Tag Archives: magazines

Latino Artists Bear Burden of Anti- Immigrant Frenzy

JLo in Bordertown(Jennifer Lopez in “Bordertown,” which won’t be seen in the United States)

by Guest Contributor Alisa Valdes-Rodiguez, originally published at Multiplicative Indentity

In 2007, Mexican-born author Reyna Grande’s first novel, “Across a Hundred Mountains,” is released to critical acclaim, and wins the American Book Award – yet Grande’s San Diego bookstore appearance is canceled after anti-immigrant patrons call the manager to protest their support of a novel by and about “illegals”.

In 2004, the South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa, Calif., kills its Hispanic Playwright’s Project, in part to appease donors who fear “illegals” benefiting from their money.

In 2007, Touchstone Pictures pulls the plug on “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” a feature film starring Eva Longoria, about a fully assimilated Mexican American woman, saying there is nothing particularly “Latina” about an educated, professional shopaholic from Texas; meaning, the character is “too American” for audiences to believe as “Latina”. (Meanwhile, Texas is no longer a majority-white state, and most Latinos there speak English…)

In 2005, the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles dismantles all four of its minority playwright development programs.

In 2008, People magazine puts Latina singer Christina Aguilera on the cover and sees the average number of copies sold drop by more than 100,000.

The Latin Grammys, created in 2000 with a mainstream English-language CBS audience in mind, have since been downgraded to Univision only, in part due to protests from anti-Latino viewers.

In 2007, ABC decides to pull the plug on The George Lopez Show, even though the show had better ratings than at least two other series that were renewed; he is replaced by a short-lived sitcom about cavemen.

Also in 2007, Jennifer Lopez wraps filming on the Gregory Nava movie “Bordertown,” about serial killings of Mexican women along the US-Mexico border, only to find that it will not be released in the United States after all; hostile anti-Mexican reaction in screenings relegate the film to release in Europe only. Variety magazine savages the film’s anti-NAFTA stance. The film goes on to win several awards at the Berlin film festival, including one from Amnesty International.

I, meanwhile, have seen my publisher decide to stop printing my books simultaneously in Spanish for the domestic market, citing a waning interest from booksellers for such material. Latina authors in my circle of friends all say times have gotten harder and harder for them over the past two or three years, with several telling me they, like I, have been on the receiving end of more and more hate-mail through their web sites and blogs. Personally, I have seen the advances paid on my books decline by 80 percent, and the size of my book tours slashed from 14 cities to 4.

Taken separately, these anecdotes might appear to be nothing more than bad luck, or flukes, a the natural ebb and flow of a career in the fickle entertainment industry. But taken together, and held up against a shifting corporate media climate that increasingly scapegoats and targets immigrants and Latinos (a trend both the ACLU and FBI blame for drastic rise in hate-crimes against Latinos), they paint a frightening picture of an increasingly hostile America for all Latinos – creative artists included.

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New Hermes campaign shows desi model in her native (colonized) habitat

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

It was just Thursday when we wondered why fashion designers and editors don’t seem to be able to use models of color without exoticizing/exploiting their race or culture. And last summer, we discussed Vogue’s obsession with romanticizing colonized Africa and Asia.

Folks at Hermes must have been reading closely because they managed to squeeze both blunders into a single ad campaign.

Check out their new ads, featuring desi model Lakshmi Menon. And lo and behold, what else appears in the ads? Elephants! With colorful henna-esque tattoos! And jodhpurs! Lest we forget the glorious days of British colonial rule in India!

See the rest of the ads here. Via FabSugar.

New Vivienne Westwood ads feature black model, but with what message?

by guest contributor Brigitte, originally published at Make Fetch Happen

Last season Vivienne Westwood raised a few eyebrows when she publicly lambasted fashion editors, calling them racist for refusing to use black models on their pages. Westwood even went as far as to call for an affirmative action of sorts, to force editors to use a certain percentage of black models. Later, she also spoke of her upcoming ads which would feature the beautiful Kenyan model Ajuma Nasenyana, no stranger to Westwood’s runway, as the face of the Spring campaign.

I was impressed with Westwood’s willingness to speak so openly about what we’ve all been decrying for years and looked forward to seeing the new ads with Ajuma (whom I think is one of the most stunning models to emerge in the last few years.) In my view, the grande dame could have just as easily said nothing, accepted the status quo, and had another cup of tea.

