Tag Archives: media

Diversity and the “Cultural Elite” of New York

by Guest Contributor Joanna Eng

The September 25 issue of Time Out New York (TONY) featured a list of their favorite 40 New Yorkers who have made an impact on the city in the past 13 years. I was appalled to see that out of the 40 cultural leaders that they highlighted, only three were people of color (Jay-Z, Derek Jeter, and Junot Diaz), two weren’t even human (Spider-Man and the MetroCard), and the other 35 were white.

Right after reading the issue, I and probably hundreds of other readers wrote letters to TONY to call them out on their list’s glaring lack of diversity as it tried to represent one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. In my letter I said, “Rather than reminding us that white people are still in power, you could have been a little more creative with this list.” And I proceeded to list several people I would have liked to see on the list: Rosario Dawson, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, David Paterson, Chang-Rae Lee, Rosie Perez, Majora Carter, Rosie Mendez, etc.

They must have gotten quite a number of these letters, because a week later they had posted a piece online called “Where are all the people of color?” In the article, a TONY editor basically continued to defend and justify the lack of diversity in the list, and sparked even more angry comments from readers. The response piece, in some ways, was even more appalling than the original list because it showed no sign of regret and stated even more clearly (in case we didn’t get the point the first time) that they believed that New York’s “cultural elite” was made up of mostly white people.

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D.L. Hughley Headlines a New Political Comedy Show on CNN

by Latoya Peterson

Please Note: This is NOT a D.L. Hughley fansite. You cannot contact him directly through this site, or leave feedback about his show.

Before I sat down to watch D. L. Hughley Breaks the News, I was skeptical of the whole project. D.L. Hughley doesn’t immediately come to mind when I think of a comedian that is well versed in politics and current events. The author of the NY Times article seems to concur, noting:

For the last week Mr. Hughley, 45, has had to arrive every morning at his office at CNN in Manhattan at the ungodly (for a comedian) hour of 11 a.m. to digest reams of information from newspapers, Web sites, television and talk radio. He has no time to goof off during the 8-to-12-hour days; only the occasional moment to glance at his new profile in the CNN company directory that lists him as an anchor.

“I’m like, ‘Come on, man,’ ” an incredulous Mr. Hughley said in a recent interview. “I barely even know how to read. I’ve got a G.E.D.”

Just 10 days ago CNN announced that Mr. Hughley would be the host of a new comedy-news show, “D. L. Hughley Breaks the News,” which has its premiere Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

AverageBro already laid down his thoughts on the show, writing:

I’m not saying Hughley isn’t funny. His early days of Comic View were classic. And for the record, his standup career is far more successful than anything Stewart did pre-Daily Show.

But DL just doesn’t seem to have the gravitas to pull this off. His shortlived Comedy Central talk show, Weekends At The DL, was atrocious. His appearances on shows like Real Time With Bill Maher and The Glenn Beck Show don’t give me the impression that this cat is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to politricks.

He also brings up another large elephant in the room when it comes to D.L. Hughley’s idea of comedy:

Is it wrong for me to still be upset about that “nappy headed hoes” comment more than a year after the fact? Prolly not, but I’m sorry, I just cannot get over that. That sh*t was a straight up James T. Harris b*tch move in my book.

I wonder how dude could go home and look his wife and daughter in the eyes after that bullsh*t.

I prolly won’t watch this show, so I guess I shouldn’t bash it. Could it possibly be any worse than Chocolate News or The Tony Rock Project? Even though I wished CNN’s affirmative action hire had been Roland Martin instead, I guess I should just be happy to see black men working, no matter how mediocre the product.

Nah. Bump that.

If you wanna support a black man on TeeVee, peep BET’s slept on Somebodies. Now that’s comedy.

Screw DL Hughley. A true Nappy Headed Hoe!

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Race in the Election…in Canada!

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

SURPRISE! Canada is having an election this year too!

However, wily characters that we are, our election was called as recently as September 7, and we’re still going to beat our American neighbours to the polls when we vote next week. However, that’s basically it for pluses when it comes to Canadian politics: advance polls are saying that we will most likely end up with a Conservative majority. *

On Tuesday my friend Leslie sent me this Globe and Mail article on “sophisticated new methods” that parties are turning to in order to figure out how to lure in those mysterious “ethnic” voters.

