Author: Latoya Peterson

December 11, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

I’ve been having way too much fun writing for Clutch Magazine.

As a member of staff, I generally spend my time conducting interviews with artists, writers, and directors that I love. It is a welcome reprieve from all the editorial I write here and for Cerise, and allows me to climb inside someone else’s mind for a few minutes.

Lately, I’ve started to notice some interesting patterns emerging, especially when I talk to artists about community issues.

Rissi Palmer is a black country singer and rising star. Before the interview, I had asked around to see exactly what questions I should pose. Most Clutch readers aren’t really into country – we tend to focus on neo-soul, hip-hop, and R & B, with a few notable exceptions. I did not want to ask too many of the obvious questions. I knew everyone was going to ask her about race and the role it plays in her career and while I wanted to cover those issues, I also wanted to go a little deeper.

I did a bit more digging and asked her about a blog entry she wrote concerning the Jena 6:

Clutch: I noticed on your blog that you wrote about the Jena 6 issue. That blew one of my main misconceptions out of the water, so it was good to see that a black girl doing country could still be racially aware. (Going by popular perception here that African Americans and C & W don’t normally mix.) Do you think your race has influenced your treatment in the music industry? How does race impact you in your daily life? (Or does it?)

RP: Let me start by saying that I’m extremely excited someone read my blog! Seriously though, It saddens me a little to know that people would assume that because I sing Country music, that I must be going through some sort of identity crisis. I am a proud Black woman who is racially aware and very cognizant of the issues that affect myself and other human beings. I decided to write about the Jena 6 in my blog because I know that many different people, from various racial backgrounds, read it and I felt like it was an issue that affected EVERYONE and that they should be aware, if they weren’t already (I also posted a link to the petition). I don’t want to go off on a tangent but it blew my mind that in this day and age when a black man is running for president, there is still discussion of unequal justice between whites and people of color. It saddens and frustrates me, but the one bright spot was the way everyone came together peacefully to show support in Jena. I hated that I wasn’t able to go but I did wear black in support.

Rissi’s responses to another question were also very telling. When asked about reactions to her first effort and single, she commented:

As far as the African-American community, the feedback has been extremely positive and supportive. So many people say: “finally there’s someone out there that looks just like me that I can relate to.” Also, a lot of African-Americans who maybe aren’t necessarily country fans are just happy to see someone venture outside the box and simply like the music I make.

She hit that last nail on the head – in our comments section, a few commenters mentioned how refreshing it was to see an African American woman finding her voice in a different musical niche. Others were just proud that she shattered boundaries.

In subsequent interviews, I started to ask more probing questions. I wanted to know what some of our favorite artists were thinking about. What was important to them? Read the Post The Diversity of (Black) Thought

December 6, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Hello.

My name is Latoya, and I am addicted to magazines.

While I am down from my addiction high of $75 a month on various glossies, I still tend to read far more magazines each month than I do books. Many of the periodicals I grab are imports – a brand new fashion mag from Japan, a graffiti magazine from Belgium, design tips from across the pond, an art magazine from the Bay Area that somehow made it to DC.

I would estimate I have about fifteen regular publications that I subscribe to or purchase, plus another five to ten that I randomly pick up off the newsstand. While I enjoy reading magazines, they tend to be a POC wasteland. With the exceptions of specialty publications like Essence or East West, there is not a lot of minority representation. So with that in mind, I present to you a quick list of things I enjoyed last month in hopes to turn people on to some new reading, and to highlight mentions of minorities in mainstream media.

East West Magazine

December/January Issue
www.eastwestmagazine.com

Comics Get Cultural: How Archie Comics and Other Well-Known Series are Diversifying to Better Mirror Today’s Reading Public (p. 31)

An interesting article about how the Archie comics have illustrated their first Asian character – Raj Patel. The piece features an section on Desi characters in the comic world, the character design for Raj, and criticism of character design and intent.

