Category Archives: race & representations

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Exploring the Problematic and Subversive ‘Sh*t People Say’ [The Throwback]

Since we took a look at Jenny Yang’s “If Asians Said The Stuff White People Say” yesterday, let’s revisit January 2012, when Latoya examined a similar vein of internet-based comedy that took on stereotypes from various communities.

By Latoya Peterson

So all this started with “Shit Girls Say,” which now has over 11 million views:

Created by Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphrey (and boosted by the star power of Juliette Lewis), “Shit Girls Say” went viral by taking a male perspective on common things “women” do and presenting it as humor. Internet forums filled with comments like “Omigod, all my friends do that” or “that is so me.” The sketch proved to be so popular, there are now three episodes, probably with more in the pipeline.

However, everyone wasn’t laughing at “Shit Girls Say.” Quite a few people noticed that the “girls” referred to in the top video were a certain type of woman, an experience that was not shared by all. Others noted that the humor that made the video funny was actually rooted in sexist stereotypes. Over at Feministing, Samhita explains:

While, I usually applaud men in drag, I can’t help but be critical of these characterizations of women. Are some of these stereotypes uncannily true? I’m sure they can be. But that’s the problem with stereotypes, it’s not about whether they are true or not, it’s that they are used to disempower people or deny them certain privileges. And I get that it is comedy, but it’s like the most boring and lazy comedy possible. You know, let’s make fun of girls cuz we already know everyone thinks they are dumb and annoying tee hee. These videos might as well be beer ads.

And Lynn Crosbie, writing for the Globe and Mail, notes:

Girls, or young women, who already speak largely in the interrogative and treat the world of men as another, completely inscrutable species, have enough on their minds already. They are already sexualized to the maximum. Must their every word be a potential joke?

Girls speak casually about inane things. Girls speak, too, about sexual violence and quantum physics. They talk about fear and art, children, murder and opera; philosophy, blood, sex and mathematics.

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing is also some stuff a girl said.

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Lifting the Barbie Ban: The Weird Ways We Help Our Kids Navigate Race

By Guest Contributor Theresa Celebran Jones, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

A few weeks ago, as I was putting my kids to bed, my older one, in an effort to avoid sleep, said to me, “Mommy, blonde is my favorite color of hair. I wish my hair was blonde.”

Before freaking out, I asked her why, and her reply was simple. “Blonde is the prettiest.”

I took a moment to gather myself. This was not a discussion I could have with her right before bedtime. I said to her, “I don’t really agree with that, but we can talk about it in the morning.”
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Courageous Liaisons: The Racialicious Review of Belle

By Arturo R. García

Dido (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) begins to question her place, to the chagrin of Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson).

It’s only fitting that director Amma Assante’s Belle, a movie that culminates in a court, makes its own case crisply, and clearly. There’s a sense of some romanticizing, mind, but even that is based on hard evidence: the real Dido Elizabeth Belle did have a happy life.

So, admirably, Assante and writer Misan Sagay don’t try to inject pathos where it’s not necessary. Nor do they overplay their somewhat stacked cast, instead keeping Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the center, which she ably holds up. Because her story — at least, this story — positions her at the intersection of her own nascent questioning of her place in the world and her mentor’s role in shaping its future.
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Walk Like Some Egyptians: Breaking down Fox’s Hieroglyph

By Guest Contributor Monique Jones

The cast of Fox’s “Hieroglyph.” All images courtesy of Fox.

Fox’s latest high-concept sci-fi drama, Hieroglyph, is as fascinating as it is potentially problematic.

The show begins airing early 2015 with a doozy of a storyline: Master thief Ambrose is taken from prison by Pharaoh Shai Kanakht to find the dangerous and magical Book of Thresholds. The story also incorporates sexual and political scandals thanks to the machinations of Pharaoh Shai’s half-sister Nefertari Kanakht; his advisor, Magister Bek; Ambrose’s lost love and second-rate priestess, Peshet; Vocifer, a peddler and old friend of Ambrose’s; the Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, Rawser and Lotus Tenry, a palace concubine and spy for the enemy kingdom.

Oh, and there are also vampires, for some reason.

Everything (except for the vampires) sounds great, but there are some pros and cons with this show. Let’s go down the list.
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Our Canada. Our Women.

By Guest Contributor Bailey Reid, cross-posted from Medium

Trigger Warning: This piece discusses rape

Last week, we saw incredible mobilization worldwide for the #BringBackOurGirls movement. We had Michelle, Malala, and just about every other person on my Facebook feed sharing the information, demanding action, and questioning the lack of media coverage about this tragedy.

In the midst of this, the RCMP quietly released a second number about missing girls. But rather than the generally accepted 600 Aboriginal missing women, they casually mentioned Canada actually has closer to 1200 missing or murdered Aboriginal women. This is not to say at all that Aboriginal women are more important than Nigerian women, or that missing girls in any scenario is acceptable. It isn’t. It is never acceptable to have anyone hurt or missing, simply because of their gender. But Canadians were indignant, horrified, and saddened by the missing Nigerian girls — while our own First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women continue to suffer in silence and isolation.

