Tag Archives: radio

The Science Of Racism: Radiolab’s Treatment Of Hmong Experience

By Guest Contributor Kao Kalia Yang, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

Kao Kalia Yang. Photo courtesy of the author.

On September 24, NPR show Radiolab aired a 25-minute segment on Yellow Rain. In the 1960s, most Hmong had sided with America in a secret war against the Pathet Lao and its allies. More than 100,000 Hmong died in this conflict, and when American troops pulled out, the rest were left to face brutal repercussions. Those who survived the perilous journey to Thailand carried horrific stories of an ongoing genocide, among them accounts of chemical warfare. Their stories provoked a scientific controversy that still hasn’t been resolved. In its podcast, Radiolab set out to find the “fact of the matter.”

Yet its relentless badgering of Hmong refugee Eng Yang and his niece, award-winning author and activist Kao Kalia Yang, provoked an outcry among its listeners, and its ongoing callous, racist handling of the issue has since been criticized in several places, including Hyphen. When Hyphen’s R.J. Lozada reached out to Kao Kalia Yang, she graciously agreed to share her side of the story for the first time. What follows are her words, and those of her uncle.

Continue reading

Michael Baisden is a Misogynist Pig

by Guest Contributor M.Dot, originally published at Model Minority

I was riding through Ohio the other day on a road trip to Michigan.

Filthy was looking for NPR but we settled on the Michael Baisden show. I was intrigued because the show was about whether a woman, a wife, has the right to “Go on Strike” and hold out on sex from her husband. Seeing as my research interests are women and sexuality, I was intrigued about the possibilities that the discussion presented.

So, I am listening to the show, and at 6:40 Baisden says to a caller, “If you were my woman, not feeling like it is not a reason to give me some.” Word?

At 7:53 Baisden says, “If you are not in the mood, just lay there and take it.” [Laughter].

The woman caller says that if she doesn’t feel like it she isn’t doing it.

Then Baisden’s co-host says, “Your feelings are obselete, your feelings don’t matter for 30 minutes.” [Laughter].

Record scratch.

I understand that withholding sex from your partner is a very serious matter and typically indicative of other issues going on in the relationship.

However, “You should just lay there and take it” is a very serious line of thought and action for Black women for many reasons Continue reading

Rush Limbaugh and “Barack, The Magic Negro”

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

By now you’ve probably heard about Rush Limbaugh’s “Barack, The Magic Negro” song. If not, you can view the video here and read the background on Media Matters.

My take on it? Limbaugh probably wanted an excuse to say “Negro.” As Media Matters points out, “Limbaugh continued to refer to Obama as the “Magic Negro” throughout the broadcast — 27 times, to be exact.” It was like someone handed him a free pass and he went buckwild.

Jill Tubman from Jack and Jill Politics broke it down thus:

This video manages to attack both Al Sharpton and Barack Obama at the same time — a real feat. It also seeks to portray Obama as a DC insider and “not authentically black”. Al Sharpton is portrayed as a greedy opportunist shouting incoherently through a megaphone. Most insulting is the “dialect” accent the Sharpton cariacature is given. Plenty of dem, dese and dose. Charming.

Media Matters does a great job in covering the Rush Limbaugh angle of the story. Like Don Imus, Limbaugh is racist for a living. The question is whether we’re all still ok with that here in America on our public airwaves or if it’s time to expose his lies and hatred and give him the boot.

Laina Dawes wants to know if anyone will call for Limbaugh to be fired?

In Imus’s case, general stereotypes about the black community were used to deflect his actions, as far too many people somehow felt that the actions of all African Americans were the root cause behind Imus’s usage of words. Freedom of speech and the perceived constraints of political correctness were debated. Is now the time to take a firm stand against all media figures who espouse racial ideology to incite the public, or will Imus take the fall for them? Is the firing of one radio host enough to quell the actions of others? In Limbaugh’s case, he accuses the “left” of creating the term “magic negro,” claiming that Sen. Ted Kennedy first used the term, therefore insinuating that “the left” are just, if not more racist than him…

Michael Eric Dyson rocks!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I just had to throw a quote from him up here on Racialicious. This is his take on the blame hip hop direction that the Don Imus media circus has taken, from Salon’s Audiofile blog:

So the big point really isn’t to score rap for its vicious sexism — if that were the case the mainstream white media would have been on the bandwagon a long time ago. It is to partially exonerate a racist and bigoted representative of its own ranks, in part to exonerate all those other white journalists who either appeared on his show or stood by in silence while he had his way with whatever vulnerable group he chose to attack that day. The white media has to scapegoat rap now to cleanse its hands of the blood — and to wipe clean its conscience — of the suffering of citizens, like black women, it never cared enough to oppose before Imus put his foot in his mouth. Black women are a footnote — and an afterthought — to the controversy.