A Question of Identity: LGBT Asians Face Social and Cultural Isolation (p. 37)

This article primarily focuses on the issues LGBT Asians face when coming out. The article is told primarily through the perspectives of Asians who have immigrated to America, but it also contains many references to stateside support groups and online groups meant to show support around the globe.

Pink Magazine
November/December
www.pinkmagazine.com

Sex Change for the Better: Are We Treated Differently At Work Because We’re Women?

Fascinating article. While this doesn’t deal with race, it does deal with a minority group that is rarely heard from in the mainstream media. The article synopsis reads as follows:

PINK gets the truth from the only people who could possibly know for sure – those who have been both man and woman. Meet Donna Rose, a former jock who could bench press 300 pounds, who sometimes feels invisible as a woman. And Jillian Weiss, a lawyer who now gets more leeway from judges but more scrutiny from men at work.

The only quibble I had with the article is that there were no Female-to-Male transsexuals interviewed. I would have loved to hear that perspective as well, but the article still plays well. Read the Post Page Skimming – Articles of Interest

November 21, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

“No one ever means bougie as a compliment. It’s never ‘Oh, you’re so bougie!’ It’s ALWAYS a negative trait.”

I had asked one of my close friends about being bougie and how the word is perceived in black circles. Depending on how it is used, bougie can almost be a curse word. Bougie is a stand in word for being racially removed, for pretending to be superior, for being out of touch with “true blackness.”

For many, being hit with a bougie label comes at random. Maybe it’s because you speak English with tight diction and clear pronunciation. Maybe it’s because you prefer off-broadway to the chitlin’ circuit. Or maybe it’s because someone doesn’t like how you dress, how you wear your hair, or your attitude.

When I lived in Prince George’s County, MD I got called a “bougie bitch” so often I started to think it was my name. What prompted those outbursts? I refused to get into a car with a man I did not know personally. I’ll stay my bougie ass right here and wait for the bus, thankyouverymuch.

Bougie is most often a label applied to us by someone other than ourselves, as a way of demonstrating their superiority. It implies that they are authentic and you are counterfeit.

I am not sure if the term bougie as I have encountered it exists outside of the black community. Still, I am always more amused than offended when I encounter the term. After all, the counter to being bougie is to prove one’s own street cred by discussing their own hardscrabble beginnings or the rough areas where they are affiliated.

I used to play this game, particularly when I was younger. Any assertions of the word “bougie” would magically vanish by reciting my father’s address. As I grew older, I stopped playing the game. It was foolish to me, particularly because the types of people held up as the paragon of blackness, the regular folks, the street preachers and hustlers, the young hoods and door-knocker earring wearing divas that populate my family tree are the people who pushed me to become as bougie as possible.

****

For my father’s 43rd birthday, he decided he wanted to do something a little different and step outside of his culinary comfort zone. Over the protests of my younger brother – who desperately wanted to make a mess of a plate of fried shrimp at Red Lobster – he asked me to name some more interesting restaurants near where I live.

I mentioned the local Burmese place. Dad was game.

After selecting entrees, our appetizers were delivered. They were a Burmese twist on an Indian samosa – wrapped in rice paper and lightly fried into small triangles. Dad ate one and enjoyed it. He asked what they were. I told him it was a samosa.

“A Samoan?” he asked.

“No, Dad, a samosa,” I explained, emphasizing the final syllable. “You know, like what you normally eat at an Indian restaurant.”

My dad regarded me with a bemused smile.

“Toya,” he gently chastised, “there weren’t any Indian restaurants in South East in the 70s.”

Fuck me. There was nothing left for me to say. Like a good daughter, I shut up and ate my Samoan. Read the Post Bougie* by Design

November 13, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Michelle Singletary’s the Color of Money column in the Washington Post has been a must read for me for ages.

In her October 21st column, Michelle decided to tackle the issue of a financial report issued by two leading fund managers.

For 10 years, Ariel Mutual Funds and Charles Schwab have issued an annual report on the saving and investing habits of middle- and upper-income blacks.

