Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture http://www.racialicious.com Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:00:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Debut: The How To Get Away With MurderRoundtable; Pilot http://www.racialicious.com/2014/10/02/debut-the-how-to-get-away-with-murderroundtable-pilot/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/10/02/debut-the-how-to-get-away-with-murderroundtable-pilot/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33334 Sometimes Art, Latoya, and I have to admit defeat when it comes to singlehandedly watching every show on network television and basic cable. When that happens and some shows fall through the cracks we’re extremely thankful to be able to depend on a wide pool of fabulous readers to jump in and take the bullet […]

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Sometimes Art, Latoya, and I have to admit defeat when it comes to singlehandedly watching every show on network television and basic cable. When that happens and some shows fall through the cracks we’re extremely thankful to be able to depend on a wide pool of fabulous readers to jump in and take the bullet for us. That said, we’re pleased to welcome Diana, Jacqueline, Lizzy, Nassim, and Corrine and the debut of the Racialicious How To Get Away With Murder roundtable.

The three of us might jump in from time to time, but for now, take it away ladies!

Diana S.: As a lawyer and former law student, I thought it was very unbelievable technically.  No first year law students would be working on a real criminal case within a day, a week, or within months of starting law school.  With that said, I thought Viola was badass, not angry, and I loved it.  I was pulled in by the murder mystery too-why have these students killed Professor Keating’s husband?  Should be interesting.  And how is the murdered co-ed going to play out?  There are plenty of questions to keep it going for the next several episodes.

Jacqueline: I have to agree with Diana about the whole “here’s a job” thing, but after “Legally Blonde” lay people think that it’s normal procedure. Will I watch it again? Absolutely! I mean, I enjoyed the introduction to the students and I want to know more about each of them. And, while I enjoyed Viola Davis’ performance (especially the scene where she was crying/feeling up Wes), I don’t feel that the show revolves around her without necessarily being about her. For a while I thought the person that was murdered was going to be the 5th student she chose, Asher, because he was the only one not involved.

Diana S.: I liked Wes, but I was mad he wasn’t prepared for class the first day. He can keep a secret though and that’s good. He seemed to get a lot of screen time and I liked that.

Lizzy W. : I think we have to give Wes a break, he was admitted off the waitlist. As for the reality of the law school scenes, I didn’t think they were crazy outlandish (I also am a lawyer). I like how the students were simultaneously clueless, competitive and scared, as so many are on their first day. I was pleasantly surprised with the scene where Davis was crying, I thought as soon as Wes left the room the scene would show that she was just manipulating Wes to ensure his silence. I liked that it the character actually has some real vulnerabilities (or so it seemed). I liked the show, I thought there was some good mysteries presented up front. I hope the show will continue to take place both in the classroom and at the firm. I think that is unique among legal shows.

Jacqueline: That’s true, we don’t really see shows that take place in the classroom anymore.

Diana S.: They did get the classroom dynamic right. Did anyone else get the sense that Wes was more of a lead than the others? I wonder if that will continue or if they will alternate the perspectives of the students.

Nassim: Nassim: I agree! Wes seems like more of a lead. I love his character – and making him more accessible/likeable as an underdog works for me. Can I also say how much I love Aja Naomi King in this show?

Lizzy: I agree that Wes works as the underdog and I think he will be one of the leads given that we have been to his apartment. But, I really hope that we see a lot more character development of the other students as well even if they don’t alternate perspectives. They did such a great job making the group of students diverse given that law has always been such a white, straight, male profession. Rhimes has been good at that in the past with Grey’s, where in the early seasons the most promising member of the intern group were minority and/or female (Christina, Meredith) and the white males seemed to have it the least together (Alex, George).

Corinne: Let me say upfront that I am not a lawyer. As for Wes, I personally thought that he felt out of his league for much of the pilot. However, that didn’t stop him from pushing himself and being a go-getter…even if biking to your professor’s house in the dead of night and going in because the door’s unlocked so you can share your breakthrough on the case crosses some lines you know you shouldn’t, even if you are a go-getter. Also, it wasn’t clear to me who Keating called to tell them that they left the door open. Was that person also in on the rendezvous that night?

Jacqueline: It seemed like it was just a mistake that the door wasn’t locked. If I’m remembering correctly Prof. Keating doesn’t live there, it’s her office (that used to be a house). But speaking of the detective: his face on the witness stand was amazing! He’s supposed to be her little boyfriend on the side but you have to wonder if it was always going to come down to her getting Detective Leahy squirm up there.

Diana S.:  I guess the Detective is now wishing he had found another topic for his pillow talk with Professor Keating.  Loose lips ….

Nassim: Keating is super sharp, edgy, strong, and incredibly admirable in most of the episode. I was just as obsessed with her as Pratt. I definitely fell into the ‘look at her, what a role model!’ thing. Shonda Rhimes herself says she doesn’t like her characters to fit into boxes, so I guess I can see why she needed to be representative of a whole person – good, bad and everything in between. I feel like its important to mention the whole ‘Angry Black Woman’ comment in Alessandra Stanley’s article. Strong, intelligent, powerful black women depicted in positions of authority are all angry black women? And I don’t even want to get into the whole calling Viola ‘less classically beautiful’ thing…she is GORGEOUS and addressed the “compliment” herself, so I won’t rant.

Lizzy: Ah the NYT. Is there really no one on the NYT editing team that could see the problems in that article? Talk about proving the case for the need for diversity in the media.

 

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Nassim: Love the drama of this show! Can’t wait to see where it goes.

Corinne: Yeah, Nassim. Remember the scene when Keating stares down Wes in the classroom because he hadn’t been prepared? I remember thinking that a lot of viewers, especially if they’re white, are probably going to have an easier time sympathizing with and imaging themselves in the shoes of Keating’s students as opposed to sympathizing with Keating herself. She’s obviously a total powerhouse: a creative, intelligent and strong woman who is not to be crossed. She not only has high expectations for herself, but for those around her. She holds everyone to a certain standard and does not hide what she expects of people. That coupled with the fact that she does get angry and doesn’t hold back because people might stereotype her or feel uncomfortable is fantastic. She is a black woman who sometimes gets angry, has a right to get angry, and knows that she has a right to get angry. And her actual depiction (not just what we saw in the trailer) came after all that nonsense in Stanley’s article about Keating and some of Rhimes’ other characters being “angry black women” stereotypes. This is all to say that I think the fact that Keating expresses anger and is not rendered into one of the old black women stereotypes that can be written off will make some viewers genuinely uncomfortable because then they have to reckon with her and her anger, acknowledge her humanity. And sadly, I believe a lot of people are subconsciously just not familiar with doing that for black women. So if she makes people uncomfortable, good! Because there are undoubtedly millions of viewers cheering her on.

Lizzy: I love Keating’s powerhouse profile: she is a Black female criminal law professor (which is incredibly rare on its own) AND she has her own firm! From that alone you know she worked hard to get where she is and she deserves all of the power she yields. I like that they had her be a tough professor. I think that they did a great job balancing her desire to intimidate students while also showing that she really cares that the students are learning. I loved the scene where she told Castillo to never take a learning opportunity from another student.

Corinne: I feel the same way. When Castillo stood up and gave the answer, I actually rolled my eyes, because I expected Keating to praise her for giving the right answer and use her as an example for what Wes should inspire to be like. So Keating really flipped the script on that scenario.

What do people feel like was going on between Keating and her husband? Does their relationship seem loving and legitimate? Do you think there was any chance that the husband was having an affair as well?

Lizzy: I thought they hinted that maybe the husband was having an affair with the female student that was missing. In any case, I think the husband is likely having an affair and that affair may very well be with a student. There is definitely some bond other than love with Keating and her husband, but I don’t know what it is yet. It doesn’t seem like the typical “passion went out of the marriage” problems leading her to an affair. She claimed it was because of the stress of trying to have a baby, but I’m not really sure I believe that either. Maybe the marriage was part of some professional arrangement?

Corinne: Yeah, my suspicion is that it was something professional. I guess we’ll have to wait and see! As for her boyfriend, I wonder how much legitimate love and care factor into their relationship.

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Funny Business: The Racialicious Review of Cantinflas http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/29/funny-business-the-racialicious-review-of-cantinflas/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/29/funny-business-the-racialicious-review-of-cantinflas/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33273 By Arturo R. García It was perhaps inevitable that Sebastian del Amo’s Cantinflas would fit Charlie Chaplin into the proceedings. Much like Richard Attenborough before him, del Amo finds himself needing to make room for not just a performer, but a singular persona. And there are moments when it feels like a more introspective film […]

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By Arturo R. García

It was perhaps inevitable that Sebastian del Amo’s Cantinflas would fit Charlie Chaplin into the proceedings. Much like Richard Attenborough before him, del Amo finds himself needing to make room for not just a performer, but a singular persona.

And there are moments when it feels like a more introspective film wants to burst through amid the usual hagiography. But a few choices do make this take on Mario Moreno and his life’s work more interesting than the trailer would have you believe.

SPOILERS under the cut

The film’s biggest asset, thankfully, is Óscar Jaenada in the title role. It might seem scandalous for Jaenada, a Spaniard, to inhabit the role of Mexico’s signature comedic character. But as both Morenos and Cantinflas, he buoys the film adroitly enough to placate concerns.

Crucially, Jaenada manages to recreate the signature rhythm of Cantinflas’ verbal riffing, though the film chalks his discovering his voice up to an encounter, perhaps apocryphal, with a heckler during one of his first monologues. Once his act was fully developed, Moreno made it plausible that his lovable underdog persona was able to dominate rooms full of people, like this one in El Super Sabio:

The film leaps ahead in time in large part because its centerpiece — Moreno’s appearance in Around The World in 80 Days — takes place after Moreno has established himself as a labor activist and entrepreneur on top of his success as an actor.

Moreno’s inclusion is framed as the linchpin to Around The World being made, since he confirms his involvement alongside a literally from-out-of-nowhere Frank Sinatra, and their participation, it seems, entices Elizabeth Taylor (Barbara Mori — how’s that for a racebend?) to sign on.

But the decision is also positioned as his first step toward redemption after cheating on his wife Valentina (Ilsa Saenz) and allowing the Cantinflas brand to go from representing Mexico’s lower socioeconomic classes to making money off of them, as shown rather pointedly in a scene where celebrities attend the lush unveiling of a mural honoring the character, while the poor people he’s supposed to represent strain for a peek from outside the hall.

