Thompson’s decade-long run on SNL is really some kind of miracle. He should be extremely grateful, and say 10 prayers of thanks every single day for lasting so long as an SNL cast member. He’s a very lucky man.
Thompson is lucky because despite the fact that he hasn’t done anything remotely funny on SNL in 10 years, he’s still cashing their checks.
In reality, whenever most people hear the name Kenan Thompson, the very next thing that pops into their minds is, “Hey, whatever happened to Kel Mitchell?”
Thompson’s true claim to fame is his body of work for kid’s network Nickelodeon. I’m talking “All That,” “Kenan & Kel,” and the “Good Burger” movie.
Yes, Kenan Thompson paired with Kel Mitchell was, at times, comedic genius. Mitchell, however, was the bigger talent of the two child-stars, and few will argue that point.
- Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex (Media Diversity UK)
When Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen simply because she wanted to gain an education it sent shockwaves around the world.
The Western media took up the issue, Western politicians and the public spoke out and soon she found herself in the UK. The way in which the West reacted made me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala’s case was taken up and not so many others.
There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education, however there is a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.
This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalised. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armour to save her.
- Herman Wallace: Surviving 40 years in solitary (BBC News)
Some prisoners are placed in solitary confinement because they have assaulted or killed another inmate or a guard. Others are held there because they are gang members – and are considered dangerous.
Prisoners in solitary confinement are held in their cells on “average 23 hours a day”, according to Craig Haney, a University of California professor who testified at the June 2012 hearing.
“Prisoners go for years – in some cases for decades – never touching another human being with affection,” he said. “The emptiness and idleness that pervade most solitary confinement units are profound and enveloping.”
Some prisoners in solitary confinement commit suicide. Others hurt themselves. One man in New Mexico, said Haney, “used a makeshift needle and thread from his pillowcase to sew his mouth completely shut”.
Last summer 30,000 California prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest against solitary confinement. State lawmakers said they would examine the issue – and the strike was cancelled. Years ago, inmates at the Angola prison were disturbed at the way that Wallace and others were treated in their isolated cells.
- Presumed Incompetent (Inside Higher Ed)
The 30 essays in “Presumed Incompetent” expose a nasty truth about Academia: it is not above the realities of everyday American life. It, in fact, reproduces and reinforces society’s inequalities, stereotypes, and hierarchies within its own walls.
That academic women, especially academic women of color, are often presumed incompetent, is probably not surprising to most. The virtue of this book is that it enables the reader to see that these experiences are not individual experiences nor are they the result of individual flaws. Keeping this insight in mind, these essays become more than just “stories” or anecdotes. They point to the larger structural and cultural forces within Academia that make the experience of being presumed incompetent for women of color far too common.
The book is a collection of various types of essays: scholarly literature reviews of the experiences of women of color, personal narratives, and interviews. The content is divided into five parts: “General Campus Climate”, “Faculty/Student Relationships”, “Networks of Allies”, “Social Class in Academia” and “Tenure and Promotion”. As one can tell readily from the themes, the book isn’t directed at students, nor is it meant primarily for use in a classroom (although there are several chapters that would be a good fit in courses that cover race, class, gender and sexuality issues). The book’s primary audience is faculty and administrators. It not only highlights the cultural and structural obstacles facing women of color in Academia, but proposes strategies and recommendations aimed at faculty and administrators. Several essays do this effectively, but Niemann’s concluding essay provides a particularly valuable summary of strategies and advice.
- Men Who Love “Scandal” (The Root)
Thursday night is date night at my apartment.
Nothing special, just drinks — a glass of water for me, red wine for her. We have not seen each other in months, and I’m excited to be reunited.
Her name is Olivia Pope.
We will meet in my living room, where she has shown up promptly at 10 p.m. on and off for the last 18 months. I will be on my couch. She will be in my television set.
