Tag Archives: talk-show

Racial Rumors: Do(n’t) Believe the Hype

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

If Spike Lee said it, then it must be true . . . right?

Not exactly.

In a 1992 interview with Barbara G. Harrison for Esquire Magazine entitled “Spike Lee Hates Your Cracka Ass,” Spike Lee informed readers of a racist statement made by popular women’s clothing designer Liz Claiborne during a guest spot on Oprah:

Claiborne got on and said she didn’t make clothes for black people to wear. Oprah stopped the show and told her to get her ass off the set. How you gonna get on Oprah’s show and say you don’t make clothes for Black women? It definitely happened. Get the tape. Every black woman in America needs to go to her closet, throw that shit out and never buy another stitch of clothes from Claiborne.

His allegations weren’t true. Liz Claiborne was never a guest on Oprah and had never been quoted as having said that she thought black women’s hips and butts were too large for her clothes, among other variations of the rumor. It turns out that Lee had bought the hype. He had fallen victim to what snopes.com calls a “racial rumor,” an urban myth of sorts that relates to a specific race and/or ethnic group. While some of these double-Rs are formed arbitrarily, others find their roots in good business. If a brand does well in and/or its creator caters to a specific demographic, it may be the object of a racial rumor during its lifespan on the market. [Note from Carmen: Thanks very much to Deb for the tip!]

The Liz Claiborne rumor is just one of many. Some of you may have heard a few about Tommy Hilfiger clothing (see above), Timberland boots, Coors beer, menthol cigarettes, KFC, Starbucks, and even Snapple, just to name a few. While the original source of these rumors often remains anonymous, the myths themselves usually reach a popularity of insane proportions and are difficult to squash for several reasons. I have a few guesses of my own. . .

For one, word of mouth is one of the most powerful publicity options known to man, and the oldest. The adult version of the telephone game serves as a successful means for disseminating information, particularly that which directly affects a specific group of people. Considering the tradition of oral history within communities of color, as well as a distrust of popular media sources by many people who consider themselves on the margins of dominant culture, it is no surprise that this method of communication is popular. If one were to question why a racial rumor had yet to make its way to television, newspapers, or films, a reasonable reply would be that the mainstream media was simply withholding information, siding with The Man to protect his interests. This is not to say that people of color are superstitious or paranoid. In fact, the reliance upon information found via alternative sources is a smart choice for groups whose concerns and interests are virtually ignored by the media unless a crime is committed or by the government unless it’s voting season. Such a method of communication also has a history of providing “them”s with a chance at “us”-like opportunity. [Please see: the Underground Railroad, slave revolts, the civil rights movement, occupational advancement because someone who came here before you knew someone else who could “hook you up,” talking to family abroad to lead to immigration, and so on and so forth] Continue reading

Black Girls Aren’t Going Wild

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

While I was browsing the Stereohyped blog, I came across this posting:

If You Want Black Girls To Go Wild, You Better Have Your Checkbook

Breast-lover Tyra Banks must have felt slighted by the lack of brown mammaries on display in Joe Francis’ Girls Gone Wild videos. It prompted her to ask him in an interview on her show why his videos only seem to feature white co-eds.

“Here’s the problem with black girls,” he says in the interview, airing Monday. “They want to get paid. … [Other girls,] I just ask and they do it.”

While it’s comforting to know black girls won’t demean themselves at the drop of a hat, the feeling is short-lived, because, apparently, some would for the right price. One only has to turn on Rap City to figure that one out.

Whooooo.

My first thought:

Joe Francis spat three stereotypes in one fell swoop: the loose white woman (co-ed), the sexually puritanical black woman, and then the gold-digging, cash-for-ass black woman. Great. Is there an award for most stereotypes in two sentences?

My second thought:

He has a sick kind of credibility though…I guess he would know.

My third thought:

Is being an unpaid extra in Girls Gone Wild better or worse than being compensated?

My fourth thought:

Why is Tyra always involved?

Anyone else want to wager a thought or two?

Tyra Show explores kids and race

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

This Wednesday’s episode of the Tyra Banks Show is going to explore children’s concepts of race. I hope they’ll include Kiri Davis’s film “A Girl Like Me,” since it would tie in beautifully to this topic. Here’s the description:

Does skin color make a difference to a child? Tyra continues her series on race with a powerful and eye-opening look at how innocent children start forming stereotypical opinions of different races at a young age. A group of children were invited to participate in a social experiment where they were asked to look at pictures of people of all races and say what they thought about them. Their honest results will shock you! Body image expert Jessica Weiner, along with the kids and their parents, join Tyra in her studio to discuss how they believe children are exposed to stereotypes and what can be done about it. Then, Tyra speaks with white supremacist parents and their young children who are being trained to follow in their footsteps. Plus, an African American woman who hates Caucasians finds that her young daughter is determined to break her mother’s racist views.

