Tag: Uncategorized

June 7, 2007 / / Uncategorized

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

June 6, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

[Warning: Long post. You might want to grab a snack…]

BET has been dead to me for a while now.

I would have to say I stopped watching BET in high school. With the occasional channel flick to check out music videos, nothing on BET interested me. Not 106 and Park, not BET Nightly News. Nothing.

So imagine my surprise when my best friend called me up and told me to turn on BET, like ASAP.

“They are talking about the state of black marriage!” she yelled, then hung up the phone.

I flipped over to the channel, fearing the worst.

On BET’s Meet the Faith, host Dr. Ian Smith hosted an honest and forthcoming discussion about marriage in the African-American community.

From the tone of the panel to the how the subject matter was covered, it is obvious that we have a long way to go.

The show was set up with two short segments – one black woman’s testimony about marrying outside of the race and an attorney’s venture into blind dating, along with BET personality Cheming interviewing people on the street about their thoughts and feelings about marriage.

The main event, however, was the panel discussion. Ian Smith hosted the discussion, and the featured guests were Dr. Tiy-E Muhammed (billed as an Author and Relationship Expert), Lauren Lake (a legal analyst) and Thomas Lopez-Pierre, Owner of the Harlem Club.

Automatically, I am put on edge. What kind of conversation happens in a 2-on-1 setting? One would at least imagine you would put an equal number of guests when discussing matters of gender.

Some key quotes from the discussion (and a little bit of my reactions) are as follows:

“Black men don’t want a partner, they want wives.” — Lopez-Pierre

It should be noted that Lake jumped all over him for making this assertion. Lopez-Pierre went on to argue that a partner indicates an equal. While I could not catch everything he said (which is why I can’t quote this part), he stated that having an equal or a partner basically means he has to respect the time of his partner, which would mean he would need to do things to help out like make dinner, or clean the house, which is something he refuses to do. Ergo, he wants a wife – not a partner. Lopez-Pierre talks about his relationship with his wife as an example. It is interesting to see where he draws the distinction – a partner is someone you have to pay attention to, a wife is a person who accommodates her man. This perspective is revisited later in the broadcast. Read the Post Know Your Place, Woman: BET’s Meet the Faith on Black Marriage