She is not real, but my love for her, as she is played by Emmy-nominated actress Kerry Washington on the hit political drama “Scandal,” is very real.
Olivia and I will pick up where we last left off tonight with the season 3 premiere, and I will remain devoted to her week in and week out. I will tweet about Scandal incessantly while it airs. I will cut off any real dates with real women on Thursday nights by 9, and I will start every conversation on Friday with, “Did you watch ‘Scandal’ last night?”
- A Love Letter To the Hood (The Toast)
I’ve been trying to write about Chicago violence for a good two months now. The facts are easy to obtain from any major news source, though the way in which those facts are presented leaves a lot to be desired. Context matters, though, and it appears to be completely missing from most discussions concerning my city. If you were to take a map of Chicago marked with the neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, and overlay it with a map of school closures, you might begin to see a pattern. Add in yet another map of cuts to public transit–including the decisions to shut down train lines for repairs for months or years at a time–and a picture emerges of neighborhoods that have been systematically isolated.
Experts on Chicago (who often are neither from Chicago or remotely educated about Chicago politics or Chicago history), often disparage the people in the community. And no, I’m not making excuses for gang violence. But when we talk about violence in the communities where gangs are most common, we have to talk about the economics of crime. We have to talk about the impact of poverty, of police brutality, of school closures, of services being cut over and over again to these neighborhoods. We have to talk about the impact of racism on wealth building in communities of color. We have to talk about politicians who think the solution to crime is to throw civil liberties out the window. We have to talk about why the institutional reaction to white-on-white violence was settlement houses, while the institutional reaction to violence in predominantly Black and Latino communities is to bring in the National Guard.
It’s easy to forget that the people living in those neighborhoods are more complex than a sound bite, when those sound bites are often all that make it into the mainstream media. There’s this idea that the community is responsible for fixing itself, as though these things are happening because the people living there have dozens of choices and they choose the ones that leads to violence.
- I Wasn’t Invited to the Talk-About-Race Deal. Good. I Didn’t Want to Be. So There! (Dallas Observer)
The basic model of a racially monochrome neighborhood does not come from anything good. It is not a legacy of pride. It is a legacy of racial segregation. And segregation is always bad in the long run.
Here’s what I found from my years of taking part in talk-about-race deals. They don’t do any good. Something about race simply eludes verbal exposition. Race isn’t a philosophy. It’s mental astigmatism, a distortion of the glorious reality that is our sameness, our absolute and fundamental equality as human beings.
I don’t know why, but you just can’t talk your way out of racism. You have to live your way out of it by working together, refereeing your kids’ fights and sleep-overs, hugging through your shared heartaches and victories, touching, seeing, feeling each other’s shared humanity. You have to live next door to each other, not across the river.
That’s not the story of “Raisin in the Sun.” If there is a white person alive who still goes to see “Raisin” in order to get black people, he needs to give up, go home and, every little chance he gets, stay quiet.
- For Migrants, New Land of Opportunity Is Mexico (The New York Times)
Some Mexicans and foreigners say Europeans are given special treatment because they are perceived to be of a higher class, a legacy of colonialism when lighter skin led to greater privileges. But like many other entrepreneurs from foreign lands, Mr. Pace and his partners are both benefiting from and helping to shape how Mexico works. Mr. Rodríguez, the former Interior Ministry official, Cuban by birth, said that foreigners had helped make Mexico City more socially liberal.
And with so many Mexicans working in the informal economy, foreigners have little trouble starting new ventures. Many immigrants say Mexico is attractive because it feels disorderly, like a work in progress, with the blueprints of success, hierarchy and legality still being drawn. “Not everyone follows the rules here, so if you really want to make something happen you can make it happen,” said Ms. Téllez, 34, whose food business served more than 500 visitors last year. “No one is going to fault you for not following all the rules.”
