All good things must come to an end

February and Black History Month are over! My limited exposure to the media meant I didn’t have to deal with too much stupid BHM crap this year. Must remember this strategy next time around.

First thing, I want to thank all of the guest bloggers and essayists who contributed to ABW last month. Your contributions were everything I hoped for and more — you’re all amazing and talented folks.

On the guest blogger front, I’m happy to announce that Karynthia will be joining us as a regular political blogger. She’ll usually post on Mondays, though if this election continues to bring the crazy, you might see her even more. Nora will remain a contributor as well.

Due to the awesomeness of the author essays, I am going to make them a regular feature. I might use different themes each month or stick with the history thing, I’m not sure yet. Suggestions are welcome.

I must say, though last month was awesome, was also one of the busiest on this blog in a long time. I loved it, but I am ready for a break. So here are some links to tide you over this weekend:

If you’re interested in more discussion, debate, and musings from creators (not just of fiction, but of art, comics, television, movies, etc.) then I highly suggest you look over the Race Around the Net list compiled by digital_femme on LJ. It’s an excellent place to start if you’re looking to read and learn more.

You may have noticed links to Black News Junkie on some posts. BNJ is sort of like Digg for black blogs. It’s a good place to see what folks on blogs are talking about, you can vote on interesting stories, and you can submit your own blog posts to it. Right now it only drives a bit of traffic, but as more people use it, it will benefit both bloggers and readers more. Go make an account!

For those of you interested in children’s literature written by and about black folks, check out the festivities over at The Brown Bookshelf. Every day in February they highlighted an author or illustrator and there is a lot of good stuff over there.

A few weeks ago I got an email about TheRoot.com, a new website headed by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. It’s a bit like a Huffington Post, but with African-American concerns at the fore. It’s also more news magazine-like with the various bloggers only being one component. So far I find it interesting and entertaining in equal measure.

Besides the blogs and news, there’s also a section where you can start your genealogical search and get your DNA tested to see where your origins lie. Now I am aware that this process isn’t perfect, but I am rather interested to see if there’s something in my background I’m not aware of or if I can find out from what region of Africa some of my ancestors hailed from. Still, until I have a few hundred dollars lying around doing nothing, I will just have to wait.

Last and least, here’s the stupidest Black History Month thing I came across on the Internets:

Walgreens Sort of Celebrates Black History Month

Walgreens BHM

Is this a cotton-picking joke? We’ll never know. What crazy stuff did you all find/hear about?

Phew!

Just want to take a moment to, again, thank all of my guest bloggers and essayists for their contributions. Last week saw more content than the ABW has seen all at once in a long time. So before we dive back in to the thoughtful posts and insightful discussion, I want to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Last week Naamen started us off with his post on why he doesn’t like to admit he supports Obama.

Karynthia hoped that Super Tuesday would result in a clear front-runner for the Democrats — no dice. So, sadly, the long national nightmare where we’re told that black women have to choose between voting their race or their gender continues apace.

Angry Black Bitch had much the same complaint, and spent the day yelling at her television because ALL women of color are being horribly dealt with by the media.

Sokari posted a wonderfully insightful review of THE LIONESS OF LISABI that you must read.

And frequent guest blogger nojojojo kindly asks, again, for Black people to stop embarrassing us.

Saturday saw the first of many posts by black authors on the subject of history. I wasn’t aware of S. Renee Bess‘ work until I contacted her for this project, but now I’m eager to read her fiction!

Tomorrow we resume with the guest blogging and Friday there will be more author essays. Read, comment, enjoy!

Linky Carnival

Since WordPress.com was a little messed up this weekend some of you may have missed a post or two.  Never fear, I am here to point you toward all the angry black goodness.

First, there’s my review of Acacia (fantasy… with brown people!  omg) and an excerpt from my interview with the author.

Next, my rant about Stargate: Atlantis.

Then a post about the last season of CSI and the stupidly racist storyline that would not die.

Also worthy of a look, the 16th Erase Racism Carnival at Alas, A Blog, which is full of links to things I kept saying “I should blog about that!” and never did.

Finally, the People of Colour SF Carnival 2 which is equally wonderful and chock full of good links.  I also neglected to mention the first People of Colour SF Carnival, and that was bad of me.  Especially since it is so awesome.

Speaking of neglect, I realized today that I never, ever linked to this piece I did for Racewire.  Arg!  It was a while ago, too.  I really need to stop being such a flake.

Anyway, go read and comment and such.  Also, I declare this an Open Thread for any random thing you all want to talk about.

