Some Doctor Who Fans Like Their Racism Bigger On The Outside

By Arturo R. García

Promotional poster for “Doctor Who.” Image via crimsontear.com

Calling this past season of Doctor Who uneven might be doing it a favor. Presented as two separate seasons marked by a change in companions for the Eleventh Doctor and capped by the prelude to the show’s 50th anniversary special in November, critiques of the show under Steven Moffat’s watch got louder than ever. That discussion, we hope, will only get louder when Doctor Who and Race is released in August.

Edited by Dr. Lindy Orthia — who has published several academic works dealing with the shows including one on Who’s “inability to acknowledge the material realities of an inequitable postcolonial world shaped by exploitative trade practices, diasporic trauma and racist discrimination” — the anthology will feature more than 20 essays explicitly tackling several aspects of the show’s presentation (and, one presumes, lack thereof) regarding issues regarding racial issues.

Naturally, some people are out to silence her efforts before the book’s even released. Warning: Misogynist language just under the cut.
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Open Table Call: On Race and Arrested Development

By Arturo R. García

The cast of “Arrested Development.” Image via jta.org

Like a lot of people this holiday weekend, I powered through all 15 episodes of the fourth season of Arrested Development. (Apparently I’m one of just 10 percent of viewers who finished the whole run by sundown. I don’t know if this is an honorific or a red flag.)

And as it turns out, there’s quite a bit to go through as regards the series’ treatment of people who aren’t the Bluths. But I want to try something a little different from our open threads — I’d like to crowd-source some reactions to some of the various depictions we saw this year. Spoilers and general guidelines under the cut.
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Diversity at Wharton

Image courtesy of Jack Duval on Flick

Image courtesy of Jack Duval on Flick

By Guest Contributor S. L. Huang; originally published at slhuang.com

At my sister’s graduation Sunday, they flashed up on a screen the name and city of origin for each student in the roll call.

My mother and I were both very impressed at the number of international students.  There were students from Nicaragua, Guatemala, Malaysia, Luxembourg, Canada, and Japan.  We saw Colombia, Australia, and Singapore more than once, and quite a few students came from China, Taiwan, India, or Turkey.

The gender ratio appeared to be about 50/50.  And even among the American students the diversity was staggering.  We saw a huge number of South and East Asian-American graduates, a decent group of African-American Whartonites, and quite a good chunk of Hispanic names.  In fact, the class was far, far more diverse than the statistics for America as a whole.[1]  And as far as I could tell, every (or almost every) name called as winning a student award—for leadership, for philanthropy, for general excellence—was the name of a POC, which means that not only does Wharton accept a large percentage of nonwhite people, but those people succeed there.

This isn’t affirmative action.  Wharton is probably the most exclusive business school in America; they would have no reason to dilute their student body in order to be more diverse than the American population, when simply coming close to the demographic curve would allay any criticism.

I kept thinking that if this were a movie, the extras would never have been cast with this much diversity.  Yet here it was in real life.

The other reason I find all this notable is that Wharton is arguably releasing the world’s future CEOs and other business leaders into the world.  This is a group often identified as coinciding with Republican party ideals, and yet, as seen in the 2012 election, the GOP has a long way to go in attracting the votes of nonwhite citizens and women who are swayed by concerns other than their tax liabilities.  If the Wharton graduation is any indicator, the face of business in America might be changing, and political powers would do well to take note.

  1. The official statistics for the Wharton Class of 2013 show that it’s a bit over a third international students, that the U.S. students are a third nonwhite (meaning the class entire is probably more like half nonwhite), and that almost half the class is women.

Walking the Tightrope: Good Indian Girls, Race, and Bad Sexuality

By Guest Contributor Chaya Babu; originally published at Feminist Wire

Image by xpgomes11 on Flickr

Image by xpgomes11 on Flickr

I was a few weeks into my freshman year at Duke when my sister, a senior at the time, said to me, “Indian girls who date black guys are sluts.” Just like that.

We were sitting in her car in the circular driveway behind my dorm. The night was warm and wet in the late North Carolina summer. I had just told her about the budding flirtation with a boy from Memphis who lived across the grassy quad. I would spy him coming back from class and get the jitters. He asked me to help him study Spanish. I got excited just talking about it. And her sisterly response? Indian girls who date black guys are sluts.

