Tag Archives: diversity

Notes on Fostering Activism – Bringing Our Voices to the Page, Stage, and Screen

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

The Notes on Fostering Activism series is designed to open up dialogue regarding community action, activism, patterns of thought, and overlapping issues within various causes and communities. Some posts will deal with race, but some will not. All are encouraged to share their experiences – both here, and experiences in other social, cultural, or political communities.

In writing and researching the Cashmere Mafia piece, I ran across an article from Newsday (originally from the LA Times) titled “Diversity Issue Dogs Creators of New TV Shows.”

Written late last year, it appears that most of the story is still accurate:

HOLLYWOOD – Race relations are taking a starring role in several new culturally tinged series this fall. Fox’s “K-Ville,” ABC’s “Cavemen,” CBS’ “Cane” and The CW’s “Aliens in America” and “Life Is Wild” couldn’t be more different in incorporating cultural flavor. “Cane” examines the criminal dealings of a loving Cuban family, while “Aliens in America” is a satirical look at the prejudice that greets the arrival of a Pakistani student in a small town. “Life Is Wild” follows a white family that moves to Africa.

And “Cavemen” has been labeled by network president Stephen McPherson and ABC’s marketing department as a funny commentary about race relations with a “new minority group.” In one respect, the new shows are different from series already on the air, such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” that take place in a “color-blind” world, in that they will confront race, cultural pride and conflict directly.

But with all five shows, it’s not a person of color who will be steering that vision – as with much of network television, the series have white male show runners.

Show runners, like writers and producers, help to shape the final product we see hitting our screens every week. While the scribes for the show may have one idea for the direction and casting of the show, the show runners and lead producers also have input and sway and tend to make changes with impunity. Getting a perspective on race on television from one of them would be fascinating, right?

Unfortunately, the resounding answer from all the studio people in the the know will be a brusque “no comment:” Continue reading

Cashmere Mafia: A Little Sexy, A Little Ally, a Lot of What We’ve Seen Before

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Ah, we have tasted the crumbs and they are sweet.

(Well, at least compared to the increasingly unpalatable fare of reality TV.)

While Darren Star’s offering is derivative and all too reliant on Sex and the City style, there is just enough potential (read: there is some form of a script) to warrant me watching the next episode.

The Good

* Great visuals. Though a lot of the written jokes fell flat, the crew kept it going with the visual cues. There are a couple key scenes (Juliet and Mia with the glass of wine, the dramatic announcement at Zoe’s daughter’s recital) that play well due to the staging.

* Spotted! Looks like an Asian American guy does get to play the hottie for a while.

Actor Jack Yang signed on to play Doctor Jason Chun, a cute brain surgeon who is fixed up with Mia on a blind date. Think he’ll make it? (Warning: This link goes straight to a spoiler.)

Here’s to hoping he gets a fair chance to represent. Good luck Jack!

* Looks like minorities are going to get regular paychecks after all. I saw more people in varying shades of tan/brown in the first episode of Cashmere Mafia than I spotted on the entire first season of Sex and the City. According to IMDB, it looks like they will have continuing roles. Griffin Matthews (playing Patrick, Caitlin’s assistant), Lourdes Benedicto (playing Caitlin’s love interest), Purva Bedi (unnamed role, booked for three shows), all join Jack Yang for multiple episodes.

*The day to day (and some of the late night) fashion is fabulous. Lucy Liu’s black top in her deal clinching meeting, the bags, the black and white evening dress. Luckily, some people already got on this and found some cool pieces that replicate what was on the show.

The Bad

* The writing. The main writers for the show are listed as Kevin Wade (Maid in Manhattan, Meet Joe Black, Working Girl), Terri Minsky (Sex and the City, Lizzie MacGuire), and Jeff Rake. Now, I was skeptical checking out the male to female ratio on the writing staff and some of the credits, but I figured I needed to watch and see. And did we ever see. Continue reading

Page Skimming – Articles of Interest

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Hello.

My name is Latoya, and I am addicted to magazines.

While I am down from my addiction high of $75 a month on various glossies, I still tend to read far more magazines each month than I do books. Many of the periodicals I grab are imports – a brand new fashion mag from Japan, a graffiti magazine from Belgium, design tips from across the pond, an art magazine from the Bay Area that somehow made it to DC.

I would estimate I have about fifteen regular publications that I subscribe to or purchase, plus another five to ten that I randomly pick up off the newsstand. While I enjoy reading magazines, they tend to be a POC wasteland. With the exceptions of specialty publications like Essence or East West, there is not a lot of minority representation. So with that in mind, I present to you a quick list of things I enjoyed last month in hopes to turn people on to some new reading, and to highlight mentions of minorities in mainstream media.

East West Magazine

December/January Issue
www.eastwestmagazine.com

Comics Get Cultural: How Archie Comics and Other Well-Known Series are Diversifying to Better Mirror Today’s Reading Public (p. 31)

An interesting article about how the Archie comics have illustrated their first Asian character – Raj Patel. The piece features an section on Desi characters in the comic world, the character design for Raj, and criticism of character design and intent.