May 2007 Erase Racism Carnival

Welcome to the 12th Erase Racism Carnival! Sorry this edition is a little late. We had a few issues to deal with at ABW Central this weekend.

This is a very media-heavy edition, mainly because media issues are very interesting to me. The summer movie season is starting to heat up and this season’s television shows are coming to an end, allowing us to examine them completely. There’s plenty to talk about in the realm of literature, too. So, get comfortable, grab a drink, and settle in. There’s a lot of great stuff to read.

Writing and Reading

In the past month, there’s been a lot of talk on this blog about diversity in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genre. It started with a post by my guest blogger, N. K. Jemisin, called No more lily-white futures and monochrome myths.

Speculative fiction (SF) has been, historically, one of the most racist genres in American literature. Oh, it hasn’t had as many Stepinfetchits or Uncle Toms as the mainstream, but there are few more powerful ways to wrong a people than to wipe it out of existence, and this is precisely what countless SF novels have done. If the crew of the Space Navy Vessel Whozimawhatsit is all white; if a vast medieval epic spanning several continents contains no chromatic folk; if the scientific accomplishments of ancient nonwhite empires are dismissed as alien leftovers; if China is the only continent toasted by an invading space warship; all of this is a kind of literary genocide. (Yes, genocide.) And it’s something that SF has not only done well for years, but continues to do.

Author Tobias Buckell weighed in:

…I keep seeing the same repetition. Someone says SF/F isn’t diverse, people respond by chanting “Hopkinson, Butler, Delany, Barnes” like it’s a magical phrase that dispels the +10 diversity attack spell.
[...]
Is the cadre of writers in the field diverse?

No.
[...]
This could be a larger societal issue, an issue of fandom, the technical nature of SF/F, or that readers don’t see their faces in SF/F and don’t read it and therefore don’t write it, whatever your theory is (and I’m making no accusations or forwarding theories of my own here, that isn’t the point of this particular entry), it still doesn’t change the fundamental fact that is not a racially diverse field.

One way to address this issue is to encourage diversity in fiction markets, particularly the top tier markets. I offered some suggestions on how editors and publishers could achieve this:

  • Make sure a wide range of people know that your magazine accepts unsolicited submissions by reaching out and posting notifications in venues frequented by non-white and non-male individuals.
  • Put your money where your mouth is. Publish more stories by established authors that feature non-default people and non-default settings so that newer authors (and readers) will see your market as open to diverse views and ideas.
  • Update submission guidelines to very clear statements of what the market is looking for or lacking.
  • Get creative with ways to attract more diverse subjects, settings, characters, and writers.
  • In the fiction selection process, think carefully about the stories you choose. Publish stories that reflect a true balance (but don’t lower your standards to do so).

Some editors are listening, so we’ll see what may come.


Matthew Cheney over at The Mumpsimus gives a detailed analysis of a story in the latest issue of Weird Tales.

The question (problem? issue?) of how Third World countries get represented in First World fiction is one that has interested me for some time, mostly because I’m hyper-aware and perhaps hyper-sensitive to my own status as a First World reader.* My ideas about such representations have run quite a gamut over the years, and continue to shift and change almost daily.

Today, my thoughts returned again and again to Will Ludwigsen’s story “Faraji” in the April/May Weird Tales…

The central failure of the story is in its representation of Africa. The story is set in the future, it seems, or at least an alternate present, because there is a “President Russell” in the U.S. By not naming the African country where the narrator is imprisoned, the story unfortunately plays off of “Dark Continent” stereotypes that set all of Africa up as a mysterious, primitive, and brutal Other. It could be argued that the narrator is someone for whom the continent is, indeed, that, but I think such an argument utterly misses the point. The point is: Why tell this particular story in this particular way at this particular time?
[...]
Africa in such a story is not a place at all, but an idea, and that idea is the same damn one that Conrad and so many lesser writers used. There is a difference between setting a story in “Africa” and setting it in a particular place at a particular time. There is a difference between using the idea of “Africa” as a prop for your plot and actually writing about Africa. I think those differences are vital, particularly when writing about places that have suffered so much stereotyping in First World readers’ minds.

There is a lot to chew over in that post, and many more good points than I can quote without making this carnival far too long.


Novelist PL Logan talks about examining prejudices in the context of the writing life:

The reason why it’s important to get at your prejudices (your ‘isms’ if you like), other than the part about everyone else being able to see them, is that unless you plan to write solely about someone exactly like you, you’d better be able to understand the Other (those who are Not You), at least a little.

