Tag Archives: interracial relationships

Rendition humanizes Arabs

by guest contributor Manish, originally published at Ultrabrown

The new movie Rendition is more interesting for what it is than how it runs. It’s the first fictional film about the U.S. kidnapping-and-torture program, which began under Clinton but was expanded massively under Bush. It’s the first mainstream movie I’ve seen which gives Arabs and Arabic large amounts of humanizing screen time (the protagonist is an Egyptian-American who went to college in the States). And it’s the latest in this year’s wave of whistleblower movies against Dubya’s assault on American liberty.

Mired in noble savage stereotypes, the movie is more earnest than subtle. Moa Khouas, the Arab Romeo, looks like a brown James Franco, but most of the Arab characters are more archetypes than people.

The plot’s central Capulets and Montagues romantic coincidence is Rushdie-esque, a synthetic conceit for the sake of a more interesting story. It’s not a bad movie, just a slow and obvious one, never more so than in a scene where the magnetic Peter Sarsgaard needles CIA muckamuck Meryl Streep with the Constitution, and she responds with 9/11.

The movie is A Mighty Heart in reverse, where the kidnappers are the U.S. government rather than Al Qaeda terrorists. You’ve got the same pretty, pregnant wife embedded in a labyrinthine search for her handsome, intelligent husband. Reese Witherspoon isn’t given much screen direction beyond playing a grieving wife. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character may be suffering from post-traumatic stress sufferer, but the actor sleepwalks through the movie.

This movie was directed by Gavin Hood, the South African who did Tsotsi. The plotting uses the now-familiar Rashomon device of connecting subplots via a single climactic event. One of the subplots is unexpectedly time-shifted, which is great fun.

But the real-life issue is far more significant than the film: the president claims he can legally kidnap anyone around the world, jail him forever without trial, witness or evidence, and have him tortured. It shocks the conscience. Here’s an actual Dubya quote. I can’t figure out whether it’s duplicitous or just feeble-minded:

Q: What’s your definition of the word ‘torture’?

Dubya: That’s defined in U.S. law, and we don’t torture.

Q: Can you give me your version of it, sir?

Dubya: Whatever the law says. [Link]

With no sunlight and no trial, mistakes are inevitable:

  • We had Maher Arar wrongly arrested and tortured. We refuse to apologize. We refuse to take him off the no-fly list.
  • We had Khaled al-Masri wrongly arrested and tortured. We refuse to apologize. We refuse to pay him compensation.
  • We threatened to have the innocent Abdallah Higazy’s family tortured in Egypt:

… [The FBI agent] told him that he should cooperate, and explained that if Higazy did not cooperate, the FBI would make his brother “live in scrutiny” and would “make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell.” … [The agent] knew how the Egyptian security forces operated: “that they had a security service, that their laws are different than ours, that they are probably allowed to do things in that country… probably about torture, sure…” [Higazy said:] “Saddam’s security force–as they later on were called his henchmen–a lot of them learned their methods and techniques in Egypt; torture, rape…” [Link]

And to think America was founded precisely because of this kind of limp-dickery.

Know Your Place, Woman: BET’s Meet the Faith on Black Marriage

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

[Warning: Long post. You might want to grab a snack...]

BET has been dead to me for a while now.

I would have to say I stopped watching BET in high school. With the occasional channel flick to check out music videos, nothing on BET interested me. Not 106 and Park, not BET Nightly News. Nothing.

So imagine my surprise when my best friend called me up and told me to turn on BET, like ASAP.

“They are talking about the state of black marriage!” she yelled, then hung up the phone.

I flipped over to the channel, fearing the worst.

On BET’s Meet the Faith, host Dr. Ian Smith hosted an honest and forthcoming discussion about marriage in the African-American community.

From the tone of the panel to the how the subject matter was covered, it is obvious that we have a long way to go.

The show was set up with two short segments – one black woman’s testimony about marrying outside of the race and an attorney’s venture into blind dating, along with BET personality Cheming interviewing people on the street about their thoughts and feelings about marriage.

