Tag Archives: journalism

The Racialicious Links Roundup 3.14.13

When we talk about Native American mascots, we are talking about the entanglements of race and gender. It is easy to forget this, to prize race and racism over gender, sexuality, and (hetero)sexism. In fact, most media coverage and nearly every public conversation about the subject let gender slip, typically narrowing the focus to issues like intention, honor, offensiveness, and sentiments. I say this, I know this, and I even slipped at a recent symposium devoted to the use of Indianness and sport held at the National Museum of the American Indian, failing to make plain, let alone raise, the centrality of these entanglements.[1] This, then, is a reminder and a rejoinder, a small insistence on the importance of intersectionality.

My assertion should not surprise, for mascots (whether anchored in Indianness or not), like sport more generally, have long prized masculinity, celebrating physical prowess, aggression, and dominance. In the USA, moreover, sport has always pivoted around discourses of white supremacy and thus has had a place in broader struggles over race and power. The play of sport and its replay in fan banter, media coverage, corporate marketing, and so on have taken the white man as its defining and ideal subject, rendering racial others as lesser, expendable, and transgressive and women as abject, supplemental, and misplaced. Recent happenings at the NFL offer glimpses of this pattern: the rather overt interrogation of male sexuality, rumors and reportage of suspect character, and the mocking of the first female to participate. White men remain the default subject in sport worlds—actor, interpreter, and audience. And mascots reflect this.

Two Asian students reported that they were walking in the dining hall at the college’s ’53 Commons student union Wednesday when a white student “walked by them, made eye contact and verbally harassed them by speaking in gibberish seemingly meant to mock Chinese,” college spokesman Justin Anderson said in an email.

The incident is under investigation, Anderson said.

A forum for members of the Dartmouth community to discuss the incident is scheduled today from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is closed to the public.

The allegations come just days after racist graffiti was discovered in a campus dorm over the weekend; somebody had scrawled the “n word” on a student’s whiteboard, Dean Charlotte Johnson reported earlier this week. The college held a forum in response to the graffiti on Monday.

The Dartmouth reported that Safety and Security director Harry Kinne said during the forum part of the message “appeared to be directed towards that individual, and it was a racist statement.” (The Valley News was asked to leave that event because it was closed to college outsiders.)

I’m only telling you this to make it clear that there’s no such thing as a “view from nowhere” — that weird mainstream media orthodoxy that holds that the perfect journalist, the ideal journalist, can only discover truth by adopting a posture of invisibility, that the perfect journalist should be little more than a human recorder himself — always himself, because this perfect reporter is invariably imagined as male, usually as a middle-class white dude from an English-speaking country. Those are the only people whose race and class and gender and nationality ever get to be “invisible,” whose views get to be from “nowhere,” because they are everywhere.

That’s just one of the reasons that in-the-field investigative journalism jobs are still given mostly to white men — even if they’ve never visited the country in question and don’t speak the language, editors still trust those people to tell the story over and above local reporters. The net result of all this is that anyone who isn’t a white, heteronormative Western man has to fight doubly hard not to get stuck in an office rewriting press releases — on this, trust me.

The whole notion of the “view from nowhere,” the idea of completely objective reporting that’s supposed to be the gold standard of journalistic practice in America in particular, is of course utter hogwash. Every view comes from somewhere, and who you are as a writer, reporter, filmmaker or blogger changes how people behave in your presence. It changes what they say to you; it changes whether they speak to you at all. That’s as true for your average white dude reporter as it is for anyone else, and it matters even if you don’t care a bit about equal representation in the media industry. It matters because the fallacy of bland and faceless reporting hurts journalism, by allowing bias and prejudice to masquerade as hands-off objectivity, by giving reporters license not to be honest about how their outlook affects their output.

A recent Time article titled “The Pay Gap Is Not as Bad as You (and Sheryl Sandberg) Think” suggests that women are either somehow at fault or to blame for earning less than a male for the same job with the same skills, citing that women make poor career choices– choosing jobs that pay less than ones selected by men. Women on average earn less than men for comparable jobs – 77 cents in 2012 for every dollar a man earns. Past studies account for job choices and compare similar jobs in citing the pay differences between men and women. The reason that women are paid less than a man for equal work and experience is discriminatory and for no other reason. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women’s salaries are outpaced by men almost everywhere from the highest paying occupations to the lowest paying occupations. Everywhere from doctors and lawyers to cashiers and lesser positions, women earn less than their male counterparts.

