Tag Archives: multiracial

Is the MLB neglecting African-American talent?

by Racialicious sports correspondent Luke Lee

The latest issue of Sports Illustrated features Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Grady Sizemore who is known for possibly being the best all-around young player in the game today and for his soon to be ownership of the Derek Jeter “most beautiful/popular man in baseball” crown (Seriously. The Indians sell “Mrs. Sizemore” t-shirts at the ballpark).

But anyways, to be honest I had no idea that he was multiracial Black and White like Mr. Jeter but it’s an interesting coincidence because as quiet and low-key as Sizemore is (the anti-Jeter, in that sense), one of his hopes is to “inspire other black athletes to play baseball.”

Unfortunately the article doesn’t dig deeper on that issue but it’s important nonetheless because it’s something that Black baseball players have been saying for years. Many even felt that the recent Jackie Robinson remembrance was a joke considering how little the MLB was doing today in terms of bringing baseball to Black communities in America while building academy after academy in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, to name a few.

But speaking of baseball academies in the DR, teams like the Indians and New York Mets have started to lead the charge in “social responsibility” (at least a little bit) in terms of providing potential recruits with a basic grade school education.

Don’t get your hopes up though, because the writer and even the New York and Cleveland brass are very honest in their intentions because this isn’t any sort of “look at the poor situation there, we’re just doing this without any ulterior motive!” kind of deal.

Rather, “It heightened our ability to understand and know the players we were evaluating, signing and developing…We wanted them to think analytically. Increasing aptitude is a competitive advantage.” admitted a Cleveland official.

Barack Obama and racial authenticity

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Update: Eric included extra comments from the folks he interviewed for this article on his blog, The Feed.

Today’s issue of The St. Petersburg Times features an article by Eric Deggans, who examines the discussion surrounding Barack Obama’s race. If Obama isn’t considered to be authentically African-American, then who is?

It’s a fascinating article that includes a multitude of perspectives: Al Sharpton, Julian Bond from the NAACP, Sylvester Monroe from Ebony magazine, conservative Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, history professor Jonathan Holloway, anthropologist Peter B. Hammond, Monroe Anderson from the Chicago Sun-Times, and yours truly.

I really enjoyed talking to Eric for this article — I think we spent over an hour on the phone. One of the main points I made to Eric was this: How a multiracial person self-identifies is almost the least important factor in how others view that person racially. This phenomenon is especially obvious in Obama’s case. He has repeatedly stated that he self-identifies primarily as a black man and an African-American but still, everyone projects onto him what they want to see.

So if self-identification isn’t how racial authenticity is determined, then what is? Halle Berry and Nicole Richie both self-identify as black women, yet we think of Berry as somehow “blacker” than Richie. Eric’s attempt to create a list by which we judge “how black” someone is is really interesting:

Van Kerckhove, Hammond and other experts agree there is a long list of characteristics others often use to judge someone else’s racial identity. And these details can be crucial cues for others – sometimes given more weight than what the person actually says about his or her own racial identity.

Some characteristics: physical appearance/genealogy; language (do you have an accent or speak in a vernacular?); race of your romantic partner; race of your friends (an area which is often segregated in people’s lives); music you enjoy; your history of activism, if any; your name; where you go to church (churches are still highly segregated); your assertion of culture at your job.

Here’s my take on the multiracial angle:

While some may view race identity as something handed down through families, experts agree that race is a delicate balance between how society perceives you and how you perceive yourself.

Tiger Woods, for example, learned the folly of trying to carve a new race identity for himself without society’s permission – once insisting on Oprah Winfrey’s popular talk show that he was not African-American but “Cablinasian,” a mix of Caucasian, black, Dutch, Native American and Thai (both Woods’ parents are from mixed-race heritage).

But Woods quickly found trouble: Some black people assumed he was denigrating their culture by refusing to be a part of it, and white sports commentators didn’t seem to know how to handle a guy who didn’t want to be the first black golf legend.

“He came out too early on. … America wasn’t ready to take it,” said Carmen Van Kerckhove, a New Yorker of Flemish-Belgian and Chinese heritage who serves as president of the antiracism training company New Demographic.

“I think mixed-race people exist in this space where their legitimacy is constantly questioned,” said Van Kerckhove, who recalled a discussion with friends who insisted mixed-race people must “choose a side” when defining their racial identity. “Different communities try to claim you, depending on how well you’re doing at that point in your life.”

Woods, it seems, has learned his lesson: He rarely talks openly about race anymore. But Obama, in seeking to become the nation’s first black president, doesn’t have that luxury.