The survey throws a spotlight on the progress of black money-management skills — or lack of progress. It also compares the investing behavior of blacks and whites.

Like many others, I’ve often found reason to comment on the results of the surveys. But now I wonder about the value of comparing the two groups. What exactly do we learn that can help change decades of economic differences? Do these surveys just perpetuate the notion that blacks aren’t taking care of business?

In a special “black paper” marking the 10th anniversary of their survey, Ariel and Schwab came to a sober conclusion. “For middle-class African-Americans,” the report said, “the march toward financial security has been an uphill journey marked by half steps, pauses and, for some, retreat. . . . The results consistently show that blacks save less than whites of similar income levels and are less comfortable with stock investing, which impedes wealth-building across generations and contributes to an impending retirement crisis in the African-American community.”

Interesting. Yet another financial crisis rocks the black community. In addition to high interest payday loans,and the subprime mortage fiasco, retirement savings spells another impending crisis for African-Americans. Or does it?

Michelle then summarizes the survey, highlighting:

This year’s Ariel-Schwab Black Investor Survey found that blacks had median investments of $48,000, compared with $100,000 for whites. The survey looks at blacks and whites who earn more than $50,000 annually.

When Schwab and the Chicago-based Ariel, a black-run mutual fund company, first teamed in 1998, 57 percent of blacks and 81 percent of whites said they owned individual stocks or stock mutual funds.

A decade later, that percentage still stands at 57 percent for blacks and has dropped to 76 percent for whites.

For the first time, Ariel and Schwab looked at middle- and upper-income black and white retirees. The survey found that retired blacks had a median invested savings of $73,000, compared with $210,000 for whites.

So, from the results of this survey, one would surmise that African-Americans are not saving and are putting themselves in a much more precarious position than their white counterparts. However, “one” is not Michelle Singletary. She keeps digging, focusing on one question in the report in particular: Read the Post Race and Money – Michelle Singletary Calls Out Comparative Studies

November 2, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

The whispers about Iran are starting to become more numerous to ignore. The same whispers continue in hushed tones about Islamo-Fascism, hatred of freedom, and the need to do something.

Do what, I wonder? Bomb more people?

But the whispers grow in volume every day. So, to try to make sense of it all, I began to read.

I read an interesting Q & A on Pop & Politics about Islamo-Fascism.

(Fabulous moment of semi-irony: David Horowitz defending Ann Coulter by saying “Why should anybody in America, whose democratic culture is based on the pluralism of ideas, be offended by a religious belief?” Yes, David, why should they be offended by a religious belief? And why would they decide to be actively offensive toward those who hold other beliefs?)

This appeared the same day I read a Washington Post hosted chat about a PBS program I missed on the whole Iran situation.

Pop and Politics has also been covering some of the issues surrounding some of this othering and the issues surrounding the Bush Administration’s newest target – Iran:

In the Path to Iran, Chris Nelson briefly summarizes Seymour M. Hirsch’s article on the Bush Administration and the next target:

In sum, the war in Iraq is now being redefined— years too late and for ulterior motives— as in fact a strategic conflict with Iran. But blaming Iran for the humiliating U.S. failure in Iraq is merely the latest rhetorical approach to persuade Americans of the need to bomb Tehran, according to Hirsch.

In another post, P & P discussed one of Ann Coulter’s recent speaking engagements in honor of Islamo-Fascism Awareness week:

Ann Coulter descended on USC campus to promote her new book last week as part of the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s “Islamo-Facism Awareness Week.” While speaking to a crowd of about 230 fans at the Annenberg School, she offered equal doses of anti-liberal tirade and inflammatory discourse on the world beyond these amber waves of grain.

“Eschewing debate, I would turn to inflicting horrible physical pain. That seems to change people’s minds,” Coulter said when asked during the Q&A if she believed that “very vigorous intellectual debate could perhaps change [Islamo-Fascist’s] views against using violence to spread religion?”