Even more disturbing in the pay equity debate is the fact that women of color earn even less than their white counterparts. Time ‘s article fails to discuss that women of color are at an even greater disadvantage in terms of pay equity. African-American women earn 64 cents to the dollar of what men earn. And Hispanic women make only 55 cents to every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man earns. The focus should be on those at the bottom of the ladder and not the ones with a college education. The loss in income for all women due to the pay gap means less money to support a family, with housing, food, education and health care. But for women of color, closing the pay gap is of even greater importance.

I cringed when I saw that you “dressed up as a Native American.” While some have called your decision “risqué,” I’d call it deeply offensive. Still, I was going to ignore your foolish costume until I saw a recent interview in which you shared your inspiration for Oz the Great and Powerful. In it, you compared Natives to Munchkins, and I knew then that this letter was necessary. What you’ve said and done is not only disrespectful—it’s dangerous. I hope you’ll read through this letter and think twice before once again choosing to participate in actions that preserve deeply racist convictions in popular culture.

By wearing a braided wig and donning feathers, and calling that “Native American” in a photo shoot, you’re perpetuating the lazy idea that Natives are all one and the same. Because you were born and spent your childhood in Montana, I expected more from you. Montana is home to seven reservations, where Natives from more than a dozen state or federally recognized tribes and nations reside—each with its own history, culture and language.

The United States federally recognizes and has established government-to-government ties with nearly 600 Native nations. And while these nations share in common that they constitute the people who descend from the continent’s original inhabitants, they are otherwise unique (and not one of those nations wears braided wigs and feathers as if to represent their people). By dressing up as an imaginary Native, you’re working to conceal both the history and the presence of real ones.

Even decades after San Francisco’s late disco icon Sylvester made the entire world feel mighty real, he’s still capable of pulling in observers with his sheer magnetism. In fact, he was the initial draw for curator Byron Mason when he volunteered to put together the exhibition “Legendary: African American GLBT Past Meets Present” for the GLBT Historical Society‘s museum.

“I didn’t know much about the historical society, but I knew they had some of Sylvester’s estate,” says activist Mason, 40, who also works at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at UCSF as the research partnerships director. “I thought to myself, ‘If I could see some of his stuff, that would make the exhibit well worth it.’ ”

Sylvester, who died in 1988 at 41 of AIDS-related illness, does take center stage in the small, artifact-laden display, in the form of one of his sequined, custom-made performance ensembles – the cloak bedazzled with burgundy pinwheel fireworks, the beret bedecked with jaunty feathers.

Want To Land A Knight Fellowship?

Calling all journalists, documentary filmmakers, freelancers, and media makers of color!

And hey Racialicious crew! It’s been a while. I know I have a million and one things to write about. I still have to write my “Coming to Stanford” post, a post about Argo, finish the Octavia Butler book club, and some hanging posts about fandom, film, and Afro-Asiatic allegories.  And I won’t even tell you my Knight to-do list because it is starting to give me hives.  But if you are even thinking of maybe applying to this awesome fellowship, please join us on a call Tuesday.  The details (that I conveniently snatched from the NABJ Digital blog):

Join the NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force, along with the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Hispanic Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association for a conference call on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time to discuss the application process for the 2013-14 class of John S. Knight Journalism Fellows at Stanford University.  The program is actively seeking a more diverse talent pool and is reaching out to journalists of color.  The call will feature one current and two past Knight fellows:

Knight Fellowships director Jim Bettinger will give an overview of the program and introduce the fellows. The fellows will discuss their application process, the work they did during their 10 months at Stanford and offer tips for those who may consider applying.  We’ll then open it up to questions.
The call will be recorded for those who can’t make the live call. You can also tweet your questions to @NABJDigital or email questions to auntbenet AT Gmail DOT com.Dial-in Number: 1-213-226-0400
Conference code: 878554

Application link: http://knight.stanford.edu/news-notes/2012/be-a-knight-fellow-applications-now-open/

I also want to point out that The John S. Knight Fellowships is currently kicking ass on diversity, as reported by Richard Prince:

Less than a week after the Knight journalism fellowships program at Stanford University chose a fellowship class comprising more than half journalists of color, the Nieman fellowships at Harvard University announced an incoming class that appears to be devoid of African Americans. [...] In the current Nieman class, Jonathan Blakley, an African American foreign desk producer at NPR, is the only U.S. journalist of color.

