Tag Archives: white

A Contrarian View of Lady Gaga

By Thea Lim and Andrea PlaidLady Gaga Beyonce WireImage

After watching her Facebook news feed fill up with links to articles adoring the politics of Gaga, Thea emailed her local sex/race/gender/pop culture expert: Andrea.  Thea was puzzled by the wild adulation heaped upon Gaga as “transgressive” and “binary-breaking” by the gender studies crowd…not because Gaga is without merit, but because Thea could think of lots of other mainstream artists who had tried to play with appearances and femininity, and not gotten the same love.  When those adulations started to slide towards race, suggesting that Gaga’s work could be read not just as gender subversive, but also questioning and decentering whiteness, it was time for a Racialicious convo.

Thea: I was reading some articles over the weekend about how trangressive the video for “Telephone” is, and I couldn’t help but feel that people are reading things into her work. Not that there is anything wrong with that (especially considering what I do on Racialicious), but it seems as if people are giving her credit for being deeper than she is, rather than saying, oh look what this work could represent, regardless of the artist’s intentions.

There’s this article, which beyond seemingly giving Gaga way more credit than she deserves, makes a gratuitous comment in the article about how the positioning of Beyonce vs Gaga in “Telephone” is a reversal of the black/white dynamic. But I don’t think so at all. For example, in the video Gaga addresses Beyonce with a silly, cloying nickname with is a little condescending, and the video ends with Gaga definitely being the Decider. The article says that Beyonce breaking Gaga out of jail shows that black/white reversal, but the video ends with Gaga “taking care” of Beyonce: the reversal (which I’m not sure I buy in the first place) effectively nullified.

I do get the Gaga mania among queer and feminist theorists, but I also feel like there have been artists before her who were doing interesting things with gender in their work — like M.I.A. who really does not fit easily into either poptart or rock goddess categories. (And M.I.A. has gone so far as to call out the racist-sexism of the music industry, even at the risk of alienating key collaborators.) Even the evolution over the years of Beyonce has been fascinating, in terms of how she went from being this ideal of hetero desire (and also being a blond, light-skinned black lady who was accessible from a white point of view) to making these crazy-ass videos. Like the video for “Video Phone” is just weird.

So why does Gaga get all the love? How much of it is because, as a small young blonde woman she appears to be trangressive in a way that artists like M.I.A. or even Trina cannot be transgressive, because to begin with they are already seen as non-normative, simply because they aren’t white? Is it because the feminist model is predicated on whiteness, so that is what it is drawn to untangling?

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White South African Claims Racial Persecution

by Latoya Peterson

The Associated Press originally broke the news that a white South African, Brandon Carl Huntley, claimed he was being persecuted for the color of his skin. He appealed to Canada and was granted refugee status. The report notes:

Huntley argued that whites are targeted by black criminals in South Africa and that the government does nothing to protect them. He claimed he was attacked seven times during attempted robberies and muggings.

However, South African officials doubt Huntley’s story. The Australian reports:

He claimed to have been called a “white dog”, and maintained he could not get a job because of Pretoria’s affirmative action policies. But Mr Huntley admitted yesterday he had not reported the attacks to the police. “I refuse to talk to the government,” he told The Star newspaper in Johannesburg.

(Thanks to Marjannaa A and DDSuber for the tip!)

The Surface of Buddhism: Introduction

by Guest Contributor (and frequent commenter) Atlasien

The “religion” tag at Racialicious pulls up pieces that are almost entirely focused on Islam. There’s not much coverage of other minority religions yet. I’m pointing this out not to blame — after all, to be published in Racialicious, you have to submit pieces in the first place — but rather to open up the topic for thoughtful discussion, and explain my motivation for writing about Buddhism here.

I can think of several reasons for the number of Islam-related pieces right off the top of my head: the prevalence of Islamophobia and the racialization of Muslims. There’s no corresponding “Buddhophobia”. A white Buddhist is rarely regarded as a freak of nature. Instead of being hated and feared, symbols of my religion are commonly sold in the Home & Garden section of chain stores! Buddhism appears to be eminently compatible with modern American society.

But if you look closely, you’ll see some ripples on the surface…

The overall aim of this series is to discuss how issues of race and ethnicity intersect with the image and reality of Buddhism in the United States. It’s a huge topic so I’ll try to make it more manageable by establishing what this series won’t do. After I provide a very brief historical introduction to Buddhism, I won’t go much deeper into teachings or philosophy, especially since I’m ignorant about so much of it beyond the basics and have zero qualifications as that kind of teacher. I’m going to stick to the surface, to superficial perceptions, stereotypes, illusions, skin color… although what’s on the surface usually connects to other issues which go very, very deep.

