Category Archives: race & representations

Quoted: OC Weekly On The Latin Grammys Marginalizing Mexico

Latin Grammy nominee Aleks Syntek, via Facebook.

First, the caveat: ANY entertainment industry awards show never gets anything right and really serves as an excuse for bigwigs to have one giant, self-celebratory circle jerk honoring the biggest sellers and most influential labels. That said, here’s the Latin Grammys’ dirty little secret: the vast majority of Latin music sold in the United States is Mexican regional music: banda, mariachi, ranchera, norteño, narcocorridos — all of it. It constantly counts for more than half of all Latin music sales in el Norte, per the figures of the Recording Industry of America, and is what has driven Spanish-language radio’s rise across nearly all the United States. Its artists are the ones continually, easily selling out Madison Square Garden and performing in the Rose Bowl at the same time they’re taking a bus to perform in tiny towns across the Midwest and South. Mexican regional’s reach makes it el rey of Latin music in the United States–no contest.

Yet the Latin Grammys always insults its industry’s biggest moneymaker. Case in point: the Mexi performers I mentioned earlier count as only three of the 15 scheduled performers for the evening (and if you take out Lafourcade, who’s not technically of the Mexican regional genre, it’s only two), accounting for a pathetic 20 percent of all performances in a country where people of Mexican descent make up more than 60 percent of the total Latino pozole pot. There are only five awards categories devoted to Mexican regional music — sh-t, more than five distinct musical genres exist in Mexico City alone, from sonidero to rock urbano — while seven are given to Brazil, a beautiful, sonically rich country that nevertheless sells sells as much music combined in the States as Vicente Fernández can sell in one night from a street corner in Huntington Park.

– From “Why the Latin Grammys Remain America’s Biggest Anti-Mexican Sham,” by Gustavo Arellano

[h/t Sara Inés Calderón]

Race + Comics: On Ms. Marvel And Protecting Young Superheroes

By Arturo R. García

There’s a lot to root for in Marvel’s new Ms. Marvel series, which is already garnering buzz for starring a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager in her own solo series.

But, the book won’t formally launch until February 2014, which opens it up to a recurring problem with Marvel: history shows that the company’s efforts stop at gathering that buzz when it comes to its young superheroes — particularly those of color.
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Where Are All the Zombies of Colour?

By Guest Contributor Jenn, cross-posted from The Nerds of Color

I don’t mean the zombie survivors. I mean the zombies.

Ironically, The Walking Dead is pretty racially diverse compared to other zombie movies in the genre. Remember Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake? There are, in that case, two sole surviving Black men, although one (Mekhi Phifer’s Andre) is singularly stupid. Meanwhile, there are no other notable characters of any other race or ethnicity among the survivors. And how about 28 Days Later ? Sure, the main female protagonist is a Black woman (Selena, played by Naomie Harris ), but why is she the main cast’s only character of colour despite the fact that London boasts a 20% Black and 20% Asian population . In fact, most zombie movies are typically populated by an almost all-White (with a token or two) surviving cast; against this backdrop, I’m relatively pleased by the racial diversity of The Walking Dead, One-Black-Man-At-a-Time rule notwithstanding (more on this later in the Walker Week).

But, here’s my gripe: where the heck are all the zombies of colour?
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Race + Gaming: Brown Skin, White Masks

By Guest Contributor David Song

A gallery of Dungeons & Dragons character types from the D&D Player’s Handbook (2003).

The phrase, “human race,” has always taken on different meanings in Dungeons & Dragons. I can remember, when I read my first D&D Player’s Handbook as an ungainly and imaginative teenager, the allure of the game that remains the same across the whole role-playing hobby: To imagine myself as a fictional character that I have created myself. The D&D Player’s Handbook guides every role-player through a step-by-step process of creating an imaginary character. And I remember being fascinated by the variety in every step of that process: Class, alignment, skillset, religion, and coming before all of them, race.

The most eminent franchise of role-playing games, and the one most tied to popular perceptions of the hobby, D&D has always had an odd relationship with race — or rather, with a concept of race, one where race has strict boundaries and inherent qualities. The choice of role-playing D&D is to play a member of the “human race,” which stands as the norm in the D&D universe, or one of diverse alternatives: dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-orcs, and so on. Not Englishmen, Frenchmen, or fantasy versions of ethnic identities, but either human beings or other people with similar but fundamentally different blood. “Race” is the very first characteristic D&D asks its players to define, before their characters’ skills, their personalities, whether they are barbarians or rogues or sorcerers.

While the earliest version of the game’s Player’s Handbook displayed only light-skinned characters, implying a medieval, quasi-European setting, 1989’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons allowed players to create Human characters who could be light-skinned or dark-skinned, their hair straight or curly, their bodies wide or slender. In other words, it avoided the tacit identification of “human beings” with “white people.” The art in the game’s 2008 handbook reflects a diversity of colors and bodies that might belong to anyone actually playing the game, beyond the image of the white male.

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Voices: Halloween — A White Privilege Christmas

By Arturo R. García

Halloween is getting worse by the year.

Consider last weekend, when the sight of Julianne Hough using blackface to dress as a character from Orange Is The New Black was followed within hours by the sight of two Florida men, Greg Cimeno and William Filene, adding themselves to the ranks of the rank with their Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman “costume.”

