All posts by Kendra James

Racialicious attends New York Comic Con 2013

by Kendra James

Let’s keep this short, sweet, and blunt: I’m disappointed at the lack of panels dealing exclusively –or even mentioned in summary– with issues of diversity, gender, sexuality, and other marginalized views at New York Comic Con 2013.

I can’t recommend and won’t be attending too many panels this year. Of 334 panels and screenings I was able to find 3 focusing exclusively on marginalised voices in fandom. 3 panels in 4 days of con-going. (Gosh, how will I ever will I have the time make it to all of them?) I’m thrilled to be attending what I am, but the lack of diverse content is concerning, to say the least.

On Thursday night there’s the LGBT and Allies in Comics panel presented by the New York Times and Geeks Out. X-Men writers Marjorie Liu and and Greg Pak will be featured along with Dan Parent and Rich Bernatovech.

While there are panels that have at least one person of color featured, there’s no focused panel on any marginalised issues in comics, fandom, or media to be found on all of Friday.

Saturday appears to be The Day for diversity at NYCC this year, and by that I mean a grand total of 2 panels will be hosted. The Mary Sue will present Representations in Geek Media at 2:45 where panelists, including Phil Jimenez, will discuss their favorite minority, disabled, LGBTQ and female genre characters. Later that evening at 6:30 I’ll be attending Geeks of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom, a full PoC panel discussing the question of what challenges in media remain that minorities still have to overcome.

On Sunday Marvel hosts their Women of Marvel panel which will once again feature Marjorie Liu, but given that it’s a company sponsored panel one has to wonder how much critique and open discussion will actually take place.

If we’re willing to count Sunday’s panel, that brings the grand total of panels focusing on representation in media to 4 out of 334. Attendance and interest have never seemed to be a problem; the NYCC hip-hop and comics panel was incredibly well attended last year and each focused panel I attended at San Diego Comic Con this summer was filled with people at rapt attention. Nor is it an issue of panels not being submitted*. I try to look on the bright side, reminding myself that cons are exhausting and doing too much tends to ensure that I end up sick on the Monday after, but this is just ridiculous.This may have been the year of Pacific Rim, but this lack of representation at one of the largest cons in the country shows geekdom still has quite a way to go when it comes to leveling the playing field.

As usual, please feel free to say hello if you see me on the floor (between not being in panels all day, and likely being one of the few, if not the only, Black Margaery Tyrell in attendance, I should not be hard to spot), and follow @racialicious and @wriglied for live tweets of the panels I attend and excited reports of any Nicole Beharie sightings.

*In the spirit of full disclosure, Racialicious submitted a panel for consideration on the challenges of growing up as and raising geeks of color. It was not accepted.

Open Thread: Scandal S03E01; It’s Handled

Contrary to popular belief, nothing has actually be handled all that well.

by Kendra James

“You seem to do a lot for a show you say you don’t even like,” one of my friends observed as I explained how I’d bought an Olivia Pope sized wineglass and an all white lounge ensemble (which I can’t wear yet because it’s October 4th and 80 degrees in New York City) to prepare myself for Thursday’s Scandal premiere.

No lies detected there. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m not quite sure how good Scandal is. Entertaining? Certainly. Good? Questionable in my mind.

What makes the whole sordid affair (literally, as the saga of Olitz treks on) worth a new wine glass and pajamas then? Twitter. Unlike other ABC shows that I assumed would improve with good livetweet –Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD comes to mind– my enjoyment of Scandal really does hinge on my being able to sit down with a glass of wine and the whole of Black Twitter at my fingertips. If nothing else, Scandal provides a unique sense of community that shows with even the largest fandoms could only hope to achieve.

All of that said, the online reactions to last night’s season 3 premiere did not disappoint. And, you know, the show itself wasn’t bad either.

