Friday, September 30, 2011

Music: Angele Assele : Odjandja Ngori

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hollywood Racism: Robert Downey Jr. Dons Yellow Face for New Sherlock Holmes Movie


Robert Downey Jr. Dons Yellow Face for New Sherlock Holmes Movie

Why is it that White people can always find a way to appropriate from other cultures?  Robert Downey Jr. has a history of douchebaggery that is well documented, and he certainly did not do his reputation, or Asian people any favors by dawning yellow face for his new movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Uh huh, I wonder if he shuffled his feet, smoked opium, worked in laundry and moonlighted as a pimp?  Yes, those are the stereotypes associated with Asian men from that time in history.  I know that Holmes is a detective, and it makes sense that he would go undercover for an investigation, but as an Asian man?  Really?

I know that some are thinking that this was part of the script, and not a decision made by Robert  Downey Jr., but that is incorrect. As the star of that movie, Downey could most certainly have used his influence to get the scene altered or changed altogether.  If he had refused to put on yellow face, then the producer and director would have had no choice but to change it. Robert Downey Jr. simply does not care how his behaviour effects people of color, and I can say this with confidence because to my knowledge, this is the second time he has done this sort of thing.  Tropic of Thunder anyone?

There are no circumstances under which it is acceptable for a White man to dress up as a person of colour. Even when the intent is not meant to mock a particular group. it is still outright appropriation.  In this case, Downey dressed up to entertain viewers and that necessarily contains an element of mockery.  This is why Downey's performance need not take on the aspects of a minstrel show traditionally created to mock Blacks to be offensive.

As I viewed the image, I could not help but wonder if there are any re-occurring Asian characters in this movie?  Is this why Downey Jr., the producer and director felt that it was appropriate to substitute a White man for an Asian man? To erase Asian men, only to have Downey Jr., dress up as one, creates Asian men as disposable. It reminds me of the fact that as far as Hollywood is concerned, actors of color are interchangeable in terms of race.  Whiteness is the only race that is repeatedly clearly defined and that is specifically because the entirety of the western world constitutes a White supremacist state.

Every time I write a post of this nature it becomes a magnet to those who just cannot stop themselves from justifying racism.  Do yourself a favor before you comment and think before you comment why you feel need to declare that Robert Downey Jr.'s attire is acceptable.  The very fact that you are searching for a way in which to excuse it, should be warning enough that something is desperately wrong with what he has chosen to do.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Racism is alive and well in Canada


