Tag Archives: racism

A Muslim Community, Tarred Again

By Guest Contributor Zahir Janmohamed

Huma Abedin. Via New York Magazine
In 1995, I was a student delegate at the United Nation’s 50th Anniversary conference on religious harmony held in San Francisco. We began by reciting verses from each of the world’s major faiths, including an Islamic prayer that was listed as the “Mohamedan Prayer.”

Seventeen years later, it is hard to imagine someone—let alone a major organization like the UN—using this archaic, Orientalist term to describe Islam. Americans know so much about Islam these days that I am frequently asked by strangers if I am Shia or Sunni.

But every once in a while—and particularly more often in an election year—there are reminders that the rise in awareness has not corresponded to the rise in sympathy towards Islam and Muslims. The recent comment by Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) that long time aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Huma Abedin is a mole for the Muslim Brotherhood is just the latest example of this hysteria.

I do not worry about Abedin. A person of her intelligence and clout can withstand these attacks. I worry about Muslim high school and college students who wonder why they should even enter politics if they will, like Abedin, be constantly scrutinized because of their faith. Continue reading

Open Thread: Reality TV And Race

Request in the comments yesterday:

kdlmn • 14 hours ago
Could we have a reality show open thread and/or round table on racialicious sometime please? Just a suggestion. Reality shows seem to be together with crime shows the only area in which PoC are overrepresented–cause it gives the viewer yet another possibility to ridicule PoC (added bonus: women of color. women on reality shows in general are always catty and back stabbing, never help one another). There are so many offenders here that I don’t know where to start. The last ones I saw were “Hollywood Exes” (3 Black women, one Latina, one White woman) and “My Big Fat American Gipsy Wedding”, which is especially appalling as it comes just when the Hungarian and French government have in different ways declared that Roma are Open Game. In Hungary a right wing politician recently had a DNA test published to prove that he definitely had zero Roma ancestry. So gross.

Mickey • 7 hours ago
I agree about a round table discussion about these so-called reality shows. Whose reality are they showing? Most of this stuff is edited to make certain people fit into stereotypes the public automatically buys in to, especially regarding PoC. I watched a couple of episodes of “Hollywood Exes” and, although it is not too bad compared to other shows of its nature, the Black ex-wife of R. Kelly and the White ex-wife of Jose Canseco sort of get on my nerves.

Consider the thread open! A couple things I’ve noticed after the jump. Continue reading

My Jalapeño Blood

by Guest Contributor Daily Chicana, originally published at Daily Chicana

A few weeks ago, I was at the grocery store buying some jalapeños to make a batch of guacamole. An older white woman watched as I picked several peppers and placed them in a produce bag. “You better be careful with those!” she cheerfully warned.

“Oh, it’s okay,” I smiled, tossing the jalapeños into my cart. “I can handle them. They’re not too hot for me.”

“Well that’s because you’ve got jalapeño blood!” she replied before ambling away.

I stood there for a minute, taken aback at the notion of jalapeño blood. I was unsure of what to make of this comment. Was she a kindly old lady trying to make a silly joke? Or was she making some sort of reference to my skin color and/or ethnicity? I found myself asking, “Is ‘having jalapeño blood’ another way of saying ‘Mexican’?” Continue reading

Required Reading: Junot Díaz and Paula M.L. Moya Discuss Decolonial Love


For me, the family fukú is rape. The rape culture of the European colonization of the New World—which becomes the rape culture of the Trujillato (Trujillo just took that very old record and remixed it)—is the rape culture that stops the family from achieving decolonial intimacy, from achieving decolonial love. – Junot Díaz

This two part article from the Boston Review was more bracing than a morning cup of coffee. Paula M.L. Moya guides us through an amazing conversation with Junot Díaz, digging deep into cultural theory to come up with a treasure trove of insight around the academy, Junot’s body of work, and missing pieces from our cultural conversations about race. While you should go read the whole thing, I particularly loved a few paragraphs.

Junot:

Yunior’s a victim in a larger, second sense: I always wrote Yunior as being a survivor of sexual abuse. He has been raped, too. The hint of this sexual abuse is something that’s present in Drown and it is one of the great silences in Oscar Wao. This is what Yunior can’t admit, his very own página en blanco. So, when he has that line in the novel: “I’d finally try to say the words that could have saved us. / __________ __________ __________,” what he couldn’t say to Lola was that “I too have been molested.” He could bear witness to everyone else’s deep pains but, in the end, he couldn’t bear witness to his own sexual abuse. He couldn’t tell the story that would have tied him in a human way to Lola, that indeed could have saved him.

One has to understand that all the comments, all the things that Yunior does in Oscar Wao, move him inexorably away from the thing that he most needs: real intimacy which must have vulnerability, forgiveness, acceptance as its prerequisites. So that even though Yunior is sexist, even though he’s misogynist, even though he’s racist, even though he mischaracterizes Oscar’s life, even though he’s narcissistic—at the end he’s left with no true love, doesn’t find himself, doesn’t find that decolonial love that he needs to be an authentic self. In fact, he ends up—like the work that he assembles and stores in the refrigerator—incomplete. […]

Thinking about Yunior as having been raped made (in my mind at least) his fucked-up utterances in the novel have a different resonance. And while he wasn’t yet ready to bear witness to his own rape, it gave him a certain point of view around sexual violence that I don’t think would have been possible otherwise. It helped me produce a novel with a feminist alignment. A novel whose central question is: is it possible to overcome the horrible legacy of slavery and find decolonial love? Is it possible to love one’s broken-by-the-coloniality-of-power self in another broken-by-the-coloniality-of-power person?

