Tag Archives: racial stereotypes

Funny Faces: PBS Documentary on Muslim American Comedians

by Fatemeh Fakhraie

This Sunday, May 11, PBS will air a documentary at 10 pm EST entitled Stand Up: Muslim American Comics Come of Age. It explores five prominent Muslim American stand-up comedians (Ahmed Ahmed, Azhar Usman, Dean Obeidallah, Maysoon Zayid, and Tissa Hami) as they perform their sets, draw inspiration from their life events, and look back at what shapes their perceptions.

September 11th was a galvanizing factor for many of the comedians, and the special starts off by contextualizing the comedy in the face of continuing backlash against Muslim and Middle Eastern/South Asian communities. The attacks inspired Dean Obeidallah to reconnect with his Arab roots, leave his career as a lawyer, and start the Arab American Comedy Festival with Maysoon Zayid. It inspired Tissa Hami to leave her Wall Street job and do comedy. It roused Azhar Usman into the realization that the hijackers didn’t just seize the planes; they seized Islam, too. Continue reading

The Real World – Just Your Regular, Reality Show Racism

by Latoya Peterson

The new season of the Real World is on. This one is The Real World XX: Hollywood.

Wendi saw something shady and dropped us an email. *sigh* I rolled over to the MTV site to see what new manufactured racism for ratings was in store for me.

(Please note – the videos are embedded but now direct you to the MTV website. I don’t know why that is happening.)

They don’t dissapoint, do they?

In the video, the housemmates fight and the white, southern roommate Kim starts calling the black, braided roommate Brianna ghetto. The fight escalates, screaming starts, more allegations of ghetto, Brianna calls her a white bitch, and then we get to my favorite quote.

Kim: “I don’t care where you’re from, if you’re from the most inner city…blackville.”

Continue reading

Coonskin Revisited

by Guest Contributor Ali

A couple of weeks ago Latoya posted an entry titled Deconstructing Coonskin here at Racialicious. I was aware of the film prior to this although I had never seen it in its entirety. I had attempted to watch Coonskin several times, but could never seem to make it past part 3 on YouTube. Something about the film that I couldn’t quite put my finger on made me too uncomfortable to make it all the way to the end. About a week after Latoya’s post I happened upon a post on another blog informing me that Ralph Bakshi would be in the city April 18-20 for a series of events. The main component of the series was a back-to-back screening of two of his most popular films, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin (also known as Streetfight). Also, Bakshi himself was to appear at the screening for a Q+A session. Talk about impeccable timing! I passed this info along to Latoya and she asked me if I wouldn’t mind checking out the screening and reporting back to her. The following is my report.

Part my longstanding apprehension about Coonskin was that I wasn’t quite sure what Bakshi was trying to convey. The opportunity to hear him talk about the film and describe its purpose and his intent seemed like a perfect opportunity to clear up the confusion. I attended the full screening, mainly because I wanted to note the change, if any, in audience make up for each film. Surprisingly the audience remained pretty homogeneous for both features. Although there were a few more black viewers for Coonskin (the audience for Coonskin was larger in general) the audience was comprised mostly of single white men. There was a sprinkling of female viewers, most of whom were also white. (On a completely unrelated note, the couple in front of me were making out through a good portion of the film. Apparently Coonskin is a date movie, who knew?)

The most eye opening portion of the night was definitely the Q+A. Bakshi offered a great deal of insight on the art of animation and the creation process for both films. Apparently much of the crew that worked on Coonskin were former animators from MGM and Disney. He also noted that some animators were so offended/uncomfortable with the subject matter that they walked from the project. The best question of the evening came from a young black man who asked Bakshi why he felt it necessary to utilize racial stereotyping in Heavy Traffic. He was specifically referring a dream sequence in which a black man transforms into a monkey before ripping the face off of an Italian man. Bakshi seemed rather taken aback and slightly offended by the question; that’s when things got rather interesting. Continue reading

Open Thread: Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Okay, y’all – who saw the movie over the weekend?

If you did not see the movie because you found the first H & K too sexist, I am here right now to tell you that you made the right choice because the second movie is even worse. (Though, you do get to see three different men breakdown over their respective lost loves and one of the biggest misogynists get their comeuppance.)

If you have not yet seen the movie, please do not read any further because here there be spoilers. Continue reading

Does Feminism Have to Address Race?

by Latoya Peterson

So I have been thinking hard lately as to why I should continue to identify as a feminist. Should I change my designation to womanist? Perhaps to I should have no designation at all.

After all, my views won’t change. I am still dedicated to highlighting issues that impact women of color and I am still going to work in my community with young women of color. I am still going to write things for them to read, to think about. I am still going to write to inform the men in our community what we are going through.

But does that require me to identify as a feminist?

I stumbled across a blog post on Astarte’s Circus with a strong declaration on why Octoglalore is a feminist. Pretty solid post. Feminists believe that women should be equal to men. Period. Full stop. I also read a post by the Apostate explaining why some things are not feminist issues, particularly in reference to Holly’s post on Feministe.

She writes:

Feminism should be about women.