The recent staging of blackface at an institution of higher learning in Montreal is disturbing, to say the least. But it can serve as a potent reminder of the ongoing legacies of racism and racist cultural practices against blacks in the west - and yes, this includes Canada.
As a professor of (among other things) Canadian art history, I can state unequivocally that there is a profound deficit of knowledge of Canada's racist past among university-aged students in Canada. When I introduce topics such as the vast visual culture of transatlantic slavery to my mainly white Canadian students, the majority initially approach the materials exclusively from a perspective of American and Caribbean slavery. It is always a moment of shock when they learn that Canadians (French and British) for centuries also enslaved peoples of African and native descent.
How has the 28-year period (1833-61) of the Underground Railroad (which remembers Canada as the saviour of African-American slaves fleeing northward to freedom) taken on such mythic status in our national consciousness, while the centurieslong history of slaving in the "Great White North" has been almost universally forgotten? The answer, though complex, can be summarized as follows: Canadians have a knack at off-loading their colonial history of racial marginalization and exploitation onto their southern cousins, the United States.
The events at the school of Hautes Études Commerciales should alert us to the fact racism is alive and well in Canada.
In one fell swoop, this student performance maligned various groups on the basis of race, nationality, religion, language and culture. The students not only vilified and marginalized black people in general by "blacking up," but also took underhanded swipes at the entire nation of Jamaica (carrying the flag and wearing the national colours), while criminalizing blacks as pot-smokers (chanting "smoke more weed"), ridiculing Jamaican patois (chanting "Yeah mon"), equating the use of marijuana in the religious, spiritual and meditative practices of Rastafari with getting high and partying for the hell of it, and finally, some even wearing hats with fake locks attached (a problematic appropriation of a black hair aesthetic).
It is hard to believe the students' and university's initial explanation that the group's dress and behaviour were meant to honour the Jamaican Olympian Usain Bolt. Could they not have honoured Bolt dressed as themselves, white students? And if Bolt had been on campus that day, would they really have greeted him dressed in this manner?
Although minstrelsy and its related practices, such as blackface, are most often associated with the United States, this once widely accepted form of popular culture did exist in Canada (as well as in Europe and other locations). A part of the problem is that the histories of minstrelsy in Canada have yet to be written.
Dating to the early 19th century, minstrelsy involved a public theatrical performance that included racist humour, singing and dancing. The mainly white male performers (often of marginalized or so-called "undesirable" white groups, such as Jewish and Irish men) often performed in blackface, applying dark black face paint and deep red lipstick. In this guise, the whites of their eyes were dramatically apparent.
Minstrelsy celebrated a white nostalgia for black enslavement. It is no accident that it reached its peak only after slavery had been abolished. The songs, dancing and "comedy" of the performances hinged on a recitation of the assumed inferiority of blacks and often-violent fantasies of the murder, torture and dismemberment of black bodies. Of course, this all helped to bolster ideas of white supremacy.
Whether or not the group of HEC students knew explicit details of the history of minstrelsy, it is difficult to imagine that they did not know that "blacking up" in 2011 could be construed as inappropriate and racist behaviour. Students are voracious consumers of popular culture (television, internet, print media, etc.). A quick glance at any of these media would tell you that images of blackface have been all but banned from the public domain. The old Hollywood movies where white movie stars donned blackface are almost never screened, and neither are the older versions of cartoons like Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry that used blackface.
The HEC students and a university spokesperson said that their actions should not be construed as racist, due to a lack of knowledge. But one could argue that not knowing that this type of spectacle is wrong is a perfect example of racism. Surely racism is not only a matter of intent. If our measure of racism is based solely on what people meant to do, we ignore the impact of the racist acts upon its victims.
The negative message that this performance sends to the black population of the university should not be underestimated. The white students who chose to don blackface eventually went back to classes and sat down beside their black fellow students, listened to lectures delivered by their black professors (although there are very few), checked out library books handed to them by black library staff, and ate meals in campus cafeterias served by black staff. Their disregard for the impact of their performance on the well-being of the black members of their shared university community is telling. It speaks of racial narcissism.
Lest we dismiss what happened at HEC as an isolated incident, we should remember the debacle that took place during Halloween at a Legion Hall in the town of Campbellford, Ont., last year. Unbelievably, the first prize was awarded to a pair of white men, one of whom wore a Ku Klux Klan costume with a confederate flag draped on his back and the other in blackface with a noose around his neck. The direct references to the American Civil War and the heinous practice of lynching made this spectacle particularly vile.
Back to university campuses: here and in the U.S., there is a rising trend of "gangsta" "hip-hop" or "ghetto" parties at which white students congregate in blackface, "tricked out" with "bling," even going so far as to pad their backsides in a disturbing parody of black anatomy. This resurgence of minstrelsy seeks to degrade blacks. Clearly black students are not welcome at such parties unless they consent to being the punchline of a racist joke.
It is unsettling that a popular cultural form that supposedly died in the mid-20th century is making such a strong comeback. It is fitting that we ask why, and why now. Is this not the age of Obama (the first black president of the U.S.), of Michaëlle Jean (Canada's first black governorgeneral), of Yolande James (Quebec's first black female MNA), of the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Canadian businessman and philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin?
I see the resurgence of blackface and minstrelsy as a racist pushback against precisely these types of gains and accomplishments. There is a specific type of racism reserved for high-achieving blacks. Middle-and upperclass blacks - people with education, credentials, good careers, and money - often encounter what I like to call "how dare you?" racism: "How dare you be more educated than me?" "How dare you make more money than me?" "How dare you assume a position of power and leadership over me?"
It should perhaps be even more upsetting to us that blackface is making a comeback among young, educated whites. What does it mean that university-and collegeeducated young adults are engaging in these acts? Well, for one thing, we need to rethink the simplistic idea that racism is more abundant among older populations and non-existent among our youth. Furthermore, we need to ask if "education" is a cure for racism. Clearly education in general is not. In fact, the type of Eurocentric education that proliferates in the curriculum, methodologies, theories, course materials and resources of the majority of university disciplines is precisely what perpetuates the racist ignorance and racist behaviour of students like those at HEC.
Canadian universities' diversity policies, many of which are strategically unenforceable and unenforced, also contribute to the racial exclusion of blacks, people of colour and natives on university campuses, especially as faculty and upper administration. The policies help to propagate the idea of Canada as a race-blind, multicultural state, one that does not really need to engage with the issue of racism, since racism is supposedly not a problem in Canada.
As disturbing as it is, the HEC incident can act as a wake-up call to Canadians and a starting point for a broader public discussion. The university's initial reaction was inept, an attempt to downplay the incident as innocent fun; it was a shining example of how racism is typically "managed" in Canada. International media attention rendered that early response untenable. The question is, what will the university do now? Should the students involved be expelled? Lose a semester of study? Be forced to make a formal apology? Be made to do community service at one of the many black cultural institutions in Montreal, so they could spend time with and get to know some of the blacks and Jamaicans whom they ridiculed that day?
And what about the university's diversity polices and procedures? Why weren't there checks and balances in place to ensure the blackface idea never made it to the level of a public performance?
While I am disturbed by the fact that this blackface performance took place, I am pleased at the critical international media attention that it has spawned. In Canada, this is a long-overdue and worthwhile conversation.

