Tag Archives: blogs

“I just don’t know what he stands for”

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

One of my pet peeves when it comes to this presidential election is hearing people say that they “just don’t know enough about” a candidate, or that they “don’t know what he/she stands for.” Um… why don’t you just look it up? Or is that too much to ask?

I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check out this great post from AverageBro:

…it’s so much easier to search for the answers to these questions with a simple Google search, as opposed to being lazy and expecting Obama, or any candidate, to come to your house and explain their stances over DiGiorno Pizza. Not that that would be a bad thing. I love DiGiorno Pizza. Cause, you know, it’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno.

Just in case you’re interested in what Obama’s done, or is planning on doing for black America, you simply need to visit the thorough but nonthreatening well organized Civil Rights section of the official Obama website. Everything you need to know about the candidate’s stances on issues pertinent to black America is right there, spelled out in layman’s terms for people who need to be spoonfed.

Click to continue reading >

Activist Resolutions

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

What do you hope to accomplish in 2008?

What do you want to do? What do you want to study? What actions do you want to take?

We are not yet half way through the month of December, but resolutions are already on my mind. Heavily into self-evaluation, I tend to make resolutions at New Years and promises to myself on my birthday. I also make career goals and life goals on a regular basis.

However, this year is the first year I will be making activist resolutions. Over the course of 2007, I started blogging for Racialicious, started to immerse myself in the blogosphere, spent time honing thoughts and ideas, started researching trends in gentrification, discovered hundreds of great sources for information, started attending the various films and discussion groups over at Busboys and Poets and kept up with the changes going on abroad.

Still, even with all I accomplished, I feel like some things are a bit lacking. So far, all my research goes into blog posts – I would like the research to have a farther reaching effect. And while the blogosphere is great fun, and we have built a great community here, I wonder about taking more steps out in the real world. I also realized I have huge gaps in my knowledge base, which I seriously want to rectify. So, I decided to roll these things into action items.

In 2008, I will…

…work on myself

*I will dust off that old paper I did for a business law class and figure out how to best educate people about the roles of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. There is a lot of misinformation floating around about these institutions and they each have had powerful effects on the rise and fall of nations.

*I am going to stop saying “Africa.” Africa is not a country. It is a continent. Talking about the problems in Africa is not as effective as talking about the problems that currently plague individual countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, Chad, and Sudan.

*I am going to continue to study the trends of gentrification as it manifests in each individual region, paying particular attention to New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. I will also be searching for mixed-income communities around the nation and how urban planners treat social and environmental issues.

…work on the world

* I am going to get more involved in the gaming industry. I am not sure exactly how I will do this – through writing or through some other means – but I feel like the gaming industy is in the unique position to set the tone of entertainment in the next few years. As such, it would be amazing to see gaming break away from the exclusionary model that Hollywood pioneered and make greater strides toward including people of different backgrounds – both behind the scenes and in the actual gameplay.

*I am going to reconnect with my city council members to find out what is happening in my community, particularly in reference to urban planning. Montgomery County has been going through an ongoing remodel and I want to get an in-depth understanding of what urban planners do and how they make decisions.

*To get more involved with youth outreach through the arts. I know people who work in three very different areas and I want to help them all in some way. I have one friend who does youth outreach through hip-hop (music and culture), another who works with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and the head of my yoga studio has just started a foundation to outreach to young women and women in prisons. All worthy causes that I feel compelled to help with in some way.

So, that’s what I plan on doing in 2008.

What about you?

The Veil Does Not a Prison Make

by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

Who’s Danielle Crittenden? She writes a blog for The Huffington Post and recently, she decided to “take on the veil” as a social experiment for one week of her life in Washington, D.C. She went straight for the gold and decided to wear the starkest, blackest niqab out there, ignoring the fact that the hejab is far more prevalent among Muslim women than the niqab. She blogs about her experience in four separate posts under the title, “Islamic Like Me.”

Readers, you know my issue with people who use “Muslim” and “Islamic” synonymously. For god’s sake, would somebody check the Associated Press guidelines?! “Islamic” describes architecture and history…things. A “Muslim” is an adherent of Islam; Muslims are people, not things.

