Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture http://www.racialicious.com Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:00:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Racialicious Preview for San Diego Comic-Con, Part II: Saturday & Sunday http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/23/the-racialicious-preview-for-san-diego-comic-con-part-ii-saturday-sunday/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/23/the-racialicious-preview-for-san-diego-comic-con-part-ii-saturday-sunday/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33109 By Arturo R. García Thanks to Kendra, as ever, for covering Part I of the weekend. As usual, you can find our panel coverage on Twitter through her account, the R official feed and my own personal account. Just like last year, we’ll be compiling our individual panels on Storify and posting them next week. […]

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By Arturo R. García

Thanks to Kendra, as ever, for covering Part I of the weekend. As usual, you can find our panel coverage on Twitter through her account, the R official feed and my own personal account.

Just like last year, we’ll be compiling our individual panels on Storify and posting them next week. For now, though, let’s look at the second half of the con!

SATURDAY

Diversity in Genre Lit (10 a.m., Room 7AB)

Gene Luen Yang figures to have maybe the most momentum going into this discussion of creating diverse worlds in their work, since he’s coming off the release of The Shadow Hero, his new comic with illustrator Sonny Liew and letterer Janice Chiang. Joining him on the panel are Josephine Angelini (Trial by Fire), Adele Griffin (The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone), Lydia Kang (Control), Sherri L. Smith (Orleans) and the producer of the dearly-departed Young Justice animated series, Greg Weisman (Spirits of Ash and Foam: A Rain of the Ghosts Novel).

Avatar the Last Airbender: Legend and Legacy (10:30 a.m, Room 24ABC)

Well this could be awkward: Yang, who has written the comic-book adaptation of the popular animated series, is also booked for this get-together for fans.

Fantastic Females: Heroines in Paranormal Fantasy (10:30 a.m., Room 8)

While Marjorie Liu has made a name for herself for her work for Marvel Comics, she’s also a best-selling fantasy author. Her latest work, Labyrinth of Stars, was published earlier this year. In this panel, she’s joined by Deborah Harkness (the All Souls trilogy), S.J. Harper, (Reckoning), Tonya Hurley (the Blessed series), and the duo known as Christina Lauren (Reckoning, the Wild Seasons series).

Spotlight on Bryan Lee O’Malley (12 p.m., Room 28DE)

The creator of the Scott Pilgrim comics series previews his latest work, Seconds, a stand-alone graphic novel about a girl who gets more than one magical second chance, and the consequences of that kind of luck.

Kodansha Comics (12:30 p.m., Room 8)

Fans of Attack on Titan — the manga powerhouse that has spawned not only separate manga adaptations but a video game and a movie set for release next summer — will want to hone in on this one.

Comics Arts Conference Session #12: Poster Session (2 p.m., Room 26AB)

There’s quite a number of presentations scheduled for this 90-minute session, but here’s two that caught our eye:

  • Allen Thomas (University of Central Arkansas) and Mara Whiteside (University of Central Arkansas) examine the relationship between readers and minority comic book characters, namely the connection a reader feels to a particular character, and discuss the future direction of comic books in regards to minority representation.
  • J. Scott McKinnon (Henderson State University) identifies the factors that contribute to ethnic minority characters either succeeding or failing, examining online discussions, reviews, and published articles.
  • Jake Talley (San Diego State University) compares the female and minority populations in the Marvel and DC universes at various points in their histories to illustrate how their race and gender makeups have evolved over time, and compares the Big Two with younger publishers to see if the lack of decades of continuity produces a more representative character population.

30 Years of Usagi Yojimbo! (3 p.m., Room 28DE)

Everybody’s favorite samurai rabbit is back after a two-year hiatus, and creator Stan Sakai is back to shed some light on Senso, the upcoming six-issue miniseries that promises to serve as the character’s personal Dark Knight Returns.


What’s Opera Doc by MistyIsland1

Spotlight on Willie Ito (3 p.m., Room 9)

The San Francisco native went from spending part of his childhood in a Japanese internment camp during World War II to a 60-year career as an animator that saw him work on everything from Lady and the Tramp to The Flintstones to the seminal Bugs Bunny animated story What’s Opera, Doc?

Drawing in a [+SM]Art Way: A Hands-on Workshop (5 p.m., Room 30CDE)

What does it say about the comics industry when maybe the most creative title of the whole weekend is from an academic panel? In this panel, Dr. Wei Xu will expand on his work in Drawing in the Digital Age, in which the mathematician and artist describes what he calls the “ABC Method” of working in both 2D and 3D art.

Best and Worst Manga of 2014 (7 p.m., Room 23)

The great Deb Aoki and David Brothers share their cheers and jeers in this panel, along with their picks for underrated books you should pick up.

Gays in Comics XXVII: Prism Comics Mixer and Auction (7 p.m., Room 6A)

In a year where marriage equality has picked up momentum across several states in the U.S., this year’s benefit event for the LGBT advocacy group Prism Comics should have an extra-celebratory air.

SUNDAY

Teen Titans Go! Video Presentation and Q&A (11:45 a.m., Room 6BCF)

Okay, so the panel itself looks like it’ll be the usual preview for the upcoming season of the newest incarnation of the DC Entertainment comics series. But the highlight might end up being the appearance of Puffy AmiYumi, the Japanese pop duo behind the ultra-catchy theme song.

Comics Arts Conference Session #14: Strips and Pin-Ups, Race and Politics (12 p.m., Room 26AB)

Only three presentations scheduled for this session, and two of them look intriguing:

  • Melissa Loucks (University of Florida) reminds us of the work comic strips do toward thwarting the distortions and suppressions of the dominant civil rights narrative, looking at the work of Oliver Harrington, George Herriman, and Jackie Ormes.
  • Dwain C. Pruitt (University of Louisville) considers the roles that Matt Baker’s race and sexual orientation may have played in his work and in his most celebrated contribution, the “Baker Girl,” asserting that Baker’s work was shaped by the unique African-American expressive and visual culture of 1930s-1950s Harlem.

Comics Arts Conference Session #15: Comics of Future/Past: Constructing Race, Space and Identity Through the Visualization of the EthnoSurreal (1:30 p.m., Room 26AB)

And speaking of intriguing, check out the description for these three presentation:

Recently, Afrofuturism has been making a global resurgence. Creators in all media forms have been producing speculative narratives that challenge the status quo, remix historical perceptions, and situate the black body as subject. John Jennings (University at Buffalo, SUNY), Stanford Carpenter (Institute for Comics Studies), Regina Bradley (Kennesaw State University), and Jeremy Love (Bayou) ask if the term Afrofuturism still remains the proper designation for invoking ideas of race and cultural production, examining the new notion of the “EthnoSurreal” and how it is comprised of the EthnoGothic and EthnoFuturism. This panel will also tackle the articulation of how these designations are defined and how they can possibly challenge and reimagine ideas around socially constructed ideas regarding racial identity, its visualization, and its consumption through the comics medium.

Superheroines! Power, Responsibility, and Representation (1:30 p.m., Room 23ABC)

Our colleagues at Racebending host this all-female discussion centering on “women in the superhero world.” Marjorie Liu will be on this panel, as will Batman and Earth 2 writer Marguerite Bennett, writer and illustrator Joanna Estep (Bold Riley), cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks, clinical psychologist and podcaster Dr. Andrea Letamendi and artist and animator Jules Rivera.

Fund My Comic (2 p.m., Room 29A)

DC comics mainstay Jamal Igle will be part of this how-to talk on crowdfunding and self-publishing, following his success fundraising on Kickstarter for Molly Danger.

The Battle for Multicultural Heroes (4 p.m., Room 28DE)

Letamendi returns to join panelists Linda Le and Andre Meadows along with host Tony Kim in the second edition of the panel. Interesting to note last year that, while the discussion did a good job covering what you’d call Race 101, none of the panelists expressed any familiarity with Racebending or sites that cover social justice issues in general, aside from Angry Asian Man. This year, Kim said he attempted to contact Racebending, to no avail.

[Top image by Christopher Brown via Flickr Creative Commons]

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The Racialicious Preview for San Diego Comic-Con, Part I: Thursday & Friday http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/22/drafting-for-10am-the-racialicious-preview-for-san-diego-comic-con-part-i-thursday-friday/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/22/drafting-for-10am-the-racialicious-preview-for-san-diego-comic-con-part-i-thursday-friday/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:30:16 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33099 It’s that time of year again! Arturo and I are headed out to Nerd Summer Camp –also known as San Diego Comic Con– on behalf of the R. From July 24-27 we’ll be live-tweeting panels, writing recaps, interviewing creators, and getting up to all sorts of general shenanigans. You may remember that Art posted last […]

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It’s that time of year again! Arturo and I are headed out to Nerd Summer Camp –also known as San Diego Comic Con– on behalf of the R. From July 24-27 we’ll be live-tweeting panels, writing recaps, interviewing creators, and getting up to all sorts of general shenanigans. You may remember that Art posted last week, asking for creators of colour to get in touch. That still applies– we want to hear from you and provide as much signal boosting as possible.

In the meantime, we’ve got our panel recommendations for Thursday and Friday listed below.  You’ll be able to find panel coverage and more from the con on twitter this week via @Racialicious, @aboynamedart, and @wriglied.

THURSDAY

Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature (11am; Room 5AB)

With both Marie Lu and Jim Butcher, this panel is a bit of a catch 22. You can go and here Lu (who is Chinese-American) talk about her great YA Legends series, but you’re also going to have to hear Butcher talk about the Dresden Files which –with his white-washing of Chicago and choie of naming a character ‘Injun Joe’– hasn’t always gone so well. The panel also features Dr. David Brin (Hugo, Locus and Nebula Award-winning author of the Uplift trilogy), Rachel Caine(NY Times bestselling author of the Morganville Vampires series), Jason Hough (NY Times bestselling author of The Darwin Elevator series), and Jonathan Maberry (NY Times bestselling author of the Joe Ledger series) discuss writing science fiction and fantasy novels and their adaptation to TV and movies.

