Tag Archives: white supremacy

Denial and Delusion – Why Public Conversations About Race Fail Before They Begin

by Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

I am done, done, done.

I intended to work on my follow up to Internalizing Stereotypes.

Key word: intended.

However, the sequel is not happening this week.

The sequel is not happening because my mind is cluttered with two articles that came to my attention in the last half of the week.

The first was a blog post on GameDaily Biz, a site and blog dedicated to the video game industry housed on Game Daily. I peruse GameDaily Biz every few days to find news and trends to discuss in the online gaming magazine Cerise. In addition to writing first person and opinion pieces about gaming, I also write their Gaming in the Media column. So, when I came across a “Your Turn” first person post on GameDaily Biz by Chris Mottes, CEO of Deadline Games, I was intrigued to see what he had to say.

Particularly because the post was titled, “That’s Racist! The Unjust Crusade Against Video Games.”

The article begins:

Members of the media often attack video games for being racist, sexist, mean-spirited, callous, unpleasant, insensitive, or just generally nasty. As a developer, I find most of these claims not only a touch insulting but also extremely tenuous, and in the majority of cases unfounded.

Fascinating. The majority of these cases are unfounded? As a black, female console gamer, I can definitively say that many of the video games I play (and enjoy) can be considered both sexist and racist. Sexism is rampant, particularly when you consider character design, costuming, and forced gender roles in play. Most female characters are designed for maximum sex appeal, relegated to damsel in distress roles, or physically limited and/or forced to contribute to the game in a limited capacity. Major female characters in RPGs tend to be healers or magic-users, normally devastated in battle by a few hits from a stronger male character. While there are a few standout exceptions – Samus from Metroid, Joanna Dark from Perfect Dark, and the oft-debated Lara Croft – most women in video games are side characters.

To illustrate the issue of racism, let’s play a little game. Off the top of your head, name 5 black video game characters. Now, exclude any characters that were not main characters. Now exclude any that appear in a sports game or hip-hop based game. Finally, exclude any characters that embody stereotypical representations of African Americans. (Yes, that means excluding CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.) How many are left in your list?

Or, let’s look at Asian Americans in video games. Again, off the top of your head, name five Asian video game characters – you can use both side characters and main characters. (For this one, we will exclude RPGs from the discussion since character ethnicity a murky subject). Now exclude fighting games. How many are left on your list?

Name five Latino game characters. Can you? I cannot – I have a vague memory of heavy accents in certain video games, but I am not able to bring up one latino character that wasn’t in a historical game like Age of Empires (which technically means I remember playing the game as an Incan and as a Spaniard). For those who can, what stands out about these characters? Continue reading

Bell Hooks on hip hop

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

This clip is from a 1996 video, bell hooks on Video: Cultural Criticism & Transformation, and in this segment, bell hooks discusses hip hop in the context of patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism. It’s fascinating stuff. Thanks very much to Chris for the tip!

Is there a CosmoGirl conspiracy against Kiri Davis?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

No, there isn’t. At least not in my opinion.

As you know, Racialicious has been among the many blogs encouraging people to vote for Kiri Davis’s short film “A Girl Like Me,” a finalist for CosmoGirl.com’s film contest. The winner would have received a $10,000 scholarship and would have been featured in the August 2007 issue.

CosmoGirl suddenly canceled the online film competition on Thursday evening, just hours before the competition would have ended and posted this rather vague message:

We have determined that the online voting has been corrupted as a result of one or more instances of tampering with the voting process by users. As a result, none of the online votes will be counted, and we will submit all three of the semi-finalists to our panel of experts for final judging and selection of a winner.

Because the competition was canceled just as Kiri was soaring into the lead for the first time since the competition started, may are wondering if canceling the competition was some sort of conspiracy to prevent her from winning. Even Radar caught wind of conspiracy theory fears (thanks Patrice!).

But spokespeople from CosmoGirl have responded to confirm that the vote tampering did indeed happen. See CosmoGirl Editor-in-Chief Susan Schulz’s comment on Afrobella, and another spokesperson’s response to Radar (see update at the bottom of the post). And ExpatJane posted screenshots on Afrobella that do seem to show some serious irregularities.

Given the fervor with which people have been supporting Kiri’s film and the deep emotional connection we felt to the subject matter, CosmoGirl could probably have handled this better. Posting a long message detailing exactly what kind of tampering they uncovered, for example, would have been a good move to dispel the skepticism that was bound to exist.

