All posts by Luke Lee

Is it sexism or racism? Or racialized sexism?

by Guest Contributor Luke Lee

Let’s say you’re a woman of color climbing the ladder in one of the most male-dominated “boy’s clubs” in America. You’re the assistant to the top spot and when at a meeting with others in your business, a man singles you out asking who you are, why you’re there, what you are and then proceeds to make fun of what he perceives to be your race. While that strikes (and rightly so) everyone as racist, Kim Ng makes an important point here in that when this happens, it’s also sexism. Or more so sexism than racism, according to Ng.

Going on five years ago, Ng’s private journey – the work day of an assistant GM is a mostly anonymous one – became a national story. Bill Singer, a former big-league pitcher and at that time a special assistant to New York Mets GM Jim Duquette, stopped Ng during GM meetings in Phoenix. He asked her who she was. He asked her why she was there. He asked her about her heritage. Ng, recognizing the situation as potentially flammable, patiently answered his questions. He then mocked her in gibberish-speak that was supposed to approximate Chinese.

She calls it, “the Bill Singer incident.” She calls it the worst episode of sexism – not racism – she has experienced.

“I think that’s the ironic thing,” Ng says. “People match it up to race, and I think it was more about gender.”

I remember when the story about Ng and Singer first broke the response seemed to be “wow, what a racist guy. He should be fired” (which he was). Second, people were a little shocked to realize that “hey, a woman is in a top spot in a major baseball organization” but the one and two were never connected. That Singer’s comments weren’t just racist but that he was most shocked to see a woman who is a person of color.

(Photo credit: MLB.com via The New York Times)

Why the word “mutt” makes me wince

by Racialicious guest contributor Luke Lee

“Who’s doggy’s daddy? A DNA test can determine the breeds that make your mutt”

Making its way to the very front page of Yahoo! on Monday night was a video and a news article about a DNA kit which, as the folks at Yahoo! so eloquently put it, is able to tell dog-owners the different breeds in their “mutt.”

Now, I realize that we’re talking about dogs here but the word “mutt” is one that makes me wince no matter what the context. And though the word, when talking about dogs, is in supposedly a completely canine context, I don’t think it’s in an entirely different context without any sort of implications of cultural attitudes that carry over to the ways in which our society sees and talks about mixed race folks.

The most glaring aspect of the word and it’s popular usage when it comes to dogs is that people, dog-owners just don’t know what the dog is which results in the “mutt” description. There’s nothing wrong with this because god knows that a lot of dog-owners don’t know what their dog is but at the same time, many dog-owners do know very well. “Mutt,” to me, implies very much a sort of hairbrained “I don’t know. It’s just a bunch of everything thrown in there. I lost track” which is fine if people want to talk about their dogs like that, if people want to talk about themselves like that but its lackadaisical presence in the way people talk about race and in this case, dog breeds, fosters a sort of “don’t know so reduce it down” attitude. Don’t get me wrong, people should identify however they want to and if someone identifies and calls themselves a mutt “because it’s simple” then that’s great for them. However, as the word has the overriding suggestion of a lack of knowledge when it comes to one’s background, it’s not the most sensitive term to be flinging around at least when it comes to real people. I know this isn’t a perfect comparison, but it’d be like if I proudly told people I was “Oriental” and preferred the term over “Asian” or “Asian American.” If I did then that’s my business but it would inevitably give people the idea that it’s an OK term to use when describing Orientals Asian Americans. And also, I’m not saying that dog-owners who use the term are somehow insensitive and subtly racist when it comes to issues of race but rather the culture in our language perpetuates the idea that mutt=potpourri and if to be mixed is to be a mutt then to be a mutt means to not know what you are (and not care) which I don’t think is remotely the case for many, many mixed people. Continue reading

Is the MLB neglecting African-American talent?

by Racialicious sports correspondent Luke Lee

The latest issue of Sports Illustrated features Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Grady Sizemore who is known for possibly being the best all-around young player in the game today and for his soon to be ownership of the Derek Jeter “most beautiful/popular man in baseball” crown (Seriously. The Indians sell “Mrs. Sizemore” t-shirts at the ballpark).

