The Crunk Feminist Collective

I purposely titled this essay to highlight Gabby Douglas’ leadership of the USA Women’s Gymnastics Olympic Team, which she led to victory yesterday, by capturing 33% or 1/3 of the total points  the team received.

You heard right. This kid, who commentators continue to suggest is “unable to handle the pressure,” was the only member to compete in all four events — vault, bars, beam, and floor.

So though she’s only 1/5 of the team, she did 100% of the events, and captured 1/3 of the points.

Of course she didn’t get 33% of the coverage, or even a quarter of the love her teammates got.

During the medal ceremony the camera panned to and stayed with Jordyn, ofttimes obscuring Gabby’s face. Commentators were exultant about Jordyn’s gold medal. “Jordyn’s gold.” As though there were a medal with her name already engraved on it or something.

But um…

The Olympics…

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In the past I’ve ranted about Whitewashing of Asian (and other) characters and stories in Hollywood, but here is a very good post about how things are playing out in the world of theatre. La Jolla Playhouse intends to produce a new musical called The Nightingale, based on a Hans Christian Anderson fable about an Emperor of China. Somehow, none of the cast is Chinese…

fairyprincessdiaries

The Fairy Princess would like to talk a moment about Diversity in Casting.

Yes, it seems odd, given that this blog tends to be about Women who love Gay Men who love them back just as much, but one must have outside interests, and I did state at the beginning, that I would perhaps sound off on this issue.

To give a brief background on my particular tiara and wings, my heritage is Chinese, Irish, and Welsh and I am a dual citizen of the United States and Australia. I am married to a (straight) man who was born in Korea and came to the USA when he was 8 years old. I have traveled to countries that include Turkey, Greece, Australia, Ireland, Canada, China, Japan and I plan to add Europe in general when my son is a bit older. My point is, I’m well aware of what the…

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Why ‘illegal immigrant’ is a slur

Why ‘illegal immigrant’ is a slur
By Charles Garcia, Special to CNN

Nothing new in terms of the argument against the terminology, but well-worded.

Excerpt:

When you label someone an “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant” or just plain “illegal,” you are effectively saying the individual, as opposed to the actions the person has taken, is unlawful. The terms imply the very existence of an unauthorized migrant in America is criminal.

In this country, there is still a presumption of innocence that requires a jury to convict someone of a crime. If you don’t pay your taxes, are you an illegal? What if you get a speeding ticket? A murder conviction? No. You’re still not an illegal. Even alleged terrorists and child molesters aren’t labeled illegals.

By becoming judge, jury and executioner, you dehumanize the individual and generate animosity toward them. New York Times editorial writer Lawrence Downes says “illegal” is often “a code word for racial and ethnic hatred.”

The term “illegal immigrant” was first used in 1939 as a slur by the British toward Jews who were fleeing the Nazis and entering Palestine without authorization. Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel aptly said that “no human being is illegal.”

Shadeism

Shadeism from ammabia productions on Vimeo.

This documentary short is an introduction to the issue of shadeism, the discrimination that exists between the lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members of the same community. This documentary short looks specifically at how it affects young womyn within the African, Caribbean, and South Asian diasporas. Through the eyes and words of 5 young womyn and 1 little girl – all females of colour – the film takes us into the thoughts and experiences of each. Overall, ‘Shadeism’ explores where shadeism comes from, how it directly affects us as womyn of colour, and ultimately, begins to explore how we can move forward through dialogue and discussion. (via Vimeo)

Some of the interviews are truly heartbreaking, and serve as a compelling reminder of the problem of institutional racism, post-colonial impact, and unspoken cultural perception of whiteness as supreme beauty.

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story (TEDtalks)

It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. …How [stories] are told, who tells them, when they are told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power. Power is not just the ability to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

This is one of those profoundly important videos that in many ways speaks to more than the topic which it sets out to address. Although a commentary on one of the many results of Western imperialism and post-colonial cultural exchange and understanding, “the danger of a single story” is a concept which can be applied even to “Othered” groups within our own countries and with whom we have trouble understanding.

TEDxHampshireCollege – Jay Smooth – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race

“We are not good despite our imperfections; it is the connection that we maintain with our imperfections that allows us to be good.”

Jay Smooth is host of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, the Underground Railroad on WBAI 99.5 FM in NY, and is an acclaimed commentator on politics and culture.

In this talk, he discusses the sometimes thorny territory of how we discuss issues of race and racism, offering insightful and humorous suggestions for expanding our perception of the subject.

In need of distinction? “anti-racism” & “anti-race”

The other day I was having a conversation over dinner about racism, The Last Airbender, and the frustrating point of contention among self-identifying anti-racists about the meaning of the word “racism”, and what it means to be anti-racism/anti-racist.

