Tag Archives: photography

‘But Everybody On TV Is White And All The Nice People Are Blonde’

By Guest Contributor Hana Riaz, cross-posted from Media Diversified

Participants in the upcoming exhibition, ‘A Different Mirror.’ Images and video by Martyna Przybysz.

Earlier this summer, my beautiful then five-year-old Nepali nieces sat with me in our garden enjoying the warm and easy sun. What started as a conversation about what happens to melanin when it finds home in all that glorious vitamin d, looking at our skin browner than it’s winter shade, turned into a difficult conversation about race, gender and diaspora.

One of them began to talk about wanting white skin and blonde hair, and what she would do if she had it. Whilst her twin sister disagreed, responding fervently that she actually liked her brown skin and her black hair, I needed to know what exactly had triggered the other’s denigrated thinking. Her answers, however, were unsurprising – a consequence of not only the (gendered) shadeism (and anti-blackness) that holds dominance in Asian communities but her experiences as a brown girl in a white supremacist society.

Upon my questioning, she responded with a resolute and yet strangely logical answer:

but everybody on TV is white and all the nice people are blonde. Nobody wants to be brown.

There was nowhere she could really see herself.
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Meanwhile, On TumblR: Interrupting Fuckery With Asian American Princesses

By Andrea Plaid

Considering last week’s foolishness, no thanks to Day Above Ground’s “Asian Girlz,” we need some pop-culture interruptions around here–and our anti-racism-and-pop-culture compatriots at Racebending helped out.

This week, we reblogged their post featuring the digital photography of Kim Navoa and Donnie, who reimagined the Disney Princesses as Asian American women. Check out the great results:

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Representation of the “Primitive” American Indian

by Guest Contributor Lisa Wade, originally published at Sociological Images

We owe many iconic images of American Indians to photographer Edward S. Curtis.  Growing up in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Curtis began photographing Indians in 1895 and, in 1906, was offered $75,000 by JP Morgan to continue documenting their lives (wikipedia).  The 1,500 resulting photographs inevitably impacted the image of Indians in the American imagination.

Later it came to light that Curtis’ photographs weren’t exactly pure representations.  In some photographs, for example, he erased signs of modernity.   The first photograph below, the un-edited version, includes a clock between the two men, whereas the edited version, following, does not.

Curtis also sometimes staged scenes and dressed paid participants in costumes, as in this photograph:

According to Wikipedia contributors:

In Curtis’ picture, Oglala War-Party, the image shows 10 Oglala men wearing feather headdresses, on horseback riding down hill. The photo caption reads, “a group of Sioux warriors as they appeared in the days of inter tribal warfare, carefully making their way down a hillside in the vicinity of the enemy’s camp.”  In truth headdresses would have only been worn during special occasions and, in some tribes, only by the chief of the tribe.  The photograph was taken in 1907 when natives had been relegated onto reservations and warring between tribes had ended. Curtis paid natives to pose as warriors at a time when they lived with little dignity, rights, and freedoms.

Curtis’ photographs, then, pushed his subjects back into a false past that non-Indian Americans would misrecognize as authentic for a hundred years.

The problem of misrepresentation of groups who have little power to control their own images is a widespread one.  Shelby Lee Adams’ work was mired in controversy, with critics suggesting that he contributed to the belief that Appalachians were backward, imbred, and unintelligent.   We might apply the same critical eye to representations of marginalized peoples today, like the representation of Arabs in video games and Italian-Americans on Jersey Shore and spin-offs.

Thanks to Dolores R. and Adrienne at Native Appropriations for the post idea.

Review: Broken Arrow: Native Men’s Writing, Art and Culture

By Guest Contributor Jorge Antonio Vallejos, cross-posted from Black Coffee Poet

There’s a new zine out that’s kick ass: “Broken Arrow”.  Its fifty-two pages are comprised of poems, plays, short stories, photos, and artwork; all of which bring the reader to the many different lives of its twenty-eight contributors.

For the last year, Toronto writer Emily Pohl-Weary has given a weekly workshop to the men at the Sagatay Native Mens Residence in Toronto’s west-end with the final result being “Broken Arrow”.

In her introduction to “Broken Arrow” Weary writes, “Working with the writers at Sagatay for the past year has been the highlight of my life.  Each Thursday, my mind came alive with new ideas and stories.  I could be having the most difficult, busy week, but after spending a morning with them, suddenly life felt manageable again.  I only needed to take time to slow down and appreciate the power of sharing our stories.”

Everyone has a story but not everyone is willing to share his or her story.  The men at Sagatay don’t hold back.  Honesty, bravery, and humility are displayed throughout the pages of “Broken Arrow”.  Whether writing of street life, different forms of abuse, loves lost, and the ever present colonization of Turtle Island now known as Canada, these men shoot arrows at their targets with perfect aim.

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