Óscar Jaenada as Mario Moreno as Cantinflas in “Cantinflas.”

It makes for a feel-good ending and a statement of balance between Moreno’s life and his work: we see him win the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical (this really happened) and announce that he’s both leaving Hollywood and adopting a child with Valentina. One of these statements is true: the couple did adopt a child, one he conceived with another woman. But they did remain together until she died in 1966.

In real life, however, Moreno didn’t immediately stop attempting to crack the U.S. market. Despite being warned not to do his schtick in English, Moreno attempted to do just that in 1957 with his second American feature, Pepe:

Unfortunately, not even appearances by Sinatra and Judy Garland, on top of a second Golden Globe nomination, could make Pepe a hit. Three years later, he appeared as the mystery guest on What’s My Line?:

The film has already been selected as the Mexican entry into next year’s Academy Awards, but as things stand, two factors hurt its chances: besides the historical omissions, del Amo and co-writer Edui Tijerina come up short in showing us Moreno in action as the fully-developed Cantinflas. We get snippets of directors learning to adjust (or else) to his verbal performances, but unfortunately, the only glimpse of him as a physical presence comes during the end credits, when Jaenada does his version of the eponymous sequence from El Bolero De Raquel. As he does throughout the movie, Jaenada does justice to the original, seen here:

We also don’t get any inkling of why U.S. stars like Sinatra and Taylor would hitch their wagon on Moreno’s talents, or why Chaplin would vouch for him to Around The World producer Michael Todd (Michael Imperioli, bravely battling both studio politics and an unflattering wig).

Showing Moreno gain credibility with “bigger” American performers would have fit in nicely with the narrative of the brand overtaking the man. And perhaps more importantly for Academy voters, the extra time could have helped del Amo present this story as the kind of epic a performer of Moreno’s stature deserves. After all, if Attenborough’s biography of Chaplin biography could command 143 minutes, why limit Cantinflas to 102?

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Funeral For A Gladiator: The Racialicious Review of Scandal 4.1 http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/26/funeral-for-a-gladiator-the-racialicious-review-of-scandal-4-1/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/26/funeral-for-a-gladiator-the-racialicious-review-of-scandal-4-1/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33319 By Arturo R. García Aside from addressing many of the questions posed in last year’s finale, Scandal‘s season premiere focused on two more: Who is Olivia Pope without her Associates? And does she even want to be Olivia Pope anymore? SPOILERS under the cut Given the circumstances, the elegiac tone permeating “Randy, Red, Superfreak and […]

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By Arturo R. García

Aside from addressing many of the questions posed in last year’s finale, Scandal‘s season premiere focused on two more: Who is Olivia Pope without her Associates? And does she even want to be Olivia Pope anymore?

SPOILERS under the cut

Given the circumstances, the elegiac tone permeating “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia” was appropriate, and possibly cathartic for the cast on some level. There was a “case of the week,” sort of — more on that in a second — but the centerpiece of the episode was the erstwhile Gladiators forcing themselves to reunite for Harrison’s funeral. Given Columbus Short’s real-life actions, this was not unexpected:

Jake (Scott Foley) knows what’s coming once Olivia (Kerry Washington) returns to D.C.

OK, so it wasn’t the first scene, but certainly the most important. The news that Harrison was indeed killed at the hands of B613 is enough to shake Olivia out of a life of island bliss as “Julia Baker” with poor genre-savvy Jake, who knows what will happen as soon as she gets a whiff of life in Washington again.

While Olivia is reacquainting herself with her old identity, most of the rest of her team has been trying to develop new ones: while Quinn seems to enjoy her post-Charlie life, Huck has resigned himself to life as “Randy the Smart Guy,” and Abby has found her attempt to be the Grant administration’s new Olivia (uh, in a professional capacity) blunted; not only is Abby not the new Olivia, she’s not even “Abby.”

The redefined balance between Abby and Olivia will no doubt be a focus of the upcoming year. As will the return of the Olitz teases, and the eventual return of Maya, and Charlie, and the question of what David will do with the scaaaary B613 files. But here’s the biggest question for the show after a slow-burn start: are viewers still interested in following this journey, or will How To Get Away With Murder steal Scandal‘s thunder?

Abby (Darby Stanchfield) isn’t Olivia’s No. 2 anymore.

Scandalous Notions

  • A Republican arguing for equal pay? And this show’s not on Syfy?
  • So what does Jake do for a job now? It’s not like Rowan is going to hire him back … or is he?
  • Ominous Words, Part I: “Get some power and use it.” You sure you want to say that to an ex-partner who now has the goods on the whole government?
  • Ominous Words, Part II: “When you see her, you will tell me.” Who knows how many thinkpieces are about to be devoted to Mellie’s mental condition, but the old Whedonista in me heard this and thought: From beneath you, it devours. The implications look rather similar at this point.
  • Always good to see Portia de Rossi. Here’s to hoping “Lizzy Bear” and Olivia cross swords sooner rather than later.
  • As things stand, Olivia doesn’t get a very varied skillset with just Huck and Quinn back on the team. So let’s have some fun: which actors would you like to see emerge as Harrison and Abby 2.0?

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#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Historical Fiction and Making Reading Fun http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/25/weneeddiversebooks-historical-fiction-and-making-reading-fun/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/25/weneeddiversebooks-historical-fiction-and-making-reading-fun/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 13:59:45 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33298 By Kendra James Like most of my friends in elementary school, I was obsessed with The American Girl dolls and books The dolls lacked comprehensive diversity back then, in that they had one single doll of colour until 1997. I owned Felicity Merriman, a white girl who lived in colonial Williamsburg, but received Addy Walker, […]

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Gotta catch ‘em all– the history nerd’s pokemon

By Kendra James

Like most of my friends in elementary school, I was obsessed with The American Girl dolls and books The dolls lacked comprehensive diversity back then, in that they had one single doll of colour until 1997. I owned Felicity Merriman, a white girl who lived in colonial Williamsburg, but received Addy Walker, a former slave who escapes from the South into Philadelphia, soon after she debuted in 1993. As per my mother’s rule, I read all six of Addy’s books before being gifted the doll. But unlike Felicity’s, I didn’t often revisit them for pleasure. In my constant search for American historical fiction with protagonists of colour written for young readers, I often come across the same problem I did when I was younger: it’s all really depressing.

Addy Walker’s story begins in Meet Addy while she’s still enslaved, and I have vivid memories of one paragraph where her overseer forces her to eat tobacco leaf worms. If you had asked me, when I was younger, to state a fact about Harriet Tubman I would have told you about the time her mistress threw a porcelain sugar bowl at her head. Meanwhile, Felicity’s biggest worry in life in Meet Felicity was saving a horse. My favourite young adult historical fiction author, Ann Rinaldi, wrote stories that spanned across races, but her romantic stories about southern belles and women of the revolutionary war were always more fun to read than her sanitised retellings of the Jeffersons and the Hemmings or Sioux boarding schools.

In pre-Mattel age when the American Girl Doll franchise was still owned and partially run by Pleasant Rowland and her Pleasant Company, I devoured their 90 page novels about young girls scattered throughout various points of American history. Back then they were a genuinely decent source of early education and introduction into various facets of American history for an 8 year old girl. I credit the dolls and their books for the love of middle and young adult historical-fiction I took into my adult life, but that doesn’t mean they were all fun.

Maybe I fixated on strange things when I was younger, but it was always the worst elements of these books, American Girls and others, that stuck with me, and I get the feeling that’s not the experience for the little girls with a wider variety of characters who look like them to choose from.

White characters not only get a wider variety of books to choose from, but books in a wider variety of settings. Characters of colour in American hist-fic tend to exist strictly within certain boundaries of time or not at all. African-Americans exist within the boundaries of slavery, the Jim Crow South, or the Civil Rights movement. Native Americans exist in the mythical west until about 1870 or so, Asian-Americans exist during World War 2, only in the west (and only from Eastern countries), and I had to reach out to our followers to fill in the gaps my childhood reading material left when it came to Latin@s.

These stories need to be told, of course. Diverse literature for young readers is extremely important. The world needs YA literature about Japanese Internment during the Second World War, but they shouldn’t be the only books Japanese-American children get to see themselves reflected in. This isn’t to encourage the erasure or minimalisation of the realities that people of colour have historically faced, but rather a desire for authors and publishers to realise that all of us existed in America outside the times of our most publicised oppressions. And that, even during the most difficult times, we still had lives that didn’t necessarily completely revolve around the overhead political themes of the day.

With that in mind, and because I’m 26 year old woman who still reads almost exclusively YA and middle grade fiction, I’ve compiled a list (that is by no means complete) of historical fiction with POC characters that might allow young and middle adult readers to have a little more fun with their reading escapism.

American Fairy Trilogy, by Sara Zettel: Having received an advanced copy of Dust Girl, the first book in this series, from Random House, I set it into my ‘Donate’ pile because neither the jacket flap or cover read as interesting to me. Callie, the book’s main protagonist, is a mixed race girl living with her mother in the middle of the Kansas dust bowl during The Great Depression. Not only is she mixed race (a white passing mixed race Black girl whose hair is a dead giveaway), she’s also half-faerie. Now, only one of those things was obvious from the cover or the description of the first book, and I’ll let you guess which one that was. It wasn’t until the publisher sent the third book in the series that I peered at the cover and wondered to myself, “is this series about a Black girl?”

After a quick Google to confirm my suspicions I started the series and couldn’t put it down. Callie’s story goes from the Kansas dust bowl to the golden age of Hollywood, and out into jazz age Chicago as she searches for her father who’s been kidnapped by the Unseelie Fae. Actor Paul Robeson is a significant minor character, topics like minstrelsy, interracial relationships, and passing are discussed, the fantasy world is well constructed, and the fifteen year old characters act like fifteen year old characters.

Lesson learned: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: I haven’t gotten to Aristotle and Dante myself and would normally be hard pressed to consider a book set in 1987 to be historical fiction (I am not that old, thank you). But rave reviews from friends and suggestions from our readers prompted me to include it here. It’s described as a gay coming of age novel, one that doesn’t seem to have a dedicated plot, but instead tracks an evolving friendship between two boys in Texas.

