The story behind “Flags of Our Fathers”

by guest contributor Carole Levine, originally published at NativeVue

flags of our fathersVery few people have ever heard of Ira Hayes. But he’s a hero. He and millions of other young men who weren’t quite men yet, but boys; underfed, undereducated boys growing up during the Great Depression intolerant and fearful of each other’s ethnic differences.

Despite all that, they were heroes in the purest of the pure sense of the word. They were heroes because they fought and died and prevailed for a cause that really had little to do with their hardscrabble lives whether they had traveled steerage or had roots to the land spanning thousands of years.

Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian from Arizona who joined the Marine Corps shortly after the start of World War II. He was hungry and needed money, and not least, he wanted to bring honor to his tribe. What happened to him during the war and his death as a demoralized, lonely alcoholic ten years later defines the legacy of naivete, pride, exploitation and bigotry of the era.

Most Americans alive today don’t know Ira Hayes. But most do recognize his image; one of the six young men planting the Stars and Stripes atop Mount Suribachi on the volcanic island of Iwo Jima during the waning days of World War II. Their flag raising, captured on film by photographer Joe Rosenthal, has been cast in bronze and reproduced more than any photographic image in history.

The story of the men in the photo—only three of whom survived the bloodbath that killed nearly 7,000 Marines and wounded 18,000 more—was detailed in the best-selling book Flags of Our Fathers. Written by the son of one of the three survivors, John Bradley, the book takes a straight-edged look at the sacrifice, valor, and manipulation of the men, no…boys…who waged what my Dad’s generation referred to as “THE War.”

Clint Eastwood has adapted James Bradley’s book into a movie. Ira Hayes, the young Pima from Arizona who fought for a nation that had massacred and marginalized his people is now depicted onscreen to an international audience who never knew nor cared who he was. He is portrayed by Adam Beach, the first Native actor ever to be cast in the role. In a previous movie made in 1961, Hayes was played by Tony Curtis. Yes. Tony Curtis. Continue reading

links for 2006-11-06

links for 2006-11-04

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

Conscious Media Maker
a blog for entertainment, media, advertising and public relations professionals who are committed to bringing about more realistic, three-dimensional representations of people of color

Addicted to Race
a podcast about America’s obsession with race

  • Episode 46: We hand the reins over to our listeners in this episode – it’s a special all listener feedback show!

Anti-Racist Parent
a blog for parents who are committed to raising children with an anti-racist outlook

  • Why my daughter will never dress in a national costume for Halloween: Everyone guessed everything from Aunt Jemima to Kizzy, the slave girl who was one of the main characters from Alex Haley’s then-recent epic movie, Roots. By the time the day ended, I’d ripped the head wrap from my head, and scrubbed my face clean of any makeup.
  • Hope vs. Optimism: And in thinking about Cornell West’s quote, I too want to help my children have hope – not just blind optimism that leads to a passively waiting for things to get better – but the kind of hope that leads to actions as a personal agent of change.

a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture

  • Anti-Racist of the Week: Mutombo!: On Thursday night Houston Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo got into an altercation with a fan who allegedly yelled racist slurs at him, including the word “monkey”, during a preseason game against the Orlando Magic.
  • A million to one. Again.: Gee. For a “million-to-one” odds, it seems like we’re seeing a whole lot of “miracle black and white twins” these days. Just a few days after our last reported twins, here comes yet another set.
  • Borat: just plain funny? or racist and xenophobic? What do you think of the Borat movie? Is it just silly and funny? Or do you think Sacha Baron Cohen is tapping into a racist and/or xenophobic vein in the United States?
  • Kimchi in aisle two! Basically, at this point, we still see that anything aside from apple pie and hot dogs is relegated to “ethnic food” aisles. It would be nice to see a bit more integration at the grocery store 😉 , but perhaps it will take a while since clearly, the way that we discuss ethnic cuisine sets it apart.
  • Sofia Coppola feminism: dependent on class, race, and cultural subjugation: It is a feminism that demands emptiness (real or invented) of reflection, instead replacing it with self involvement. It requires that culture and emotion be reduced to tropes and materials so that possession of these trinkets is possession of the cultural significance.
  • Whites stereotype Asians, Asians stereotype blacks: Check out this old Jell-O ad from the sixties that mocks an Asian baby trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks. It has just about every offensive stereotype you can think of: the dreaded Asian font and a presumably white dude narrating with an awful fake accent.

Whites stereotype Asians, Asians stereotype blacks

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Check out this old Jell-O ad from the sixties that mocks an Asian baby trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks. It has just about every offensive stereotype you can think of: the dreaded Asian font and a presumably white dude narrating with an awful fake accent and dropped words: “Chinese motha bling baby Jell-O. Famous western delicacy!”