But it could always be better. So please, come hang on the call.  And if you are worried that you aren’t quite right for this fellowship, I encourage you to reconsider.   I’ve put my journalistic bio under the jump, the one I actually submitted. And my fellow Fellows include filmmakers, comic artists, bloggers, and one awesome person who was basically running “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” for famous Arabs. Your idea is the most important thing here. So go check it out.  And if you have questions, jump on the call.   Continue reading

Must Read: Jessica Colotl’s DREAM and Legal Reality

Jessica Colotl: Eye Of The Storm is a twelve page comic exploring one of thousands of stories behind the DREAM act. The description:

Jessica Colotl is an undocumented immigrant who was brought to America as a child – and who now faces deportation. Reporter Ryan Schill and artist Greg Scott bring to life the story that has become a flash point for America’s immigration debate. This comic was produced in cooperation with the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. It is available in Spanish here.

Un-ringing The Bell: Elle France And Obama Style

By Fashion Correspondent Joseph Lamour

Thanks to the Obamas are in order, fellow African Americans! Black people–like me!–can look in a closet and not immediately reach for the saggy jeans and other “street wear codes.”

At least, according to Elle France.

For the first time, the chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged [only] to its street wear codes…

-Nathalie Dolivo, in French Elle
Tendance [Trend] – Black Fashion Power

Nathalie Dolivo, a writer for the magazine’s blog, seems to think that since the Obamas are so fashion-forward, they serve as a public forum to inspire African Americans to dress more fashionably in 2012. First of all, lady, this is the fourth year of Barack’s term. You’re a little late with this intensely racist idea, aren’t you?

That’s not even the worst of it. Dolivo goes so far as to coin the term, and this hurts me to type it, “black-geoisie”.  Now, we really should institute a “Sh-t Fashion Magazines Say” to add to the hundreds of others on YouTube. We have a wealth of material to work from. First we had Slave Earrings. Then we had the whole Rihanna, N*ggabitch debacle. To which Rihanna herself replied with a heartfelt “F*CK YOU”. And now this. It seems like American magazines are on their best behavior! Good work.

Dolivo uses a picture of Janelle Monae in the post to show how far we’ve come from over-sized pants, but Monae is a musician who’s particular style existed since her music was first released in 2003, well before this “black fashion renaissance” (Dolivo’s words, not mine) was to have taken place. And of course, much before public consumption as well.

The post has since been removed from Elle France’s website. Without an apology, I believe the magazine is hoping they can deny the post was published–or published in error, at least , if caught (too late for that!). Elle, you can’t un-ring a bell.

MSNB-See Ya!: Pat Buchanan Might Finally Be Off Our Televisions … For Now

By Arturo R. García

Last fall, MSNBC told Pat Buchanan to go have fun selling his new book. Today, it looks more likely the network changed the locks behind him.

The network’s president, Phil Griffin, was content to leave Buchanan twisting in the wind this past weekend, when he told The New York Times,“The ideas he put forth aren’t really appropriate for national dialogue, much less the dialogue on MSNBC.”

Of course, it’s been apparent for years that Buchanan’s views weren’t “appropriate” for any place outside of the right-wing fringe. But despite what Griffin said, his latest book might not have been the only factor in his apparent dismissal.

It’s not like Griffin had any room to be surprised by Buchanan’s latest round of printed bile, called Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? Really, it’s the same tune he’s been singing since the 1970s. Because not much separates this speech:

There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself. For this war is for the soul of America. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton & Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. And so to the Buchanan Brigades out there, we have to come home and stand beside George Bush.

From this passage in Superpower:

If that is what a nation is, can we truly say America is still a nation? The European and Christian core of our country is shrinking. The birth rate of our native born has been below replacement level for decades. By 2020, deaths among white Americans will exceed births, while mass immigration is altering forever the face of America.

At every turn, Buchanan has blamed the same groups of people – immigrants, LGBT people, Jewish people – for, in his mind, sullying his idea of what America should be. During his political career, the press at large gave giving Buchanan a wide berth, according to Slate:

Since Buchanan first ran for president in 1992, the press has largely treated him as a legitimate candidate rather than an extremist canker on American politics, á la David Duke or Louis Farrakhan. Part of the explanation for this is that he’s one of us. Though few journalists have any sympathy for Buchanan’s views, some find it hard to reconcile evidence of his bigotry with the friendly guy they know. For those covering his campaigns, there are other disincentives. Once you brand him an anti-Semite, a racist, and a fascist, it’s not much fun riding around New Hampshire with him in a minivan. What’s more, there is a dimension of self-conscious theatricality to Buchanan’s performances that makes his views easier to dismiss. He’ll uncork a zinger about not buying any more chopsticks until the Chinese quit dumping cheap imports, and then cackle at his no-no. You can write this kind of thing off as just Buchanan tomfooling around and building his brand for TV, rather than dyed-in-the-wool bigotry.