Mr. Lee said that compared with South Korea, where career options were limited by test scores and universities attended, Mexico allowed for more rapid advancement. As an intern at the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency here, he said he learned up close how Samsung and other Korean exporters worked. “Here,” he said, “the doors are more open for all Koreans.” He added that among his friends back home, learning Spanish was now second only to learning English.
The results of that interest are becoming increasingly clear. There were 10 times as many Koreans living in Mexico in 2010 as in 2000. Officials at a newly opened Korean cultural center here say at least 12,000 Koreans now call Mexico home, and young Mexicans in particular are welcoming them with open arms: there are now 70 fan clubs for Korean pop music in Mexico, with at least 60,000 members.
- Brad Paisley and the Politics of Offense and Offense-Taking (The Atlantic)
If you accept that the Confederacy fought to preserve and expand slavery, then you might begin to understand how the descendants of the enslaved might regard symbols of that era. And you might also begin to understand that “offense” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Reading Penthouse while having Christmas dinner with your grandmother is offensive. Donning the symbols of those who fought for right to sell Henry Brown’s wife and child is immoral.
It is important to speak this way. Nothing is changed by banishing the Confederate Flag out of a desire to be polite or inoffensive. The Confederate Flag should not die because black people have come to feel a certain way about their country, it should die when white people come to feel a certain way about themselves. It can’t be for me. It has to be for you.
- Census data mask poverty suffered by some Asian American groups (The Los Angeles Times)
“There’s always been a recession in our community,” said Lian Cheun, executive director of the nonprofit Khmer Girls in Action. “The pain has always been there. It’s just not well known.”
Tongan Americans have even more stunning poverty rates, the report found, with more than half estimated to be living under the poverty line countywide between 2006 and 2010. Because the community is so small, the estimates are rough and the actual poverty rate might be somewhat lower — but still far above the county average.
The new report seeks to uncover such problems, using U.S. Census Bureau and other government data to poke holes in the “model minority” stereotype and illustrate the changes sweeping such communities.
Asian Americans have become the fastest-growing group in Los Angeles County, which now has not only the biggest Chinese and Korean communities in the country, but also the largest number of people of Thai, Indonesian, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Cambodian, Burmese and Taiwanese descent, the report found.
As the recession barreled down, their growing numbers also meant more people in need. In Los Angeles County, the number of Asian Americans who were jobless jumped 89% after the downturn, according to the report. Among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, the number more than doubled.
- Burning The Bridge (Grantland)
The writers of “The Bridge,” parked out in California, don’t know Juárez well enough to realize this. The show’s pilot opens with one upper and one lower torso dumped on the Cordova Bridge. One of the torsos, female, belongs to the conservative judge from El Paso. The other torso, as the cliché demands, is half of a pretty young girl from Juárez. According to a message relayed by the shadowy killer, the Juárez victim, Cristina Fuentes, “died 14 months ago. Nobody investigated. Nobody cared. Just another dead girl.”
But now that the El Paso police are involved, somebody finally cares. Specifically a beautiful, blonde detective with Asperger’s syndrome named Sonya Cross. (She’s played by Diane Kruger.) Her cohort from the Chihuahua State Police, Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir) has to explain to her why Fuentes’s disappearance wasn’t looked into. She was “only one of 250 girls who disappeared last year. They go missing from buses, factories, always 15 to 20 years old. Dark hair, beautiful.”
“So you have a serial killer?” asks Cross.
“Nobody knows,” Ruiz responds. “There’s just too many. The chiefs, they really don’t want us to investigate. Easier that way.”
Not mentioned: More men and boys disappear every year in Juárez than do women and girls. And, crucially, if this really were Juárez, on the day Fuentes’s body was discovered the remains of as many as nine men and boys might have been found, too. And nobody would have investigated the deaths of those male victims, either. Gender has nothing to do with this police failure. To ignore this context is to grotesquely misrepresent what’s happening in the city.