The main event, however, was the panel discussion. Ian Smith hosted the discussion, and the featured guests were Dr. Tiy-E Muhammed (billed as an Author and Relationship Expert), Lauren Lake (a legal analyst) and Thomas Lopez-Pierre, Owner of the Harlem Club.

Automatically, I am put on edge. What kind of conversation happens in a 2-on-1 setting? One would at least imagine you would put an equal number of guests when discussing matters of gender.

Some key quotes from the discussion (and a little bit of my reactions) are as follows:

“Black men don’t want a partner, they want wives.” — Lopez-Pierre

It should be noted that Lake jumped all over him for making this assertion. Lopez-Pierre went on to argue that a partner indicates an equal. While I could not catch everything he said (which is why I can’t quote this part), he stated that having an equal or a partner basically means he has to respect the time of his partner, which would mean he would need to do things to help out like make dinner, or clean the house, which is something he refuses to do. Ergo, he wants a wife – not a partner. Lopez-Pierre talks about his relationship with his wife as an example. It is interesting to see where he draws the distinction – a partner is someone you have to pay attention to, a wife is a person who accommodates her man. This perspective is revisited later in the broadcast. Continue reading

What do you get if you google the word interracial?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Well, the #1 search result is not safe for work, that’s for sure.

So the question is: why are people so fascinated by interracial sex?

Let me tell you a quick story.

I was at a conference a couple of years ago and during one of the breaks, a man came up to me and started chatting.

“What are you speaking about today?” he asked, since my nametag identified me as one of the featured speakers at the conference.

“Interracial relationships,” I replied.

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, his whole manner changed. Instead of being polite and respectful, he started leering and smirking.

“Is this based on personal experience?” he asked in a low, suggestive tone.

Actually my workshop was all about debunking myths and ripping apart stereotypes. But the minute he heard me say the word “interracial,” all he could think about was sex.

Why are people so fascinated by interracial sex?

I answer this question and many others in my audio seminar, “Not Just Fetishists and Race Traitors: Challenging the Ways We View Interracial Relationships.

Order it today:
http://www.newdemographic.com/IR.htm

If you decide the seminar didn’t provide you with the insight you were looking for, you can contact me within 56 days and I’d be happy to refund you 100% of the cost.

Warmly,

Carmen

PS: Don’t worry, the audio seminar costs less than your weekly Starbucks habit. :)

PPS: If you prefer text to audio, you can order the e-book instead. It’s a PDF file that you can either read on the screen or print out and take with you.

Craigslist Personals: Desperately Seeking Diversity Training

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

I’ve always liked reading personal ads. Even when I was a little girl, I would check out the back of the paper in hopes of finding a boyfriend for my widowed mom, and in the meantime, made an attempt to figure out what was going on in the minds of grown-ups as they searched for someone with whom to live “happily ever after.” There were certain acronyms and terms used in the ads that I didn’t quite understand at a young age (i.e. NSA: no strings attached or BBW: big beautiful woman), but for the most part, I thought I had a handle on what I was taking in at my elementary school reading level. It wasn’t until I became a bit older that I began to notice an interesting trend: personal ads are riddled with messages, some more subtle than others, on how people feel about race, ethnicity, and nationality.

With the emergence of the internet, I abandoned the paper and began perusing online ads, some of which read more like military code than personal descriptions: “SWF BBW in NYC seeks 30 – 35 y.o. D&D free S or D H/W/B/A/M for NSA BSDM ASAP in area codes 10003, 100019, and 10011. You must host. Pics? STR.” While these types of ads make virtual bulletin boards appear cluttered, others are well-written, funny, romantic, and/or so outlandish that they are hard to ignore. Sites like Craigslist became popular resources for finding any and every thing, from apartments and pets to jobs and vacation rentals. The personal ads were no different. Considering the privacy feature of anonymous posting in order to protect one’s identity, the personal ads serve as e-snapshots of candid thought—inside peaks into what the people I encounter on a daily basis may think of themselves, but, more importantly, how they view the world around them.

