By Guest Contributor Megan Red Shirt-Shaw
When I first stepped onto the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, I vowed I would never join a sorority. I had seen the process happen before – girls were made to parade in the streets during rush and at the time, I could think of nothing less mortifying. Yet when my group of girlfriends decided to rush (and I realized I might be friendless for a week), I found myself standing outside during rush in a line of girls wearing a dress in the Philadelphia slush.
I was skeptical throughout. I felt ridiculous coming into every house with a line full of girls waiting to talk to me. The houses were perfectly polished – immaculate, really – and I had the same conversation over fifty times. Where was I from, did I like the punch, I like your shirt, I like your dress, I like your face, on to the next girl. I continued to wonder throughout whether or not I would feel like any of these places were right for me. The thought of peppy girls and peppy events – I couldn’t wrap my head around it. But then I walked into a house called Sigma Kappa.
By Arturo R. García
The campaign against derogatory team names “honoring” Native American communities saw another flashpoint over the weekend, as a group of protesters in Cleveland encountered one local baseball fan who saw fit to paint his face red and wear a “headdress” before the hometown team’s 2014 home opener.
As Indian Country Today Media Network reported, the protest was led by Robert Roche, a member of the Cleveland Native American Movement. At one point, he was approached by the other man, who identified himself as “Rodriguez” and insisted his attire was not racist.
Instead, he reportedly claimed it was “Cleveland pride.”
“My children are not mascots,” Roche told WEWS-TV. “Why is it okay to be racist, derogatory or stereotyping us as a race of people here?”
However, CleveScene reported that fans attending the game took the low road:
It’s actually a shame for the civil Wahoo supporters that their comrades put on such an embarrassing and primitive display this afternoon. Only twice in three hours did Pro-Wahoo folks talk politely with the protesters about the root of their opposition and try to explain their own difficulties with the dehumanizing logo. (One man turned his Wahoo hat around as a little peace offering).
For the most part, though, passers-by hurled insults. A handful of boozy risk-takers sporting “Keep the Chief” tees walked directly in front of those holding signs, to taunt. Others distributed individual middle-fingers to each protester while inviting them to fuck themselves. Others launched the familiar hate speech — “Go back to the reservation,” etc.
By Arturo R. García
“DISCLAIMER: No racism intended.”
– Statement from Lambda Theta Delta’s original post of “Suit & Tie” blackface video, per The Huffington Post
That stunning “disclaimer” over a University of California-Irvine fraternity’s use of blackface to interpret the Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z track “Suit and Tie” makes the fraternity’s subsequent “apology” ring hollow.
“We sincerely apologize if we offended anyone whatsoever,” president Darius Obana told KCBS-TV. “On behalf of my brothers who were involved in the video, know that it was unintentional. But unintentional or not we do know that it was wrong.”
By Andrea Plaid
Two form of entertainment with passionate defenders garnered some great critiques that drew quite a bit of Tumblr attention this week, starting with Chronicles of Harriet’s Balogun spot-on post on the white-washing of urban fantasy:
Come on, y’all…if you write a story and set it in a place like Broaddus’ Indianapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, London, or Las Vegas, basic demographic research will indicate the presence of people of color. To read and enjoy Urban Fantasy, I am expected to just accept that Black people don’t exist? You get the side-eye for that one.
Whether or not you like Urban Fantasy, the fact of the matter is that this subgenre of Fantasy has had an immense and global impact on people through literature, television and film.
It is because of this impact that we cannot ignore the messages that Urban Fantasy brings. Each time an author of this subgenre decides to tell a story, instead of working so hard to erase people of color out of existence, they should work just as hard to erase the problems that plague our society. And fanboys…do not say that writers should not have to be political; that they should be free to write merely to entertain. Every statement we make is political. Every sentence we write is potentially life-changing for someone. Such is the power of the word.
You cannot truly change culture without literature. We can pass a thousand laws saying that racism and sexism are wrong. We can make a thousand impassioned speeches to rouse the marginalized masses; but if everyone returns home after those speeches and sits down to read the latest installment of Twilight, or watch the next episode of The Vampire Diaries and their fictional worlds in which those same marginalized masses barely even exist – then how much change can truly be affected?
By Andrea Plaid
Of course, when I think of this week’s Crush from the standpoint of my childhood, he’s forever Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, looking calmly into the starry universe and co-steering the USS Enterprise through it on the reruns I’d watch with my mom on Saturday afternoons. In my adult life, he’s the criminally underutilized character, Kaito Nakamura, on Heroes. And a helluva of a social media user and activist, boldly using the former for the latter.
The US government forcibly relocated Takei’s family from their home in Los Angeles to an interment camp in Arkansas in 1942, when he was 5 years old, and then to another internment camp in northern California. After World War II ended, his family moved back to Los Angeles. In junior high school Takei was voted student body president; he was also a Boy Scout at his Buddhist temple. After the jump is an interview in which he recalls his childhood:
By Associate Editor Andrea Plaid, The Shanghai Pearl, Chicava HoneyChild, Essence Revealed, and ExHOTic Other
Burlesquer The Shanghai Pearl tipped off the R to one of the latest offensive acts, this one done by renowned burly-q entertainer Dita Von Teese at her ::sigh:: “Opium Den Show.” (Video NSFW)
Latoya asked me to cover the controversy with my burlesque mentor and one of the R’s favorite burlesque experts , Chicava HoneyChild. Chicava reached back to Shanghai Pearl as well as asked Brown Girl Burlesque performers ExHOTic Other and Essence Revealed to join the conversation. Here’s what we all had to say about it.
By Arturo R. García
It’s the kind of thing that shocked even experienced anti-racism activists around the Web: a few tweets went out along the lines of, What’s this going on in SwedenWHATTHEHELL? And this time the reaction was justified.
In what he has called an attempt to draw attention to the practice of female genital mutilation, Swedish artist Makode Aj Linde made himself into a “cake” as part of an art installation at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. This past Sunday, according to reports, the country’s Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, took part, cutting slices from “his” clitoris as he screamed in mock agony, and Liljeroth and the crowd of white attendees with her laughed at what a spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association (NAFA) called “a racist spectacle.”
Shots of Linde’s project can be seen here, as well as in the other source material for this post under a heavy Trigger Warning. But as you can see from the image above, blackface was apparently a part of Linde’s repetoire before this incident.
Colorlines quoted from an interview with the artist on Swedish radio:
Makode: It’s sad if people feel offended, but considering the low number of artists in Sweden who identify as Afro-swedish I find it sad that the Afro-Swedish Association haven’t followed my artistry and do not understand what my work is about.
What did the minister of culture say to you when she was there? Was she hesitant about eating of the cake?
Makode: I didn’t clearly see her reaction, but judging from the pictures she was surprised when she realised that the cake was living. And before she put the knife into me, into the cake, she said “Your life will be better like this”. And when she put the knife into me I started screaming and begged her to stop. This was a part of the performance.
But what was the thought behind you being a living head?
Makode: I wanted to somehow make the cake more human, not just a silent object. More interactive, simply.