“Who would have thought the Japanese were governable? A few well-placed nuclear bombs and they’ve been gentle little lambs ever since,” was how she followed-up the “horrible physical pain” plan for Islamo-Fascists. Read the Post Fearing the “Other” Is Politically Profitable: Iran, Islamo-Fascism and the Pursuit of Truth

October 26, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Okay – I’m starting to get bored with the extensive recaps. So, I’m going to leave that to the official MTV blog and just highlight a couple interesting notes from the show.

The Trouble Same Sex Reality Shows

I’m going to let Dan Savage speak on this one, because he nailed it a couple years back:

Sometimes the mail is sooooooooo depressing that I just want to think about other things.

Like Next. Last weekend I was stuck in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon, on account of a teensy, weensy hangover, and I caught a marathon of the MTV dating show. Here’s how the show works: One person—say, a boy—goes on a blind date with a girl. If the boy doesn’t like the girl, he says “Next!” and one of four other girls, all waiting on a bus, takes the first girl’s place. The rejected girl returns to the bus to be cruelly mocked by her rivals. The boy continues barking “Next!” until he finds a girl he likes. Sometimes there are five boys on the bus and a girl barks “Next!”, and every once in a while five gay boys are on the bus and another gay boy barks “Next!”

While the gay episodes demonstrate to MTV’s impressionable viewers that young gay people are really no different—they’re every bit as shallow, vapid, and crude as their straight counterparts—not one of the gay episodes really worked. Instead of anxiously waiting to see which of the five will be chosen, viewers of the gay installments of Next anxiously wait for the five boys on the bus to strip down and get it on. The gay boys on the Next bus aren’t rivals, MTV, they’re all potential matches, which makes the one guy who isn’t on the bus nearly irrelevant. In all three of the gay episodes I saw, the boys on the bus were more into each other than they were into the boy for whose affections they were supposedly competing; in gay Next, the boy who “won” a second date with the boy-who-wasn’t-on-the-bus declined, preferring to run off with one of the other guys on the bus.

Recreating the “five bitchy rivals” dynamic that makes the hetero episodes of Next so entertaining wouldn’t be that hard, MTV. Here’s all you need to do: Put five hairy bears on the bus that are only attracted to pretty twinks, and let them compete for the, er, hand of one pretty twink. Or five white guys that are only into Asian guys competing for an Asian guy. Or five tops and one bottom. Or five Log Cabin Republicans and one CPA. Take a little more care with the casting and preinterviews, MTV, and you’ll be able to solve Next’s gay problem. You’re welcome.

Dan Savage, July 5, 2006

MTV, Tila…why are we acting surprised when some of the non-butch, lipstick lesbians (who are attracted to other, non-butch, lipstick lesbians) start hooking up? You knew that was going to happen. And you’re on a reality show – which means you know at least half those people are lying about their motives/background/sexual orientation just to get on TV.

Snitching Clusterfuck

I personally can’t stand those fucking “Stop Snitching” tee shirts. Every time I see one, I have to forcibly restrain myself from lunging at the wearer and choking them out on the metro. However, while watching Domenico and Ashley screw over Brandi, Rebecca, and Steve, I was overcome with the urge to grab one of those shirts and add the phrase “on yourself.” Seriously, yo! It’s the oldest trick in the book. Domenico said nothing, and Steve snitched on himself. Brandi said nothing and Rebecca snitched on herself. If this was a scripted program, we could have at least got a laugh track. Or a “dun-dun-DUN!”

The Ellen Factor?

Everyone loves Dani. Seriously. From my friends to the commenters on the message boards, it seems like most of the support is behind Dani. According to societal standards, we should not be cheering on the futch as she is outside of society’s prescribed roles for lesbians. She isn’t porno ready. There are other girls who are using their T & A a lot more and accomplishing a lot less. So what is it about Dani? Why is she just so damn likeable?

