I love supporting women focused films.
I like historical dramas.
I like stories about women kicking ass.
So, by all rights, I should love (and want to see) Suffragette. But I didn’t go to the free screening at ONA and the more I see from the marketing of this film, the more I wince. It’s pretty clear from the trailer that the film is about white women. Since anyone who studies history for more than 15 minutes knows history never fits neatly into a little box, where are the suffragettes of color? If they weren’t in the movement, where were they? What were they doing?
A Women & Hollywood piece stumping for the film tries to answer these questions, but in the worst way possible (emphasis mine):
3. It’s got (almost) all the other feminist bona fides on its side. The film is led not only by a woman helmer and writer, but has been guided by two female producers (Alison Owen and Faye Ward). It passes the Bechdel test with flying colors and has at its emotional core a political speech by Emmeline Pankhurst. Yes, the “whitewashing” concerns are real and the film’s promotional t-shirt campaign was poorly conceived, but Gavron isn’t blind to intersectionality. In an upcoming podcast with Women and Hollywood, she’ll discuss how most of the suffragettes of color she found in her historical research were of noble birth, and they unfortunately had to be waylaid because her intent was to focus on the working-class women who were the unknown soldiers of the movement. (There are well-to-do but no aristocratic women in the film.) We hope another film in the future will give suffragettes of color their due.
As usual, the inclusivity of the film lies in the hands of the storyteller – there are always hard cuts to be made in any creative work, but why do the stories of women of color always pull the short end of the stick? Here’s to hoping Amma Asante takes a look at this next – somehow, she always finds a way to look at history through an inclusive lens. That tiny disclosure prompts so many more questions: what was happening to working class WoC in that era? Which nobles were involved? Where white suffragettes racist and/or violent toward their WOC counterparts? It’s tough to want to be transported by a film to another era, knowing you’ll be left unsatisfied in the end.
I understand that for some people, erasing women of color from historical narratives is simply an unfortunate oversight. But for those of us who continually see our stories erased from historical record, whitewashed depictions of history aren’t so easy to swallow.
Midterms are coming.
Also known as the election years that most people don’t pay attention to, the midterm elections have an enormous impact on the lives of day to day people. Voter turnout tends to drop, but major political machinations happen while the sitting President is still in office.
This month, long time friend of the blog Rebecca Traister wrote a stunning profile of candidate Lucy Flores for Elle Magazine. Flores, the Democratic hopeful for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada decimates other political origin stories – she’s Mexican-American, one of 13 siblings, the child of immigrants, and former gang member. She turned her life around, started at community college, became a lawyer, and decided to run for office. She’s unapologetically pro-choice (and one of the rare candidates that will share her own story.) Domestic violence shaped her world – and her life experiences lead to a very pro-populist platform.
But what really gives Flores’ story bite is her unique position in politics – not only who she is, but what she represents for the Democratic party:
When a governor steps down in the state [of Nevada], the lieutenant governor, who’s not necessarily of the same party, assumes the post. Nevada’s current governor is the immensely popular Republican Brian Sandoval, whom Politico Magazine dubbed “The Man Who Keeps Harry Reid Up at Night.” That’s because many believe he’ll challenge the majority leader for his Senate seat in 2016, if, that is, the person who’d take his place is a fellow Republican: Flores’ opponent Mark Hutchison. Which makes Flores, to use Politico-speak, “The Woman Who Could Save Harry Reid’s Hide—and Keep the Senate in Democratic Hands.”
Go read it. Read it all.
Politico’s magazine has a cover piece on Michelle Obama called “>”Leaning Out: How Michelle Obama Became a Feminist Nightmare.” Or, it could have been titled “random feminists are disappointed.” As per usual, the piece is long on other people’s opinions about how Michelle Obama is single handedly failing the cause and short on actual analysis and historical context.
The piece opens by sharing a story about a new political initiative that Michelle Obama is involved with, with writer Michelle Cottle implying that Obama’s focus on people and not policy is not enough:
Speaking last week at Bell Multicultural High School, a couple of miles north of the White House, the first lady touted the importance of a college degree, citing her own journey from a one-bedroom apartment on Chicago’s South Side to Princeton as evidence of how far hard work and good schooling can take you. “I’m here today because I want you to know that my story can be your story,” she told the predominantly low-income, heavily minority student body.
Cottle goes on to explain that Obama’s visit to Bell Multicultural is part of a push for a campaign to encourage college completion. Cottle then complains that Obamas efforts with youth outreach are distressingly focused on actually talking to the youth, instead of digging deep and hitting hard at policy from the White House Garden.
This example is an interesting one to criticize, to say the least. Nothing is mentioned about DC’s unique space in public education debates, now forgotten after the heyday of high profile reformers. Not much is said about why there may be a focus on minority graduation rates from college, or why Bell Multicultural might be the perfect kind of place to launch an initiative focusing on low income students and college enrollment. No, no, Cottle would like us to understand that Michelle Obama is failing feminism because she insists on being motherly.
