin with Adria Richards’ own words.

Have you ever had a group of men sitting right behind you making joke that caused you to feel uncomfortable? Well, that just happened this week but instead of shrinking down in my seat, I did something about it an here’s my story …

Yesterday, I publicly called out a group of guys at the PyCon conference who were not being respectful to the community.

For those of you visiting from Hacker News from the tweet and from this post, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the context.

Richards tweeted a picture of two men near her who joked about “dongles” and “forking repos” during the conference. She informed conference staff, she said, after seeing a picture of a girl who took part in a coding workshop during the event made her worry about the environment created by the “forking” jokes.

The situation degenerated when one of the two men–neither of whom she identified–was fired by his company. As TechCrunch reported, the unnamed employee apologized for the original joke on Hacker News, but also noted Richards’ platform:

Adria has an audience and is a successful person of the media. Just check out her web page linked in her Twitter account, her hard work and social activism speaks for itself. With that great power and reach comes responsibility. As a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have 3 kids and I really liked that job.

Shortly thereafter, Richards was the target of a string of personal and professional attacks, including the posting of her personal information online, death threats, slurs, accusations of “misandry”, and even attacks against her employer, Sendgrid.

Later, Sendgrid CEO Jim Franklin announced that the company had terminated Richards, saying, “her actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite.” The original incident was glossed over, and the attacks against both the company and its own employee were not addressed at all. Franklin closed comments on his post on Monday.

The conference also altered its code of conduct to forbid public shaming, requiring future disputes to be reported to PyCon staff. There is no mention, however, of what happens if there are conflicting accounts of an incident or if convention staff disagrees with a person’s assessment of something as offensive or triggering. Is what happens at PyCon supposed to stay at PyCon from now on?

Over at Shakesville, Melissa McEwan also contributed to the conversation on Twitter, starting the #IAskedPolitely tag, where several people shared their stories of being told they were “too sensitive,”  to get over it. To deal. Stories of being silenced.

Meanwhile, Colorlines reported that Richards’ firing might not hold up in the legal arena, as the argument can be made that she was basically sacked for acting as a whistleblower. But those accounts and this fact are both seemingly lost on the increasingly outraged wave of tech enthusiasts who have seemingly seized the moment to “defend their territory.” Below we’ll hear from some people on the other side of the debate.

TRIGGER WARNING for some of the entries under the cut.

Continue reading

Race + Comics: On Green Lantern’s Near-Death Experience

By Arturo R. García

John Stewart, the Green Lantern from Warner Brothers’ Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series.

There’s a stink surrounding DC Entertainment’s alleged intention to kill off John Stewart last week, and it sticks out when you consider this ostensibly non-related promotional item: the company is now pushing a digital-only book based on the adventures of Batman. Specifically, the Batman of 1966:

“The juxtaposition of offering a retro “Batman 66″ comic as a current and modern digital first title is fun,” said DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson.

“DC Entertainment is the most prolific producer of digital first comics and, as we work to create new and compelling content, this is a great way to also preserve the legacy of our characters.

“It’s exciting to roll out the new Batman 66 comic as part of this bigger initiative with our Warner Bros Consumer Product partners.”

DC has previously released digital-first television tie-ins based on “Arrow” and “Smallville.”

Again, there’s no direct link between the company’s digital division planning to resurrect this version of Batman and the DC Comics editors wanting to off the incarnation of Green Lantern that managed to gain mainstream acceptance without being involved in a Hindenburg of a motion picture. But what it does tell us is this: the company would rather court fans of a nearly 50-year-old television show–one synonymous with the cheesiest stereotypes about comic books as a medium and the fandom surrounding it–than the fanbase of a critically acclaimed television show that was on the air less than a decade ago.