Thus, all the hand-wringing and feigned horror over how young black males could ever speak about their women in such hateful tones is the delayed reaction of the partially guilty — not through active discourses of assault as with Imus, but through the passive indifference to the plight of women they didn’t care enough about either to learn their condition or to cry out over it on their airwaves. As we’ve seen in the last week, when white media elites are so inclined, they can use the airwaves to tell stories of black life with far more time and resources in one week than they’re used to spending in a year. If black women matter, they can’t just matter when white men mess up.

It is typical of a media that ignores black life that it also ignores the outrage black folk have felt about rappers spitting invective toward its women since the early ’90s. And it’s equally apparent that the white media has no interest in the fierce debate raging within hip-hop about its future and soul. Hundreds of “conscious” rappers who extol the virtues of black female identity — and who indict the materialism and misogyny of rap — can’t get a word in edgewise on white or black media outlets, from radio to television. There’s a blackout of conscience-driven, racially astute, politically motivated rap that contains progressive gender messages, in large part because such rap also contains poignant and prophetic indictments of white supremacy and social injustice, themes that even ostensibly liberal white media is not ready to hear, air or acknowledge. So it closes the mouths of such progressive artists, with the consequence that the women-hating harangues of hip-hop artists drown out the considerable complexity of conscious artists. It does so with the complicity of the very media machine that now wants to point fingers at only half the equation — the rap artists who pour acid on the heads of black women — while failing to self-critically indict its very participation in this unseemly affair. That is utter and naked hypocrisy.

Oprah’s town hall meetings on misogyny in hip hop

by guest contributor Nina

Over two days this week, Oprah dedicated her show to a Town Hall Meeting to address misogyny in hip-hop. All this as a result of Don Imus’ “nappy headed ho” comment, and his trite excuse that black women are called these names by their own men. I was interested to see how Oprah would handle this matter since she has long come under fire for not having hip-hop artists on her show and she has said that she does not appreciate the degradation of women in hip-hop music.

The first show aired on Monday and was entitled “Now What?” It consisted of panel of black men and women, including a former CBS executive, two journalists, two author/magazine editors, activist Al Sharpton and the artist, India Arie. The second show on Tuesday entitled “The Hip-Hop Community Responds” was made up of a much smaller panel, Russell Simmons and Dr. Ben Chavis of the Hip-Hop Action Network, record executive Kevin Liles, and the rapper Common. There were no women on this second panel and there certainly were no female artists whose careers are built on their overt sexuality (L’il Kim, Foxy Brown, Khia etc.). Nor were there any of the female video performers who so willingly prance around in thongs and bikini tops pouring Cristal down their bodies while shaking their “bump, bump, bumps.” Female students from Spelman College attended both shows by satellite from their campus.

[Note from Carmen: Oprah has actually had Karinne "Superhead" Steffans on the show before to talk about the objectification of women, believe it or not.]

All the panelists (except the Spelman students) seemed to talk in circles around the issues and used far too many metaphors (Dr. Robin Smith’s “you feed someone garbage, eventually it starts to taste good”) to address the issue of female degradation in the hip-hop world. The world of which they spoke was of course mainstream hip-hop-rap videos you see on MTV/BET (both owned by Viacom) or songs you hear on commercial radio stations (many owned by ClearChannel). But there were some strong comments. Diane Weathers, former editor of Essence magazine called for Snoop Dogg to lose his contract due not only to his lyrics and videos but his side hustle as a pornographer.

Stanley Crouch called the hip-hop music world a minstrel show and said he would not allow these “clowns” to relinquish their responsibility due to the poverty and crime that they came up in. Panelists on the second show continued with the metaphors. Common stated that hip-hop, at only 30 years old, was just a child that needed tending to by its parents. Common has certainly evolved into a conscious artist since his first few albums contained plenty of bitches and hos and one song in particular where he talked about shooting a homosexual. Russell Simmons insisted that he mentored many artists during his reign at DefJam and while he would not censor what a poet wanted to say since it was a reflection of their own experiences, he was constantly guiding artists to learn more and be more and perhaps present themselves in a different way. The Spelman girls got very frustrated, particularly with the second show’s panel. One woman stated that rap music informs the way the world feels about black women and that there was a lack of accountability from the panelists. The women demanded that the problem be acknowledged and that steps be taken towards a solution. They even offered to work with the panelists towards that solution. Continue reading

When Don Imus and other racist jerks appropriate African-American terminology

by guest contributor Meera Bowman-Johnson, originally published at Our Kind of Parenting

In the best of times, being black is absolutely beautiful (let the choir say “Amen!”). In the worst of times, it feels something like this:

Three men went to hell.

