Category Archives: media

How Should We Handle Deaths When Reporting Current Events?

by Latoya Peterson

So, this morning, I was co-hosting Crappy Hour on Jezebel with Megan. (I’ll be there the rest of the week.) We actually happened to get into a bit of a debate over the way that the terrorist attacks in Mumbai were covered.

Over the weekend, reader Frida alerted me to some oversights in the coverage:

I’ve been keeping a close eye on news reports coming out of Mumbai regarding the horrific terrorist attacks of the past three days. One thing that I was sure of was that among the foreign casaulties, at least one Asian, a Japanese businessman named Hisashi Tsuda, had been killed.

However this article on CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/11/28/india.attacks/index.html at 11:14 AM EST, lists “one Chinese” among the dead, with no mention of a Japanese casualty. This is the sentence, “including three Germans, two Americans, an Italian, a Briton, an Australian and one Chinese were among the at least 15 foreigners killed –”

Now if there are fifteen foreigners, and the nationalities of nine are listed, that means the nationalities of six of the victims were not disclosed. I guess that COULD mean that one Chinese person did die, and a Japanese was among the nationalities not mentioned in the CNN article.

But, alas, there is the possibility that some CNN Online staffer/writer got a bit confused by the whole theory that “Chinese” and “Japanese” are not the same and are not interchangeable, and put down “Chinese” casaulty when he or she really meant “Japanese” casualty. Because I have not seen any other news outlets at this time mention anything about a Chinese casualty.

If this is the case, that’s sort of disrespectful, no? In case they edit before you see it, here is a screencap I took some minutes ago: http://i34.tinypic.com/e98ajc.jpg with “Chinese” underlined.

I started watching the coverage, to look for more information for Frida, but quickly became horrified at the way the same few shots were shown over and over – blood on the floor of the hotel, wounded and bleeding people being carried to safety. It was a bit jarring to me, as it just felt like the images were placed for maximum shock and horror. It was also odd, as I remember watching coverage of the terrorist attacks in London back in 2005, and not seeing much besides external shots of buildings, tunnel data, and surveillance cams before and after the event. Why the difference in this situation? Continue reading

Music, Perceptions of Muslims and the Little Big Planet Delay

by Guest Contributor Shawna, originally published at Islam On My Side

Recently, the Little Big Planet PS3 release was delayed. This peeved many, including my husband, who had pre-ordered it and eagerly anticipated its arrival. The next day, it came out that the delay was due to the presence of Qur’an verses within one of the songs in the game. The song was written by an Emmy winning Muslim musician who explains that it’s normal in his home country (Mali) to include Qur’an or words of the Prophet (pbuh) in music in order to show the inspiration of Islam. Sony decided to strip the song from the game instead of risking offense. They’ve been through this before with the Catholic church. No need to reenter the arena.

What surprised many was the response by the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. On their behalf, M. Zuhdi Jaffer, M.D. released the following in a statement:

“Muslims cannot benefit from freedom of expression and religion and then turn around and ask that anytime their sensibilities are offended that the freedom of others be restricted. The free market allows for expression of disfavor by simply not purchasing a game that may be offensive. But to demand that it be withdrawn is predicated on a society which gives theocrats who wish to control speech far more value than the central principle of freedom of expression upon which the very practice and freedom of religion is based.

“…We [the AIFD] do not endorse any restriction whatsoever on the release of this videogame but would only ask those with concerns to simply choose not to buy it. We would hope that the producer?s decision not be made in any way out of fear but rather simply based upon freedom of expression and the free market.”

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Salon: “First lady got back”

by Latoya Peterson


As America fretted about Obama’s exoticism and he sought to calm the waters with speeches about unity and common experience, Michelle’s body was sending a different message: To hell with biracialism! Compromise, bipartisanship? Don’t think so. Here was one clear signifier of blackness that couldn’t be tamed, muted or otherwise made invisible. It emerged right before our eyes, in the midst of our growing uncertainty about everything, and we were too bogged down in the daily campaign madness to notice. The one clear predictor of success that the pundits, despite all their fancy maps, charts and holograms, missed completely? Michelle’s butt. [...]

