Posts tagged ‘Race’

February 19, 2015

Postings – TMZ – Russell Simmons vs Geraldo

Sometimes, I post on the internet and oftentimes those posts are censored for one reason or another, typically because a buzz word or two is caught and filters will put your post in a queue to be “moderated.”

Well, after I take five minutes to respond to someone, it is extremely annoying to have no one ever read that post. I know that posting it here is almost the same thing, but heck, at least I will feel a little better. So, from now on, if I spend more than a couple of minutes composing a reply, I am going to put it here so that I do not feel like it goes to waste!  I will also post other comments I make if I just feel like I want to go back and read what I have said in the past, to see if my opinions evolve much. A little personal project.

So, we are going to start with TMZ for this!

The story is about the wonderful Geraldo Rivera implying that Russell Simmons has hurt the black community for promoting hip-hop culture and that such imagery prevents black people from becoming employable. The comments from the comment section flows as:

(I am Krazilia Love)

I’m black but I agree with Geraldo. A lot of people from other races pre-judge us all and think we are that music. We’re not that music, we just like to get down to it-just as other races do. Hop-Hip and Rap are not a lifestyle for most black people, we just listen to it.

That has more to do with the fact that we do not have a balanced image in the media. Minorities, in general, are shown almost always in the most negative light. That is intentional.

Would you also agree that there’s a lot of negative light to show?

There is a lot of negative light amongst all of humanity to show. There are no shortages of Honey Boo Boos out there, no shortages of white people doing wrong. Hell, we have a whole network dedicated to almost nothing but white people doing other white people wrong (ID). There is no shortage of white men driving our country’s economy off the cliff (repeatedly throughout history, mind you), and that does more harm to you than any black person will. There is no shortage of white sexual predators, and this is just white men. There are bad white women out there too, see: Dr. Phil or any reality show. (hahaha)

Yet, white people get a much more balanced projection of their community. This balance allows people to feel comfortable with giving white people the benefit of the doubt, since it is reasonable to think that they could be a good person until they are proven wrong. People of color do not get that because most white people do not have interaction with black people. They get their information from the media, and since the media mostly shows black people in a negative light, that becomes who black people are. (And this also works against black people, especially poor black people who have only witnessed what it is like to live around other poverty-stricken black people. The media reinforces what they see so they assume that that is all black people have to offer, which fosters self-fulfilling prophecies that help to continue the cycle of poverty.)

So, back to my original comment… Black people do not have a balanced media image. That is not to say that there are no bad black people, it is to say that there is a lot more good that people never/rarely get to see or hear about so they think it does not exist. Just like that tree falling in the forest that does not make a sound…

After I told the individual that I was responding to that my message had been censored and that truncated my message down to “There is negative light amongst humanity in general,” he replied with:

Ok but in today’s day wouldn’t you say there’s less humanity going on in the black race?

Is there less humanity going on in the black race as compared to other races?

What tends to be missing from all of these conversations is context. If you are comparing gang areas to the rest of the country, then you are taking a very superficial look at what black people have to offer.

The fact is that in poverty stricken areas, crime is their jobs program and the vast majority of the men, in those areas, who become part of the system when they are children and do not have the capacity to make decisions that will not have an impact on their lives. What they know is that they are hungry and living in poverty and that guy selling drugs is telling them that if they do it too, they will get to eat and get some toys to play with. Once you are in the system, particular in OUR system in the US, it is very hard to get out because the focus is not actually on rehabilitating anyone. Besides, when they get back out onto the streets, where are the jobs that they are to work?

I ask this question all the time, but I have yet to get a tangible/feasible answer – If every gangbanger left their gang tomorrow, where would they work? Forget their record, and how hard it is to get a job as a black man, even if you are not a criminal, what about the fact that the jobs just do not exist?