If you can’t even understand the person sitting next to you on the bus or on the freeway or at your school or job, how in the world can you understand someone living in the fourteenth century, or in Tau Ceti, or in the Unicorn Kingdom?


Megatrouble’s Super Like a White Man? Searching for the Black Superhero in Comics and Film is a thorough examination of the subject, well worth taking the time to read.

Does the superhero genre of film and comic books speak to people of color? While comics have explored race and superheroes with more nuance, the films lag behind in their portrayals of African Americans. I am entertaining the idea, of course, that a “superhero” does not have to be white and male. My motivation for writing this essay, then, is to stretch the notion of what a super or action hero should look like. Because “hero” is ingrained with a specific image–an American white male, usually a firefighter, infantryman, or doctor–we need more diverse models for heroism.


Thomas Sowell has an interesting article on Bookstore Ghettoes that, oddly enough, has nothing to do with genre fiction. Unless you count ‘being a black author’ as a genre.

If Rachael Ray had been black, there are bookstores where her cookbook would not be displayed in the same section with all the other cookbooks. It would be displayed off in a special section for black authors.
[...]
The notion of honoring black (“African American”) writers with a special section in bookstores is just one of innumerable fashionable symbolic notions that ignore consequences.

In other situations, the negative consequences of mindless symbolism can be far more serious.

Movies & Television

Pam Noles has an excellent post about the casting decisions surrounding the film adaptation of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Quoting the New York Times:

When [HBO] broadcasts its two-hour adaptation of the book… at its center will be a new character: a man who was part Sioux, was educated at an Ivy League college and married a white woman.

“Everyone felt very strongly that we needed a white character or a part-white, part-Indian character to carry a contemporary white audience through this project,” Daniel Giat, the writer who adapted the book for HBO Films, told a group of television writers earlier this year.

Pam goes on to say:

Can we guess the cultural composition of “everyone” in this case? See, this pale and monolithic “everyone” needed a protagonist for their adaptation of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee… one of the touchstone works about the expansion of the West from the point of view of the people who lost out big time.

And the question that always floats to mind around here when I see these types of stories? Is the contemporary white audience truly as dumb, ignorant and xenophobic as the green light guardians at the Hollywood gate assume them to be? (To be honest, quite often my answer is yes. But lots of times my answer is no…)

…it comes down to we’ll never actually know if the contemporary white audience is not being given enough credit as long as the overwhelmingly pale Hollywood People who make the decisions continue to pull this crap.

Well said.


M H Ayinde gives us an interesting take on a possible interpretation of Spider-Man 3‘s use of dark vs. not-dark Spidey.

During the course of the movie, Peter Parker does indeed seem to be transformed into a strange stereotype of a black man. He becomes a sexual predator. He plays jazz piano. He struts down the street while classic soul plays, Shaft-like, in the background. He hits women, and he has to battle his own raging anger. Sounds like a black stereotype to me.

If Spider-Man’s suit had turned some other colour when he was “evil”, I might not have cared so much. But it turned black and, unfortunately, the connotations are far to obvious to be ignored. Aside from this, throughout science fiction and fantasy, dark is used as a lazy shortcut to mean something bad. How many dark lords are there? And even the word itself is used when a writer is stumped to come up with something more creative – the usage of the word really is a prime example of that old literary transgression: telling rather than showing. If we are told something is dark, we know it is bad, without ever needing to be shown why.


In Keep Your Grubby Paws off My Likeness, Lo offers a different take on media representations of minorities:

…being “underrepresented” in TV shows and commercials means that corporate America hasn’t learned how to exploit you yet. If you watch a TV show or a commercial and you find absolutely nothing in common with anyone, you have no desire to be like any of the people that you see; you are in a good spot.

You have an opportunity to have a future. A future not tainted by subliminal messages.

I’m not sure I agree with her thesis, but it’s an interesting view.


Kevin on SlantTruth takes a look at a few movies and TV shows and what they reveal about America.

New Jack City – Black culture in its entirety. Notice all the Hip Hop played in the movie? This is all that is wrong with the United States of America.

The Godfather – Definitely not white culture in its entirety. A socio-economic metaphor for the difficulties involved in making it in the U.S.

The Blogosphere

Donna, at The Silence of Our Friends, comes to an uncomfortable realization about discussions concerning race on the Internet (and, really, anywhere):

My mistake was thinking that white liberals who blog and especially white feminists were ignorant about the way society and culture affect people of color, if you explained it, then they would be more supportive of our ideas and causes. It took me awhile to see that unity and solidarity were only for their ideas and causes and that for the most part it is all about them. This is what both Nezua and BA are talking about in their posts and how they are rejecting those who are users for only their own goals. I’m not so dense that I didn’t figure out long ago that this is true for a few, but I didn’t want to see the bigger picture and how true it is for many.