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

I’ll have what Tracy Morgan is having, please

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

It’s going to be a YouTube-heavy week here on Racialicious because I spent a couple hours this weekend catching up on all the videos I’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t had a chance to.

Thanks to daddyinastrangeland (via Poplicks) for letting me know about this gem of a clip. It’s an interview with Tracy Morgan on a morning show in El Paso. He’s either still in character as Tracy Jordan from “30 Rock” or um, something else.

The 10 biggest race and pop culture trends of 2006: Part 3 of 3

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

This is the last in my series breaking down the top trends in race and pop culture of 2006. If you missed it, check out Monday’s trends 10 through 8 and yesterday’s trends 7 through 4 . Here’s the final list:

10. Race-swapping undercover experiments
9. Hipster racism
8. The continuing obsession with interracial relationships
7. The new minstrel show
6. Racism on college campuses
5. Fear of a Latino takeover
4. The return of the white man’s burden
3. Colorface everywhere!
2. Celebrity racial slurs
1. Race baiting

3. Colorface everywhere!

It seemed like blackface, brownface and yellowface was everywhere in 2006, even in the most unexpected places. Some of these blackface incidents we’ve already covered. For example, Kate Moss in blackface for The Independent’s Africa issue, the many “ghetto parties” and blackface incidents included in racism on college campuses and the Tyra Banks Show episode where she had Angela Nissel go on dates with three men both as a black woman and as a white woman .

Liberal blogs Firedoglake and Billmon (who has since stopped blogging) both decided to use blackface images to mock people they didn’t like/respect. Firedoglake blacked up a photo of Joseph Lieberman in a post accusing him of race-baiting. Billmon blacked up a photo of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer after he complained about Lynne Cheney being uncooperative during an interview. Both issued the standard “I’m sorry you’re offended but I’m just so brave and un-PC” apologies, leading ebogjonson to create a flowchart for those bloggers asking themselves if they should use blackface on their blog. In case you were wondering, if you answer yes to being white, the answer is “STOP! You CANNOT use blackface EVER under any circumstances.” Also, be sure to check out Kai Chang’s series on racism in the liberal blogosphere .

A movie based on the 1970s TV series “Kung Fu” is in the works. As you probably know, biracial Asian/white protagonist Kwai Chang Caine was played by David Carradine in the series. And he’s been milking the virtual yellowface gig ever since, from his role in Kill Bill to his stupid Yellowbook.com commercials. The question is, which white guy are they going to get to play Kwai Chang Caine in the movie version? Who has enough “Asian flavor?” I’m putting my money on Steven Seagal. ;) Continue reading

Are teens learning about racism from reality TV?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

That’s what Anastasia Goodstein argued recently on The Huffington Post. But what do you all think?

Here’s an excerpt from her post:

Where are teens learning about race and racism today? On reality TV, of course! Teenagers aren’t listening to Ivory Tower (how funny that the tower is ivory) academics on CNN or TV-friendly talking heads like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. The new forum for the unfiltered discussion of race has become reality TV.

It started years ago with “The Real World,” where racial tension seemed to be a prerequisite for casting. And in the past year we saw “Survivor” attempt to divide its teams according to race and Ice Cube attempt to have black and white families swap identities in “Black. White.” There is the unnerving minstrel quality to “Flavor of Love,” and we even see mixed race couples on “Wife Swap.” In many ways it’s the “unscripted” nature of a lot of reality TV and its casting of real diverse Americans from different socioeconomic backgrounds that gives us a sharper sense of race in America than scripted dramas with multicultural ensembles. I also happened to catch a pretty shocking discussion of interracial couples on The Tyra Banks show awhile back, which is very popular with teens…

…We all know that most reality TV is far from complex, at least on the surface. It’s over-simplified, raw ratings-grabbing conflict aired without a discussion guide — and kids and teens love it. At the same time, I think it offers an opportunity for parents and adults working with youth to use these types of programs as a jumping off point to talk about race and racism. I’m a believer in using pop culture as a teaching tool. I think racism for this generation tends to be more unconscious than conscious, but a dose of reality could help bring these issues to the surface.