In Cottle’s own words:
Turns out, she was serious about that whole “mom-in-chief” business—it wasn’t merely a political strategy but also a personal choice.
Oh, the horror. Continue reading
Image via Salon.com.
The latest episode in Paul family’s saga with white supremacy comes from John Harwood, who interviewed Paul for NPR. When Harwood asked the senator about Jack Hunter, who co-authored Paul’s book and served on his staff before getting fired when his arguably racist views came to light, the senator bristled. Paul agreed that some (though he did not specify what) of what Hunter wrote was “stupid,” Paul mostly defended his former longtime aide. “He was unfairly treated by the media, and he was put up as target practice for people to say he was a racist, and none of that’s true,” the senator said. “None of it was racist.”
To refresh, Hunter was, until way, way back in 2012, a radio shock jock and conservative writer who called himself “the Southern Avenger” and wore a Confederate flag luchador mask. Hunter praised the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, decried Hispanic immigration, and warned that “a non-white majority America would simply cease to be America,” among many, many other things.
— Alex Seitz-Wald, “Rand Paul’s shocking racial blind spot” Salon 8/7/2013
by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie
(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson via The White House Blog)
As many marginalized groups know, it’s not a party until we’re all arguing among each other. If you caught the #WhiteHouseIftar hashtag on Twitter, you saw some intense back-and-forth among American Muslims. But I’d like to share the two best pieces that characterize the debate, rather than focus on infighting.
I enjoyed the respectful consideration from Omid Safi, who asked those invited to the White House and State Department iftars to boycott them for the following reasons:
We should, all of us, collectively, politely, and firmly, decline the State Department Ramadan and White House Iftars until the following three measures are taken:
1) The United States immediately abandons the policy of extra-judicial drone attacks in all countries.
2) The United States immediately releases the political prisoners who have been cleared for release at Guantanamo Bay
3) The United States immediately abandons the policy of profiling and surveillance based on race, ethnicity, and religion. Continue reading
By Guest Contributor Terry K. Park, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine
David Phan at age seven, at Arches National Park. Courtesy of the Phan family.
After their son took his own life on November 29th, David Phan’s family received two boxes. One box, sent by Bennion Junior High, was filled with generic pamphlets on how to deal with suicide-related grief. The other box, given by current and former classmates, contained over 600 letters expressing their support and sorrow for the loss of their child. These letters, according to family advocate Steven Ha, paint a portrait of a 14-year-old who, despite being a victim of bullying himself, protected other victims of bullying. At a December 20th briefing for local Asian American activists at the offices of the Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, Ha read out loud one such letter from a former classmate:
“Dear Phan family. Your son David is a life saver. I’m going to miss him…This kid is amazing, has a great personality…I’ve never met someone who could make me smile when I’m deeply sad. He saved my sister’s life. She was going to kill herself, but you [David] talked her out of it. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have a sister because of him, your son…I will not forget you [David]. I am letting balloons go in the air to honor you. I’m so lucky to have met him. He always made everyone smile…If someone was sad, he’d ask if they need a hug. He was the hero of the school. If only I was still there, I would’ve made sure this wouldn’t have happened.”
Tragically, it did. And now a Vietnamese American family grieves for the loss of their son and seeks answers. The answers given by Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsely in the immediate wake of David’s suicide were not only insufficient but struck the Phan family and supporters as defensive, insensitive, and even illegal. “David,” said Horsely, faced “significant personal challenges on multiple fronts” for which he supposedly received support for from a guidance counselor. And despite a report of bullying several years ago, “[David] never reported any further bullying concerns and, on the contrary, reported that things were going well.”
by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour
From E! Online.
Just a quick note (“quick” is a bold faced lie and I know it) to show you that we Racialicious denizens leave the roost sometimes and branch out!
Yesterday, we celebrated the swearing in of our first African American president, for the second time (woo!) We also celebrated the confirmation of four more years of Michelle Obama looking ferosh all the time in the public eye, so I was asked to participate in a Huffington Post Live hangout where a few people would talk about the highlights of the inauguration ceremony from various angles. The guests were:
- Reverend Deborah L. Johnson, Founder of Inner Light Ministries, Santa Cruz, CA
- Molly Darden, Managing Editor of Azizah Magazine, Atlanta, GA
- Dr. Christopher House, Dir., African American Worship Service at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
- Tim Byrnes, Professor of Political Science at Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
- J.J. Colagrande, Professor at Miami-Dade Wolfson and HuffPost Blogger, Miami, FL
- Joseph Lamour, Fashion & Entertainment Editor at Racialicious.com, Washington, DC
C’est moi! The drawing behind me is by yours truly as well. Cross promotion!
Let me just tell you: I did not expect to be seated amongst tenured professors and ministers. I was taken aback (and feel honored to be even thought of for the same discussion as the above people). I was so taken aback that I forgot my opening line! I had dubbed yesterday African American Awesomeness Day, and it really was. I promise I’m not talking about myself, either. I’m being humble (for once). To have Martin Luther King’s birthday fall on the same day as the re-inauguration of an African American President with his African American First Lady at his side was truly, truly, awesome.