It is easy to look at the end result of the drug war, of gangs, and say that the people selling drugs and killing to protect their territory, or their name, are just bad and lack humanity, but ask yourself what led to it. Then ask yourself what kind of foundation is there in ANY poor community to fix it. The schools are poor, too. The schools turn out graduates who cannot even pass college entry exams, so how exactly are they to attain jobs that pay anything approaching a living wage? How do they pay for it unless they are above average in intellect (or athletic ability, of course) and qualify for enough scholarships?

So, no black people are not lacking humanity any more than the (largely) white men who decided to send in thousands of troops to kill hundreds of thousands of people who did not attack us on 9 11. Think of the big picture before you accuse people of lacking humanity based simply on the color of their skin.

Needless to say, if you are looking to have an in depth conversation about race relations, TMZ is not the place to do it. It does not make it any less frustrating to read such gross simplifications of what is happening in poverty-stricken black communities in America. As stated above, it is easy to look at the result of something, the fallout, and work backwards to assume that it has something to do with the inherent make-up of the individuals who perpetrate the actions, but it takes a bit more to actually consider what led to the actions in the first place.

February 29, 2012

Colorism

Today I read an article regarding the cover for FHM Philippines magazine. The cover depicts a Filipino actress named Bela Padilla. She is surrounded by three Filipino models who are representing “the shadow” that the actress is emerging from. On the surface this sounds like an artistic, maybe even fashionable (for FHM), photograph. So, what’s the problem?

For starters, the three models accompanying the actress have been painted to appear as if they have much darker skin tones. The tagline for the cover is, “Stepping Out of the Shadows.” In America, this photograph conjures up imagery of “Black Face,” which is a medium that the majority of African Americans would agree is offensive. But, that’s our American slant on things. This publication is out of the Philippines and, to understand the backlash and the offensiveness of the cover, you must consider THEIR history.

Several years ago, I was on the interwebs looking for products to even out my skin tone. While I was researching this, I came across a forum where young, mostly Asian, girls were discussing different ways to lighten their skin. As an American, with little exposure to the outside world at the time, I was shocked at the suggestions that were given and I was shocked that there were girls out there who loathed themselves to that degree. That self-loathing didn’t come from a desire to skin cats or feasts on the bones of children, it was based solely on something that is completely out of their control. Their skin tone. As a black American, I was intrigued by what I discovered there because, until then, I had not heard of people from other, non-white, races suffering from “colorism.”

So, what is colorism? A quick web search will get you the following definition:

Colorism is discrimination in which human beings are accorded differing social treatment based on skin color.

I consider colorism to be the preference of light skinned individuals over dark skinned individuals within one race; or vice versa. People who “practice” colorism believe that if someone is dark skinned, they are generally and inherently inferior. (This mindset is often subconscious. Personally, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard men, in passing, describe their perfect woman as having light skin, for instance.)

Most people who do not understand the concept of colorism have a difficult time understanding the offensiveness of this photograph. If it wasn’t for my own experience with colorism, it’s a good chance that I would not get it either.

As I research colorism within the Filipino culture the picture that is painted is that, although they are the minority, light skinned Filipinos receive the best jobs and generally live a high class life while dark skin Filipinos do not.  If you were to see a Filipino movie, or to pick up an average Filipino magazine, you will likely see mostly light skinned Filipinos. Along with this, Filipinos are inundated with ads for skin whitening creams. I’ve read many comments like the following over the years:

“I’m just wondering if light skin makes a person more beautiful in the Philippines. It seems everywhere I go around the Philippines there are commercials, billboards, ads, ect. that promote skin whitening products.” (Link)

With the prevalence of this mindset, it is no wonder that FHM Philippines felt such a huge backlash from readers who are fed up with being told, directly and indirectly, that they are inferior. That dark skin is a shadow that must be shed in order to emerge, beautiful, pristine and, most importantly, white. In FHM’s apology, they stated that they will strive to be more “sensitive” in the future, but IMO, it goes beyond sensitivity. Until people understand the harm that colorism causes, they will never truly understand what is so wrong with that cover, thus it’s likely that they will struggle to see it in the future. For example, in an attempt to clear things up, Padilla stated that the models weren’t actually dark skin models, but had been made up to look as if they were. So not only are they portraying dark models as “the shadow” they also still refused to hire dark skin models for the shoot.