But I think it’s safe to say that no, there is no conspiracy. If CosmoGirl had really be so threatened by the content of Kiri’s film (its themes of Eurocentric ideals of beauty and white supremacy) I doubt the film would have made it as far as it did.

Open Mic Night: Enter At Your Own Risk

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

I always wonder why the hell white people go to open mic nights at Busboys and Poets.

Busboys and Poets is “a restaurant, bookstore, and gathering place for people who believe that social justice and peace are attainable goals.” Their website neglects to mention that they are one of the hottest intellectual chill spots in the U Street corridor, with comfy couches, free wi-fi, and a bookstore full of provocative titles. Combine that with sexy and eclectic people, good music, and a decent food and drink menu, and you have my home away from home.

Every time I take a seat in the Langston Room (the venue for events), I find myself scanning the crowd to check out the racial mix.

Neo-bohemians of varying shades of brown flow in, dreds bouncing, blue jeans and hoodies melding with city couture and drab business casual. Snatches of spanish float through the air, but are largely drowned out in the cacophony of voices talking about politics, social movements, classic novels and new media. I take my seat, order a mug of fruit-flavored tea, and sip quietly waiting for the show tonight.

Now, sometimes everything goes fine. The night is a mix of revolutionary poetry, tearful odes to lost love, humorous erotic pleas, and classic poetry interwoven into the frenetic pace of the evening. Poetry nights can be mixed affairs, featuring soulful poems and poignant reflections about society in general. But on other nights, well…

Let’s take my last visit to Busboys as an example. I sat, clicking away on my laptop between sets, waiting for the next poet to start. Then I hear:


The poet, one of my favorites, takes a decidedly antagonistic tone that evening.

After railing against war-mongering, the destruction of the environment, and the systemic eradication of native peoples, he closes the poem, last lines dripping with contempt:


Spelled backwards is DOG!”

He abruptly departs the stage, leaving the mic reeling in the stand.

The white people in the audience shift uncomfortably in their seats. Quietly, after the sets finish, they begin to slip out of the wooden doors. By 10:30, the venue consists solely of people of color.

In the arena of political poetry, white people would be wise to tread lightly. While every evening does not feature verbal missiles lobbed at white privilege and a racist society, it can quickly become that evening’s theme. And that common theme, the bonding over shared outrage at a racist and oppressive society, can unite some poetry lovers and alienate others. Continue reading

Go vote for Kiri Davis’s “A Girl Like Me”!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

CosmoGirl.com is currently hosting a film contest. The winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship!

One of the finalists is the amazing Kiri Davis, whose short film “A Girl Like Me” does an incredible job of showing just how deeply we are affected by European beauty ideals. Even young children aren’t immune, as she demonstrates in her black/white doll test. You might have seen me blog about it at Anti-Racist Parent a couple months back.

So head on over, watch her film and vote! :) How awesome would it be if she got the scholarship?

And fellow POC/race bloggers, maybe you could put a call out on your own blogs to encourage your readers to vote for her too!

Whiteness in a bottle: Alabaster perfume from Banana Republic

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

There are certain fashion brands that I associate with whiteness. Some, like Abercrombie & Fitch, have aggressively aligned themselves with whiteness. (Their catalogs are basically white supremacist porn.) Others not so much, but because preppy=white in most people’s minds, the association is there. I’m talking about brands like L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and J. Crew.

After seeing the ad below, I think I’m gonna have to add Banana Republic to that list. Alabaster is just one of three new fragrances they’re offering this season, but is it a coincidence that it’s the only one that gets the full-page treatment? Hmmm…

I looked up “alabaster” on dictionary.com and here are the definitions:

1. a finely granular variety of gypsum, often white and translucent, used for ornamental objects or work, such as lamp bases, figurines, etc.
2. Also called Oriental alabaster. a variety of calcite, often banded, used or sold as alabaster.
3. made of alabaster: an alabaster column.
4. resembling alabaster; smooth and white: her alabaster throat.

I think the message is clear: This fragrance would be HUGE in Asia. 😉

alabaster fragrance banana republic perfume

White supremacy by any other name

by guest contributor Kai Chang, originally published at Zuky

lige danielsWhen now-disgraced comedian Michael Richards screeched into his microphone “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass!” followed shortly by “He’s a n—-r! A n—-r, look, there’s a n—-r!” he was obviously attempting to drum up the vibe of a lynch mob closing in on its target. That’s some funny shit, eh?

