Category Archives: ethnocentrism

Multi-culti World Cup?

By Guest Contributor Hira Nabi

cup1 As the 2010 FIFA World Cup nears its’ end, we begin to look at the undercurrents of the tournament, held for the first time at the African continent, in South Africa, and the continued crossing-over of sports pop culture – spanning over languages, borders, time zones in search of markets and audiences. Take Coca-Cola’s World Cup “anthem,” K’naan’s “Wave Your Flag.”(Not to be confused with FIFA’s jingle, Shakira’s “Waka Waka.”)

There were six different versions of the song released and aired during the event, each featuring K’naan and the same cheering crowds, bright colours, contagious excitement, obligatory celebration of nationalism and of course, all of them celebrate “the” flag.  But the flag in each was different: K’naan collaborates with Nancy Ajram to produce the Arabic version, with David Bisbal to produce the Spanish version, with Jacky Cheung and Jane Zhang for the Chinese version, with Féfé for the French version, and, last but not least, teamed up with Skank on a Portuguese version for Brazil.

It gets better! There’s an Alvin & the Chipmunks version, even.

This “official” World Cup version, which seems to have been taken up by everyone, is a compromised, co-opted, Coca-cola-ized version of the original. The original lyrics speak more to struggle against poverty and violence, in pursuit of freedom. Were they too real for the World Cup?

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‘The Potawatomis Didn’t Have A Word For “Global Business Center”‘?

By Guest Contributor Adrienne Keene, cross-posted from Native Appropriations

I was waiting for my connecting flight at Chicago O’Hare, and spotted this advertisement on the opposite side of our gate. Close up on the text:

It reads:

“Chicago is the Potawatomi word for onion field. Apparently, the Potawatomis didn’t have a word for global business center.”

This is an example of the use of Indigenous language and imagery that many people wouldn’t think twice about, or find any inherent issues with. But let’s look at this a little deeper:

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Quotable: Feministing On Joel Stein

I suppose when you come across a writer so engulfed in snark, so above the tide, so cutting edge that it is almost impossible to touch their well thought out and clearly obvious humor that you find yourself paused, unable to dissect with the surgical precision of cutting analysis you have come to expect of Feministing, you have to at least stop and acknowledge that the author was kind of intelligent, had a strong point of view and at least made you LOL. I really think Joel Stein was hoping he would get that kind of reaction about his column in this week’s TIME about his painful realization that his town was overrun by “Indians,” a deeply sad look into his psyche, almost reminiscent of the Michael Richards moment, only Stein was writing…so you would think he had more time to do just that. There are few things sadder than reading a writer that is so caught up in their own ego, racism and bad writing that they don’t even have the foresight to see how poorly their piece has not only come across but will be received. The only thing sadder is that TIME chose to run it.

– From No Hee Hee, Ha Ha, For Me Joel Stein, by Samhita Mukhopadhyay

Stuff White People Do: Pose In Cowboy Drag

By guest contributor Macon D., originally published at Stuff White People Do

Most of the time, I’m like just about everyone else in at least one way — I don’t much care who occupies the position of “Alabama Agricultural Commissioner.” In fact, I didn’t even know such a position exists. But then I saw a couple of ads for Dale Peterson, a current GOP candidate for Alabama Ag Commish. Peterson’s ads immediately register as very, very “white” to me, and now I’m trying to count the ways.

Among the most obvious appeals to conservative white voters here is the nostalgic evocation of the Independent (White) Cowboy Myth. If you say “cowboy” to most white Americans, they’ll immediately think of a hat-wearing, horse-riding white man. And yet, as Mel at BroadSnark explains (in a post on “White America’s Existential Identity Crisis”), real cowboys weren’t actually all that white, nor all that independent:

There is a certain segment of the American population that really believes in the American foundational myths. They identify with them. They believe that America was built by a handful of white, Christian, men with exceptional morals. Their America is the country that showed the world democracy, saved the Jews in World War II, and tore down the Berlin wall.

These people have always fought changes to their mythology. They have always resented those of us who pushed to complicate those myths with the realities of slavery, Native American genocide, imperial war in the Philippines, invasions of Latin American countries, and secret arms deals.