So Ms. Crittenden decides to put on a niqab…for what? For giggles? She never really explains her reasons for doing so, but makes it very apparent that wearing a niqab is a bad idea because it’s “oppressive”. Does she want to see what it’s like to be a Muslim woman who wears niqab? Does she want to understand the prejudice that these women face?

No. After reading her posts, it’s obvious she just wants to play dress-up. She doesn’t attempt to adhere to any principles of Islam while wearing the niqab, nor does she take it off in her home like most niqabis would, nor does she even attempt to start a dialogue with any Muslim women—niqabis or not.

This experiment reminds me of one of Tyra Banks’ experiments: you remember when she put on a fat suit? Yeah. That one. She put on a fat suit under the guise of “seeing how the other half lives” but really just used it as a self-indulgent exercise in vanity (kind of like everything else Tyra does, bless her heart). This one seems really no different.

So, we read the first paragraph of Ms. Crittenden’s post “Islamic Like Me: Taking On The Veil”, and already, I want to throw my computer out the window.

“‘I wonder what it’s like to wear Arabic dress?’ I said one day to my husband. His eyes sparked with interest. ‘You mean as in I Dream of Jeannie?’ ‘No. I mean those black cover-ups they wear in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.’”

(Long sigh). So, we begin with the blatantly incorrect idea that all women in the Middle East wear “Arabic” clothing, even if they are not Arab or Muslim. We see later in her posts that her idea of “Arabic clothing” is a niqab and abaya—ignoring several other traditional dress styles that Arab women wear. And, of course, her husband throws in the sexualized Orientalist fantasy of I Dream of Jeannie. Fantastic! Continue reading

Beyond superficial debate: How can we change the way the media frames racial issues?

by guest contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

Why was Don Imus vilified and fired for calling a group of young, black athletes “nappy headed hoes,” but able to return to the airwaves months later provoking barely a stir? Why is Michael Richards’ racist tirade in a Los Angeles nightclub all but forgotten? Why have these incidents, and others like the Duke University case, failed to generate any long-lasting, helpful dialogue on race in America? The Washington Post attempts to answer these questions in a thoughtful, though conservative-leaning, article entitled “Reduced to the Small Screen: Incident, Reaction, Forget, Repeat–Formulaic Entertainment Replaces Serious Discussion on Race.”

And with each episode in the long-running Saga of Race in America, a string of characters lines up to react to the latest eruption. The media records them as they take up positions in the Great Race Debate. The media stokes the discussion as self-proclaimed black leaders scream outrage while opponents — often white, sometimes black — scream counter-outrage. The “colorblind” wonder why we all just can’t get along. And the rest of us watch from ringside, rooting for one camp or another, sometimes in silence.

Then inevitably, the media turns away. The outrage fades. The talking heads go silent. The curtain falls, and the debate recedes to wherever it goes until the next eruption.

Which raises the question: Has the debate over race become a melodrama? A bad television soap opera? A theatrical stage play with complex issues boiled down to a script? Entertaining words thrown around simply to satisfy the 24-hour news cycle, the blogosphere?

Are we doomed to debate racism over and over — stuck in purgatory, a cycle of skirmishes, of shock and awe, with nothing gained, nothing learned?

Or is there a way to change the ritual, to go deeper into our national consciousness and get off this merry-go-round?

I have asked myself that question often and I believe the answer is complex. The Washington Post article does a good job of tackling many of the reasons the race debate has become so superficial. Two factors that I believe play a key role in defining talk of race are 1) the way most Americans consume media and 2) the limited number of voices invited to participate in the mainstream racial discussion.

I’m a media junkie. I consume a variety of media, both mainstream (local and national TV news; local and national newspapers; political, news and cultural magazines) and alternative (blogs; progressive radio, and even though it makes my blood pressure rise, right wing radio). It helps that, as a public relations professional, I am paid to pay attention to the media.

