links for 2006-12-04

links for 2006-12-02

In case you missed it…

by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove

Every Friday afternoon we sum up the week’s best posts from New Demographic’s various projects. Here we go!

race changersRACE CHANGERS
a community of people working towards an anti-racist future, one week at a time

  • Assignment 8 – Understanding the history of lynching: Richards betrayed his intimate knowledge of lynching culture by mentioning a fork in his remarks. References to eating (”coon cooking,” “barbecue,” “main fare”) were extremely common in correspondence and reports on lynchings. Also, celebratory barbecues and picnics were often held during or after the lynchings.

addicted to raceADDICTED TO RACE
a podcast about America’s obsession with race

  • Episode 49: Carmen chats with movie producer Teddy Zee about the current state of representations of Asian-Americans in film and television. Zee is president of Ironpond, an entertainment company that bridges Hollywood and Asia. Previously, he was a top-level studio executive at Columbia and Paramount. He produced Hitch, Saving Face, The Pursuit of Happyness, and recently completed West 32nd.

anti-racist parentANTI-RACIST PARENT
a blog for parents who are committed to raising children with an anti-racist outlook

RACIALICIOUS
a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture

  • Racism as a face cream? I saw this ad campaign mentioned on Adrants, produced by the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi. I guess the concept is that racism is like a face cream: the more you “apply” it, the uglier you become.
  • How awesome was Heroes last night? I know I can’t be the only Heroes fan on this blog, right?
  • Paul Mooney vows to stop using the n-word: comedian Paul Mooney has vowed to stop using the n-word as a result of the Michael Richards incident. He joked about Richards, “He’s my Dr. Phil. He’s cured me.” The question is, would abolishing the word really do any good?
  • Gwen Stefani: everyone else is racist, not me! Yeah, gee I wonder why people would view Japanese women as submissive, pliable creatures when Gwen Stefani is parading these four women around as dancing, giggling human props who are contractually obligated to only speak Japanese even though they’re all American.
  • Whiteness in a bottle: Alabaster perfume from Banana Republic: Alabaster is just one of three new fragrances they’re offering this season, but is it a coincidence that it’s the only one that gets the full-page treatment? Hmmm…
  • Banned racist Merrie Melodies cartoon: 1943’s ‘Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs: For me, Coal Black stands as one of the clearest expressions of the relationship between white supremacy, patriarchy, and militarism. Needless to say, the short is rife with almost every racist meme ever projected onto African Americans.

I’m speaking at South by Southwest (SXSW)

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

sxswI’m excited to announce that I’ll be a panelist at South by Southwest (SXSW) in March! I’ll be on a panel called “Bridging the Cultural Divide,” which will focus on the question: Do social networking sites help with understanding people from various cultures, or do they inadvertently exclude the experiences and observations of some?

If you’re planning to attend, drop me a line! And if you have any thoughts on the topic you’d like me to share with the audience, let me know!

Banned racist Merrie Melodies cartoon: 1943′s ‘Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs

by guest contributor Yolanda M. Carrington, originally published at The Primary Contradiction

As you probably guessed from watching the clip, the Merrie Melodies cartoon Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943) is a supposed hot jazz retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, animated and produced by Warner Brothers animator Robert Clampett. (The character is named “So White”—the short is titled “Coal Black” because producer Leon Schlesinger wanted to avoid confusion with the Disney film.)

This short is one of the infamous “Censored Eleven,” eleven Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts that were yanked from rebroadcast syndication in 1968 to accommodate that era’s swiftly-changing racial climate. Many of these banned cartoons (the Censored Eleven represents a mere fraction of the racist animation produced before World War II) are widely available over the Internet, since most of these works have long entered the public domain.

According to Wikipedia, Clampett was said to have been heavily influenced by jazz performers and hipsters from the 1940s Black jazz scene in New York, as well as the jazz-themed all-Black movie musicals that were wildly popular with audiences during that period. He and his animation team actually visited a Black jazz club in Los Angeles (ahhh….studying the Negroes!) to get a feel for the interaction and lingo. Today, despite having been banned for four decades, Coal Black is rated by animation experts as Clampett’s masterpiece, as well as one of the greatest animated cartoons ever made.