- Playing ‘Indian’ and Color-Blind Racism (Indian Country Today Media Network)
Natives do experience the covertness of color-blind racism that limits life opportunities. Under the logic of colorblind racism, if I don’t make as much money as a white woman who does the same job, it’s because I’m not as experienced or competent. If Natives, on average, have less college attainment, it’s has nothing to do with the 500+ years of internal colonization and genocide or the eras of removal, relocation, reservation internment, and forced boarding school attendance. It’s because Indians are lazy drunks. No thought is given to historical context or constrained opportunities. Race scholars admit that marginalized groups still experience inequality, but argue that racism is expressed increasingly without direct racist terminology.
But this certainly does not hold true for Indigenous Peoples in the U.S. We also routinely experience overt racism in the form of racial epithets like redskin, injun or squaw and horribly distorted depictions of Natives as mascots, reminiscent of the propaganda used against black, Irish and Jewish people in the 19th and 20th centuries. And this overt racism is not confined to hate groups, but is visible in everyday communication and throughout the media.
We still live under the prevalence of Native misrepresentations in the media, archaic notions of Indianness, and the federal government’s appropriation of Indian names and words as code for military purposes. Racist informal statements are common expressions—statements like being an “Indian-giver,” sitting “Indian-style,” learning to count through the “one little, two little, three little Indians” song, or getting together to “pow wow” over a business idea.
- The Politics Of Being Friends With White People (Salon)
I had only begun to have white friends the year prior when I found myself newly “tracked” into the higher-achieving second grade class based on superior reading ability. Scattered into a predominantly white classroom among only a handful of black students left me desperately wanting to culturally fit in and sound like my peers, especially since the vast majority of black children I knew stayed concentrated in the “B” and “C” tracks. My awkward attempts to fit in resulted in me being teased mercilessly by my black peers, who from then on through the better part of high school both accused and found me guilty of “talking too proper,” “acting white” and, perhaps most egregious of all, “thinking I was white.”
- “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”: An Oscar-Worthy Historical Fable (Salon)
I’d be hard-pressed to describe “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” as a good movie. It’s programmatic, didactic and shamelessly melodramatic. (Danny Strong’s screenplay is best viewed as fictional, although it’s loosely based on the true story of longtime White House butler Eugene Allen, who died in 2010.) Characters constantly have expository conversations built around historical markers, from the murder of Emmett Till to the Voting Rights Act. Every time Cecil serves coffee in the Oval Office, he stumbles upon epoch-making moments: Dwight Eisenhower (Robin Williams) debating whether to send federal troops to desegregate the schools in Little Rock; Richard Nixon (John Cusack) plotting a black entrepreneurship program to undercut the Black Panthers; or Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman) telling Republican senators he plans to defy Congress and veto sanctions against South Africa. Cecil and Louis, the warring father and son played by Whitaker and Oyelowo, might as well come with labels: Cecil is following in the footsteps of Booker T. Washington; Louis in those of W.E.B. Du Bois.
- 50 Years After the March On Washington: The Economic Impacts on Education (HuffPo Black Voices)
…one of the most troubling aspects of higher education inequality is its economic dimension. A recent paper by Demos found that African Americans are 15 percent more likely to incur debt when obtaining higher education and 15 percent more likely to carry more debt on average. As a consequence, higher education debt is disproportionately weakening African Americans’ retirement savings and household equity, key sources of wealth.
By Joseph Lamour
- How to Ask Someone About Their Ethnicity Without Being an Asshole (Jezebel)
…I am Not a White Person. This means I am a walking version of this fun little game called “What Kind of Not White Person Are You?” Here’s how it goes: I introduce myself to you at a party or some such social gathering. You introduce yourself as well. In an attempt to get to know me better, or maybe just keep the conversation going, you want to know exactly how I am a Not a White Person. Which is totally fine at the right time and place, because I love gabbing on about my immigrant parents and how much I love mango pickle. It’s all good fun in post-racial America, like wearing a red, white, and blue dashiki on the fourth of July (who knew you could don a dashiki and be patriotic at the same damn time?!)