Masters of the Web: Comic Book Movies (11:30am, Room 24ABC)

We love Manu Bennett, who just got done with a stint on the CW’s Arrow, which is our sole reason for reccing this panel on upcoming major comic book movies. Also features: John Campea(AMC Movie Talk), Jeremy Jahns (YouTube film critic), Tiffany Smith (DC All Access),Kristian Harloff and Mark Ellis (Schmoes Know), and Jon Schnepp (AMC Movie Talk).

Dreamworks Animation (11:30am, Hall H)

Dreamworks hasn’t announced any details about their huge Hall H panel, but I’m hoping they serve up a few more details or some more footage for their new animated feature starring Rhianna:

This may not be worth waiting in the Hall H line, but definitely keep an ear to the internet that afternoon.

Female Heroes, Then and Now (1:00pm, Room 32AB)

The number of panels focusing on sexism, gender, and sexuality this year is promising. One of the first here doesn’t seem to be particularly diverse, but does promise an indepth discussion on sexism, science fiction, comics, and geek culture with Heartbreakers creators Anina Bennett andPaul Guinan, along with friends Jimmy Palmiotti (Painkiller Jane), Kiala Kazebee(Vaginal Fantasy), Allison Baker (Monkeybrain Comics), and Claire Hummel (Bioshock: Infinite).

Comedy Central: Key & Peele and Introducing Moonbeam City! (1:30pm, Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront)

Key & Peele at Comic-Con! Stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peelebe will  the upcoming season of their show (of the same name) on Comedy Central, their new animated show Moonbeam City and their unique point of view, born from “their shared background and experiences growing up biracial in a not quite post-racial world”.

Beyond Clichés: Creating Awesome Female Characters for Film, TV, Comics, Video Games, and Novels (2pm, Room 28DE)

A necessary panel, because clearly creating female characters is hard. This panel promises discussion on the future of female character creation for film, TV, comics, video games, and novels and examine the traps of common tropes, clichés, and stereotypes, while discussing how content creators can create wonderful, relatable, and realistic female characters with moderator Michele Brittany (West Coast Bleeding Cool News correspondent), Neo Edmund (Red Riding-Werewolf Huntress, Kaijudo Rise of the Duel Masters), Charlotte Fullerton (My Little Pony, Ben 10 Omniverse), Clare Kramer(Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Geek Nation), Marv Wolfman (Teen Titans, creator of countless comic book characters), Andrew Robinson (Kaijudo Rise of the Duel Masters, Rescue Bots), and Mairghread Scott (Transformers Prime, Rescue Bots).

 

The Art of Big Hero Six (2pm, Room 7AB)

 

Big Hero Six marks the first animated feature from the melded Disney/Marvel conglomerate. Based on a Marvel comic that debuted in 1998, the film is a cute looking, if slightly white-washed, classic tale of a boy and his robot in the fictional city of San Fransokyo. The panel features Walt Disney Animation Studios presents director Don Hall, producer Roy Conli, production designer Paul Felix and character designer Shiyoon Kim who will share the visual development of Big Hero 6.

Greendale Forever: TV Guide Magazine’s Tribute to Community (2:15pm, Ballroom 20)

I feel as if I’m one of the few people who have no need for a sixth season of this show, and definitely not on Yahoo, but here we are. If you still care about what’s happening at Greendale, this panel is probably for you– even if site favourites Troy and Abed are noticeably absent.

Instead we get Community creator Dan Harmon, executive producer Chris McKenna, and cast members Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Jim Rash and Dino Stamatopoulos.

The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con: Positive Portrayals of Women in Pop Culture (3pm, Room 7AB)

So many panels on female characters and women, so few panels on race and diversity. (Oops, did I say that?) This panel discusses powerful women in pop culture and features Action Flick Chick Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak) has assembled a team of women and men dangerous in their own right: Lesley Aletter (professional stuntwoman), Jenna Busch (Legion of Leia founder), Adrienne Curry (host/model/Tolkien enthusiast), Jane Espenson(Husbands), Alan Sizzler Kistler (TheMarySue.com), Bryan Q. Miller ( Batgirl), and Jennifer K. Stuller (Ink-Stained Amazon).

The Writer’s Journey: Breaking into Comic Book and Hollywood Scriptwriting (3pm, Room 32AB)

I highlight these “how-to” panels not for their merits of diversity (but let’s give a major shoutout to panelist and Friend of the Blog, Erika Alexander) but because they do provide good practical and realistic advice from professional writers about getting into the industry. Thursday’s features Brandon M. Easton (ThunderCats [2011], Transformers: Rescue Bots), Geoffrey Thorne (TNT’s Leverage, Ben 10), Jonathan Callan(Ben 10, Generator Rex), animation showrunner Charlotte Fullerton (Ben 10: Omniverse), veteran screenwriter Tony Puryear (the Schwarzenegger film Eraser), and actress/writer Erika Alexander (Maxine Shaw from Living Single and co-creator/co-writer of Concrete Park, a graphic novel from Dark Horse) dishing all the inside dirt.

Breaking Barriers: Transgender Trends in Popular Culture (5pm, room 28DE)

Our first LGBTQ panel of the year includes Tara Madison Avery (Dirtheads, Gooch, Prism Comics) present panelistsDylan Edwards (Transposes), Melanie Gillman (As the Crow Flies), J. D. Saxon (Mahou Shounen Fight!), Elizabeth Lain (F*** the Limits!: The 30-Day Art Project, This Is Where),Ashley Love (Trans Forming Media, journalist, transsexual advocate), and Comic-Con special guest, famed comics historian Michelle Nolan (Love on the Racks: A History of American Romance Comics). They’ll be discussing everything from coming out and transition to navigating gender politics in a world still struggling to understand, cartoonists, writers, and filmmakers are investing their work with unique personal experiences as their characters learn to live and love in new and unexpected ways.

LGBT Geek Year in Review (6pm, Room 28DE)

It’s a shame that so many of the panels I find the most interesting are so late in the day! I’m hoping I have the energy to get to this year in review panel with LGBT activist and columnist P. Kristen Enos (Active Voice, Creatures of Grace) leads a discussion with Diane Anderson-Minshall (The Advocate), Trish Bendix (AfterEllen.com), Matt Kane (GLAAD), and Sean Z. Maker (Bent-Con).

Showtime: Penny Dreadful (6pm, Ballroom 20)

I’m not gonna lie– the idea of Aisha Tyler moderating the Penny Dreadful panel threw me for a loop. It’s a left field decision that I love, even if I don’t quite understand it. Anyway, it’s enough to get the show’s panel on our list despite it’s rather white cast. (However, the show itself is masterfully done and Eva Green is upsettingly good, if you’re looking for a quick watch this August). Tyler will moderate show stars Josh Hartnett(Ethan Chandler), Reeve Carney (Dorian Gray), and Harry Treadaway (Victor Frankenstein

Hip-Hop & Comics: Cultures Combining (7pm, Room 23ABC)

I’ve been to this panel twice at NYCC, so won’t be attending again but do fully encourage that you go see Patrick Reed’s hip-hop panel. Guests haven’t been announced yet, but in the past he’s had names like Jean Grae and Run of Run DMC joining him on stage, so it’s likely to be worth checking out.

 

FRIDAY

Gender in Comics (10am, Room 4)

This panel focuses as much on gender within the books as the business side of the industry. Panelists include comics editor Janelle Asselin, ComicsAlliance.com senior editor Andy Khouri, BOOM! Studios editor Dafna Pleban, comics writer James Tynion IV (The Woods), Image comics director of trade book sales Jennifer de Guzman, and WIRED writer Laura Hudson and IDW publishing editor Sarah Gaydos.

The Black Panel (10am, Room 5AB)

So this would pretty much be the panel of the con to be at. Arturo covers the panel every year, and this year we’ll be tag teaming for a supersized panel with Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow, MAD TV), Ne-Yo (actor, artist, writer, singer, etc.), J. August Richards (Angel, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Kevin Grevioux (I, Frankenstein; Underworld), Cree Summer (Batman Beyond, Rugrats, A Different World), and Erika Alexander (Living Single, Concrete Park). The Black Panel is produced by Tatiana El Khouri and hosted by its founder, Michael Davis.

 

Writing for TV: From First Draft to Getting Staffed (10:30am, 24ABC)

I attended this howto panel last year and found it well run, informative, and extremely entertaining. Karen Horne is the VP of NBC programming talent development and inclusion, and she’s joined by Spiro Skentzos (Grimm), Keto Shimizu (Arrow), David Schulner (Emerald City), and David Slack (Person of Interest) to talk about breaking into TV writing with a large Q&A session at the end.

Nickelodeon: Legend of Korra: Book 3 (11:15am, Ballroom 20)

I’ve never seen an episode of Avatar or Korra, but people tell me it’s a thing I should be watching. Join Executive producer and creator team Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino and Janet Varney(Korra), David Faustino (Mako), P. J. Byrne (Bolin), Seychelle Gabriel (Asami), John Michael Higgins (Varrick) and Mindy Sterling (Lin Beifong) for this panel which includes an exclusive sneak peek screening of a new episode for Book 3, “Change.” Moderated by Megan Casey (VP of current series for Nickelodeon).

Milestone @ 21 (11:30am, Room 5AB)

Come for the Black Panel, stay for Milestone! They’re in the same room, back to back, so you’ve really got no excuse not to come. The Milestone @ 21 panel is produced by Reggie Hudlin (Django Unchained, Django/Zorro) and hosted by Phil LaMarr (Static Shock, Mad TV) and features Denys Cowan, (Django Unchained, Green Arrow), Derek Dingle (Black Enterprise magazine), and Michael Davis (The Hidden Beach).

Game of Thrones Panel and Q&A (1:40pm, Hall H)

Not to drop any spoilers for the non-book initiated, but the following seasons should introduce the rest of the the now-deceased Oberyn Martell’s family. I’m hoping, if not absolutely expecting, that Friday’s panel might bring some Dornish casting announcements  of a POC variety. If not, you’ll still get a full panel of GoT stars, including Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Natalie Dormer as Margaery Baratheon, Kit Harington as Jon Snow, Rose Leslie as Ygritte, Rory McCann as Sandor Clegane (“The Hound”), Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark.