We’ll have our Round Table up sometime next week, but until then feel free to discuss last night down below and have a few stray observations for the road:

  •  How many of us are explaining “work twice as hard to go half as far” to white friends who can’t make that math work at the water cooler this morning. Daddy Pope’s air hanger speech not but 4 minutes into the show proved that Scandal is here to go hard this season.
  • Speaking of Daddy Pope, that is one terrifying man. Terrifying, but I’m going to guess predictable. 10:1 odds that he had something to do with the later mentioned plane crash that killed Olivia’s mother. This is a soap opera after all, and so far no one’s been thrown into a coma.
  • And a final note on Olivia’s background: I was vindicated when her isolated prep school background (which I’ve been calling since S1) was finally revealed.
  • Huck’s presence was missed this week, but as it’s only the season premiere we can cut them some slack for that.
  • Mellie is that mother who will beat you right here in the aisle of this fancy grocery store with all these people watching if you don’t stop acting up right. now. She is tired, she will make a scene, and she’s smart enough to take you down while doing it. Can you imagine Mellie actually in charge of the CIA?
  • Fitz once again prattled on to his VP about “the leader he’s always wanted to be.” We’ve yet to hear what that actually means, but I’m guessing in Fitz’s brain it means “fixing racism by being a Republican with a Black girlfriend.” That’s not a platform.
  • Fitz also proved, as he tried to deal with Olivia, Sally, and Mellie throughout the night, that he sees himself as a master manipulator of women. But I’m sure that’s something we’ll touch on more in the roundtable.
  • The White Burberry Coat That Broke Twitter is listed at Neiman Marcus for the blowout price of $908, which is down from the regular $2595. The matching Prada purse is going to run upwards of $1500, depending which model you want. This reminds us that not only can you probably not afford Olivia Pope’s services, you also can’t afford to be Olivia Pope.
  • Finally, a few good Scandal reads to tide you over into next week: Why Liberals Love TV’s Fictional Conservatives, by our own Tami Winfrey Harris, Twitter, Fandom, and Why ABC’s Scandal Matters by Chicago’s WBEZ blogger Britt Julious, and Olivia Is Back! Why We Love Scandal, by friend of the blog T.F. Charlton.

 

Quoted: On America’s Reaction to Miss America, Nina Davuluri

‘How the f--k does a foreigner win miss America?’ One man tweets after Nina Davuluri’s historic win.

The former Miss New York and Miss America crowning Miss. New York as the new Miss America, via NY Daily News

Keyboards just have a way of bringing out the racist in everyone. Gotta love America.

But a harsh reality is that Miss America, would never be Miss India.  They’re about as messed up when it comes to colorism as other people are.  A former coworker always discussed how her darker Indian family members were discriminated against, and even her own mother warned her to keep her daughter out of the sun so she wouldn’t get dark.  She also used to joke about the Fair & Lovely skin lightening commercials that permeate the airwaves in India.  Coincidentally, Fair & Lovely is a product of Unilever, who also makes Dove.

As Lakshmi Chaudhry, sarcastically but truthfully, wrote on First Post, “That gorgeous chocolate may play as exotic in the West, but in India, we prefer our beauty queens strictly vanilla — preferably accessorised with blue contact lenses.”

-”An Indian-American Was Crowned Miss America & The Racists Reared Their Ugly Racist Heads” by Yesha Calahan via Clutch Magazine

Diverse Reads: The 2013 Brooklyn Book Festival

The Brooklyn Book Festival runs from September 16th-22nd, but the main stage of events takes place on the festival’s final day, September 22nd. There are over 40 panels open to the public and featuring a diverse group of book authors, columnists, and other writers speaking on a wide variety of subjects. Check out beneath the cuts for a selection of recommended panels featuring Saphire, Anthea Butler, Sonia Sanchez, James McBride, Toure, and many, many others. If you’re in the area next weekend this is an event I highly suggest stopping by, and if nothing on our list stirs your fancy you can see the full schedule here.

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“I’m Just A White Girl In This World” — On Hip-Hop’s White Girls and Internet Novelty

whitegirlmob

Screen cap of Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” music video.

By Chelsea Upton originally posted at Not A Neophyte

In the “Ay Shawty 3.0″ video, a soft lense captures Kitty’s flower halo as she walks through a field, sundress and all. For the “rap game Taylor Swift” this imagery is not uncommon. The coy femininity — eyes darting away from the camera while she leisurely spits rhymes — are part of what made her breakthrough, “Okay Cupid,” such a massive Internet sensation. “Okay Cupid” was a disconcerting juxtaposition of teenage girl iconography and veiled suggestions, Kitty rapping about receiving three a.m. thirst calls from men, while she and her friends lounge in a room decorated with Hello Kitty and various heart shapes. The success of “Okay Cupid” (and perhaps, Kitty in general) is attributed to novelty, with a young, innocent-looking white girl rapping about cocaine with a carefully-placed bow in her hair. Kitty was 19 when “Okay Cupid” was released, but her refusal to talk about her age led people to speculate that she was younger.

