by Latoya Peterson An interesting article made its way to me last week. “Coded Prejudice…
by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published on Guanabee One thing that’s kind of irked…
by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published on Guanabee A new study shows that Hispanic…
by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem
The odd thing about the word “nigger” for me is that as much debate as I’ve heard about the term, my exposure to it in adulthood is fairly limited. I grew up in the Chicago area in a mostly African American family, but a few of my black relatives, all transplants from the South, insisted on complaining about “no-good niggers” and such, despite the fact that I took issue with their use of the word.
Now, as a grown woman who lives far from family and far from the inner-city (the other place where I’ve often heard the word spoken), I’m most likely to hear “nigger” in a rap song or a film than I am in person. That’s why during a recent visit to a Target in an L.A. neighborhood where the upwardly mobile clientele likely dub the store “Tar-zhay,” I froze when I heard a voice cry out, “It’s over there, nigger!”
After stopping in my tracks, two things struck me: the voice belonged to a female and the female in question was probably not black. Read the Post When to Confront a Stranger: A Question of Authority
by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez
Interracial and interethnic dating has as much, if not more, to do with “Family Matters” as my own family. So, in order to try to describe the experience of being in an interethnic relationship, I have to first evaluate the culture popping up all around me. Grab some Cheez Puffs or chicharrones, put aside your distaste for cheesy, alliterative snack food references, and let’s get to this.
Should you ever feel inclined to Google “Interracial Dating,” as I do not do often on a Tuesday night, you’ll find a lot of dating sites aimed at hooking you up with someone of another race. Not information about interracial dating, not tirades against it, not advice, not thoughtful writing on the subject, but, rather, dating sites with names like “Salt and Pepper.” Discovering this made a little light blink on and off in my mind’s eye reading “Fetish! Fetish! Fetish!” I’ll admit to feeling conflicted about interracial dating as it relates to the fetishization of a group. Who am I to make the distinction between preference and prejudice? That concern always takes the form of a certain cringe I’m never without when thinking about the subject, but when I see evidence of people actively going out and searching for someone of another, specific race or ethnicity, well. That action toes the very fine line between personal preference and …and what, exactly?
This isn’t racism in the traditional sense of hating or fearing a group of people, but there does seem to be the impression that the fetishized group is somehow either aesthetically or sexually superior to other groups or that, taking that a step further, they are somehow subhuman, objectified, interchangeable receptacles for sex and attention. I don’t want to advocate the idea that there are different levels of racism, but this particular brand is so hurtful because it occurs so subtly and, for the most part, disguised as a compliment. When a man who is darker than me compliments me on the paleness of my skin, as I often encounter with Latino men, it insults and devalues both of us. I’m reduced to my body parts, and he buys into the idea that white skin is inherently beautiful. Read the Post You Got Some ‘Splaining To Do: Interracial And Interethnic Relationships, As Seen On TV. And Heard On The Radio. And Read On Cereal Boxes.
by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally posted on Guanabee
Associate Editor Alex Alvarez takes a look at how nicknames among minorities work to keep a good gordita down and why you, shorty, shouldn’t take it anymore.
Words, in and of themselves, are without power. Their potency comes from the relationship between the speaker and the listener. As any woman who has walked by a construction site will tell you, “Hello beautiful” is different coming from a strange man whispering in your ear than from your mother. It’s through these relationships that words can becomes tools, bridges, weapons or any other sort of melodramatic metaphor you want to use. If relationships are defined by power —who has it, who doesn’t, who wants it and who is in the position to bestow it—language, then, is a means of both establishing power in relationships and also of demolishing and subverting it. A “thanks, beautiful” aimed right back at a strange man is surprisingly effective.
While writing my response a few weeks ago to an article in “San Francisco Weekly” that “roughly” and incorrectly translates the Spanish word “negro” to the English word “nigger,” I realized most of the Guanabee readership already understands the nuances that appear in, yes derogatory, but complicated Spanish-language labels. And the same could be said for other ethnic minorities, (or at least the pockets of them that are represented in popular culture and media), who use certain pet names and phrases wrought with prejudice, but excuse them with a flippant, “This is how we are. And, besides, we don’t mean any harm by it.”
But “this is how we are” is not an excuse. Why? Well. It’s not how I am. So it’s not how we are. Adaptation is possible. It just takes effort and exposure to different ways of thinking, even if I have to drill it into you during family holiday get-togethers. It is not enough for us to merely explain — and thus, on some level, excuse — the differences between Anglo and Latino, or Black and White, or any other minority versus majority as they relate to potentially hateful speech. Instead, let’s take a look at why these differences exist and what, exactly, they result in accomplishing, based on history and cultural context. What does a language say about the people who speak it? And vice-versa? Let’s find out! Hokay? Hokay.
But, um, first: A preface of sorts. It’s important I make it known that I don’t feel I’m qualified to write about slang and language as it pertains to anyone who is not Latino or Anglo. As I alluded to above, anything I would have to say about the experience of any other group would be merely observational and the result of a sort of clinical detachment. It’s not my experience. I can’t offer anything except, “Well, from what I observe… this seems to mean this. And isn’t that interesting?” But it is interesting. And it is important to discuss these observations. So, that said, do let’s continue:
Such A Colorful People, No?: Nicknames Based On Appearance
Many terms of endearment in Spanish are based on appearance. “Cute” little nicknames like morenita, negrita and güerita abound. The diminutive “ita,” as it’s used here, translates to “little,” therefore effectively rendering it’s object to be both small and, presumbably, a possession belonging to the speaker. Read the Post Body Language: How Nicknames Objectify Minority Women And Why I Don’t Care “How You Meant It”
by Guest Contributor Melinda, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch
There’s a trend in the Americas. Latina* women are getting tired of Catholicism. They’re sick of being called “mamacita” in the streets. They don’t want to deal anymore with the chauvinistic pigs otherwise known as Latino men. So they’re throwing away their tank tops and their statues of the Virgin Mary and pulling on the hijab and ‘abaya instead.
Or so the media would have you believe. I’ve seen a stream of articles about Latina women converting to Islam, and they overwhelmingly rely on stereotyped images of Latino cultures as well as Muslims. The topic has been covered by MSNBC, NPR, the Christian Science Monitor, the Houston Chronicle, and more.
Here’s the standard lead:
Latina woman is walking down the street. It’s a hot day, and she’s dressed in a full-length skirt (dress, coat, etc.) and a hijab. She passes some Latino men. They look towards her and don’t scream at her. She sighs thankfully and reflects on the days of the past, of catcalls and shouts of “Hey, mami” as she walked by in her skimpy outfit.
The article then explains that in Latino culture, men are macho jerks and women are sex objects. In Islam, they are covered up and immediately respected. The author retells the woman’s decision to leave Catholicism for Islam, her experience putting on hijab, and the sad reactions of her family. If the journalist tries to dig a little deeper, there may be some theological reasons for choosing Islam, but they’re usually an afterthought. Some articles will note that Latina women like the strict gender roles of Islam because that’s what they’re used to.
Of course, not every article follows this mold precisely, but none stray from it completely. They paint monolithic pictures of both Latinos/Latinas and Muslims. It’s especially unfortunate in a time when both groups are often vilified and misunderstood in the United States. Read the Post No Más, Por Favor: Stereotypes of Latina Muslims