To sum things up, a user that responded to my post on the Huffington Post stated it perfectly:

…. this happens all over the world, especially in colonised/commonwealth places + among various ethnicities.

people are made complacent through controlled stimuli, while others try to imitate what is considered to be ‘majority’ social concepts – whether it is stifles them or not – to fit in…so sad. when messages such as the one depicted in the picture are so slight that most people miss it and some who see it chalk it up to a misunderstanding or overreaction, this is to be expected from both sides.

history is relevant. truly understanding a culture in order to appreciate nuances of perception is important. what to some might seem completely irrelevant, may not be so to others. it depends on how it impacts lives from both spectrums on a fundamental level. in this instance the message is clear. it helps when you understand the role of advertising. -Nikmc

I concur.

October 23, 2010

Walk A Mile in others shoes? These bigotted ones fit me just fine, thank you!

What makes a bigot?

This week Juan Williams, formerly of NPR, currently of Fox News, made headlines when he stated:

But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

I must say that I find it most fascinating when someone who is part of a group that has been historically a target for bigotry takes on the role of the bigot. In fact, there used to be a time when Juan Williams believed this:

“Racism is a lazy man’s substitute for using good judgment… Common sense becomes racism when skin color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger to me.”

To ruin such a brilliant statement by your own ignorance is truly a shame, Mr. Williams. I know that 1986 was a long time ago, however, so maybe your opinions have changed. After all, most human beings tend to evolve one way or another. One is to hope that you would evolve to become MORE intelligent, but alas… Tis not the case with you, is it Mr. Williams? Especially now that you have become accepted by the machine that is Fox News!  I imagine that you forgot where you came from when your bosses accepted you into the fold.

But still, I must ask – Just how pathetic must one (black man with a Hispanic name) be to frequent a show hosted by a man who thought that, upon going to a black restaurant, he was going to find black people who lack basic manners and table etiquette? And it took this visit for him to realize that black people are “starting” to think for themselves – because we all used the same common brain before. Clearly. I am also curious to know just how thrilled you are that other brown people are the targets of such ire from the white (Fox News Regurgitating) masses? (Note: If you are not part of the Fox News Regurgitating White Masses, but are white, the prior comment is not referring to you.)

Bigot
–noun
a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
I am here to proudly proclaim that “I” am, in fact, a bigot! I have an extreme intolerance of anyone who believes that it is OK to besmirch an entire group, religion, race of people based upon the despicable and atrocious actions of others within their group.
Are all black men to be feared because there are black men who are gang members?
Are all Hispanic men to be feared because there are Hispanic men who are gang members?
Are all white men to be feared because there are white men who are a part of the KKK? (Or are CEO’s of big businesses, or work for Fox News, or politicians that have driven this country into financial ruin?)

Somehow, despite all of the horrible things that white men have done historically from starting wars, raping and pillaging lands, etc… we manage to not paint all white people with the same broad brushstrokes. We recognize that there are many truly good white people out there who fight against those types of things EVERY day. And when I say fight against it, I mean they TRULY fight against it. But the moment a minority does something bad, for many people, it is something that reflects on that entire race and/or religion. It’s “black people are thugs,” it’s “Hispanics are illegal immigrants,” it’s “Arabs are terrorists.”
Perhaps one day people will open up their eyes and realize that this is all about divide and conquer. They will keep dividing us along the lines of race and religion  as long as we allow them to.
September 20, 2008

Tim Wise does it again… (White Privilege)

Disclaimer: I’m not personally saying that I agree with everything he says, but I do enjoy the irony.

By Tim Wise

Tim Wise

Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun,
and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the sam e number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance
because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office–since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s–while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately
think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do–like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor–and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she
took in college–you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a
“second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it, a “light” burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.