Wasted youth?

by Jen Chau
Aw hell. At first I thought it was cool that there was actually a category that involved rap lyrics on Jeopardy, but notice Alex Trebek’s comment to the woman who keeps getting the correct answers.

Wasted youth?! Gee, tell us how you really feel, Alex?! 😐 I think someone needs to call Trebek on his corrolation of listening to rap/knowing rap with *waste*. Wasted time? Wasted childhood? No surprise that he is making this connection. Disturbing that this kind of comment typically (probably) goes unnoticed and unchecked.

Even with his negative remark, it still seems like he is having too much fun reciting those lyrics… 😉 By the way, why is an older white man rapping the most hysterical thing ever? Does anyone remember a video that was being passed around a little while ago of this guy doing really good impressions of famous hip hop celebrities? Everyone who sent it my way would comment on the hilarity of it. I guess it was really just awe that such a person (read: older white man) would be interested in hip hop enough to actually spend time listening to it and perfecting his performance of it. I guess you would never see Alex Trebek doing that. What a waste of time! (YES! I love YouTube. I can’t believe I found it.)

Check out another Trebek questionable moment.

(Thanks to my little bro at TheThink, where I saw this originally).

Oprah: hip hop is hate speech set to a beat

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Oprah delivered a speech at Bennett College’s fundraising event on Friday. She talked about the stuff you’d expect from her (personal development, spirituality, etc.) but interestingly enough, according to this DiversityInc article, she also spent about a third of the time discussing hip hop. And it wasn’t a positive take, to say the least:

Oprah also spent roughly one-third of her time discussing hip-hop music and her opinion of the debilitating effect of misogynistic and racist lyrics. She riveted the audience with historical anecdotes of slavery, Jim Crow and the civil-rights era and pointed out that the last word a lynched person heard was the N-word. She pointedly criticized blacks for taking hate speech, “setting it to a beat and dancing to it.”

She described her mainly unsatisfactory talks with hip-hop artists and her understanding that as a 52-year-old woman, she could be seen as “out of touch.” But she wasn’t out of touch when she told the audience that their generation “didn’t know who they were.”

Ouch. I agree that there are a lot of problematic aspects of hip hop, but I also think it gets an unfair share of criticism. You can find the exact same problems of misogyny, materialism, and general buffoonery in good old-fashioned rock ‘n roll too. And these criticisms of hip hop always overlook the fact that what you hear on Top 40 radio does not represent all of hip hop.

Rappers have been name-checking various black thought leaders for years now (everyone from Marcus Garvey to Huey Newton, from Maya Angelou to W.E.B. DuBois, just to name a few). I wouldn’t be surprised if many folks were first introduced to these figures through their favorite rapper and were encouraged to read their books because of hip hop. It’s pretty narrow-minded to assume that hip hop can only have a negative effect on its listeners.

I also have to say that as a member of the “hip hop generation” (defined by Bakari Kitwana as folks born between 1965 and 1984), I’m very put off by her claim that someone like me doesn’t know who I am.

Every movement is going to experience tensions between older and newer generations – that’s natural. But I definitely think that sweeping generalizations like this, that pretty much insult an entire generation, don’t do much good in bridging the oft-cited gap between the civil rights generation and the hip hop generation. People of our generation are probably much more conscious than she thinks.

Introducing Conscious Media Maker!

by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new blog, Conscious Media Maker! Conscious Media Maker is 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.

The Goal
We’ve been blogging about issues of race and racism in media and pop culture for a few years now on Racialicious. But it’s mostly been from the consumer’s perspective. What we want to do with Conscious Media Maker is create a space where people who work in the industries that produce these images and concepts can get together and make a difference.

The blog will be a mix of news, commentary, criticism, and interviews with industry leaders. It will also be a community where people can share resources and best practices, and discuss the role that race and racism play within the industry.

Make sure that you receive all posts!
To receive email updates whenever we put up a new post, click here. To subscribe to our RSS feed in your feedreader, click here. No idea what the heck we’re talking about? Not to worry, you’re not alone. Check out this excellent, easy-to-follow explanation of what RSS is all about.

Spread the word
As always, we encourage you to spread the word about our projects to get more people involved in the discussions. Also let us know what you think we should discuss. If you have an idea, we’d love to hear it! Email your feedback, ideas and suggestions to us at team@consciousmediamaker.com. We look forward to having great discussions and working with you to create lasting change!

links for 2006-10-23

Impress your inscrutable Japanese boss with Jimmy John’s sandwiches

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Oh boy. First we had Burger King depicting Asian men as freaky slithery snakes who culminated their burger-stealing with a round of kung fu moves. Now along comes this Jimmy John’s commercial, featuring a Japanese office tool trying to impress his inscrutable boss in the boardroom. Are they even really speaking Japanese? Can any of our Japanese-speaking readers let us know?

And check out the other commercials that make up this series, including a Latino family with 5 out-of-control kids, and one spot that revolves around a European (?) woman taking a shower.

