Tag Archives: stereotypes

How to market a black man without being racist: America, we’ll get there

By Guest Contributor The Elahater, originally published at hate on me

So for about the 467th time since November, I heard news once again that some company was marketing a product or doing something that is racially insensitive when trying to capitalize on the election of Barack Obama as president. Cause it’s happened before. Yea, many times. Ad nauseam, I believe is how they call it. So who’s the culprit this time?

obamachia

Yeah, they made a Chia-Pet Obama version (special edition, it says!) which depicts his natural black hair growing out like what some say is a green ‘fro. After complaints and bad press, Walgreens, et. al. pulled the product.

I don’t know about the rest of the haters here at HateOnMe, but I’m getting tired of having to explain to companies, public officials and everyone else putting themselves out there about what they shouldn’t do or say or market or joke about when it comes to the president and his race. So I’m not gonna do it this time.

I had thought this would happen, that confusions about what people “can” and “can’t” say about the prez would come about. And I guess I was right. One commentator points out in light of “Chia-Gate:”

The Chia Obama has now become the latest part of the debate on how to market, and talk about Obama, without being racist. The smallest slipup in making an Obama caricature of any kind brings on racist charges, despite claims of a “post-racial” nation after the election victory

People don’t know how to market and even talk about Obama because they’re more concerned about not being called a racist than actually being a racist. And I can’t hate on just these companies and those that market their products (although it’s obvious that many don’t have people of color in board meetings), ’cause they’re just a reflection of a good chunk of society anyway.

It’s just like your friend who may not know much about your ethnic background: they say some shit, you call them out on it, they apologize and retract and they learn not to say that thing again. If they’re jerks they’ll think in their minds, “Damn, you’re sensitive. Whatever.” BUT if they’re humble about the fact they don’t know what it’s like to be Black/Latino/Asian/Middle Eastern/Gay etc. etc. in America today, they’ll shut up and listen to you.

And I mean really listen. Listen with an attitude of wanting to learn something rather than one of “I know more/How can I disprove what is being said to me?” Stop appropriating the space and allow others to educate you for a minute.

Trust me: we’ve heard them.

Rihanna, Sasha and Malia

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

A couple of weeks ago, 50 Cent conceded that Rihanna getting beat by Chris Brown wasn’t real to him. James Montgomery of MTV News writes,

“After I saw the photograph, that wasn’t funny anymore,” 50 said. “I didn’t have any information on it. You’re just going on what the public actually had. It shifts the whole thing. Even if you’re saying you’re in a dysfunctional relationship, I understand that. There’s a point when you’re already past a woman fighting you back. You look at [the picture], and it’s obviously past that point. There’s some issues there that definitely gotta be addressed. Not to take any shots at Chris or Rihanna or take sides in any way, [but] it’s really not cool. It’s not funny anymore, so there will definitely be no more reference to that from me in any way.”

Why is a picture needed in order to convey the seriousness of the topic?

In many ways, I think that it wasn’t real for many people.

According to The Domestic Violence Institute, Black women comprise 8% of the U.S. population but in 2005 accounted for 22% of the intimate partner homicide victims and 42% of all female victims of intimate partner homicide.

African Americans account for a disproportionate number of intimate partner homicides. In 2005, African Americans accounted for almost 1/3 of the intimate partner homicides in this country.

According to a survey conducted by Tufts University,

- Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18.
- The number one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner
- In a study of African-American sexual assault survivors, only 17% reported the assault to police

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‘Aqua Teen’ Joins Hipster Racism Force

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

athf1

Look, I don’t expect anything progressive out of Adult Swim. But when it’s good, it can be really good (“The Venture Brothers,” “Metalocalypse”) and when it’s bad it can be really bad (“Squidbillies,” “Tim And Eric”).

And then you get Sunday night’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Again, I don’t expect anything, you know, intelligent out of this show. But “Shake Like Me” … well, my roommate put it best once it was done: “You didn’t need those brain cells, anyway.”

athf2The episode started “normally” enough: for whatever reason, a construction company was dumping radioactive waste near the titular trio’s New Jersey pad. While he was complaining about it, Master Shake was bitten by an irradiated black man. At which point his tone changes to brown, an afro grows atop his head, and his pink straw grows to a disproportionate length. In no time, Shake greets people with “all heezy in the sheezy.” And he can’t swim.

See, it’s funny because he was “turning black,” and that’s what black people say and do! Get it?! LULZ

At the urge of another afro’ed character, Boxy Brown, Shake forgoes his “slave name” in favor of Mocha Shaka Khan, and sees marked improvement as both a rapper and a basketball player. It’s only thanks to a “Blackcine” cooked up by Frylock, the brains of the outfit that he’s restored to his normal ridiculous state.