Most people I encounter on a daily basis don’t have the time or inclination to do what I do. Most people I encounter get their information from limited sources, including a mainstream media owned by a narrow group of people–a mainstream media that is no longer The Fourth Estate, but a series of corporations operating with profit as their main mission. It is a media that courts controversy and, more than ever, believes “if it bleeds, it leads.” It is a media that traffics in stereotypes and narrows race to black and white. It is a media that doesn’t have time for nuanced and in-depth discussion about anything–not war, not healthcare, not poverty and not race. So, it is no wonder that the authors of the Washington Post article write: Continue reading

The New York Times censors adult adoptees on adoption blog

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Update 11/14 at 10:25 am: Please click here to digg this story so we can bring more attention to it.

Update 11/14 at 7:40 am: Yesterday evening, shady things started happening where the NYT apparently started to add back in some old comments that it had not previously approved. And they’ve now completely shut down comments to the post. Also, check out this comment that Sarah Kim tried to leave, but was not approved. Hmm… I don’t see a thing in that comment that violates the NYT’s comment moderation policy. And yet they still chose to censor her. Meanwhile, a much harsher comment was allowed through – but that came from another adoptive parent, instead of an adoptee. It’s clear whose perspective this NYT blog is pushing.

The New York Times started a new blog this month called Relative Choices, about “adoption and the American family.”

The blog has been met with mixed reactions, especially since many prominent thinkers like Jae Ran Kim who are critical of certain adoption practices were deemed to be “too out there” to contribute. Also, the blog has featured some rather questionable posts written by adoptive parents.

This one, titled Finding Zhao Gu, is an example. Author Jeff Gammage goes all magical thinking on us, with a healthy dose of orientalism and white savior stuff thrown in:

Before I knew there was a man named Ma Guoxing, I imagined his existence.

I wondered what he — or she — might look like, whether he was married or single, had children or not. Most of all I yearned to know the secrets that he, alone among millions in China, held within himself.

Sorry Jeff, but we’re not allowed to tell. No ancient Chinese secret for you!

But yesterday’s post really takes the cake. Writer Tama Janowitz wrote an oh-so-funny post about how all kids hate their parents, so therefore it’s ok to ignore all the critiques that center around race, culture and ethnicity:

A girlfriend who is now on the waiting list for a child from Ethiopia says that the talk of her adoption group is a recently published book in which many Midwestern Asian adoptees now entering their 30s and 40s complain bitterly about being treated as if they did not come from a different cultural background. They feel that this treatment was an attempt to blot out their differences, and because of this, they resent their adoptive parents.

So in a way it is kind of nice to know as a parent of a child, biological or otherwise – whatever you do is going to be wrong. Like I say to Willow: “Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”

And she says — as has been said by children since time immemorial — “So what, I don’t care. I would rather do that than be here anyway.”

Wow. Imagine what other you’d-better-be-grateful crap gets said in that household, even as “a joke?” And that deliberately unnamed book that she writes off as a bunch of whining? That’s actually the critically acclaimed Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption.

As if this post itself wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that comments from at least four 13 different adult adoptees and allies critical of Janowitz’s post have not been approved. (Check this post for the latest numbers – Jae Ran is updating every couple hours.) So not only does The New York Times refuse to include contributors who are critical of certain adoption practices, it seems that they won’t even let critical comments through the gate!

This begs the question: just what does The New York Times have against adult adoptees? Why does it believe that adult adoptees’ experiences are just not valid? Somebody over there really needs to read Jae Ran’s How to suppress discussions about transracial and transnational adoption.

For more on the NYT blog, see these posts:

Save one, win valuable prizes
Relative choices?
Nail? Meet hammers.
Racist M/Paternalism at its Best
Whoa. Hey. People — this isn’t ok
Shut Up, Tama Janowitz. Just shut up. And turn in your parenting license while you’re at it.
To Willow Janowitz: You’re not alone….
All The (Adoption) News That They See Fit To Print
A Comment About the Comments
The New York Times: Gatekeeper, Censor
Tama Janowitz, My Canidate for Mother of the Year
Tama Janowitz on NYT adoption blog
Fairness Doctrine
New York Times aka “the Adoption Police?”
censorship on new york times adoption blog
New York Times Adoption Blog Censoring Adult Adoptees
Where are the Outraged Parents here?
New York Times’ Adoption Blog Censors Adult Adoptees
Late to the Party
Surprise – The NY Times is filled with Red Thread Ladybug Arses
NYT Adoption Blog Salts Wounds In International Adoption Community
Adoptees Are Not Your Therapists
Appalling