I think I was already mildly aware of this idea. It had lurked in the periphery of my consciousness in high school because of the way my family looked suspiciously upon my adolescent tryst with a lanky, dark-skinned boy from a neighboring town and even my interest at a young age in hip hop music. They didn’t say anything, but they didn’t have to. The unspoken messages about how they viewed blackness and sexuality and the intersection of these two things – and how I was attaching myself to it – were successfully transmitted. And lately, at 30 years old, I wonder if I’m still working through them somewhere deep beneath the surface as I finally try to reclaim and redefine this part of my identity as my own.

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Black Pulp features Walter Mosley, other black authors

black pulp cover

Book cover illustration by Adam Shaw

Publisher Pro Se Productions, dedicated to the “classic fiction of pulp magazines and adventure tales” and “push[ing] the boundaries of modern genre fiction,” has a new offering: Black Pulp. The new book features black characters in leading roles–a departure from the literary genre, popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Glossy pulp magazines, noted for shocking tales of adventure, mystery, crime, horror and mayhem, rarely featured African American characters or other characters of color, and certainly not in heroic positions. In fact, in a review of the book, Hard-Boiled: Working-Class Readers and Pulp Magazines, Andrew Loman notes the conservative ideology of classic pulp, as well as the genre’s “obvious misogyny, homophobia and racism.”

Novelist Gary Philips, who originated the concept for Black Pulp, says, “While revisionism is not history, as Django Unchained signifies, nonetheless historical matters find their way into popular fiction.  This is certainly the case with new pulp as it handles such issues as race with a modern take, even though stories can be set in a retro context.  Black Pulp then offers exciting tales of derring-do and clear-eyed heroes and heroines of darker hues appealing to all.”

Black Pulp features an essay on “the nature of pulp” literature by award-winning author, Walter Mosley.

I’ve got this waiting on my Kindle and I can’t wait to dig in!

Memorial Day 2013: A Quick Look At For Love of Liberty

By Arturo R. García

With today being the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S., I wanted to direct your attention to For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots, a 2010 documentary that traced the journey of this country’s black veterans from the Revolutionary War up until President Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

In the nearly 8-minute clip above, co-writer and director Frank Martin offers some of the insight he gleaned during the making of the documentary:

One of the most shocking things I learned in this film was how the soldiers were treated when they came home,” Martin says. “We talk about Vietnam and how terrible it was when those of us who served in that war — not that I was in Vietnam, but was in the Navy at that time — when we were out of the service, we were told, “Don’t wear your uniform,” when you left the base. “Don’t put your uniform on. You’re not supposed to talk about your service.” You were not greeted as a hero. And we, to this day, continue to talk about how terrible it was, and it was terrible. But that’s how — that’s what happened to every single black soldier that returned from every single war that this country ever fought up and through Korea.

Hosted by Halle Berry and narrated by Avery Brooks, the film has been screened for the National World War II Museum, the Smithsonian and the NAACP, among others. Though originally aired as two 2-hour episodes, a special 9-hour edition is available that includes 3.5 hours of un-aired footage, along with a guide for using it for educational purposes. Below the cut, though, are two segments from the film, each featuring special guests reading service members’ accounts of the situation on the ground.

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Friday Silliness: God (a.k.a. Morgan Freeman) Falls Asleep During An Interview

By Andrea Plaid

Like I’ve said before, Fridays are light days around here: it’s the beginning of the weekend, and this Friday is the beginning of the first three-day summer weekend–the Memorial Day weekend–in the US. To send you off to celebrate the unofficial start of summer in fine and fun fashion, here’s a clip of actor Morgan Freeman, whose played God twice in movies, doing what quite a few of us feel like doing when we’re in boring situations, especially boring work situations.

Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.8: “The Crash”

Hosted by Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid

Grandma Ida, The Mammy Thief.

“Grandma Ida,” The Mammy Thief.

This week, Matt Weiner thought he’d counter the continued criticisms that he and his creative team aren’t dealing with race and racism by…fleshing out one of the worst racial fears about Black women. Tami, Renee Martin from Womanist Musings and Fangs For The Fantasy, and I give this foolishness some serious side-eye while shouting out Benedict Cumberbatch.

Read on, with spoilers in mind.

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