Category Archives: magazines

Fireweed #75: The Mixed Race Issue [Culturelicious]

By Guest Contributor Jorge Antonio Vallejos, cross-posted from Black Coffee Poet

Being mixed race always has its challenges: isolation, language barriers, not fitting in, not being ‘enough’, and the many forms of racism that come with all that.

Every time I tell people that my mom is Peruvian and my dad is Lebanese I get:

  1. Exotic!
  2. Interesting.
  3. How did that happen?
  4. You look more…

One time a famous playwright of colour stroked my cheek and whispered “exotic” in my ear after I identified myself to him.

When I break it down even more (Mom: Indigenous/Spanish/Chinese + dad: Arab, moved to South America in his teens) I get the insult that people think is funny and acceptable: “you’re a mutt.”  It gets worse when I say my dad isn’t in my life, but I really don’t want to go there right now.

Reading Fireweed #75: “The Mixed Race Issue” was not only fun it was refreshing.  Its contributors wrote about a lot of what I have experienced over the years; and they wrote from the heart, holding nothing back, and well.

Continue reading

Canada’s Maclean’s has a whiteness problem

By Guest Contributor Restructure!, cross-posted from Restructure!

“‘Too Asian’?” was not the first racist Maclean’s article lamenting the quantity of racialized people displacing white people and white power.

In 2006, Maclean’s published “The future belongs to Islam” by Mark Steyn, who assumed that Muslims all over the world were primarily focused on a shared goal of imposing Islamic law globally, and tried to bring to everyone’s attention that the birth rates of Muslim-majority countries were higher than the birth rates of European countries. Steyn also pointed out that although “Africa” has a high birth rate, it is “riddled with AIDS” and “as we saw in Rwanda, [Africans'] primary identity is tribal”. Steyn then invoked a white colonialist narrative by describing Muslim-majority areas as “Indian territory”, “lawless fringes of the map”, and “badlands” that needed to be “brought within the bounds of the ordered world.”

Continue reading

Maclean’s Magazine revisits old fears with ‘Too Asian?’ article

By Arturo R. García

Thanks to the group of readers who tipped us off to this: apparently Maclean’s Magazine is saying Canada’s a nice place to visit for people from China – just as long as they don’t stick around and have kids who attend college there.

Wednesday, the magazine released an article originally titled“‘Too Asian,’” with the sub-headline, Some frosh don’t want to study at an ‘Asian’ university. The article opens by introducing us to a group of white students put off from even considering going to the University of Toronto in part because of its’ reputation for being “too Asian.” Of course, this is followed up by the explanation that the sentiment is “not about racism”:

Many white students simply believe that competing with Asians— both Asian Canadians and international students— requires a sacrifice of time and freedom they’re not willing to make. They complain that they can’t compete for spots in the best schools and can’t party as much as they’d like (too bad for them, most will say).

As one reader noted via e-mail, these fears are nothing new: In 1979, the CTV network aired a news piece called “Campus Giveaway,” that misrepresented Chinese Canadian students as foreigners, and inflated enrollment statistics. The story led to protests against both the network and W5, the program on which the story aired. The controversy was cited as the impetus for the formation of the Chinese Canadian National Council.

After being taken off the magazine’s website, a edited version of the story resurfaced Thursday: some paragraphs in the story were re-arranged; the headline had been changed to”‘Too Asian?’” – note the question mark – and the sub-headline was changed to a more sedate-sounding, Worries that efforts in the U.S. to limit enrollment of Asian students in top universities may migrate to Canada. The CCNC will reportedly meet today with Maclean’s management and Stephanie Findlay and Nicholas Koller, who wrote the article.

Open Thread: Helping Magazines That Get It

giant robot 1
By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

In the wake of the Reggie Bush controversy and this month’s Vanity FAIL, it’s worth spreading the word that magazines like Giant Robot & Hyphen are still in need of aid in order to stay afloat. As Jessica Lum notes::

Many of the organizations that were started to reach out, broadcast, and appreciate the amazing work of Asians and Asian Americans (or Asian Canadians, Asian Brazilians, etc.) are struggling under the financial burdens of the economic environment, especially in the journalism and print media industry.

So, while encouraging you to help those magazines out, I ask: what culture mags – Asian or otherwise – are you reading these days? What should we be reading?

Putting the “Fair” in Vanity Fair: VF’s 2010 New Hollywood Issue is Lilywhite

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim


Reader Sanni sent us a link to this article by Joanna Douglas, “Vanity Fair’s “New Hollywood” issue completely lacks diversity“:

While we’d like to think celeb bible Vanity Fair puts a great deal of thought and planning into its annual “New Hollywood” issue, this year the editors really limited their scope when it came to choosing the next big stars. (Or perhaps they overemphasized the “Fair”? ) Every woman on its new cover is extremely thin and very, very white. Unless Vanity Fair considers one redhead to be diversity, we feel the need to cry foul.

Surprising? No. Depressing? Yes.