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Race + Television: Hell On Wheels and Copper Give Different Weight to POC Characters

 

The title cards for both Copper and Hell On Wheels.

The title cards for both Copper and Hell On Wheels.

[This post contains spoilers for Seasons 1-2 of Hell On Wheels and Copper]

I didn’t watch either Hell on Wheels or Copper with the intention of comparing one to the other, but when the quality of the shows took such drastic turns, I couldn’t help myself. Hell on Wheels  was meant to sate my need for violent Westerns, while I started watching Copper on the recommendations of friends and Racialicious readers. As an AMC show going into it’s third season my expectations for Hell on Wheels were high. It turns out I may have put a little too much faith in AMC –and to be fair, this was before the abysmal premiere of Low Winter’s Sun.

So before we move into Fall premieres (your suggestions for that, by the way, have been received and greatly appreciated) a little side by side comparison of Copper and Hell On Wheels: two Civil War era period dramas with different acknowledgements of race.

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Quoted: Julian Fellowes on Downton Abbey’s first Black role

Gary Carr on Downton Abbey via. Mail.co.uk

Downton Abbey boss Julian Fellowes has slammed the depiction of black actors in TV. The writer said the first black face in the ITV period drama will instead be very much a positive role model.

Jazz singer Jack Ross, played by Gary Carr, makes his debut in the fourth series which hits our screens next month.

And Julian, 64, said: “I was very keen he should be a positive character. I feel this quite strongly. So many black characters in TV drama are victims and things are not going well for them. Even when they’re positive, even when they’re sympathetic, everything’s terrible. I feel for black young men and women. It’s very important that you see people on the screen who are not victims. This guy is not a victim. He is a very successful entertainer, a very positive guy, very attractive, and there’s no negative side, and that was important to me.”

– “Downton Abbey Creator Julian Fellows Slams Depiction of Black Actors on TV,” The Mirror UK, September 6, 2013

Quoted: De Blasio deigns to acknowledge his Black wife and children; Bloomberg says that’s racist.

Bill De Blasio, his wife Chirlane McCray, and their son Dante pose in a campaign sanctioned picture purposely poking fun at the Cheerios ad controversy. Image via Politicker.com

Then there’s Bill de Blasio, who’s become the Democratic front-runner. He has in some ways been running a class-warfare campaign—
Class-warfare and racist.

Racist? 
Well, no, no, I mean* he’s making an appeal using his family to gain support. I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s been doing. I do not think he himself is racist. It’s comparable to me pointing out I’m Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote. You tailor messages to your audiences and address issues you think your audience cares about.

But his whole campaign is that there are two different cities here. And I’ve never liked that kind of division. The way to help those who are less fortunate is, number one, to attract more very fortunate people. They are the ones that pay the bills. The people that would get very badly hurt here if you drive out the very wealthy are the people he professes to try to help. Tearing people apart with this “two cities” thing doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s a destructive strategy for those you want to help the most. He’s a very populist, very left-wing guy, but this city is not two groups, and if to some extent it is, it’s one group paying for services for the other.

It’s a shame, because I’ve always thought he was a very smart guy.

[Editor’s Note from New York Magazine:*The mayor’s office asked us to amend the remarks to add an interjection that was inaudible in our audiotape of the interview, which was conducted over speakerphone. In our view the added words do not alter the meaning of the exchange as reflected in the published interview.]

– “In Conversation: Michael Bloomberg,” New York Magazine, September 9, 2013

 

After the rally, where de Blasio appeared alongside Ken Thompson, a candidate for Brooklyn District attorney, his daughter Chiara told reporters she and her mother and brother, 16-year-old Dante, participated in the campaign on their own terms. “My mom, my brother, and I are all capable of making our own decisions,” she said. “Twenty years ago, my dad did not know he was running for mayor and did not seek to marry a black woman to put on display.”

The de Blasios have appeared on the campaign trail with the candidate often, and Dante filmed an effective, much-talked-about direct-to-camera television ad earlier this year. When a reporter asked whether de Blasio has used his family as “a prop” during the campaign, McCray responded sharply. “Do I look like an inanimate object? I walk, I talk, I make my own decisions,” she said.

– “Alongside Family, De Blasio Denounces Bloomberg Comments,” Buzzfeed, September 9, 2013