We won’t link to that image here. But we’d be remiss in not pointing out that their cohort, Massachusetts native Caitlin Cimeno, took the time out of her day to photograph a Black child without her consent and post this diatribe against her shirt bearing the words, Black Girls Rock:

First of all, sorry Hun but mommy lied to you & secondly if I was wearing a shirt that said something like the truth ‘white girls rock’ I would be stared at and called a racist cracker.

Well, now people are staring at them and calling them racists. And worse. And deservedly so.

But, of course, they’re not alone. Certainly Greg Cimeno and Filene aren’t alone in mocking Trayvon Martin. And, as Angry Asian Man points out, it’s not just the Black community being targeted:

Behold, the a-sholes who dressed up as bruised and bloodied Asiana Airlines flight attendants. This photo was apparently taken over the weekend at the Sidetrack Video Bar in Chicago.

Their costumes, of course, refer to Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which crashed earlier this year in San Francisco, killing three passengers. And yes, their name badges identify themselves as “Ho Lee Fuk,” “Sum Ting Wong” and “Wi Tu Lo” — the fake racist flight crew names that infamously ran as a prank on KTVU.

Under the cut, we’ll take a look at some of the best responses to what’s become a White Privilege Christmas — a sort of migratory call for every two-bit prejudiced reject from The Onion to show the world just how low they’re willing to go because they lack both imagination and humanity.
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NYCC Panel Recap; Geeks Of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom

by Kendra James

The Geeks Of Color Assemble!: Minorities in Fandom panel featured friends of the R activist, academic, and steampunk blogger Diana Pho (who acted as moderator) and fantasy author N.K Jemisin, a friend of mine, cosplayer Jay Justice, cosplayer and prop maker Ger Tysk, writers Jeffrey Wilson, Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, and Emmanuel Ortiz, and writer, blogger and classical music student Muse En Lystrala. As we’ve already covered it was one of the few panels to feature an all POC lineup and subjects of discussion. It also proved to be popular enough that several people waiting in line were unable to attend in the end. Hopefully this roundup helps ease the pain for some of those who were unable to get into this excellent discussion.

Before we dive into the questions and answers presented, it’s important to take a moment to emphasise a point Pho made towards the end of the evening.

If you attended the panel and you liked what you heard, if you wanted to attend the panel but couldn’t, if you wanted to attend but were turned away, or if you simply like what you read of the discussion in this post: Please let those who run New York Comic Con know that you want to see more varied and diverse content at future events. You can rate the panel on the NYCC phone app, you can tweet at them @NY_Comic_Con, or you can write an email to Lance Fensterman and his staff at lance@email-reedexpo.com as I plan to. Anything you can do to make your voice heard is a positive step toward bringing in some change next year.

With that said, let’s get to the panel under the cut:

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Open Thread: Scandal S03E02: ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’

By Arturo R. García

Olivia (Kerry Washington) faces bad connections all around her in “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.”

Upon second viewing, the thing that stands out about “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” is how it emphasizes the loneliness that seems to be at the core of Olivia Pope’s life.

Not to say she’s alone — far from it. But after the events of this week’s episode, it’s hard to think of any relationship in her life one could call good. And wonder where Shonda Rhimes will take that theme.
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Quoted: Malcolm Harris on Race In Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston as Walter White. Image via Green Bay Press Gazette.

Demographically, the viewers AMC wants are more likely to do a lot of pills than unscrew a light bulb to smoke some ice, even if the substances are chemically similar. There are plenty of expert scientists making tons of money cooking up and selling amphetamines, but they’re not robbing trains or toting guns. Big Pharma brings in a $250 billion annually in the U.S. alone, much of it from the same chemical compounds in White’s lab. When it’s 89 percent pure, it’s illegal meth; when it’s 99 percent pure, methamphetamine is sold by Lundbeck Inc. under the trademark name Desoxyn, for “the short-term management of exogenous obesity.” Walter isn’t making crank; he is manufacturing black-market pharmaceuticals.

A “Breaking Bad” in which the street dealers were diluting the product would have had Walter and his partner Jesse Pinkman competing with every local operation, struggling to set up a larger distribution network without costly middlemen and, well, interacting with meth users a lot. But “The Wire on Ice” isn’t sexy enough to sell a Dodge, and a teacher slanging to his fucked-up former students would turn stomachs, not open wallets. Suffice to say it would be a darker show.

Which brings us to the other thing that sets White and Pinkman apart from their competitors: color. And I don’t mean blue.

The white guy who enters a world supposedly beneath him where he doesn’t belong yet nonetheless triumphs over the inhabitants is older than talkies. TV Tropes calls it “Mighty Whitey,” and examples range from Tom Cruise as Samurai and Daniel Day Lewis as Mohican to the slightly less far-fetched Julia Stiles as ghetto-fabulous. But whether it’s a 3-D Marine playing alien in “Avatar” or Bruce Wayne slumming in a Bhutanese prison, the story is still good for a few hundred million bucks. The story changes a bit from telling to telling, but the meaning is consistent: a white person is (and by extension, white people are) best at everything.

- From “Walter White Supremacy,” in The New Inquiry

[h/t Rania Khalek]