Tag Archives: news

Blackface is Racist. Period. Mocking Domestic Abuse is Misogynistic. Period.

So this happened.

http://jezebel.com/5952124/idiot-students-in-blackface-reenact-chris-brown-beating-rihanna-at-worst-pep-rally-ever

Yeah an almost all white school had a performance where they did a skit in blackface portraying Chris Brown beating the shit out of Rihanna to win a popularity contest. This was a skit approved by school officials, watched by staff and community leaders. And now many of the students and faculty are defending it, saying it’s not racist at all. Sadly I’m not that surprised by this but it did make me feel some things I wanted to share.

First of all, as always I love it when white people, especially white people who obviously have no cultural knowledge of the history of blackface, and have close to no diversity in their community tell me what’s racist.

‘Cause they know right? They’ve been hassled by the police. They’ve been called the n-word by people that were supposed to be their advocates. They’ve been targets of harassment where people wouldn’t believe them because of their skin tone. They’ve been assumed to be a thief, thug, stupid, animalistic. They know how much it hurts some members of the black community to see blackface, how it’s tied to a time when we were considered less than human, how it was used to mock, belittle, terrorize, and propagandize to keep a group of people from having basic rights.

Blackface is racist. The end. Any comedy that requires you to darken your skin to be funny? Relies on the characters race for humor and considering you couldn’t get a black person to play the role I’m going think that the comedy wasn’t exactly flattering. There is no reason for blackface. Why is your art relying on an archaic and problematic premise?

Prejudice is the easy joke, it’s the simple laugh. Watch any frat dudebro comedy and you’ll see, they go for the old school stereotypes about women, foreigners, LGBTQI folks, disabled people, poor people, etc. for their humor. The women are always virgins or whores there to be mocked for either decision, the POC are always thugs (Af-Am), hackers (As-Am), mocked for their misunderstanding of America (everyone), etc. and the gay characters are there to be mocked with old stereotypes that compare queer women to men and queer men to women. We’re not even going to go into that problematic binary, that’s a completely different post. The point is it’s the easy laugh. HaHa look at the outsider, they’re not like me so their funny. If that’s the only humor you can reach for, aside from being privileged and oppressive you’re just a bad comedian. It’s old, it’s tired, it’s racist, it’s no longer okay.

And I assume if they’re defending this and past examples of blackface they’ve examined why they feel the need to use blackface. They’ve delved deep into their psyche and examined why an almost all white community that has little to no contact with People of Color finds blackface so entertaining it had to happen repeatedly.  They have a really good defense and reasoning for why they did this, why educators approved it, why everyone thought it was funny, aside from their critics being stupid or oversensitive, right? They were doing some good work deconstructing race and gender and the male gaze right? ‘Cause if they don’t have any that.

It’s. Just. Racist.

This is without even going into the fact that they were recreating the act of a black woman being abused! Go to the link above, look at that photo, look at the all-white audience laughing and smiling while they imagine a brown woman being thrown to the ground in violence. I don’t care what the skit was, I don’t care what they meant by it, I don’t care for anything the students, faculty or attendees have to say that is not a heartfelt apology, an explanation why they thought this was funny, and a commitment to examine their own amusement at mocking the physical assault of a black woman. Would it have been just as hilarious if it was recreating Pamela Anderson’s abuse incident? Sharon Osbourne’s? There’s misogyny here to be sure but the racial aspect turns it into something even worse.

What is it about seeing a brown woman beaten that these white boys think will win them a popularity contest, that their community will be entertained by the misogynistic, racist spectacle?

Also I’m sure the faculty and advisers know that 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend in an abusive relationship, that 1 in 4 teen girls have been forced into sex by a intimate partner, that 80% of abused teen girls continue to date their abuser, that almost a third of teen girls killed every year are killed by a boyfriend or husband. Given these statistics they must also know that there are likely girls in that auditorium watching that performance that are currently involved in an abusive relationship. So what message did they get from the faculty approving of this? How likely are these girls now to feel safe reporting anything about abuse to this school, to anyone in their community? They’ve effectively told all who see this that the misogynistic atmosphere of the community is the arbiter of who gets to complain, who’s pain is real and whose is a joke.

But it was all a joke right?

No, it’s not a joke. Abuse is not a joke, racism is not a joke. I’ve been known to make the off-color joke myself among friends, true but first that is among friends and I always try to be aware of the privilege I have and how that factors into what I’m saying. I try not to be defensive if people decide to call me on what I say. It seems like this community wants none of that. They want to pretend that blackface is just make-up, that watching a woman getting an abusive beatdown is all good fun, that a community rallying to defend white boy’s right to recreate a brown woman’s fear, terror and pain as entertainment is okay. It’s not. This is not art that’s meant to inform, educate or examine abuse in certain communities which is one thing but entertainment that mocks her pain, belittles it, makes it fodder for the humor of an all-white community.