And we have been so busy fighting them to have our stories and histories included in the American story that we sometimes forget why the myths were invented in the first place.

No myth illustrates the slight of hand behind our national mythology quite like the myth of the cowboy. In this mythology, the cowboy is a white man. He is a crusty frontiersman taming the west and paving the way for civilization. He is the good guy fighting the dangerous Indian. He is free and independent. He is in charge of his own destiny.

Peterson’s follow-up ad is even, um . . . better? Continue reading

Kinkosis [Essay]

by Guest Contributor Safa Samiezade’-Yazd, Special to Racialicious

Hard to believe, but I was born bald. Not cute little peach-fuzz bald. Not skinhead bald with a chance of stubble. No, I was born with a head as bald as a baby’s butt. What’s more unbelievable—I grew up with straight hair. Of course, if you look at me now, the first thing you see is what happens when Ireland and Iran decide to come together to have a baby—curls that put even Shirley Temple to shame.

My hair went curly in early adolescence, right around the time I hit middle school. I was a small, petite tweenster, and instead of fretting about breasts, which were hardly there, or periods, which were nonexistent, I poured my angst and energy into my newfound mop of kinky hair that sprung itself on me almost overnight. My father hated my curly hair. He said it made me look black. This is a problem to some Iranians, who hold a great pride in the purity of the Persian race. Iran is actually Farsi for Aryan. To this day, when people meet me, their first impression isn’t that I look Persian; it’s that I look black. My Arabic first name doesn’t help. It makes people assume that I’m one of “those black people” whose parents named her something from the homeland. Persians have lustrous hair, but usually it’s straight with a slight little wave. Mine is too kinky to scream and dance “Iran!” Even when I met Shirin Neshat, the most famous Iranian artist outside of Iran, who has made a career out of photographing Persian women, it wasn’t apparent. She didn’t realize I was Iranian until I mentioned my last name.

There is a racial element to the picture here—hair that is curly, kinky or even nappy is commonly associated in American culture as “black.” Silky, straight hair, on the other hand is usually seen as “white.” As comedian Paul Mooney put it, “If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.” Herein lies the paradox of many ethnic women in America, black and otherwise—the pressure we curlyheads feel in assimilating into a dominant image of lustrous, straight hair that will seemingly make us look more well-kept or better-groomed in a culture of brushes, perms and irons designed to give straight hair what we already have. Yes, curly hair is sexy—at times. Usually the sexy sirens with curly hair are actually straight-haired women who know how to use a curling iron. The grass really is greener on the other side.

This ideology is pervasive, to the point that many times, we don’t even realize we’re buying into it. Beauty requires an acknowledged ugliness in something else, so in order to look damn good, someone else has to look like a train wreck. I remember being told as a child that curly hair is really a genetic mutation. I remember thinking I was a freak. When I was in high school, a classmate once told me that race is actually determined by hair type. If your hair is straight, then you’re Asian. If it’s wavy, then you’re white. And curly hair makes you black. I stood there dumb-founded that a straight-haired, freckled white guy was telling me this. The physical contradiction between him and his theory was so obvious. Even with a democratically elected black President, there are people in our country who still think that the American image should still lean towards white. And if you think that’s outdated, just look at this past summer when 11-year-old Malia Obama wore here hair in twists during a trip to Rome. The conservative blog Free Republic called her unfit to represent her country because her hair wasn’t straight. The blog has since pulled that thread from their site. Continue reading

Race + Comics Notes: Blue Beetle, Aqualad & SDCC documentary hopefuls

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

As if to make up for Ian Sattler’s unfortunate comments last week, DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns unveiled screen shots from a special-effects test for a possible Blue Beetle live-action series.

The images, posted by Johns at the DC Comics blog, show Jaime Reyes’ transformation into his blue suit of armor, powered by the extraterrestrial scarab on his back.  Johns was quick to point out that this was only a test, without mentioning when it took place. Obviously it couldn’t have happened in the direct wake of Ian Sattler’s unfortunate statements, but the timing’s still a little … interesting.

