Category Archives: white

Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.7: “For Immediate Release”

Hosted by Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid

A Judas kiss, if we've ever seen one.

A Judas kiss, if we’ve ever seen one.

It’s a minute after Dr. King’s assassination, and the Sterling Cooper Draper Price gang are back to business as usual: Don does his usual dick-swinging; Pete fails in coming for folks far more grown than he; Roger Sterling goes after a woman young enough to be his daughter. And Joan and Peggy…well, check out what Tami and I, along with Renee Martin from Womanist Musings and Fangs For The Fantasy, said about those two, complete with spoilers.

Tami: Oh, Pete…naw! He was totally creeping on Joan. I think we all realize that Don Draper is a horribly broken human being, but what is it that makes Pete feel so much more objectionable? Is it just that he is soooo bad at being the alpha? Is it that his privileged disdain for most everyone seeps through in every interaction? You can just feel him feeling he is better than you. Is it that he rarely–save the occasional monologue on racial equality–shows a shred of human decency? The bank guy compliments Joan on being an effective CFO; Pete makes it about the man “wanting” her. Ugh.

Renee: For me part of it is that Pete is a rapist.  As bankrupt as Don is, he has never raped anyone.  Like Pete, Don has had his moments of basic human decency as well.  For me it comes down to how low each individual man is willing to sink.

Andrea: Renee, Don did use sexual coercion to make an ex-lover, Bobbie, get in line. So there’s that.

As for Pete…I think his leering is more along the lines of his always angling for a moment to lord something over someone than creeping on Joan specifically. Coming for Joan was his latest lording attempt. And, as you and I have discussed before, Tami, Vincent Kartheiser possesses that physical trait that creeps you the hell out: the baby head on a man’s body. (Cf: Leonardo DiCaprio.) So, Pete looks like a 12-year-old trying to get shitty with grown-ass Joan. As always, my reaction to Pete’s attempts is, “Really?”

An object lesson of what happens when you try to come for grown folks.

An object lesson of what happens when you try to come for grown folks.

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Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.5: “The Flood”

Hosted by Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid

Well, Mad Men fans and critics wondered how the show would handle the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hosts Tami Winfrey Harris, along with Renee Martin from Womanist Musings and Fangs for the Fantasy and Racialicious staffer Joe Lamour, chat about how Weiner and Co. does, as well as how plaids mark a character and why white hipsters wouldn’t live in Brooklyn yet–”yet” being the operative word.

You know the drill: spoilers. And here we go…

Tami: Before we get into this Mad Men episode that deals with MLK, Jr.’s assassination and the racial unrest of the late 1960s, I have to ask: Where does the group stand on Matt Weiner’s treatment of race in Mad Men up until now?

I’m on record as thinking he has done well, despite the absence of many characters of color in the show. I know at the very least Renee disagrees with me. What say you, roundtablers?

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Meanwhile, On TumblR: Media’s Racefail Regarding Sexual Violence Survivors Of Color

By Andrea Plaid

**TRIGGER WARNING**

April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this excerpt from Wagatwe Wajuki this past week touched a lot of Tumblizens:

Image via cdc.gov.

Image via cdc.gov.

As a survivor of campus sexual assault, and as someone who became a feminist and an activist after my own experience of institutional apathy towards my attacks, I feel conflicted. I am so glad that this serious issue is getting more attention, but I am increasingly frustrated and almost scared by the lack of diversity that I see in the survivors receiving national media attention. As I look at photos and watch the media appearances of these resilient, brave survivors I can’t help to feel invisible. I browse a network of campus rape survivors who are working to combat institutional apathy towards rape victims and struggle to find other women of color who are like me.

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Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.4: “To Have And To Hold”

Hosted by Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid

The crew at Sterling Cooper Draper Price were definitely trying to hold on to something this week–a sliver of self-respect, an image of the role of other people in their lives, a job. Tami and I, along with Womanist Musings‘ and Fangs for the Fantasy‘s Renee Martin and Racialicious staffer Joseph Lamour, talk about who had to hold ‘em and fold ‘em in this week’s ep–along with a bunch of spoilers, like our seeing several Black people in this episode. No, seriously…

See? Toldja. Black people!