I can’t talk about Michelle’s butt without acknowledging her hair, another physical feature that stirs anxiety about black female difference. Let me just say that I hope that gets unleashed, too. How sad that, in order for a black family to prevail — because Michelle and the girls were all running for office, not just Barack — they had to sublimate their blackness like crazy, starting with the visuals. Michelle’s ethnic butt might have snuck under the radar, but an ethnic do wouldn’t have stood a chance.

So writes Erin Aubry Kaplan, in her piece “First lady got back” which was recently published on Salon.

Reader Virigina sent in the tip, writing:

Although Erin Kaplan does make a few decent points about how black women are viewed in this culture, most of the article just reinforces stereotypes. She is defining Michelle Obama and black women in general by their butts and hair. There are so many other traits that she could have discussed.

After reading the full piece, I’m inclined to agree. I get the semi-tongue in cheek tone of the piece, but this article just feels a bit wrong for the audience. Perhaps if it was written for a magazine like Essence or Clutch, which routinely explore the issues of black women and how a lot of our politics are wrapped up in our appearance, I would feel differently about the end result.

But it’s at Salon.

And while the commenters debate back and forth about whether or not the article is “joyful” or “disrespectful,” a large part of me wonders when Salon will publish an article on what faces Michelle Obama in the White House, or an article about racial trends in America penned by a woman of color, or a review of a book like Naked which lays all these issues bare. My problem with the article isn’t that it’s a lighthearted musing on Michelle’s attributes, as seen through the eyes of another black woman (who – according to Kaplan’s website – has also whipped out personal essays on her own butt, as well as musing on J.Lo’s.)

My problem is that articles about Michelle Obama’s wardrobe, booty, and mom duties are what is fit to publish, what is seen as relevant to a mass audience.

And everything else – like a reflection on how Michelle’s “makeover” was to make her more palatable to a certain set of Americans and what that says about race and gender in this country – seems to fall by the wayside, stuck in the niche analysis category.

Funny how that works.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, Regarding Hate Crimes Against Latinos: “Oops. My Bad.”

by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published at Guanabee

You might recall our recent look at the murder of Long Island resident Marcelo Lucero and his community’s reaction to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation. Levy said the murder of Lucero was a “one-day story” that was receiving “undue” media coverage. Well, Levy has since apologized for those remarks:

“It was absolutely the wrong time for me to suggest that coverage of events in Suffolk is treated differently by the media,” Levy said in a letter to Newsday. “The horrible incident is indeed more than a one-day story. It was a reminder of how far we as a society still have to go.”

We understand that murderers commit murder, and that the seven teen boys charged with carrying out the actual beating and slaying of Lucero are the ones who most need to pay for their crime. But, while they are the ones who need to carry the bulk of the burden of culpability in this case, their guilt is shared by people like Steve Levy. Some people commit murder with bullets and blades, some do it with their words and examples. Steve Levy is not a murderer, but he worked to perpetuate a culture of murder, an allegation echoed by activist Tony Asion and Dean Kevin Johnson in their recent interview with NPR concerning hate crimes against Latinos.

The “one-day story” made its way into the New York Times. The NYT article quoted Levy as calling the seven murders “white supremacists.” Which, we think, is a step back. Continue reading

Diversity and the “Cultural Elite” of New York

by Guest Contributor Joanna Eng

The September 25 issue of Time Out New York (TONY) featured a list of their favorite 40 New Yorkers who have made an impact on the city in the past 13 years. I was appalled to see that out of the 40 cultural leaders that they highlighted, only three were people of color (Jay-Z, Derek Jeter, and Junot Diaz), two weren’t even human (Spider-Man and the MetroCard), and the other 35 were white.

Right after reading the issue, I and probably hundreds of other readers wrote letters to TONY to call them out on their list’s glaring lack of diversity as it tried to represent one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. In my letter I said, “Rather than reminding us that white people are still in power, you could have been a little more creative with this list.” And I proceeded to list several people I would have liked to see on the list: Rosario Dawson, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, David Paterson, Chang-Rae Lee, Rosie Perez, Majora Carter, Rosie Mendez, etc.