I’m going to be discussing a lot of generalizations about different religions. I’ll try to be as sensitive as possible and differentiate my own fairly neutral views. I might offend various kinds of believers, but once I get farther along, I think that the most passionate objections are going to come from other Buddhists. Contrary to popular belief, we’re a fractious bunch. I’ll try to steel myself.

My own background in Buddhism is rather unique. I was half born into it, half converted.

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Interracial Dating: Black Women Aren’t the Only Foes of Interracial Romance

by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem

Do black women regard interracial relationships as a personal affront?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this issue raised. On June 2, it surfaced once more when blogger the Black Snob posted a thought-provoking piece on those who oppose interracial relationships called “Sometimes the White Girl (Or Guy) Isn’t about You (Unconventional Wisdom).”

The post begins with the Snob recalling her days in school when two black girls unsuccessfully try to jump a white classmate who’s dating a black guy. Throughout the piece, the Snob not only questions the rationale the two girls used to justify beating up their white peer but the rationale that black women in general draw upon to oppose interracial relationships. Are black women being fair when they assume that a black guy dating a white chick is a sell-out? And how do the insecurities of black women in Western society factor into their objection of interracial relationships?

She writes, “Some black guys are going to date white girls. Attempting to beat up the white girls will not turn that tide. …You’d be better off learning to love yourself than becoming mired in bitterness and hate over that thing that’s not really about you.”

The Snob’s points are valid. However, after reading her piece and others like it, I find myself wondering why black women are constantly portrayed as if they are only ones who react negatively to interracial relationships. As a black woman who has been involved with a white guy for more than a year, I’ve faced my fair share of hostility from white women, and some Asian ones, who seem resentful of my partnership. None of these women have disapproved of my relationship aloud, but they don’t really have to. Their body language says enough.

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Black man/White woman interracial relationships: Breaking down my judgment

By Guest Contributor Ryan, originally published at Cheap Thrills

heidisealOver the past couple months, I’ve been surrounding myself with people who all have something in common: they’re the least judgmental people I’ve ever known. They’re: 1) unconditionally understanding and compassionate of any given situation – no matter how crazy, weird, or counter-culture it may be, and 2) TOTALLY open about their own lives, in all their outrageous and extreme glory.

How refreshing. To escape the “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “bad”, “black” and “white”.

Which brings me to my point.

During a conversation with one such non-shockable friend, the topic of interracial relationships arose. As I began discussing my own perceptions and thoughts on the subject, something became appallingly clear:

I am judgmental.

Here’s the bare-bones, no-holds-barred confession: I am shamefully judgmental of Black man/White woman interracial relationships. When I see such a couple, I immediately jump to the conclusion that the Black man is trying to prove something and the White woman is trying to piss off her family. I lump the couple into a category, with no desire to dig deeper or even accept their union.

So during this conversation, my friend commented, simply: “Why do you care what choices these other people are making?”

The remark struck me. Yes, why DO I care? I’ve thought hard about this. I’m sure when my Black man/White woman aversion took shape, it sprung from jealousy. When I was a little girl, I never knew my true worth (what kid does?). I was so jealous all the time. Of White females, because, in my eyes, they’d always have something special in their pale skin that I could never have, no matter how straight I blow-dried my hair or how blond I dyed it. And of guys (all guys, but mostly Black guys), because they were always the most popular and the funniest… and most of them liked girls who weren’t boyish and gawky and frizzy-haired like me.

As time passed, I (seemingly) got over my childhood jealousies. But also, the “Black man/White woman relationship aversion” became almost second nature. An instinctual eye-roll. And coming from the Black girl who digs White guys… what a perfect storm of cutting irony.

So now I take a step back. I see many of my White girlfriends entering into wonderful, loving relationships with Black men. I see happiness and strength. And when I see a couple that I would generally stereotype cuddling on the subway or holding hands through Downtown Crossing, I really have to check myself. Why spend time passing judgment on things I don’t even try to understand? Why do I continuing to do this, with the roiling emotions of a 3rd-grader?

I’ve got it. The reality is that I’m NOT over my jealousies. And the problem exists in my own head, not the interracial union. Which is a tad upsetting, but also… again, refreshing.

Because I can’t understand all the complexities of others. But I can accept them. And, even better, I can bask in my God-given joy of delving deep and understanding my own complexities.