And that? Is. Not. Okay.

Rest In Peace: Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse (9/14/1983 – 7/23/2011)

Wow, there are so many things I want to say about Winehouse’s death. The way I feel the media, society and yes even her fans were complicit in her destruction. I want to pull clips of her when she first broke in the U.S. and was more coherent and open about her use of marijuana. I want to pair it with articles and comments on her weight despite being only a size 10 at the time. The way she always seemed to perform with her gaze lowered as if looking at the audience was too much. The way I can’t help but wonder if her decision to give up pot to lose the weight also led to her decision to start using heavier drugs that are more destructive but also lead to weight loss. There is a lot we’ll never know and will constantly want to figure out.

I want to dissect the whole thing but it feels too soon and too raw. I’ve been a fan of Amy Winehouse since the release of her first album in 2003, Frank. I loved her style, her performance and her complete unconcern for others opinions. There was a lot to critique about her music and her personal life but very few would ever try to deny her talent.

In this moment though? All I wanna do is hear her voice:

Valerie

Fuck Me Pumps – the first Winehouse song I ever heard and I still have a soft spot for it despite some issues I have with message/lyrics.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? – She never did an official video for this but such a great cover in any case and seems appropriate to end the post with.

Too Through…

Let’s go through the list shall we, now due to Sanders open and outright bigotry many no longer want to be associated with Helix magazine. Yoon Ha Lee requests that her story be taken down from the website. Sanders replies and does this but in the letter says how he never liked it in the first place, it didn’t make sense and he only bought it to increase writers of color in his magazine…and a lot more, basically he acts like an 8 year-old. (Yoon Ha Lee’s journal)

Then yesterday Sanders makes a public post claiming it was his idea to allow people to removes their stories from the archive, says anybody who wants to remove their story should email him and he’ll take it down.There’s also a lot of insinuation in the post about people being greedy and this all being some attack -because yeah Sanders is that big, everyone wants to attack him that’s what it’s all about. He says to act now because he’ll decide capriciously when this offer ends and if you don’t like it you can shut your pie-hole, classy and professional! (Yoon Ha Lee’s journal)

Tempest describes what was left on the pages of the stories that were removed and in a post today Sanders says that anyone who wants a story removed must pay $40 to the webmistress Melanie. Now keep in mind that just yesterday his letter said Melanie shouldn’t have to deal with this and he would take care of everything. My guess is that either a bunch of folks sent in requests and he’s trying to stem the tide by charging or his petulance is growing exponentially as he discovers most folks now know he’s a bigot.

Tobias Buckell weighs in and suggests sooe sort of drive for folks who want their story down but can’t afford the $40.To Sanders $40 may be nothing but to a lot of us it’s the difference between eating actual food this week or Ramen. Many in the comments urge folks not to pay anything because it would be like paying Sanders for his bigotry.

Kate Nepveu suggests since most folks say the contract with Helix is for non-exclusive internet rights that any authors who’re unhappy or don’t want to be associated with Helix any longer can post the stories on their blog or anywhere they want and redirect all their links there. Which personally I think is awesome.


 Other things in the SF/F world:

Kate Elliot starts a dialog on reviews and what readers would like to see in their reviews. While this may seem only tangentially about SF/F, it is a post by a well-known and fa I find the ideas in the post align with my thoughts a lot because I critique a lot of things here and I think for some people that reads as if I hate these things but no, I love them, that’s why I critique/review them because I want them to be better in regards to power/privilege/oppression. Anyway, go join the conversation let Kate know what you like/dislike about reviews.

Yoon Ha Lee links us to someone starting a new on-line magazine specializing in “literary adventure fantasy–character-driven stories in secondary worlds”, paying SFWA pro rate for stories, opening to submission on August 1st called Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I’m thinking of submitting one of my stories to them after some major edits.

Too Much Going On – Short Links

I have a lot going on today and for the next couple of weeks plus it being Monday makes me feel even more stressed and out-of control so for today’s post I have a list of short links that I thought y’all would find interesting and can read instead of my insightful commentary ;)

Whose Feminism? over at Racialicious by Guest Contributor Thea Lim where she discusses her feelings of anger and betrayal toward some of the white feminist blogosphere and grassroots movements that ignore any discussion of race. I think it puts into words what a lot of Women of Color are feeling right now toward the feminist movement.

