- Reblogged from npr
This is an excellent essay by Deputy Executive Director of Buzzfeed, Shani O. Hilton. Hilton deconstructs the problem of talking about “Black films” as a genre, including similar euphemisms: “race-themed,” “African-American-themed,” “Black-themed,” and “ethnically diverse.” Hilton notes that films that include a few African American actors does not mean it is “ethnically diverse.”
Hilton also raises issues of gender and class. Most so-called “Black films” are centrally stories about men directed by men. African American women directors have even more problems than their male counterparts getting their films recognised. Also, “Black films” tend to portray working class or struggling characters, and so well-educated, middle-class African Americans are largely absent from widely released films.
There’s a great discussion about the possibilities of new distribution and funding methods to increase the types of films that are made.
I highly recommend you read the whole thing on Buzzfeed and discuss!
This Australian documentary “Change My Race” explores how Western beauty ideals are influencing a rising pressure amongst Asian women to get cosmetic surgery. The documentary maker Anna Choy is an Asian-Australian woman who has struggled with her looks in the face of racism growing up. She speaks to women from various backgrounds who have a desire to look more White as a direct result of the racism they have endured.
The most heart-breaking story for me is the 17 year old schoolgirl whose parents pressure her into getting surgery, which they think will help her be more successful.
The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reports that South Korea leads the number of cosmetic procedures. The most common surgeries overall include lipoplasty and breast augmentation.
TVGuide.com recently asked SNL cast member Kenan Thompson some pointed questions about the show’s lack of women of color. Kenan asserted he would no longer be playing black women characters for the show. Though that decision is a heartening one, his comments on why there remains a gap in the representation of black women in comedic spaces were less than progressive. Kenan said, “It’s just a tough part of the business,” he tells TV Guide. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”
A group of funny black women decided to take on Kenan’s challenge. In this video, filled with vignettes and impressions showing off their talent. The end result is undeniable. Black women are ready for any stage.
OMG, this is so great! Please watch
The best part about historical fiction is, I always have someone to relate to. The past is pretty sweet.
Here’s a satirical look at white male privilege, which refers to the gendered and racist discourses that maintain sexist, racist and heterosexist balance of power society. White men’s experiences are dominant in Western history, education, art, religion, the law and through every other major social institution. Men’s experiences shape the the dominant discourses that pervade everyday social interactions. Discourse is the way in which language is used to impose specific ways of talking and thinking about the established social order. People come to associate particular social practices with commonplace assumptions about “the way things are.” Language is used associate these practices with an idealised vision of normality and “the way things should be.”
Mainstream popular culture makes it seem as if white men’s experiences are “natural,” “normal,” and the universal ideal through which societies should judge the lives of Others. For example the way we use words shape what people come to accept about what it is acceptable about being a man and what is acceptable about being a woman: it is not okay for a woman to walk through the streets at night… but if she’s sexually harassed throughout her day, can’t she take a bit of “harmless teasing”? It is okay to use homophobic language on Twitter 45,000 times in less than half a day (and counting). It’s okay to use sexist language and imagery in gaming and to abuse women who speak out against this.
Gender discourses rest upon heterosexist ideals. Heterosexism is the idea that all people are “naturally” heterosexual and other sexualities are subservient or deviant. This position is unsupported by historical and empirical data, which chart the historical forces that give rise to white, heterosexual male privilege.
For classic overview texts, read:
Back in August, during a Springfield City Council public hearing on amending the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections, Rev. Phil Snider of the Brentwood Christian Church lashed out at the council for “inviting the judgement of God upon our land” by making “special rights for gays and lesbians.”
He goes on to invoke the bible and morality and the end of days a few more times before suddenly appearing to lose his train of thought.
And then something pretty amazing happens.
You HAVE to watch until about the two-minute mark. Let me put this in picture form for you:
Seriously, watch the whole thing. Good payoff.
This entertaining video was really popular last year. Although seemingly clever, it draws on a problematic comparison between same-sex marriage discrimination in the present day and racial segregation laws that were firmly in place in the USA until the civil rights movement in the 1960s (as well as in South Africa, Australia and around the world). This comparison between gay marriage and racial segregation has become increasingly common amongst well-meaning activists in the USA, including in litigation cases before the courts.