Friday, September 23, 2011

National Hispanic Media Considers Boycott of LA Radio Shadow Inciting Hate & Crimes Against Latinos


Several representatives of leading Los Angeles Latino civil-rights groups met this morning at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, NHMC, headquarters in Pasadena, California, to discuss the John and Ken Show and its troubling pattern of broadcasting hate and misinformation over the public airwaves. The John and Ken Show airs on KFI AM 640, one of eight Clear Channel-owned stations in the Los Angeles area. The National Hispanic Media Coalition, the National Latino Media Council, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles,
The Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, the Central American Resources Center, and others attended the meeting. As members of the Los Angeles community, these groups will demand that Clear Channel remove John and Ken from the air.
“For years John and Ken have terrorized Los Angeles’ Latino, Asian American and African American communities, creating an atmosphere of hate and intolerance and legitimizing violence and discrimination against members of these groups. John and Ken habitually use unsubstantiated claims, divisive language, flawed argumentation and dehumanizing metaphors to shock and anger their audience. All too often this sparks violent behavior from John and Ken’s listeners,” said Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
If necessary, the National Hispanic Media Coalition will call for a boycott of the companies that continue to support John and Ken Show’s racist and derogatory discourse.
The most recent example of the John and Ken Show targeting Latinos are the attacks on CHIRLA and its representative, Jorge-Mario Cabrera. On September 1st John and Ken began ranting about CHIRLA’s support for the California DREAM Act.
The duo provided Mr. Cabrera’s office and personal cell phone numbers and encouraged their listeners to call and harass him. Mr. Cabrera proceeded to receive over 430 abusive and threatening calls. Many of the callers repeated John and Ken’s exact words, and then wished death upon Mr. Cabrera and/or threatened his life and his physical safety. And indeed, many callers directly referenced John and Ken in their nasty messages.
Hate crimes against people of color are on the rise, as are the number of hate groups. Last year hate crimes against Latinos in California increased by nearly 50%.  According to statistics from the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate groups are increasing at alarming rates in the country. A shocking sixty eight hate groups reside in California alone, many of which are in KFI AM’s listening area.
Here is a sampling of transcripts from the John and Ken Show:
“They (Mexican immigrants) bring their third-world habits and foul our life.”
“One of the biggest struggles that the average middle class family has, it’s to save enough money and get their kid admitted into a half decent school. And then, to have your seat taken away by an illegal, and the funding taken away by an illegal. You know, if that doesn’t get people screaming bloody murder, then you deserve this rotten State, you really do.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nordic confectionary giant redesigns 'racist' logo


The Finnish company Fazer is to change its “Kinapuffar” packaging following complaints and a Swedish row over the “unremarked racism” faced by people of Chinese or Asian origin.
Debate erupted after a columnist in a Swedish newspaper Helsinborgs Dagblad highlighted the logo on the chocolate covered rice-crisp sweets as an example of everyday prejudice.
Patrik Lundberg, a Swede of Asian origin, claimed that even in multicultural and liberal Sweden “to joke and laugh” at the Chinese remained funny despite the fact that stereotyping of other ethnic groups was unacceptable.
”All it takes is to stretch your eyes with your fingers or say L instead of R, then the audience explodes with laughter,” he wrote.
”I have an East Asian appearance. Not a week goes by without strangers saying 'tjing chong' or 'look, a Chinese' when I pass. Not a month goes by without someone asking if I like rice or arguing that it is in my nature to be able to eat with chopsticks.”
Mr Lundberg compared the Chinese puff sweets to a controversial Swedish ice cream branded “Nogger black” that was withdrawn after complaints by anti-racist campaigners in 2005.
Following a flood of complaints the confectionary maker promised to scrap the logo.
”We have taken on board the feedback that we have received, and are going to change the packaging,” said Sofia Liljefors-Edlund, a Fazer spokesman.
It is not the first time that Fazer has changed its sweet wrappers: three years ago a golliwog-style caricature of a black child, known as “Laku-Pekka”, was removed from liquorice bars.
In 2001 another Finnish confectioner, Brunberg changed its traditional marshmallow-filled chocolate sweet called Neekerinsuukko, “Negro Kiss”, to Suukko.

Friday, September 16, 2011

University students in Montreal perform blackface and mock Jamaica and Jamaicans


MONTREAL—Students at an elite Montreal business school painted themselves in blackface and chanted in mock Jamaican accents at a back-to-school event that had the university expressing regret Thursday.
The frosh-week stunt was organized by a student sports committee at the Hautes Études Commerciales, the Université de Montréal’s business school.
Participants were encouraged to dress in Olympic-themed costumes, with one group choosing to portray Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.
Along with donning the colours of the Jamaican flag, several students also covered their face, arms and legs in black paint. The colourful attire included at least one Rastafarian hat, one green underwear patterned with monkey faces, and a stuffed animal that students carried around.
One witness, who is of Jamaican descent, said he felt uncomfortable and was shocked to hear some students chanting, “Smoke more weed.” At one point the students also repeatedly chanted, “Ya man!”
“It was terrible and I felt awful seeing it,” said Anthony Morgan, a 25-year-old law student at McGill University.
“Students at that level can’t have the idea in their head that this is OK.”
Morgan happened to be on the Université de Montréal’s campus Wednesday afternoon as the event was taking place at the school’s football stadium. He recorded the mock sprinters with his BlackBerry camera.
He said he found the display deeply offensive because of the troubling historical connotations of blackface.
“It is connected to a longer tradition of minstrel shows, reducing black people to pretty much jokes,” he said. “They’re put on as a spectacle, to almost look grotesque.”
A spokesman for the business school said the stunt was unacceptable — but he said there were no ill intentions. He said the students should simply have chosen another way to get into the Olympic-themed spirit.
“They interpreted the theme poorly,” said Michael Lartigau.
“We spoke to the students and they found the reaction regrettable and are sorry.”
Lartigau would not comment on whether the students involved would face disciplinary actions.
The director of the sports committee that organized the event said a “great deal of misunderstanding has surrounded” Morgan’s video, which has since been posted on YouTube. In an email, Frank Sciortino said the event was part of the committee’s efforts to encourage physical activity and team spirit.
“My wish was simply to... assure you that in no way were they a racist act.”
Morgan said he doesn’t hold any hard feelings against the students, but questioned what institutional safeguards were in place to prevent such incidents from happening.
“As problematic as it was for the students to be doing this, I thought it spoke more about the university,” he said.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fashion designer accusing Nicki Minaj(who has a horrible singing voice) of copying her style