The devil said to them “You have come to hell, and you must now choose whether to spend eternity in room 1, 2 or 3″

He then opened the doors to the three rooms.

Room 1 was filled with men standing on their heads, on a hard wooden floor.

Room 2 was filled with men standing on the heads, on a cement floor.

Finally, room 3 had just a few men, standing in human feces up to their knees and drinking coffee.

The men thought for a while, and decided to go with room 3, as it was less crowded and they could drink coffee.

They entered the door to room 3 and just as it was closing behind them, the devil said “OK men, coffee break’s over. Back on your heads.”

Sometimes, all you can do is laugh. Because just when it looks like everything’s cool, that no public figure has acted out in a while and offended black people, some modern-day Jimmy the Greek has to come out of their face with a racist insult. For no good reason at all (not that there ever is one). By now, just about everybody in the black blogosphere has weighed in on Don Imus’ ignorant and offensive remarks about the Rutgers’ Women’s Baskeball Team. The comment that referred to the impressive athletes as “nappy headed hos” (for those who’ve been under the mommy – or daddy – rock for the couple of weeks).

I’ve read countless, incredibly astute reactions to the “shock jock’s” remarks, but thought one of the most pointed came from Deborah Dickerson’s The Last Plantation: “You never see the racism coming. You’re minding your own business, say, playing basketball or buying groceries or eating at Krispy Kreme when an Imus comes along and forces you to be ‘black’ so he can be ‘white’.” As a woman who deeply despises misogynistic language and has has proudly worn just about every natural style known to 125th Street, all I could think was, (to quote The Millionaire’s Wife from Gilligan’s Island): “Well (snif). I’ve never!”

Oh, wait a minute. Yes I have.

Like my friend Field Negro so eloquently alluded to, this Imus business is par for the course for those of us LWB (Living While Black). I don’t like it, I don’t condone it, but do I expect it? Sadly, yes. Because, just in case anybody is late coming to the party, there are a lot of ignorant people in the house. To narrow the group even further, there are a lot of ignorant racists dancing poorly, to their own rhythm. And to whittle it down even one degree further, there are a lot of ignorant racists throwing their hands in the air like they just don’t care, ’cause they really don’t think they’re racists. I’m fairly certain Don Imus is one of those clueless types. The type that thinks that having a couple of black drinking buddies gives them free reign to say whatever and end up getting left at the bar (or in the studio) wondering “Hey…where did everybody go??”

I say this for one reason only: the term “hos” is one highly offensive thing, but how many white guys do you know actually even know the word “nappy”…until now? Hugh Grant thinks it means diaper. So does Paul McCartney. Of course they do, they’re English. But what about white American guys (the ones that aren’t married to black women)? Sure, terms like “diss” began popping up on sitcoms back in the early nineties and “bling” crossed quite seamlessly, thanks to people like Puffy (who I blame for many things). “Hos” I could see (rappers throw that one around all the time which is a seperate post altogether), but “nappy”? Where’d he get that one from, BET’s Comicview?

All I can assume is that, much like the old anti-drug commercial, where the hysterical dad confronts his adolescent son when he finds weed in his room (“I learned it from watching you, Dad!”), Don Imus learned the word “nappy” by watching black people (not that I, nor my fellow ethnicists are personally to blame for any of this nonsense). Whether it was through listening to hip hop, watching School Daze, or hanging out with Robin Quivers, somewhere along the way, Imus caught on to another N-word and assumed the word was fair game. Or maybe he caught somebody proudly sporting one of those old school “Happy to Be Nappy” t-shirts I picked up junior year of high school at The Greek Picnic. I don’t know. Continue reading

Hear Anti-Racist Parent columnist discuss Toys R Us controversy

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Congrats to Anti-Racist Parent columnist Jason Sperber! He appeared on the well-regarded Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC yesterday to discuss the controversy surrounding Toys R Us’s first baby contest. You can listen or download an MP3.

In case you ‘re not familiar with the story, Toys R Us initially denied a $25,000 prize to a baby because her mother wasn’t a legal U.S. resident. The company later reversed the decision after the public outcry.