Continue reading

Don’t Know Much About Indians (but i let non-indians speak for them anyways) [Point]

by Guest Contributor Gyasi Ross

Like any ethnic identity discourse, the “Native” conversation is complicated and convoluted. Yet, in the twin pursuit(s) of political correctness and genuine good intentions, most people make good-faith efforts to trudge through the discourse in a respectful manner.

We do the best that we can.

Unfortunately, the singular exception to those good-faith efforts is for the Native people of this continent. When Native people are the topic of discussion, we don’t “do the best we can.” Instead, non-Native people assume that they inherently know about Native people, without listening to the Native voices themselves.

Since the beginning of Native/non-Native interactions, non-Natives have had a racist, dehumanizing and insulting pattern of propping up—irrespective of Native people’s wishes—completely inadequate, improper and many times, illegal leadership to speak on Native people’s behalf. The historical record shows that the leadership that non-Natives (typically the United States government, but also representatives from Dutch, French, British and Spanish invaders as well) typically employed to speak on behalf of their individual Nations were individuals that were not appointed by their Nation. Instead, the invaders/colonizing forces identified and empowered individuals to speak simply because they said what the non-Natives wanted to say, typically in direct opposition to what the majority of Native people actually wanted. Native people protested, but to little avail, as those colonizers needed a justification to achieve their goals—usually the taking of millions of acres of land and resources from Native people—and their propped-up leaders helped accomplish that task. Those “Native leaders” told the narrative that the colonizers wanted to hear, without any approval or consensus from the people that they supposedly represented.

Non-Natives appointed shills, frauds, and hucksters that had zero credibility amongst Native people.

It actually made sense—the European colonizers’ interests was in direct opposition to Native people’s interests; we were their “enemies.” Therefore, in a perceived zero-sum game, enemies do horrible things to accomplish their goals.

Non-Native people’s pattern of propping-up false leaders continues today. Unfortunately, it’s not only the “enemy” that does it anymore.

Indeed, because of a shameful lack of knowledge about Native people, liberals, progressives, racial commentators and educated folk—precisely the people one might reasonably expect to actually do some research to understand Native people better—sometimes do exactly the same thing, as displayed at the recent W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Second Annual America Healing Conference.

And that’s actually kinda worse than when the enemy does it. Continue reading

Whitney: Victim Of The “Strong Black Woman” Stereotype

by Guest Contributor Keir Bristol

It was not inevitable for everyone that Whitney Houston was going to die. Many of us expected her to make a comeback. For those people, her death came as a shock. Many of the people who were not surprised by Houston’s death used her drug addiction as an excuse. As often as I hear that Houston was talented, I hear that she was a crack-head, or that she was Bobby Brown’s punching bag.

Television shows covering Whitney’s death focused most of their energy on her marriage to Bobby Brown and drug use. There was very little discussion of what her life was like before she was apparently using. Never mind that Whitney, as a Black woman, was a successful pop star while most other Black singers were automatically sifted into the R&B or Soul categories. There was barely any mention of an accident she had as a child that could have very well severely damaged her vocal cords, or any of the political and charitable works she had done, like her Welcome Home Heroes concert for the soldiers who had fought in the Persian War in 1991 or her support of Nelson Mandela.

Houston’s drug addiction and domestic violence issues devalue her as an artist and person to many. To these people, she is not categorized as an artist with a drug addiction, or even a human with a drug problem. She is categorized strictly as a drug addict like many Black female entertainers before her, Dorothy Dandridge and Billie Holiday included.

Why is Whitney given a bad name for being a drug addict, but people still idealize Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious and John Lennon? Continue reading

Exploring the Problematic and Subversive Shit People Say [Meme-ology]

So all this started with “Shit Girls Say,” which now has over 11 million views:

Created by Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphrey (and boosted by the star power of Juliette Lewis), “Shit Girls Say” went viral by taking a male perspective on common things “women” do and presenting it as humor. Internet forums filled with comments like “Omigod, all my friends do that” or “that is so me.” The sketch proved to be so popular, there are now three episodes, probably with more in the pipeline.

However, everyone wasn’t laughing at “Shit Girls Say.” Quite a few people noticed that the “girls” referred to in the top video were a certain type of woman, an experience that was not shared by all. Others noted that the humor that made the video funny was actually rooted in sexist stereotypes. Over at Feministing, Samhita explains:

While, I usually applaud men in drag, I can’t help but be critical of these characterizations of women. Are some of these stereotypes uncannily true? I’m sure they can be. But that’s the problem with stereotypes, it’s not about whether they are true or not, it’s that they are used to disempower people or deny them certain privileges. And I get that it is comedy, but it’s like the most boring and lazy comedy possible. You know, let’s make fun of girls cuz we already know everyone thinks they are dumb and annoying tee hee. These videos might as well be beer ads.

And Lynn Crosbie, writing for the Globe and Mail, notes:

Girls, or young women, who already speak largely in the interrogative and treat the world of men as another, completely inscrutable species, have enough on their minds already. They are already sexualized to the maximum. Must their every word be a potential joke?

Girls speak casually about inane things. Girls speak, too, about sexual violence and quantum physics. They talk about fear and art, children, murder and opera; philosophy, blood, sex and mathematics.

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing is also some stuff a girl said.

Continue reading