Well, low and behold, the ads have finally made their way into fashion magazines and sadly, I am not impressed. Westwood’s ads are usually on the fringe but seeing Ajuma posing with a spear and gun in a series of ads that also includes African masks, animal corpses and even bananas is crossed the line from provocative to stereotypical and wholly unnecessary.

Is it a political message? I don’t know. Shot by Juergen Teller, they are certainly eye-catching. Nasenyana’s dark shiny skin absorbs ever bit of the stark white background. In one, Ajuma wears a yellow and green dress reminiscent of the plumage of an exotic bird while holding a machine gun. In spite of the dress, Ajuma, with her closely cropped hair and somewhat androgynous appearance, could easily be mistaken for a young boy, or more aptly, a child soldier, much like the ones who are all too often shown on the evening news or in documentaries on Africa’s war torn regions. Is this ’empowerment’ or is Westwood alluding to the ‘force’ she wants used to put models like Ajuma on the pages of Vogue and Elle?

Another image show Ajuma standing behind an armchair, casually holding the hand of a casually seated white male model who is also holding a gun while yet another has her alone, holding a spear.

Maybe it’s just my own irritation at this subject but I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be if say Gisele or Kate Moss were photographed in this ‘safari chic’ manner nearly every time they appeared in an ad or editorial. Or better yet, as cavewomen? Wouldn’t it be promptly dismissed as tiresome or unoriginal? I have honestly seen Ajuma, and other black models, used in this exploitative manner dozens and dozens of times.

Where fashion used to be a fun past-time for me, it has now become repetitive and tiresome.

I’ve posted before about the refusal of some fashion photographers to view black female models as anything but an exotic other, to be dressed up in feathers or pelts to exploit their racial origins. To see this trend continued into yet another decade is troubling. Haven’t we made any progress?

As for Dame Westwood, to her I would say that although I appreciate her support of the struggle, maybe next time she should just send a check.

Photo source: BerlinRocks!/TFS

Page Skimming – Articles of Interest from the End of 2007/Early 2008

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Colorlines Magazine
November/December 2007 Issue


This entire issue of Colorlines is worth a full, thorough read, but here are a few of the articles that caught my eye:

Wasting Away in Margaritaville (p. 10)

Exploring the construction of mega-casino, Margaritaville (a $700 million dollar joint venture between Harrah Casino and Jimmy Buffet), the article points out how the people living and working in East Biloxi have been shut out of the city planning dialogue.

Q & A: Etan Thomas (p. 16)

A refreshing peek into the mind of an athlete who embraces speaking out about social and political political issues.

Inner Peace (p. 48)

Article Tagline: “As more Americans take to the mat, Black teachers use yoga to uplift their community.”

Bomb Magazine
Winter 2008 Issue


This entire issue focuses on discussing the contemporary art scene in Brazil. Not to be missed: Adelia Prado’s poems “Opus Dei” and “The Dictator in Prison”; the excerpt from the new novel Jonas, by Patricia Melo; the interview with Bernardo Carvalho, in which he says “There is nothing further from posing than art. On the contrary, literature is the affirmation of truth.”

Glamour Magazine
January 2008 Issue


3 Condi Surprises (p. 29)

Condoleeza Rice wants to run for Governor of California, and may possibly run for Vice President in the future. I have no words.


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Pride Magazine: Looking into a Mirror Across the Pond

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

I always chuckle to myself when I hear someone say that other countries don’t have the same problems with race in the way we do in the US. I guess we aren’t reading the same media.

On my most recent perusal through the periodicals section of the bookstore,* I happened to come across a new imported magazine called Pride. The tagline reads “Celebrating the woman of colour.” I grabbed the magazine, excited at the potential. Is this finally the magazine that realizes that a black girl may have a latina or Asian or Arabic friend? Am I going to be treated to multicultural women perspectives?

Alas, no. Pride is geared toward black women in the UK. However, my disappointment was short lived as Pride is a treasure trove of perspectives on being black and British – which sound remarkably similar to being black and American.

In the Sista Circle section of the November 2007 issue, author Vanessa Walters chronicles the problems involved in dating a “wasteman:”

When Darwin developed his theory of evolution, he clearly forgot about the Wasteman – the man who hunts women and gathers children but doesn’t provide; the man not in the history books because he has no official name, just several aliases – one for every manor. Like Samuel L Jackson in The Long Kiss Goodnight, he’s Frank and Ernest: in New York he’s Frank and in Chicago he’s Ernest.