Tama Janowitz, let me introduce you to
Dear Tama,
Willow’s day

NYT Relative Choices ~ Adoption & censorship?
“Either Chinese, or some black dude – who can remember?”
Dear Tama Janowitz

The Boston Globe highlights bloggers of color

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Check out this great Boston Globe article about bloggers of color who are fighting racial stereotypes and getting their voices heard in the mainstream media. The reporter spoke with me, Manish from Ultrabrown, and Baratunde from Jack and Jill Politics, and name-checked a whole bunch of other blogs: Angry Asian Man, The Angry Black Woman, Guanabee, The Unapologetic Mexican, Latino Pundit, Ultrabrown, Zuky, Sepia Mutiny, The Field Negro, Too Sense, and Resist Racism. Congrats everyone! :)

Here are some excerpts:

These intellectual challenges to mainstream and other viewpoints are some of the opinions Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander-American, and black bloggers are exposing on a growing number of sites focused on social, political, and cultural issues…

These sites – many of which launched in the past year, although a few are older – have become places where people of color gather to refine ideas or form thoughts about race relations, racial inequities, and the role pop culture has in exacerbating stereotypes. The writers often bring attention to subjects not yet covered by mainstream media. Some of these blogs first sounded the alarm about blacks receiving harsher jail sentences in the court system, an issue spotlighted in the Jena Six, Genarlow Wilson, and other cases. Vij was among the bloggers writing about the racial offensiveness of the accented South Asian character Apu in “The Simpsons” just before the big-screen version of the television show came out this year…

As bloggers make these corrections, they’ve become fresh voices in the very places that they feel ignore them. The subjects they write about sometimes become mainstream media stories. Vij and bloggers at Jack and Jill Politics and Racialicious, a compendium of links and original content about race issues, have appeared on CNN, the BBC, and NPR, and in The New York Times. These young people offer alternative opinions at a time when stories about race often result in sound bites from Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson…

Posts from Jack and Jill Politics and Ultrabrown occasionally appear on Racialicious, a blog that offers links to thought-provoking news stories or blog items about race and posts on various subjects from its 25 guest contributors and three regular contributors. The New York City-based creator of Racialicious, Carmen Van Kerckhove, launched the blog in 2004 as Mixed Media Watch. Her goal, as a biracial woman of Belgian and Chinese decent, was to spotlight how the media portrays mixed-race people and interracial couples. Last year Van Kerkhove relaunched Mixed Media Watch as Racialicious, because of her readers’ strong responses to posts analyzing race and pop culture. Now in addition to posts about racism in the video game industry or recent examples of the use of the noose for racial intimidation, Racialicious includes items analyzing TV shows such as “Prison Break” and “Heroes.”

Pop culture, says Van Kerckhove, 29, “really is instrumental in shaping our view of race. It helps introduce us to and helps confirm a lot of racial stereotypes. As TV shows and movies have become more diverse in terms of the race and ethnicity of the characters and actors, I think it becomes necessary to analyze that and not to uncritically celebrate the fact that there is more diversity on TV.”

Jezebel: Asian women are hot, smart, thin and tell you your skin is bad

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Today’s WTF moment.

Moe from Jezebel — who calls herself “practically Asian,” whatever that means — helpfully breaks down why men are so attracted to Asian women:

there are a few reasons some dudes prefer Asian women, and it starts with the fact that they are very rarely unattractive, and they are even more rarely stupid, and they are even more rarely than that fat. They have really nice skin and they’re not afraid to tell you yours looks bad.

No, no essentialist bullshit going on there.

Update: Wow the comments are really worth a read. Check out this one from JNOV:

I was out drinking with several guys, and here’s how they explained the attraction to me: Asian women have no body odor whatsoever, and cunnilingus is esp nice because they have no body odor. And I was like, “You think pussy smells bad? Good luck finding some.”

I have no idea if their claim is true or not. They may have been messing with me; I have a rep for being gullible.

Yes sweetie, it’s true. Asian pussies don’t smell. They also have a horizontal slit instead of vertical. If there are any other asinine racial myths you need me to confirm, just email me.