Tag Archives: race

Is “Classalicious” in our future?

by Jen Chau
Have you wondered why our society doesn’t address class with nearly the same frequency as it does race? I have, but I quickly answer myself — clearly, issues of race and diversity have been done so much (not necessarily done right, though) that it’s easier for people to talk about race than it is for them to talk about class. No one wants to really think about those issues. In the same way that perhaps it used to be taboo for you to mention that (god forbid!) you had a parent of color, the modern day passing might just be about class (as in passing as someone who has more than $100 in savings. :|). I had a recent conversation with a friend where we were talking about this — and how it’s an unspoken thing, that you can’t necessarily tell who is who, that the distinctions of social class are much more invisible. And that’s another reason why race is so easy for us to talk about. It’s seemingly more obvious to us. Or so people think. :)

Slate gives a scathing review of Walter Benn Michaels’ new book, The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality. Michaels argues that we need to talk about class and get off the race tip. But apparently, he doesn’t really make his case.

Here are some examples of Michaels’ rhetorical excess. Cultural differences, including those involving race, are “lovable,” whereas class differences “are not so obviously appealing.” Affirmative action is therefore “a kind of collective bribe rich people pay themselves for ignoring economic inequality.” It is absurd to focus so much on affirmative action because “there are no people of different races.” It makes more sense to talk about concrete things, such as paying African-Americans reparations for slavery, than it does to engage in symbolic politics in which nothing really is at stake: “No issue of social justice hangs on appreciating hair color diversity; no issue of social justice hangs on appreciating racial or cultural diversity.”

Michaels, as these examples illustrates, belongs to the “shock and awe” school of political argument. First, you say something wildly implausible in the hopes that its dramatic counterintuitiveness will make it seem brilliant. Yet in the United States in which I live, race is an obvious fact of life, conversations about it remain awkward and uncomfortable, and both supporters and opponents of affirmative action are sincere in their convictions. It is true that saying such things would make for a very unoriginal book. But at least it would be an accurate one.


All that said, I do agree that we need to discuss class a much more than we are. But unless someone otherwise convinces me, I don’t think we can necessarily forget about race in that conversation about class. Race and class are inextricably linked (at this time).

Eddie Murphy in yellowface

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Just when I didn’t think Eddie Murphy’s career could sink any lower, along comes his latest flick, Norbit. Check out the video of the trailer. Jenn at Reappropriate summarizes it thus:

In it, Murphy plays a dorky, meek Black man adopted as a child by an old Asian man and, in adulthood, who is dominated by a fat black woman stereotype. The catch? Murphy plays Norbit, Norbit’s girlfriend, and the Asian man who adopts him. As the Asian man, not only does Murphy wear yellow-tinted skin, but plays up the old Asian male stereotype, complete with poor Chinglish accent.

When are people going to stop finding black men in dresses funny? When are we going to stop using overweight people as comedic crutches? And when are people going to realize that yellowface is just as offensive as blackface?

I think Racialicious should hand out buffoonery awards. Tyler Perry is, of course, still in the lead for Buffoon of the Year (NAACP Image Award bedamned), but I gotta say after watching this trailer that Eddie Murphy’s a close second.

‘The Departed’ full of racist Asian stereotypes

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

the departed martin scorceseI’m really looking forward to watching The Departed but I’m shocked to hear that it’s chock-full of Asian stereotypes. Which is ironic, of course, since it’s a remake of the great Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs.

Brian from Asia Pacific Arts wrote this quick report in to Angry Asian Man:

…it is surprisingly insensitive to Asians — namely, lots of inscrutable Chinese villains lurking around in seedy Chinatown, as well as some sinister mainland Chinese government agents who are made into inept fools by Jack Nicholson and his gang. It’s not a huge part of the movie, and normally I can tolerate the stereotypes, but in a film that’s so indebted to Hong Kong culture, it’s shocking that this is the way it choses to give back to the Chinese.

And Jenn at Reappropriate has this to say:

But the insult comes not in these caricatures of Chinese characters. No, the insult comes with Jack Nicholson’s dialogue, which blatantly invokes nearly every “amusing” anti-Asian joke one can bring to mind: from Chinese as spies, to Chinese as foreigners, to Chinese as un-American, to Chinese as emasculated, to Chinese dick-size jokes, to — and I quote — “No Tickee No Laundry”.

All in the span of five minutes.

…This is how Hollywood treats the people who gave birth to the film upon which the Departed is based. This is how visible our community is in Hollywood. And they wonder why we don’t go to theatres anymore: tonight, I spent $17 on a movie that basically spat in my face.

Ouch. Sounds like we’ve got another Crash on our hands.

Have you seen it yet? What do you think?

Monday’s Tyra Show is on interracial dating

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

tyra banks show interracial dating(Thanks to Tariq for the heads-up on this!)

Monday’s episode of the Tyra Banks Show is going to be about interracial dating. Click here to watch a video preview, but here’s the description from their web site:

What is your first reaction when you see men and women of different ethnicities holding hands or kissing? Tyra continues her ongoing race series, and gives her audience an in-depth, controversial look at interracial dating. Interracial couples discuss the stigmas they face on a daily basis and respond to shocking comments and perceptions made about them by a focus group. Tyra also invites an interracial gay couple to the show to see if the same prejudices occur in the gay community. Plus, the cameras follow two women on controversial race-related dates, where one dates a man outside her race for the first time, and another dates within her race for the first time.