There’s no place for judgment in self-discovery. So I’m kicking all those judgmental thoughts to the curb.

Link Love: The White Privilege & the Ummah Carnival

Compiled by Latoya Peterson and Fatemeh Fakhraie


Rolling Ruminations has hosted a blog carnival on White Privilege and the Muslim Ummah. As regular readers know, it gets kind of heavy around here when we start discussing the intersection of race and religion. True to form, the carnival featured a range of opinions. Our favorites are below.

Ginny – Hesitant Thoughts On White Privilege

As a blind white Muslim, I just plain give up in trying to understand how I’m supposed to navigate the complex world of race, disability and religion, because no matter what I do or say, it’s always going to be viewed through the fact that I’m white, and thus everything else is seemingly minimized and seen as an attempt by me to gain some kinda street cred with POC, because “hey I’ve been discriminated just like you”, when that wasn’t even my intention, and I wouldn’t even try to say as much! Because the fact that I had to testify in a court of law to being sexually assaulted, or the fact that I had to give a detailed deposition regarding employment discrimination, or the fact that there are certain websites that are not accessible to me has nothing to do with race, and is a completely different type of discrimination altogether. Yes, I experience white privilege, and I’m sure I do so in ways I don’t realize. However, I don’t think other forms of discrimination should be passed off as nothing, though at the same time, I don’t think that they should be held up as ways that whites “understand” people of color. I’d not go so far as to say that. Because I’ll tell you right now that sighted people will never understand what it’s like to be blind. So as a white person, I can’t tell you what it’s like to be black, or anything else for that matter. All I can tell you is what it’s like to be a blind white Muslim who benefits from white privilege but doesn’t always understand how. And I’m struggling with that. This whole race thing is hard for me to understand, I’m white but I don’t know what that means, only what society tells me it means. I’m supposed to have some kinda privilege, I’m supposed to be on the upper echelons of my society but I don’t feel like it most of the time. Most of the time I feel less than, second best, not as good as. I’m made to feel that I have to work twice as hard, go twice as far, do twice as much. But oh, I’m white, so I’m supposed to have some kind of privilege. And maybe I do, it’s just hard for me to realize what or where that privilege lies.

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Asher Roth and the Politics of Race in Hip Hop

by Latoya Peterson

I am officially a hip hop curmudgeon. After a weekend spent in Houston listening to “Da Stanky Leg” and “the Halle Berry” on local radio, I am officially declaring myself one of those annoying ass old heads who is always waxing about the good old days. Notice here, I’m not talking about the “back when hip-hop was political” nostalgia – oh, no no. Party-hop, politics, whatever – I miss lyrics and lyricism. When a song had multiple verses and a chorus for me to memorize, not just some hollerin’ and foolishness. After listening to my homegirl V-sheezy explain why Lil’ Wayne may very well be the best rapper currently in the game (and she made a compelling case after explaining the current crop of voices on the mainstream airwaves), I retired to the Verve Remixed 4 and decided that I needed to embrace the fact that while I love hip-hop culture, I’m over rap. Just give me the production and let people who can really sing do their thing.

So it kind of goes with out saying that I had negative interest in listening to the latest flash in the pan, Asher Roth. Someone young, white, and privileged, rapping about being young, white, and privileged? Man, I could go watch that Smirnoff Tea Partay ad for that. At least that was intended to be comedy.

But apparently, Asher Roth has been busy.

In addition to inadvertently exposing some of the more interesting racial dynamics in hip-hop, he’s also been running his mouth about a few other things – like what African rappers need to be doing while he’s talking about how much he loves college or how he’s hanging with “Nappy Headed Hoes”. Here are some of the best bits from the Asher-pocalypse:

M. Dot, Model Minority – Asher Roth x Don Imus x Nappy Headed Ho’s

Apparently, Asher Roth was recently on the Rutgers campus and tweeted that he was hanging out with some “Nappy Headed Hoe’s.” He then tried to clean it up and recant by saying that “he was trying to make fun of Don Imus.” He apologized as well.

Recently my post, “Michael Baisden is a Misogynist Pig“, ran on Racialicious. The post is about the fact that Michael Baisden stated on his radio show that a wife “should just lay there and take it”, if her husband want’s to have sex and she doesn’t. One of the commenters, “Nina” who was open, honest and thoughtful in several her comments, said that she felt that Baisden was being hyperbolic. She writes,

    Perhaps because I think of him as being like Chris Rock, someone who exaggerates but often has a bit of wisdom at the core of the shit talking, what I hear is the kind of thing many men say when alone. And there is the risk that he goes to far OR that listeners will take it as gospel and not hear it as hyperbole. I hear it as hyperbole, my brother and friends hear it as hyperbole but that doesnt mean everyone does.

