Tag Archives: race

Angelina Jolie to adopt child from India

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Ha! Props to taz at Sepia Mutiny for calling this weeks ago.

In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, Angelina Jolie is rumored to be adopting a child from India, where she is currently filming A Mighty Heart, or as I like to call it, A Mighty Bad Bronzer Job. From The Daily Mail:

Angelina Jolie is adopting an Indian baby to add to her growing international brood, according to US reports. Sources say the big-hearted actress and partner Brad Pitt have already applied to adopt a tot from an Indian orphanage.

An insider said: “They hope to be able to bring the child home by Christmas. “Brad would prefer a boy no older than 18 months to even out the sexes but Angie has told him she can’t guarantee she won’t fall in love with a little girl.”

Ok, I’m sorry but the following quote puts me over the edge:

She has said: “I want to create a rainbow family. That’s children of different religions and cultures from different countries.”

“I believe I’m meant to find my children in the world and not necessarily have them genetically.”

Sigh… You may remember that I was rather critical of her interview with Anderson Cooper back in June, when she talked about adopting a child like it’s a matter of picking what curtains go with your pillows (”It’s, you know, another boy, another girl, which country, which race would fit best with the kids.”).

The source told US magazine Globe: “Whichever they end up with, they’d like to name the child India to honour its homeland.” The pair are rumoured to have visited the Priva Darshini orphanage in the last month.

taz at Sepia Mutiny is not such a fan of this name choice:

Seriously?!?! It’s not like they went around and named your other kids ‘Cambodia’ and ‘Ethiopia.’ How come the other kids get cool names like Maddox, Shiloh and Zahara, and you want to name the desi kid ‘India?’ Like she isn’t going to be teased enough…

I once had this girl in my class, a Latino woman, whose name was Asia. I found it confusing. Now that I think about it, I may have met an India or two in my lifetime and I was always left feeling a little … put off. Being named after a country just never seemed, um, meaningful. But INDIA, really? Brangelina, don’t you think you could name the desi kid something else, while still honoring his birth land? Those poor children will be raised with such identity issues…

Debunking the “million to one,” “black and white twins” obsession

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

black and white twins australian interracial couple alicia jasminLet the hysteria begin! The media has yet another set of “miracle” twins to obsess over. An Australian black/white mixed woman with a white husband recently gave birth to twins Alicia and Jasmin, girls that The Daily Telegraph refers to as “one black and one white.” The paper also claims that “experts say the chance of twins being born with such different physical characteristics is about a million to one.” (Thanks to Tariq for this tip!)

This is the not the first time we’ve seen this kind of “million to one” incident though. In February of this year, the media was all aflutter over an English couple – both father and mother were of mixed black and white heritage themselves – who had “black and white twins.”

The fascination with these two cases says a lot about the way we think of race. First, people are still so intent on forcing people into neat little categories. But these children are all mixed – they’re not solely “black” or “white.” Second, it’s amazing how much phenotype – especially skin color – warps people’s perceptions.

On episode 18 of Addicted to Race, we spoke about the English twins with Dr. Joseph L. Graves, the evolutionary biologist who wrote the excellent book The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America. He rightly pointed out people were making it seem as if the sisters looked nothing alike (see a pic here) but in fact, their features were very similar. Yes, one sister looked signficantly more European than the other, but the other had European facial features as well. But most people simply could not look beyond the child’s dark skin.

Moreover, Graves said that “to describe the child as simply black because she had darker skin betrays the underlying racist ideology that one has to be either black or white.” I would definitely encourage you to have a listen to his rant about this. You can listen here, and his segment begins around the 15-minute mark.

There’s nothing particularly miraculous about siblings who vary greatly in phenotype. It’s simply a matter of genetic variation. There are plenty of African-American families in which this kind of variation can be found, for example, because of the genetic variation in those families that resulted from the sexual relationships between white slaveowners and their slaves. So the next time you see a story that claims that this is a “million to one” occurrence, don’t believe the hype.

Chevrolet Silverado ad: only blacks and whites in “Our Country?”

by guest contributor HighJive, originally posted at MultiCultClassics

Is the new Chevrolet Silverado commercial patriotic — or patronizing and potentially racist? As John Mellencamp belts out his original tune (which he probably spent half an hour to conceive and produce), there are images of Muhammad Ali, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. Oddly enough, few White heroes appear during the anthem, with the exceptions of the obligatory golfing astronaut and Richard Nixon (?!). Chevy even includes references to New Orleans and the World Trade Center.

Yet despite song lyrics proclaiming, “This Is Our Country,” the spot is virtually devoid of Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans or any other minority group. Guess this is not their country.

Hey Hollywood, Black, Asian, and Latino Men Do Fall In Love!

by guest contributor Rachel Sullivan, originally posted at Rachel’s Tavern

empty bedI saw this great post on the All Things Considered Blog about love scenes in the top grossing movies. The author, Steven Barnes, reviewed love scenes in the 350 films that have earned more than $100 million dollars. Barnes found that 50 of these movies had loves scenes, which he operationalizes as scenes that insinuate sex, but not one of those scenes included a male actor who was not white.