 

The Witty Women of Steampunk (2:30pm, 24ABC)

Friend of the Blog Ay-leen the Peacemaker (editor for BeyondVictoriana.com and Tor Books) joins Anina Bennett (Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel), Claire Hummel (Bioshock: Infinite), Robin Blackburn (The League of S.T.E.A.M.), Sarah Hunter (Steampunk model/performer),Sheyne Fleischer ( The League of S.T.E.A.M.), and moderator Dina Kampmeyer (Lady Steam Designs) to discuss a steampunk reimagining a history that never was. They’ll explore multiculturalism, science, sexuality, class politics, and much more.

Big Ideas for Movies: Crossing Borders with Mexican Animation (3pm, Room 23ABC)

If I’m reading correctly, this is a pretty packed panel. The creators and talent behind the new 3D animated film El Americano 3D are teaming up to bring the new face of Mexican animation to Comic Con. The panel features Mexican filmmaker Ricardo Arnaiz and his producing partnersEdward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), Phil Roman (The Simpsons), Verónica Arceo,Alex Flores, Gerry Cardoso, and Michael D. Olmos. Also joining them include the voice talent,Rico Rodriguez(Modern Family), Raul Garcia (Aladdin), Mike Kunkel (Tarzan), and Richard Pursel(SpongeBob Squarepants) and the voices of Gabriel Iglesias (The Fluffy Movie), Cheech Marin (Cheech and Chong), Kate del Castillo (Under the Same Moon), Erik Estrada (CHIPs), and Lisa Kudrow (Friends), among many others.

Top image by Ben Templesmith via Flickr Creative Commons

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The Disney Triple Crown: Why Ming-Na Wen Needs To Be In Star Wars http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/22/the-disney-triple-crown-why-ming-na-wen-needs-to-be-in-star-wars/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/22/the-disney-triple-crown-why-ming-na-wen-needs-to-be-in-star-wars/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33091 By Guest Contributor Keith Chow, cross-posted from The Nerds Of Color Earlier this week, Lucasfilm announced the addition of two more actors to the cast of Star Wars Episode VII. We do not yet know who the two relatively unknown actors — Pip Anderson, who’s British, and Crystal Clarke, who’s African American — will play in the movie, […]

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By Guest Contributor Keith Chow, cross-posted from The Nerds Of Color

Earlier this week, Lucasfilm announced the addition of two more actors to the cast of Star Wars Episode VII. We do not yet know who the two relatively unknown actors — Pip Anderson, who’s British, and Crystal Clarke, who’s African American — will play in the movie, but I’m guessing their roles must be substantial enough to warrant a press release about their casting. If their characters are indeed prominent, Clarke will join John Boyega and Lupita Nyong’o in making this “the blackest Star Wars ever.”

Still, every time breaking Star Wars casting news comes across my feed, there’s always one name that I hope to see in the headlines:Ming-Na Wen.

Talk about nerd cred, other than Ming-Na, Joy Luck Club also starred Tamlyn Tomita (Karate Kid II), Lauren Tom (Futurama), and Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: TNG).

For those not in the know, Ming-Na is one of the most prominent Asian American actresses in Hollywood today. Though she has been acting since the mid-80s, her career took off in 1993 when she was cast in the lead role of June in Wayne Wang’s adaptation of the Amy Tan novel, The Joy Luck Club.

Wen also spent over five seasons as part of the main cast of ER as Dr. Chen when the show was at the height of its powers on NBC. In addition to these mainstream roles, her geek cred runs deep as well.

She followed her star-making turn in Joy Luck Club by playing Chun Li in 1994′s live-action adaptation of Street Fighter. In 2001, Wen voiced Dr. Aki Ross, the lead character in the big screen CG-animated Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. And on television, Ming-Na provided the voice of Detective Yin on the Kids’ WB animated The Batman series and starred for two seasons on SyFy’s Stargate Universe. She even had a small role in the 2009 superhero flick Push — alongside future Captain America, and until recently, fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Chris Evans.

Despite this long and impressive filmography, the two roles that have led to Ming-Na’s icon status among us Nerds of Color — and the rest of the world, for that matter — are as a Disney Princess and as a Marvel superhero.

Her turn as the legendary Chinese heroine Fa Mulan in 1998 was a big deal. Not only is Mulan the only animated Disney film set in China, its voice cast of predominantly Asian American actors is still pretty impressive 16 years later 1. Though Mulan has never been depicted as a princess in any Chinese telling of the legend, Disney nevertheless inducted the character into their heavily branded — and super popular — Disney Princesses line, making her one of the very few non-white Princesses to be “coronated,” and therefore one of the very few Asian dolls in the toy aisle.

Last year, Ming-Na officially joined the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — Disney’s other mega-franchise — when she was cast as Agent May on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And while I admit that I haven’t been the show’s biggest fan2, it was never because of any issue with the character of Melinda May. (My main problems withS.H.I.E.L.D. were always its Whedon-y bits).

In fact, she was one of the few bright spots on the show for me (this mini-Joy Luck Club reunion, for starters) and her relationship with Coulson is actually interesting. Hopefully, the showrunners give her more to do in Season Two than stand around and glower.

Though, admittedly, she’s REALLY good at standing around and glowering.

While she was promoting the premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Ming-Na revealed that there was yet one more Disney franchise she wanted to be a part of: Star Wars.

Though her interview with Access Hollywood made all the rounds back in October, those of us who had been following her career since Joy Luck Club already knew about her preference for that galaxy far, far away. I think it was in a feature in the now defunct A Magazine where I first learned about her Star Wars fandom and her desire to be in one of the films.

Not sure if this was the issue, but I’m pretty sure the issue came out around the time the prequels were being shot. Unfortunately, the magazine existed before the internet and not even Google can track down the article. But trust me, Ming-Na’s Star Wars fandom runs deep, and in the mid-90s, she was all about being in a Star Wars movie. Up to that point, I had no idea that the actress from Joy Luck Club was a fangirl!

Despite the pleas to be in one, George Lucas wasn’t swayed enough to cast her in any of his movies. I guess in Lucas’ Star Wars universe, the only Asians we ever get to see are:

One of Jabba’s dancers in the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi

… Uh, Lando’s co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon, Nien Nunb …

… And the Nemoidians in Episodes I-III.

Also, Amidala in all kinds of Orientalist costumes and makeup.

That’s it. That’s the list.

The one time Lucas actually did cast a real live Asian for a role, he cast Bai Ling instead3 of Ming-Na (and subsequently sent that scene to the cutting room floor).

Also, peep the diversity in that deleted scene. By cutting it, all the black and brown people in Star Wars was reduced by 95%!

When Episode III came and went in 2005, no one expected there to be more Star Wars films, and Ming-Na’s dream to be in one went the way of the Jedi after Order 66. But now that Disney has swooped in to resuscitate the franchise, it is the perfect opportunity to let Mulan wield a lightsaber!

Even if she isn’t cast in J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII — or Rian Johnson’s Episodes VIII and IX, for that matter — Disney has already announced that they will be doing standalone Star Wars movies outside the main sequel trilogy. With a new Star Wars movie coming out every year from now to eternity, why not throw a bone to one of the Magic Kingdom’s most loyal subjects?

Not only would it be a dream fulfilled for one of nerdom’s own, but it would be an historic occasion. To win the Disney triple crown of being an official  Disney Princess, a Marvel superhero, and a Jedi? Hell, that’s gotta be bigger than the EGOT!

So just like the time I called on Marvel to cast an Asian Americanactor to play Iron Fist, I am once again calling on Disney to do the right thing and cast Ming-Na Wen in a Star Wars movie!

  1. Still not sure how or why Donny Osmond provided Shang’s singing voice, though. Either way, here’s hoping Disney doesn’t neglect to cast Asian American actors to voice the characters in the upcoming Big Hero 6 movie. 
  2. I will say, though, that the post-Winter Soldier episodes did eventually get better. 
  3. Is she even real life? 

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Quoted: Police And Medical Teams During Eric Garner’s Last Moments http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/21/quoted-police-and-medical-teams-during-eric-garners-last-moments/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/21/quoted-police-and-medical-teams-during-eric-garners-last-moments/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33093 At one point, another officer is seen taking a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes from the 43-year-old Garner’s pants. Even after the arrival of an EMT four minutes into the video, no medical aid is provided to Garner. He’s instead just loaded onto a stretcher and wheeled off. Cops say he was pronounced […]

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At one point, another officer is seen taking a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes from the 43-year-old Garner’s pants.

Even after the arrival of an EMT four minutes into the video, no medical aid is provided to Garner. He’s instead just loaded onto a stretcher and wheeled off.

Cops say he was pronounced dead a short time later after arriving at a Staten Island hospital.

NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, caught on another video putting Garner in a chokehold, is shown standing a few feet away and chatting amiably with a uniformed colleague.

Near the end of the clip, he gives a satiric wave to the person shooting the second video.

Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran, was placed on modified duty Saturday as cops and the Staten Island district attorney investigated the case.

Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and his shield and assigned to work desk duty. The police union immediately denounced the move as “knee-jerk” and “completely unwarranted.”

New York Daily News

Image by Marcos Vasconcelos via Flickr Creative Commons

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Flapping In The Breeze: The New Captain America Faces Challenges From Within http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/17/flapping-in-the-breeze-the-new-captain-america-faces-challenges-from-within/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/17/flapping-in-the-breeze-the-new-captain-america-faces-challenges-from-within/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33079 By Arturo R. García The Falcon is going to be the new Captain America! Great! But then what? Oh, you expected this to stick? History says otherwise. But there’s a potential problem ahead. SPOILERS under the cut It’s not surprising that Marvel would use the stage of the Colbert Report to announce that Sam Wilson […]

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By Arturo R. García

The Falcon is going to be the new Captain America! Great! But then what?

Oh, you expected this to stick? History says otherwise. But there’s a potential problem ahead.

SPOILERS under the cut

Teaser image featuring (l-r): Havok, the character formerly known as Thor, Sam Wilson as Captain America, the Hulk, and Steve Rogers.

It’s not surprising that Marvel would use the stage of the Colbert Report to announce that Sam Wilson would be the protagonist in a new Cap comic starting this November. As Newsarama pointed out, the company had been suggesting the change was in the works, stemming from a story in which the Captain of record, Steve Rogers, lost the Super-Soldier syrum keeping him youthful.