Tragic mulatta Jezebel in ‘Slow Burn’

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m a fan of thrillers, but this movie looks kinda awful, judging by the trailer (thanks to Kimberly for the tip!). Here’s a summary from Slant Magazine:

The wackest film of 2007 stars James Todd Smith—LL Cool J if you’re nasty—as Luther, a record store employee who walks into a police station to defend the honor of his dead homie, Isaac (Mekhi Phifer). Luther claims to have some “short in his brain” that messes with the way he processes smell. This is meant to explain why he is prone to saying such lovelies as, “First night she walked in, I still remember it. City smelled like grapefruit.” But what explains his propensity for stretching out his metaphors? Later, when he relates how mixed-blood assistant DA Nora Timmer (Jolene Blalock) walked into a room stinking of tangerine—”ripe and ready to be peeled.” It gets worse: At some bourgie party where Isaac is confused for someone else, Nora (whose daddy was the cocoa and whose mama brought the milk) fills the room with her scent of mashed-potato, which doesn’t stop any of the men from wanting to be her—wait for it—gravy!

I could be wrong, but this looks to me like another blackface performance, right? It’s possible the actress Jolene Blalock is mixed, but they are definitely slathering on the bronzer here and it looks fake as hell.

[If you’re reading this in an RSS reader or Feedblitz email and can’t view the video, please click on the post title.]

Barack Obama is AWB: articulate while black

by guest contributor Philip Arthur Moore, originally published at TheThink

Why do I keep finding news articles about Barack Obama that conspicuously mention how “articulate” he is?

Reality check: ‘Barry’ Obama attended Columbia University, Harvard Law School, and was the first ever black American to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review. His educational biography is impressive, to say the least, and when he stormed into the national spotlight at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (part 1, part 2), we should have taken note of how “articulate” Obama was with the English language (his native language, by the way) and moved on. Instead, writers, taking adjectives from the same play book and arranging them just slightly differently, are harping on how well Barack Obama can speak about as much as they harp on how well George W. Bush mangles the English language (which, incidentally, is also his native tongue).

Take, for example, the following news snippets that have come out in the past several days alone:

“Barack Obama and the Pertinent Precedents” (Townhall.com, January 18, 2007):

The way in which he resembles George W. Bush — his thin resume — is not one that will help him. It may be cancelled out, though, by the ways in which he conspicuously contrasts with the outgoing president — notably, being thoughtful, articulate and seemingly open to opposing views. Bush is the commander in chief. But it’s Obama who gives the effortless impression of command.

“Much buzz, many questions over Barack Obama’s bid” (Christian Science Monitor, January 17, 2007):

But his biggest advantage could be his persona – young, attractive, articulate, a fresh face.

“Iowa Blogger Thrilled At Obama’s ‘08 Ambitions” (KCCI 8, January 17, 2007):

“We have someone in Obama who is a wonderfully articulate speaker, and we should never underestimate the importance of public officials being able to move people,” Goldford said. “The danger for somebody like Obama is: he rouses such high hopes. I mean, it’s the puppy love. The crush phase.

“Obama may find his newness both help and hindrance in campaign” (The Financial Express, January 18, 2007):

Obama’s appeal as an articulate, intellectual, multi-racial candidate prompted supporters such as fellow Illinois Senator Dick Durbin to urge him to run in 2008. So far, Obama’s easy-going charm is the only thing most voters know about him.

Continue reading

Kelly Hu plays high school valedictorian turned masseuse

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

kelly hu dara lee in case of emergencyHorrendous. Angry Asian Man reports on a new sitcom that brings us a stereotype double whammy:

I’ve been seeing commercials for this new ABC midseason comedy In Case of Emergency, starring Kelly Hu. As reported here previously, she plays Dara Lee, a once-high school valedictorian, now a hooker in a Korean massage parlor. WONDERFUL. Indeed, it is possible to portray not one, but two opposite Asian stereotypes in one role. And man, don’t get me started about the red dress they have here wearing in the photo here. For the curious, the show is scheduled to premiere on January 3rd.

Nicole Richie was white in 2003, black in 2006

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

black and white cookieFunny stuff, from MollyGood:

Three years ago, Nicole Richie was arrested for heroin possession, so following this morning’s DUI arrest, The Smoking Gun was kind enough to compare the changes in her booking sheets from 2003 and 2006. Wheee. The picture accompanying the 2006 sheet is her mugshot, while the 2003 pic is just a photo of Nicole from around the same time.

Here is how she’s changed (I mean, other than her drug of choice). In three years, Nicole Richie has:

1. Shrunk one inch.
2. Lost 5 lbs. (That’s all? Seems fishy.)
3. Changed which race she identifies with (White in 2003, Black in 2006).

Well, at this rate, when she’s arrested in 2009 she’ll be a 5’0”, 80 lb Latina.