From PG through R, from Bond through Basic Instinct, you’ll find such scenes in about 15 percent of the most popular films ever made. And every single one features a white guy.

If you scan the same list for American films with non-white leads (again, there are about 50), you’ll find love scenes in zero percent. That’s right, zero. No blacks. No Latinos. No Asians. Hollywood makes such films; you can find them further down on the list. But America won’t watch them.

Barnes goes on to make an argument that I don’t agree with. He says that the problem is about “male territorial behavior,”

I’m convinced that the problem is not just “Hollywood executives.” They’re no better or worse than the rest of us. They simply try to keep track of what the audience wants and rejects, as measured by box office receipts.

And I don’t believe there’s something especially twisted or limited about the white majority. I think this little statistical blip has to do with human perception itself — and most specifically, male territorial behavior.

When confronted with this statistic, some people ask why I don’t count movies such as Will Smith’s delightful Hitch. Simple: There are no love scenes. Hugs and kisses don’t make babies. I suspect that it’s the depiction of specific reproductive behavior, even at a genteel When Harry Met Sally level, that triggers the most powerful negative response, especially in male alpha-warrior types.

This is where he and I part ways. This can’t just be reduced to male on male competition, and better analysis would incorporate the structures of race, gender, and sexuality.

I think one of the primary ways that groups are marginalized is through control of their sexuality. The control can be exercised directly through sexual violence (i.e. rape), forced breeding, and coercion. It can been done indirectly through stereotyping and erasure. I think one of the primary ways that Black, Asian, Latino, and American Indian sexuality is controlled today is through what Patricia Hill Collins calls controlling images. Popular movies, TV programs, music, and almost every other major form of popular culture contribute these controlling images when they avoid showing African Americans in intimate, loving relationships. Not only are people of color not shown in loving relationships, we also rarely see intimate family relationships. Continue reading

Too hood for MySpace? Try CrackSpace!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

From the man who brought you that masterpiece of African-American cinema, Soul Plane, comes a brand-new venture: a social networking web site called Crackspace. From EURWeb.com:

“MySpace is great but it doesn’t even come close to fully satisfying the hip-hop generation. CrackSpace was created by and for that generation. This is a place for anyone who loves the culture. We have to be very much in touch with the places where kids experience urban music and culture and really set the table for when the majority of sales are online. That’s really what this is all about.”

There’s nothing like naming your company after a drug that has ravaged communities of color all over the country and taken countless lives. Clearly this is a man who cares about our children.

(First read about this on the always-fabulous Crunk and Disorderly.)

10 hints for my white friends

by guest contributor Philip Arthur Moore, originally published at TheThink

Before taking my first ever study abroad trip, I was told that there would be certain social and cultural norms that I would have to adapt to without pressing the issue too much. I knew that as a visitor into the Vietnamese community, no matter how odd, foreign, hypocritical, or just plain weird the people seemed, it wasn’t my place to call them out on it. To be sure, I found myself frustrated at times that I was unable to cause some sort of communal change in areas that I found a bit off, but that was the price I paid to study abroad. I knew that no matter how close I got to the community, through my acquisition of the Vietnamese language or friendly conversations, there were some things I just could not do as a non-Vietnamese person.

It is with this train of thought that I feel the need to enlighten some of my white brothers and sisters about how not to approach the black community in the United States. Now, I realize that black Americans and white Americans live in the same political state, but often times they might as well be defined as two separate nations. Young black children in predominately white schools might as well be on a study abroad trip as far as I’m concerned. White Americans who dare travel into predominately black, brown, or yellow neighborhoods often feel like they are living in another country among a sea of non-white people.

Little is admitted about the real lack of integration in our nation while whites kick back and enjoy television shows like Flavor of Love and think they’ve truly just enjoyed a slice of black life in the U.S. Non-whites watch television shows like Friends and think that most white people drink bowl-sized cups of latte. Many watch the newest season of Survivor (Cook Islands) and actually believe they’ve been schooled on diversity.

Of all the races in the United States, white people have the hardest time understanding racial oppression. This is a fact. Much like the men (including myself) in the United States who just cannot understand what it feels like to be a woman who is judged by her bra and waist measurements, white Americans cannot put themselves in the position of racial other-ness on a daily basis. Unless of course they go abroad or to New York, Chicago, DC, Altanta, Detroit, Philly, LA, Houston, or anywhere else with more black people than say, Altoona, PA. This is not to say that white people cannot understand racial opporession. It’s just that, well, most of them don’t.