The link between racial segregation and gay marriage has also been evoked elsewhere, such as in the UK, with activists and academics arguing that not allowing gay marriage is similar to racist policies of the 1960s. This race-sexual discrimination argument is usually made by White activists who aim to illuminate the similar struggles of inequality faced by all minority groups.
Racial segregation and gay marriage might be similarly categorised within the rubric of human rights issues that everyone should be invested in protecting. The problem with drawing a direct link between both issues is that this ignores the distinct historical relations that different minority groups have faced over time, and it also obliterates the legal intricacies of racial, sexual and gender discriminations. Equating racial segregation to gay marriage also ignores the complex interconnections of discrimination as they are lived by different subgroups.
Segregation can be imposed by governments through formal policies and institutional practices or it can be the outcome of of informal processes. Formal segregation is enshrined in exclusionary laws that force some groups to be socially and economically separate from the majority. It is also enforced by powerful socio-economic agents, such as banks that won’t give loans or credit to racial minorities or workplaces that exclusively hire people from dominant groups. Segregation can occur through everyday “unconscious” choices, such as by having close friendships with people from the same group at school and at work, or by living in neighbourhoods with people who are from the same socio-economic background. Racial segregation is one of the most pervasive forms of segregation, as its continued effects amongst Black people and other racial minority groups is pervasive.
The legal oppression of LGBTQI limits their legal rights explicitly in the realm of family life and through social processes that reproduce the otherness of LGBTQI people. I’ve written previously that the issue of gay marriage is a violation of human rights, but making an unqualified connection to racial segregation does no cause justice. Nevertheless, this comparison is worth exploring because it is becoming so commonplace.
Racial segregation laws excluded Black Americans from all spheres of public life by physically, economically and legally separating them from White people, including everything from drinking areas, official buildings, pools, and public transport. These laws prevented Blacks from attending certain schools and from holding particular jobs and from fully participating in civil life. In short, racial segregation made it legal to formally discriminate against Black people in every social institution.
The effects of racial segregation continue today. Urban areas where Black people are residentially concentrated are overpopulated, poorly serviced and high taxes are redistributed in socially dysfunctional ways. Social disadvantage impacts on violence experienced by Black Americans in a way that is not the case for White people. In short, state policies that discriminated against Black people have resulted in an underclass that is pervasively disadvantaged economically, socially and residentially. The social effects of racial segregation has resulted in higher welfare dependence by single-parent Black families, poor educational facilities in neighbourhoods with a high proportion of Black people poor access to quality housing and higher rates of unemployment. Black people who lived through racial segregation face significant health problems.
In Australia, Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families, because the State saw that Indigenous women were sexual savages incapable of looking after children. These children were raised in isolated institutions, deprived of their cultural heritage and forced to forget their spirituality and convert to Christianity. Policies enforced racial segregation with the explicit aim of cultural genocide.
Gay marriage is one of the most visible issues that show how LGBTQI communities are excluded from the rest of society. LGBTQI people continue to face hatred, violence and social disadvantages that heterosexual people as a group do not have to worry about. Marriage is constructed as normal, biologically functional and “right” between heterosexual men and women; gay marriage is positioned as a threat to the institution of family and therefore the established social order.
Aren’t all forms of discrimination equally negative? Isn’t it important to draw comparisons in solidarity of minority rights? Yes, of course, but not at the expense of recognising that the effects of different forms of discrimination have different outcomes for different groups.
Racial segregation exemplifies a system of discrimination that legally marked Black Americans as second-class citizens. Exclusionary present-day marriage laws discriminate against LGBTQI by not recognising that non-heterosexual people have the same legal right to fully participate in marriage and family. Nevertheless anti-gay marriage laws do not prevent LGBTQI people from participating in all spheres of public life. discriminating against people because of their sexuality is now against the law. The law does, however, discriminate against LGBTQI people in marriage, adoption. Informal processes of sexual discrimination are pervasive and require social activism and further policy intervention, but the law has not formally enforced gay-only spaces that physically segregates their inclusion in public life. This is an important distinction to understand. There are other important distinctions to understand with the gay rights movement.
The concept of intersectionality is used to highlight how racial, sexual and gender discrimination historically affect minorities in different ways.
The video above is clever in showing the similarities in the discourses used to justify racial and sexual inequalities; that is, how do patterns of speech normalise the balance of power to some groups over others? I see that it the video is even better when considered as a way to explore the concept of intersectionality and social activism.