But the majority of the time I play this game, supposedly well-intentioned people curious about my brownness go about asking it in the wrong way. No, not the wrong way- the ASSHOLE way. I get it, really. You grew up in a suburb of Indianapolis and no one ever taught you how to not be an asshole. That’s actually my life story, too, but you can’t always throw Indianapolis under the bus as your excuse for being ignorant.
- The Curious Case of George Zimmerman’s Race
Gustavo Arellano, editor in chief of OC Weekly and the syndicated columnist behind ¡Ask a Mexican! bristles at the idea that Latinos are responsible for explaining Zimmerman’s actions. “Latinos have acknowledged that he’s half-Peruvian and that makes him Latino. But no one is going out there to say, ‘He’s one of us,’ just like Muslims don’t go out and say, ‘Osama Bin Laden was one of us.’”
- Obama, Trayvon and the Problem That Won’t Be Named (Colorlines)
Obama rightly claimed that he could have been Trayvon Martin 35 years ago. Those who immediately took to Twitter to remind us that Obama didn’t grow up in a ghetto are correct. But they should be reminded that Sanford, Fla., is a majority white, yet mixed neighborhood—and far from a ghetto. Those who remind us that Obama attended private schools should know that racism remains alive and well in those institutions. Yes, Obama attended Columbia University in the early 80s—during a time when a whites-only fellowship was offered; in fact, the fellowship never went away. And yes, Obama attended Harvard University, just up the street from where professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct four years ago—on suspicion that he was breaking into what turned out to be his own home. Those who think that racial profiling somehow only happens in “ghettos,” which in this case is code for black neighborhoods often orchestrated for poverty, should be informed that black bodies are even blacker among white ones.
But Barack Obama hasn’t only attended institutions that have historically created unfair advantages for white students, or questioned black professors who teach there.
Barack Obama has been a politician in the United States where, for the past five years, he’s been continually harassed about this citizenship. A convincing rumor originally started by Hillary Clinton’s supporters in 2008, Obama’s dark skin and lineage cast doubt on his ability to campaign for president. Unlike any other candidate, Obama was forced to provide a copy of his birth certificate in order to illustrate his capacity to serve if elected. And unlike any other president, the rumor that the president may have been born in another country persists. That’s because Obama truly is unlike any other president—he’s a black one. And Friday’s remarks remind us that he, too, remembers what it’s like to not only be the nation’s first black president, but also what it’s like to be the black man in an elevator when a white woman clutches her purse.
- Marc Anthony On Latino Stereotypes: The Entertainment Industry Doesn’t Owe Us Anything (HuffPo Latino Voices)
Adding to a viewer’s video question concerning any upcoming projects on film or television, Hill alluded to the “Devious Maids” stereotype controversy and asked the singer whether he believed there was “space to have a different kind of Latino representation.”
“Is that the show with the fine maids?,” Anthony asked before answering the question.
“As far as people being in uproar, they don’t owe us anything. The industry doesn’t owe us anything, networks don’t owe us anything. You have a complaint? Educate yourself, take up writing, become a producer, direct it,” the salsa singer told HuffPost Live. “You know what I’m saying? Get up and do it — write good material, produce good films. I’m not of the mind that we’re owed [anything] because ‘oh every Latino on TV is either criminal…then get up and do better.”
- Trayvon’s Dad: ‘My Kid Was Perfect to Me’ (The Root)
My kid was perfect to me. As a father, it hurts to see how Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, has tried to twist the truth. And I can’t defend my son, who has been killed. It’s demoralizing. How do you blame the victim?What they don’t understand is that Zimmerman didn’t only murder my son — he destroyed an entire branch of my family tree. I looked forward to the possibility of having grandkids from Trayvon. And that’s something that can never happen now. But as far as the attacks on Trayvon’s character, it certainly isn’t true, and therefore doesn’t affect me personally. I just hope it doesn’t work with the jury and the public.O’Mara has tried to focus attention on whether or not Trayvon had smoked marijuana in the past. First, that’s irrelevant to the facts of the case. I recently read a government report that showed 36 percent of American high school seniors had tried marijuana in the past year. And white kids do it more often than blacks or Hispanics. Is that a reason to shoot a kid? Would Zimmerman have shot a white kid in that neighborhood?
