Tag: Uncategorized

June 1, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

The most provocative ideas seem to fly out of nowhere.

I was listening the community discussion of Jabari Asim’s new book The N-Word: Who Should Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why and I was enjoying the depth of conversation explored by the attendees. One woman, when recounting her experiences made an interesting and illuminating comment.

As a Caucasian woman raising a biracial child who identifies as black, she explained having a lengthy discussion with her child about his casual use of the N-word with his multicultural group of friends. The woman’s son informed her that the n-word was no longer a stigmatized term. What was worse, the son explained, was the “other N-word.”

Puzzled, I leaned forward in my seat. As I shivered in the aggressively air conditioned meeting room, I did a quick scan of my mental word bank to figure out another n-word. Nothing. The woman continued.

The other N-word was nerd.

Damn.

The discussion continued to swirl around me, but that phrase stuck with me for the rest of the evening.

The following day, I attended my younger sister’s high school graduation. A graduate of Charles Herbert Flowers High School (focusing on the Science and Technology program) I am pleased to share that my younger sister graduated in the top 5% of her class.

However, she was outdone by both the class valedictorian and salutatorian, both of whom boasted advanced GPAs, (4.8 and 5.2, I believe), SAT scores, college level course work (one of them had completed Calculus 3), and numerous community service projects.

Both of these young men confidently approached the podium and spoke of opportunity, achievement, and success. As they spoke, I wondered if they had already felt the sting of the “other n-word.” Outwardly, they were both attractive, seemingly popular young men. What were their lives like? Did they feel penalized for the intellect? Did they feel the burden, the unrelenting pressure placed upon those deemed young, gifted, and black?

After the tassels were turned, I fought through the throng of graduate families to find my younger sister. After giving her my congratulations, I asked her if her valedictorian and salutatorian were ostracized for being so smart. Read the Post The Other N Word

June 1, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious guest contributor Luke Lee

“Who’s doggy’s daddy? A DNA test can determine the breeds that make your mutt”

Making its way to the very front page of Yahoo! on Monday night was a video and a news article about a DNA kit which, as the folks at Yahoo! so eloquently put it, is able to tell dog-owners the different breeds in their “mutt.”

Now, I realize that we’re talking about dogs here but the word “mutt” is one that makes me wince no matter what the context. And though the word, when talking about dogs, is in supposedly a completely canine context, I don’t think it’s in an entirely different context without any sort of implications of cultural attitudes that carry over to the ways in which our society sees and talks about mixed race folks.

The most glaring aspect of the word and it’s popular usage when it comes to dogs is that people, dog-owners just don’t know what the dog is which results in the “mutt” description. There’s nothing wrong with this because god knows that a lot of dog-owners don’t know what their dog is but at the same time, many dog-owners do know very well. “Mutt,” to me, implies very much a sort of hairbrained “I don’t know. It’s just a bunch of everything thrown in there. I lost track” which is fine if people want to talk about their dogs like that, if people want to talk about themselves like that but its lackadaisical presence in the way people talk about race and in this case, dog breeds, fosters a sort of “don’t know so reduce it down” attitude. Don’t get me wrong, people should identify however they want to and if someone identifies and calls themselves a mutt “because it’s simple” then that’s great for them. However, as the word has the overriding suggestion of a lack of knowledge when it comes to one’s background, it’s not the most sensitive term to be flinging around at least when it comes to real people. I know this isn’t a perfect comparison, but it’d be like if I proudly told people I was “Oriental” and preferred the term over “Asian” or “Asian American.” If I did then that’s my business but it would inevitably give people the idea that it’s an OK term to use when describing Orientals Asian Americans. And also, I’m not saying that dog-owners who use the term are somehow insensitive and subtly racist when it comes to issues of race but rather the culture in our language perpetuates the idea that mutt=potpourri and if to be mixed is to be a mutt then to be a mutt means to not know what you are (and not care) which I don’t think is remotely the case for many, many mixed people. Read the Post Why the word “mutt” makes me wince

May 31, 2007 / / Uncategorized
May 29, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse, originally published at The Coup Magazine

“It was completely trivial” said a spokeswoman for Iberia Airlines’ new ad. I suppose that should be expected, but it never ceases to amaze me that some people consider the degradation of historically oppressed groups as “trivial,” “fun,” or “just a joke.” Maybe that’s because our society has a history of accepting stereotypes as truths, so veiling them in humor is its feeble attempt to disguise the simple fact that it can’t distinguish between one or the other. It may also be a result of the belief some hold that we are all equals and treated fairly. If this condition of equality is a given, then debasing one group or another is not expected to cause harm, embarrassment, or any real long-term affects. Maybe Spain’s national airline felt that they were engaging in harmless fun, simply teasing their colonial little brother Cuba, but not everyone shared Iberia’s interpretation. Ruben Sanchez, a spokesperson for Facua, a Spanish consumer rights group, found the commercial to be sexist and generally offensive to Cubans. Facua called for the advertisement, which is part of a set of commercials for Iberia’s website, to be pulled. Iberia complied. They apologized, stating that the ad was not meant to offend anyone, and removed it from television on May 16th. But considering that someone had thought up the commercial and allowed it to air in the first place, the damage had already been done.

When I saw the ad for the first time, I thought beyond sexism. Before me was a representation of women of African descent that has somehow lasted for more than three centuries. I saw an animated articulation of the remnants of European colonial dominance over a Caribbean nation and its women. There was so much to take in from such a short clip that I wanted to slow down and think about it in parts. I watched the video again, this time in silence. After muting the volume, I began to mentally catalogue the images I saw. Before the clip commenced, a tableau appeared of a fair-skinned baby in a rocking chair surrounded by two brown-skinned, dark haired, large lipped women frozen mid-dance, holding maracas and wearing bikini tops with Daisy Duke cutoff shorts. Once the video unfolded, it seemed. . . fairly harmless, but three things stood out to me:

1. The color contrast between the baby and his adult playmates.
Both women featured in the commercial have brown skin, one a shade slightly darker than the other, and the men who provide musical accompaniment for the commercial are also varying shades of brown, from light to dark. This contrast is common in tourism advertisements, particularly those in Europe and the United States (with the exception of the recent Bahamas vacation ads). The tourist is almost always white and the “natives” are always brown, black, or yellow. Last time I checked, people of color also go on vacation, but maybe advertising executives don’t want to confuse the consumer audience by featuring them as tourists alongside people who look just like them. Funny enough, this never seems to be a problem in white-on-white ads encouraging people to go to European countries. Read the Post A Daycare Called Cuba: Iberia Ad More Than “Sexist”