I wish people wouldn’t just see me as the Asian girl who beats everyone up, or the Asian girl with no emotion. People see Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, but not me. You add race to it, and it became, ‘Well she’s too Asian’, or ‘She’s too American’. I kind of got pushed out of both categories. It’s a very strange place to be. You’re not Asian enough and then you’re not American enough.
October 9, 2012
by Mia McKenzie
Lately, the question of who is white and who isn’t keeps coming up in my life. I have had many talks with friends in recent months about what it means to be POC, and about who is claiming that identity and why. At a recent reading I did at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, someone asked me if I thought race was defined by skin color. Today someone pulled the “I’m white but I’m Armenian, so, historically…” and I felt compelled to take a deep breath and sort out some of my thoughts around the term “white”.
When I talk about “white people” I am talking about people who exist in bodies that give them access to white privilege. Some people exist in these bodies and get these privileges but don’t ID as white. The thing about whiteness, though, is that you don’t have to claim it to have it. You may not want to be white, for whatever reasons, but you don’t choose whiteness. Whiteness chooses you. And when it does, it gives you—whether you want or acknowledge them or not—a whole slew of privileges that non-white folks don’t get. Even if you are poor. Even if you are a woman. Even if you are queer and/or trans. Even if you are elderly. Even if you are a person with a disability. All of these things will, of course, affect your life in enormous ways and affect your access to any number of things. But they don’t erase whiteness.
So, if you’re confused about whether or not whiteness has chosen you, here’s a few questions to help you sort it out.
How to Know If You Are White:
1. Do you look white? If this seems in any way like a complicated question, it can be easily discerned by walking into a fancy store (in clean, neat clothing) and seeing how the people who work there treat you. Do you get dirty looks upon entering? Do the shopkeepers glance at each other with worry? Do you notice people following you around to make sure you’re not stealing anything? If not, you may be white.
2. Have you ever been pulled over by a cop? If so, were you extracted from your vehicle and made to lie on the ground? Were you degraded in any way? Were you beaten? Were guns pointed at you? Did you feel in fear for your life? If not, you may be white.
3. When you are walking down the street and a cop car rolls by, do you feel safer because the police are around? Because they are there to protect you should something go wrong? If so, you may be white.
4. Do people ask you where you’re from, and when you answer, “I’m from here,” do they ask, “No, like, where are you from from?” If not, you may be white.
5. Are people visibly surprised when you are smart and articulate? If not, you may be white.
6. Have you ever been mistaken for a valet while wearing a suit? If not, you may be white.
7. Does the idea of driving through Mississippi fill you with apprehension? If not, you may be white.
8. Do people reach out and touch your hair/body without your permission and then accuse you of being too sensitive or of overreacting when you don’t like it? If not, you may be white.
9. Do you regularly experience racism (note: racism is a system in which people are given less access to employment, education, safe and adequate housing, legal representation, etc. based on their race; racism is not people “not liking you” because of your race). If not, you may be white.
10. Do you see a lot of people who are the same color as you in movies, on TV, in magazines, etc. who are not portraying stereotypes or caricatures? If so, you may be white.
11. When you stand up for yourself, do people accuse you of being too angry? If not, you may be white.
12. Do people assume, without knowing you or ever speaking to you, that you are unintelligent, a criminal, good with computers, a terrorist, lazy, that you don’t speak English, or that you are poor? If not, you may be white.
Hope this helps!
Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She has a novel debuting in the fall and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. Her work has been published at Jezebel.com, and recommended by The Root, Colorlines, Feministing, Angry Asian Man, and Crunk Feminist Collective. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.
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Take a facet of crime, and then look at television shows/movies that feature those criminals as protagonists.
White serial killers.
White political corruption
White drug dealers
I mostly want to talk about this as a TV phenomenon, but pick a crime, any crime, and Western media has probably made a movie/TV series/play/etc. with a white person that romanticizes the criminal activity. No matter what, a white person can do whatever terrible crimes and still have a TV/movie fanbase that loves them.
When you see black or brown people committing crimes on screen, you are to see them thugs and criminal masterminds and people to be beat down.
When you see white people committing crimes on screen, you see a three-dimensional portrait of why someone might commit that crime, how criminals are people too, and how you should even love them for the crimes that they commit because they’re just providing for their families or they’ve wronged or they’re just people and not perfect. This is particularly a luxury given to white male characters, since there few white female criminals as protagonists.
