All posts by Latoya Peterson

A Quick Reminder About the Racialicious Project [Editor's Note]

Flower Stand

Just a little housekeeping.

Racialicious has been in effect for more than eight years. As a result a lot of people (writers, readers, editors) have come and gone.

It is easy to forget in the current environment that Racialicious is still a labor of love. It is an all-volunteer project. In response to an epic media season and some questions on Twitter and Tumblr, here are five quick questions and answers.

What is happening with Racialicious?

We are thinking about who we are in an when blogging is professionalized and most outlets find a way to discuss race in their pop culture projects. We’ve talked about retiring the blog and leaving it as an archive, but none of us really felt like the work was finished. We are in the process of looking at format and purpose. There probably won’t be any huge changes until 2015.

Why did you go on break?

Essentially, everyone was feeling worn out. Tami, Joe and Andrea departed the project late 2013 to pursue other things, which left Arturo and Kendra holding down the day to day posting. (I deal with the administrative parts, but between the day job and the now 10 month old baby, I’ve been on extended sabbatical.)

We took August off to regroup and figure things out. As a result, Arturo is stepping back to become more of an editor at large. Kendra is becoming managing editor. And I’m a little more in the day to day mix.

Why didn’t Racialicious say anything on xxxx issue?

Occasionally, people ask us why we didn’t post on a certain issue. There are various reasons for why this happens. Sometimes, we’ve covered an issue multiple times and there is nothing new to report. Other times, an issue is in direct conflict with one of our day jobs. You cannot make the news and comment upon it at the same time – that’s generally frowned upon. And sometimes, the ability of the editors to post is low. Silence shouldn’t be read as not caring about an issue – it just means that there are more factors behind the scenes. And we have always been an open admissions kind of place, so if you notice a gap in coverage feel free to submit a piece.

Does Racialicious make money?

Two years ago we put ads on the site, but that was mainly to offset the cost of hosting the blog independently. After we were hacked at the beginning of the year, our analytics and ads stopped working. So we are back to paying out of pocket to host this space until it is fixed.

We are not funded by any other means. While it seems like money grows on trees these days, Racialicious is still a racial justice project which makes revenue channels complicated. (Just putting Google ads on the site to offset costs became an existential conversation.) We are putting intense focus on what would allow the project to be sustainable over the long term, but that is always a work in progress.

I want to help with the project!

Awesome. We need a new contributing editor in the mix, as well as roundtable contributors for the upcoming season. A formal call will go out next week. If you are interesting in helping, and can commit to about five hours per week of work, email team AT racialicious DOT com.

Cheap Rent and Racism: The Lie Guys Social Experiment

Competitive rental markets mean that tenants can put up with some seriously strange requests from landlords and potential roommates in order to score a decent place. No cooking, no dogs, no shoes in the house are all standard requests – but what would happen if the stated policy was “no black people?”

The Lie Guys set up a ad for a room on Craigslist, then Skype recorded the responses.

Transcript and follow up bellow the jump. Continue reading

H Street, by Alex Barth on Flickr

More Than a New Starbucks: On Gentrification and Domestic Violence

 

We’ve had many conversations about gentrification on Racialicious, mostly focusing on the race and class drivers.

However, there are a multitude of ways to think about the impacts of gentrification and the long term results of a gentrification project aren’t always simple to quantify by our usual measures. We can point to displacement or economic growth, but what about unintended consequences?

A cold knot of dread took root in my stomach as I read a recent headline from the DCist: “D.C. Sees Increase In Homicides Connected To Domestic Violence.”

D.C. has seen a troubling increase this year in the number of homicides that appear to be connected to domestic violence, an issue Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier addressed in an interview yesterday.

“If you’re in an abusive relationship, the biggest problem is that people don’t think it will turn fatal,” she said on WTOP. “We’re seeing more than a double increase in domestic violence murders, not just of women … but children, as well.”

In analyzing the rise in both calls to police and actual homicides, the writer includes this very interesting side note:

Survivor access to long-term affordable housing is also key. Last year, local providers were unable to fulfill 52 service requests from victims, a 24 percent decrease from 2012. The vast majority of these requests — 77 percent — were for housing.

“Many victims are forced to stay because they don’t have access to housing,” Cottman said. “Either be homeless, or stay and be victimized.”

The knot in my stomach grew worse, so I tweeted the article. My friend Zeynep responded “Abused women can’t afford to move out.”

That was true, but I couldn’t figure out why the article caused such a strong reaction.

Then I remembered: that was me, almost 10 years ago. Continue reading

[EVENT] Theorizing the Web ’14: “Race and Social Media”

1411d404e293911e9202c80d8c0f6987If you are in Brooklyn (or the New York Area) this Friday and Saturday (the 25th and 26th), please come and check out Theorizing the Web! It’s an amazingly geeky conference that discusses the internet and its impact on culture and society – I livetweeted the first one, back in 2011.