When Nicki Minaj was pictured in an eye-catching multicoloured pom-pom top on Monday, she predictably sent camera flashbulbs popping.
But the look has become the subject of controversy after a young designer claimed the star's look was a 'blatant copy' of her own creations.
Jessica Rogers, 21, says she was in tears after seeing pictures of the hip hop artist, who wore the garment to the Carolina Herrera show at New York Fashion Week.

She told that she has been producing her 'puffball' garments for the past three years, under the brand name SomedayNewYorker.
Miss Rogers claimed that she had even been approached by Miss Minaj's stylists in the past, and eagerly sent images of her work in the hope of some celebrity endorsement for her label.

But, she says, she heard nothing back, despite attempts to follow-up several times.
She told the site: 'When I saw the photos [of Nicki Minaj at Carolina Herrera] I was in tears.

'I've worked very hard to make my dream of being a fashion designer come true.

'I have built contacts with Teen Vogue, Gaga, Katy Perry, and Marina and the Diamonds has worn my garments.
'I feel like everything has crumbled down.'
She added that she confronted the stylist after seeing Miss Minaj in the alleged copycat design, but despite trying to 'take a bad situation and turn it into a good situation' by offering a proper SomedayNewYorker garment for the star to wear, her efforts fell on deaf ears.
Recalling her conversation with the contact, she said: 'I ended up getting a call from the woman whom I will not name and she said she wasn’t [Nicki Minaj's] stylist anymore.
'Then [she] started yelling at me, harassing me, and telling me that its a small community and I better watch what I say.
'I believe that she called me instead of emailed me because she did not want to have written proof that she had yelled and harassed me.'
Miss Rogers told Fashionista that she knew her work had been plagiarised because Miss Minaj had described her top using the term 'Puff Balls' - a turn of phrase she believes she coined.
She added: 'Many independent as well large scale designers go through this. Copying another designers work is wrong. It should not be stood for.'

Jessica Rogers

Nicki Minaj

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hannity Uses Tavis Smiley To Advance An Anti-Black Agenda


I’m going to assume that Tavis Smiley was just ignorant of Sean Hannity’s long history of documented bigotry and not consciously helping to advance his anti-black agenda during their interview last night (9/12/11) on the Hannity show. The interview purported to be about Obama’s problems with African Americans but sure enough, Hannity was soon prodding Smiley to denounce the Congressional Black Caucus’ recent comments about the Tea Party – which any regular Hannity viewer knows he has framed with deliberate racial antagonism. Hannity also pretended that, unlike Democrats, he only criticizes President Obama “on substance.” That was such a whopper, I’m surprised Hannity’s nose didn’t start growing right on the spot.
Smiley was evidently there with a goal of promoting his PBS special about the special problems facing black boys in our education system. But Hannity covered up his lack of interest in the issue by playing a brief clip from the special and saying, “Before we get to that which I think we’re going to agree on, so let’s start with the point at which we disagree. I think Barack Obama’s failed as president.”
As a graphic saying, “LOSING THE BASE?” appeared on the screen, Smiley explained his somewhat conflicted feelings about Obama.
(That was in Part 1 of the interview.)
In Part 2, below, Hannity zeroed in on his target, the Congressional Black Caucus.
Hannity said:

I felt the rhetoric got insane during the Bush years. I try and criticize the president on substance. I have a philosophical different vision…
Whoa, let’s stop right there. Hannity tries to criticize the president on substance? Dude, I don’t know what you try to do but what you actually do is character assassination extraordinaire. Hannity has impugned Obama’s patriotism (and pretended otherwise), hyped Donald Trump’s phony birtherism (even after Fox News reporter Shepard Smith had discredited it), gave a friendly platform for Trump to suggest Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s book, and is fixated on painting Obama as a white-hating, black radical. But maybe that’s what passes for “substance” to Hannity.
He continued, “Here’s the deal. When you see Jimmy Hoffa call tea party members 'sons of bitches,' and ‘we’re at war with them,’ or Maxine Waters saying that they can go straight to hell or Andre Carson saying that tea party members, conservatives in this country want black people hanging from trees, I take personal offense at that. (Obama) lectured the country on civility. (Obama’s) been missing in action and totally silent and the answer is, ‘We’re not gonna be the speech police now.’ But when it came to Sarah Palin, they were the speech police. Hypocritical?”
Hannity seems to have been referring to Palin’s use of a map of America with rifle targets on it, plus her “Don’t Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!” tweet. But the big difference is that Palin was talking about being an aggressor (i.e. shooting) whereas Carson was talking about being a victim (i.e. lynched).
What Hannity also forgot to mention is that he used the Congressional Black Caucus’ remarks as an excuse to mount racial attacks on them and the White House.
Sadly, Smiley seemed to know nothing about Hannity’s history of palling around with a white supremacist, of serving on an advisory board of an organization run by a guy who thinks “most blacks” in Tennessee are racists, or how he has jumped to defend just about every white person accused of racism – among other items in his long, disturbing record on race.
Instead, Smiley fell right into Hannity’s clutches by agreeing with him. “Yes, on both sides… This for me is across the board,” Smiley said. He added that he was “so moved” when the country “came together in a unified way” after the Giffords shooting. “We’re not a civil enough society.”
I couldn’t agree more with Smiley about the need for civility and he has every right to criticize Carson, Waters, et al. But I don’t think he understood how he was being used as a pawn in Hannity’s political calculations.
Hannity continued, suggesting that Obama should have a “Sister Souljah” moment and disingenuously asked if Obama wouldn’t “benefit politically” from telling the Congressional Black Caucus to stop using their “incendiary language.”
Fortunately, Smiley did point out that Democrats are not the only ones using such language.
But if anyone thinks that Hannity and Fox News would do anything other than exploit a Sister Souljah moment against Obama, the CBC and probably both, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’m sure you’d love to buy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review of CBS’s “Two Broke Girls”


In February 2011 we called out CBS for its depiction of an Asian character, “Bryce” Lee in it’s upcoming series Two Broke Girls. After an email conversation between and CBS’s Office of Diversity and Communications, CBS offered us a DVD screener of the show to preview and submit feedback. Two Broke Girls premieres on Monday, September 19th.

Our initial concerns about the character of Han/Bryce/Rice Lee (played by Matthew Moy) came from the casting sides, where Lee can’t wear his pants correctly, can’t speak English properly, and doesn’t understand the concept of holidays. In the pilot a lot of these cliched stereotypes have been removed– largely given the role of Lee in the episode is greatly reduced compared to in the sides.
Even though most of the offensive lines/scenarios are nowhere to be seen in the first episode, from an Asian American perspective the character is still a problematic stereotype. “Bryce” Lee plays like a caricature of failed American Idol contestant William Hung. Perhaps this was deliberate, since Two Broke Girls has a very 90′s-sitcom aesthetic, but the character is anachronistic. Because the actor clearly sounds like an American actor attempting to affect a foriegn accent, and given his emasculated personality and ignorance about English is played for stereotype-based laughs, it’s hard to see this character resonating with Asian American viewers at all.

While the character is not as horrifying as initially proposed, our feeling is the Asian American community will likely still view Bryce Lee as a regression from the same studio that brings us multidimensional roles for Asian Americans on shows like Hawaii 5-0.
We do want to applaud CBS for featuring a comedy with two strong women in lead roles. But in the pilot, minorities seemed to exist to add, well, color–ranging from Bryce Lee’s broken English, to the lusty Eastern Europeans, to the black lesbian with poor boundaries, to the black guy who greets the girls at the door and randomly makes offensive statements (like a cringe inducing Duke rape joke).
The best characters in comedy are ones that audiences can both laugh at and laugh with. Kat Denning’s role in Girls, Max, is a perfect example of this. The audience can both laugh at her circumstances and at her wisecracks. Being laughed at can be marginalizing and hurtful; being laughed with helps build connection and empathy. (This balance is why CBS’s Big Bang Theory is successful with geek viewers, rather than alienating.)
Historically, minorities have frequently been laughed at, and have only rarely been laughed with. This is the fear we have with the character of Bryce Lee. The type of derision many Asian American immigrants face in their daily lives is not a laugh track. Dispelling assumptions people have made about you (because of crappy media representations and stereotypes) is no walk in the park, either.

We really appreciated having the opportunity to preview the show and to send in our feedback. CBS has made a strong effort to support diversity, which is why Two Broke Girls feels like such an inconsistent letdown. Because Two Broke Girls is set in Brooklyn, it offers CBS an opportunity to develop a very diverse cast. 65% of Brooklyners are people of color; one out of five are Latino. This is something CBS and the production of Two Broke Girls can take advantage of, rather than avoid. While it could have been a lot worse, this characterization of an Asian American is still far from ideal. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Arizona State University Students Wear Black Face to Football Game


Racist or Not? Arizona State University Students Wear Black Face to Football Game

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World.