In any case, Johns did say that the Beetle would be featured in most episodes of the Batman: The Brave And The Bold animated series this coming season, and promised to show the screen test at San Diego Comic-Con, and that’s encouraging. Which is more than I can say for some of the responses on Newsarama:

just because a property is interesting, doesn’t mean it needs a tv show. Bottom line is it could barely support itself as a comic for three years, and though he’s in Brave & Bold … this is the kind of thing that will kill the comic interest in surrounding genres. Halle Barry as Catwoman, Nicholas Cage as Ghost Rider, anything about X3 … just because there is an idea and someone is willing to do it, doesn’t mean it should be done.

I think a live-action Ted Kord – Blue Beetle series stands a better chance of catching on. Continue reading

Arizona Legalizes Racial Profiling, Sparks National Conversation on Immigration Law and Reform

by Latoya Peterson

Last week, before bill SB 1070 was signed into law in Arizona, Mario Solis-Marich wrote:

The bill sitting lightly on her desk and heavily on her mind is SB 1070. The bill would require that police officers ask for proof of citizenship should they suspect a person of being undocumented. In a single stroke of her pen Governor Brewer can set back her party even deeper into a demographic hole, transform her state into a national social pariah, and downgrade her political future to that of a speaker on the circuit forged by Tom Tancredo and Lou Dobbs. Is Brewer Tom Tancredo or is she Ronald Reagan? This week we shall find out.

Considering the efforts of some in the GOP to distance themselves from the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has found the party building the same reputation among Latino voters that it holds with African American voters, the political impact of Jan Brewer signing the 1070 cannot be overstated. Arizona’s Latino GOPers have openly promised rebellion and primary chaos if the bill is signed. Latino Independents and Republicans have been a critical ingredient for the success of John McCain and other Republicans in Arizona during general election cycles.

The state will suffer from a national and international backlash should Brewer sign the bill. The US census will probably put the US Latino population at 50 million. Add other ethnic minorities into the mix and it will not be hard to stage a successful boycott of the state, by simply explaining to Americans that their family vacation can be quite uncomfortable, in a state that requires anybody that looks like they may be undocumented to carry their birth certificates with them at all times.

After Brewer signed the bill, forcing all citizens to carry immigration papers/state identification cards and authorizing the police force to detain anyone suspected of being here without the proper documentation, the backlash was swift.  Everyone from President Obama to a vigilante group in Arizona expressed disapproval – the latter smeared the windows of the state capitol building with refried beans in the shape of swastikas.  I didn’t initially believe this report, but Towleroad had the video:

Obama, for his part, immediately made a statement against the bill.  The New York Times reports:

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws, which Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon, to avoid “irresponsibility by others.”

The Arizona law, he added, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

Steven Colbert made the bill a part of his “The Word” segment:

The Colbert ReportMon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – No Problemo
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

I suppose you have to laugh, to keep from crying.

(Image Credit: New York Times)

Newsweek Takes On Feminism On Behalf of Young White Girls Everywhere

by Latoya Peterson and Thea Lim

I (Latoya) originally wanted to title this post: All The Women Are Still White, All The Blacks Are Still Men, But Some Of Us Are Tired of Being Brave and Want to Kick Someone’s Ass. But that was too long, and bad for SEO purposes. So here is the situation.

Last week, Newsweek published an in-depth piece of journalism, chronicling the uncomfortable relationship between women employees at the magazine in 1970, when a gender discrimination suit was filed (with Eleanor Holmes Norton representing the 46 women who filed) and three women employees 40 years later who discovered that they still weren’t quite equal. (The piece is titled “Are We There Yet?”) While the piece was lauded by journalists (for being self-critical) and by feminists (for taking a look at the uncomfortable picture), drama popped off when the Jezebel team pointed out the image of feminism in the Newsweek headline and photo felt a little too familiar.


The text below the image reads:

Things stay the same: This just-posted Newsweek story on “Why Young Women Need Feminism” is accompanied by photo of six women…all of them white. [Newsweek]

Predictably, drama ensued. Continue reading