From the official summary: “Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”

The Diviners, by Libba Bray: Plucky girl psychic Evie O’Neill is the main character in Bray’s book, but much like in her last YA historical fantasy series, A Great And Terrible Beauty, she rounds of her cast of paranormally gifted main characters with an MOC, Memphis, a healer, and his younger brother Isaiah, a prophet. Both live in Harlem in the height of the renaissance. The Diviner’s greatest flaw is an annoying protagonist whose attitude and overuse of 1920s slang I never could quite accept. The rest of it — a richly painted New York City that ranges the backstages of Broadway theatres to the abandoned mansions of Harlem, a plot filled with magic and murder, and a fun cast of supporting characters– makes that one flaw an easy enough one to overlook.

More than just long, this is a densely written book, with a lot of vivid detail for those of us really looking for the ‘historical’ in historical fiction. Some much younger readers may be turned off by how long it takes to get through a chapter, but for the rest I encourage you read it before the sequel comes out in 2015.

…And Now Miguel, by Joseph Krumgold: I include this book with a caveat– it was written in 1953, based off a movie of the same name. While I remember enjoying it when I was younger, I don’t remember clearly whether or not it is written in a style that may reflect attitudes and language of of the 1950s.

That said, this is definitely a book for younger readers. Mexican-American Miguel lives in New Mexico with his shepherding family and wants to go with the men in his family on their annual herding trip up the mountain. He prays to his town’s patron saint to allow him to go, and his wish comes true, but at a cost. His older brother is drafted into service for World War Two, and so Miguel has to go on the herding trip in his place. It’s an easy ready with an easy, obvious moral for younger readers: Be careful what you wish for.

If I Ever Get Out Of Here, by Eric Gansworth: These days I don’t read many books with male protagonists (I know, I know– a misandrist to the end), but Gansworth’s book tells the story of two teenage boys (one Native American and one white) bonding over rock n’ roll in upstate New York in 1975. Given my love of 1970s rock I am, at the very least, intrigued enough to include it here. The summary reads:

Lewis “Shoe” Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he’s not used to is white people being nice to him — people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan’s side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis’s home — will he still be his friend?”

A Spy in the House, by Y.S. Lee: I’d hand this book to the teenager that’s already devoured the BBC’s Sherlock and/or loves Elementary. Taking place in Victorian London, Lee’s book is a slight departure from the rest of the list. Mary Quinn is an Asian-Irish orphan saved from the gallows by a school that specialises in training women spies. Her first mission has her going undercover as a lady’s maid in a London to discover the whereabouts of stolen goods from India. Her work leads not only to her first successful mission, but the unlocking of her past.

Keisha Discovers Harlem (The Magic Attic Club), by Zoe Lewis: The Magic Attic Club books were similar to the American Girl Doll franchise, but existed at a slightly lower price point. The books revolved around a group of girls who discovered a steamer trunk of clothing and a magic, time traveling mirror in a friends’ house. This was not the world’s best series (there’s a reason the company folded in 2007 while American Girl lives on), but Keisha got to do a lot, and they tended to have a lighter tone than the AGD books, while still being equally as informative.

Flygirl, by Sherri Smith: This one is downloading onto my kindle as we speak. Elementary School Me was obsessed with World War Two and plowed through books like When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Summer of My German Soldier, Number The Stars, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, and several others. Like school curriculum, much of YA discourse focuses on the Holocaust and the European Theater. Literature about the American side of the war is heavily focused on white protagonists, with Under The Blood Red Sun and The Bracelet(a picture book) being the two Asian-American focused stories that stick out from childhood.

Flygirl is about a mixed race girl named Ida who lives in Louisiana during the war. Her father was a pilot and all she wants to do is sign up for the Women Airforce Service Pilots. She could do so by passing as white, but has to consider what that means for her family, life, and identity. This is potentially heavy material, but I’m recommending it solely because this is exactly the kind of book I would have been looking for back in the fourth or fifth grade.

Mare’s War, by Tanita Davis: The same goes for Mare’s War, another book I haven’t read, but will since it’s about Black women serving in the Women’s Army Corps (something I still imagine myself doing). The summary reads as follows:

Meet Mare, a grandmother with flair and a fascinating past.

Octavia and Tali are dreading the road trip their parents are forcing them to take with their grandmother over the summer. After all, Mare isn’t your typical grandmother. She drives a red sports car, wears stiletto shoes, flippy wigs, and push-up bras, and insists that she’s too young to be called Grandma. But somewhere on the road, Octavia and Tali discover there’s more to Mare than what you see. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less-than-perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American battalion of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

Told in alternating chapters, half of which follow Mare through her experiences as a WAC member and half of which follow Mare and her granddaughters on the road in the present day, this novel introduces a larger-than-life character who will stay with readers long after they finish reading.”

Bud Not Buddy & The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis: Two books mired within the Great Depression with two equally spunky child characters searching for their fathers. I haven’t read Bud since middle school, but I’ve yet to ever go wrong recommending Curtis, a Coretta Scott King and Newbery Award winning author.

 

 

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman: Another caveat: I haven’t read this one yet, and it’s only caught my eye because it deals with Chinese organised crime in the 1920s. Your 9th grader probably shouldn’t be watching Boardwalk Empire, but in case they do and they’d like a different take on organised crime during the same era, here we go. The summary:

Seventeen-year-old Jade Moon was born in 1906, the year of the Fire Horse, an ominous sign for Chinese girls. It signals willfulness, stubbornness, and impetuousness, all characteristics that embarrass her father and grandfather and cause derision and cruelty by her too-small village. So when Sterling Promise, a long-lost adopted cousin, appears and proposes she immigrate to America using false “paper son” papers, Jade Moon and her father agree to the plan. Jade Moon views this offer as escape and freedom; her father as the only opportunity to marry off his undesirable daughter. The interminable boat ride—and even more onerous imprisonment off California’s Angel Island—finally transitions to her treacherous entry into America. Jade Moon’s disguise as a young man and her homelessness pave the way for her involvement with the tong, a Chinese organized crime syndicate, and breathtaking danger at every turn.”


 

As I noted, this is by no means a complete list. Think of it as a jumping off point, rather than a comprehensive study guide. Here’s hoping it’s somewhat helpful to those of you looking to supply young readers (or yourselves) with some happier reading memories.

 

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Must Read: Guernica’s take on Class http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/24/must-read-guernicas-take-on-class/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/24/must-read-guernicas-take-on-class/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33286 Guernica, the magazine of arts and culture, dedicated their latest special issue to the class divide. But, as most of us reading this blog know, race and class are not so easily separated. And in spite people online and in activist circles arguing that the social issue of our time is no longer race, only […]

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From Guernica

From Guernica

Guernica, the magazine of arts and culture, dedicated their latest special issue to the class divide. But, as most of us reading this blog know, race and class are not so easily separated. And in spite people online and in activist circles arguing that the social issue of our time is no longer race, only looking at one issue in a vacuum means that our proposed solutions to societal ills will always feel incomplete.

Two essays in the issue beautifully and painfully explain the paradigm Patricia Hill Collins outlined in Black Feminist Thought. Race, class, and gender are interlocking systems of oppression:

Viewing relations of domination for Black women for any given sociohistorical context as being structured via a system of interlocking race, class, and gender oppression expands the focus of analysis from merely describing the similarities and differences distinguishing these systems of oppression and focuses greater attention on how they interconnect. Assuming that each system needs the others in order to function creates a distinct theoretical stance that stimulates the rethinking of basic social science concepts.

The first piece is Margo Jefferson’s “Scenes from a Life in Negroland.” A sample:

We thought of ourselves as the Third Race, poised between the masses of Negroes and all classes of Caucasians. Like the Third Eye, the Third Race possessed a wisdom, intuition, and enlightened knowledge the other two races lacked. Its members had education, ambition, sophistication, and standardized verbal dexterity.

—If, as was said, too many of us ached, longed, strove to be be be be White White White White WHITE;

—If (as was said) many us boasted overmuch of the blood des blancs which for centuries had found blatant or surreptitious ways to flow, course, and trickle tepidly through our veins;

—If we placed too high a value on the looks, manners, and morals of the Anglo-Saxon…

…White people did too. They wanted to believe they were the best any civilization could produce. They wanted to be white just as much as we did. They worked just as hard at it. They failed just as often. But they could pass so no one objected.

“Negroland” is a complex, complicated piece. As I read I was turned off, infuriated, dismayed, delighted, aghast, and provoked enough to blast it out to my network and solicit more opinions. I suggest reading, sitting with it for a while, and sorting out your feelings a bit later.

Familiar in a different way is “Ghosts in the Land of Plenty.” Luis Alberto Urrea opens:

Why don’t we stop lying? Why don’t we deal with reality? Race is easy—class is hard. That politically incorrect, Mexican-excoriating bastard Edward Abbey told the truth: “The conservatives love their cheap labor; the liberals love their cheap cause. (Neither group, you will notice, ever invites the immigrants to move into their homes. Not into their homes!)” Immigration is so last century. But “illegal” immigration is still paranoiacally embraced in this country as a race issue. The “browning” of pristine white America. (Sorry, Crazy Horse.) Among my sisters and brothers bussing your lunch table, however, you will never see an Octavio Paz or the Mexican consul general of Dallas. You will see people of the lower class, running for their lives. Immigration was and is a class issue. Invisible people escape doom to serve us as extra-invisible people, made more invisible by language, skin color, and class. You can’t multiply a zero, but somehow they manage to become doubly nothing in the Land of Plenty.

I am an invisible man who refused to disappear.

Pointing a righteous pistol at the various liberal industries cropping up around aiding the poor, the brown, and the marginalized, Urrea dances through his narrative, occasionally turning his rhetorical barrel on himself. Read it, for nothing else but this:

See how we’re helping? We hugged an African-American on camera! They put these pictures up on social media so other well-meaning folks will send them more money. A year later, those kids wake up one day and ask, “What happened to those rich folks with the big program?” I know because I have been asked this question.

How can you hope to help someone whose humanity you don’t fully recognize?

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Who is Lucy Flores? http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/23/who-is-lucy-flores/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/23/who-is-lucy-flores/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33282 Camino Cesar Chavez is now official! #Vegas pic.twitter.com/5AC3HESal3 — Juan Ortega (@JuanoBano) September 20, 2014 Midterms are coming. Also known as the election years that most people don’t pay attention to, the midterm elections have an enormous impact on the lives of day to day people. Voter turnout tends to drop, but major political machinations […]

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Camino Cesar Chavez is now official! #Vegas pic.twitter.com/5AC3HESal3

— Juan Ortega (@JuanoBano) September 20, 2014

Midterms are coming.