I’m keynoting the last panel on “Race and Social Media” and it will be a great time. I’m planning to do a short thing on language and private/public space, and I’ll be on the panel with Lisa Nakamura, Jenna Wortham, Ayesha Siddiqi and André Brock. (Longtime readers may remember I’ve teamed up with Lisa and André many times since Sarah Gatson’s 2009 Race, Ethnicity, and New Media Symposium.)

Long time Racialicious rollers N’jaila Rhee (Blaysian Bytch) and Molly Crabapple will also be in the building being smart. Come say hi to us! One of the things I love about TTW is the small, intimate feel. You can actually talk to people at this conference.

Entrance is cheap – the requested donation is $1 but that’s really just to help cover food and drink:

http://theorizingtheweb.tumblr.com/2014/registration

Hope to see you there!

Whiteness, Hip Hop Culture, and Invisible Backpacks

We wanted to save this video for Friday, but in light of Macklemore winning Best Rap Album and then tweeting his apologies to Kendrick Lamar, this video exploring white privilege in the hip hop community is worth a listen. Longtime community member El Guante is joined by The Big Cats, Rapper Hooks, and Chantz Erolin break down why Macklemore’s race isn’t the problem, but how defenses designed to ignore racism continue to harm the community. Lyrics after the jump.

Continue reading

“Leaning Out” Proves Feminism is in the Eye of the Beholder

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 8.35.59 AM

Politico’s magazine has a cover piece on Michelle Obama called “>”Leaning Out: How Michelle Obama Became a Feminist Nightmare.” Or, it could have been titled “random feminists are disappointed.” As per usual, the piece is long on other people’s opinions about how Michelle Obama is single handedly failing the cause and short on actual analysis and historical context.

The piece opens by sharing a story about a new political initiative that Michelle Obama is involved with, with writer Michelle Cottle implying that Obama’s focus on people and not policy is not enough:

Speaking last week at Bell Multicultural High School, a couple of miles north of the White House, the first lady touted the importance of a college degree, citing her own journey from a one-bedroom apartment on Chicago’s South Side to Princeton as evidence of how far hard work and good schooling can take you. “I’m here today because I want you to know that my story can be your story,” she told the predominantly low-income, heavily minority student body.

Cottle goes on to explain that Obama’s visit to Bell Multicultural is part of a push for a campaign to encourage college completion. Cottle then complains that Obamas efforts with youth outreach are distressingly focused on actually talking to the youth, instead of digging deep and hitting hard at policy from the White House Garden.

This example is an interesting one to criticize, to say the least. Nothing is mentioned about DC’s unique space in public education debates, now forgotten after the heyday of high profile reformers. Not much is said about why there may be a focus on minority graduation rates from college, or why Bell Multicultural might be the perfect kind of place to launch an initiative focusing on low income students and college enrollment. No, no, Cottle would like us to understand that Michelle Obama is failing feminism because she insists on being motherly.

In Cottle’s own words:

Turns out, she was serious about that whole “mom-in-chief” business—it wasn’t merely a political strategy but also a personal choice.

Oh, the horror. Continue reading

Is Economic Mobility Destined to be a Zero Sum Game?

Harvard Gate Photo by Flickr User Patricia Drury

Harvard Gate Photo by Flickr User Patricia Drury


In the New York Times, Richard V. Reeves is smacking sacred cows, positing that there is no way for everyone to win in our society. Writing on “The Glass-Floor Problem,” Reeves looks at mobility and “sticky floors,” noting:

It is a stubborn mathematical fact that the top fifth of the income distribution can accommodate only 20 percent of the population. If we want more poor kids climbing the ladder of relative mobility, we need more rich kids sliding down the chutes.

Even the most liberal parents are unlikely to be comfortable with the idea that their own children should fall down the scale in the name of making room for a smarter kid from a poorer home. They invest large amounts of economic, social and cultural capital to keep their own children high up the social scale. As they should: there is nothing wrong with parents doing the best by their children.

The problem comes if institutional frameworks in, say, the higher education system or the labor market are distorted in favor of the powerful — a process the sociologist Charles Tilly labeled “opportunity hoarding.” The less talented children of the affluent are able to defy social gravity and remain at the top of the ladder, reducing the number of places open to those from less fortunate backgrounds.

Many New York Times commenters rejected this framework entirely – the idea that someone else has to lose for another to win was too unsettling to consider. And yet, when we compete in an economy of “elites” and there are limited spots available for the most desired schools, jobs, and neighborhoods, that is exactly what has to happen. However, what interested me more than Reeves’s initial argument was a large piece of his solution: access to more elite colleges.

College matters a lot for social mobility. For someone from a poor background, getting a four-year degree virtually guarantees upward mobility. Elite colleges act as gateways to the best career paths. Getting more poor kids into colleges, and getting the brightest into the best colleges, ought to be a national mission.

In essence, Reeves wants to solve a problem by reinforcing the foundation of the problem. Continue reading