And then on the flipside, check out this (by the looks of it, fairly recent) Japanese (possibly Thai?) toothpaste commercial, featuring a big black guy who helps a Japanese child retrieve her balloon, only to have her mother snatch her baby and run away, screaming. He’s just misunderstood and uh… somehow ends up sleeping on a giant toothbrush and morphing into dark toothpaste. You kinda have to just watch it.

Props to Adrianna for finding this site!

Solving the puzzle of the lying liars who brought us Armand de Brignac champagne

by guest contributor Clyde Smith, originally published at ProHipHop

armand de brignacIt looks like most of the important parts of the puzzle of Armand de Brignac, the previously unknown yet ancient champagne that magically appeared in Jay-Z’s comeback video, have been solved. Business Week’s Burt Helm follows up, drops by the offices and eventually clarifies that Armand de Brignac is both real and a fake.

You can read his post for clarification but the name is an old one for a champagne that hasn’t existed for quite some time and the champagne packaged in the revived Armand de Brignac brand is a new blend with very little history.

Key Point Alert:
I repeat, Armand de Brignac is a new blend with no history or positive reviews by serious taste testers or anything other than an infrastructure, an appearance in a Jay-Z video, a nice bottle and a bunch of frothy media coverage [with a couple of dissidents here and there who will soon be forgotten].

So the statements from the press release that “the brand is making its North American debut this year, after enjoying success as a premium, high-end brand in France” is an outright lie. It’s a new champagne wrapped in an old brand borrowing the design of a bottle for a cheaper product.

However, Helm drops the ball when he states that this approach isn’t that different from the sudden appearance of Grey Goose Vodka that was touted as the “World’s Best Tasting Vodka.”
I’d put best tasting in the hype category as one of those lies that we’ve come to accept. I’d put trying to pass off a resurrected brand and claiming it is as an ongoing successful brand with an old history as a lie that we should refuse to accept, though it’s one that fits the world of hip hop business practices like a glove.

At this point, it’s quite obvious what’s going on here. Though Helm is still at the “skeptical” stage regarding the various disclaimers about who did what and why, it’s clear that the whole thing is a setup, regardless of whether or not this charade was inspired by the Cristal boycott.

Key Point Alert:
The very idea that Jay-Z Inc. would put a product like that in a starring role in Jay-Z’s comeback video without prior discussion or deal doing is patently absurd.

But if you buy that one, give me call, I’ve got a barely used ’69 VW bug for sale. Really, only 37k on the original engine and those are all highway miles. You’ve lucked out on this one!

More details will emerge though I’ll bet they keep the backroom realities hidden. In hip hop business, your lies are usually only revealed when you are caught up in legal proceedings because, generally speaking, hip hop business is considered entertainment news. Besides all pr is good pr and telling the truth is awfully close to snitching, don’t you think?

Much thanks for the tip to Dariah H.

Sofia Coppola feminism: dependent on class, race, and cultural subjugation

by guest contributor blackamazon, originally published at Having Read the Fine Print…

powdered wig sofia coppola marie antoinetteI have recently taken to using a term “Sofia Coppola feminism” and I intended to define it and then had an awesome/interesting time for the past couple of days but with the rising of the ugly head of this, felt it was apropos.

In short, SCF or “hipster feminism” is a parasitic feminism that not only ignores but is dependent on class, race, and cultural appropriation and subjugation. It is a feminism that demands emptiness (real or invented) of reflection, instead replacing it with self involvement. It requires that culture and emotion be reduced to tropes and materials so that possession of these trinkets is possession of the cultural significance. Removing it from actual experience and grounding it in blank slate whiteness and upper class (educationally or monetarily) wrenches it from the hands of those who experience it and tries to force them into a position of subjugation if they reject the positioning.

I came up with the term in my head when I was reading coverage of Marie Antoinette, Coppola’s most recent film. The article was in GQ and there was this kind of flip dismissal of the French booing

with words like

“It’s booing they do it more in Europe”


Well it’s art?




It’s what the French do….

Please understand I have not seen this film yet but my first reaction, being familiar with the director, the subject, and the director’s previous work is


SCF ( the acronym) is a feminism that takes the idea “the personal is political” and runs AWAY with it in an awful, self absorbed, culturally decentering, yet culturally parasiting way.

SC’s three films have the proud distinction of being movies that I can’t sit through.

And I mean I can’t as in I watched The Virgin Suicides in bits and pieces over seven years before my rolling my eyes as the dumbshit kicks in.

Her talent is very visual and shehas an amazing facility for capturing ephemera.

Except she constantly tries to force this ephemera, this barely there-ness into some heavy social context.

The Virgin Suicides focuses on whiteness and pureness as the holy grail, meanwhile almost unmoors it entirely from the specificity of time frame, and the graveness of the matter. Continue reading

Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World