Also known as the election years that most people don’t pay attention to, the midterm elections have an enormous impact on the lives of day to day people. Voter turnout tends to drop, but major political machinations happen while the sitting President is still in office.

This month, long time friend of the blog Rebecca Traister wrote a stunning profile of candidate Lucy Flores for Elle Magazine. Flores, the Democratic hopeful for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada decimates other political origin stories – she’s Mexican-American, one of 13 siblings, the child of immigrants, and former gang member. She turned her life around, started at community college, became a lawyer, and decided to run for office. She’s unapologetically pro-choice (and one of the rare candidates that will share her own story.) Domestic violence shaped her world – and her life experiences lead to a very pro-populist platform.

But what really gives Flores’ story bite is her unique position in politics – not only who she is, but what she represents for the Democratic party:

When a governor steps down in the state [of Nevada], the lieutenant governor, who’s not necessarily of the same party, assumes the post. Nevada’s current governor is the immensely popular Republican Brian Sandoval, whom Politico Magazine dubbed “The Man Who Keeps Harry Reid Up at Night.” That’s because many believe he’ll challenge the majority leader for his Senate seat in 2016, if, that is, the person who’d take his place is a fellow Republican: Flores’ opponent Mark Hutchison. Which makes Flores, to use Politico-speak, “The Woman Who Could Save Harry Reid’s Hide—and Keep the Senate in Democratic Hands.”

Go read it. Read it all.

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Recap: We’re Gonna Have to Live Through At Least Two Seasons of This; Gotham, Pilot http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/23/recap-gotham-pilot/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/23/recap-gotham-pilot/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33304 By Kendra James Gotham 1×01 was not a good hour of television. I am 99.9% sure that, looking through completely objective and non-nostalgia tinted lenses (she says, unconvincingly), that the Birds of Prey pilot from 2002 was better than the pilot FOX served up last night. Unlike my beloved BoP, the Jim-Gordon-cum-Gotham-City origin story is […]

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An entirely accurate summation.

An entirely accurate summation.

By Kendra James

Gotham 1×01 was not a good hour of television.

I am 99.9% sure that, looking through completely objective and non-nostalgia tinted lenses (she says, unconvincingly), that the Birds of Prey pilot from 2002 was better than the pilot FOX served up last night. Unlike my beloved BoP, the Jim-Gordon-cum-Gotham-City origin story is about two white men and thus Gotham will most likely get more than 13 episodes to try and be great.

“Try” being the key word.

Normally I would attempt to find some beacon of hope mired deep in the muck of a pilot, but Gotham is a show that sounds like its using a comic book script for its dialogue –and no, it’s not a Greg Rucka script– and looks like at least 30 minutes of it was shot through a sepia tinted instagram filter. While envisioning characters’ dialogue appearing in speech bubbles above their heads, trying to be obligatorily impressed when familiar face appeared every ten minutes(“Hey, look, Poison Ivy! ”/ “Cool, it’s the Riddler!” / “Oh boy, Penguin!”), and watching the woman playing Jim Gordon’s fiancee ‘act’, I realised I’m not convinced that this show is ever going to be good.

Instead of grasping at straws to call this a win, lets just quickly list the great things Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) did last night:

Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney

– Despite her name (and the fact that she’s wearing a wig) Fish  is not about getting her hair wet, and she’s got white men in her employ to make sure it doesn’t happen. In this new Bat-verse where everyone is connected, a young Penguin (Robin Taylor) is in charge of keeping Fish’s hair laid while she beats her employees with a baseball bat in the rain. Penguin’s murmured , “Sorry,” for failing to keep an umbrella over her head results in, “If you let this hair go frizzy you will be.”

– Fish also has the future Penguin rub her bare feet while she auditions an amateur standup comic in her club (“Look, guys! I bet they want us to think it’s The Joker!”). This is before she orders Jim Gordon to shoot him in the back and dump him in the river for betraying her to the GCPD earlier in the episode. This was not a good pilot, but so many on twitter seemed to agree: we were all happy to see Jada Pinkett Smith kicking ass, taking names, (adjusting her wig after both), and dominating the men who attempted to get in her way.

–  We have no definitive proof, but it sure did sound like some of Smith’s line delivery was inspired by the late Eartha Kitt, the first Black Catwoman on the 1960s Batman TV show.

– Above all, Fish was introduced with more personality and outright motivation than either of the two white male stars of the show Jim Gordon or his partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). This could be because Gordon and Bullock are long established characters in the DC Universe, and between the comics and recent Nolan films, the writers are expecting viewers to come in with some prior knowledge. Smith, on the other hand, is originating the role of Fish Mooney. The focus on her character may peter out in subsequent episodes, but it was nice to see Smith handed something meaty to work with in the pilot episode.

(And it’s worth pointing out that women criminals who originate on Bat-verse shows have a history of going places.)

– Renee Montoya didn’t do much this week, but comic book fans (and everyone else) were probably able to pick up on the sledgehammer of a hint concerning her sexuality and her possible past relationship with Gordon’s fiancee. I was surprised there; we live in a world where fans have to fight NBC for John Constantine’s bisexuality and cigarettes (guess which fight they won), so I wouldn’t have been shocked to see Montoya’s lesbian relationships pushed to the side. Still, the way this pilot went? They’ll have to call me back when they introduce Kate Kane.


 

Being a seasoned expert of the medium, I understand that you generally can’t judge a show by a bad pilot. Gotham will get another episode or two from me to improve, but life is too short and Gotham Academy is coming out too soon  for me to waste time in a subpar Bat-scape. All I can do is encourage those of you who came to Gotham for the WOC to also give the CW’s The Flash pilot, and Candace Patton’s Iris West, an equal chance.

(Spoiler Alert: It’s better. It’s so much better.)

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What Do We Take for Racial Tension Headaches, Again? http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/22/what-do-we-take-for-racial-tension-headaches-again/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/22/what-do-we-take-for-racial-tension-headaches-again/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33289 We can’t have anything, can we? Not one scrap of dignity. Not one little bit of humanity. Nothing. None. Nada. One would think after a blood-soaked summer, those of us battle scared and weary by current events could find a refuge in television, with one of the most diverse seasons we’ve seen since the start […]

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img-ABC-Fall-Preview-How-to-Get-Away-with-Murder

We can’t have anything, can we?

Not one scrap of dignity. Not one little bit of humanity. Nothing. None. Nada. One would think after a blood-soaked summer, those of us battle scared and weary by current events could find a refuge in television, with one of the most diverse seasons we’ve seen since the start of this blog. Even if diversity behind the camera is still suffering, we could at least relax into our favorite televised escapes, right?

Wrong. We’re not going to talk about *that* article, though we hope we see something from the New York Times public editor addressing the controversy.

Update: Margaret Sullivan is on it. While she is investigating how this got published, she shared this letter from Patricia Washington:

I am a black woman and a lawyer. I have worked very hard to achieve in my profession and earn respect. I live in a very nice suburban community in Maryland. And yet, none of that makes one bit of difference because a New York Times writer can make whatever offhanded, racist opinions about a successful TV producer who is a black woman she cares to make, and because she has the protection of The New York Times behind her, can publish it. Because Ms. Stanley is a New York Times writer, her story has reached a national audience. Why is Ms. Stanley allowed to characterize Ms. Rhimes as she did and get away it? Why is she allowed to characterize Viola Davis as she did in her story and get away with it?

Ms. Stanley’s story was a backhand to me and it hurts. For the first time, I am considering cancelling my New York Times subscription because this story is much more than disagreeing with the writer’s opinion. This story denigrated every black woman in America, beginning with Shonda Rhimes, that dares to strive to make a respectable life for herself. No matter what we do, as far as Ms. Stanley is concerned, we will always be angry and have potent libidos as we have been perceived from slavery, to Jim Crow, and sadly in September 2014, the 21st century.

Kara Brown’s take down at Jezebel is worth reading if you missed the controversy.

How deep does this go? Melissa Harris-Perry and her team on MSNBC created an amazing send-up, analyzing the role of the Angry White Man on television:

If MHP’s bit felt a little strange, it’s just a little dissonance: we are not accustomed to turning the othering gaze used on white characters.

But this situation begs the question: what now? The online community rallied to support of Rhimes, but what else can we do? A tweet in? A watch in? What could we do to deliver a message that these kind of mistakes are not just an editorial judgement error, but a societal problem?

—-

And in case you were confused by the title of this piece:

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Elmo and Lupita Nyong’o Talk Beautiful Skin http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/17/elmo-and-lupita-nyongo-talk-beautiful-skin/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/17/elmo-and-lupita-nyongo-talk-beautiful-skin/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33270 Elmo has skin! A relatively obvious fact that still manages to blow my mind. But even more revolutionary is the rest of Elmo and Lupita Nyong’o’s conversation where she educate the eternal two year old monster on skin, what it does, and how it comes in many “beautiful shades and colours.” The repetition of the […]

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Elmo has skin! A relatively obvious fact that still manages to blow my mind. But even more revolutionary is the rest of Elmo and Lupita Nyong’o’s conversation where she educate the eternal two year old monster on skin, what it does, and how it comes in many “beautiful shades and colours.”

The repetition of the world “beautiful” as Elmo describes both Lupita’s brown skin and his own red skin (under the red fur, of course) is a wonderful and simple way to introduce Sesame’s young audience to the idea that every ticklish skin tone they might possess is gorgeous no matter what.

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Kasandra Michelle Perkins: We Must Say Her Name http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/16/33266/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/16/33266/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33266   (Editor’s note: In light of recent events we’ve opted to repost this article as a an unfortunate refresher re: domestic violence and the NFL.) By Guest Contributor David J. Leonard, cross-posted from The Feminist Wire In the aftermath of the tragic murder of Kasandra Michelle Perkins, and the subsequent suicide of Jovan Belcher, much of […]

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(Editor’s note: In light of recent events we’ve opted to repost this article as a an unfortunate refresher re: domestic violence and the NFL.)

By Guest Contributor David J. Leonard, cross-posted from The Feminist Wire

In the aftermath of the tragic murder of Kasandra Michelle Perkins, and the subsequent suicide of Jovan Belcher, much of the media and social media chatter have focused on Belcher.  Indeed, Kasandra Michelle Perkins has been an afterthought in public conversations focused on questions regarding the Chiefs’ ability to play, concussions, masculinity, guns, and the culture of football in the aftermath of this tragedy. Over at the always brilliant Crunk Feminist Collective website, one member described the situation in sobering terms:

Headlines and news stories have focused on the tragedy from the lens of the perpetrator (including speculation of potential brain trauma, his involvement, as an undergraduate, in a Male Athletes Against Violence initiative, and his standing as an allstar athlete), in some ways dismissing or overshadowing the lens of the victim, who in headlines is simply referred to as “(his) girlfriend.”