But anyways, to be honest I had no idea that he was multiracial Black and White like Mr. Jeter but it’s an interesting coincidence because as quiet and low-key as Sizemore is (the anti-Jeter, in that sense), one of his hopes is to “inspire other black athletes to play baseball.”

Unfortunately the article doesn’t dig deeper on that issue but it’s important nonetheless because it’s something that Black baseball players have been saying for years. Many even felt that the recent Jackie Robinson remembrance was a joke considering how little the MLB was doing today in terms of bringing baseball to Black communities in America while building academy after academy in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, to name a few.

But speaking of baseball academies in the DR, teams like the Indians and New York Mets have started to lead the charge in “social responsibility” (at least a little bit) in terms of providing potential recruits with a basic grade school education.

Don’t get your hopes up though, because the writer and even the New York and Cleveland brass are very honest in their intentions because this isn’t any sort of “look at the poor situation there, we’re just doing this without any ulterior motive!” kind of deal.

Rather, “It heightened our ability to understand and know the players we were evaluating, signing and developing…We wanted them to think analytically. Increasing aptitude is a competitive advantage.” admitted a Cleveland official.

Sports Roundup: Dice-K, Nascar, and Joakim Noah

by Luke Lee, Racialicious’s sports correspondent

“Dice-K” mania rolls on as the World Baseball Classic MVP wowed the MLB world with his dazzler of a win against the Royals. What’ll be interesting to watch is, as some sports-writers have noted already, that Japan might have a thing or two to teach America about training pitchers (as well as stereotypes).

Everyone’s heard about the Little Rock Nine. But has anyone heard about how when the school was forced to de-segregate, they “inadvertently broke up one of the country’s greatest football dynasties.”

We all know the stereotypes about NASCAR fans: White, low-income, and from the south. This is, of course, ridiculous because there are NASCAR fans of all kinds everywhere. And while the sport doesn’t get a fair shake when it comes to how it’s perceived by the world, it does have some responsibility in working to change that without the suggestion that the “non-white” crowd is suddenly interested in NASCAR.

Whoops.

Too late.

And yes, I know those are more Chevrolet than NASCAR, but when you’re using the most popular drivers in the commercials, come on.

Around this time last year we all heard about Joakim Noah as the Florida Gators clawed to the top of March Madness. This time it’s the same story except Joakim, as caught on YouTube, wants you to know something:

YouTube Wire: Free hugs, Harajuku and The Pimp Chronicles

by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent

If there’s one fad that doesn’t seem to die down in online popularity it’s blackface. Despite all those millions of Weird Al “White and Nerdy” views and iTunes purchases (seriously, it’s been on the iTunes top 10 for a while. People aren’t just listening to it once and laughing, they’re buying the song.) people still feel the need to perform BWTAB particularly when sandwiched with a popular hip-hop song or a stereotypical rap beat. The so-called “Kings of MySpace” come in with their video which, simply, it sucks.

And speaking of music and music videos throwing around weird racial representations, we have of course good old Gwen Stefani who comes in with her “Wind It Up” music video which features those creepy Harajuku Girls (but in blonde hair this time). People, we’ve got to free the Harajuku/Gwenihana four!


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Notes from the workplace

by guest contributor Luke Lee, originally published at real men are not

cubicle lifeSo far, about 5 co-workers total have asked me in varying ways “what are you?” Almost all of them I answered honestly and I wasn’t that bothered by it because they, most importantly, didn’t ask immediately (you know, they actually waited to get to know me first) and they waited for some natural context of conversation. I’ve written too many times about this and the “I like [insert race/ethnicity] [gender]” so i’m not going to rehash but today as i’m sitting there at work, one of our “clients” comes up to me and it goes like:

Guy who looked like Howard Stern: Hey, what are you?
Me: What?
Guy: Your race. Are you Filipino? You’re Filipino?
Me: No.
Guy: Japanese?
Me: No.
Guy: Chinese?
Me: No. [Guy is baffled but amused]
Guy: Mexican?
Me: No.
Guy: What?! What else is there?! [Guy is still baffled but not offended that I just won’t flat out tell him]
Me: (Shrug)
Guy: Russian? Are you Russian?
Me: No. (Asks Guy work-related service question)
Guy: ALEUT! You’re an Aleut!
Me: No.
Guy: Oh cah-maaann!!!! (laughs)
Me: (chuckle)