There was an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday to discuss the Nigerian girls. We have yet to see an inquiry about our Stolen Sisters. Why aren’t Canadians demanding action on our own soil about our missing girls? They are being sold into sex slavery too, and the numbers are four times that of the missing Nigerian girls. Why don’t our Indigenous women have their own viral hashtag? Where is the outrage? Where are their memes?
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Video: Racebending presents ‘Diverse Means for Diverse Worlds’ at C2E2

By Arturo R. García

Our colleagues at Racebending passed along this video of their panel from the recent C2E2 event in Chicago, “Diverse Means for Diverse Worlds,” which discusses how creators make the realms in their work hew closer to the diversity we encounter in everyday life.

Moderated by Gabrial Canada, the panel includes:

(Batgirl, Megalopolis, The Movement, Red Sonja)

A few excerpts from the panel:

Onli on fans’ power as consumers:

“You guys have all the power to go to any vendor and say, ‘Um, how come this graphic novel collection on the shelf is not as diverse as what I see when I go to iTunes and look at music? When you go to iTunes, there’s more going on than The Beatles. So what are we talking about? Spider-Man kind of hit when the Beatles did. Superman hit when, who, Benny Goodman hit? Batman hit when Public Enemy No. 1 was James Cagney. So, their music isn’t stuck like that, right?

Liu on battling artistic misconceptions regarding characters:

I’ve actually specifically had to request people of color in the books, like in the script. Because if I don’t, the assumption is that everyone’s gonna be white. And so I’ll say, ‘No, this character is biracial, she’s Black.’ And I’ll get the colors back and she’ll be white. And I’ll be like, ‘She’s black.’ And they’ll be like, ‘Okay.’ And then I’ll get colors back and she’ll look tan. I’ll be like, ‘You know what, we’re having this conversation a third time.’ It’s really weird, this resistance. There’s an incredible resistance — not sometimes, all the time to diversify and bring in people of color into these books.

Simone on inclusive “casting” in her work:

People talk all the time about, ‘Why do you have to put all these characters in your comics that are gay or that are, you know, a different race, just let it happen organically. Well, the truth is, we didn’t get to where we were with so many straight white characters organically. Decisions were made for decades that that’s how it was gonna be. So, we can’t wait around for an organic thing to happen, even if there is such a thing. It takes people making decisions, doing the work, getting the work out there, and above all, people supporting those works.”

Overall, a solid discussion and a good watch and/or listen for you if you’ve got just under an hour to spare today.

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Quoted: Brittney Cooper on Diversity In College Debate

Towson University debate team members Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson. Image via Salon.

The increasing racial diversity of college debate is directly attributable to the work of these leagues, but of course the presence of more Black folks in any space also fundamentally challenges the ground upon which business proceeds. Black students have not only excelled at traditional debate, but they have invented new modes of competitive forensics, including a more performative style of debate that incorporates rap music, poetry and personal anecdotes.

Pioneered in college debate programs like that at the University of Louisville, this more performative style of debate has productively disrupted the traditionalist forms of debate centered on spouting, at the highest rates of speed, copious amounts of academic literature in order to prove a point. When I spoke with Korey by phone about this piece, she was hesitant to characterize her and Ameena’s style in a singular way, since they tend to incorporate both traditional elements like the reading of arguments published in academic journals and books with newer elements like poetry. Korey told me, “The word ‘traditional,’ the word ‘performative,’ the word ‘k-debater’ (which refers to “critique” or “kritik” debaters, who argue more philosophical rather than policy positions) will never actually capture what we are trying to do here.” That resistance to labels, and ambivalence about “the violence labels perform,” are hallmarks of the speech of young thinkers, searching to find their way in the world.

However, as my own scholarly research about Black female public intellectuals in the 19th and 20th centuries indicates, we live in a world that still struggles to see Black women as serious thinkers and intellectuals who have something to contribute to our national grappling with social problems. Frequently for young Black women thinkers, particularly those who invoke a clear Black feminist perspective, there is a resistance to donning a stance of detached objectivity. Korey asked me rhetorically, “How can we talk about policy if we don’t know [the] social location of the people?”

– From “‘I was hurt’: How white elite racism invaded a college debate championship,” in Salon

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The NFL & The Washington Redskins – A Piece for Pit River

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Image by Zennie Abraham via Flickr Creative Commons.

By Guest Contributor Megan Red Shirt-Shaw

On the first morning of this year’s NFL Draft, I turned on the television to see an interview with the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell. Sitting in a suit and smiling, Goodell was asked about his favorite team growing up. After saying he had initially been a Baltimore Colts fan, he shared that he eventually became a huge Washington Redskins fan. A few voices from the studio audience let out a whoop in solidarity. I stood with my arms crossed watching the remainder of the interview, wishing like many young Native people that I could sit down and have a conversation with the commissioner of the NFL.

Conversations about the Redskins, Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves have successfully gained a lot of attention over the past year, with movements across the country arising including the “De-Chief” movement and Change the Mascot. House Democrats, and the league’s own Richard Sherman have come out in support of why the name change is important, especially with Donald Sterling’s public downfall in the NBA.

Beyond a deeper understanding of what the term “Redskin” means to Native people, there’s the issue of where that term is continuing to rise to the surface. What the adults on the wrong side of the conversation seem to forget, is who images of screaming painted Redskins fans or Eagles fans holding “Indian heads” on stakes truly impact the most – Native kids across the country who are just beginning to form their own identities as young, Indigenous members of society.

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