Mike Lupica, at the NY Daily News, offered a similar criticism about our focus and misplaced priorities:

That is why the real tragedy here — the real victim — is a young woman named Kasandra Michelle Perkins, whom Belcher shot and killed before he ever parked his car at the Chiefs’ practice facility and put that gun to his head.

She was 22 and the mother of Belcher’s child, a child who is 3 months old, a child who will grow up in a world without parents. At about 10 minutes to 8, according to Kansas City police, Jovan Belcher put a gun on the mother of his child in a house on the 5400 block of Chrysler Ave. in Kansas City and started shooting and kept shooting. You want to mourn somebody? Start with her.

Kasandra Michelle Perkins.

While disheartening and indefensible, I get the turn towards concussionsguns, and the masculinity of sporting cultures.  The murder-suicide shines a spotlight on a number of issues that many have been grappling with for many years.  It encapsulates people’s discomfort about a culture that condones on-the-field violence that may contribute to so much pain off-the-field.  It highlights society’s moral failures whereupon profits are put in front of people.  There will be a time for these conversations, but for now the spotlight needs to be on Kasandra Michelle Perkins.

Upon hearing about this tragic murder of Kasandra Michelle Perkins, I too turn my attention to these issues; I am guilty of this failure, having tweeted about concussions, suicide, and the culture of the NFL. These issues are real–but so is the tragic death of Kasandra Michelle Perkins.

Kasandra Michelle Perkins cannot be a footnote.  She cannot be an afterthought.

While there are clearly issues specific to football—impact of concusions, the culture of hyper masculinity, mental health—we cannot lose focus on Kasandra Michelle Perkins.  Her life is no less precious just because she didn’t play linebacker; her life is no less important because she didn’t have teammates (although her family and friends are her teammates) grieving.  Her story is no less important because we live in a culture that privileges football and celebrity over the daily tragedies of violence.

Kasandra Michelle Perkins: let’s remember her name.

Her murder is a startling and sobering reminder about the all-too common tragedy of domestic/intimate partner murders.  “Each year thousands of black women are shot, stabbed, stalked, and brutalized in crimes that never make it on the national radar.  Black women experience intimate partner violence at a rate of 35% higher than do white women,” writes Sikivu Hutchinson.  “Intimate partner violence is a leading cause of death for black women, yet they are seldom viewed as proper victims and are rarely cast as total innocents.”

The failure to value all lives equally, to scream to demand justice, embodies American racism and sexism.  Hutchinson makes this clear in another brilliant piece:

Plastered on websites like AOL, relentlessly rammed down our collective throats in titillating morsels with whiffs of sexuality and scandal, poster child Caylee Anderson and company are a metaphor for Middle America’s Little Red Riding Hood fetishization of white femininity. Tabloid narratives of imperiled white females highlight the suburban virtues of white Middle America and not so subtlety evoke the social pathologies of the so-called inner city. Indeed, the spectacles of grief, mourning, and community outrage trotted out on CNN and FOX not only program viewers to identify with the injustice that has been done to the victim and her family, but to her community. In the world of 24-7 media these victims become our girls, our daughters, while the “bitches” and “hos” of the inner city symbolize the disorder and ungovernableness of an urban America whose values must be kept at bay.

The media erasure–particularly of the lost lives of women of color–is a root problem. It points to a systemic failure. The consequences are grave and mortifying. The ubiquity here is haunting; the devastation is disheartening; and our collective silence, paralysis, and acceptance are shameful.

  • Close to 70% of women killed by a gun were murdered by the hand of an intimate partner
  • More than three women are murdered every day by a husband or domestic partner
  • 40-50% of female murder victims fall into the category of domestic/partner murder (this includes former partners)
  • Three times as many women are killed by husband or intimate acquaintance as are killed by strangers using guns, knives or other weapons combined

As noted on “What About Our Daughters,”

According to the CDC, black women have a maternal homicide risk about seven times that of white women. Black women ages 25-29 are about 11 times more likely as white women in that age group to be murdered while pregnant or in the year after childbirth.

Kasandra Michelle Perkins is not a statistic, but her murder is part of a larger story.  The same is true for Cicely Bolden.  She was murdered by the man she was dating; he killed her after he learned that she was HIV-positive. #Kasandra Michelle Perkins #Cicely Bolden. Let’s not forget Meghann Pope.  She and her baby (she was 4 months pregnant) died after her boyfriend ran her over with his truck.  # Arlet Hernandez Contreras#Ericka Peters; # Rasheedah Blunt# Jasmine Nichelle Moss#Dawn Viens; #Yeardley Love#Nancy Benoit#Cherica Adams;  #Aena Hong.

It is crucial to continue to say Kasandra Michelle Perkins’ name. To look at her face; to ingrain her image into our heads. We must continue to think about not the last minutes of her life, but the totality of her life.

Kasandra Michelle Perkins.

It is crucial to say all of these names.  It is crucial to hear the plea from Kasandra Michelle Perkins’ friend, who reminded us all, “I don’t want her to get overshadowed by who he was. I know he was a Chiefs player and a lot of people know him, but she deserves recognition, too.”

Each time we say her name we remember her life and her tragic murder.  Each time we say Kasandra Michelle Perkins, we remember her 4-month-old daughter who lost her mom and her dad on December 2, 2012.  Each time we say her name we push back at the privileging of celebrity-life  over her death.  Each time we say her name we are hopefully reminded of the ubiquity of domestic/partner murder.  Each time we say her name we refuse the silence and erasure of domestic violence and intimate partner murder, particularly when the victims are women of color.  Each time we say her name we refuse the racism and sexism that obscures the humanity of those lives lost.  We challenge the discomfort that compels silence and erasure.

I heed the words from the Crunk Feminist Collective:

I wrote this piece to adjust the focus away from the famous athlete who “snapped,” and to put it on the true innocent in the case. I wrote this piece as a clarion call to remember Kasandra by her name and not by her relationship. I wrote this piece so that we don’t forget that victims may fall into statistics but they have names! I wrote this piece as a reminder that Kasandra (and Cherica) existed before their relationships with men who did not value their lives. I wrote this piece as a reminder that when a tragedy like this happens, it is not the perpetrator’s name we should remember, but the victim’s.

Each time we say Kasandra Michelle Perkins we remember a life lost; we remember a 22-year woman brutally murdered in her home; we remember a mother who will never get to hold her daughter again. We remember Kasandra Michelle Perkins.

Say her name!

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Teaching Trayvon http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/15/teaching-trayvon/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/15/teaching-trayvon/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:00:37 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33261 By Guest Contributor Shadee Malaklou, cross-posted from JFCBlog [Editor's Note: Graphic images at the end of this post, under the cut] The Trayvon Martin syllabus: These reading and viewing assignments are designed to prompt politically vigilant conversations about historical and institutional constructs of black male criminality in the United States. Specifically, they unpack Trayvon Martin’s […]

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By Guest Contributor Shadee Malaklou, cross-posted from JFCBlog

[Editor's Note: Graphic images at the end of this post, under the cut]

The Trayvon Martin syllabus: These reading and viewing assignments are designed to prompt politically vigilant conversations about historical and institutional constructs of black male criminality in the United States.

Specifically, they unpack Trayvon Martin’s gratuitous murder in February 2012 and the response his tragic death elicited from media and legal institutions–especially relevant in the wake of Michael Brown’s August 2014 lynching in Ferguson, Missouri. Written texts consist of insightful and timely essays published on blogs like Colorlines, The Feminist Wire and Black Girl Dangerous.

These essays teach tertiary students how to extrapolate anti-black racism from non-black experiences of ethnic difference without overwhelming them with jargon-heavy texts written for a well-versed academic audience.

PART 1: Anti-Black Racism + Trayvon Martin’s murder

Reading Assignments:

  1. “’Neighborhood Watch’ Groups Like Zimmerman’s and in Much of the Deep South Are Hardly Different Than Slave Patrols of Old” by Thom Hartmann for AlterNet
  2. “Putting Casual Racism on Trial” by Aura Bogado for Colorlines
  3. “Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Shit” by Ahmir Questlove Thompson for NY Magazine
  4. “The Zimmerman Jury Told Young Black Men What We Already Knew” by Cord Jefferson for Gawker
  5. “The US v. Trayvon martin: How the System Worked” by Robin D.G. Kelley for Counterpunch
  6. “Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice” by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic
  7. “No Justice for Trayvon: White Women in the Jury Box” by Monica J. Casper for The Feminist Wire
  8. “What Should Trayvon Martin Have Done?” by Amy Davidson for The New Yorker 
  9. “Study: Both Public, Police View Black Kids As Older, Less Innocent Than Whites” by Michael Arceneaux for News One
  10. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “America Is Not For Black People” by Greg Howard for The Concourse
  11. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “Why I fear for my sons” by Kimberly Norwood for CNN
  12. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “Things to stop being distracted by when a black person gets murdered by police” by Mia McKenzie for Black Girl Dangerous 
  13. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “The Price of Blackness” by Lanre Akinsiku for Gawker
  14. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “The ugly history of racist policing in America” by Dara Lind for Vox

Viewing Assignments:

  1. “The Murder of Emmet Till” (2003)
  2. “Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops” by Rafael Casal for Upworthy
  3. “Meet The 17-Year-Old Who Blew The Lid Off Racial Profiling With His iPod” by Alvin Melathe for Upworthy
  4. “The news reminds me that bodies like mine are beaten” by national poetry champion, Amber Rose Johnson on the Melissa Harris-Perry show 
  5. “Defying standards of black respectability” by Melissa Harris-Perry for MSNBC

PART 2: The failure of racial colorblindness + George Zimmerman’s trial

Reading Assignments:

  1. “The Good, Racist People” by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The New York Times
  2. “Poll: Majority of Whites See America as Colorblind, Nearly 80% of African-Americans do not” by Noah Rothman for Mediaite
  3. “White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman” by Aura Bogado for The Nation
  4. “The Curious Case of George Zimmerman’s Race” by Julianne Hing for Colorlines
  5. “We are NOT all Trayvon: Challenging Anti-Black Racism in POC Communities” by Asam Ahmad for Black Girl Dangerous
  6. “Racism is to white people as wind is to the sky” by Sunny Drake
  7. “White supremacy, meet black rage” by Brittney Cooper for Salon
  8. “What is ‘Black Privilege’?” by Omar Ricks and Gregory Caldwell
  9. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops” by Erwin Chemerinksy for The New York Times
  10. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “I’m black, my brother’s white…and he’s a cop who shot a black man on duty” by Zach Stafford for The Guardian 
  11. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “Two Americas: Ferguson, Missouri Versus the Bundy Ranch, Nevada” by Bob Cesca for The Daily Banter
  12. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “White supremacy is the real culprit in Ferguson. The excuses just prove it” by Nyle Fort for The Guardian
  13. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “Telling white people the criminal justice system is racist makes them like it more” by Dara Lind for Vox

Viewing Assignments:

  1. “A Perspective On George Zimmerman That Every Person Should Hear” by Deepa Kunapuli for Upworthy

PART 3: Spectacle of the Other + Scenes of Subjection

Reading Assignments:

  1. “Rachel Jeantel: Black Girl Misunderstood” by Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq. for Afro State of Mind
  2. “Playing Dead: The Trayvoning Meme and the Mocking of Black Death” by Lisa Guerrero and David J. Leonard for New Black Man
  3. “Google Play’s ‘Angry Trayvon’ Game Ignites Fury on Twitter” by Jamilah King for Colorlines
  4. “‘Sharkeisha’ Video: The Real Tragedy Is How Many Enjoyed Watching” by Demetria L. Lucas for The Root
  5. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “Police let their dog urinate on Michael Brown memorial, then drove over it” by Hunter for Daily Kos
  6. [FERGUSON UPDATE:] “Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up” by Isabel Wilkerson for The Guardian

[Top image by David Shankbone, via Flickr Creative Commons]

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Voices: Janay and Ray Rice, Domestic Violence, and the NFL http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/11/voices-janay-and-ray-rice-domestic-violence-and-the-nfl/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/11/voices-janay-and-ray-rice-domestic-violence-and-the-nfl/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33253 But an unfortunate and perverse consequence of Donald Sterling’s massive profits from the sale of the L.A. Clippers is that admitting one’s racism is profitable. Thus white men profit from saying and doing racist things, while organizations like the NBA get to claim that they are taking strong stances against racism in the league. But […]

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Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

But an unfortunate and perverse consequence of Donald Sterling’s massive profits from the sale of the L.A. Clippers is that admitting one’s racism is profitable. Thus white men profit from saying and doing racist things, while organizations like the NBA get to claim that they are taking strong stances against racism in the league. But ferreting out individual racists will never solve the problem of systemic racism. It simply makes everyone feel better.

Similarly problematic thinking is evident in the Baltimore Ravens’ decision to terminate Ray Rice’s contract and the NFL’s decision to suspend him indefinitely after TMZ leaked video of his vicious attack on now-wife Janay Rice Palmer yesterday. First, the NFL is no stranger to domestic violence disputes. A recent memorable incident was the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher against his partner Kasandra Perkins in late 2012. Second, the fact that Rice received only a two-game suspension until this video surfaced suggests that the league is more concerned with the optics of Ray Rice knocking Janay Palmer unconscious than addressing the ways that the hypermasculinity of sport perpetuates a culture of violence toward women. By taking such a hard-line, if belated, stand against Rice’s actions, the NFL now appears responsive to the problem of domestic violence, although it has made no promises to implement any kind of consistent anti-violence training for NFL players. It has simply ferreted out Ray Rice as an ultimate offender and benched him until further notice. This strategy won’t make Janay Palmer’s life safer and it won’t help the current partners of players who are being abused in secret.

We should be concerned about living in a culture where we routinely disbelieve victims of racism, sexism or domestic violence unless there is video or audio evidence. When we acknowledge the pervasiveness of violence, and of racism and sexism, we will be more responsive to victims and less committed to the kind of dishonesty that greets “isolated” incident after “isolated” incident with shock and surprise.

Ray Rice’s Second Horror, by Brittney Cooper; Salon

Domestic violence is violence. That word “domestic” needs to be dropped. If anyone thinks Ray Rice would have had the charges dropped against him if he had clocked a stranger in that elevator, dragged him out and then given him a kick–all on camera–think again. Violence against women is still roundly accepted in every country in the world, the U.S. included.

Ray Rice and the Hidden World of Domestic Violence, byVictoria Brownworth; Shewired


Many people are asking questions about what the N.F.L. knewabout the incident and when. Concerns about Ms. Rice, however, have been treated as a side note. (Since the incident in February, Ms. Palmer and Mr. Rice have married, and Janay has taken her husband’s name.)

Instead, scrutiny of Ms. Rice’s behavior has been unsparing. As Jodi Kantor writes in The New York Times, Ms. Rice has become “the most famous battered wife in the country” and, “to domestic violence experts and survivors, an extraordinarily public example of the complex psychology of women abused by men.” Ms. Kantor recounts Ms. Rice’s deeply entwined history with Mr. Rice: the two met in high school, and Ms. Rice moved to Baltimore for college to be close to him. Ms. Rice got pregnant before she graduated. Though she eventually graduated from college, it’s unclear if she ever intended to have an independent career.

Ms. Rice’s financial and social dependence on her husband may make it harder for her to think about leaving him, writes Ms. Kantor. Karma Cottman, executive director of the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told Ms. Kantor that a victim of domestic violence often visits a counselor “five to seven times before they leave.”

What Janay Rice Wants, by Anna Altman; NYTimes


Keith Olbermann, September 10, 2014


The one question they did not glaringly ask is, How will Janay Rice react to the release of the tape? The absence of concern for Janay Rice—in the press, on social media, among my own colleagues—is the most disheartening part of this entire ordeal.

No one cares that she is now going to have to relive this incident over and over again. No one cares that the world has now become privy to what may be the most humiliating moment of her entire life. No one cares that she’s basically now being used as a soapbox with otherwise apolitical NFL commentators using her prone body to get on their high horse and safely blast the league. There is video, and those who never raised their voice publicly about the axis of domestic violence and the NFL before are now bellowing the loudest.

ESPN “NFL insider” Adam Schefter was enraged and called the entire situation “the biggest black eye in league history.” Unfortunate phrasing aside, even the statement speaks volumes. What about every other act of domestic violence in league history that wasn’t caught on videotape? What about the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher two seasons ago actually killing the mother of his child, Kasandra Perkins, before taking his own life? Why are these actions seen as less of a black eye? The answer, of course, is that this one was caught on videotape. In other words, it damages the league’s public relations. In other words, this is—again—not about Janay Rice. It is about the well-being of the league.

The Revictimizing of Janay Rice, by Dave Zirin; The Nation


“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that [the] media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass [off] for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.

“THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!”

– Janay Rice via Instagram

 

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What Bill O’Reilly gets wrong about Asian Americans http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/10/what-bill-oreilly-gets-wrong-about-asian-americans/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/10/what-bill-oreilly-gets-wrong-about-asian-americans/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33245 By guest contributor Kevin Wong (originally posted at Salon.com) Bill O’Reilly went to Harvard and grew up in Levittown, a Long Island town that is 94 percent white. He attended a private boy’s school on Long Island that is 90 percent white and currently costs more than $8,000 a year to attend. And yet he […]

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What Bill O'Reilly gets wrong about Asian Americans

Credit: Frank Micelotta/invision/AP

By guest contributor Kevin Wong (originally posted at Salon.com)

Bill O’Reilly went to Harvard and grew up in Levittown, a Long Island town that is 94 percent white. He attended a private boy’s school on Long Island that is 90 percent white and currently costs more than $8,000 a year to attend. And yet he recently remarked that white privilege is a lie — that being white gives a person no inherent advantages in America. Irony is dead.

It is obvious, to anyone paying the slightest attention, that white privilege does exist, that legal equality is different from equality in practice. But then, O’Reilly has a long history of making ill-advised statements about race. What really stood out to me, though, on a personal level, is how O’Reilly used Asian-Americans to support his argument against white privilege. Just to recap:

Here are the facts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for black Americans is 11.4 percent.  It is just over 5 percent for whites; 4.5 percent for Asians. So do we have Asian privilege in America? Because the truth is that Asian-American households make far more money than anyone else… Also, just 13 percent of Asian children live in single parent homes compared to a whopping 55 percent for blacks and 21 percent for whites. There you go.  That’s why Asian-Americans, who often have to overcome a language barrier, are succeeding more than African-Americans and more than white Americans. Their families are intact and education is paramount.

From what experiences, exactly, does O’Reilly draw these conclusions? Allegedly, his own encounters with Asians are less than enlightened. In her sexual harassment suit against the pundit, Andrea Mackris made the following allegations: that O’Reilly recounted his foreign sexual experiences to her; that a “little brown woman” masseuse in Bali, Indonesia, had asked to see his penis, to which O’Reilly obliged; that a “girl” at a Thailand sex show took O’Reilly to a back room and “blew [his] mind.” When a man pursues colonialist fantasies and exploits women in Asian countries for his own pleasures, he loses the moral high ground to lecture anyone on race privilege.

The implications of O’Reilly’s argument are as follows: that Asians are what “good minorities” ought to be, and that blacks should be more like Asians to succeed in America. O’Reilly’s argument is simplistic and harmful, not only to blacks, but to Asians as well. Asians have not gained equality in this country; every minority group suffers unique challenges. O’Reilly’s argument pits people of color against one another by equating their problems — a common red herring that detracts from bigger, more important issues.

So let’s establish first that Asians are not treated equally in American society. Not at all. I grew up in Bethpage, a small town in Long Island, a few miles from O’Reilly’s Levittown. My parents, my sister and I experienced discrimination in a number of ways that were overt. I have been called a “chink” to my face. My father was once told to “shut up” by a woman when he spoke in Cantonese. When I worked a part-time job at a local fast food restaurant, my nickname was “Jackie,” as in Jackie Chan. I was instructed to serve our black customers first, to get them out of the store in a hurry.

These were the most overt examples of discrimination from my life, but there were other examples of prejudice that were more subtle — jokes that I needed to “lighten up about,” and “not take so seriously.” There were butchering limericks about my last name. There were cracks on my masculinity. There were jokes about my slanted eyes, and how well I could see through them. “No tickee, no laundry.” It was never funny, no matter how many times it was coached with ironic, “post-racial” excuses.