For the first time in a federal election, three of Canada’s five main political parties are using a sophisticated new micro-targeting voter-profile tool, which outlines people’s ethnicity, social values and income level, cross-referenced with their political support.

The tool, developed by Environics, allows political strategists to fine-tune their message for voters at the neighbourhood level, helping candidates win key battleground ridings in Ontario and British Columbia, many of which have large ethnic communities.

“This tool not only gives you the big picture, but goes to a riding level and tells you which percentage of voter groups live in the riding and whether ethnicity is an issue,” said Jan Kestle, president of Environics Analytics.

There is a sudden demand for multicultural research tools such as this one, as Canada’s ethnic communities grow in size and political importance. Now that immigrants no longer vote exclusively for the Liberals, all parties are reaching out to them.

Please note the equation of “ethnic communities” with “immigrants.” In case you are foggy on the Canadian history: similarly to the US, people of colour have been living in Canada for almost as long as white folks have. Sure many people of colour in Canada are recent immigrants, but many (especially in Western Canada) have been here for generations.

“It’s a numbers game. The election can turn on a dime. Ethnics play a key role in this and happen to be living in the ridings that are close,” said David Crapper, president of Genesis Public Opinion Research Inc., the Conservatives’ official pollster in the 2006 election.

Goodness, “Ethnics” playing a key role in an election? What is the world coming to??

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Kristof’s Comment Section on “Race Without Racists”

by Latoya Peterson

New York Times op-ed columnist and blogger Nicholas D. Kristof has been paying a lot of attention to how race has played out in the 2008 Presidential Election, often expanding his thoughts to what this means about race relations in the United States.

On Sunday, in a column called “Racism without Racists,” he wrote about how “our unconscious minds engage in racial or sexual bias.” Now, this is nothing new to most of our readers, but I’ve been following these conversations in the mainstream media with some interest.

Has the national conversation really changed since Obama’s speech on race?

On his blog, Kristof elaborated more on his thoughts and opened the floor to comments. Interestingly, the comments were mixed in terms of reactions with many people acknowledging their prejudice, engaging with the data, and challenging each other’s ideas in a mostly civil manner. Now of course, there were those who claimed that “blacks are the real racists because they are all voting for Obama!*” or who claimed they were tired of reading about race, but I was heartened by the introspective nature of most of the comments.

Some of what caught my attention (of the first 300 – there are now 598) below. Continue reading

Harnessing the Power of Pop Culture

by Latoya Peterson, originally published at Feministe

In the first 45 seconds of the trailer for Clueless, Cher Horowitz (played by Alicia Silverstone) gives one of the best rebuttals I have ever heard to opponents of providing asylum on our shores for oppressed people.

Yes, I’m serious.

Let’s reexamine the language (excerpted from Paul’s Ultimate Clueless Script):

SCENE IV – CLASSROOM DEBATE

MR HALL

Should all oppressed people be allowed refuge in America? Amber will take the con position. Cher will be pro. Cher, two minutes.

CHER

So, OK, like right now, for example, the Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all “What about the strain on our resources?” But it’s like, when I had this garden party for my father’s birthday right? I said R.S.V.P. because it was a sit-down dinner. But people came that like, did not R.S.V.P. so I was like, totally buggin’. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, squish in extra place settings, but by the end of the day it was like, the more the merrier! And so, if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion, may I please remind you that it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty?

(Class breaks into applause)

This segment was designed for us to laugh at the ridiculousness of Cher’s logic and her mispronunciation of Haitians (Haiti-ins!). But there is some truth in what she says.

Haitians need to come to America = Amnesty.

But some people are all “What about the strain on our resources?” = Opposition Arguments

And so, if the government could just get to the kitchen = Survey the situation

Rearrange some things = Reprioritize and reexamine how we use resources and we admit new entrants

We could certainly party with the Haitians = Grant amnesty, fix our selective and fractured policy.

And this line is classic: may I please remind you that it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty?

It totally does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. It actually says:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name,
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And yet, for the last few years, we’ve been having a debate around immigration which boils down to “everyone has to RSVP, we’ve got a velvet rope, and most of you aren’t invited to the party.” The tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free? Fuck ‘em!