Defenders of the show will point out that the episode is “okay” because Frylock is voiced by a POC, voice-actor Carey Means, and that it was “obviously” satire. My problem is, like the other instances we’ve highlighted over the past month or so, it’s not good satire. It made “Family Guy” look nuanced and thoughtful by comparison. Was there humor in Master Shake being reduced to a stereotype? Possibly. The problem was, nobody reacted to him like he was one. The show took more half-assed shots at Frylock’s liberal guilt while accepting Shake’s “blackness.”

Which, from the impression I’ve gotten over the years, is perfectly fine for what I’ve imagined to be the show’s target demo: kids who ran around quoting the “porch monkey” bit from “Clerks 2″ to their black friends asking, “It’s funny, right? Isn’t it funny?” It’s not absurdist, it’s not smart, it’s not comedy. It is, as the kids say, EPIC FAIL. And to that line of comedy, only one response is appropriate:

athf3

Apparently, “Slanty Eyes” Photos are The New Pink

by Guest Contributor Jenn Fang, originally published at Reappropriate

A few months back, Miley Cyrus (a Disney Channel ingenue better known for pop-star alter ego, Hannah Montanah, whom she transforms into by donning a blonde wig — wait, isn’t that the storyline of the Jem cartoon?) raised a blogosphere uproar for this picture of her (centre) at a party where she and her friends pulled their eyes back in a ludicrous “imitation” of slanted Asian eyes.

miley slant eyes

The Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) released a statement criticizing Cyrus.

The photograph of Miley Cyrus and other individuals slanting their eyes currently circulating the Internet is offensive to the Asian Pacific American community and sets a terrible example for her many young fans. This image falls within a long and unfortunate history of people mocking and denigrating individuals of Asian descent.

“Not only has Miley Cyrus and the other individuals in the photograph encouraged and legitimized the taunting and mocking of people of Asian descent, she has also insulted her many Asian Pacific American fans,” said George Wu, executive director of OCA.


Cyrus issued an official apology
, but also wrote on her blog that she was only “making goofy faces” and was not intentionally “making fun of any ethnicity”. Clearly, Cyrus did not fully grasp the context of her “goofy face” — yellowface makeup, including prosthetics that have purposely slanted eyes have been used in historical and contemporary media to disguise White actors as villainous or buffoonish Asian caricatures.

In the mid-1960’s, British actor Christopher Lee wore yellow makeup and invisible tape on his eyes to portray the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, an infamous character who originated many of today’s modern anti-Asian stereotypes. (Inset shows Lee today, without makeup).
christopher lee fu manchu

Continue reading

Defiance: How Jews Depict Jews Within a Larger Context

by Guest Contributor Matt Egan

Starring Liev Schrieber and Daniel Craig, directed by Edward Zwick, Defiance tells the story of the Bielskis, Jews who fought the Nazis in the woods of what is now Belarus. Zwick is Jewish. Schreiber is Jewish and has done a number of Jewish-themed projects lately, including the relatively unsuccessful adaptation of the novel Everything is Illuminated and starring on Broadway as Alan Berg in a revival of Talk Radio. I found Defiance moving, but also entertaining. It swells with action in the best tradition of Hollywood. For some people, this is a problem. The most commonly expressed fear of directors making films about the Holocaust is that they will trivialize and exploit the tragedy. Ralph Seliger complains about historical inaccuracies and that the Bielskis are cheapened as “the image of Hollywood heroes.” My concern is different. There were six Holocaust films out at one time, but given the history of how Hollywood has depicted Jews and the Holocaust – and the way in which I understand antisemitism as shaping that depiction – Defiance was the only one I had any interest in seeing.

Perhaps embarrassed by the number of Holocaust movies out at once, Humorist Joel Stein wrote a satirical column in December for the LA Times a short while back that parodies the common myth that The Jews run Hollywood:

As a proud Jew, I want America to know about our accomplishment. Yes, we control Hollywood. Without us, you’d be flipping between “The 700 Club” and “Davey and Goliath” on TV all day.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to re-convince America that Jews run Hollywood by launching a public relations campaign, because that’s what we do best. I’m weighing several slogans, including: “Hollywood: More Jewish than ever!”; “Hollywood: From the people who brought you the Bible”; and “Hollywood: If you enjoy TV and movies, then you probably like Jews after all.”

I thought that the piece was funny and subversively camp. However, I’m also concerned he’s playing with fire. It was no surprise to me when the top Google hit for Stein’s piece was a white supremacist website. Continue reading

Arr the Singre Ragies

by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian

When I was at Yale, Mixed Company had the reputation of being the “funny singing group.” You know, as opposed to the “hot singing group” (that would have been the Baker’s Dozen, or the “BD’s” for men, and Something Extra, aka “Sextra,” for women) or the “serious singing group” (Red Hot + Blue) or the “angry feminist group” (The New Blue, to which I belonged).