This came in the context of an excellent post about White POC – “those who are harmful to us collectively and are as self-serving as many white people.”

…there are POC who will tell white people what they want to hear in order to get ahead, and there are POC who have been socialized and acculturated to believe in the all-American racist stereotypes. [...] This is the unfortunate person we hear about when white people want to contradict our truths with their “NDN, black, asian, latino etc friend” who thinks that racism isn’t a problem and that we’re just making a mountain out of a molehill. [...] It’s also what we are talking about when white people tell us “Not you. You’re one of the good ones.” They mean we are assimilated and they notice we are white POC, or as Archie Bunker says, “You’re a credit to your race.” A white POC will think this is a compliment, instead of seeing it as an extension of racism.

In a sort-of related essay posted on Jesus’ General and other blogs, nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez, The Unapologetic Mexican, writes about The True Front of Progressivism:

SOMETIMES YOU WONDER if blogging is a component of Real Change, done for distraction, provided as a social experience, or is just a game. And of course, it is all these things at different times. In their better moments, blogs can affect people and their views profoundly, just as a Great Book might, when dropped into your hands on a crucial day.
[...]
But we are all selective. And we all have blind spots. That is why situations like JC’s here are good. He has many guest bloggers, and they all bring their points of view. He does not edit, he does not pressure, he does not in any way censor inflammatory posts, and he lets the Whole work its business when he brings in those voices. This is a good way to avoid blind spots and evidence of a true progressive nature in action.
[...]
Yes, I burn hot, as many of the “brown blogs” do. Just as the feminist blogs do. Just as the anti-ablist blogs do. But change and truth are not lukewarm entities or processes, and nobody has to agree with all I write. I am sure JC doesn’t, and I’m sure Glenn Greenwald doesn’t, but they both read and blogroll me. It doesn’t mean we haven’t had rough moments, adjusting viewpoint pangs, or disagreements. But—to me—it means they earn the name “progressive” if only for their effort and willingness to move outside the mainstream boundaries. [...] I have plenty of exposure. I am happy at my place, and happy to guest post here, and happy that my words get out there.

I am not happy, however, to see how contained these points of view and discussions are in the “mainstream” blog world. My point is that there are many who are connected to this struggle. You want to talk about race? You want to talk about eliminationalist rhetoric? You want to talk about LEFT vs RIGHT….but that leaves no room for others, does it? Is there only Left and Right? Is it really so simple?

An excellent, excellent post.

News and Current Events

Jenn and James at Reappropriate take exception to something Pat Buchannan wrote about the mass killing at Virginia Tech. They decide to take him on point by point, delivering a solid smackdown:

James: While I concur with your point about safety in classrooms, the most insulting part of this argument, to me, is that America already has an ongoing experiment where we allow thousands of unregulated, uncontrolled small arms to infiltrate small, closed-in populations. These small arms contribute to thousands of unsolved and ignored homicides every year. We call this experiment the inner city. If you want to know what happens when everyone gets to carry a gun, go to the hood.
[...]
Jenn: While it is important to remember what it’s like to be a 1.5-genner, and the isolation that such an identity entails, the association of Seung Cho’s actions with all Korean American immigrants is ludicrous! The 1965 Immigration Act opened this nation’s gates to countless talents and skills from around the globe; we can’t conflate one person’s actions with an entire race of people, based solely on skin colour and pathway to citizenship.

In We Are All Criminals, Brownfemipower keeps the real issues surrounding the immigration debate up front:

Right now, although anti-immigrant aggression still centers on economics (the dirty spics are stealing jobs/making us pay for their welfare), the driving force behind the debate, the issue that really triggers the debate, is the “war on terror.”

Some of the first anti-immigrant organizations in the U.S. to capitalize on anti-Arab “war on terror” policies were the hate organizations the Minutemen Project and the American Patrol Report. Both organizations were classified as hate groups by the U.S. government pre 9-11. [...]But all of this was conveniently forgotten by politicians, government officials, and universities in a post 9-11 world.


Rachel (of Tavern fame) feels that Racism is the Problem and Shooting the Messenger Promotes Racism, a reaction to a news story about a teacher disciplined because of something published in the school paper she oversees.

The article in the May issue of the Blazer included anonymous comments from students questioning the intelligence of blacks and expressing disapproval of interracial dating.