Gee, I wonder why that could be?
Continue reading

On Lean-ing In

by Latoya Peterson

lean-in_custom-575cb1cc7e2e0e704abfffbc2a0ce498dafad0f8-s2

Sheryl Sandberg currently owns the news cycle. All we’ve heard for weeks are critiques of her new book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Any possible angle about the book has been covered (see here, here, here, here, here, and criticism of the criticism)–except the most obvious one. While many of Sandberg’s critics point to the failure to engage with class as a key failing of the book, most of the coverage focuses on Sandberg herself. And while much has been made about whether Sandberg is too privileged to accurately shed light on the lives of all kinds of women, the voices of women across race and class lines are once again erased from the conversation.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to explore the topics in the book. We will host perspectives on Lean In, but also why women of color leave corporate environments in favor of forging our own paths in entrepreneurship. And we’ll look at what happens when Leaning In just isn’t an option.

We’ve asked Farai Chideya, Tami Winfrey Harris, Christina Xu, Adria Richards, Carolyn Edgar, Kishwer Vikaas, Andreana Clay, Flavia Dzodan, and many others to weigh in with stories, essays, and interviews that will be published here over the next two weeks, so watch this space.

Related:

Is Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” The Next Great Feminist Manifesto? [Ms.]
The TechCrunch ‘Lean In’ Roundtable, Part 1: Controversy, Fear, And How To Fight It [TechCrunch]
‘Lean in’? For Millennials, the question is what are we leaning toward [MHP]

Earlier:

Women of Color and Wealth Part 1, The Scope of the Problem;
2, Looking at the Wealth Gap; 3, Starting Points and Class Jumping; 4, Measuring the Intangibles; 5, Looking at Outliers and Outsiders; 5.5, Consumption and the Pressure to Shop

The Problematics Of The Fake Harlem Shake

[Editor's note: We know...we know...enough with the Harlem Shake! This dissection by Sezin Koehler was just too good not to share. Consider this a coda to our discussion of the controversy.]

by Guest Contributor Sezin Koehler; originally published at Sociological Images

1

 The Harlem Shake is a syncopated dance form that first appeared on the New York hip-hop scene in the early 1980s.  Here is what it looks like:

In 2012 music producer Baueer created an electronic dance tune, unfortunately calling it The Harlem Shake. Baueer’s song inspired an Internet meme in which people rhythmlessly shake their upper bodies and grind their hips in a tasteless perversion of the original dance.  For example:

This fake Harlem Shake meme has become so ubiquitous that it has been “performed” by the English National Ballet and gone further globally with a video from the Norwegian army, and in Tunisia and Egypt, where the song and imitation dance has become a protest anthem.

The irony of an African-American cultural relic being whitewashed to the point where other people of color perform its bastardized version is not lost, and this takes on a whole new level as teams with majority African-American members such as the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets add to the fake Shake canon. Personally, I’ve been “video-bombing” anyone I see incorrectly referring to the new version as the Harlem Shake with this:

A major problematic of this meme is that it takes an already marginalized group in America–one whose history and culture has often been appropriated and co-opted in fetishistic ways by the white majority–and makes a mockery of not just them, but an entire dance tradition.  This is not lost on residents of Harlem, many of whom recognize cultural appropriation and malrepresentation when they see it:

In spite of a number of calls online from African-American writers, artists, scholars, and supporters like myself to bring attention to the real Harlem Shake, every day there is instead a new group adding to the misappropriated dance. When you Google “The Harlem Shake” you must scroll through pages before you reach any posts about the actual hip-hop tradition.

This literal erasure of black culture and its replacement with an absurdist movement and meme needs to be considered in light of African-American oppression and institutionalized racism in the United States. Supplanting the sinuous artistry of the Harlem Shake with frenetic styleless arm-flailing and hip-thrusting is yet another brick in a grand wall of symbolic and structural violence that further relegates an entire culture to the margins, both on and offline.

As the Harlem residents said in response to the meme: “Stop that shit.”

P.S. Here’s how to actually do the Harlem Shake. 

Sezin Koehler is a half-American half-Sri Lankan informal ethnographer and novelist living in Lighthouse Point, FL.