I responded saying,

    Let me ask you this, do you think Don Imus was being Hyperbolic when he called the Rutgers women’s team Nappy Headed Ho’s?

    If he wasn’t being hyperbolic and was being racist, why should Imus not be tolerated but Baisdens comments are hyperbolic?
    Often times, I have found that people hide behind the defense of laughter when in reality it constitutes hate speech.

    Can’t sprinkle sugar on shit and call it ice cream.

Having just wrote these comments on Wednesday, you can imagine my surprise at seeing Asher Roth say the same thing,
on Twitter, on Thursday.

Why should Asher Roth be singled out when Black men call us hoes all the time?

I am not saying that Asher should not be criticized for what he has done but we need to keep it even and acknowledge that many Black rappers and Black men, and for that matter Black women, refer to Black women, reflexively, as “hoes.”

Harry Allen, Media Assassin – Fight the White Rap History Rewrite

[F]rom a certain angle, there’s just a shade of difference between white people rapping and white people telling nigger jokes. (I know that this framework, though immediately clear to a certain number of Black people, if only on a gut level, isn’t obvious to others, and is completely offensive to many white people. I elaborate on it, more, in two other works: (1) “White People and Hip-Hop,” which I recorded with both Racialicious‘ Carmen Van Kerckhove and writer Jason Tanz (Other People’s Property) for Van Kerckhove’s “Addicted to Race” podcast, and (2) “The Unbearable Whiteness of Emceeing: What The Eminence of Eminem Says About Race,” which I wrote for The Source. Continue reading

Russell Peters: Still Got It?

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

A little over half a year ago, I wrote a fawning article about Russell Peters, trying to justify why I love him in spite of the fact that he could easily be criticised for making racist comedy.

I said that I loved Peters because his comedy is (unintentionally?) subversive: it highlights the relationships communities of colour have with each other instead of speaking to, or centering the experiences of white folks. And many commenters on my original piece pointed out, Peters often talks about his sibling communities of colour with fondness rather than ridicule. But then the other night I sat down and watched Red, White and Brown, Peters’ 2008 DVD.

Russell, you cut me deep.

So what’s wrong with Red, White and Brown? Last year Latoya posted an excerpt from a Kate Rigg interview, where Rigg explained very eloquently what makes racist comedy racist:

I’m offended when I see comics get onstage going “…and then I went to the Laundromat. Ching-chong, ching-chong, ching-chong!” Then I’m fucking offended. When someone tells a joke about Asian people and there’s no actual joke – the joke is the Asian people. The joke is [racist-comic voice] the funny way they talkie-talkie! “They don’t use proper diction! Only verb and noun! Verb and noun!” I just heard a comic that I respect doing that fucking joke the other night. An Asian comic. And I was like, “Dude! Write a punch line or you’re just being racist!”

Peters’ seems to have lost his punchline. There’s lots of different things you could criticise in Red, White and Brown. Peters throws in some shallow Michael Moore style criticism of the war in Iraq that still manages to be Arab/Islamophobic. Sepia Mutiny has an interesting analysis of Peters’ jabs at deaf people. Red, White and Brown gave me a lot to think about, and I’d like to address Peters’ “hatred” for deaf people and his comments about Indian authenticity in a later post. But right now I’m gonna focus on that stupid “Chinky” accent.

Peters opens Red, White and Brown with five minutes of his Chinese accent. And hey, I guess people love his Chinese accent. But where it once highlighted a very funny bit about the way Indian and Chinese people do business together, it’s now become the joke. When the only thing Peters is doing is talking Chinky, it’s not a joke anymore.

He starts by pointing to random Chinese-looking people in his audience, and talking in his Chinese voice. But chances are at least one (if not all) of the Chinese people in the front five rows of his New York audience are Chinese Americans. As in, they don’t talk like that. They’re Americans, you jerk.

But you know what? There is a Chinese American accent. Just like there is an African American accent. There’s a WASP accent: I think Dave Chappelle is famous for having perfected it. So why can’t Peters learn the Chinese American accent, and then do that? That would be bringing it back to the arena that Peters once did so well – giving us something in mainstream comedy that we can relate to.

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