Douglas makes the excellent point there’s no lack of rising stars of colour for VF to choose from:

We can think of a slew of non-white, non-rail thin actors who made a splash this year (Gabourey Sidibe from “Precious” anyone?). In the accompanying article, Vanity Fair writer Evgenia Peretz calls out the young cover stars by their best attributes: “downy-soft cheeks,” “button nose,” “patrician looks and celebrated pedigree,” “dewy, wide-eyed loveliness,” “Ivory-soap-girl features.” Roles for black, Asian, and Latin actors are scarce in Hollywood, but surely Sidibe, Zoe Saldana of “Avatar” and “Star Trek,” and Freida Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire” are having their moment.

Sigh.

Essence Magazine Accidentally Steps Into an Intra/Interracial Dating Minefield

by Latoya Peterson

We got a request from reader Nafis to cover the Essence magazine controversy that is heating up the black blogosphere.  But the comments included with the tip made me laugh a bit.  Nafis writes:

i know it might go against parts of the racialicious agenda, but i feel like you should talk about the ”cycle of ignorance” that leads to racism. The comments that the author highlights are very derogatory, and it speaks a lot about the situation within the black female community.

Our agenda is to fairly clear – to provide an anti-racist perspective on pop culture.  And regular readers know that we are a feminist-minded site, and generally work to incorporate other anti-oppression principles into what we do.  So talking about “the situation within the black female community” isn’t really what we do since most of those perceptions are based in stereotypes about black women.  However, what is compelling about the whole situation is how conversations about interracial dating play upon stereotypes and deeply held convictions, that tend to drown out any other type of commentary.

The Situation

BET’s entertainment blog gives a good summary of what is going on:

When Essence editors chose to put Reggie Bush on the cover of their February 2010 “Black Men, Love & Relationships” issue, I’m sure they thought they were just giving their readers a little dose of sexual chocolate eye candy (those abs!), but instead all hell broke loose!

The Essence.com boards are flooded with seething comments from people who can’t understand why a magazine geared towards Black women would make the NFL player who is dating a non-Black woman, Kim Kardashian, the cover choice for an issue that celebrates Black love.

A lot of hateful comments were posted to the Essence boards, some even saying that Bush was a “white supremacist” and anger that a magazine dedicated to celebrating black women would put a man dating a non-black woman on the cover.

The vitriol on this one is fierce – but what is really the issue here? Continue reading

Short and Proud? GQ Grapples with Black Men and “Rebellious” Naturals

by Latoya Peterson


My boyfriend brought home the GQ with a three-quarters naked Rihanna on the cover (for obvious reasons), but warned me against reading the articles.  (He’s a staunch Esquire man.) Ignoring his advice, I decided to flip through the magazine – and the first article in the “Grooming” section immediately catches my attention. In “Say It Loud – Keep It Short and Proud,” Knox Robinson reveals early on in the piece that he sported dreadlocks for close to 14 years.

He describes cutting off his dreads as the acceptance of a life transition:

I was at the start of my thirties and dutifully undergoing the transitions of that age—the arrival of a son, new career moves. With a radically new appearance, I felt distinctly like a man who’d escaped through the back door of a burning building and used the second chance to set out on a completely new path. Old acquaintances stared right past me on the train, and at parties women who once denied my advances wondered who I was.

Which is cool – people tend to use their hair as markers of transitions.  Growing the hair long, chopping it short post-break up, altering it with dye, eschewing dye for the natural color, giving up relaxers or embracing lacefronts, these are all parts of the personal choices (informed by our politics and society) that are small tiles in the mosaic of our identities. And indeed, the transformative aspects of a dramatic hair change cannot be underplayed – a friend of mine recently cut off the locks he had been growing for more than a decade.  But that reason was wrapped up in feeling stagnant in a life and a relationship he no longer wanted.  So the cut, to him, symbolized moving away from the person he used to be, toward the person he wants to become.

However, Robinson takes his piece into strange territory when he starts his analysis, completely disregarding the politics of hair and instead concluding (emphasis mine):

We’re now experiencing a restoration of black cosmopolitan glamour last witnessed fifty years ago, and the guys who define that sensibility are dudes like Usain Bolt, Lewis Hamilton, LeBron James, and yes, Obama. I see their close-cropped hair as marks of men singularly focused not on rebellion but on changing the game, or more acutely: results. It’s hair for the man with a job to do rather than a comment to make.

I am amazed that the conversation around natural hair still focuses on the idea of “sticking it to the man” instead of an expression of culture or just a personal preference.  And I am also amazed that so many people still see natural hair as a barrier to professional progress, or a lack of professionalism or focus. I’m often fascinated by the attempted control of people through their hair (see: teachers cutting children’s hair; indigenous children being barred from school for wearing their hair long, the contempt shown to men who wear their hair long because it isn’t “‘masculine”) and how this control is often dressed in the language of “growing up” or “being professional.”

Articles like this one just remind me of how far we actually have to go.