If and of the above shows were about black or brown folks, there would be a backlash of (white) people claiming that TV and movies are romanticizing criminals and are treating them too much like heroes and that it will affect viewers and encourage violence and “thuggish” behavior. And yet fictional white criminals get to have a deep fanbase who loves these white criminals, receive accolades and awards, get called amazing television that portray the complexities of human nature. Viewers of these characters see past the atrocious crimes and into their humanity, a luxury that white characters always have while characters of color rarely do. The closest that mainstream TV has come to showing black criminals as main characters is probably The Wire, and even then, the criminals share equal screen time and equal status as main characters as the police trying to stop them.
The idea that crime can be so heavily romanticized and glorified to such a degree is undoubtedly a privilege given to white characters. The next time you hear someone talk about Dexter Morgan or Walter White in a positive way, it may be an opportunity to rethink how white people can always able to be seen as people no matter what they do, while everyone else can be boiled down to nothing but a criminal.
This new webseries Ask A Slave provides a highly amusing critique of racist ignorance. It draws on the experiences of actress Azie Mira Dungey (who plays the main character Lizzie Mae). Dungey worked as a living history character at an American historical re-enactment site. The comedy centres on the ridiculous questions posed by members of the public whilst Dungey portrayed an 18th Century slave.
Historian Emmanuel Dabney also worked as a living history character, similarly playing a slave. Like Dungey, Dabney also received many preposterous questions about the lives of slaves. On his blog, he gives a careful critique of Ask A Slave, arguing that his tact was to educate, rather than to succumb to flippant or sarcastic remarks.
He provides a useful list of intelligent questions that “always need an answer.” This includes: “Why did the former slaves on this plantation/in this urban dwelling stay here after the Civil War? Can you tell me about your family? When the slaves here got angry, how did they show their unhappiness?”
The entire webseries is worth a watch (three episodes so far), but a really great sociological discussion is better served by carefully going through Dabney’s post.
Public education is always hard. When it is clever, satire has subversive power to make people think. Social science has greater capacity to disrupt taken for granted assumptions as well as to dispel ignorance. Our challenge is to be both educational, critical and entertaining if we are going to reach mass audiences. Dabney’s post provides a terrific starting point.
Credits: Link to Dabney’s post via Nick Sacco.
Hi thanks for your question. No is the short answer. Sociology was founded as a quantitative discipline, meaning we used a lot of maths for much of our history. For example, Durkheim conducted statistical analyses of suicide data from around the world in 1897. It was more during the 1970s with the advent of feminism that sociology had a methodological shift towards qualitative methods (interviews, ethnography and so on). In some parts of the world, sociology is still largely about mathematics and statistics. Economics and sociology differ in our theories, the principles and ethics of our research, and our interests. Simplifying things, economics study human behaviour as the outcome of wealth production, while sociology studies behaviour as the outcome of history, culture and other social institutions. Our topics overlap sometimes, but the way we define our key concepts, as well as the politics of our research, are often different. Sociologists are interested in social critique of power and social change. Economists want to improve the market (though not all of them agree on how this should be done).
Here’s an example. Someone (who is not an economist) posted to Science on Google+, which is a community I help to moderate. He linked to an economic model of racial segregation. If you scroll to the bottom and read my comments, I show how sociology would explain things differently. Rather than observing that racial groups like to “stick together,” sociology shows that external forces such as the law, institutional racism, and economic disadvantage make it harder for non-White groups to move out of racially segregated areas.
The Fugees - Fu-gee-la (by stillgotza)
Lauryn Hill is going to jail for tax evasion plus she will pay a $60,000 fine. A true shame for this tremendously talented woman. CNN quotes Hill, who said:
"This wasn’t a life of jet-setting glamour… This was a life of sacrifice with very little time for myself and my children."
She is apparently still working on a new album.
Hill’s lawyer also that the law is uneven in the way it sentences celebrities for tax fraud. He cites Willie Nelson as one example.
No doubt, Hill did the wrong thing, as she does not contest the charges. Celebrities shouldn’t get special treatment, period. The undertone of Hill’s lawyer’s comments, however, is that race might influence the leniency showed to some high profile performers over others.
★ Who is your favourite villain?
THE SHADE OF IT ALL
DAAAAAAAAAMN JOHN CHO.
oh my god
The white people with their nervous laughing made me crack up when I watched the video