See? Toldja. Black people–and quite a few for a Mad Men episode.

Tami: I was watching Mad Men in bed Sunday night with my husband beside me near dozing, but obviously listening to the program, too. Just after 10 p.m. he sat up: “Wait. Are those black people? There are black people on this show now?”

Yep, Sunday night Matt Weiner and Co. make Mad Men history with a scene populated completely by black folks–walking, talking and being black. Since we’ve seen Dawn and her friend sitting together and talking about their lives, does this mean Mad Men passes the race-based version of the Bechdel Test?

Renee: One scene cannot undo years of racist, sexist exclusion.  They are not going get a cookie from me for doing the the bare minimum to create a change. It has after all taken Man Men six seasons to have a scene with two Black people in it.

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Meanwhile, On TumblR: “…Because We’re Raising Quvenzhané”

By Andrea Plaid

The Feminist Wire, helmed by the ever-fierce Tamura Lomax, is fast becoming the go-to joint for some incredible posts on feminism from newest generation of academics-cum-public thinkers–and I’m not just saying that because I’m part of its editorial collective.

This week is one of the reasons why: they’re running a weeklong forum on race, racism, and anti-racism within feminism. Like, check out this post from Dr. Duchess Harris on what’s at stake for straight Black women when we embrace motherhood and feminism:

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

In 1895, Wells married Ferdinand L. Barnett.  She set an early precedent as one of the first married American women to keep her own last name along with her husband’s.  The couple had four children: Charles, Herman, Ida, and Alfreda.  In her autobiography, A Divided Duty, Wells-Barnett describes the difficulty she had splitting her time between her family and her work.  She continued to work after the birth of her first child, traveling and bringing the infant Charles with her. Instead of supporting her, Susan B. Anthony said she seemed “distracted.”

Like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, my experience as a Black woman in the academy has been that my choice to be committed to supporting my Black husband and raising Black children has been interpreted as a “divided duty,” more than 100 years after Wells-Barnett blazed the trail. I entered the tenure-track 15 years ago when I was five months pregnant. I have taken three parental leaves, which were all met with resentment. This is not unusual, but what I am confident of is that if I had chosen to stay home, I would have faced as much hostility, if not more. America is comfortable with Black women raising white children (TheHelpTo Kill A MockingbirdClara’s HeartI’ll Fly Away…need I go on?), but the minute we try to take care of our own, we’re reduced to “letting down the team,” which is what white feminist Linda Hirshman is claiming about Lady “O.” I’m confused. Just because I have five letters behind my name (Ph.D. and JD) and a substantive career does not mean I am, ever have been, or ever will be on their team.

Why?  Because I am raising a daughter the same age as Quvenzhané Wallis, and it’s not the same as raising Dakota Fanning.  After receiving an Oscar nomination for her role in Beastsof the Southern Wild, Wallis, the youngest Best Actress nominee everlanded the leading role in Sony Pictures/Overbrook Entertainment’s upcoming Annie.  Despite this, as many people know, The Onion degraded her childhood  by calling her a “cunt.”   This is where there is a divide between white Moms and “Mocha Moms.”  Leslie Morgan Steiner is not raising Quvenzhané, but we are.

I highly recommend going over to the Feminist Wire for more thought-provoking goodness, and check out what else is good on the R’s Tumblr!

Table for Two: Kumaré, Or How A Guru Is Born Out Of Orientalism

kumare2-1024x658

Hosted by Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid with featured guest, Sikivu Hutchinson, author of “Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars”

Tami: Kumaré follows a filmmaker, Vikram Gandhi, who transforms himself into a fake guru to explore the concepts of blind religious faith and devotion to spiritual figures. It is interesting that Vikram and his assistants–all American-born and -raised–adopted accents in the subterfuge, playing off the magical brown person/foreigner trope.

Andrea: Would he be believable if he didn’t take on the accent?

Sikivu: Channeling the authentic brown magical mystery tour exotic (and I’m thinking specifically here of the sixties cult of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi legitimized in the West by mega-celebs like the Beatles) wouldn’t be complete without the right “Orientalist” lilt.

