The Racialicious Links Roundup 11.21.13: The Best Man Holiday, Orange Is The New Black, Nelly, ENDA and more

Cast of “The Best Man Holiday.”

The Best Man Holiday is a success. That is not particularly a “surprise.” It did not “over-perform,” nor did it soar for a “race-themed film,” as USA Today originally wrote. To speak of it in these terms reduces The Best Man Holiday to thousands of frames of low expectations. It existed and won. As a film, it was 50% an above-average comedy and 50% an abysmal drama. But financially—the only metric that matters to studios—it was a knockout. Set in the present. Not filmed by Tyler Perry. Of which you can expect to see more.

Malcolm D. Lee’s movies, in fact, have nearly all been significant earners, from Undercover Brother toScary Movie 5. Only one—Soul Men, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac—did not perform well. It was also Lee’s most expensive movie, and was released three months after Bernie Mac died.

The Best Man Holiday, the director’s seventh film, cost $17 million and has already earned just north of $30 million on its first weekend. It premiered to an audience that was 87% African American and 75% female.

Again I think it’s very truthful to the world we live in. There are Latino people in our world who believe strongly that if you are Latino you should speak the language, you should eat the food, you should listen to the music, you should be proud. And when you don’t do those things, some people will look at it as if you’re neglecting who you are. But in the case of Daya, which is a wonderful character, look at the background that she has. Her mother isn’t exactly the mother of the year but she has heart. She hasn’t been the best mom so of course her kids aren’t going to speak the language, she wasn’t at home teaching them like my parents did. My parents made it a point that although I was born and raised in New York City I needed to speak Spanish because they wanted me to be able to communicate with my elders when I went to Santo Domingo [or] when my family came to visit from Cuba. So we have some people who place a lot of importance on that and a lot who don’t.

But you know I’m not one to criticize someone for speaking it or not. I, for one, do believe that we should speak the language of our ancestors and that’s why my daughter speaks fluent Spanish.

In that sense, the contemporary militias and other white supremacist groups are following in the footsteps of the Ku Klux Klan, the Posse Comitatus, and other Far Right patriot groups who recruited members in rural America throughout the 1980s. They tap into a long history of racial and ethnic paranoia in rural America, as well as an equally long tradition of collective local action and vigilante justice. There remains a widespread notion that “Jews, African-Americans, and other minority-group members ‘do not entirely belong,’” which may, in part, “be responsible for rural people’s easy acceptance of the far right’s agenda of hate,” writes Matthew Snipp. “The far right didn’t create bigotry in the Midwest; it didn’t need to,” Davidson concludes. “It merely had to tap into the existing undercurrent of prejudice once this had been inflamed by widespread economic failure and social discontent.”

And many have moved from their deindustrializing cities, foreclosed suburban tracts, and wasted farmlands to smaller rural areas because they seek the companionship of like-minded fellows, in relatively remote areas far from large numbers of nonwhites and Jews and where they can organize, train, and build protective fortresses. Many groups have established refuge in rural communities, where they can practice military tactics, stockpile food and weapons, hone their survivalist skills, and become self-sufficient in preparation for Armageddon, the final race war, or whatever cataclysm they envision. Think of it as the twenty-first-century version of postwar suburban “white flight”—but on steroids.

Every single girl knows what it’s like to be creeped on. If you’re a woman walking around by yourself, chances are someone will honk their horn at you, speak to you whether or not you’re looking at them, or—if you’re not even worthy of words—they’ll make some sort of cattle herding noise. It’s one of those things we as women have come to expect, whether we like it or not. But there’s a special breed of getting creeped on that absolutely needs to be addressed, and I call it flirty racism.

Flirty racism has been around since the dawn of time, when asshole cavemen tried to offend their potential mates all the way into the bedroom. It goes down when a jerk has the nerve to play the race card in an effort to compliment you, but instead ends up sounding like the new leader of the Third Reich.

Women are sexualized according to their race all the time. With the help of the media and pop culture, women are placed into different color coded compartments; sweet and submissive, wild and sexual, sheltered and passive, all based on their ethnicity. It’s the reason why Latina actresses like Sofia Vergara are told to dye their naturally light hair darker and make their accents thicker to conform to stereotypes. It’s the reason why women of color like Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra release songs about themselves called “Exotic,” because it might be their only ticket into the mainstream. The biggest problem with racial sexualization is that it’s just regular old racism, but more insidious because it’s clandestine. And it can go from flirty to hostile pretty quickly.

As much as we’d like to rid the world, particularly our safe spaces like Spelman College, of misogyny, we know that censoring music and images is not the solution. We also know that at a private institution devoted to the well-being of women of the African Diaspora we can and should cultivate an environment that doesn’t assault our very humanity. These are two entirely different projects and the later is often confused with the former. We have and had the right to ask questions of you, especially when you are asking something so important of us.

It has been ten years and yet here we are. You continue to say that we canceled the drive when your organization decided to stop it. You continue to not so subtly blame us for the transition of your sister even though Spelman still had a bone marrow registration drive–one that actually had more attendees than were initially signed up for your event. All of the “protesters” made the decision to register to ensure that the goals of the drive were honored. A few of us were already on the registry. If after all this we are still to blame for your sister’s passing, can we blame you then for the misogynoir that we face daily?

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) narrowly passed in the Senate two weeks ago for the first time since a version was introduced in 1974. It was even more significant because it now includes transgender people. But House Speaker John Boehner insisted the act won’t come to a vote in the House, leaving those LGBT people living in the 34 states [PDF] without anti-discrimination laws at a stark disadvantage. And because people of color are more likely to facehigh unemployment and poverty, and have a harder time getting good, steady jobs, they are even more vulnerable.

Preston Mitchum, a Center for American Progress (CAP) policy analyst who leads CAP’s Workplace Discrimination Series says that in addition to high levels of poverty and unemployment, states without laws protecting LGBT people in the workplace are particularly concentrated in the South—an area with a high density of black and brown people. And he says the discrimination often goes beyond just a supervisor.

“Supervisors will often bring other people in the workplace on board [to harass LGBT employees]. They will bring other colleagues in, which increases a hostile work environment,” he says.

ENDA likely won’t come to a vote any time soon, and so it’s that much more important to hear from those who have been discriminated against on the job.