Arizona, a state that is regularly accused of having a serious issue with people of color, received another stain to its reputation.  This week, four white female students at Arizona State University showed up to a football gamewearing black face.  The school asked students to wear all-black attire to celebrate the new uniforms in their game against the Missouri Tigers.  This is when a few students took it too far.
The game was televised on ESPN, so the entire world saw the action go down both on and off the field.  Thousands of people have expressed their anger at the students for their insensitivity.   But while many were outraged, some found no reason to be offended.
One has to laugh at the irony that a school with students showing up to a game in black face also happens to be highly dependent upon African Americans to run and jump, thus bringing millions to the university in revenue each year.  The idea of black men working up a sweat for white folks in the stands wearing black face is beyond disturbing.
We also cannot forget that Arizona received national attention for being the only state that would not support the Martin Luther King holiday,  and also for some of the most Draconian immigration laws in the country.   Arizona State University made news itself for refusing to give an honorary degree to the nation’s first black president, even though they’d given a slew of these degrees out in the past.   Apparently, they don’t think that being the first black president in American history is all that big of a deal.
One thing we know about racism is that much of it is learned.  We also know that young people must also learn racial sensitivity.  In both cases, Arizona State University appears to have failed the test.  Students are a reflection of those who teach them, and it’s interesting that these four white women made the plan to wear black face, went out and bought the makeup, told their friends about their plan, put on the makeup and went to the game, without anyone even taking a second to realize that what they were doing would be incredibly offensive to millions of people.
That, my friends, is what happens when young people are not educated.  Arizona State University should be embarrassed for this behavior.  But given the racially-disgusting behavior of university officials in the past, they are probably quite proud.
Dr.Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Music Video: Yuna Ito - Mafuyu no Seiza

Translation to English from Japanese

English Lyrics:
Baby tell me how you feel
So please come back to me
Melodies that stay

Two people were dead of winter constellation heavens
I'm still shining, unchanged
Your feelings are the same?
Now come to see
Do I have a strong embrace?

I woke up in the middle of the night from a sad dream
Lately I don't wanna see the morning sun, bringing in light

Don't you know I wanna be with you?
Looks up at the stars with tears? Wishing upon a star
But I do not want anything
Except for the warmth of your arms

Do you lead a person to the constellations
You are shining in the streets
No matter how far apart
Though I want this
I am strongly embracing it

The cold wind carried the nostalgic melodies
You wish near and far

Don't you know I wanna be with you?
In a matter of seconds to reach the starry sky, reaching up to the sky
It can not do anything
You only sing just for now

The heavens were two people dead of winter constellations
I'm still shining, unchanged
Your feelings are the same?
Now come to see
Do I have a strong embrace?

I'll be yours and you'll be mine

Do you lead a person to the constellations
You are shining in the streets
No matter how far apart
Though I want this

Hannity’s Michael Meyers: Genuine Civil Rights Advocate, or House Negro?


"Uncle Tom" is one of the milder names Michael Meyers, Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, was called after saying that President Obama “has ghetto behavior” ( Hannity, 9/5/11). While his remark elicited epithets such as “house negro” and “handkerchief-head” from disgusted African-Americans posting on Facebook, Meyers’ fellow Hannity guests, Republican strategist Noelle Nikpour and Dr.Junk-Food-Is-good-For-You- but-Obamacare-Will-Kill-You Marc Siegal, never even blinked at Meyers’ incongruous insult to the President. With video.

The context for Meyers’ remarks was yet another Faux-outrage discussion of the so-called “violent rhetoric” used by Teamster president James Hoffa in his speech on Monday. In case you’ve only just awoken from your Labor Day beer-and-barbecue coma, Hoffa’s exhortation to get out and vote – “Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back & keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of bitches out” – was edited by Fox News and other rightwing outlets to omit the voting reference and make it seem like a call for physical violence. The fact that Fox News was called on it, and even broadcast the offending phrase in context at the start of their discussion (transcript), made no difference to Hannity’s hang-‘em-high panel. They were out for blood.
Of course, the blood they were really after was President Obama’s - this time, for not rushing out to condemn Hoffa's remarks - and what better way to "legitimize" their Republican/Tea Party anti-Obama propaganda than to trot out a Real Live Black Person to criticize our dark-skinned President?
“This President has ghetto behavior, it is crass,” said Meyers. “He lacks grace, he lacks gravitas, and he lacks class. And it’s so ironic that a person that lacks such class would engage in class warfare rhetoric.” Is it really appropriate for a civil rights advocate to use “ghetto” as a slur under any circumstances – let alone when referring to the President of the Unites States?
It’s not unheard of for one black person to call another “ghetto”, and the word isn’t limited to black targets. While there’s a lot of disagreement about exactly what it means, we can assume from the context that Meyers was identifying “ghetto” with, as he said, lacking grace, gravitas, and class, and being crass.
Meyers is well qualified to talk about the ghetto. According to his bio, he was born in Harlem and “knows first-hand the ghetto experience which, as he puts it, ‘contributes to the defeat of the human spirit; the only way to end the ghetto is to get out of it.’ Fair enough. But people with high standards and values also live in ghettos, and not always by choice but by birth and/or socioeconomic factors beyond their immediate control. Coming from the director of a civil rights group, who grew up in Harlem during one of its worst periods, he ought to know better than to use that word as an insult. It comes across as a slur on some of the people on whose behalf he is, presumably, working.
Or is he? Meyers’ attitudes are confusing. On the one hand his bio and his work shows that he has both formal and street cred as a civil rights advocate; but a closer reading reveals a history of alliances with forces who have an interest in disenfranchising the very people he is supposed to represent, such as the right-wing Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which battles supposed liberal bias on-campus, and the ironically named, anti- affirmative action (and anti- Obama) Center for Equal Opportunity.
The board of Meyers’ NYCRC includes regular Fox contributor Juan Williams - and one Tamar Jacoby, who, according to this article, is “a director of the uber-conservative, racial psuedo-science, neo-conservative, Manhattan Institute which is linked to the righting corporate lobby group, American Legislative Exchange Council.
But ALEC isn't just any old lobby group. According to Sourcewatch’s ALEC Exposed,
Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. Through ALEC, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state.
These associations might go some way towards explaining why Meyers allows Hannity, who pals around with racists, to use him to launch attacks on black people and play the race card by accusing others of playing the race card.
Is Michael Myers' New York Civil Rights Coalition a genuine agent for social justice - or is it actually a front through which Meyers does the dirty work for his corporate Massas in the guise of "helping" victims of civil rights violations? This a possibility that deserves closer scrutiny (a starting point might be to investigate what motivated, and resulted, from the 1991 and 1995 "restructuring" of the NYCRC at Meyers' hands, taking it from a coalition of groups to an association of individuals). It would certainly explain why Meyers seems so eager to throw traditional civil rights groups and leaders, to say nothing of President Obama, under the bus.
Civil rights advocate, or house negro? We’ll let a famous resident of Harlem, the late, great Malcolm X, help you decide:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Twilight: Promoting abusive relationships and female submission


