Category Archives: race & representations

C2E2

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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Race + Spider-Man: Sony Confirms A Glass Ceiling For Miles Morales

By Arturo R. García

(L-R) Peter Parker and Miles Morales, as shown on the cover of “Spider-Men” #1.

Sony Entertainment might be pleased right now about the opening-weekend performance from Amazing Spider-Man 2. A $94 million domestic take isn’t a Marvel-level success, and the film has gotten middling reviews, but it’s been a decent start.

But the company should be concerned about the arrogance exhibited by executive producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach late last week, as they effectively rejecting the possibility of seeing a Spider-Man who is not cis-white het male Peter Parker inhabit Sony’s Spider-film realm. As The Mary Sue reported, Arad and Tolmach put the kibosh on that talk in an interview with IndieWire:

IndieWire: Are Miles Morales (“Ultimate Spider-Man”), Ben Reilly (clone Spider-Man) or Miguel O’Hara (“Spider-Man 2099″) on the table? If you want a Spider-Man movie every year why not bring in some of the other variations?
Tolmach: No.
Arad: No. The one thing you cannot do, when you have a phenomena that has stood the test of time, you have to be true to the real character inside – who is Peter Parker? What are the biggest effects on his life? Then you can draw in time, and you can consider today’s world in many ways. But to have multiple ones… I don’t know if you remember, but Marvel tried it. And it was almost the end of Spider-Man.
IW: So Spider-Man in the cinematic realm will always be Peter Parker?
Arad: Absolutely
Tolmach: As far as we’re concerned. The guys who take it over after us … Who knows …

It’s true that Sony runs the ASM brand independently of Marvel’s operation, but if movie!Spidey were truly independent from his comics counterpart, Otto Octavius’ stint assuming Peter Parker’s identity in Superior Spider-Man might not have wrapped up just in time for the new movie.

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A Friendly Reminder About Cinco De Mayo [The Throwback]

With incidents like this one at the University of California-Davis still popping up, it’s painfully obvious that Cinco de Mayo brings out the absolute worst in some people.

So, in this special Monday Throwback from 2009, Arturo pokes a hole in the marketing piñata surrounding the occasion.

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also Posted at The Instant Callback

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Continuing a semi-yearly tradition of mine since my days working at my college paper, just a few notes about today:

1. This is not Mexican Independence Day
Nope, that’s September 16th. 5/5 commemorates an unlikely Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The battle delayed, but did not stop, an eventual French occupation of the country, which lasted three years before it was toppled.

beerad12. This is not that big of a deal back home
Don’t let the beer ads fool you; 5/5 is a regional holiday, usually celebrated at the site of the battle. But, it’s nowhere near as big a deal as it is in El Otro Lado. Now, is that because of immigrant pride, or American corporate opportunism? That, I leave for you to decide. During my time working in local Spanish-language radio, the biggest sponsors for our Cinco de Mayo concerts were — you guessed it — beer companies. Banners everywhere, beer girls hawking their wares on the stage, booze selling like hot cakes in the fenced-off drinking area. I don’t doubt that at least some of the people who attended the events had their hearts in the right place, but the commercial aspect definitely got on my nerves when I thought about it.
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Diversity + Publishing: #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Image via WeNeedDiverseBooks.tumblr.com

Each month I receive 10-20 advanced copies of young adult fiction books in all genres (mostly geared towards teen girl readers) per month from various publishers.  I can count on ten fingers the amount of those books that have featured a protagonist of colour. Even fewer of them feature a protagonist of colour also written by a person of colour.

That’s where We Need Diverse Books comes in.

Responding to the call for more diversity in children’s literature and the recent announcement of the all white all male panel at the upcoming BookCon in NYC, the movement’s organisers are urging readers to take over Twitter today. The hashtag #weneeddiversebooks is already in wide use, but the campaign is asking for even more support starting at 1pm EST:

  • Take a photo holding a sign that says “We need diverse books because ___________________________.” Fill in the blank with an important, poignant, funny, and/or personal reason why this campaign is important to you.
  • The photo can be of you or a friend or anyone who wants to support diversity in kids’ lit. It can be a photo of the sign without you if you would prefer not to be in a picture. Be as creative as you want! Pose the sign with your favorite stuffed animal or at your favorite library. Get a bunch of friends to hold a bunch of signs.
  • However you want to do it, we want to share it! There will be a Tumblr at http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/ that will host all of the photos and messages for the campaign. Please submit your visual component by May 1stto weneeddiversebooks@yahoo.com with the subject line “photo” or submit it right on our Tumblr page here and it will be posted throughout the first day.
  • Starting at 1:00PM (EST) the Tumblr will start posting and it will be your job to reblog, tweet, Facebook, or share wherever you think will help get the word out.

The efforts are set to continue through May 3rd:

On May 2nd, the second part of our campaign will roll out with a Twitter chat scheduled for 2pm (EST) using the same hashtag. Please use #WeNeedDiverseBooks at 2pm on May 2nd and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.

On May 3rd, 2pm (EST), the third portion of our campaign will begin. There will be a Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is and buy diverse books and take photos of them.

While the campaign won’t officially start until later today, there’ve already been several great posts flying around the tag. Below are a few of the best, showing several reasons why we really do need diverse books.

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Being Lakota, Becoming Greek

By Guest Contributor Megan Red Shirt-Shaw

When I first stepped onto the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, I vowed I would never join a sorority. I had seen the process happen before – girls were made to parade in the streets during rush and at the time, I could think of nothing less mortifying. Yet when my group of girlfriends decided to rush (and I realized I might be friendless for a week), I found myself standing outside during rush in a line of girls wearing a dress in the Philadelphia slush.

I was skeptical throughout. I felt ridiculous coming into every house with a line full of girls waiting to talk to me. The houses were perfectly polished – immaculate, really – and I had the same conversation over fifty times. Where was I from, did I like the punch, I like your shirt, I like your dress, I like your face, on to the next girl. I continued to wonder throughout whether or not I would feel like any of these places were right for me. The thought of peppy girls and peppy events – I couldn’t wrap my head around it. But then I walked into a house called Sigma Kappa.
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Quoted: The Worst Justification Ever For Not Casting People Of Color

From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, ‘Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.’ Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, ‘Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?’ That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.

– Ari Handel, screenwriter for “Noah,” as told to The High Calling