My ex was a classic wasteman. I used to carry a box of eggs in the glove compartment of my car; each time I passed his gleaming black BMW (we lived close by) – Kapow! Splat! Boom! Just on of those days that a girl goes through, when she’s angry inside and gonna take it out on you. What on earth did he do to deserve that? Oh, only lie, cheat, slap me in the face, try to bully me into taking out a 10,000 GBP loan for him – you know, the usual.

Whoa, we’re quoting Monica? Well, since we’re dredging up the ghosts of nineties music past, I would like to inform you that your wasteman is a garden variety scrub. Also known as a busta.

Moving on to the Man’s Point of View, Dotun Adebayo continues to stoke the flames of the black gender wars** in “How to Love a Black Man Without Being Shagged Out, Part 1:” ***

Black men are hard work, and when you decide to go soul to soul with a brotha, you’ve only got yourself to blame if you’re not prepared for the stress (and I don’t just mean of the double bed’s springs.) Because black men ain’t built for comfort. We’re rough riders/ Built to last. It’s in our DNA. We’re the survivors in this age of racist misphilosophy. How do you expect us to have gone through all we’ve been through and still be able to hold down a nice, easy, smooth, worry-free relationship?


So the number one rule in making love to a black man without being shagged out is to have a strong back. Otherwise you’ll snap under the pressure and then you’ll start playa-hatin’ on all brothas just because your man gave you agony and you didn’t have the backbone to hold it down. Continue reading

Jessica Alba Talks to Elle Magazine about Race in Hollywood

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Really, I say, has your skin color hindered you that much?

Alba shoots me an exasperated look.

Yeah, I could let this be the beginning and the end of this post. Jessica Alba is being interviewed by Andrew Goldman in the February issue of Elle Magazine and he poses the question to launch a thousand eye rolls.

Hello – have you read the last 50 or so interviews with any woman of color in the film industry?

Everyone from Maggie Q to Nia Long has complained about the lack of good roles for non-white folks. More times out of not, you’re auditioning for a niche role in an indie film that targets xxx community, competing for a high profile role playing a stereotype, or trying to nail the audition and convince the director that you can add your own brown flavor to the film and still make it work.

Still, I must admit, the coverline did hook me a bit: “Jessica Alba on race in Hollywood, using sex to get ahead, and why actors make bad boyfriends.”

Considering Perez Hilton’s long term diatribe against her and the professional penalty actors may pay when they find themselves speaking out against domestic injustices, Alba was the last person I expected to go on the record about her feelings on race. I wondered if the text would be some watered down version of “It’s not about my race, it’s about talent.”

A page or so into the article, it becomes clear that Alba has not been drinking the Tiger Woods Kool-Aid:

As assimilated as Alba’s upbringing was, she never felt there was a well-defined place for her in Hollywood. “Nobody really knew what to do with me,” she says. “Everyone wants to categorize you and pigeonhole you. I’m half Latin, but I grew up in the States, and I can’t get roles playing a Latina because I don’t speak Spanish. And I didn’t want to be the best friend, or the promiscuous girl, or the maid, because those stereotypes still exist with Latin roles. I wanted to be a leading lady. And I thought that because I have brown skin shouldn’t make any difference. Why should only Aryan-looking girls be that girl?”

Really, I say, has your skin color hindered you that much?

Alba shoots me an exasperated look. “How many leading leadies are you aware of?” she says. “Lindsay Lohan, Kate Bosworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jessical Biel, Rachel McAdams. We have Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, me, and who else?”

Uh, Eva Mendes?

“Mendes,” she says flatly. “But is Mendes greenlighting movies?”

A good point.

So often in these kind of conversations, people only look at the superficial representation of the problem (As in, “But I know of at least three black characters on major shows! Why is this such a big deal?) rather than thinking about the power dynamics in the entertainment industry. The reporter in this piece implies that she is exagerating the problem by quickly naming another lead woman of color – without thinking about how representation without power or influence is kind of a hollow victory.

What is most telling about this piece – whether it was by whim of the reporter or whim of the editor – is that after Alba makes a critical point power and race, the piece jumps to her personal history.

Her question to the reporter is left hanging.

