Category Archives: technology

Quoted: Highlights From Jay Smooth’s “T-Paining Too Much: The Meme-ification Of Charles Ramsey”

There’s so many questions that probably won’t have easy or pretty answers. And, there’s a rule that people usually apply to this, and that is the “Now Is Not The Time” rule. And usually its applied to politics, “Let’s please not bring politics into this.” And I’ve got to say, I usually disagree with that rule, like, I think in Cleveland we probably should ask how things like class and gender factor into the bigger questions. But I do think there is another version of that rule, a new version that we have to establish pretty soon…

Now is not the time for autotune, can we please we leave autotune out of this?

This trend where a certain type of person is in the news, we have a compulsion to immediately grab that person and then flatten out their personhood into this paper thin, click bait, Chappelle Show laughing-for-the-wrong-reasons viral joke.

There’s gotta be some middle ground where we can appreciate that without this mad dash to make a meme-ified clown out of anyone who fits in the “wacky black guy” box.

Editor’s Note: I wanted to meme-ify something worth meme-ing. So here you are, internet:

Autotune2b

Quoted: Al-Jazeera On Coverage Of The Boston Bombing Suspects

Muslims face prejudice, but Muslims from the Caucasus face a particular kind of prejudice – the kind born of ignorance so great it perversely imbues everything with significance. “There is never interpretation, understanding and knowledge when there is no interest,” Edward Said wrote in Covering Islam , and until this week, there was so little interest in and knowledge of the Caucasus that the ambassador of the Czech Republic felt compelled to issue a press release stating that the Czech Republic is not the same as Chechnya.

Knowing nothing of the Tsarnaevs’ motives, and little about Chechens, the American media tore into Wikipedia and came back with stereotypes. The Tsarnaevs were stripped of their 21st century American life and became symbols of a distant land, forever frozen in time. Journalist Eliza Shapiro proclaimed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was “named after a brutal warlord”, despite the fact that Tamerlan, or Timur, is an ordinary first name in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Her claim is equivalent to saying a child named Nicholas must be named in honour of ruthless Russian tsar Nicholas I – an irony apparently lost on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who made a similar denouncement on Twitter (to his credit, Kristof quickly retracted the comment).

Other journalists found literary allusions, or rather, illusions. “They were playing the nihilists Arkady and Bazarov in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons ,” explained scholar Juan Cole, citing an 1862 Russian novel to explain the motives of a criminal whose Twitter account was full of American rap lyrics. One does not recall such use of literary devices to ascertain the motives of less exotic perpetrators, but who knows? Perhaps some ambitious analyst is plumbing the works of Faulkner to shed light on that Mississippi Elvis impersonator who tried to send ricin to Obama.

Still others turned to social media as a gateway to the Chechen soul. Journalist Julia Ioffe – after explaining the Tsarnaevs through Tolstoy, Pushkin, and, of course, Stalin -  cites the younger Tsarnaev’s use of the Russian website VKontakte as proof of his inability to assimilate, then ranks the significance of his personal photos.

- From “The Wrong Kind Of Caucasian,” by Sarah Kendzior

Meanwhile, On TumblR: The Non-Fiction Flick And Vid Edition

By Andrea Plaid

I think I’ve been a bad influence on the R’s Senior Editor Tami Winfrey Harris because I’ve been talking her into watching documentaries for our Table for Two posts. We have another one lined up next week (with a special guest breaking the proverbial bread with us), but I want to hip y’all to some other non-fiction flicks and vids…

…starting off with Youth Speak‘s and University of California San Francisco’s collaboration on this great PSA about Type 2 diabetes. Instead of fat-shaming–as too many food-justice docs do when discussing the links between body size, physical condition, and health–this video gives a structural analysis on who’s to blame and how to hold them accountable to the rest of us. (H/t @newmodelminority)

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EBONY.com Shows Andrea Plaid Some Love

Racialicious.com Associate Editor Andrea Plaid

As we begin the week, let’s send up a cheer for our own Associate Editor, Andrea Plaid, for being named one of 8 Dynamic Black Women Editors in New Media by EBONY.com, alongside movers and shakers from outlets like BET, Colorlines, The Grio, and others.

The full list–and Andrea’s words on the kinds of black women editors the publishing world needs–can be found here. And don’t forget to check out her weekly look at The R’s Crush of the Week and visit the Racialicious Tumblr, which she runs with frequent updates every day. Congratulations, Andrea!

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez

By Andrea Plaid

Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez. Image provided by the interviewee.

Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez. Image provided by the interviewee.

When it comes to film editing, it’s about the cut, and this week’s Crush, Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez, is one of the most respected–and coolest–editors in the business.

Gonzalez-Martinez has worked with director Byron Hurt (the award-winning Soul Food Junkies) and Vin Diesel (yes, that Vin Diesel), among other directors. Here’s the Diesel/Gonzalez-Martinez short called Los Bandoleros, a prequel reuniting the Fast And Furious crew:

Los Bandoleros from Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez on Vimeo.

Gonzalez-Martinez is a director, too: she helmed the documentary, Bragging Rights: Stickball Stories, about the sport dubbed “the poor man’s baseball.” She’s currently directing comedy shorts for T&A Flicks, a production company she co-founded, as well as running her own production company, LaSone Studio.

And did I mention she’s a gracious and great interviewee? She took time out to answer a few questions about “the invisible art,” the effect of digital technology on editing, and how race and racism can creep their way into the profession.

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Voices: On Adria Richards

Former SendGrid “developer evangelist” Adria Richards. Image via butyoureagirl.com

Let’s begin with Adria Richards’ own words.