This is anecdotal evidence, and I can only speak for myself. But, it is an all too common experience, and one that many other Asian Americans can attest to. I did not grow up in a socially isolated, bizarre community; Bethpage is an average American town, 30 miles from Manhattan. I lived in a “good neighborhood”; my former school district, statistically, is one of the strongest in the nation. But, as my experience demonstrates, statistics do not tell the whole story.

As an Asian American, I do not have it the worst. The police do not harass me. I am treated better than many other people of color. I do not fear for my life, but this is little comfort. Despite my personal successes, I have regularly felt demeaned. When conservatives complain about the “race card” and its divisiveness, it’s because they have never been made to feel conscious of their skin color. The divisiveness was always there for the oppressed; these are not fresh lines, and we did not create them.

But let’s put all that aside for a minute. Let’s say that I’m being “too sensitive.” Let’s say that my experience is an anomaly rather than a trend. Even so, the statistics that O’Reilly cites are misleading. The first mistake is equating all “Asians” under the same umbrella. “Asian” covers many different ethnic groups. Cambodians, Hmongs and Laotians are considered “Asian,” but statistically, among all ethnic groups, they underperform academically. They have the highest rates of not completing high school. They have the lowest rates of completing college. They have the highest rates of receiving public assistance. And they are the least likely, of all ethnic groups, to be homeowners. The overarching Asian label trivializes the real problems that sub-groups face. An entire continent’s descendants should not be lumped into the same category, when so many are suffering from inequities.

Stereotypes of success persist, because they are “positive,” and thus acceptable. Sometimes, the target of the stereotype will even embrace it as a backhanded compliment. Growing up, for example, I was convinced of Asian prowess in math and science. When I got older, I began to struggle in these subjects when compared to my peers. I remember feeling deficient — that I was not “Asian” in the truest sense of the word.

The expectations of academic and economic success can be stressful to Asians. We may rank at the top of the pile in some categories, but O’Reilly neglected to mention some other, more sobering statistics. Asian American adolescent boys are twice as likely as whites to experience physical abuse, and they are three times as likely to report sexual abuse. Asian American adolescent girls have higher rates of depression than all other gender and racial groups.

And despite these statistics, Asian Americans are the least likely to seek out mental help. What is the cause of this inaction? It’s a combination of several factors: first, that Asian emotions are trivialized. Asians are stereotyped as robotic, human calculators; thus, we do not bruise easily, and we are incapable of finer feelings. Dulled responses and emotional frigidity are viewed as “normal” for Asians, when they might be symptoms for severe problems. Second, there is the fear of breaking our “model minority” perception — that we will cease to be valued if we show any sign of weakness to non-Asians. And lastly, there is the Asian cultural value of “saving face,” and not humiliating one’s family with the stigma of mental disease.

What is the cost of these unrealistic high standards, which O’Reilly is so quick to praise? Suicide is the second most common cause of death for Asian Americans aged 15-34. Among Asian Americans girls aged 15-24, suicide is more common than in any other ethnic group. It is a national tragedy, and it is one that has been propagated, not only by stereotyped perceptions, but also by outdated Asian values, and the post-racial pundits who encourage them.

Saving face. It’s considered betrayal, you know, for Asians to talk like this in front of non-Asians. The older generation sees it as an airing of dirty laundry, that we must present a strong, united front, blend in and demonstrate our willingness to work and play under America’s yoke. But enough is enough. We have allowed these “positive” stereotypes to go unchallenged for long enough, and it is to everyone’s detriment, including our own.

Despite our “hard work,” despite the praise we have garnered from the establishment in this country, we are neither promoted into leadership positions, nor given power to effect real change. Less than 1 percent of college presidents are Asian. We hold under 3 percent of board seats in Fortune 500 companies, despite the claims that we have surpassed all other ethnic groups in America. We are underrepresented in places of power, and this needs to change. As an Asian American, I’m upset by O’Reilly’s condescension. I won’t be used to justify the continued oppression of other ethnic minorities, and I will not be “one of the good ones.” The same model minority status that allowed us passage into the workforce also prevents our upward mobility within it.

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Contributor Call: Help Us Review Fall 2014 TV and Movies! http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/08/contributor-call-help-us-review-fall-2014-tv-and-movies/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/08/contributor-call-help-us-review-fall-2014-tv-and-movies/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33232 The field this fall is crowded. Making the list of films and TV shows that we want to watch made us exhausted, and we haven’t even looked at books, plays, and comics. We need reviewers who want to cross-post or contribute pieces. A round-up of what we are keeping an eye on is below. If […]

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Jane the Virgin

The field this fall is crowded.

Making the list of films and TV shows that we want to watch made us exhausted, and we haven’t even looked at books, plays, and comics.

We need reviewers who want to cross-post or contribute pieces. A round-up of what we are keeping an eye on is below. If you want to assist, please send a note with what you want to cover to team AT racialicious DOT com.

Roundtable

Drunk History

This would essentially be a “Watching Drunk History While Brown” segment. The concept for the show is great – but watching drunk, mostly white people narrate history has made for some interesting viewing.

TV Shows

The Red Band Society

Premiere: September 17th, FOX

Scorpion

Premiere: September 22nd, CBS

Gotham

Premiere: September 22nd, FOX

Blackish

Premiere: September 24th, ABC

How to Get Away with Murder

Premiere: September 25th, ABC

Selfie

Premiere: September 30th, ABC

Survivor’s Remorse

Premiere: October 4th, Starz

The Flash

Premiere: October 7th, CW

Kingdom

Premiere: October 8th, Audience DIRECTV

Cristela

Premiere: October 10th, ABC

Jane the Virgin

Premiere: October 13th, CW

State of Affairs

Premiere: November 17th, NBC

Fresh Off the Boat

Premiere: 2015, ABC

Critical

Premiere: 2015, Sky1

Movies

Falcon Rising

Premiere: September 5th

Finding Fela

Premiere: September 5th

Frontera

Premiere: September 5th

No Good Deed

Premiere: September 12th

Keep on Keepin’ On

Premiere: September 19th

Jimi: All Is By My Side

Premiere: September 26th

Time is Illmatic

Premiere: October 1

Addicted

Premiere: October 10

The Book of Life

Premiere: October 17th

Dear White People

Premiere: October 17th

Beyond the Lights

Premiere: November 14th

Never contributed to our blog before? Check out our submission guidelines.

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A Quick Reminder About the Racialicious Project [Editor's Note] http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/05/a-quick-reminder-about-the-racialicious-project-editors-note/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/05/a-quick-reminder-about-the-racialicious-project-editors-note/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33227 Just a little housekeeping. Racialicious has been in effect for more than eight years. As a result a lot of people (writers, readers, editors) have come and gone. It is easy to forget in the current environment that Racialicious is still a labor of love. It is an all-volunteer project. In response to an epic […]

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Flower Stand

Just a little housekeeping.

Racialicious has been in effect for more than eight years. As a result a lot of people (writers, readers, editors) have come and gone.

It is easy to forget in the current environment that Racialicious is still a labor of love. It is an all-volunteer project. In response to an epic media season and some questions on Twitter and Tumblr, here are five quick questions and answers.

What is happening with Racialicious?

We are thinking about who we are in an when blogging is professionalized and most outlets find a way to discuss race in their pop culture projects. We’ve talked about retiring the blog and leaving it as an archive, but none of us really felt like the work was finished. We are in the process of looking at format and purpose. There probably won’t be any huge changes until 2015.

Why did you go on break?

Essentially, everyone was feeling worn out. Tami, Joe and Andrea departed the project late 2013 to pursue other things, which left Arturo and Kendra holding down the day to day posting. (I deal with the administrative parts, but between the day job and the now 10 month old baby, I’ve been on extended sabbatical.)

We took August off to regroup and figure things out. As a result, Arturo is stepping back to become more of an editor at large. Kendra is becoming managing editor. And I’m a little more in the day to day mix.

Why didn’t Racialicious say anything on xxxx issue?

Occasionally, people ask us why we didn’t post on a certain issue. There are various reasons for why this happens. Sometimes, we’ve covered an issue multiple times and there is nothing new to report. Other times, an issue is in direct conflict with one of our day jobs. You cannot make the news and comment upon it at the same time – that’s generally frowned upon. And sometimes, the ability of the editors to post is low. Silence shouldn’t be read as not caring about an issue – it just means that there are more factors behind the scenes. And we have always been an open admissions kind of place, so if you notice a gap in coverage feel free to submit a piece.

Does Racialicious make money?

Two years ago we put ads on the site, but that was mainly to offset the cost of hosting the blog independently. After we were hacked at the beginning of the year, our analytics and ads stopped working. So we are back to paying out of pocket to host this space until it is fixed.

We are not funded by any other means. While it seems like money grows on trees these days, Racialicious is still a racial justice project which makes revenue channels complicated. (Just putting Google ads on the site to offset costs became an existential conversation.) We are putting intense focus on what would allow the project to be sustainable over the long term, but that is always a work in progress.

I want to help with the project!

Awesome. We need a new contributing editor in the mix, as well as roundtable contributors for the upcoming season. A formal call will go out next week. If you are interesting in helping, and can commit to about five hours per week of work, email team AT racialicious DOT com.

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Cheap Rent and Racism: The Lie Guys Social Experiment http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/04/cheap-rent-and-racism-the-lie-guys-social-experiment/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/04/cheap-rent-and-racism-the-lie-guys-social-experiment/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33237 Competitive rental markets mean that tenants can put up with some seriously strange requests from landlords and potential roommates in order to score a decent place. No cooking, no dogs, no shoes in the house are all standard requests – but what would happen if the stated policy was “no black people?” The Lie Guys […]

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Competitive rental markets mean that tenants can put up with some seriously strange requests from landlords and potential roommates in order to score a decent place. No cooking, no dogs, no shoes in the house are all standard requests – but what would happen if the stated policy was “no black people?”

The Lie Guys set up a ad for a room on Craigslist, then Skype recorded the responses.

Transcript and follow up bellow the jump.

Ben Bizuneh: Me and my friend Aristotle were on YouTube and we realized something. Pretty much every single YouTube comment contains the n-word.

[Montage of comment pages]

Ben: Not every single one, but a lot of them do. Maybe like 8 percent.

[On screen: Not a real statistic, that was a joke.]

Ben: And it’s weird because no one ever calls me the n-word in real life. At least not to my face. And I’ve been wondering – are people ok with racism toward black people as long as there are no black people around to hear it?

I guess I wouldn’t know. I’m always around. Let’s test it out.