- Opinion: The problem with “Devious Maids” goes far beyond Hollywood (NBC Latino)
It is not wrong to be a maid, or even a Latina maid, but there is something very wrong with an American entertainment industry that continually tells Latinas that this is all they are or can ever be.My grandmother was a maid in Cuba; my biological grandfather was her employer. My father, never claimed by his bio-dad, was a janitor when he first began working in the United States, as a teen immigrant. My father went on to get his PhD, sort of a real-life Good Will Hunting, and became a leading sociologist. He raised me to believe in myself and my voice; I went to Columbia, and I’m a bestselling author Tom Wolfe called one of the most important social critics of our time.We don’t see stories about people like me or my dad. Indeed, network executives say to my face that I don’t exist. That’s the problem.
- The Dangerous, Infectious Logic of National Security (Colorlines)
It is comforting to believe these things have nothing to do with one another, to insist that the administration’s shocking spying program is a distinct issue from the trends we’ve witnessed in communities of color for years. But the logic used to defend secretly collecting the communications data of people not accused of any crime is the same logic used to defend NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program and Homeland Security’s deportation apparatus. The logic of “national security” was developed and honed by law enforcement practices inside communities of color. It is one of the more striking examples of a basic truth: racial injustice is cancerous; it eats the national body from the inside out.
- Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Federal Data Suggests (The New York Times)
Advocates for the legalization of marijuana have criticized the Obama administration for having vocally opposed state legalization efforts and for taking a more aggressive approach than the Bush administration in closing medical marijuana dispensaries and prosecuting their owners in some states, especially Montana and California.
The new data, however, offers a more nuanced picture of marijuana enforcement on the state level. Drawn from police records from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the report is the most comprehensive review of marijuana arrests by race and by county and is part of areport being released this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. Much of the data was also independently reviewed for The New York Times by researchers at Stanford University.
“We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner,” said Ezekiel Edwards, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Criminal Law Reform Project and the lead author of the report.
- Why We Need to Talk About Race In Adoption (Bitch Magazine)
While “colorblindness” in adoption has been widely challenged, however, not everyone is convinced – like the adoptive mother who recently told me, “I don’t see my son’s color. Race is just not an issue for us.”
Some people maintain that any cultural loss is unimportant compared to what children gain through adoption. But in both mainstream media and personal conversations about adoption, cultural and racial identity need not be pitted against a child’s right to love, safety, and security.
This unfortunate “either-or” framing of the issue finds frequent expression in discussions of transracial adoption. Michael Gerson—whose wife is a Korean adoptee—wrote in the Washington Post: “Ethnicity is an abstraction…. Every culture or race is outweighed when the life of a child is placed on the other side of the balance.” In a National Review article criticizing Kathryn Joyce’s book The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, adoptive father David French dismissed “the ‘culture’” (note the mocking quotation marks) of internationally adopted children as “the culture of starvation, of rags, of disease, and of abandonment.”
In his veto message, Scott noted that Congress never approved the policy enacted by President Obama last year to allow children brought to this country illegally to seek reprieves from deportation. “Although the Legislature may have been well-intentioned in seeking to expedite the process to obtain a temporary driver’s license, it should not have been done by relying on a federal government policy adopted without legal basis,” the governor said.
The last-minute block and tackle suggests Scott’s sensitivity toward conservative activists, who were aghast when the onetime crusader against Obama’s health care law embraced in February the administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid. The proposal to accept millions in federal dollars to insure poor people was beaten back by state lawmakers but not without leaving a mark on Scott, who is expected to face a tough reelection campaign in 2014 against former governor and newly minted Democrat Charlie Crist.
