Tag Archives: new demographic

Nooses are racial threats, not pranks

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

nooses workplace race racismThe New York Times ran a story yesterday on the rash of local incidents in which black people have found nooses left in their workplaces. I spoke to the reporter about why people cannot consider nooses to be mere “pranks.” They are serious cases of racial intimidation:

At least seven times in the past few weeks, nooses have been anonymously tossed over pipes or hung on doorknobs in the New York metropolitan area — four times here on Long Island, twice in New York City, once at a Home Depot store in Passaic, N.J. The settings are disparate. One noose was hung in a police station locker room in Hempstead, where the apparent target was a black police officer recently promoted to deputy chief. Another was draped over the doorknob of the office of a black professor at Columbia University.

…Lynching was not part of that history. But to some of those sifting the evidence, the nooses of 2007 represent much the same impulse as lynchings did in the Jim Crow South.

“In the context of today, the noose means, ‘There is still a racial hierarchy in this country, and you better not overstep your bounds,’” said Carmen Van Kerckhove, the founder of a New York consulting firm, New Demographic, that specializes in workplace problems, including racial tension.

The reporter also spoke to Rachel Sullivan from Rachel’s Tavern, who did a great job of providing a historical context for the nooses:

Rachel E. Sullivan, an assistant professor of sociology at Long Island University’s C. W. Post College, said most people do not understand what lynchings were. “They think it was a few guys coming in the night, in their hooded sheets, taking you away,” she said.

She teaches a course on African-American history, including the killings of thousands by lynching in the United States between the end of the Civil War and the end of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“But in reality these were whole, big community events,” she said. “Children and families would come to watch. Hundreds of people attended. They would watch a man being burned and mutilated before he was hung. They would pose for pictures with the body.

“If people had a grasp of what really happened at these things,” Professor Sullivan continued, “they would understand the power of the symbol of a noose.”

Racialicious featured in The Nation magazine

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Stephen Duncombe, author of the fantastic book Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, just wrote a piece for The Nation about why progressive activists cannot afford to ignore celebrity. He was kind enough to mention Racialicious in the article:

It’s exactly this sort of gateway that longtime activist Patricia Jerido is trying to build with her progressive networking site, GoLeft.org. Prominently featured on its home page this summer was a curated list of news stories, briefs about an action staged by the NAACP in Detroit, another Republican politician denouncing the war and…Paris Hilton’s jail stint. When I ask, why Paris? Jerido responds, “Because that’s what people are talking about. Republican defections make the news, but Paris in jail makes it into popular culture.”

“We need to be talking about her too,” the founder of GoLeft elaborates, “using her as a starting point to move to the conversation we want to be having about who gets sent to prison and who gets out, about money, wealth and access.” Carmen Van Kerckhove, who runs the website Racialicious.com, calls this sort of thing a “teachable moment”–an approachable opening into larger, thornier issues like the inequities of the criminal justice system. In fact, Van Kerckhove points out, two such moments are opened up when politics and celebrity intersect. The first is the issue itself, and the second is how the mass media handle that issue. Both can be opportunities for political conversation.

Sometime what’s more interesting than the celebrity event itself (e.g., Michael Richards, Don Imus) is how the issue gets played out in the media. The Richards incident started with the racist ravings of a white man, complete with references to lynching, but ended up as a public discussion of why black people keep using the n-word towards each other. The Imus incident started with the racist and misogynist remarks of a white man, but ended up as a public referendum on misogyny in hip hop.

It’s fascinating to me that all roads seem to lead back to discussions of how black people are supposedly oppressing themselves.

I interviewed Duncombe in episode 78 of Addicted to Race. I encourage you to check it out – he’s got some great ideas.

How to suggest news stories to Racialicious

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

As you’ve probably noticed, I publish a post (almost) every day with links to various articles and blog posts on topics related to race, racism and pop culture.

If you’d like to suggest a link, the best way to do it is through del.icio.us.

del.icio.us is a way to bookmark pages and keep your collection of bookmarks online, accessible from anywhere. But it’s also got some great ways to share your bookmarks with others.

If you already have a del.icio.us account, or if you’d consider signing up for one, you can simply tag a story that you want to submit to racialicious with the tag for:racialicious and it’ll show up automatically in my del.icio.us inbox.

The reason this is easier than email is that I actually use del.icio.us to automatically publish these links every morning. I bookmark things as the day goes on, and the following morning, those links I bookmarked get automatically published here as a post. That also means you can find all the articles we’ve ever linked to using this method on Racialicious’s del.icio.us page.

I really appreciate the fact that many of you email me your suggestions, but due to the volume of email I get, these have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle. Using del.icio.us is definitely the best way to go. Thanks everyone! :)

To learn more, check out this excellent beginner’s guide to using del.icio.us.