[Title: Skype Racism]

Ben: So I asked Aristole to put an ad on Craigslist, saying he was looking for someone to rent a room in his fully furnished Hollywood apartment for only $400 a month. We got an overwhelming response.

[Shows Craigslist responses]

Ben: Then Aristotle scheduled Skype calls with potential renters by saying that he’d like to give each person a virtual tour of the apartment before meeting face to face.

He’s going to say some racist stuff about black people and give each person an ultimatum. Let’s see if people are willing to tolerate racism for cheap rent.

[The Skype calls are then shown. These are captioned with Aristotle's conversations and the caller's responses. Aristotle basically makes quiet racial inferences. He references people getting their "dirty black feet" on the floors, talks about watching movies "with my white friends," "having parties with my white friends," recites rules like "no cats, no dogs, no black people", once he says no "n*****s," and mimes a hanging in response to affirmation by another white respondent. Most respondents don't address the statements and proceed with trying to rent the apartment.]

There was also a black person who responded to the ads, so they upped the ante:

While YouTube commenters immediately began calls for a reverse version of the series (“tell black people they can’t invite whites over”) the video is interesting because it looks at very subtle ways people can tacitly agree with racism. Most commenters did not go out of their way to address what Stotle was saying – they just glossed over that part in their responses.

But when the Lie Guys attempted the same joke on a black person, it’s interesting to note that there isn’t any anti-racist grand gestures. The black respondent doesn’t lose his cool – or even raise his voice. He fought subtle racism with subtle disapproval, which is a tactic that isn’t highlighted enough.

The Lie Guys are comedians using social commentary in their craft, and on cue, YouTube commenters manage to bring the experiment home:

Samatar Nur

This is so stupid its not racism i would even say fuck black people for some cheap rent and im black

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Violence against Indigenous Women: Fun, Sexy, and No Big Deal on the Big Screen http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/03/violence-against-indigenous-women-fun-sexy-and-no-big-deal-on-the-big-screen/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/03/violence-against-indigenous-women-fun-sexy-and-no-big-deal-on-the-big-screen/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33218 by Guest Contributor Elissa Washuta, originally published on Tumblr The body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation, was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg on August 17. Her murder has brought about an important conversation about the widespread violence against First Nations women and the Canadian government’s lack of concern. […]

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by Guest Contributor Elissa Washuta, originally published on Tumblr

Captain Hook kidnaps Tiger Lily in Peter Pan.

Captain Hook kidnaps Tiger Lily in Peter Pan.

The body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation, was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg on August 17. Her murder has brought about an important conversation about the widespread violence against First Nations women and the Canadian government’s lack of concern.

In her August 20 Globe and Mail commentary, Dr. Sarah Hunt of the Kwagiulth band of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation wrote about the limited success of government inquiries and her concerns about other measures taken in reaction to acts of violence already committed, such as the establishment of DNA databases for missing persons. Dr. Hunt writes:

“Surely tracking indigenous girls’ DNA so they can be identified after they die is not the starting point for justice. Indigenous women want to matter before we go missing. We want our lives to matter as much as our deaths; our stake in the present political struggle for indigenous resurgence is as vital as the future.”

Violence against indigenous women is not, of course, happening only in Canada. In the U.S., for example, the Justice Department reports that one in three American Indian women have been raped or experienced an attempted rape, and the rate of sexual assault against American Indian women is more than twice the national average. This violence is not taking place only in Indian Country.

In the Globe and Mail on August 22, Elizabeth Renzetti wrote about three recent murders of First Nations women.

“What unites these three cases is that the victims – Tina Fontaine, Samantha Paul and Loretta Saunders – were all aboriginal women. What else unites them, besides the abysmal circumstances of their deaths? What economic, cultural, historical or social factors? Anything? Nothing?”

Jeffords holding the murdered Sonseeahray.

Jeffords holding the murdered Sonseeahray.

I can’t answer that, but I know that all of these women—and every other indigenous woman in Canada and the U.S.—lives in a society that includes images of violence against indigenous women in its entertainment products. Over and over, violence against indigenous women is made to titillate, built into narratives along with action, suspense, swashbuckling, and romance. Indigenous women become exotic props, and when we are identified with these dehumanized caricatures, it becomes easier to treat us inhumanely.

John Smith points a rifle at Pocahontas

John Smith points a rifle at Pocahontas

Take as an example Disney’s Pocahontas. Released in 1995, the cartoon feature has replaced the historical figure’s life story in the minds of many Americans. Much has been made of Disney’s exotification of Pocahontas. John Smith is only compelled to put down his gun because of her beauty. Pocahontas is imbued with animal qualities throughout the film as she scuttles, bounds, swims, creeps, and dives. This reinforces a long-held conception of Native peoples as being “close to nature” at best, “more animal than human” at worst—and the latter is a view that makes us easier to abuse.

Emily and Sam in New Moon

Emily and Sam in New Moon

The recent depiction of Emily (a Makah woman) in the Twilight series offers viewers a direct representation of violence in a fictional Native community. Emily’s broad, visible facial scar is said to be the result of her partner Sam’s (a Quileute man/werewolf) outburst of rage: he was a younger werewolf, with difficulty controlling his “phasing” from human to wolf, he became angry, and she was standing too close. The presentation of this story problematic in its shrugging absolution of Sam of his responsibility in maiming Emily, and the aftermath is heartbreaking: in the more detailed version of the story presented in the Twilight books, after Sam mauls Emily, she not only takes him back, but convinces him to forgive himself. This sends the message that an episode of violence can and should be overlooked for the sake of romance. Emily, a Native woman, becomes expendable. Her safety is of little concern; the fact that Sam has “imprinted” on her, cementing his attachment, is more important than the reality of recidivism.

In a Globe and Mail editorial, “How to Stop an Epidemic of Native Deaths,” the author brings up the many social factors at work in the epidemic of violence against Native women. I bring up the problematic and pervasive imagery above not because I think it is the most problematic issue, but because it is what I know, and because we can start solving it with our individual actions. We don’t need to call Native women “squaws” and joke that they were “hookers” when forced into prostitution, as Drunk History did last year. We can make better choices than “naughty Native” costumes on Halloween. We have the freedom to choose the representations we make in the world, and when we perpetuate damaging stereotypes of indigenous women as rapeable, we are using our autonomy to disempower others.

Karen Warren wrote in “A feminist philosophical perspective on ecofeminist spiritualities”:

“Dysfunctional systems are often maintained through systematic denial, a failure or inability to see the reality of a situation. This denial need not be conscious, intentional, or malicious; it only needs to be pervasive to be effective.”

Tiger Lily faces Hook.

Tiger Lily faces Hook.

I’m tired of hearing that these images aren’t harmful. I’d rather see how much they’re missed when they’re gone than continue to listen to the insistence that the image of Pocahontas at the end of a gun barrel is wholesome while, every day, more and more indigenous women die while we are told that this is not a phenomenon, not a problem, nothing more than crime.

Elissa Washuta is an adviser in the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington and a faculty mentor in the MFA program in creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her first book, a memoir called MY BODY IS A BOOK OF RULES, was recently published by Red Hen Press.

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Open Thread: Where Do We Go From Here? http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/02/open-thread-where-do-we-go-from-here-2/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/09/02/open-thread-where-do-we-go-from-here-2/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33239 Finally got a chance to get down to the riverfront to see this. Incredible. #HealSTL pic.twitter.com/v9uqouU1Zu — Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) September 1, 2014 Summer closed with a bang. Six bangs, to be specific. The shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson sparked an international uproar. Ferguson, Missouri became the latest chapter in America’s […]

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Finally got a chance to get down to the riverfront to see this. Incredible. #HealSTL pic.twitter.com/v9uqouU1Zu

— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) September 1, 2014

Summer closed with a bang.

Six bangs, to be specific.

The shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson sparked an international uproar. Ferguson, Missouri became the latest chapter in America’s ongoing racial saga, with protests still occurring.

During the break, we followed conversations on Twitter and Tumblr, but we want to hear from you.

How are you feeling?
What does justice look like in Ferguson?
And what happens next, from a racial justice standpoint?

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Announcing: The Racialicious Summer Vacation http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/31/announcing-the-racialicious-summer-vacation/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/31/announcing-the-racialicious-summer-vacation/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33190 This year, we’re going to try something different for the month of August: we’re going to take the month off. Fret not, the site’s not going anywhere bad. But, we think — especially coming off of the vortex that was San Diego Comic-Con — this is a good time for our team to step back, […]

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This year, we’re going to try something different for the month of August: we’re going to take the month off.

Fret not, the site’s not going anywhere bad. But, we think — especially coming off of the vortex that was San Diego Comic-Con — this is a good time for our team to step back, recharge and retool a bit. So we’re going to hit the beach, grab some mojitos, help Arturo celebrate his birthday this Saturday (send well-wishes to him here) and we’ll catch you on the flip side — specifically, Tuesday Sept. 2, with new content and ready to roll hard going into 2015. See you soon!

[Top image by James Jardine via Flickr Creative Commons]

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The SDCC Files: The Cosplay Gallery http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/30/the-sdcc-files-the-cosplay-gallery/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/07/30/the-sdcc-files-the-cosplay-gallery/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33168   by Kendra James As I wrote for the The Daily Beast the best part of Comic-Con is always the ridiculously talented cosplayers wandering the halls. As a cosplayer myself, I know how challenging (and fun)  designing, finding, and creating costumes for cons can be.  With that in mind I wanted to showcase some of the costumed […]

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Rocket Raccoon– who was actually a real live five year old Latino boy underneath the mask.

by Kendra James

As I wrote for the The Daily Beast the best part of Comic-Con is always the ridiculously talented cosplayers wandering the halls. As a cosplayer myself, I know how challenging (and fun)  designing, finding, and creating costumes for cons can be.  With that in mind I wanted to showcase some of the costumed heroes, heroines and other beloved characters of colour Art and I spotted during this year’s con.

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Static Shock

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The tiniest Clark Kent

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Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan)

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Lt. Uhura

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Oberyn Martell

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Zuko and Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Maleficent and Aurora

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The Black Widow

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(Siblings) Thor, Black Widow, and Captain America

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Buzz Lightyear  (who had fully automated wings)

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Captain America and The Winter Soldier (they each made their own costumes independently!)

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Princess Leia

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Bert from Mary Poppins

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Captain America and Patriot

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Super Family

Margaery Tyrell (myself) and Sansa Stark

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