I’ve read plenty of essays out there about the disparities between people’s definitions of racism, and the debate usually centers around the existence of systemic racism. This isn’t that debate, though it inevitably ties to it.

The real issue came down to the part where people, usually white people, (and for all of my experience, usually US American), don’t understand how opposing the casting of white leads in The Last Airbender constitutes anti-racism; isn’t it just the opposite? “It’s reverse-racism,” they say, or, “reverse-discrimination. You’re picking on those actors because they’re not the race you want them to be. How is that not racist?”

This conversation inevitably breached affirmative action, racially focused movements, and the recent “don’t talk about race to kids” ideology that’s attempting to take Texas and Arizona (and who knows what else to follow). We kept chewing over argument, trying to figure out a sharp, cutting way of making a strong basic argument without having to preface everything with explanations of institutional racism, privilege, and all those other subjects which make many bloggers frustrated and tell the ignorant masses to do their Racism 101 homework before coming into the fray. (To be clear, this vocabulary is in no way meant to negate the necessity of learning, or absolve the responsibility for learning, the existing language which we use to talk about these issues. The existing vocabulary is still necessary to discussion.)

At some point I threw up my hands, lead by the discussion to the words I was searching for: anti-racism is not anti-race, and it is a difference that is in need of articulation, at least in my circle. Clarity descended, and my friend and I began to articulate the following.

 

WHAT IS ANTI-RACISM?

To be anti-racism is to be against a social hierarchy built upon concepts of race. It is to be against discrimination, hate, stereotyping, type-casting, language, ideology, bigotry, visual images, action and/or inaction which contribute to that racial hierarchy. It is to be against systems/institutions which support a racial hierarchy, intentionally or unintentionally.

It is also to be against racial invisibility or the death of race. Which brings us to:

 

WHAT IS ANTI-RACE?

To be anti-race is to be against race. It is to be against the real disparities that exist between people, which exist not because of actual biological dictations of superiority and inferiority, but because society and people have brought them into existence. It is to deny that human beings made a reality something that wasn’t. It is to be against talking about race, and by extension to recognize how race permeates many levels of our society. It is to be against, to trivialize, the real histories of peoples who were affected by their designated race. It is to deny modern-day peoples experiences and sufferings which they have regardless of personal wish or volition.

It is to be against affirmative action, which recognizes the racially based social divisions of society and institutional racism, and seeks to combat it.

It is to be against the recognition or analysis of racial imagery, and what actions, decisions, and media may support such imagery. (The Last Airbender, Prince of Persia, and far too many more).

It is to be colorblind. It is to treat human skin as a costume, rather than understand that it means far more than that to many people past and present, even if it shouldn’t, or we wish it wouldn’t.

It is to be privileged, to not have to think about or recognize race because it may not appear to hurt you openly or significantly.

To be anti-race is to be Arizona lawmakers who refuse to admit, recognize, or who truly believe in the triviality, of the racially discriminatory ways in which an anti-illegal immigration law will be carried out, or the racism and xenophobia which made the law possible.

To be anti-race is to be in support of the Texas School Board of Education, which seeks to maximize the white-cultural historical narrative of the U.S., thereby minimizing connections to racial discussions and views in history out of the fear that this encourage racist tensions. It is to fail to recognize that this is a lot white people freaking out over the loss of privilege as the primary national, historical narrative.

To be anti-race is to be Arizona City Councilman Steve Blair, who is against featuring children of color on a school mural because he believe it has a racial agenda.*

To be anti-race is to be in support of racism, intentionally or unintentionally.

 

*On AGENDAS

I am identifying a difference between a racial agenda and a racist agenda. People, such as the city councilman of Arizona, tend find certain activism problematic precisely because they see it as a racist agenda, but I think it better to understand their opposition as an opposition to a racial agenda.

A racial agenda may or may not be a racist agenda. A racial agenda which seeks to equalize/balance/rectify the disparities in racial representations and relations, such as affirmative action or the decision to paint children of color on purpose on a school mural (had they not actually been real children), is not a racist agenda. A racial agenda which gives white people the dominant voice in what is actually a multi-racial history of the United States is a racist agenda (even if “they didn’t mean it that way!!!11!11”).

Mr. Blair, and others, do not distinguish between these two agendas because they subscribe to the colorblind philosophy, and do not make distinctions between “anti-racism” rhetoric and action and “anti-race”. As with many people who are colorblind and unaware of privilege, “race” is a touchy subject because they fail to distinguish it from “racism”. Thus, the infamous “talking about race is racist” square on the B!ngo Card.