Kar3n went to see New Moon and she noticed a few similarities between the movie and this checklist...


According to the National Domestic Violence hotline, these are some signs that you may be in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship.

Does your partner:
* Look at you or act in ways that scare you?

* Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
"Stay away from the werewolves. I love you."

* Make all of the decisions?

* Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?
"If I wasn't so attracted to you, I wouldn't have to break up with you."

* Threaten to commit suicide?
"I just can't live without you. In fact, I'll run to Italy and try suicide by vampire if anything happens to you."

* Threaten to kill you?
On their first date.

These are some more signs of an abusive relationship.
Has your partner...
* Tried to isolate you from family or friends.
Bella doesn't have time for anyone else!

* Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).

* Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you.
Does tossing her through a glass table count?

* Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
"We're breaking up. And I'm leaving you in the forest."

* Scared you by driving recklessly.

* Forced you to leave your home.
She had to run away with him to flee from the other vampires in the first movie, and she had to drop everything and run to Italy in the second.

* Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
Check. Even in the hospital, nothing is a big deal.

* Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
Well, they are Mormon... (I know, I know, cheap shot.)

* Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
Check, wolf-boy.

Now I'm pissed. According to the NDVH, "If you answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship." This list is fifteen.

In addition, Bella is quite literally a blank slate, an empty vessel. This created much mirth from our group-- "I can't read her thoughts." "That's because there AREN'T ANY!" "Heeheeheeheeheehee." "Shhhhhh!" But Bella seems to have no purpose, other than to be loved by someone, anyone. When she isn't around either Edward or Jacob, she mopes around and does... nothing. I was actually excited when she actually took initiative and yelled back at the werewolves.

Then I was pissed again, since the werewolves apparently also go for abusive relationships. The main wolf-dude lives with his girlfriend, who he fucking mauled once, because she provoked him into turning into a werewolf. "Well, he lost it, and she still has the scars."

Really. Let's go back to our list... actually, I don't need the list. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU SO HARD. Domestic violence is not romantic, and I don't care how much you say she started it, you don't hit your girlfriend. EVER. If the other women in your tribe had the sense that God gave mayonnaise, wolf boy would be lucky to *only* go to jail. Wait-- there don't appear to be any other women in the tribe. *sigh*

And this movie is the one that made $140 million bucks in one weekend. Bigger than Dark Knight. Maybe it's just that I'm older and (hopefully) wiser than the characters and thus out of this movie's target demographic, or maybe I'm a humorless feminist, but knowing that zillions of girls are seeing this getting the idea that a seriously unhealthy relationship is somehow the equivalent of true love -- that is profoundly disturbing. Far scarier than a werewolf.

This movie also portray negative stereotypes of Native Americans as superstitions, shadowy, mystical, folks


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fox Sports Humiliates Asian Students at USC


Fox Sports sent comedy writer Bob Oschack (Late Night with Craig Ferguson and Mind of Mencia) to USC as a reporter. And what happened? Asian students became the targets of some very bad humor.
Oschack went to USC as an “investigate reporter” to interview students about the Pac-12 Conference for the 2011 college football season. But instead he mostly made fun of Asian students who either didn’t know anything about football or those who had some pronunciation trouble.
“Oshack only interviewed Asian USC students—because in the world of misguided network television humor, foreign accents and unfamiliarity with good old-fashioned football is funny,” Emma Carmichael wrote on’s Arturo García asked readers if they were ready for some college football racism, he says the video turns the students in to just simply “others.”
More specifically, Oschack - a comedy writer by trade, if you’re generous enough to call Mind of Mencia “comedy” - focused his mock-report on what appeared to be international students who weren’t football fans. I say “appeared to be” because the students are given a textbook Othering: they’re never identified, nor are their studies mentioned.
Fox Sports head of media relations Lou D’Ermilio sent a statement apologizing for the video.
We sincerely apologize to President [C. L. Max] Nikias and the entire USC community for the production and posting of the video. The context was clearly inappropriate and the video was removed as soon as we became aware of it. We will review our editorial process to determine where the breakdown occurred, and we will take steps to ensure something like this never happens again.
Fox Sports has since removed the video from its website, YouTube, and Hulu. pointed out Asian students made up 21.6 percent of the undergraduate student body last fall at USC and international students made up 11.2 percent:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Music Video: Noto Mamiko - Aizome