But that was a long-ass time ago, kiddies. And my-oh-my how things have changed, as evidenced by Mixed Company’s current YouTube parody
of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”:

Does the world really need another “Single Ladies” spoof? Or, for that matter, more pedestrian rice jokes? Don’t get me wrong, we rove a good lice joke. And of coulse we rove it rong time. We just don’t rove these ones.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go make the rice and make it nice, and then shoot myself in the face for actually having to sit through that.

Postmaster Refuses to Serve Non-English Speaking Patrons

by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem

The Daily Mail has published an article about a British postmaster’s controversial move: He’s refusing to serve customers who don’t speak English. Complicating matters is that the postmaster, who works in a culturally diverse section of Nottingham, is of Sri Lankan decent. He became a naturalized British citizen 17 years ago.

“I tell them if they don’t speak the language and they can’t be bothered to learn, then don’t bother coming here,” the Daily Mail quoted Deva Kumarasiri as saying.

In making this statement, Kumarasiri ignores his background of privilege. For instance, later in the article, we discover that he learned English in school in his native Sri Lanka. This is an opportunity that scores of immigrants never receive.

The author of the article doesn’t say what age Kumarasiri was when he began to learn English, but studies have shown that the younger a person is when introduced to a language, the better chance the person has of mastering it. So, if Kumarasiri was a minor when he learned English, he has an additional edge over the immigrants he accuses of not “bothering to learn” the language. And is it fair to say that the immigrants in his area haven’t bothered to learn? I could argue that Kumarasiri didn’t bother to learn English either. He had to speak English by virtue of being a student in a school that instructed him in the language.

Throughout the article, Kumarasiri continues to make arguments that are downright shoddy. He resorts to using offensive clichés when he says, “If you don’t want to be British, go home.” Even when he puts more thought into his explanations for banning non-English speakers from his shop, his points are flawed. For example, Kumarasiri argues, “The fabric of the nation begins to unravel if we don’t all speak the same language.” Continue reading

How to Write about Muslims (for real)

by Guest Contributors Sobia and Krista, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

After getting all of that sarcasm out of our systems two weeks ago, we decided it might be useful to put together a list of actual guidelines for writing about Muslims. Of course, this is mostly just wishful thinking, because if reporters actually seemed willing to adhere to guidelines like this, then there would be no need for this blog. But here are some suggestions anyway.

A lot of this isn’t new stuff, as you’ll see from the many MMW posts that we link to, which illustrate some of our guidelines in more detail.

So, here you go: the shockingly un-sarcastic version of “How to Write About Muslims.”

Rule #1: Don’t assume that Muslim women need to be saved, or that you know how to save them.

By making this assumption, what one is essentially doing is:

    * Assuming that all Muslim women are somehow oppressed at the hands of their fellow Muslims. The Muslim community is just as diverse as any other. By generalizing in such a way, one maligns the entire community, including the women. This is offensive to the many women who are treated with respect and equality by their fellow Muslims, including Muslim men. This assumption also ignores the forms of oppression that Muslim women may be facing from outside of the Muslim community, such as racism and Islamophobia (or even war and occupation, in cases like Iraq and Afghanistan), which for some women can be much more disastrous than anything they experience from their Muslim community.
    * Assuming that Muslim women can’t take care of themselves. This is very patronizing. Muslim women have agency, and a great deal of it. Throughout history and today, Muslim women have been taking various forms of leadership. In situations where women are being oppressed, they are resisting in all sort of ways that the media doesn’t always think about. Additionally, most Muslim countries have Muslim women’s organizations that are working hard to support themselves and other women.
    * Assuming that what you’re going to do for them is going to be helpful. The assumption is that you know better than them what’s good for them. It also suggests that you are actually in a position to help them, which might not be true.

These two posts by Faith go into more detail about what is wrong with making these assumptions.

Rule #2:Rather than assuming you know what Muslim women’s lives are like, try asking them.

Too often, writers write about Muslim women without ever having tried to find out what Muslim women’s lives are like from their perspective. This is poor research, and feeds into the problematic assumptions discussed in Rule #1. Do your homework, and try hard to connect to the specific women that you are writing about. Even if you are writing about women in another country, try to connect to women’s organisations in that country. At the very least, try to connect to women from that country who are living in your own community.

Rule #3: Be careful of who you talk to regarding Islam and/or Muslim women.

Don’t assume, just because someone is Muslim, that all Muslims will agree with them or that they represent all Muslims. For example, Muslims who have made a career out of calling other Muslims Islamists, and who base their credibility on the number of other Muslims who don’t like them, are not a good source of information. Generally, people who work within an Islamic framework, as opposed to always bashing Islam, are more likely to understand the Muslim community. Continue reading