A Question of Identity: LGBT Asians Face Social and Cultural Isolation (p. 37)

This article primarily focuses on the issues LGBT Asians face when coming out. The article is told primarily through the perspectives of Asians who have immigrated to America, but it also contains many references to stateside support groups and online groups meant to show support around the globe.

Pink Magazine
November/December
www.pinkmagazine.com

Sex Change for the Better: Are We Treated Differently At Work Because We’re Women?

Fascinating article. While this doesn’t deal with race, it does deal with a minority group that is rarely heard from in the mainstream media. The article synopsis reads as follows:

PINK gets the truth from the only people who could possibly know for sure – those who have been both man and woman. Meet Donna Rose, a former jock who could bench press 300 pounds, who sometimes feels invisible as a woman. And Jillian Weiss, a lawyer who now gets more leeway from judges but more scrutiny from men at work.

The only quibble I had with the article is that there were no Female-to-Male transsexuals interviewed. I would have loved to hear that perspective as well, but the article still plays well. Continue reading

Is This Racist… Against Whites?

by Racialicious guest contributor Jennifer Fang, originally published at Reappropriate

Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown is causing a stir. A constituent of his saw this diversity video and thought it was racist – against Whites — and Councilman Brown agrees.

(The full video is 8 minutes long and available for download here)

Brown thinks that the video attacks blue-collar workers in Denver, because it “implies that it is only White, blue-collar workers who commit these kinds of statements”.

On a segment aired on CNN during Primetime with Erica Hill (linked above), Councilman Brown and Stephen Viscusi, a radio host of a show called “On the Job” discuss the video. Both Brown and Viscusi argue that the segment perpetuates an antiquated interpretation of racism by not showing joksters of different colours and creeds. However, Brown further argues that even showing the kinds of jokes highlighted in this video is embarassing and anachronistic, and that nobody even talks like that anymore — which is so out-of-touch with reality that it’s hard to imagine that this guy ever got elected to anything.

The message seems to be from the discussion that diversity training will embarass Whites unless they see that minorities can be racist, too.

I’m sorry, but I call bullshit. While it’s true that the video is kind of kitschy, it shows one White person — in an office where the only person of colour is the Black narrator whom no one else can see — making offensive jokes while the other White co-workers look on disapprovingly. So to argue that the video sends the message that all White blue-collar workers are racist is, I think, not looking at the video in its entirety.

Second, I’m strongly against the idea that racist jokes perpetuated by Whites against people of colour (or other minorities) is the same — and should be treated the same — as jokes spoken by a person of colour against someone else. They are all racist (and probably un-funny) and should not be tolerated, but let’s not forget the whole concept of oppression and power.

But, hey, this is a post dashed off in ten minutes, so my thoughts might still not be fully formed (or at least not well articulated). What do you all think?

Harvard students call cops upon seeing black people

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Wow. This is priceless. Thanks Wayne for the tip! From Gawker:

—–

This weekend, on the bucolic Quad at Harvard University—typically, the site of a casual game of Ultimate, or perhaps an afternoon reading of some Shakespearean sonnets before English class—an unusual and, to some, frightening scene was played out. There were people throwing things! And running! And jumping! And most scary of all, every single one of them was black. So the Harvard students watching from their dormitory windows, growing increasingly agitated at the sights below, did what any normal, white Harvard student would do when they saw a large, seemingly unruly group of black people: They called the cops!

Except, well, oops—turns out it was just the Harvard Black Men’s Forum and Association of Black Harvard Women:

As members of the groups played games of dodgeball and capture-the-flag in the Quad as part of the annual “BMF-ABHW Challenge,” Cabot House residents fired off a string of impassioned e-mails questioning students’ presence on the public lawn—and whether they were students at all. Eventually, the Harvard University Police Department was called about the commotion, and officers asked the students to “keep the noise down,” according to police spokesman Steven G. Catalano.

Perhaps croquet would have been more appropriate?

Should Isaiah Washington be fired?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Update: Lyonside totally called it. They just announced that Washington entered some kind of rehab. Um… for what, exactly? This story just gets more and more bizarre.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the controversy surrounding the actor Isaiah Washington, who plays Dr. Preston Burke on the hit show Grey’s Anatomy. If you’re not familiar with the story, you can read a pretty detailed account of the events so far in this New York Times story.

So what do you think? Should Washington be fired for his homophobic slur? If Washington wasn’t black, would ABC have moved more quickly? If the situation had involved a white actor calling his castmate the n-word, would things be any different? I don’t mean to play oppression olympics here, of course, I just think there are some very interesting race implications in this story worth exploring.

I also can’t believe that Washington had the balls to tell an outright lie in front of all his coworkers and the international press corps. People who are so comfortable lying, even when they know that everyone knows they’re lying, have always amazed me. I used to work for a woman like that, and she’d always put me in these incredibly awkward positions where I had to choose between revealing her lie or having everyone think that I wasn’t doing my job.