Everything else has its own label.

And it’s important to keep the labels distinct because that’s why feminism was invented. “Man’s” inalienable rights did not include women. “Human” rights has not traditionally included women because women are not necessarily seen as human. Religions giving communities dignity and centering force has not included women. We needed our own club. We still need it. If you bring my race into feminism and start talking about my asshole brother’s right to stay in this country (he’s an immigrant of less certain status than I), guess what? The feminist arena, my safest safe space, my only refuge from the enemies of my very life, has been compromised.

In another post, the Apostate writes:

This is why a race-centric analysis of women’s issues bothers me. Feminism is about women, period. It’s race-neutral. Hopefully, it will remain about women, instead of turning into an ersatz black civil rights movement pre-occupied with issues of police brutality against black men. If I am interested in race issues, I know where to go to read about them. If I am interested in women’s issues, I should be able to go to feminist websites and read about them. I don’t need my feminism to become a catch-all for all social justice issues, because to be honest, the only thing that really fires me up is women’s oppression, sexism and misogyny.

A lot of feminists share the view of the Apostate. One peek into the comments section for many of the feminist blogs (large and small) will reinforce this idea that feminism is about women and that race discussions and the like are distractions from the main event.

But here’s my question: if feminism is about women and is race neutral, why do I still feel like such an outsider? Feminism is supposed to be a refuge for women, but the kind of woman I am is marginalized or not represented at all. So now what? Continue reading

GQ Writer Compares Harold and Kumar to “The Happy Go Lucky Negro” Caricature

by Latoya Peterson

Paging through the new issue of GQ, I happened to notice an article on the upcoming Harold and Kumar movie. I browsed the article – which is a critique of the film that gives away way too much of the plot – before pausing at this paragraph:

The lowly stoner comedy has always had interesting underpinnings, too, starting with the ethnic angle that dates from Cheech & Chong’s invention of the genre. Even when the stoners are Anglo, the basic gag amounts to a weird modern spin on old-fashioned race humor. Like the comic minorities white folks used to laugh at in a bygone screen era, they’re funny because they can’t get with the program. Face it, they’re our time’s inoffensive equivalent of that offensive Jim Crow caricature, the Happy-Go-Lucky Negro: those childlike perceptions, that puzzlement about responsibility. Sean Penn’s Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is the perfect example.

Umm…I didn’t read the movie that way at all. But I suppose I see how that perspective could be argued.

Well, I did see how that perspective could be argued until I hit the next paragraph, which reads (emphasis mine):

Hurwitz and Schlossberg’s trick is to take advantage of all this at the same time they’re turning it inside out. One joke is that the heroes come from two immigrant groups with reps for industrious conformity, not rebellion. Another is that they aren’t slackers: They’re bright college grads on the fast track to success—à la Borat, the clouds of reefer smoke and the actors’ ethnicities barely hide Harold and Kumar’s secret identities as a couple of brainy, affluent Jewish kids who aren’t too unlike, dare I guess, their creators. That just shows how things have changed, since Jewish characters used to have to be disguised as—or in a pinch, played by—goys to keep Middle America buying tickets. Now they’ve got to be passed off as dope-happy Koreans and Indians to avoid looking like juvenile Woody Allens.

Whoa, whoa, whoa – WTF?

I find a great many things wrong with that statement, but I’ll open up the floor on this one – what do you think the writer is implying?

No Más, Por Favor: Stereotypes of Latina Muslims

by Guest Contributor Melinda, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

There’s a trend in the Americas. Latina* women are getting tired of Catholicism. They’re sick of being called “mamacita” in the streets. They don’t want to deal anymore with the chauvinistic pigs otherwise known as Latino men. So they’re throwing away their tank tops and their statues of the Virgin Mary and pulling on the hijab and ‘abaya instead.

Or so the media would have you believe. I’ve seen a stream of articles about Latina women converting to Islam, and they overwhelmingly rely on stereotyped images of Latino cultures as well as Muslims. The topic has been covered by MSNBC, NPR, the Christian Science Monitor, the Houston Chronicle, and more.

Here’s the standard lead:

Latina woman is walking down the street. It’s a hot day, and she’s dressed in a full-length skirt (dress, coat, etc.) and a hijab. She passes some Latino men. They look towards her and don’t scream at her. She sighs thankfully and reflects on the days of the past, of catcalls and shouts of “Hey, mami” as she walked by in her skimpy outfit.

The article then explains that in Latino culture, men are macho jerks and women are sex objects. In Islam, they are covered up and immediately respected. The author retells the woman’s decision to leave Catholicism for Islam, her experience putting on hijab, and the sad reactions of her family. If the journalist tries to dig a little deeper, there may be some theological reasons for choosing Islam, but they’re usually an afterthought. Some articles will note that Latina women like the strict gender roles of Islam because that’s what they’re used to.

Of course, not every article follows this mold precisely, but none stray from it completely. They paint monolithic pictures of both Latinos/Latinas and Muslims. It’s especially unfortunate in a time when both groups are often vilified and misunderstood in the United States. Continue reading