by Carmen Van Kerckhove
Here’s another installment of our Time Machine series… when we take a look back at what we were blogging about a year ago this month.
In this classic post, Jen comes across an article that applies the dreaded E-word to Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger, who is of Hawaiian, Russian and Filipino descent. It leads her to discuss why the word “exotic” is so problematic.
What’s wrong with “exotic” you ask? Well…the definition is literally:
1 : introduced from another country : not native to the place where found
2 archaic : FOREIGN, ALIEN
3 : strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual
Mixed people being labeled “exotic” is simply one way that we continue to be othered. We are not all as alien as one would like to believe, though. When people say that I am “exotic,” I usually check them and explain that there are actually many out there that are just like me, ethnically — that I am not as unusual as the term “exotic” would infer. The reality is that we are not yet on everyone’s radars. When people call upon their notions of race, we don’t fit neatly into the existing/accepted categories…this is why so many continue to think of mixed individuals as “exotic” beings.
This time last year, the world was watching as civil unrest broke out in France. It started in late October in Clichy-sous-Bois, a working-class commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris after two teenagers, Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré, were accidentally killed. For the first time, we heard about the deep-rooted racial and economic inequities and tensions in France.
Ireland details the 30 years of government neglect, segregation, racism, and discrimination and argues that nobody should be surprised that it has come to this…
It seems to me that the larger issue here is that European countries are trying to hold onto the notion that they are essentially white countries, and that all non-white people are minorities or temporary residents. The French simply don’t recognize non-white people as French, and that’s clear from the terminology being used in the media coverage of the rioting.
If you read between the lines, articles about interracial relationships often seem to have subtle cautionary messages. In this case, the message seemed to be, “It’s okay to fool around with a [fill in race] man/woman but don’t expect him/her to marry you!”
Newsday reports on a new study by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania that says that while interracial relationships are on the rise, they are significantly less likely than same-race relationships to lead to marriage…
Hmmm… I don’t know if I necessarily agree with their interpretation of the findings. Isn’t is possible that people who date interracially may also have less traditional views on relationships and therefore don’t necessarily feel the need to get married? I think this emphasis on marriage as the ideal end-state is a bit archaic. To assume that interracial relationships are somehow “bad” because they don’t result in marriage – that sounds to me like a thinly veiled cautionary message against entering those relationships.