And that column was written in 1999, three years before MSNBC and Griffin gave him a national platform, where he would go on to claim that America “has been a country built, basically, by white folks;” that “only white men” died in the Battle of Gettysburg; and so on.

So what changed? According to an InsideCableNews column at Mediaite, it sure wasn’t Buchanan – it was the platform around him:

On the other hand, MSNBC has changed. It openly courts Progressive views and news. It puts out job ads asking for candidates with a progressive news background. Its pundit host class is all progressive and the network lets them show up en masse at the White House for off the record get togethers. The network is openly and aggressively courting the African American viewing audience so much so that it now notes how big it is in African American viewership in its releases.

Add all these things together and you now have a scenario where MSNBC, which used to be able to handle a Pat Buchanan and his intransigent controversial views, can no longer afford to do so without alienating core constituencies it covets.

The theory makes more sense now than it would have a few years ago: even after Keith Olbermann’s acrimonious departure, MSNBC has rebuilt a good portion of its’ talk show brand around Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Chris Hayes, and has added Melissa Harris-Perry, even if it keeps Joe Scarborough around in the morning.

Unfortunately, the nature of cable punditry virtually guarantees that even if Buchanan gets tossed on his duff by MSNBC, some other network will scoop him up and tout him as being “hard-hitting” or whatever the euphemism du jour is for reactionary bigotry. But even if this respite is brief, hopefully it leads to something better for his (apparently) former employers.

 

Native Students Rebut ABC’s ‘Children of the Plains’

By Guest Contributor Debbie Reese, cross-posted from American Indians in Children’s Literature

In October of 2011, ABC broadcast “Children of the Plains” on its 20/20 news program. Watching the promos for it, I shook my head. Diane Sawyer gave her viewers a very narrow program that did little to portray Native youth in the fullness of their existence.

Today (December 13, 2011) I’m sharing a rebuttal to Sawyer.

Please watch More Than That, and share it with as many people as you can. Those of you who work with children’s literature in some way, keep this video in mind when you’re reviewing books. We need literature that reflects the entirety of who we are rather than an outsiders romantic or derogatory misconception.
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#MARKSWATCH: The Response and The Meme

By Arturo R. García

Well, that didn’t take long.

Gene Marks’ “If I Were A Poor Black Kid” piece for Forbes led to justifiably angry responses. Among them was Baratunde Thurston’s “Letter from a poor black kid” for CNN:

Thank you Mr. Marks. You have changed everything about my life. Thanks to your article, I worked to make sure I got the best grades, made reading my number one priority and created better paths for myself. If only someone had suggested this earlier.

But that was just the beginning of how your exceptionally relevant, grounded and experience-based advice changed my life. Thanks only to your article, I discovered technology.

Why did my teachers not teach this? Why isn’t this technology mentioned anywhere in popular culture? I don’t understand, but you do.

You listed so many different websites and resources, at first it was overwhelming. But I didn’t let that deter me. I thought to myself, “If a successful, caring, complicated, intelligent man like Gene Marks says to do it, then I’d better head over to rentcalculators.org right now!”

As Colorlines reported Thursday, Marks posted a response at CNN. The somewhat underwhelming transcript is under the cut.

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Race + Tech: Michael Arrington Can’t Ctrl-Alt-Delete His Foot From His Mouth

By Arturo R. García

There’s been something ugly brewing in Silicon Valley, and now it’s starting to seep to the surface, following preview screenings for Soledad O’Brien’s latest CNN special.

The clip up top is an excerpt from her interview with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. The interview was taped in July, and is slated to air during the Nov. 13 episode of her Black In America documentary series focusing on the eight black entrepreneurs taking part in the NewMe Accelerator program.

In a commercial for the show, Arrington describes Silicon Valley as “a white and Asian world,” and in the interview, he goes so far as to tell O’Brien that he doesn’t know any black entrepreneurs.

Except that he really did. And Arrington’s been digging himself – and seemingly the tech industry around him – into a deeper hole ever since.
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