(Hat tip to MultiCultClassics.)

links for 2006-10-21

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

  • Assignment 3 – Stereotypes in the Media: Stereotypes are all around us. Grab a friend, a co-worker, or a family member (or all!) and discuss some of the stereotypes that you see in film, on TV, etc. Since there are so many, we would like you to focus specifically on representations of black men and women in the media.

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

  • Episode 44: Jen and Carmen rant about the tendency for people to dress up as folks of other racial and ethnic groups for Halloween. They also do a Race Changers update by discussing the issue of racial profiling. They ask whether people would be less inclined to see protests to racial profiling as “political correctness” if they were likely to be the target of such profiling themselves.

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

  • I wish my parents knew…: As adults, my brothers, my mom and I have talked about Hebrew School. It was so interesting to me that my mother thought that we were just being lazy or stubborn and didn’t want to go for no good reason. When I explained that it was hard to be there because we were basically discriminated against on a regular basis, she was shocked. She had no idea. And why was this? Well, we didn’t tell her. No questions were asked about it, but we also didn’t say anything.
  • Columnist intro – Karen: white students who viewed me as “not really black” would confide in me their frank beliefs about black people. African-American students who considered my skin colour proof I was one of their own would make sweeping comments about white students – statements to which they were certain I would agree. Then there were the kids who were neither black nor white, but who found something familiar in my “foreign-ness”, and therefore would seek consensus in their opinions about students of all the other races.

Racialicious
a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture

  • The ad industry’s mascot of cultural cluelessness: When confronting issues of diversity and exclusivity, a Marc Brownstein openly displays passive bias. For guidance on race-based questions, a Marc Brownstein seeks counsel from a Black friend (who is often the only Black person in the Marc Brownstein social network).
  • 10 hints for my white friends: What follows are ten rules that may help you blend in easier with black Americans and reduce frictions between yourselves and them. Consider it a study abroad guide to black America.
  • Too hood for MySpace? Try CrackSpace!: From the man who brought you that masterpiece of African-American cinema, Soul Plane, comes a brand-new venture: a social networking web site called Crackspace.
  • YouTube Wire: conservatives, yellowface, and white teachers in the ghetto: Our intrepid YouTube correspondent Luke Lee sums up the latest videos you should know about. Michelle Malkin discusses racist and misogynistic attacks on her, an aspiring comic dons yellowface to mimic Kim Jong Il, the latest angelic white teacher in the ghetto movie Freedom Writers releases a trailer on YouTube, and more.
  • Foods that aren’t really “ethnic:” Most of you probably know (I hope!) that fortune cookies are about as Chinese as as a Burger King Whopper. But there are a lot of other foods marketed as “ethnic” that actually aren’t at all.

Foods that aren’t really “ethnic”

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

fortune cookieGrowing up in Hong Kong, I watched a lot of American sitcoms. I was always fascinated by things American families had on these shows that we didn’t have. Of course, Hong Kong’s technology was always at least 5 years ahead of the U.S., but there were certain gadgets we just didn’t have because there was no demand for them. Things like refrigerators with ice makers (so cool!) and wall-mounted phones in the kitchen with extra-long cords (how I longed to hide in the closet to chat on the phone!).

But I remember being particularly fascinated by episodes in which people would order Chinese food. What on earth were those cardboard contraptions with the wire handles? Or those things they called fortune cookies?

Most of you probably know (I hope!) that fortune cookies are about as Chinese as as a Burger King Whopper. But there are a lot of other foods marketed as “ethnic” that actually aren’t at all. Check out this interesting article from Chow.com. Here are some of the foods they “out:”

Navajo Frybread
What it is: Thick, round lard-fried dough, served with honey or powdered sugar, or wrapped around ground beef, taco seasoning, and shredded cheese (called an Indian Taco)
Faux origin: Navajo, traditional
Real origin: White U.S. influence, mid-19th century

Fried Chow Mein
What it is: Fried preboiled egg noodles, often served with vegetables and meat
Faux origin: Chinese
Real origin: Chinese-American, mid-19th century

Chicken Tikka Masala
What it is: Chicken pieces cooked in a tomato gravy, often containing cream
Faux origin: Indian
Real origin: British, 1950s–70s

Hibachi
What it is: Americans use hibachi to refer to two distinct things: a small aluminum charcoal grill, and the large multiperson hot-plate cooking technique used in certain Japanese-American restaurants.
Faux origin: Japanese
Real origin: Part Japanese, part 1960s American, with Japanese mistranslated origins

Pasta Primavera
What it is: Spaghetti with assorted vegetables, often in a heavy cream sauce
Faux origin: Italian
Real origin: Created by Le Cirque owner and maitre d’ Sirio Maccioni in 1976

Fortune Cookie
What it is: Thin, lightly sugared dough folded around a slip of paper
Faux origin: Chinese
Real origin: U.S. West Coast, early- to mid-20th century

Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World