They must have gotten quite a number of these letters, because a week later they had posted a piece online called “Where are all the people of color?” In the article, a TONY editor basically continued to defend and justify the lack of diversity in the list, and sparked even more angry comments from readers. The response piece, in some ways, was even more appalling than the original list because it showed no sign of regret and stated even more clearly (in case we didn’t get the point the first time) that they believed that New York’s “cultural elite” was made up of mostly white people.

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D.L. Hughley Headlines a New Political Comedy Show on CNN

by Latoya Peterson

Please Note: This is NOT a D.L. Hughley fansite. You cannot contact him directly through this site, or leave feedback about his show.

Before I sat down to watch D. L. Hughley Breaks the News, I was skeptical of the whole project. D.L. Hughley doesn’t immediately come to mind when I think of a comedian that is well versed in politics and current events. The author of the NY Times article seems to concur, noting:

For the last week Mr. Hughley, 45, has had to arrive every morning at his office at CNN in Manhattan at the ungodly (for a comedian) hour of 11 a.m. to digest reams of information from newspapers, Web sites, television and talk radio. He has no time to goof off during the 8-to-12-hour days; only the occasional moment to glance at his new profile in the CNN company directory that lists him as an anchor.

“I’m like, ‘Come on, man,’ ” an incredulous Mr. Hughley said in a recent interview. “I barely even know how to read. I’ve got a G.E.D.”

Just 10 days ago CNN announced that Mr. Hughley would be the host of a new comedy-news show, “D. L. Hughley Breaks the News,” which has its premiere Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

AverageBro already laid down his thoughts on the show, writing:

I’m not saying Hughley isn’t funny. His early days of Comic View were classic. And for the record, his standup career is far more successful than anything Stewart did pre-Daily Show.

But DL just doesn’t seem to have the gravitas to pull this off. His shortlived Comedy Central talk show, Weekends At The DL, was atrocious. His appearances on shows like Real Time With Bill Maher and The Glenn Beck Show don’t give me the impression that this cat is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to politricks.

He also brings up another large elephant in the room when it comes to D.L. Hughley’s idea of comedy:

Is it wrong for me to still be upset about that “nappy headed hoes” comment more than a year after the fact? Prolly not, but I’m sorry, I just cannot get over that. That sh*t was a straight up James T. Harris b*tch move in my book.

I wonder how dude could go home and look his wife and daughter in the eyes after that bullsh*t.

I prolly won’t watch this show, so I guess I shouldn’t bash it. Could it possibly be any worse than Chocolate News or The Tony Rock Project? Even though I wished CNN’s affirmative action hire had been Roland Martin instead, I guess I should just be happy to see black men working, no matter how mediocre the product.

Nah. Bump that.

If you wanna support a black man on TeeVee, peep BET’s slept on Somebodies. Now that’s comedy.

Screw DL Hughley. A true Nappy Headed Hoe!

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Schlepping toward the Ballot Box?

by Guest Contributor Matthew Egan

*Warning: Explicit Language*


(Sarah Silverman’s video for the Great Schlep)

There’s a thing you might have heard about, The Great Schlep.

Behind it is an organization called Jews Vote. Looking at their bios at Jewsvote.org, they look like pretty great guys. One’s the son of a partisan. There’s a video with Sarah Silverman (see above). If you’ve heard of the project, it was probably from a link to the video.

I like Sarah Silverman.

Sometimes, she fails at what she’s trying to do, and sometimes I think that she needs to put a little more thought into it, but mostly I think a lot of the criticism she gets in undeserved. She does obnoxious, self-absorbed characters you’re not supposed to like. I can understand that it can be hard to get into, but the joke is consistently about herself. On her most infamous joke, I agree with Kate Rigg. The character Silverman portrays doesn’t understand that the word ‘chink’ is still racist even in the context is ‘I love chinks,’ but I don’t think it would be a joke unless both Silverman and the audience both understood otherwise. She wouldn’t have written it if it weren’t about that juxtaposition. I say that mostly to point out that I’ll give Silverman more room than most Racialicious readers would.