So in going on the Report, Marvel was banking that his audience — which, one would suggest, includes people who aren’t following the book but are pro-diversity as a matter of habit — would take it as a positive surprise. The announcement could have been handled differently on another show: Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, for example, would have been able to better explain the significance of the move, but she might also have pointed out that the company also acted like Rogers’ “death” just seven years ago was going to stick, or that Marvel has already seen a Black Captain America in Isaiah Bradley from the Truth: Red, White & Black miniseries. Thus, avoiding actual journalists and announcing Wilson’s new role in the safe embrace of Colbert’s “truthiness” was the smartest play.

The company used the similarly friendly confines of The View to announce that an unidentified cis-woman character would be written to take up the mantle of Thor, giving Marvel Entertainment, Inc. a pair of feel-good stories for its comics division, and a chance to see “fans” at ComicsAlliance’s Facebook page reacting to the news of this latest Black Cap as gracefully as the townspeople in Blazing Saddles:

(l-r) Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in a still from “Avengers: Age Of Ultron.” Image via comicbookmovie.com

Of course, when it comes to Marvel, the movie tail wags the comics dog; in between the announcements regarding Wilson and the new Thor, the first still photos from Age of Ultron were released, featuring Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth reprising their respective roles from Joss Whedon’s first go-round.

So unless we start seeing pictures of Anthony Mackie rocking the shield in the third Cap movie, or, say, Katee Sackhoff wielding Mjolnir, the best way to approach these new adventures is as a bridge between now and the release of Age of Ultron next summer. Or did readers of The Superior Spider-Man go into the second Spider-Man movie expecting Andrew Garfield to recite dialogue written for Alfred Molina?

But let’s consider this image of some of the heroes featured in Marvel’s “Avengers NOW” branding:

Image via Entertainment Weekly.

You can see Marvel at least trying to liven up its primary team lineup for the next few months. These “Avengers Of The Next Financial Quarter” look like they will include the Inhuman queen Medusa, the Winter Soldier, a new Deathlok (benefitting, perhaps, from Agents of SHIELD) and the reimagined Captain and Thor, among others. It’s certainly a more inviting sell than Steven Moffat’s attitude regarding the casting in Doctor Who.

It’s less encouraging, however, to discover that the writer entrusted with telling Wilson’s new stories as Captain America is Rick Remender. You might remember Remender from his rather ham-handed approach to race in the pages of Uncanny Avengers last year, and for some of his responses to critiques of that work:

Only in comics, apparently, does telling people to “drown themselves” in urine qualify someone for a promotion. But Remender also found himself in hot water with fans less than a month ago, in a scene involving Wilson that had some Falcon supporters briefly calling for him to be fired.

In Captain America #22, we see a flashback in which Wilson entertains a visit from Jet Black, the reformed daughter of supervillain Arnim Zola. Because she was raised in an alternate dimension, Jet aged more rapidly than a woman from “our” Earth. Since her previous depiction led some readers to speculate that she was still a teenager, Remender writes a line for her where she can announce that she’s at least 23 years old:

You will also note that Wilson is seen begging off from drinking more, only for Jet to encourage him to keep drinking before making an advance toward him:

The “punchline” is the strong indication that Wilson and Jet have already slept together by the time he can remember what happened:

Who knows if they actually had sex and then put their underwear back on, of course. But it’s okay, because even if Jet was evil once, she TOTES wanted him:

Remender was accused of effectively writing Wilson into committing sexual assault against a minor before the furor was corrected on Tumblr. But even allowing for Jet stating otherwise, the scene comes off really awkwardly; the thought of waking up not knowing if you’ve had sex with someone isn’t something a lot of people can brush off with a make-up kiss.

The scene stirred up memories of a 2009 issue of Amazing Spider-Man in which writer Fred Van Lente suggested rather heavily that one of Spidey’s rogues, The Chameleon, had sex with Peter Parker’s roommate while disguised as Parker, which can — under British law, at least — be considered rape. After first telling a fan that he believed rape “requires force or the threat of force,” Van Lente quickly back-tracked, saying the two characters only made out. So, even if Remender has a reveal planned saying Jet and Falcon never had sex at all, his attempt to kickstart a relationship between them lacked nuance, to say the least.

Sam Wilson as Captain America. Image via Comic Book Resources.

And so this is the writer — tone-deaf on race, seemingly behind the times on matters of sex and consent — who has been entrusted with telling the story of the latest Black Captain America, however long they’re scheduled to run. Besides the fact that stories starring interim superheroes can be enjoyable in their own right (Dick Grayson’s tenures as Batman, Superior Spider-Man and the adventures of Beta Ray Bill come to mind), Marvel has to know that having Sam Wilson carry a mantle so deeply associated with depictions of patriotism opens up the door to the kind of tales that can go beyond the realm of heroics and explore some of those associations.

How would Wilson react to Marvel-Americans who don’t want a Black man as Captain America? How would this change the dynamic between himself and his Black teammates in the underrated Mighty Avengers book? Would Sam see an opportunity to use the platform to make broader statements about race? Would he take it? As we’ve said before, Remender’s work flows best when he sticks to straight-ahead superheroics, and that shouldn’t change in this new book.

But after creating a chance to do more — not to mention the chance to hire a POC writer for a high-profile book — Marvel is sending the signal that this is just a placeholder. So, as high as Sam Wilson might fly in his latest role, it’s not hard to shake the feeling that we’ll be left with plenty of sky left to cover.

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White Guy’s Burden: The Racialicious Review of 24: Redemption [The Throwback] http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/17/white-guys-burden-the-racialicious-review-of-24-redemption-the-throwback/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/17/white-guys-burden-the-racialicious-review-of-24-redemption-the-throwback/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:00:47 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33051 In honor — or disbelief — of the fact that apparently people still watched “24″ this year, let’s remember Arturo’s struggle to grasp how this show can still have any fans after the turgid intercalary chapter in 2008 that saw Jack Bauer go to Africa. By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García … No, really, people […]

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In honor — or disbelief — of the fact that apparently people still watched “24″ this year, let’s remember Arturo’s struggle to grasp how this show can still have any fans after the turgid intercalary chapter in 2008 that saw Jack Bauer go to Africa.

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

… No, really, people watch this show every week? No wonder the Bush presidency lasted two terms.

24: Redemption is both set-up and appetizer for the show’s incomprehensible fanbase, setting the table three years after the surely cataclysmic sixth season, which left Super Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) on the lam and out of a job, what with his beloved Counter Terrorism Unit being disbanded.

As we begin this two-hour slice of Jack’s traumatic life, the former Republican role model is moonlighting in the fictional African country of Singala, helping out an old special ops buddy (Robert Carlyle) building a school/living shelter somewhere near the country’s border. Where these kids’ parents are, why this school is not co-ed, or staffed by anybody who’s not white, is never explained. The only other person at the camp is a slimy, United Nations worker. Of course the UN guy is French, and verbally fahrts in Jack’s general direction.

But never mind the kids or their harsh socio-political realities, Jack is emotional, man!

He’s depressed about how Season 6 went down, and beset upon by an Annoying Liberal U.S. Bureaucrat (Gil Bellows) serving a subpoena for Jack to testify to Congress regarding “human rights violations.” If we’re talking about the rest of this series, can we move to upgrade the charges to Crimes Against Humanity?

(By the way, we know Bellows is playing a Liberal because he wears dorky glasses and complains about the heat. An Annoying Republican Bureaucrat would have hiked his way across the jungle, carrying the subpoena like Christopher Walken did the watch in Pulp Fiction.)

Jack’s mellow gets harshed even further by a seemingly out-of-nowhere coup organized by the People’s Freedom Army, led by the evil Gen. Benjamin Juma (an under-used Tony Todd) and his #1, Col. Ike Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim). You know they’re important characters because they’re not featured in a single publicity still Fox released for the movie. Though Juma and Dubaku decry the Singalan government as working for their “white masters” in the U.S., we learn the PFA is in fact being funded by evil American Jonas Hodge (Jon Voight).

In shepherding the schoolchildren to the rapidly-closing U.S. Embassy, Jack has what you could call an off day: 10 kills in just under two hours, as they make their way to asylum before the embassy is evacuated under orders of lame-duck President Noah Daniels (Powers Boothe). The fall of Singala, and Jack’s and the kids’ final march to safety, plays out alongside the inauguration of Daniels’ successor, the “idealistic” Allison Taylor. In order to get the kids on the last helicopter to safety, Jack is forced to forego his “What, me, accountable?” philosophy and turn himself in for testimony.

On the “real world” side of things, the program featured a commercial for Malaria No More and referred viewers to a documentary on child soldiers on its official website. And it’s encouraging, I suppose, that writer Howard Gordon didn’t attempt to give Redemption a “feel-good” ending: you know, Jack killing Juma and Dubaku with both arms tied behind his back (don’t laugh; he killed Dubaku’s brother in that condition) and making Africa safe for Hot Topic and horrible NBA expansion teams. And Juma and Dubaku might get to become true Big Bads along with Hodge when the show resumes in January. But if that’s the best thing to come out of this two-hour informercial for Real Americanism, then … like I said earlier, people watch this every week?

Take me back, Tim Kring, all is forgiven!

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Activist Jose Antonio Vargas Enters The ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Fray http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/16/activist-jose-antonio-vargas-enters-the-unaccompanied-minors-fray/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/16/activist-jose-antonio-vargas-enters-the-unaccompanied-minors-fray/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33075 By Arturo R. García Former journalist and immigrant rights advocate Jose Antonio Vargas was arrested and released within the course of a day by Border Patrol officials in McAllen, Texas, where he has gone in support of the thousands of young undocumented immigrants who have made their way to the U.S. from Central America. “I […]

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By Arturo R. García

Former journalist and immigrant rights advocate Jose Antonio Vargas was arrested and released within the course of a day by Border Patrol officials in McAllen, Texas, where he has gone in support of the thousands of young undocumented immigrants who have made their way to the U.S. from Central America.

“I was released today because I am a low priority and not considered a threat,” Vargas told the New York Times after being released. “I would argue that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are not a threat either.”

Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winner who revealed in 2011 that he was also living in the country without documentation, was arrested for failing to have a U.S. visa while attempting to board a flight from McAllen to Houston. He posted this picture shortly before being arrested:

The brief detention came a day after Vargas said in a CNN interview he did not expect to be treated differently from other immigrants because of his activist status.