Here’s how hilarious it is: To your left, Lige Daniels, lynched in Center, Texas, on August 3, 1920. To your right, Rubin Stacy, lynched in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 19, 1935. Here are but two among tens of millions of murders attributed to America’s long history of genocidal white supremacy.

As you can see, these are mirthful family affairs. The children are smiling innocently. The parents are proud and upstanding.

rubin stacyI guess this is Michael Richards’ comedic vision of America, and that of all those who are defending his invocation of the twisted pathology of sexualized white supremacist violence.

Yes, the n-word is “just a word”: a word that has historically led to scenes such as these. If you’re cool with such scenes, by all means continue supporting this word’s use by “edgy” white folks (you say “edgy”, I say “coward hiding in a mob”). You know why black folks “are allowed” to use the n-word (though it remains deeply controversial in the black community)? Here’s a hint: look at the pictures and see if you spot any black folks among the living. Okay I’ll fill you in: they’re the ones being murdered; white folks are the ones doing the murdering. Get it? In the context of the n-word’s countless unpunished crimes, black folks are not the accused.

“Just a word”: what a moronic defense. I suppose “war” is “just a word” as well — unless you happen to be among those getting bombed and shot. “I intend to kill you and your family” are just words too, but if someone were to say those words to me, my response would be very unwordy. I think it’s bizarre that middle-class American liberals appear to have become so comfortably, mentally astral that they believe that language and reality are somehow disconnected; as though words and thoughts are powerless postmodern playthings that have no consequences in the real world; as though every actual atrocity in human history didn’t begin with “just a word”.

Michael Richards and his ruined career are not the point here. The point is that if we’re ever to move beyond our current racial strife, we need to begin with enough intellectual honesty to acknowledge and understand America’s glaring legacy of white supremacy. As this popular comedian’s tirade shows, that legacy is alive and kicking in the American psyche. Shrugging it off as a “politically incorrect” use of an insensitive “racial epithet”, or as some mysterious “hostility” that bubbled up out of nowhere, demonstrates a profound ignorance and denial of this country’s past and present. And as long as such ignorance and denial dominate our national discourse, we will remain unable to accurately and meaningfully talk about, think about, and transcend the blood-soaked, heavy-hearted legacy of the American Color Line.

A must-read: Reappropriate on Michael Richards and the racist fairy

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

kramer racist tirade n-bombIt’s no secret that Reappropriate is one of my favorite blogs. Jenn’s analysis is razor-sharp and she’s also funny as hell.

I urge you to head over to her blog right now and read her latest take on Michael Richards’ apology. Here are some excerpts:

Michael Richards was bitten by the racist fairy.

According to Seinfeld and Richards, who are both “mystified by what happened”, it’s like some Blackface Tinkerbell crawled up Richards’ ass and shot him full of that Strom Thurmond fairydust. Think racist thoughts, and you can make minorities fly — far, far away from you!! After all, Richards is absolutely shocked by what happened (it’s one of those “awful, awful things”, says Seinfeld) – he’s not a racist, he just came down with that racist funk.

I love the use of the passive voice here — racism didn’t just happen. It’s not like when you’re in bed with some girl and the condom just breaks: that’s just one of those “ooops” moments. No… here, racism didn’t just happen! This man did it!! Don’t tell us “what happened”… as if you’re an innocent bystander in some drive-by slurring.

Now, the opening part of Richards’ apology is abso-frickin’-hilarious (and, of course, the audience was laughing). Why? Because it’s like they drugged his ass and threw him in front of a camera! He looked lost!! Look at his eyes, that wide vacant stare! It’s like the Drop Squad picked him up after the Laugh Factory show, beat him to a bloody pulp, and forced him to watch hours and hours of classic African American — no, wait “Afro-American” — films last night. He’s been watching The Color Purple on repeat for eight hours straight, until he broke down into wracking sobs of “did you tell Harpo to beat me?!?”

I don’t think they let him go until they made him watch Roots: The Next Generation — where else do you think he got the term “Afro-American”? You know he just learned it last night! He was like: “I’m a racist! I can’t remember all these names they want to call themselves. Until yesterday, I thought the n-word was alright!”