Scott’s veto also highlights the Republican Party’s struggle to boost its appeal within the fast-growing Hispanic community. The bill’s sponsors said the governor’s veto flies in the face of the millions of dollars the Republican Party is allocating to minority outreach and candidate recruitment.
“Make no mistake about it: This will be an anti-Hispanic bomb if he vetoes this bill,’’ said Democratic state Sen. Darren Soto, one of the legislation’s sponsors. “The vast majority of my peers understand we need to encourage immigrants to become working members of our society. It makes no sense that the Scott administration would veto something it’s already doing.”
- ‘Love Thy Neighbor’: Tyler Perry makes Oprah look mean (The Los Angeles Times)
Cantankerous oldsters are, of course, a staple of comedy. But the trick is to evoke the anger, prejudice, exasperation, fear or simple confusion with which one generation often regards the next without losing the character’s essential humanity.
Although she has a Madea-like quality in that she is played by a much younger woman, there is virtually no humanity in Hattie. As we watch her berate and deride daughter Linda (Kendra C. Johnson) — whom we learn Hattie first threw out of the house when Linda was but 17 (hahaha)— and grandson Danny (Andre Hall), a college graduate having difficulty finding a job in a tough market (hahaha), one is left to wonder how much Perry hates his own grandmother.
Only her brother-in-law and business partner Floyd (played with admirable comedic grace by Palmer Williams Jr.) seems immune to Hattie’s hatefulness. Linda certainly is not; at the end of episode one, she discovers that her husband is cheating on her. Again.
Hattie predictably explodes with a chattering rage when Linda asks to move back home. By episode two, she is considering a reconciliation because she feels she is unfit for anything other than an unhappy marriage.
Wow, wonder why? Surely, there was an episode of Oprah based on just this sort of unhealthy relationship.
Boiling down zoot culture to one set of beliefs, variables, or ethnicity and race, rather than looking at its pluralistic totality, has been at issue when discussing it. Participants did not move in lock-step and carried differing, if often overlapping, views of the zoot suit’s meaning. While most zoots would agree that their fashion operated as a claim of public dignity denied them by white society, how each zoot defined such “dignity” varied: “dignity for a black male zoot suiter in New York … was often not the same as dignity for a Mexican American female zoot suiter in Los Angeles,” Alvarez points out. Moreover, some zoots, as previously noted, opposed the war and others actually joined the military to fight.
The focus on male zoots often obscures the numerous women active in the scene. For all its poignancy in capturing the fate of Montoya Santana, as noted by Carmen Huaco-Nuzum, in “American Me,” its female characters operated as foil for the movie’s larger discourse on Chicano masculinity. Though the film attempts to break free from gendered assumptions regarding Chicanas, with the exception of one female character, the movie remains bound to an image of Mexican American women as “subservient” and passive, dutifully enduring their oppressed fate. Borrowing from intellectual Octavio Paz, the film, Huaco-Nuzum argues, perpetuates the “legacy of being ‘la chingada,’ or the violated woman — the passive, long suffering female in servitude to the macho.”
Earlier popular productions broadcast similar themes. Luis Valdez penned “Zoot Suit” in the late 1970s, originally as a play focusing on the injustice of the Sleepy Lagoon Trial. In 1981, it became a movie starring Edward James Olmos. Utilizing court records and reports from the Los Angeles Times, Valdez constructed a narrative sympathetic to the defendants but one that virtually ignored the trial’s female participants. According to Catherine Ramirez, Valdez flattened subtleties present in news accounts and court records, depicting female zoots within a Madonna/whore binary of Mexican American women, thereby consolidating the domestic concepts his sources encouraged and constructing a popular model that others would draw from perpetuating the errors of his initial sourcing decisions.