“She kind of reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres,” commented my boyfriend during the last show.

It was as if someone hit me over the head with a squeaky hammer. She IS like Ellen. Is that why we like her? Has Ellen DeGeneres become the archetype for the acceptable butch? Is Ellen the original futch? Hopefully, someone a bit better versed in queer politics and theory can school me in the comments section… Read the Post Third Shot and I’m Starting to Feel It – Shot at Love Recap

October 22, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Occasionally, even the most dedicated activist has days when they just want to say…fuck it. I don’t want to tackle these problems anymore. I don’t want to think about this anymore. I was rapidly approaching that point this week. Exploring the many facets of gentrification, researching Tila Tequila, reading more reports of racism, and reading the denials of racism that come from so many in the mainstream media (and the anonymous posters on message boards) was taking its toll on me.

And then – like a little ray of sunshine – I found the International Blog Against Racism Week. (Thanks Willow!)

The rationale for participating in this carnival is listed on the website, written by blog host Oyceter:

International Blog Against Racism Week (IBARW) originated in an email discussion among coffeeandink, liviapenn, minnow1212, rachelmanija, rilina and me, but for me, the origins go back to the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of DOOM. The debate started from a Wiscon 30 panel, but it was the aftermath on LJ that made me stop and think about racism for the first time. More specifically, it was after I requested the conversation to stay on white appropriation of POC culture just in the comments to that post and got comment after comment protesting the exclusion of white culture. My later post on racism in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was another eye-opener, with comments ranging from “white people are stereotyped too” to “you are being paranoid!”

As you may have noticed from the above, I came into anti-racism late after struggling for years with wanting to be “the good Chinese girl” who blended in and didn’t rock the boat, who took it upon herself to make other people comfortable, no matter how she felt.

All six of us were still finding our feet with anti-racism when we began to email each other. We then tossed around a few ideas, some being a community we could post to, or all of us posting something on our LJs. We debated a lot about tone and how to present things; most of us were afraid of alienating people by being “too angry.” In the end, we decided to do something meme-like that would be on all our LJs at the same time out of practicality: if six of us were blogging at the same time, there would be a much smaller chance of one person getting bombed with 100+ nasty comments (I have to admit, this was my main concern, having been the person whose LJ had just exploded).

I particularly like this carnival because there is a very thoughtful discussion of why they chose to blog against racism, what they hope to uncover, and the criticisms they have encountered. Read the Post Link Love: POC in SF Carnival – International Blog Against Racism Week

October 18, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Show Number Two! I grabbed my now addicted boyfriend and settled in to see what happened in this episode…

After the dramatic reveal, the lesbians feel betrayed and the men are apprehensive. Men make more comments about the women’s general hotness and the women act uncomfortable. There is some discussion of forming an alliance.

Three of the men start to fight. While the crew members break it up, the lesbians loudly proclaim their anti-violence stance. [Because, obviously, women are peaceful and loving when compared to the barbaric warriors with penises.] During the fight, Rebecca swoops in for the kill, comforting a flustered Tila who expresses surprise at all the drama surrounding her “Surprise, I’m bi!” speech.

[Captain Obvious asks: Why were we not prepared to have drama after coming out in a surprise twist on a televised reality show?]

While all the drama is going down, the hyphy-iest lesbian on the show decided she had enough. She expresses a revulsion men in general (and uses the word icky.) Apparently skeeved out by all the men joining the party, Lala left the show.

Interesting perspectives from Alex on homosexual women. He seems to be fairly rational about what is going on – I wonder how long that will last.

There was also a small attempt made at gender parity. Tila had the girls catwalk in the first episode…but had the men catwalk in heels during this episode. It was campy and cute, but once again presented as farce. Real men don’t walk in heels, silly viewers! Domencio – who had a fabulous comment around homophobia in episode one – also seems to be the most adept at walking in high heels. This was noted by Tila, and not in a good way… Read the Post A Shot at Love – Second Recap