Some of the anonymous quotes accompanied an editorial by a student staff member who called those attitudes appalling.

Rachel says,

It is difficult from the article to tell if the administrators were more concerned about how black students would feel after reading the bigoted comments or if they were more concerned about how it would make their school look. But if school administrators think that these types of comments are not made on a regular basis, they need to get real. Racial abuse is not uncommon in schools; bigoted remarks are also common. They may be said only amongst racial peers or close friends, but they are there nonetheless.
[...]
Should these students and their advisor be punished for exposing racism? Should we shoot the messenger or attack the message? I think we should attack the message without white washing it, and punishing the messenger only puts a lid on the problem.

We, As Individuals

One of the reasons I love this carnival is that it never fails to bring home to me that Erasing Racism is not just the work of groups of people, but of individuals. People who live in the world and do individual things with other individuals to combat and eliminate racism. Whenever I find the world too overwhelming and it’s problems insurmountable, I remember that I don’t have to take on the world, I just have to deal with what surrounds me every day. With that thought, I leave you my final carnival offerings:

MissProffe muses on one of the side-effects of being a teacher of color:

We chatted about TOCs being role models – not just for students of color, but also for majority students – at a predominately White independent school. S.G. remarked how there is added pressure on TOCs to project a positive image with respect to appearance (dress) and manner (language).
[...]
Is it fair that my colleague and I must cross every proverbial T and dot every proverbial I in the words we choose and in the clothes we wear? No. However, Life isn’t fair, and This Life presents a double-standard for people of color, regardless of our level of education, an impeccable wardrobe, or ability to speak the Queen’s English.

And finally, Rachel S. writes about Things You Learn About Race From a 7 Year Old on Alas, A Blog:

A few weeks ago my partner’s son B was here for the holidays, and as usual he and I spent a great deal of time together. I’m often curious about when and how kids learn about race, and I always observe how B discusses race. He is a dark skinned black child, and I am a very fair skinned white person, which makes it fairly obvious to any on-looker that I am not his biological mother.
[...]
B: “Were [those people looking at us] because I’m black and you’re white? They want to know if you are my mommy.”

Rachel: ”Why do you think that?”

B: (very matter matter of factly) “Because black kids have black moms.”

Rachel: “Can black kids have white moms?”

B: (laughing at what he thinks is a joke) “Black kids can’t have white moms.”
[...]
I found it interesting how conscious he was of other people looking at him and me. He very clearly connected it to race.
[...]
These are the kinds of issues that frequently come up in mixed race families. They are also faced by monoracial families even if they don’t realize it. …I do wonder if it would be different if I was the black one and he was white. Given that we live in a fairly rich area, where many upper middle class and upper class white parents have women of color as their nannies, it is not too uncommon to see black and brown women taking care of small white kids. However, a white women taking care of a black child is almost unheard of, which is why we probably get some many stares.

Thanks to everyone who submitted (even those I could not include) and everyone for reading. Don’t forget to submit posts for next month’s Carnival, hosted @ white anti-racist parent.

Also, if you’re interested in reading more stuff about race in the SF/F genre, keep an eye out for the People of Colour SF Carnival. The first one is due out next month.

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Politicians Are Stupid and Racist – Early April Edition

More of a link roundup than anything else. I don’t have much to say about these news items beyond the title of this post.

Karl Rove Raps

There are few things more pathetic than old white men rapping, dancing, and aping ‘ghetto’ black people. One of the things that is more pathetic: old black men who join in.

Newt Gingrich calls Spanish the “Language of the Ghetto”

“The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. … We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto,” Gingrich said to cheers from the crowd of more than 100. (click for video)

What the hell does Newt know about the ghetto, anyway?

Also, if Spanish is the language of the ghetto, then English must be the language of hypocritical adulterous windbags. I’m going to learn Italian.

Required Reading List

I’ve decided that I definitely need a Required Reading List to point people to when they come to this site. I’ll include the posts on White Privilege and Racism and Hair, but I’d also like to point to some posts off site, too. I’m looking for posts that explain basic concepts or rebuttals to the most common arguments of stupid/racist people. Are there any posts from your blog or one of the blogs you read that you feel qualifies? If so, pop it in the comments. And no matter when you come on this post – a week, a month, or even a year from now – if you have a suggestion, please give it. I’m sure the Reading List will always grow.

Link Roundup and Open Thread

My folder of links to share with you all is getting rather full. I guess that means it’s time for a link roundup. It’s a little long, so I put it under a jump.
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