Tag Archives: ghetto-parties

The 10 biggest race and pop culture trends of 2006: Part 2 of 3

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m continuing my series breaking down the top trends in race and pop culture of 2006. So here we go with numbers 7 through 4 of my list. Check back tomorrow for the top 3, and if you missed it, check out yesterday’s trends 10 through 8.

7. The new minstrel show
6. Racism on college campuses
5. Fear of a Latino takeover
4. The return of the white man’s burden

7. The new minstrel show

North Carolina hip hop group Little Brother titled its late 2005 release The Minstrel Show, and they couldn’t have been more prescient because minstrelsy made a huge comeback in 2006 in all forms of media: movies, television, music and even the internet.

  • MOVIES: Tyler Perry made a killing by cashing in on the public’s love for black men in dresses. Diary of a Mad Black Woman was nominated for an NAACP Image Award (yeah, I know) and its sequel, Madea’s Family Reunion, opened No. 1 at the box office with $30 million.
  • TV: Flava Flav, the new millenium’s Stepin Fetchit, ruled reality TV in 2006. The March finale of his VH1 show Flavor of Love drew 6 million viewers, making it the highest-rated show ever for the cable channel. And when the show returned in early August, 3 million people tuned in for the premiere. But Flavor of Love is just the tip of the iceberg in Viacom’s not-so-classy depictions of black folks, as I outlined in this post. In November we heard a rumor that BET was going to start a reality show starring Bobby Brown and Karrine “Superhead” Steffans (author of Confessions of a Video Vixen). And TV commercials continued to rely on the archetype of the big black sassy mammy for humor.
  • MUSIC: Byron Crawford really nailed it when he wrote: “Flush with revenue from the likes of Mike Jones’ Who Is Mike Jones?, the Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song),” Three-Six Mafia’s Academy Award-winning theme to Hustle and Flow, and D4l’s “Laffy Taffy,” record labels are rushing out to sign the most coon-like negros they can find.” Cases in point: DJ Webstar and Young B’s Chicken Noodle Soup, Ms Peachez’ Fry That Chicken, but perhaps the most egregious example is Jibbs’ Chain Hang Low, which is set to an actual minstrel tune known as “Zip Coon” or “Turkey in the Straw.” No subtlety there. And don’t forget the ongoing tradition on The Maury Show known as the Not a Baby Daddy Dance. Of course, rapper NYOIL tried to address the minstrelsy problem in hip hop with his problematic and controversial video, Y’all Should All Get Lynched. See varying analyses of this video here and here. Continue reading

Blackface at Texas A&M: dialogue, not just condemnation, is needed

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

blackface texas A&MWe’ve documented the upward rise in blackface and “ghetto party” incidents extensively on this blog, but I’m still amazed by how prevalent it is, and how it seems to be spreading faster than ever, especially on college campuses.

The latest blackface incident comes from Texas A&M (thanks Sandra!). Two white students made a video in which one of them was supposed to be a “slave” being disciplined by the other one. You can view a clip of it here (you’ll have to sit through a few commercials first). Here’s the description of the tape from ABC News:

On the tape, the white student in blackface is disciplined by a second white student playing the role of a slave master with a belt. Professors say the white student is carrying a “12th Man Towel,” a symbol of how Texas A&M fans help the football team. In the three-and-a-half minute tape, the student in blackface is put through a mock whipping and sexual assault.

University spokespeople don’t want to confirm that the students involved were disciplined, but they did say that both students are no longer enrolled at the school. Texas A&M President Robert Gates (about to leave the post to be the new Secretary of Defense) also issued a statement saying that the video is “so utterly disgusting that, regardless of race, religion, or background, I believe virtually any member of our Aggie family would be outraged and ashamed if they viewed it.”

It’s good that the responses have been unambiguously condemnatory, but at the end of the day, condemning these actions won’t bring about any real change.

I hope that Texas A&M will learn something from Whitman College (thanks Lyonside!). There was an outcry among the student body when photos were found of students who put on blackface to mimic the racially segregated cast of “Survivor: Cook Islands” at an off-campus party.

Instead of merely denouncing this act, Whitman College cancelled classes for an entire day and organized a full-day symposium on race relations which every single student had to attend.

And this wasn’t some lame “we are the world,” “there’s no race but the human race” crapfest. Take a look at the agenda. Some of the panels and workshops included:

  • The History of Blackface
  • Creepy Fun, Complicit Thoughtlessness, and Taking Action
  • On Being White in A Racist Society: A Workshop on Becoming An Effective Ally
  • Individual vs. Institutional Discrimination
  • “I’m Not a Racist”: Feigning Moral Blindness
  • Race, Class and Gender in Outdoor Sports and Institutions; AKA “Why is it Always White Dudes Leading Trips?”
  • The History of Race in the Greek System

Wow. Now that demonstrates a commitment to diversity.

I sincerely hope that Texas A&M, and all the other schools that have experienced similar incidents, will look to Whitman as an example of what to do. Condemning these racist acts is important. But at the end of the day, if the perpetrator doesn’t understand why what he/she did was wrong or offensive, nothing is going to change.

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