However, I have a bit of a problem with her video for The Great Schlep. Not with the goals of getting people to vote for Obama or visit their grandparents. Please, do vote for Obama. And visit your grandparents. I can tell you most Jews are soundly behind those goals. Looking at my own family, my grandfather certainly would have voted for Obama. My grandmother, who said a few racist things in her day, I think would have voted for Obama. My mother and uncle (both in their 60s) will be voting for Obama. I asked my aunt about the campaing, and she started ranting about Palin. And the elderly Jews I know here in New York will all be voting for Obama.

But, when the Silverman video is offered for a general (not exclusively Jewish) audience, which I’ve certainly seen a lot, I feel a need to interrogate it further. As Jackie Mason (who’s rarely the voice of sanity) pointed out, you shouldn’t really threaten to withhold your love from your grandparents to force them to vote the way you want, but to me that’s Sarah being Silverman. She also puts up an image of a large nose to illustrate the word “Jew.” But when she says the Jewish grandparents won’t vote for Barack Obama because he has a scary name that sounds Muslim, that strikes me as more genuine. Isn’t that the point of the entire Great Schlep project? If that’s not the motivation, then why the video at all? And though I don’t think the Jewish nose is meant to racialize Jews, is it perhaps meant to remind us of antisemitism? Well, according to Jewsvote.org:

Everyone knows that Jews vote. By some estimates, 80% of Jews are registered to vote. Among registered voters, Jews tend to vote at twice the rate of the typical voter. In certain swing states, Jewish votes can make a significant difference between victory and defeat.

In presidential elections, when choosing between a more progressive candidate and a more conservative candidate, Jews overwhelmingly choose the more progressive candidate. Between 1924 and 2004, Jews have given their vote to the more progressive candidates at an average rate of 76 percent. In fact, none of the more conservative candidates has ever mustered more than 40 percent of the Jewish vote, while more than half received less than 20 percent. But do Jews really make a significant difference between victory and defeat?

Given this history, why is Barack Obama hovering at 60 percent of the Jewish vote, according to three separate polls? Is this all the product of a highly effective rumor campaign, spread through Jewish networks often by well-meaning individuals concerned that they information they received was true? Or is there something more?

I think that confirms me suspicions that this well-meaning project is based on some distorted ideas. Continue reading

Race in the Election…in Canada!

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

SURPRISE! Canada is having an election this year too!

However, wily characters that we are, our election was called as recently as September 7, and we’re still going to beat our American neighbours to the polls when we vote next week. However, that’s basically it for pluses when it comes to Canadian politics: advance polls are saying that we will most likely end up with a Conservative majority. *

On Tuesday my friend Leslie sent me this Globe and Mail article on “sophisticated new methods” that parties are turning to in order to figure out how to lure in those mysterious “ethnic” voters.

For the first time in a federal election, three of Canada’s five main political parties are using a sophisticated new micro-targeting voter-profile tool, which outlines people’s ethnicity, social values and income level, cross-referenced with their political support.

The tool, developed by Environics, allows political strategists to fine-tune their message for voters at the neighbourhood level, helping candidates win key battleground ridings in Ontario and British Columbia, many of which have large ethnic communities.

“This tool not only gives you the big picture, but goes to a riding level and tells you which percentage of voter groups live in the riding and whether ethnicity is an issue,” said Jan Kestle, president of Environics Analytics.

There is a sudden demand for multicultural research tools such as this one, as Canada’s ethnic communities grow in size and political importance. Now that immigrants no longer vote exclusively for the Liberals, all parties are reaching out to them.

Please note the equation of “ethnic communities” with “immigrants.” In case you are foggy on the Canadian history: similarly to the US, people of colour have been living in Canada for almost as long as white folks have. Sure many people of colour in Canada are recent immigrants, but many (especially in Western Canada) have been here for generations.

“It’s a numbers game. The election can turn on a dime. Ethnics play a key role in this and happen to be living in the ridings that are close,” said David Crapper, president of Genesis Public Opinion Research Inc., the Conservatives’ official pollster in the 2006 election.

Goodness, “Ethnics” playing a key role in an election? What is the world coming to??

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