Translation from Japanese

Kanji/Hiragana script
Romaji transliteration
English translation
あさきゆめみじ 永久に嘆きもせす
Asaki yume miji towa ni nageki mo sesu
There will be no more shallow dreams, nor perpetual lament
月の光 心 照らし出す
Tsuki no hikari kokoro terashi dasu
The moonlight illuminates hearts
燃ゆる花の舞 道しるべ
Moyuru hana no mai michishirube
The dance of the burning flowers is a sign pointing the way
絡みつく あやまちの詩 胸をしめる
Karamitsuku ayamachi no uta mune wo shimeru
Entangling and delusive verses constrict the chest
果てぬ川に手を挿し 流そう
Hate nu kawa ni te wo sashi nagasou
Hands drifting in the unending river
想い 詰めた言の葉 藍に染めて
Omoi tsumeta kotonoha ai ni somete
Thoughts buried in words, dyed indigo
すれ違いが 心もろくする
Surechigai ga kokoro moroku suru
Passing each other, hearts become fragile
居場所もないまま 風は吹く
Ibasho mo nai mama kaze ha fuku
Even without a place, the wind blows
赤い道 足取り重く 闇に向かう
Akai michi ashidori omoku yami ni mukau
Walking the red road with heavy steps, going into darkness
一度流せば 二度と帰らぬ
Ichido nagaseba nidoto kaeranu
Once shed, never to return
指がつまびく運命 藍に染めて
Yubi ga tsumabiku sadame ai ni somete
The fate which plucks at fingers, dyed indigo
いくつ 明けない夜を 重ねて
Ikutsu akenai yoru wo kasanete
So many unending nights are repeating
やがて 藍の嘆きも 消え逝くのか
Yagate ai no nageki mo kieiku no ka
Soon enough, the indigo lamentation will also vanish and pass away
果てぬ川に手を挿し 流そう
Hatenu kawa ni te wo sashi nagasou
Hands drifting in the unending river
色は匂へど いつか 散りぬるもの
Iro ha nio he do itsuka chiri nuru mono
Colours exude their scent to someday scatter and tint
Ai ni somete
Dyed indigo…

Friday, September 2, 2011

MSNBC allowing a white supremacist to preach his racist ideology


What will it take to remove Pat Buchanan's permanent cot from the MSNBC green room? Nothing! Buchanan could walk out on set wearing his white sheets, and MSNBC President Phil Griffin would still coddle him.
It's not as if Racist Uncle Pat is being any less brazen these days. There's his latest column:
Obama, wrote Isaac Arnsdorf, is targeting "a problem that has been on the administration's radar. Whites still hold more than 81 percent of senior pay-level positions."
Now, as white folks are two-thirds of the U.S. population, and perhaps three-fourths of those in the 45 to 65 age group who would normally be at senior federal positions, why is this "a problem"? [...]
First of all, whites aren't 2/3rds of the population (66.66 percent). They are 63.7 percent. So the fact that 81 percent of all senior positions in government are held by whites is notable, and quite obviously problematic (for the non-white supremacist set).
Yet while Buchanan shrugs off this disparity at the top ranks of the federal government, there is something that sticks in his craw -- did you know that too many white people are dying in America's wars. No joke.
Perhaps, while he is battling for a greater diversity of sacrifice and rewards up there on Martha's Vineyard, our president might reflect on another example of the overrepresentation of white males — in the caskets coming home to Dover.
In the first five years of the Iraq war, Asian-Americans were 1 percent of our fallen heroes, Latinos 11 percent, African-Americans 10 percent. White Americans were 75 percent of the dead, and from photos of the fallen in newspapers since, the ratios appear to hold.
Does this overrepresentation of white men in the body bags and caskets coming home bother our commander in chief, who wants fewer white men at the top level of his executive branch?
Nothing says "post-racial America" than Pat scouring the pages of newspapers to catalogue the skin color of our fallen troops. What a sick fuck. And just in case someone missed his column, he's taking these talking points on the road.
His new book will be a Stormfront best seller. He tries to justify white dominance at the top of the elites with bullshit like:
White men were 100% of people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg
He is literally and proudly a Hitler apologist, and did you know that the Holocaust was actually Churchill's fault?. He excuses terrorism as long as it justifies his xenophobic beliefs. He thinks brown people are an existentalist threat to the US:
Mexico is the greatest foreign policy crisis I think America faces in the next 20, 30 years. Who is going to care, Andrea, 30 years from now whether a Sunni or a Shia is in Baghdad or who’s ruling in Kabul?
We’re going to have 135 million Hispanics in the United States by 2050, heavily concentrated in the southwest. The question is whether we’re going to survive as a country.
Now remember, he is a permanent fixture on MSNBC. Griffin forced Keith Olbermann out, killed Cenk Uygur's show, and banned me from the network. Yet despite all this overt bigotry and racism, Pat remains a fixture on the set.
Funny priorities for the supposedly "liberal" MSNBC, isn't it?