Have you ever had a group of men sitting right behind you making joke that caused you to feel uncomfortable? Well, that just happened this week but instead of shrinking down in my seat, I did something about it an here’s my story …

Yesterday, I publicly called out a group of guys at the PyCon conference who were not being respectful to the community.

For those of you visiting from Hacker News from the tweet and from this post, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the context.

Richards tweeted a picture of two men near her who joked about “dongles” and “forking repos” during the conference. She informed conference staff, she said, after seeing a picture of a girl who took part in a coding workshop during the event made her worry about the environment created by the “forking” jokes.

The situation degenerated when one of the two men–neither of whom she identified–was fired by his company. As TechCrunch reported, the unnamed employee apologized for the original joke on Hacker News, but also noted Richards’ platform:

Adria has an audience and is a successful person of the media. Just check out her web page linked in her Twitter account, her hard work and social activism speaks for itself. With that great power and reach comes responsibility. As a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have 3 kids and I really liked that job.

Shortly thereafter, Richards was the target of a string of personal and professional attacks, including the posting of her personal information online, death threats, slurs, accusations of “misandry”, and even attacks against her employer, Sendgrid.

Later, Sendgrid CEO Jim Franklin announced that the company had terminated Richards, saying, “her actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite.” The original incident was glossed over, and the attacks against both the company and its own employee were not addressed at all. Franklin closed comments on his post on Monday.

The conference also altered its code of conduct to forbid public shaming, requiring future disputes to be reported to PyCon staff. There is no mention, however, of what happens if there are conflicting accounts of an incident or if convention staff disagrees with a person’s assessment of something as offensive or triggering. Is what happens at PyCon supposed to stay at PyCon from now on?

Over at Shakesville, Melissa McEwan also contributed to the conversation on Twitter, starting the #IAskedPolitely tag, where several people shared their stories of being told they were “too sensitive,”  to get over it. To deal. Stories of being silenced.

Meanwhile, Colorlines reported that Richards’ firing might not hold up in the legal arena, as the argument can be made that she was basically sacked for acting as a whistleblower. But those accounts and this fact are both seemingly lost on the increasingly outraged wave of tech enthusiasts who have seemingly seized the moment to “defend their territory.” Below we’ll hear from some people on the other side of the debate.

TRIGGER WARNING for some of the entries under the cut.

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Race + Comics: On Green Lantern’s Near-Death Experience

By Arturo R. García

John Stewart, the Green Lantern from Warner Brothers’ Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series.

There’s a stink surrounding DC Entertainment’s alleged intention to kill off John Stewart last week, and it sticks out when you consider this ostensibly non-related promotional item: the company is now pushing a digital-only book based on the adventures of Batman. Specifically, the Batman of 1966:

“The juxtaposition of offering a retro “Batman 66″ comic as a current and modern digital first title is fun,” said DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson.

“DC Entertainment is the most prolific producer of digital first comics and, as we work to create new and compelling content, this is a great way to also preserve the legacy of our characters.

“It’s exciting to roll out the new Batman 66 comic as part of this bigger initiative with our Warner Bros Consumer Product partners.”

DC has previously released digital-first television tie-ins based on “Arrow” and “Smallville.”

Again, there’s no direct link between the company’s digital division planning to resurrect this version of Batman and the DC Comics editors wanting to off the incarnation of Green Lantern that managed to gain mainstream acceptance without being involved in a Hindenburg of a motion picture. But what it does tell us is this: the company would rather court fans of a nearly 50-year-old television show–one synonymous with the cheesiest stereotypes about comic books as a medium and the fandom surrounding it–than the fanbase of a critically acclaimed television show that was on the air less than a decade ago.

Gee, I wonder why that could be?
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Meanwhile, On TumblR: In Case You Missed It

By Andrea Plaid

Usually, I highlight some of the most popular posts on Tumblr, some of which appear here on the main R. However, there are some really great posts that may not have gotten the biggest numbers but still got some love, like this Parlour Magazine interview with hip-hop feminist Joan Morgan:

Parlour: You talk a lot about the Politics of Pleasure, what does that mean?

Joan Morgan. Via madamnoire.com

Joan Morgan. Via madamnoire.co

Joan Morgan: Much of my work as a feminist revolved around how do we improve black women’s lives. I had been investigating how we talk about black women, particularly in terms of sexuality, without talking about pleasure. Instead, we identify the racial and sexual history, particularly in the United States, and why that history prevents or complicates black women’s sexuality from enjoying a sex positive space.

Feminism is very good at dissecting the politics of respectability and the culture of dissemblance thanks to Darlene Clark Hine. Still, we’re not so good at articulating a language for pleasure, which is crucial for any human being but it plays a critical role in other black women’s issues with which we don’t necessarily make the connection. For example, if we’re talking about black women and the rate of new HIV cases – the percentage of black women among new infections is disproportionately high – but when you look at the prevention, the language is ‘If he doesn’t want to use a condom, tell him to back off’ or, ‘If he really cares about you he’ll use protection.’ The discourse is centered around men’s pleasure.

Parlour: Perhaps women don’t like the way condoms feel either, so how about developing protection that feels better without centering the conversation around men …

Joan: For black women, I think about our health and the diseases that compromise our lives due to stress, and we will send out the call to arms around obesity or heart disease. But we’re not talking about making a real commitment to joy in our lives, particularly around the erotic or sex and the body. I’m very interested in that little taboo area. With the Politics of Pleasure I begin to argue that what’s missing is language, and I really wanted to begin to articulate language and introduce pleasure as a feminist priority for Black women.

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