“Why the double standard?” Vargas said. “When I outed myself three years ago, my goal is to say I’m one of the 11 million [undocumented] people. I’m not asking for special treatment, I’m not asking for there to be any double standard. The government is doing that.”

Vargas, who recently released the semi-autobiographical film Documented through CNN films, also released a statement via Define American, his advocacy group:

Our daily lives are filled with fear in simple acts such as getting on an airplane to go home to our family. With Congress failing to act on immigration reform, and President Obama weighing his options on executive action, the critical question remains: how do we define American?

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Coming Attractions: This Is A Stereotype Sets Out To Combat Myths About Native Communities http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/15/coming-attractions-this-is-a-stereotype-sets-out-to-combat-myths-about-native-communities/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/15/coming-attractions-this-is-a-stereotype-sets-out-to-combat-myths-about-native-communities/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33066 By Arturo R. García In the midst of not only the fight to change the Washington D.C. pro football team’s name but the San Francisco Giants’ embarrassing display during “Native American Heritage Night,” This is a Stereotype couldn’t come along at a better time. Billing itself as “a free and alternative narrative to addressing possible […]

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By Arturo R. García

In the midst of not only the fight to change the Washington D.C. pro football team’s name but the San Francisco Giants’ embarrassing display during “Native American Heritage Night,” This is a Stereotype couldn’t come along at a better time.

Billing itself as “a free and alternative narrative to addressing possible causes and effects of Native American stereotypes,” the project was inspired by Stereotype: Misconceptions of the Native American, an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) in New Mexico last year by artist Cannupa Hanska Luger and furthered through the work of filmmakers Dylan McLaughlin and Ginger Dunnill. The film successfully raised just over $10,000 on Kickstarter this past August.

“It’s all about getting our voices and getting our faces and our images and our designs out there to challenge those stereotypes,” Native Appropriations’ Adrienne Keene says in the teaser above. “We’ve been so invisible for so long, and now we have a new opportunity through social media.”

Last month, the creative team posted that, in addition to conducting interviews for the feature, it had reviewed footage from communities including the “Nambé, White Mountain Apache, Ojibwa, Inupiaq, Shoalwater Bay, Yakima, Kiowa, Ohkay Owingeh, Coeur D’Alene, Lower Sioux,” among many others.

MoCNA is scheduled to host the film’s first screenings on Aug. 23 and 24. Two more teasers can be seen below.

[Top image via "This is a Stereotype" Facebook page]

[h/t Native Appropriations]

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More Than a New Starbucks: On Gentrification and Domestic Violence http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/14/more-than-a-new-starbucks-on-gentrification-and-domestic-violence/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/14/more-than-a-new-starbucks-on-gentrification-and-domestic-violence/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33021   We’ve had many conversations about gentrification on Racialicious, mostly focusing on the race and class drivers. However, there are a multitude of ways to think about the impacts of gentrification and the long term results of a gentrification project aren’t always simple to quantify by our usual measures. We can point to displacement or […]

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We’ve had many conversations about gentrification on Racialicious, mostly focusing on the race and class drivers.

However, there are a multitude of ways to think about the impacts of gentrification and the long term results of a gentrification project aren’t always simple to quantify by our usual measures. We can point to displacement or economic growth, but what about unintended consequences?

A cold knot of dread took root in my stomach as I read a recent headline from the DCist: “D.C. Sees Increase In Homicides Connected To Domestic Violence.”

D.C. has seen a troubling increase this year in the number of homicides that appear to be connected to domestic violence, an issue Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier addressed in an interview yesterday.

“If you’re in an abusive relationship, the biggest problem is that people don’t think it will turn fatal,” she said on WTOP. “We’re seeing more than a double increase in domestic violence murders, not just of women … but children, as well.”

In analyzing the rise in both calls to police and actual homicides, the writer includes this very interesting side note:

Survivor access to long-term affordable housing is also key. Last year, local providers were unable to fulfill 52 service requests from victims, a 24 percent decrease from 2012. The vast majority of these requests — 77 percent — were for housing.

“Many victims are forced to stay because they don’t have access to housing,” Cottman said. “Either be homeless, or stay and be victimized.”

The knot in my stomach grew worse, so I tweeted the article. My friend Zeynep responded “Abused women can’t afford to move out.”

That was true, but I couldn’t figure out why the article caused such a strong reaction.

Then I remembered: that was me, almost 10 years ago.

In another life (certainly a far cry from the life I have now), I dated a man who I would still hesitate to call abusive. He never raised a hand to me in anger, though he would destroy other things around me – walls, rear view mirrors, storage boxes. He was jealous and bullying, flying into rages prompted by the slightest infraction. Looking back, I am surprised to think of how long I stayed – but that’s always the rub isn’t it? Getting into these kinds of relationships is easy – it is the leaving that is difficult. And to leave requires not only a will, but also a way.

For me, the writing was on the wall about the way this relationship was going. The ex had informed me that he and our roommate had decided to find a cheaper place in Virginia to live in. At the time, I had no car, no driver’s license, and had spent my entire life in D.C. and Maryland. Virginia might as well have been the West Coast. I was not given a say in this – the idea was that I would come along once I knew what the plan was.

This was the beginning of the end as I suddenly felt desperate and squeezed. Did I really want to be in a more isolated area, away from friends and family? Away from my current jobs (at that time, I held down two)? And school? I felt trapped and confessed to the property manager that my roommates wanted to move but I wanted to stay. However, on my income alone, I couldn’t afford my own place.

Calmly, she asked me a few questions about my income and let me know that there was a program called MPDU (Moderately Priced Dwelling Units) that was essentially a discount on rent. The program was designed to ensure the Montgomery County workforce could afford to live near where they worked. There was a minimum income requirement back then of $28,000 a year, but you could not make more than $38,000 per year. The idea was that upward mobility was still in play – they fully expected most households to earn out of the program within a few years.

I forked over $1500 to the rental office – in exchange, I purchased my first bit of freedom for $715 dollars a month. As I’ve gotten older, I realized the kind hearted woman bent some rules for me – I should have probably been put on a waiting list, and I never took any of the classes referenced on the MPDU site. Later, she told me I had the cheapest rent in the entire building. But she did it – she found a place for me to stay that I could afford on my own.

For a month, I secretly moved clothing and items from one apartment to the other – after 60 days, I was settled into my new efficiency.

I had 500 square feet, a balcony that stood in for a window, and a kitchen small enough to that careless hand placement meant carrying electric charge from the fridge to the sink. After paying rent, I had about $60 to last me until the next payday.

But those were just details. In my small apartment overlooking Silver Spring, I was free – and ready to start a new life.

Some people would argue that these types of situations should not factor into city planning – economic progress tends to benefit most of the community and while displacement is unfortunate it is a known part of a neighborhood’s cycle. Rising housing costs are considered the price we pay for improved services, less crime, and more amenities. If some people can no longer afford to live in the city, the argument goes, there are other places to live that are cheaper. These arguments have some validity – but designing for a city is about so much more than maximizing space.

DC is in the fourteenth year of a new cycle of revitalization. This is part of a continuing conversation about identity – what economic drivers need to be put in place, what distinguishes the city from other cities, what makes DC a great place to live. DC in particular tends to frame change in a series of initiatives and public conversations: we are becoming a bikeable city, a green city, a digital city. There are conversations and action plans, committees and closed list-servs.

Right now, there are people trying to work or go to school or raise a family or possibly all three at the same time, trapped in a relationship that teeters on the verge of violence.

So where is the conversation around the needs of these residents, who are already in the city?

(Image Credit – Alex Barth, via Flickr)

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Racialicious Is Looking For POC Creators At San Diego Comic-Con http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/14/racialicious-is-looking-for-poc-creators-at-san-diego-comic-con/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/14/racialicious-is-looking-for-poc-creators-at-san-diego-comic-con/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33055 We’re just over a week away from the pop-culture experience that is San Diego Comic-Con, and while Arturo and Kendra pore over the event schedule to prepare their preview, we’d like to ask your help in finding some people who might be flying under the radar. If you or somebody you know is a POC […]

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We’re just over a week away from the pop-culture experience that is San Diego Comic-Con, and while Arturo and Kendra pore over the event schedule to prepare their preview, we’d like to ask your help in finding some people who might be flying under the radar.

If you or somebody you know is a POC creator at the show, drop us a line at team@racialicious.com — use the subject line Racialicious SDCC — or in the comment thread here and let people know about your project. We’ll give you a signal boost in not only our two-part SDCC preview next week, but on social media, as well.

Just like last year, both Kendra and Arturo will be live-tweeting panels and posting during the event, on their respective Twitter accounts and the official Racialicious feed. Do let us know, Racializens, if you’ll be around as well. We’d love to see you there!

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The Ghost of Bigger Thomas Surfaces in Kayne West’s Monster [The Throwback] http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/10/the-ghost-of-bigger-thomas-surfaces-in-kayne-wests-monster-the-throwback/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/10/the-ghost-of-bigger-thomas-surfaces-in-kayne-wests-monster-the-throwback/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33042 With Kanye West in seemingly another controversy this week following a mid-concert rant, it’s a good time to revisit Latoya’s look at the furor surrounding his 2011 single, “Monster.” By Latoya Peterson

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With Kanye West in seemingly another controversy this week following a mid-concert rant, it’s a good time to revisit Latoya’s look at the furor surrounding his 2011 single, “Monster.”

By Latoya Peterson

UFC fighters, in their promotions of the game, have fallen over themselves to praise Bruce Lee. They speak reverently of him—he’s a childhood hero, an inspiration for how to lead one’s life, a warrior that all other fighters should aspire to. Dana White refers to him as the founder of mixed martial arts, and although this claim smacks of hyperbole, it has some merit. Bruce was someone who valued practicality over form—he disliked the traditional arts’ reliance on stances, believing that these things were too stiff, and thus, predictable. Instead, Bruce believed in Jeet Kune Do — the “Way of the Intercepting Fist.” It was a philosophy that encouraged formlessness — what was flexible and applicable in a “real life’”situation.