Where are all the other voices in this debate? We’re left out. So many conversations around public policy and theory are couched in a language that makes them inaccessible to the average person with a limited understanding of the issues. And if the language that we as progressives and feminists use is inaccessible to the average reader/listener/viewer, we lose out. This is the void that has been filled by regressive interest groups – they dominate the dialogue by using very simplistic messages to summarize their position. Messages like “they are evil” or “they hate our freedom.” These messages may not even be true – but they are easy to remember. And that’s the problem. A complex, nuanced message is harder to grasp than a simple catchy statement, and thus, less likely to stick.

So, in order to reach more people, progressives need to critically examine the messages we send, what we say, and how we present them.

To this end, we need to learn to harness the power of pop culture – taking a message, shortening it, adding some spin, and preparing it for mass consumption.

Back in May, the New York Times published an article describing the efforts of U.S. Campaign for Burma to sell their cause using celebrities like Ellen Page, Jennifer Aniston, and Will Ferrell. And yet, somehow, they are still having problems getting their message to catch on. Continue reading

White People Like taking credit from Asians: Who is Myles Valentin?

by Guest Contributor Restructure!, originally published at Restructure

#11 Asian girls” is the all-time most popular post of web-phenomenon Stuff White People Like, but it was written by Filipino-Canadian Myles Valentin, not White-Canadian Christian Lander. While Christian Lander received a $350,000 advance and receives royalties for his book, Stuff White People Like: the Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions, Myles Valentin is living paycheck to paycheck in East Vancouver.

Myles Valentin has written #11 Asian girls, #15 Yoga, #30 Wrigley Field, #31 Snowboarding, #44 Public Radio, #45 Asian Fusion Food, #56 Lawyers, #57 Juno, #66 Divorce, and #74 Oscar Parties. However, Valentin is rarely mentioned in articles about the blog Stuff White People Like, except being credited as Christian Lander’s Filipino friend. Even Racialicious, an anti-racist blog about race written from the perspectives of people of colour, credits Christian Lander as the “The Man behind Stuff White People Like” and makes no mention of Myles Valentin.

While it is true that Lander wrote 90.7% of the full list and Valentin wrote only 9.3% (89.1% and 10.9% respectively before the official book deal announcement), it nevertheless seems unfair that Valentin received no book deal, is rarely mentioned, has never been interviewed, and is not the co-author of the book that spawned from the blog. A white man receives 100% credit for roughly 90% of a blog, and his friend, an Asian man, receives 0% credit for roughly 10% of the blog.

This may appear only slightly unfair to some, but what if it was a white man that received 100% credit for roughly 90% of a blog, and his friend, another white man, that received 0% credit for roughly 10% of the blog? Ceteris paribus, we expect that everyone should get their fair share, even if the inequality is not tremendous. If Valentin was a white man, we would expect him to sue for his share of the profit, and we would not disagree with the lawsuit as a means to uphold “meritocracy” and protect white man’s intellectual property.

Asians are stereotyped as uncreative, lacking a sense of humour, and as people who are unable to criticize social conventions. When an Asian writes successful satire of white culture, why is his contribution forgotten?

Christian Lander’s name may go down in Web 2.0 history, but will anyone remember the name Myles Valentin? Will white people still ask, “Where are all the bloggers of color?

Edited to Add:

CORRECTION: Valentin’s monetary gain from the Stuff White People Like brand is greater than 0%. According to the LA Times’ interview with Lander, Valentin receives all the ad revenue from blog. According to Valentin, he uses this money for horse-racing. Lander gives Valentin credit as the co-blogger of Stuff White People Like, but the mainstream media portrays Valentin as (just) Christian Lander’s Filipino friend and inspiration.
– Restructure

Anti-Intellectualism: An African American Problem

by Guest Contributor Merq


They are proud of their ignorance.

They equate getting an education to “acting white.”

Inner-city students have to decide between being smart and being “cool.”

I’m sure you’ve read at least one of the above statements at some point over the course of the last five years. Like the “down low” frenzy of yesteryear, it’s the pummeled dead horse du jour of African-American narratives.