I checked the CL personals about as often as I checked for apartments, or, in other words, every five seconds, even though I wasn’t really looking for anything heavy duty in the love department and happened to be quite satisfied with my Brooklyn 2-bedroom and its 14 month lease. Reading the personals was a perfect way to find a little piece of reality TV-esque drama without all the heavy editing, good lighting, and stage makeup. The ads were frank, the boards were frequently updated, and the content never failed to amuse me, but behind all the fun, there was an underbelly of racism. This came as a bit of a surprise considering that so many of the CL posters were young, educated, and lived in diverse and densely populated urban environments—all oft-cited demographic factors in the commonly held belief that racism is on its way out. Though politicians, institutions of higher learning, and Ward Connerly would like for us to believe that the United States is on its way to becoming a colorblind utopia, a simple examination of Craigslist personal ads proves quite the opposite.

In the world of online dating, where a user name, masked email address, and optional photo sharing means freedom to speak ones mind in complete anonymity, users frequently abandon political correctness and resort to exotification, stereotypes, and blatant racism when referring to racial/ethnic “others” in their attempts to choose a mate. While some ads include the user’s thoughts on race in more subtle ways, for example, simply stating a racial “preference” (still, arguably, a sign of prejudice), others are more obvious in their descriptions—ranging from the utilization of explicitly racist phrases or terms to describe his/her own background and/or the background of the person being sought to downright exclusion a la Jim Crow style (“No -insert race here- need apply”).

I examined New York Craigslist personals for a week straight, mainly focusing on the basic m4m, f4m, m4m, and f4f ads as the prevalence of racist epithets/hate speech was so common in the “casual encounters” and “rants and raves” sections that I’d have to write an entirely separate article to cover them. In order to find data, I simply typed in a group (i.e. “Asian,” “white,” “black”) in the search box and let the magic happen. Here were some of my favorites (organized by search term) from my early set of results (please ignore the typos…I have left them in their original form):

  • WHITE: “I’m looking for a nice all American woman…Tell me about yourself and what you do, etc. I’m not picky about age, older is fine with me. White Irish or Italian is my preference, not into Latin women. . .”

Hmmm . . . an “All-American” woman who is of Irish or Italian background. . . Can anyone say “contradiction”? Is he not just saying that “All-American” equates to white, and that “Latin women” are nowhere close? Continue reading

The 10 biggest race and pop culture trends of 2006: Part 1 of 3

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

On episode 12 of Addicted to Race back in January 2006, Jen and I counted down the top trends of the previous year, 2005. They were: DNA tests, hate crimes, celebrities talk about race, how can I be racist? I’m in an interracial relationship!, blackface is back, race still black and white only, more products for mixed people and families.

I figured I’d continue that tradition by breaking down the top trends in race and pop culture of 2006. Thanks to everyone who submitted their ideas. Here are some honorable mentions that didn’t make it into my list as stand-alone items, though you’ll see that almost all will be mentioned as part of other items: non-apologies, anti-PC movement, comparing races, un-PC humor, all things Africa, black and gay half-brothers on sitcoms.

And by the way, be sure to check out Rachel’s Been There Done That List of Unfashionable Racial Issues and I’m So Hot I’m on Fire List of The Most Fashionable Racial Trends of 2006 .

So here we go with numbers 10 through 8 of my list. Check back tomorrow for 7 through 4, and Wednesday for the top 3.

10. Race-swapping undercover experiments
9. Hipster racism
8. The continuing obsession with interracial relationships

10. Race-swapping undercover experiments

TV during the first quarter of 2006 was all about undercover experiments, so much so that I actually wrote a post about it in late February. (And the queen of undercover experiments was undoubtedly Miss Tyra Banks.)

Not all of these experiments had to with race:

  • Tyra Banks goes undercover in a fatsuit to examine prejudice against overweight people
  • Journalist Norah Vincent goes undercover as a man and writes the book Self-Made Man : One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back
  • Tyra Banks dons “trashy clothes, a latex nose and a wig to disguise herself as a sexy dancer and took a secret film crew into a strip club” to expose the “sleazy world of strippers and pole dancers.”