Why does Bruce continue to inspire us, over 40 years after his death? Imitators and heirs to the throne have come and gone, but no one has captured the public’s love, loyalty, or imagination in quite the same way. Every new martial arts actor, from Jackie Chan to Jet Li to Tony Jaa, is referred to as “the next Bruce Lee.” Even in our quest to escape him, we still return to him, as the unreachable standard by which all others must be measured.

There’s a few reasons why Bruce Lee has endured, and they combine to create the legend we know today. There is, of course, his legendary athleticism and fitness. We’ve all heard those hyperbolic “Chuck Norris jokes,” but Bruce Lee, scarily enough, was the real deal. From his two-finger pushups to his 1-inch punches, his physical abilities belied his actual size. He was only 5’7″ and 135 lbs—even physically, he was a model of economy and efficiency.

And of course, there was the pure lethality of his persona. Compare Bruce to his fellow action compatriots—most Hollywood fights are intricate, choreographed ordeals, with hundreds of punches, kicks, and counterattacks. Fights can last for twenty minutes or more, and the outcome can shift several times over their course. Bruce, on the other hand, extended his philosophy of efficiency to the fight scenes themselves. There were no wasted movements—every action was consequential. Take, for example, the O’Hara fight in Enter The Dragon. Bruce Lee decimated his opponent with 12 painful-looking, brutal moves. This was not a man to be playfully sparred with—this was a man to be feared.

Former “American Idol” contestant William Hung.

As an Asian-American kid growing up in the suburbs, I was drawn to Bruce Lee. To many of us Asian boys, Bruce was more than a good fighter. He was a symbol of masculinity—he was an ethnically Asian male role model in a Western society where so few existed, before or since.

The Asian-American male undergoes a systemic humiliation in America, and it’s not always explicit. After all, the positive stereotype of the Asian male is that of an intelligent, bookish math nerd. Being considered smart is better than being considered stupid. There are, however, negative implications to this.

Acceptance of positive stereotypes is an implicit acceptance of negative stereotypes—although we Asian men are considered book smart, we are also said to lack passion, emotion, and raw sexuality. Our penises are rumored to be small, our social interactions are perceived as awkward, and any sexual interactions we do have must be bizarre or creepy. In the same way that black men are hyper-masculinized (and thus, are perceived as violent and threatening), Asian men are hyper-feminized (and thus, are perceived as no threat at all).

Is there a basis of truth to these stereotypes? My parents raised me to believe in the value of hard work above all else, including my social life, and that the key to success in this country was to study hard and get the best grades possible. I later learned (thankfully, in time) that hard work alone would make one an assistant to the leader, but never the leader himself. Success in America meant networking, socializing, and knowing the right people, in addition to working hard. It also meant assertiveness—that at some point, you had to fight back, protest, and disagree with those around you to earn respect. Our parents did the best with what they knew, but the result—a generation of young, Asian-Americans which, by and large, is politically disengaged and much too passive—is unfortunate.

Bruce Lee rectified the “deficiencies” that America saddles upon Asian men. Physically, Bruce was classically handsome, and he exuded virile sexuality. He was all greased muscle and sinew—a coiled panther, ready to pounce. Bruce had several romantic scenes in his films, and that, by itself, was incredible to see. Bruce was a “desirable” Asian man, and in a society where Asian men are considered eunuchs, this is a welcome change of pace.

Bruce was also an “angry” Asian man. Although he came from an ethnic heritage that valued unity and the importance of immersion, Bruce knew how to scream, and holler, and challenge those who did him wrong. He was “Asian-American,” in the truest, hybrid sense of the phrase. The film The Chinese Connection stirs the blood of any Asian man who watches it. Here, we see a liberated Chinese man who doesn’t take insults from anyone — a man who is real, and emotional, and uncompromising in his righteous anger. It was this unhinged emotion, this ability to cry manly tears, that thrilled us so. Not everything had to be calculated, and measured, and inscrutable—not everything had to be intelligent.

Sometimes, you just want to get mad and scream. I think of Bruce in my worst moments — when I am discriminated against, when I am underestimated, when I am wronged. I think of Bruce when I speak up for myself against my better interests—when standing out is more important than blending in. I think of Bruce when my sense of justice trumps my passivity. Bruce is the “id” that whispers in my ear—that bigots treat me with disrespect, because they think they can. They think I’ll be passive, but I have a voice. I can use it to affect change. I can scream.

In his eulogy to Malcolm X, Ossie Davis referred to Malcolm as “our own black shining prince.” For Asian men, Bruce fulfills the same role — our own Asian shining prince, who told us to be vocal, proud, and outspoken for who we were, and for everything we could be.

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Black Glamour Power: The Stars Who Blazed a Trail for Beyoncé and Lupita Nyong’o http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/02/black-glamour-power-the-stars-who-blazed-a-trail-for-beyonce-and-lupita-nyongo/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/02/black-glamour-power-the-stars-who-blazed-a-trail-for-beyonce-and-lupita-nyongo/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33009 By Guest Contributor Lisa Hix, adapted from Collectors Weekly Nichelle Gainer knows a thing or two about glamour: She spent most of her career working for magazines like Woman’s Day, GQ, Us Weekly, and InStyle, with a focus on celebrity, fashion, and grooming. But her true passion is fiction, so she decided to write a novel […]

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A 1960s promo shot of The Supremes, featuring Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson.

By Guest Contributor Lisa Hix, adapted from Collectors Weekly

Nichelle Gainer knows a thing or two about glamour: She spent most of her career working for magazines like Woman’s Day, GQ, Us Weekly, and InStyle, with a focus on celebrity, fashion, and grooming. But her true passion is fiction, so she decided to write a novel about black beauty pageants in the 1950s, partially inspired by one of her two glamorous aunts, who was a model in the 1950s—the other was an opera singer who rubbed shoulders with the biggest celebrities of her day.

Looking for newspaper articles on her aunt, she discovered a whole world of history that hardly ever bubbles to the surface: stunning, well-dressed African American stars celebrated in the black community, and sometimes even in the mainstream. Gainer put her fiction work aside to focus on these real-life stories.

Eventually, Gainer started a Tumblr and Facebook fan page, both called Vintage Black Glamour, full of gorgeous images that rarely make it into the public consciousness. While her novel went onto the back burner, her web sites drew the attention of a London publisher, Rocket 88. Gainer’s first book, a nonfiction coffee-table tome about women celebrities, Vintage Black Glamour, which will come out this September, can be preordered now.

We spoke with Gainer over the phone, and she explained to us the stories behind the photos she’s found, why glamour is important, and why Vintage Black Glamour will be more than just a collection of pretty pictures.

Collectors Weekly: Can you tell me about your journey researching your aunts?

Nichelle Gainer’s great-aunt Mildred Taylor, neé Green, did local modeling in Newark, New Jersey, in the 1950s.

Nichelle Gainer: The storyline of my novel, which is yet not finished, is partially inspired by my 83-year-old aunt, Mildred Taylor. In the 1950s, she did some small-time modeling walking the runway at little local fashion shows and after-church shows and posing for pictures.

She also competed in what they called “Negro beauty contests.” In those days, black women were not allowed to compete in Miss America, which was the biggest pageant in the U.S. at that time. It was written into Miss America’s bylaws, the infamous Rule No. 7: “Contestant must be in good health and of the white race.” The Miss America organization, to their credit, has worked hard to clear all that racism out since the 1960s, when they first allowed black women to compete in the pageant.

Before then, if black women wanted to be in pageants, they had to go somewhere else. Of course, many of the smaller pageants wouldn’t let black women in, either. Some did, here and there. Black women kind of slipped in. Usually, they were the lighter-skinned black women, and the pageant hosts didn’t realize these women were not white until they said, “By the way, I’m black.” These women broke ground in a lot of ways.

Contestants in a “Negro beauty pageant” in Los Angeles in 1955. The third woman from the left is dancer and model Jeanna Limyou. From the collection of Jim Linderman.

When I first came up with the idea for a novel about the women who competed in the Negro beauty pageants, my aunt mentioned to me that she had appeared a few times in the local newspapers. I thought, “I’ll go through the old newspapers in the library and see if I can find her picture,” not at all expecting that I would find so many other women just like her, doing this local modeling. They were even kind of well-known. They were in the papers all the time—no names that anyone would know today, but they were famous in their own world. Unlike the coverage we received in the mainstream media of the day, in the black newspapers, we were full human beings. That’s why magazines like Ebony and Jet were started, to show births, marriages, deaths, social events, and things like educational achievement in the black community. We relied on these black newspapers and magazines.

In the course of my research, I came across a picture of another aunt, Margaret Tynes, who was an opera singer. And I said, “Wait a minute, I remember her!” I didn’t grow up knowing her, but my family, like a lot of black families, had these big reunions. As a teenager in the ’80s, I attended the Tynes family reunion in Smithfield, Virginia. I don’t know whether Aunt Margaret was there that year. What I remember is that she was certainly prominent in our family-reunion souvenir booklet. It was full of her pictures and reviews, as well as programs from her shows and her performance at Carnegie Hall. But at age 17, who did I care about? Prince, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. I wasn’t into opera at all, so I wasn’t that interested in learning about my aunt at the time.

But when I saw her picture 10-12 years later, I recognized her immediately. I ran out of the library, called my cousin Muriel, and asked, “Isn’t this our cousin or aunt?” By that time, Aunt Margaret had moved back to the U.S. after living in Italy for four years, because her husband had died. She was getting older, so her nephew moved her to a retirement home near his home.

Collectors Weekly: What are your aunts like?

Gainer’s aunt Margaret Tynes was a famous opera singer, who starred opposite Harry Belafonte and sang for Duke Ellington. Carl Van Vechten took this picture of her on Sept. 29, 1959. Image Via the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Gainer: My Aunt Mildred, the former model, is like Diahann Carroll, fabulous like that at 83. Aunt Margaret is the same way, even if she’s a little slower now these days. She’s 94 but still stunning. She’s one of those people that if you met her, you would be like, “Who is this lady?” Her star power just comes across. I went to go meet her, and I didn’t know they had such nice retirement homes. The residents were like retired doctors and lawyers, the type of people that demand happy hour, with a full bar. I promise you, you have not lived until you’ve had happy hour with 90-year-olds.