With that said, I’ve put together ten pointers that will help my fellow American citizens integrate themselves more easily into a black America. Granted, many of my white brothers and sisters will never feel the need to voluntarily put themselves around people shades darker than themselves (unless it involves sex, economic or sociopolitical domination), but for those who do want to take on a grand adventure of integrating themselves with blacks in a comfortable fashion, look no further.

What follows are ten rules that may help you blend in easier with black Americans and reduce frictions between yourselves and them. Consider it a study abroad guide to black America. Now, surely there will be some white people who read the following rules and get upset about them, but just remember, when you put yourselves around a lot of black people, you are on a study abroad trip. Suck it up, deal with it how you must, and keep it moving.

Things White People Shouldn’t Do…
(10 Rules from your Half-brother, With Love)

Rule #1: Say the word “Nigger”.

This one’s pretty self explanatory. I understand that a number of my white brothers and sisters feel the need to sing along with rap songs and repeat a lot of the things that black rappers say. But, I asure you, this angers a great deal of black people. Many of us are very uncomfortable with the word “nigger”, and far fewer of us use it than is portrayed on television. For your own safety and the safety of those around you, please avoid using this word. For more explanation, please continue reading about the word “nigger”…

Rule #2: Throw “ghetto” parties (unless one actually lives in the ghetto) or dress up in blackface, brown-face, yellow-face, or any other-face that contradicts one’s own skin tone (Halloween exemptions on a case by case basis).

It seems that as of late, white people have been on the up and up when it comes to throwing ghetto parties. Perhaps this coincides with the birth of hipsterism, I’m not sure. In any event, these ghetto parties can lead to nothing but sore relationships between black Americans and white Americans who believe that dressing like black people is flattering, funny, entertaining, or harmless. For your own safety and the safety of those around you, please avoid painting yourself with shoe polish for kicks and giggles. That hurts black peoples’ feelings, and you wouldn’t want to do that. Would you? Continue reading

Hailing a cab was never so easy…

by Jen Chau
the cabs are just lining up!That is the thought of New York Times Week in Review writer, Calvin Sims. He remembers that just several years ago, it was much tougher to hail a cab, being a young black male. He wonders if it has to do with law enforcement, the fact that drivers are less discriminatory, or because he is less threatening now that he is a bit older and “well-dressed.”

Now, my friends and I look more mature than we did 10 years ago and, if I dare say, we dress better, which may account for our newfound taxi-hailing success. But numbers make me think that something else may be going on. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission’s “Operation Refusal” program, in which undercover officers of different races randomly hail taxis, found in its most recent study a 96 percent compliance rate among cabbies. The commission says the compliance rate has grown consistently since the program was instituted in 1997, when it was 88 percent.

“It’s a better climate today for everybody in the city to catch a taxi than it was back then, no matter what your race,” said Matthew W. Daus, the city’s taxi commissioner. “Drivers realize that the person they refuse to pick up could be an undercover officer and that has reduced the temptation to discriminate.”

Ah, no reason to get happy people, “progress” has been made due to fear of repercussions. 😐

The ad industry’s mascot of cultural cluelessness

Note from CVK:
I highly encourage you to read Brownstein’s recent op-ed for AdAge.com, in which he quotes his one Black Friend and declares that agencies don’t get enough black and Latino applicants because “inner-city kids love to watch TV commercials — but they have no idea how the commercials are made.” The piece really encapsulates the cluelessness that exists in the advertising industry.

by guest contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

marc brownsteinAdvertising agencies consistently introduce characters that symbolize the cultural cluelessness, insensitivity and even racism so prevalent in the industry. Classic examples include Aunt Jemima, the Frito Bandito, and the Calgon Couple conspiring with their “ancient Chinese secret.” MultiCultClassics is proud to present the latest such character: Marc Brownstein.

Anyone unfamiliar with this new character is cordially encouraged to read the AdAge perspective presented in Essay 1205.

Just to be clear, this commentary is not intended to be a direct attack against Marc Brownstein. After all, it’s highly likely that Brownstein is a decent fellow and upstanding citizen. And he’s probably not a mean-spirited racist. Therefore, let’s avoid being haters regarding the true Marc Brownstein.

Rather, readers can think of Marc Brownstein as a label for actions and attitudes. Based on recent events (many of which have been detailed on this blog over the past months), it seems safe to conclude that every major Madison Avenue shop has a bunch of Marc Brownsteins on staff.

So what exactly is a Marc Brownstein?

When confronting issues of diversity and exclusivity, a Marc Brownstein openly displays passive bias. (Click here to read the MultiCultClassics kickoff essay, which serves up the phenomenon of passive bias.)

For guidance on race-based questions, a Marc Brownstein seeks counsel from a Black friend (who is often the only Black person in the Marc Brownstein social network). Of course, this Black friend will be a class act, unlike the majority of minorities featured on evening news broadcasts and regular installments of The People’s Court and Cops. Plus, the Black friend’s viewpoint will completely represent the opinions of every dark-skinned individual on Earth. Continue reading