YouTube Wire: conservatives, yellowface, and white teachers in the ghetto

by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent

Check out Luke’s own blog at real men are not

michelle malkinRecently Michelle Malkin has been trying to finagle a piece of the YouTube pie by posting a bunch of crappy videos from her “Hot Air” series. Latest on the list is a staunchly conservative version of “The View” where she talks with some other women about current events as well as some of the comments they receive as women bloggers and women bloggers of color. Michelle and La Shawn Barber,specifically, mention how they’ve been called “race-traitors” and “sellouts” in addition to (though this applies more to Michelle) all the physically and sexually violent threats that they receive. Now, I loathe Michelle Malkin as much as anyone else because of her comments about Japanese internment, about racial profiling and such but I think it’s a sad comment when people will make the most vile sexist and misogynistic attacks at her not for her screwed up politics and baloney ideas but rather that she’s a woman and a woman of color saying her opinion (however much you may disagree with it).

And speaking of conservatives…

ann coulterThere’s an interesting collection of clips of Ann Coulter spouting off her trademark hyperbole and hate. Some material about “illegals” and “democrats are the real racists”…

yellowface kim jong ilI understand that given any political/global climate, the comedians and the impersonaters are going to come out and make fun. So when North Korea starts to dominate the breaking news, what do folks do? Impersonate Kim Jong-Il and make videos called “Spam fly lice.” That’s all fine and good and I almost expect people to crack the usual jokes about how he’s crazy and about how he’s got a funny haircut but I mean seriously, do we really have to make the usual Breakfast At Tiffany’s joke again? MrCook, the creator the video, is trying to entertain along with his god-awful “cooking” instructions so expectedly the quality of the video, the food, the humor, everything is just rock bottom…

mr pregnantRemember MrPregnant from last time? Well, he’s back again except this time he’s decided that the world must know this: MrPregant doesn’t like dark skinned women. MrPregnant likes women who look like his mother (blonde hair, light eyes) and this doesn’t make him prejudice because, uh, he only has “a preference.” What an idiot. In the beginning, I think people (as I admittedly did) assume that he’s talking about lighter skinned Black women but of course as he goes on, he gets all Freudian but wont really say that he likes white women specifically. I imagine mixed race folks get a ton of crap like this (this, “oh, your dad/mom is X so that must mean that you naturally prefer X’s!”) and this only heaps onto that stereotypical way of thinking. Honest to God, I don’t know why people feel compelled to tell others (strangers, I might add) information like this… Continue reading

YouTube Wire: rednecks, white nerds, hebrew crunk and more

by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent
Check out Luke’s own blog at real men are not

rednecks tvDespite nearly a week of constant videos of or concerning the now infamous Bill Clinton interview, the folks at Rednecks TV clawed to the top spot of This Week’s “Most Viewed” with their latest episode, episode nine. The first thing you notice, of course, is the glaring Confederate flag that Rednecks TV uses as background and illustration which for now doesn’t seem to have anything to do with their show despite their association of the Confederacy and the south with being a supposed redneck. Now, basically this is a show where two guys sit at a table and talk and do various “tests” and “product reviews.” They don’t seem to talk about race at all beyond saying “redneck” a few dozen times and for the most part, it’s just an assortment of fratty phallic-humor jokes…

weird al white and nerdyAs previously touched upon on Racialicious, Weird Al Yankovic has a new video out where the chorus line is “White and nerdy” and that pretty much says it all. What’s important to note, however, is just how popular the music video is and how well it’s received in user-ratings and comments. There are a few versions of the video floating around and in total there must be well over 500,000 views so far and not to mention a solid 4/5 stars rating. People love this stuff…

hebrew crunkAnd speaking of Blackface-Without-The-Actual-Blackface type humor, one of the things that really clogs my toilet is when people try to make jokes by pairing two things that are supposedly “completely opposite.” In this case we have a cartoon of Lil’ Jon and a Rabbi in “Hebrew Crunk!” Cue the rush of people running to the local Halloween store to buy fake dreads, sunglasses and gold teeth just so they can say “Yeaaaaah,” drink lots of alcohol and act like an idiot to “play the part” in a few weeks… And as you’ll notice is a recurring theme on YouTube: some idiot doing blackface. Continue reading