But a great many of them were all about race:

  • The most notorious example was the reality series Black.White. on FX, in which a white family put on blackface and a black family put on whiteface to see what it was like living as a different “race.” As you can imagine, it was festival of racial stereotypes in which nobody learned anything constructive about anything.
  • Tyra Banks sends a black woman (who on a previous show declared she hated black women) out in whiteface to try and get at “the root of her hate.” She also sent the black/white mixed writer Angela Nissel (whom I interviewed on episode 24 of Addicted to Race) on dates “both as a black woman and as a white women to see if they treat her differently.”
  • Even Oprah got in on the race-swapping fun when she entered “The Human Race Machine” to see “what she looks like white? Asian? Hispanic?” Ugh!

Sometimes the race-swapping wasn’t done in an undercover fashion, but simply by putting a black person in a white community or a white person in a black community (because you know, those are the only two races that count on TV).

  • Dr. Phil did a god-awful episode about race in which he forced a white racist to spend two whole days with a black family in an effort to “cure” him of his racism. You can my rant about it in episode 13 of Addicted to Race.
  • Trading Spouses did an episode in which the Josephs (a black family from Harlem, NYC) and the Gibbons (a white family from Mendon, Massachusetts) swapped spouses.

Continue reading

Video from The Charlatans UK: Asian woman sells body to support white boyfriend

by guest contributor Kevin

Here is a new high concept video by the band The Charlatans UK called “Blackened Blue Eyes” being aired nationally. The lead female role is played by an Asian woman. You’ll never guess what role she plays. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the pimp role or the john role. If you guessed anything more prestigious than a prostitute… well, you’re headed for disappointment.

The archetype of the eager to please Asian woman doing anything for her charmingly reckless white suitor has become a celebrated ideal of oriental romanticism. Pursued by evil Chinese thugs, who (surprisingly) are easily swayed by the almighty dollar, one would assume any reasonable woman would leave her dirtbag pimp-boyfriend. Not so for this Asian woman. She seems to suggest that despite being a whore and getting slapped around by her customers… there are worse things in life? Probably things like a stifling Asian culture and cold Asian men who are always accused of… treating their women like property?

The moral of the story: Stand by your white man, even if he whores you out for money.

If you’re reading this in an RSS reader and can’t view the video, please click on the link title.

Interracial awkardness on TBS’s My Boys

by guest contributor Stella Q

my boys tbs I am warming up to My Boys, a by-the-numbers, sitcom-ish TBS series about PJ, a cute tomboy navigating life as only a twentysomething can. The gimmick is that her friends are exclusively guys (all white and straight) with whom she talks sports, plays poker and generally hangs out. Her best (and only) girlfriend Stephanie is her polar opposite–a girly, high maintenance African-American woman she met in J-school. (Still not clear what said best friend writes about, but our tomboy is, of course, a sports writer.)

Anyway, in one of the first episodes, which you can access on-line, PJ wants to set up Stephanie with this African-American guy who is into sports and poker, i.e. the stuff that PJ lives for. Turns out that the African American guy is more interested in PJ (which makes sense, since, well, they’re both into sports and poker). After PJ tells Stephanie this, the dialogue (paraphrased) goes something like this:

Steph: Why did you set us up?
PJ: Because he’s a great guy!
Steph: Because he’s black?
PJ: (starting to look flustered): Er..
Steph: (interrupting) Have you ever dated a black guy?
PJ: (overcompensating for obvious discomfort by raising her voice enthusiastically) No, but I can’t wait to date a black guy!

And then the conversation reverts to the more innocuous rationale that PJ just wanted Stephanie to date someone PJ actually liked, and PJ was afraid of losing Stephanie to the kind of loser, I-banker douchebag Stephanie probably always dates, etc.

Anyway, thought this was a pretty realistic slice of life, and I would love to see this go somewhere. The episode is called “Team Chemistry.”