Tag Archives: youtube

Scapegoating or Community Empowerment? The Flipside of the “Korean Takeover of the Black Haircare Industry” Debate

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

After Latoya wrote the excellent article “Know Your Place, Woman: BET’s Meet the Faith on Black Marriage,” I decided to do a little additional research by checking out the BET site for the show with the all the questionable content. I ended up reading very little on Meet the Faith. In fact, the one thing that stood out to me about the site was actually a random distraction . . .

Toward the bottom of the page regarding a segment on black beauty, I noticed a survey entitled “Korean or Black Owned?” The caption read:

For the most part, Black haircare products didn’t exist until Madame C.J. Walker introduced her Wonderful Hair Grower in the early 1900s. Today, there are still very few products and equipment made for or sold by Blacks.

For such a loaded topic, there were only two simple questions:

1. There are two beauty supply stores next to each other. One is Korean-owned and sells your shampoo for $10. The other is Black-owned and sells your shampoo for $12. Where would you buy your shampoo? The Black-Owned Store or The Korean-Owned Store?

2. If the Korean-owned shop sold items $2 to $3 higher, where do you think the average Korean customer would shop? The Black-Owned Store or The Korean-Owned Store?

I immediately felt the urge to look into what had compelled this very basic set of questions and find some answers. Carmen raised a question of her own back in December, “Do Korean-Americans Control the Black Hair Market?” prompting readers to check out Aron Ranen’s documentary Black Hair and leaving them to render their own judgment on the issue. Half a year later, however, I find myself asking less about the prospect of Korean market dominance in the black haircare industry, and more about the process of seeking an answer to the inquiry itself. What methods have we used to publicly examine this market dominance and what effect have they had on the respective communities involved?

First and foremost, there is the film by Ranen. Black Hair is a documentary created to bring attention to the plight of people of African descent who attempt to manufacture and/or distribute black hair care products within the black community as they face considerable adversity in a market now controlled by Korean immigrants and their families. While some, including members of the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association (BOBSA), see the film, as absolute truth, I find that it could be quite easily interpreted as an open attack on Koreans. I understand quite clearly that the film is a powerful form of advocacy for keeping money spent and earned by African-Americans in the black community, but I question the need for Ranen’s clear manipulation of an already troubled case of ethnic disunity between American blacks and Korean immigrants as a means to push the “buy black” agenda.

During an interview with NPR, Ranen is asked whether or not his film creates “an environment that shows Korean proprietors as the enemy.” In defense of his work, he answers simply that he does not want to be a “hater,” but instead he wants to be a “motivator.” Yet I can’t help but consider his attempt to “motivate” the black community suspect. By publicly picking at old wounds between Koreans and African-Americans, Ranen has tapped into an increasingly lucrative market for the press: inter-ethnic conflict. The American media can’t get enough of it. Stories about people of color fighting other people of color, even if their initial disagreement has little to do with race or ethnic background, always make headline news, often yielding skewed and/or distorted results. Asian-American activist Helen Zia discusses this phenomenon in her book Asian American Dreams with regard to the L.A. Riots: Continue reading

Shop Boyz “Party Like a Rock Star”: mocking metal? or celebrating it?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

What do you think of this video?

Oh Word
sees it as payback for all the years of white people making fun of hip hop:

imagine my joy when I saw a bunch of perfectly ignant crunk kids accidentally pissing on the whole concept of mainstream punk-metal. By being just as clueless and careless as the average comedy writer or rock band dealing in rap signifiers (SAT word alert) they’ve turned the tables on a 25 years worth of bad jokes by white people. Or to put it simply, Fred Durst and his ilk had no clue about rap and now it’s payback time. Half the K-rok crowd will laugh with it and half will be pissed but at least the playing field will be a little more even next time someone wants to pull out a whiteboy-goes-ghetto joke.

Or is this a sincere homage to metal? As Latoya recently pointed out, “a modified rock-punk look” is becoming popular among black and Latino kids. Is this just a natural extension of that?

Homies.tv: racial stereotypes all around

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Racialicious reader Krys tipped me off to this web site, which includes some videos that bring the Homies dolls to life in the crudest racial stereotypes you can think of.

What is up with these dolls? According to Wikipedia, “Homies are a series of 2-inch figurines loosely based upon Chicano (Mexican American) characters in the life of artist David Gonzales. First created in 1998, these plastic figurines were initially sold via vending machines typically positioned in supermarkets, but quickly became collectibles among young children through teenagers.”

Are these actually popular with kids? Anyone have any insight?

Family Guy: Asian girls think everything small is cute

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I watched the latest episode of Family Guy last night on the Tivo and this scene cracked me up so much!

(The boob joke is a bit tasteless, but the other stuff is on-point.)

I have to admit that I am totally guilty of this stereotype. I remember this one time I was in The Container Store. I was walking along one aisle and I spotted this tiny (about 3 inches tall) white ceramic jar with a hinged lid. Okay, not only was that already cute in and of itself, but it also had a tiny little spoon attached to it! It was total cute overload.

Then what happened next felt like it happened in slow motion. I moved towards the jar, arm oustretched, as I said “Cuuuuuuuuuuuute!” and then I was dismayed to find that at the exact same time, another Asian girl was also moving towards the same jar, her arm outstretched, also saying “Cuuuuuuuuuute!” When we got to the jar, we looked at each other in embarrassment, realizing that we had both just totally stereotyped ourselves.

I am also mortified that when I see a friend coming towards me, I almost always reflexively do The Asian Girl Wave: arm bent at elbow, hand positioned a little bit above your hip, palm facing out, hand ocillating side to side rapidly, head tilted slightly to one side.

Anyone else feel me on this? :) I guess it’s like my version of the racial pixie.

First! The obsession with being the first commenter

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

If you’ve ever read any of the XXL blogs, you’ll be familiar with the phenomenon of “first commenting.” You know, those guys/gals who wait with bated breath for a new post, and then rush over and write “First!” in the comment box.

I had a chuckle at this video, which pokes fun at “first comment” culture. Hat tip to Oh Word, and check out an old post of Rafi’s in which he discusses this phenomenon.