Tami: There are plenty of American religious/spiritual figures who inspire a devotion similar to that demonstrated by Kumaré’s followers. But I also think his race and faux accent provided a short cut of sorts.

Andrea: And I think that shortcut allowed the subterfuge to be more successful. Deepak Chopra wouldn’t be where he is if he didn’t have his accent.

Tami: …or if he were named Bob Henderson. It’s the otherness that adds credibility.

Andrea: Great minds, sis! That’s why I see some white people adopt “exotic” names when they become gurus or get deep into yoga.

Sikivu: Yes, and the drooling idolatry of Kumaré’s mostly-white female acolytes underscores this—I know a number of lib/progressive white women who have adopted trendy “yogic”  names to buttress their devoutness and confer them with the Eastern mystic equivalent of “street” cred.

Tami: This ties into the biased belief that brown people (and I say that meaning all brown peoples–black folks, Native Americans, etc.) are inherently plugged into something

Filmmaker Vikram Gandhi

Jersey-born filmmaker Vikram Gandhi outside of his Kumare costume

beyond the physical world…some magic. And that “magic” can be positioned positively or negatively, but it is part of the mantle of “other.” By adopting guru “drag,” the filmmaker successfully plugs into that idea. A brown guy with short hair and a clean-shaven face in jeans and a button down, may be too Americanized (read: normal) to work his magical mojo.

We went to see this awful movie, The Last Exorcism II, and at some point (of course) the protag goes to visit a black roots woman in New Orleans. I commented to my husband about the character’s vaguely African headwrap and her exaggerated accent. But the viewer would likely not have accepted that part if she had a Queen Bey lace-front and sounded like a black Brooklynite or had my Midwestern twang. We like our magical brown people unassimilated.

Sikivu:  And the noble savage sexuality of Kumaré goes hand-in-hand with the way the film trots out and parodies the West’s eternal fascination with the Magical Negro/Indian/Asian (take your pick) other.  The blond woman gushing in her living room about how Kumaré has “touched her life” looks practically orgasmic.  So much of this guru shtick is tied up with the charade of liberating the repressed uptight “rationalist” white folk from their shackles a la Norman Mailer’s “White Negro” paradigm pimping “black soul” as antidote to all that ails the modern white man.  A brilliant send-up on this theme is “The Couple in a Cage,” by Guillermo Gomez Pena and Coco Fusco—they mounted a performance piece where they pretended to be indigenous primitives displayed in their “native habitat” for the delectation of mostly white museum-goers seeking authentic savage artifacts.  While there was no overtly religious element to it, the Western impulse to gain validation through the body/essence and “shamanic” wisdom of the other is similar.

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Open Thread: The Boston Marathon Bombings, The Boston Manhunt, And The Race To Racism

By Andrea Plaid

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg observes a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts April 17, 2013. This is the first sporting event to be held in Boston after the explosions that killed three and injured more than one hundred at the Boston Marathon. Image via Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi/Landov

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg observes a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts April 17, 2013. This is the first sporting event to be held in Boston after the explosions that killed three and injured more than one hundred at the Boston Marathon. Image via Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi/Landov

Different city, same racism.

Boston, as you may know, suffered from two bomb blasts during its marathon bearing its name this past Monday. As the city struggles to recover from this recent tragedy, we’re getting reports that the alleged bombers got into a shootout with law enforcement overnight–including throwing explosives–that moved through Cambridge and Watertown. According to reports, one of the suspects died in the shootout, and the police are waging a large manhunt for the other one. All of this has locked down the city, the reports continue, with MIT, Harvard, and public schools  shut down, public transportation suspended,  air space restricted, and advisories to the residents to stay indoors.

What we’re also finding out is about the suspects themselves: the police killed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the shootout and are looking for his brother Dzhokar. The siblings come from the Russian Federation country of Chechnya, in the Caucus region. The brothers are, literally, Caucasians–which, in the US, is the (inaccurate) synonym for white people in general.

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Suheir Hammad

By Andrea Plaid

Since it’s National Poetry Month, let’s talk about one of my favorite poets: Suheir Hammad.

Of course, Hammad speaks quite a few women of color’s truth with her classic piece, “Not Your Erotic, Not Your Exotic”:

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