There, I was able to speak with Aunt Margaret. She had donated a lot of her materials to her undergraduate alma mater, North Carolina A&T State in Greensboro, but she also had a lot of materials with her like pictures and poetry. Her father, a minister, had a doctorate, which in those days was rare for a black man, obviously. He was also a mathematician. He taught math, and he also wrote poetry. She still has one of his poems. I thought I would write a book about her called A Diva in the Family. But the more I researched about Aunt Margaret, the more I learned about these other glamorous women. As it would turn out, the introduction to Vintage Black Glamour is called “A Diva in the Family.”

Collectors Weekly: What inspired you to post the old pictures you found online?

Harry Belafonte and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have a laugh. The actor put a good deal of money into the civil-right movement; once he raised $50,000 to bail King out of jail in Birmingham, Alabama. Photo via the book “My Song” by Alfred A. Knopf.

Gainer: As the Internet came to be more accessible, useful, and professional-looking, I started fashion and beauty blogs while freelancing, as a way to keep my name out there, keep my foot in that world, and possibly get another magazine job. I wanted to do a book called Vintage Black Glamour, but I saw an opportunity when Facebook fan pages and Tumblr came about. I said to myself, “You know what, I can do a Vintage Black Glamour online.” On other Tumblrs, people were just showing the same old pictures of “black history.” Those images of Martin Luther King, Jr., at the podium are iconic, and they’re an important part of our history, but there’s so much more. And it’s right in front of our faces.

Today, a lot of the pictures that I spent hours looking at in libraries are available online. Many are in the Getty and Corbis archives. Sometimes I thought I had pictures of black celebrities that no one had seen in decades, maybe from old issues of Ebony or Jet, but didn’t realize that Getty and Corbis had them. So they’re accessible, and a lot of the time, they don’t have the same value placed on pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, or Grace Kelly. I said, “You know what, I’m going to put these on a blog. I know there are other people out that would be fascinated to see other, less-well-known photos of our history.”

Josephine Baker, known as the “Ebony Venus,” and Russian-born French ballet star Serge Lifar, the “Bronze Apollo,” dance on the Lido beach in Venice, Italy in the 1930s. Image via Hotel des Ventes, Geneve.

For example, if people know about Josephine Baker, they think of her in the banana skirt. And every interview someone does with me, I run that banana skirt into the wall. There’s nothing wrong with it. I enjoy the banana skirt, and I also love Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. But there’s so much more to these women. And if you only have a stereotype of a person, you put them into a box. Whenever I post Eartha Kitt pictures, there’s always someone who will comment, “Marrrcus!” quoting from Boomerang. And haha, yes, that’s funny, but don’t limit her. It bothers me.

Eartha Kitt put up her own money for her career. Stars now, we look at them every week on TMZ, Facebook, and Twitter, and laugh about how they’re so rich and have all this stuff. In the early days of Hollywood, black stars like Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis, Jr., had to put their own funds into their films. They had to write racist Southern theater owners and say, “Excuse me, this film is okay for your audience to see.” You have to respect the full person, what they did, and what they went through. It wasn’t just a matter of, “Oh, they can’t go through the front door. They can’t eat in this restaurant.” There were all these minor micro-aggressions, countless indignities they went through. For example, if your film is not shown in Southern theaters, you’re not getting the same money as the other stars. There was a whole lot of that.

Sammy Davis, Jr., and Eartha Kitt starred in “Anna Lucasta” in 1958 — and also provided some of the financial backing for the film.

Collectors Weekly: So the website led to the book?

Gainer: Around 2005 to ’07, I pitched the Vintage Black Glamour idea to a few book agents, and they always came back with the same thing: No one’s going to want to do this because coffee-table books are too expensive to produce, and no one knows these people, that kind of thing. But Rocket 88 noticed my Tumblr page. They actually contacted me via Twitter. I never would have expected a small publisher in London to pick up my work, but they do a great job. I’m really lucky. The agents I pitched are going to be proven wrong.

Collectors Weekly: Where do you go to find the photos for Vintage Black Glamour?

In 1966, Eartha Kitt leaps through a sign in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to help a program for the Citizens Committee on Hill District Renewal. Photo by Charles “Teenie” Harris, of the “Pittsburgh Courier,” via Carnegie Museum of Art.

Gainer: I get them from old magazines and newspapers, as well as Getty and Corbis. And a lot of libraries have their digital archives online, like the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which is part of the New York Public Library system, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. I may find great photos from somebody else at Tumblr, and I will repost those, as long as it has the photographer’s name or the source. I make sure I credit it. That’s been helpful for me as we’ve been preparing the book because we need those credits. You have to pay fees for every picture, obviously, so you have to know where it’s from. When I first started Vintage Black Glamour, I posted scans or photocopies from my own photo collection from libraries. If I had the photocopy or a book, I would just scan the picture and put that up.

Collectors Weekly: How important were Ebony and Jet as resources?

Diahann Carroll on the April 15, 1954, cover of “Jet.”

Gainer: Ebony was started in 1945, and Jet in 1951. John H. Johnson founded both. “Ebony” was inspired by “Life” magazine, because there was no equivalent that showed black people just doing everyday things, whether they were celebrities, black society people, or athletes. Black people were not included in the typical newspapers unless they were superstars like Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday. Even then, they were not written about in feature articles. Mainstream publications wouldn’t put black people on the cover of a magazine. Today, Beyoncé or whomever will be in the paper like anyone else. But in those days, that was not the case.

Ebony and Jet are the most popular black magazines, the ones that everyone knows. But there were also other magazines like Our World and Sepia. There were black newspapers, which I used for researching my novel. Every now and then, if the picture is clear, I can use pictures from the old black newspapers, and I have—from the Pittsburgh Courier, from the Chicago Defender, the New York Amsterdam News, the Los Angeles Journal, and Negro Digest.

I need to have that many sources to get perspective, because you can’t always trust celebrity magazines, especially the ones that were reverential. Today, if you’re reading Us Weekly, they’re going to have lawyers vetting it. Back in the old days, celebrities could say whatever they wanted. Even if it was in Ebony in 1957, I’ve got to fact-check—maybe this person said that they’re 32 but they were actually 42 at the time.

Playwright Lorraine Hansberry across from poet and memoirist Maya Angelou in “Vintage Black Glamour.”

Collectors Weekly: You’ve also got people on your site who contributed not just to entertainment, but also to the civil-rights movement and literature.

Gainer: Yeah, because I feel like that’s glamorous, too. I feel like Vintage Black Glamour expands the definition of glamour, and that was always my intention. For example, I put Judge Jane Bolin on my site. She’s very popular, the first black woman appointed to a bench in New York State. She was on the bench until she was 70, the mandatory retirement age. People would say she’s attractive, but she wasn’t a movie star or even glamorous dresser. However, the nature of a black woman judge in the 1930s or ’40s is glamorous to me.

To me, glamour is when you’re able to operate in the world with a certain level of dignity. So that applies whether they’re leaders in civil rights, literature, or art. I’m so excited Lorraine Hansberry’s in my book, next to Maya Angelou. Look at Althea Gibson, the tennis player, who was photographed by Carl Van Vechten in the 1950s. No one thinks “glamour” when they look at Althea Gibson, but she had her dignity. Take Esther Rolle, who played Florida Evans on Good Times: No one thinks of her as glamorous, either, but then again, her photo is the most popular picture that I ever posted on Vintage Black Glamour.

Collectors Weekly: Can you talk more about how these celebrities were breaking through race barriers?

Lena Horne pictured in a 1940s MGM publicity photo.

Gainer: The focus of my book is 1900 to 1980, but I touch on artists and performers in the late 19th century, when black people were portrayed as Pickaninnys eating watermelon, Sambos, or Aunt Jemimas. The black artists at the time did what had to be done to contradict the man-made images that dehumanized us. Ada Overton Walker performed with Williams and Walker. She was married to George Walker, and his partner, Bert Williams, was a famous performer. They were black and performed in blackface, because that’s how they could get jobs. When they were in blackface, people didn’t know that they were black. But in many ways, they were subverting the narrative. They were like, “Okay, you’ll think this is stereotypical, until you get to the punchline.”

The Whitman sisters were black sisters in the late 1890s who looked white because they were biracial. But they would whiten their faces even more before they went onstage. Then, say, a black performer would appear onstage, and the audience would be uncomfortable until it was revealed that the sisters were black, too. That was another way of subverting the stereotypes in that blackface narrative.

Yes, they were trying to humanize black people, but also, as human beings, they just wanted to express themselves as artists. If they were painters, they wanted to paint. If they were dancers, they wanted to dance. They were fighting for the right to be themselves and to do what they do.

Ada Overton Walker is credited with popularizing the cakewalk, the 19th century dance craze that originated on slave plantations. In this photo, she’s dressed as her Salome character. Image from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

In the early 1900s, Ada Overton Walker, who was a dancer and singer, produced her shows. When her husband got sick, she played the male role in his place. She also spoke to the media, black media and white media, about her art. Just like now, if you’re a black person, the media’s going to ask you about race, even if you don’t want to talk about it. If you’re Ada Overton Walker in 1904 giving an interview, the paper is going to ask you, “What do you think about the Negro problem? Does your success mean that it’s getting better for the Negro?” They were forced to answer these questions whether they wanted to or not.

Paul Robeson—a brilliant scholar, athlete, actor, and singer—struggled to get a decent role as an actor, because people only saw a stereotype when they saw him. He had to say, “Well, no, this script is unacceptable. This is not what a black male would say in this instance. This song is unacceptable. This is not how black people speak. I’m sitting here with you in this room. You can see that I’m a black person and I don’t speak in ’des and ’dos.”

Some early performers, of course, had a political bent to them, and wanted to talk about racism. But even if it was not their nature, they had to stand up to discrimination, for the sake of their careers. They broke barriers through how they carried themselves, how they spoke to the media, and what their performances represented.

Walker would be complimented for her Salome performances. Salome was a craze in those days, and mostly white dancers would portray Salome in way that was considered very sexy and risqué at the time. But Ada Overton Walker didn’t do the risqué thing because black women already had this reputation as overtly sexual. A lot of her reviews commented on how dignified and modest her performance was. I don’t know if she would’ve done it that way as a free artist. But she purposely said, “You know what, I’m going to portray it in this way because I recognize that it’s not just about me. If I do the risqué version, I’m not going to be reviewed like these white dancers are reviewed. Instead, all black women will be labeled as sexy whores like Salome.”