Seven paragraphs later, the piece ends. Race is never mentioned again.

Junk Prints: Anti-Racism You Can Wear

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of enjoying the indie design fabulosity that is the Craftacular, an annual market sponsored by Bust Magazine. For those of you who may not know about Bust, here’s the mag in a nutshell: feminism meets DIY meets up-and-coming musicians, writers, artists, and actors. Thanks to Bust, I can now brew my own beer at home, knit an extra boob for bra-stuffing, and find local designers that understand my desire to buck the system by rocking a piece of unique jewelry to contrast with my boring corporate attire. I found quite a bit of that at the Craftacular on Saturday, but I also had the opportunity to meet a ton of really innovative designers. One designer that stood out in my mind, however, was Chanel Kennebrew of Junk Prints.

I would have passed up the quiet booth in the corner if it weren’t for the beautiful, multicolored, metallic vintage purse I glimpsed. It was a tiny north star in a room full of distractions—jewelry here, shoes there, and an overabundance of human bodies cum consumers all searching for the perfect holiday gift. I made my way through the crowd over to Chanel’s booth, and was immediately thankful when I saw that a) the purse was still there, and b) that the clothing she displayed was the long-lost fashion twin of Racialicious! Of course, she had lighthearted items such as her vintage meets modern mashup outfits and her decoupage covered journals, but what caught my really caught my eye was her t-shirt on celebrity transracial adoption: She describes her “Colorblind Glasses” shirt on her website:

Color Blind seem to be all the rage in Hollywood these days. I mean, international babies are sooo ‘the new dog’ (which was ‘the new purse’ in a not so distant past). Are Madonna and Jolie ready for the commitment? Ah who knows. Love is love right? You,my friend don’t have to find a foreign baby to show your color blind spirit, nope, you show your spirit with this fancy pants shirt.

Chanel also designs digital prints that cover issues that would be quite familiar to Racialicious readers, for example, her “Silence” collection. The print entitled “Good Housekeeping” (pictured below) is described as follows:

Good Housekeeping critiques the magazine identity and questions the values that it imposes on racialized women in North America. The magazine identity is a contradicting ideology that promotes idealism through exploitation. The things that we (as the North American consumer) want are essentialized and viewed as ingrained desires. In actuality they are usually sold to us at the expense of ourselves. This can be seen throughout history as cultural appropriation, tokenism etc. The concepts of the magazine identity and media morals pose many problems for society in general. The affects are devastating for those that cannot be the ‘better self’ because society doesn’t recognize the existing racialized ‘self’. This group of images focuses an a group that will never achieve the magazine identity due to the fact that it has been excluded from it’s canon of idealistic values. They confront topics of identity, media values and the exploitation of women foreign to the mass consumer audience.

Lastly, check out her one-of-a-kind commentary a la t-shirt on the Don Imus debacle:

You know about Don Imus Right? He’s the was the sports announcer that got fired for calling a Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.” He recently received a multi-million dollar contract and prime morning-drive-time slot on a radio station. Wow, well I’ve been working on a graphic for this for a while but the most complicated part of doing that is, how do I make the connection with wigs and historic cosmetic homogenizing techniques without glorifying that crazy dude. Not sure if I’ve figured that out so I’m trying out a few ideas on some gently worn thrift.

Chanel’s work is fun, but has a message as she fuses statements on our society with some pretty fun wares. I highly recommend taking a look at her website as well as her Etsy store. You can also friend her on facebook.com and myspace. So if you’re still looking for stocking stuffers for your friends who are a little on the intense side or who just happen to have everything, it’s definitely worth giving Junk Prints a looksie.

Another “among the natives” Vogue editorial

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Remember how we discussed fashion magazines’ propensity for editorials in which they “contrast” a white model against the “natives” of a country?

Well Vogue just did it again, in their Russian edition. Only instead of Masai warriors, the model is surrounded by anonymous gawking Asians. (Thanks to Marge for the tip!)

You can check out more pics at Bryanboy, who had this to say:

You know how like twice or thrice a year, British/American Vogue or what have you, go on a wild expedition somewhere in Africa and take pictures of a white person in haute couture and million-dollar jewels whilst being surrounded by tribe people in their beads, spears and primitiveness? Well, take out the beads and replace them with fake fur, take out the spears and replace them with digital cameras and shove typical Asian consumerism in the picture and what do you get???