50 Cent calls Oprah white, Kanye West gay

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

50 cent disses oprah and kanye west(Spotted this on Crunk and Disorderly)

A lot of rappers have spoken out about Oprah’s seemingly hostile attitude towards hip hop artists. First Ludacris complained about having his comments edited out when he appeared on her show to discuss the movie Crash. Then 50 Cent told the Associated Press that he “could care less” about Oprah. And to top it all of, Ice Cube bitched to FHM magazine that Oprah had Eve and Cedric the Entertainer on to talk about the movie Barbershop, but not him.

And now 50 Cent has lashed out again. Not only does he accuse Oprah of being a white woman, but he also manages to get a homophobic dig in at Kanye West. From BET.com:

In usual 50 Cent fashion, the rapper has once again decided to pick a fight. This week, 50 Cent has decided to go after Oprah again. In an exclusive interview while backstage at 106 & Park last Thursday, 50 said, “Oprah’s great. I just think the only misconception is that she’s a Black woman. They say Oprah Winfrey’s a Black woman, but she’s [been] catering to a demographic of a middle-aged White woman for so long that I believe she’s a middle-aged White woman.”

These comments stem from a beef that 50 Cent had with Oprah earlier this year after rumors began to circulate that the talk show host refused to have certain rappers on her show. ”

Oprah will have a rapist on her show and have a discussion about why they do it, but won’t have a rags to riches story on her show,” 50 said.

He went on to even throw rapper/producer Kanye West in the fire. “She’ll have Kanye West on her show. I think middle America would rather have they kids be gay, than have them aggressive.”

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Madonna adopts baby from Malawi?

by guest contributor Nina

(Note from CVK: as of now we’re getting conflicted reports over whether or not this adoption has gone through. Madonna’s publicist has denied it, but Malawi government officials have said it’s true.)

In the latest celebrity news, Madonna has adopted or plans to adopt an orphan from Malawi. Apparently she wants a boy and had about a dozen to choose from. So now it is just a short time before we see the little one in the most stylish baby clothes, being carted around the streets of London and L.A. in the Material Girl’s arms. The new mother,with a smug “aren’t-I-an-amazing-person-
because-I-adopted-this-child-that-would-have-died-without-my-help” look on her face.

I know that we are supposed to be in awe of celebrities adopting African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, but I cannot shake the feeling that it is just a trendy act and reeks of noblesse oblige and reputation rehab! Maybe Madonna will get a shout out on BET’s 106th & Park. A decade ago Hollywood was adopting African American kids (Mia Farrow, Tom Cruise, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Spielberg), and now the cause celebre is Africa itself and as the caustic mass media puts it “AIDS babies.”

Some would argue that without these individuals, the orphans would die. Well according to a 2003 UNICEF report, “AIDS has already orphaned more than 11 million African children, half of whom are between the ages of 10 and 14.” So unless Angelina, Madonna and the rest plan on adopting a few hundred kids each then they aren’t really putting a dent in the situation. The old adage, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day seems to apply here. Less than 5 % of Africans affected with HIV/AIDS have access to medication that costs a mere $7-8 a day. A couple of million dollars for antiretrovirals that keep these kids’ parents alive would be far more beneficial in the long run than adopting one child. Instead Madonna hopes to spend $3 million on a kabbalah-influenced orphanage to indoctrinate Malawian children in her religion of the moment.

Furthermore, the issue of these children’s racial/cultural identity is worth discussion. Malawi has a ban on non-resident adoptions of Malawian children. A ban that was in place, presumably, to maintain the culture of their children. But the ban was lifted for Madonna. This site has devoted considerable time to issues of racial identity, particularly for transracially adopted children. When Oprah asked Tom Cruise, “how do you discuss race with your son?” (who is African-American). Cruise looked at Oprah like she asked him to describe bestiality. “He’s my son, Oprah. He’s my son” he said indignantly, to the applause of a mostly white audience.

Race is a thorny topic but it needs to be talked about especially if you adopt from outside your own. I just don’t think that white, wealthy celebrities can really deal with it. Hell, even celebrities of color live in a rarefied world. I once saw an interview with Natalie Cole where she said she didn’t realize she was black until she got to college. And she grew up during segregation! I cannot wait to hear from Zahara, Maddox and all the rest in the years to come.

Mastercard ‘Priceless’ commercial features interracial couple

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

mastercard priceless interracialA few of you have written to us (thanks Geraly and Becky!) about this new Mastercard commercial featuring an interracial couple. To watch it yourself, go to this page and click on “Meet the Family.”

It’s a cute little spot, about a Japanese(-American?) woman and white man getting engaged, and then having their parents fly in to meet each other. It uses the usual “priceless” formula:

ring: $9,000
flight from Tokyo: $6,800
flight from Chicago: $1,400
Dad? Mr. Suki. Mr. Suki? Dad. Mr. Carson. Akiko. Brian. Mrs. Suki. Mrs. Carson. Dad? Brian?

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