Collectors Weekly: Clearly, it’s more than pretty people in pretty clothes.

Dorothy Dandridge, on the set of “Carmen Jones” at a RKO studio lot in Hollywood in 1954.

Gainer: Exactly. I love pretty clothes. But I’ve had some people say, “Why do they have to be glamorous?” Those people don’t take glamour seriously, to them it’s not important. I said to them, “Fashion is a multimillion-dollar business. You can be glamorous and stylish, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have substance. There’s nothing wrong with being interested in fashion and beauty.”

A lot of people think of vintage black pictures as either civil-rights photos or black ladies at church, or maybe sharecroppers picking in the cotton fields and sweating from the hard work. That’s fine. Those are our pictures. But that shouldn’t be the only image of us. It’s nice to see a black woman who is not sweating in the field, but glistening from all this bling, like Josephine Baker, dripping in diamonds. Sometimes you want to see that. Why not? It’s easy to take glamour for granted. You can be a white woman, and you can care less about Bette Davis, Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, and Marlene Dietrich, and that’s fine. But you know what? Black women haven’t had the same option.

Top image taken from the cover of “Vintage Black Glamour,” available for pre-order.

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Quoted: White Teenagers Offended, World Stops http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/02/quoted-white-teenagers-offended-world-stops/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/02/quoted-white-teenagers-offended-world-stops/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33004 One of Peterson’s first acts as president was to institute a “diversity representative” on the student council board to eliminate tension on campus when talking about race and gender issues. But her diversity initiatives were not widely welcomed; a push for gender neutral bathrooms was particularly controversial. And Peterson herself was viewed with suspicion by […]

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Lawrenceville School Student Body President Maya Peterson’s “Lawrenceville boi” picture. Image via Buzzfeed.

One of Peterson’s first acts as president was to institute a “diversity representative” on the student council board to eliminate tension on campus when talking about race and gender issues. But her diversity initiatives were not widely welcomed; a push for gender neutral bathrooms was particularly controversial. And Peterson herself was viewed with suspicion by a significant number of students, mostly white and male, who opposed her candidacy from the start.

Some even thought the school had rigged the election so that a woman would win; only two women served as student body president before Peterson. “There was outcry for Lawrenceville to release the voting data for her presidency, because popular opinion was that she was not actually elected,” said David, a 2014 graduate. “I’d still like to see those numbers, is all I’m saying.” (The numbers were, in fact, released.)

The backlash to her election led to personal attacks. Shortly after Peterson was elected, an anonymous student sent the dean of students photos of Peterson using marijuana. Soon after, the school received more anonymous information that alleged Peterson had posted racist tweets about a Sikh student. In a school-wide meeting, Peterson apologized for the photos and the dean of students clarified that the racist tweets were fabricated. Still, many students believed she wasn’t right for the position.

“There was too much controversy around Maya,” said Rob, a rising senior. “We didn’t really want a president who breaks school rules. It isn’t a representation of who we are.”
– “What Happens When A Prep School’s Black Student President Mocks Her White Male Classmates” by Katie JM Baker, 6-30-14

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San Francisco Giants ‘Honor’ Native Americans By Having Cops Bully Them http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/01/san-francisco-giants-honor-native-americans-by-having-cops-bully-them/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/01/san-francisco-giants-honor-native-americans-by-having-cops-bully-them/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 12:00:14 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=32998 By Arturo R. García The advocacy group Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry (EONM), which has been involved in the ongoing campaign against the Washington, D.C. football team’s name, posted some disturbing footage last week of two Native Americans being accosted and forcibly restrained by members of the San Francisco Police Department? Their apparent crime? Asking a […]

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By Arturo R. García

The advocacy group Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry (EONM), which has been involved in the ongoing campaign against the Washington, D.C. football team’s name, posted some disturbing footage last week of two Native Americans being accosted and forcibly restrained by members of the San Francisco Police Department?

Their apparent crime? Asking a baseball fan to show some sensitivity.

According to EONM, Kimball Bighorse and April Negrette were at the San Francisco Giants’ “Native American Heritage Night” on June 24 when they were told about one fan wearing a fake “headdress” to the game.

“I thought, ‘Oh, no,’” Negrette said in a radio interview with United Native Americans Executive Director Quanah Parker Brightman. “So I turn and look, and it’s this guy in a fake plastic war bonnet. Blue, red crap store feathers, all of that.”

Bighorse wrote in a separate statement that he and Negrette, along with an unidentified third Native fan in their group, went to talk to the man about the offensive garment:

My role was mostly to protect the young woman as she spoke her mind very forcefully, and even tearfully, and I talked to the fans too, in a firm but peaceful way. The other man snuck up behind the fans and took away the warbonnet, and it ended up in the young woman’s possession. The fans were actually apologetic and offered to give it to her. Except then they also justified it since they said it belonged to a friend in their party who was Native American.

The young woman was dissatisfied with that and proceeded to speak with the Native man, and we both tried to explain to them that that didn’t make it ok. He eventually said he was Choctaw, and I asked where he got the warbonnet, and he said online. Nothing more really happened, except the owner did yell for April to return his headdress, and we eventually agreed to leave. I don’t actually know what became of the headdress. Security had gathered by that point and the police were in the back behind the bleachers.

The officers, identified as D. Reyes and Cotter, took Bighorse’s ID and ticket to the game and refused to return them, even as they asked that he, Negrette and their group leave the ballpark because of “unruly behavior.”

As Negrette told Brightman:

After the police had escorted us from the bleachers out back to the food stands they were yelling at me, “Give me the headdress! Give me the headdress!” and I didn’t want to give it back to them because the man had given it to me so the way I saw it it was mine now.

Well, an officer grabbed it from my hands and another officer grabbed it, too, because it was kind of long and they forcibly ripped it from me. I even had little feathers in my hands still after he pulled it and I was just so mad and crying and this officer kept saying, “You need to go, you need to go. If you’re not going to go willingly then we’ll make you go.”

The footage above shows two officers restraining Negrette by the arms and taking her out of the ballpark, while Bighorse, recording the incident on his phone, is pushed down by a officer he identifies as Cotter. Police subsequently tried to take his phone from him while allegedly claiming he was resisting. But the video shows that neither Bighorse nor Negrette are resisting the officers.

The two were subsequently “detained” out of the station, Bighorse wrote, due to the “private property owners [issuing] a citizens’ arrest.” Both were patted down, but Negrette told Brightman that, despite asking for a female officer to pat her down, that Cotter put his hands down the front and back of her pants.

“It seems like with Native issues, whenever there’s a rule that could oppress us, it’s over-enforced, and they have to kind of dial it back in a court,” Bighorse said in the interview. “But whenever there’s a rule that could protect us, it’s always not enforced or under-enforced.”

A police spokesperson told SFist that no one involved in the incident chose to press charges. A protest has been scheduled for Tuesday night, when the Giants hold their “social media night.”

Brightman’s interview with Negrette and Bighorse can be heard in its entirety below.

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My Sister’s Keeper: The Racialicious Review Of Half of A Yellow Sun http://www.racialicious.com/2014/06/30/my-sisters-keeper-the-racialicious-review-of-half-of-a-yellow-sun/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/06/30/my-sisters-keeper-the-racialicious-review-of-half-of-a-yellow-sun/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=32993 By Arturo R. García Originally released last year, the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half Of A Yellow Sun boasts a loaded cast, but unfortunately, it doesn’t maximize its potential. What results is a historical romance that can’t get a grasp on its own history. SPOILERS under the cut. The film starts off with […]

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By Arturo R. García

Originally released last year, the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half Of A Yellow Sun boasts a loaded cast, but unfortunately, it doesn’t maximize its potential. What results is a historical romance that can’t get a grasp on its own history.

SPOILERS under the cut.

The film starts off with sisters Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) marking Nigeria’s partial independence from Britain in 1960 by embarking upon their own paths: Olanna plans to pursue a career as an academic, while Kainene enters the business world. Newton and Rose have an easy chemistry — Rose is particularly sharp — which, if you haven’t read Adichie’s original work,points toward something promising.

But unfortunately for the movie, Rose is seemingly too compelling for Kainene’s role in the story; Biyi Bandele’s screenplay centers on Olanna’s tumultuous relationship with a fellow professor, Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). This in itself is an attempt to reconfigure Adichie’s story through different focal points: two of the film’s side characters, Odenigbo’s dutiful attendant Ugwu (John Boyega) and Kainene’s husband Richard (Joseph Mawle), actually anchor the book along with Olanna.

Ejiofor makes the most out of his character’s added attention, of course; the problem is, it becomes tougher to gauge why Olanna would want to stay with him. He goes from talking about starting a family with Olanna to drunkenly impregnating his mother’s own servant (Susan Wokoma), and for a pair of brief, encouraging scenes, Olanna rebuffs him. But they come together again as their country splits further apart in warfare.

Bandele, who also directed the film, stages the film in a manner reminiscent of a stage play at times. Though it makes for some smooth transitions between scenes, it also places her characters too far in the periphery for the action around them to resonate with the viewer. The sequence in which Odenigbo, Olanna, Ugwu and their child try to escape an air raid by car, though effective, symbolizes the core problem: since none of our core characters are directly involved in the war, they’re reacting to something off-screen rather than taking action on it.

That distinction costs Odenigbo in particular; the man Kainene derisively calls “the revolutionary” for his activist leanings never gets to confront the messy realities of a revolution. Similarly, we see Ugwu kidnapped and forced to take arms, but his experiences are cut out (a pity for Boyega, here showing he can play a young man worlds away from Attack The Block‘s Moses) in favor of showing more of Olanna’s struggle to get by.

And in the midst of all this, Kainene, who manages to make a living for herself as an “outlaw,” disappears for stretches at a time, dulling both her own conflict with Olanna and their reconciliation, despite Rose and Newton’s best efforts. You can see Bandele stretching to make her Half a sweeping romantic “epic,” but hindsight being 20-20, perhaps Adichie’s time-jumping, intimate approach to her story would have been better served by a multi-part TV series, which probably would have allowed Bandele the chance to preserve more of the original structure while accomodating her cast’s spark.

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