In 2006, we Americans find ourselves in a political situation nearly identical to the one faced by Coal Black’s audience in 1943. I know that for many of you, watching Coal Black was extremely offensive, even sickening. But I really wanted folks to see this short, and I was really hoping that others would recognize what I saw when I watched the clip, which was such a heavy experience for me that I had to watch it over and over again.

Honestly, I have never seen anything like it, a piece of media that is so offensive yet so crystal-clear in its political message. I wanted everyone to recognize the eons and eons of memes in the narrative and to make the connections between those memes to grasp the overall message.

For me, Coal Black stands as one of the clearest expressions of the relationship between white supremacy, patriarchy, and militarism. Needless to say, the short is rife with almost every racist meme ever projected onto African Americans.

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Whiteness in a bottle: Alabaster perfume from Banana Republic

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

There are certain fashion brands that I associate with whiteness. Some, like Abercrombie & Fitch, have aggressively aligned themselves with whiteness. (Their catalogs are basically white supremacist porn.) Others not so much, but because preppy=white in most people’s minds, the association is there. I’m talking about brands like L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and J. Crew.

After seeing the ad below, I think I’m gonna have to add Banana Republic to that list. Alabaster is just one of three new fragrances they’re offering this season, but is it a coincidence that it’s the only one that gets the full-page treatment? Hmmm…

I looked up “alabaster” on dictionary.com and here are the definitions:

1. a finely granular variety of gypsum, often white and translucent, used for ornamental objects or work, such as lamp bases, figurines, etc.
2. Also called Oriental alabaster. a variety of calcite, often banded, used or sold as alabaster.
3. made of alabaster: an alabaster column.
4. resembling alabaster; smooth and white: her alabaster throat.

I think the message is clear: This fragrance would be HUGE in Asia. ;)

alabaster fragrance banana republic perfume

links for 2006-12-01

Gwen Stefani: everyone else is racist, not me!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

some random harajuku girl on a stock photography siteNice find from Angry Asian Man. In this interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gwen Stefani attempts to defend her use of the Harajuku Girls. I love Margaret Cho’s sarcastic response ;) :

But not everyone warmed to Stefani’s ”whole fashion thing” — in particular, the showcasing of her admiration for Tokyo trendsetters via an entourage of four Japanese women that she called the Harajuku Girls. The Girls silently accompanied her on photo shoots and to public appearances, and subsequently appeared on her tour. Stefani regarded the Girls, all of whom looked as if they had come straight off the streets of the capital city’s hip Harajuku district, as a figment of her imagination brought to life in a culturally positive manner. But last year, Korean-American comedian Margaret Cho publicly decried them as ”a minstrel show.”

”She didn’t do her research!” spits Stefani, who says she’s been a fan of Japan and its mix-and-match fashion sense since first visiting the country with No Doubt in the mid-’90s. ”The truth is that I basically was saying how great that culture is. It pisses me off that [Cho] would not do the research and then talk out like that. It’s just so embarrassing for her. The Harajuku Girls is an art project. It’s fun!” (Cho told EW via e-mail, ”I absolutely agree! I didn’t do any research! I realize the Harajuku Girls rule!!! How embarrassing for me!!! I was just jealous that I didn’t get to be one… I dance really good!!!”)

Stefani continues: ”I was surprised how racist everybody was about them. Especially when I came over here and they’d make all these jokes, like Jonathan Ross.” Ross, a British TV host, asked Stefani whether an ”imaginary hand job” from one of her ”imaginary” dancers would count as cheating on his wife. Stefani responds, ”Everybody’s making jokes about Japanese girls and the stereotypes. I had no idea [I'd be] walking into that.”

Yeah, gee I wonder why people would view Japanese women as submissive, pliable creatures when Gwen Stefani is parading these four women around as dancing, giggling human props who are contractually obligated to only speak Japanese even though they’re all American.

Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World