What do you get if you google the word interracial?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Well, the #1 search result is not safe for work, that’s for sure.

So the question is: why are people so fascinated by interracial sex?

Let me tell you a quick story.

I was at a conference a couple of years ago and during one of the breaks, a man came up to me and started chatting.

“What are you speaking about today?” he asked, since my nametag identified me as one of the featured speakers at the conference.

“Interracial relationships,” I replied.

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, his whole manner changed. Instead of being polite and respectful, he started leering and smirking.

“Is this based on personal experience?” he asked in a low, suggestive tone.

Actually my workshop was all about debunking myths and ripping apart stereotypes. But the minute he heard me say the word “interracial,” all he could think about was sex.

Why are people so fascinated by interracial sex?

I answer this question and many others in my audio seminar, “Not Just Fetishists and Race Traitors: Challenging the Ways We View Interracial Relationships.

Order it today:

If you decide the seminar didn’t provide you with the insight you were looking for, you can contact me within 56 days and I’d be happy to refund you 100% of the cost.



PS: Don’t worry, the audio seminar costs less than your weekly Starbucks habit. :)

PPS: If you prefer text to audio, you can order the e-book instead. It’s a PDF file that you can either read on the screen or print out and take with you.

Reminder: Racialicious! When Race and Pop Culture Collide

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m excited to announce that New Demographic’s seminar, Racialicious! When Race and Pop Culture Collide, is now available in both audio seminar and e-book formats!

From the neo-minstrelsy of Flavor of Love to the racial segregation on Survivor, from the race-swapping families on Black.White. to the fascination with interracial sex, from Gwen Stefani’s use of Harajuku girls as mute human props to Angelina Jolie’s obsession with international adoption, from Michael Richards’ lynching tirade to Rosie O’Donnell’s “ching chong” remarks, race and pop culture are colliding more now than ever before.

What does pop culture reveal about our attitudes toward race and racism? Does pop culture’s treatment of race help or harm discussions about race? As consumers of pop culture, what kinds of stereotypes and assumptions should we look out for?


Format: MP3 file that you can download, keep and play as many times as you like
42 minutes


Format: Adobe Acrobat PDF file that you can either print out or read on the screen. You can also download the file and keep it forever.
14 pages

Please note:

  • Within 24 hours of the time you place your order, you will receive an email with a link to the MP3 (audio seminar) or PDF (e-book), which you can download and keep forever.
  • If you’d like to pay by credit card instead of PayPal, click one of the buttons above. When you get to the PayPal page, look in the lower left-hand corner where it says “Don’t have a PayPal account? No problem, continue checkout” and click the “Continue” button there.

Introducing Racialicious special correspondent, Wendi Muse

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m excited to announce that starting next week, Wendi Muse will be joining Latoya as a special correspondent for Racialicious! She’ll be writing one post per week for the blog, and will also be helping me with some odds and ends behind the scenes. Here’s more about her:

Wendi was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee and moved to New York to attend NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study. At NYU she was a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar and did a concentration on “legal and cultural studies of oppressed and marginalized people,” which she sometimes abbreviates on her resume as “cross-cultural analysis” as to not confuse employers or the weak of (bleeding) heart. She is presently working at a law firm by day, but moonlights as the associate editor and “current events” contributor for The Coup Magazine (check out both the magazine and the blog) Wendi plans to attend grad school in the fall of 2008, but until then, she’s killing time blogging about -ISMs, dancing up a storm, and studying Portuguese.

Please join me in welcoming her to the Racialicious team! :)

What you missed on Race in the Workplace

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

In case you haven’t been checking out New Demographic’s latest blog, Race in the Workplace, here’s what you may have missed:

How to build your personal brand
What do people say about you when you’re not in the room? If you don’t know, it could hinder your career opportunities. Whether we like it or not, each of us has a personal brand. The question is: is your brand what you want it to be? Interactive marketer Mitch Joel gives you some strategies you can use to get your brand to where it neesd to be.

Watercooler: black = stupid?
“The conversation ended with the boss informing the employee that if black people are taking any type of civil service exam, they are given more points then white people taking the same exam, just because they’re black. To which the employee replied ‘What because they’re stupid they get extra points? That’s so unfair! Stupid people are just stupid people!'”

Recommended Reading
A TIME magazine reporter realizes she was a diversity hire. How HR can end pay inequality between men and women right away. More on the stay-at-home mom versus the working mom. A long-time LA Times sportwriter announces his transition from male to female. How to respond gracefully when someone makes a borderline potentially offensive comment.

Watercooler: When money trumps racism
“What I wasn’t expecting was my supervisor pulling me into a meeting room when we got back to the office to tell me that he thought my mentioning my background whilst the client was being openly racist was inappropriate and antagonistic, and could have cost the company business. “