As a student of propaganda, its uses, and its effects, one thing that has always intrigued and sickened me about American discourse (as typified by its mainstream media) is its ability to make a phenomenon untrue or non-existent by simply ignoring it. When Paris Hilton bares her lady parts for what must be the thirtieth time, it’s still considered newsworthy. But her continued pattern of “n*gger”-calling has gone so roundly ignored that only a fraction of a population inundated with her very presence is aware that she’s done this even once. I mean, Dog the friggin’ Bounty Hunter got more column inches for his idiocy (and he genuinely thought he was black) while Hilton never even needed to roll out the standard Non-Apology Apology! I, as a black man, speak for my race (as we always seem to do in the media) when I say we wuz robbed!

In a similar vein, it tickles me to no end (or inasmuch as an assault on the ribs can be considered tickling) that America can really create this whole “Crisis in Black America” phenomenon over something as essentially American as anti-intellectualism – and get “black leaders” to cluck their tongues and rhapsodize on how “we got to do better,” even!

Yes, In case you’re wondering, I watched CNN’s “Black in America” series. Yes, I saw black folk say the same thing, and wallow in self-validating self-pity as they recall past (and present) experiences with those who deemed them “too white.” I don’t know why people hold up these folk as some sort of proof that this “tryna ack’ all white” phenomenon is actually real – there are multitudes of black males who will also tell you that black men can only aspire to being ballers or rappers, or that they have no business wearing flip-flops. Do we take them at their word simply because they’re black? Continue reading

Revise Your Styleguide: On Usage of ‘La Raza’

by Guest Contributor Daniel Hernandez, originally published at Intersections

A little Mexico detour, because I’m wondering: Do news media outlets refer to the NAACP as “The Colored People” or the AJC as “The Jewish Committee”? No, they don’t. Yet while covering this month’s NCLR conference in San Diego many outlets including the L.A. Times, Washington Post, and other generally reputable sources like RealClearPolitics felt it okay to refer to NCLR as “La Raza.” This means that the mainstream press has adopted the semantics tricks of the right-wing propaganda machine to conflate together two very different things: NCLR — the largest and most middle-of-the-road, big-money-backed, non-partisan Hispanic (their word) advocacy organization in the United States, and the codeword for reconquista hallucinations advocated only by an extremely small, extremely fringe, and extremely irrelevant batch of Chicano nationalists.

Doing this plays directly into the ignorant fears of paranoid immigrant-bashers. The double-standard is unacceptable. Because there are real dangers of coding and bigotry at play here: look at what just happened in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Another hate-fueled illegal immigrant lynching. Listen to the story at Free Speech Radio News. A week later, still no arrests.

We have opportunists like Lou Dobbs and the soft racism of politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger to thank for laying the rhetorical groundwork for such a climate. It needs to stop. “La Raza,” once for all, is an historical term. Its use in the NCLR name merely reflects the period of the organization’s founding: the 1960s. (Does anyone in the NAACP even utter the words “colored people” anymore?) It’s a question ultimately of accuracy, as Carla Marrinuci blogs at SFGate.

On its end, NCLR generously takes the pains to answer its uninformed critics, but one needs only to look at the Mexican American Princes to understand just how “dangerous” are the ambitions of modern Latinos like the kind who gathered in San Diego last week to hear speeches by Barack Obama and John McCain.

* Above, Obama at the 2007 NCLR conference in Miami Beach.

Edited to Add:

Dear Racialicious,

I appreciate the posting and the discussion of my Intersections post on the media usage of “La Raza.” I think a couple things need to be clarified, though. I meant to point out that to the careless (or prejudicial) reader the words “La Raza” connote Chicano nationalism, not the group, National Council of La Raza. I know and understand that La Raza is a term to be proud of, a term that NCLR members and associates themselves use, a term that Mexican Americans of all backgrounds often use to mean “community,” “family,” “friends,” etc. What I am merely pointing out is that as the media uses it to refer to NCLR it conflates in the public eye a mainstream lobbying entity with an amorphous concept that causes all kinds of drama in the public landscape: see the raids, confrontations, demonstrations, killings of immigrants. I don’t have a solution, but I think we should all be thinking of one. Language is lived, after all.

Sincerely,
Daniel H.