Oregon Public Broadcasting has the first in a series on Umatilla women, their tradition of root gathering and the threats to this tradition. Anna King actually talks to women of the Nation instead of talking at them which makes this a much more rounded article than the usual ones on Native folks.

A woman in Canada shaves her head to raise money for a Cancer org and finds herself fired from her waitressing job. This is all about this man (and the patriarchy itself) trying to control women’s appearances. It such bullshit and I’m glad the community is up in arms about it but – and perhaps this is just me being cynical – but I wonder would they be half as up in arms if this was her personal choice and not about raising money for Cancer?

Worried about angry white women voting for McCain? Well you probably shouldn’t be. Jill over at Feministe breaks down the point lead that Obama holds over McCain in regards to women overall. But as most of us know the media’s never really cared for any women but white middle-class ones and among that group McCain is beating Obama (but only by the small margin of 6 points).

An experimental new Alzheimer’s drug/treatment may stop the build up of protiens that damage brain cells.

Homophobic judge in Spain forced to marry gay couple after years of putting off performing any marriages between folks of the same sex.

Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez has two recent posts over at Racialicious that are really eye-opening. First, New Study Shows that Latino Teens Are Pregnant Suicidal Junkies where Alex questions who they consider Latina/o and how they decided it which is an important factor that’s not been brought up. Secondly, Our Genes Don’t Match with “Brown Pride” Clothing discusses the conflation of the term Latina/o with the chola/o subculture in the media and with clothing marketed to the Latina/o community in particular.

Finally on an environmental note, the first beaver dam in England in over 800 years.

Visions of Africa, Blog Post vs. New York Times

When I did my daily blog reading this morning I came across to things that related to Africa. As some of you might now I directly identify with Africa because my father is an immigrant from Ethiopia. My own journey to being prideful of coming from Ethiopia and the drama that came along with it is another post in itself. Sufficed to say I’m sensitive to articles about the continent and how they are written.

All too often I feel that Africa is treated as if it’s all one big sameness, like there aren’t differing opinions and peoples throughout the continent. Africa is treated like a singular country, and the stereotypes that surround it are almost never acknowledged. Most people are just completely willing to believe that Africa is all a dry desert inhabited by brown folks who live in huts, throw spears and don’t understand what a plane is. Many don’t even know that the largest growing film industry in the world is Nollywood (Nigeria) with an output of over 200 movies a month, making it the third largest film producer in the world (behind the U.S. & India).

There’s also the idea of Africa as a continent of lawlessness and murder, but really couldn’t that be said of all continents? I think there’s a way in which the conflicts are framed where in most articles about Africa, Europe culpability and influence (when very few African countries have never known a European foot on their neck) is completely ignored or written off as irrelevant. The media chooses to portray Africa as a continent and Africans as a people as naturally full of tribal strife and murder and “superstition” (a whole post could be written on the practice of labelling indigenous religions as superstitions, but that’s not this post), always ignoring that qualities of hate and anger exist all over the world in all people. There are plenty of groups in the US who would have no problem slaughtering POC as a matter of course, some are even in elected office, but you know what? That’s not a news story, instead they want to show how behind modern times those brown people are.

You can see the difference in these two articles I read this morning.

At Racialicious, Guest Contributor Jen talks about being in Rwanda and visiting the sites of the atrocious genocide perpetrated there. She gives us a little history lesson that it was Europeans who insisted on dividing the tribes and giving them identification cards. It’s a classic strategy of oppressors creating imaginary divisions among the oppressed so they are less likely to band together and throw off the foot on their neck. It’s also very little talked about in the mainstream, I love that Jen brought that fact up because it’s something that needs to be known and puts a lot of the Rwandan genocide in context.

Contrast that with this article in the New York Times at the dangers faced by albinos in Tanzania, where they are now being hunted and killed for their “magical” properties. This is a serious issue and I don’t know enough about it to really comment (except the usual, murder is wrong!) but the fact that the NYT doesn’t talk about the colonial history of Tanzania and the issues with skin tone that happened there for over 80 years might have echoes in what’s going on now. The whole article focuses on these mysterious “witch doctors” (a term that I have such fucking issues with) saying that albinos have magical properties and the whole tone of it plays right into “oh the mysterious darkest heart of the world-witch doctors with huge angry masks-spear wielding-lion fighting-primitives” bullshit that they use to sell papers.

The whole continent becomes this “forgotten land” with its “odd rituals” because we all know ethnic cleansing, or witch hunts or murders on the basis of external judgments doesn’t/never have happen in the West at all? Right?