The New York Post cartoon: this is my unsurprised face.

By now most of you have heard about the racist cartoon published in The New York Post. There’s a lot of good commentary out there on this already, and some calls to action, which I strongly urge all of you to heed.

That said, I haven’t said much about this before today because my feelings pretty much match Ta-Nehisi Coates’: meh. Maybe it helps to provide some “local context” here, because I think a lot of people don’t get what most New Yorkers do: the Post is crap. It’s a step above the National Enquirer in terms of quality, and that’s only because it doesn’t talk about aliens and its inanity has a focus — which is to be the voice of the substantial contingent of conservatives in this famously liberal city. It’s the paper version of Fox News, which isn’t surprising because it’s owned by the same guy. And because of this, I do not believe for one moment that the editor who approved that cartoon didn’t know exactly how it would be received. I think the Post is getting exactly what it wanted here.

Think about it. These are hard times for the Republicans right now. They’re struggling to find a way to reformat themselves in the wake of the backhand slap they received on November 4th. While the party’s leaders flounder in search of a vision/purpose/direction, however, the party’s ideologues don’t have this problem; they’re still repeating the same message they’ve been parroting for the past 20+ years. But with the leadership gone silent, the ideologues’ broken record is suddenly much more audible than it has been for the past couple of (campaign) years. Which is why we’ve heard so much lately from Rush “Crackhead” Limbaugh. He hasn’t been in rehab all this time, as I had naively assumed; he’s just popular again, largely because many Republican voters are desperate to hear someone, anyone, speak up for their side.

Likewise Fox News and, now, the Post. These media entities are jockeying for control of the party’s soul, in hopes of pushing back the darkness — pun intended — that might, just might, cause the Republican party to reform into something a little more representative of America and less representative of the angry white men who’ve been the party’s guiding light. So naturally we can expect some blatant appeals to the paradigms that have proven so effective for this group in the past. They’re gambling that this “back to basics” strategy will work. And it might. Despite all the slightly creepy “post-racial” camaraderie we’ve been seeing in the nation since Election Day, most of us know full well that racism isn’t dead and that a substantial percentage of the 46% who voted against Obama did so because they hate black people (even the ones who are half white). How does one rally this group in the wake of a national defeat, and let them know that somebody in Republican Land still loves them? This cartoon is one rallying cry. Expect more.

That said, I’m not certain this strategy will still work the way that Rush and the gang think. Sure, there are plenty of folks out there who will respond positively to this appeal to their baser nature. But there are also a lot of Republicans who are taking a hard look at themselves right now, and asking some hard questions about the tried-and-true ways of doing things. Already we’re seeing signs of an unheard-of revolt by some Post staffers in the wake of this cartoon. The Republican base might be OK with it, but the base is still the minority within the party, and it’s growing smaller as time passes. The rest of the Republicans, I’m guessing, are starting to read the writing on the wall: the old ways of doing things have got to change.

Before they do, though, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more dead monkeys.

Mehserle arrested

I’m tired, ya’ll. Too tired to be angry. So tired of all this shit. The tiredness won’t last forever, of course; I’ll rebound, as I must. But I need a break.

In the meantime, though — I’m cautiously heartened by this.

Mehserle was arrested in the New Year’s Day shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old supermarket worker from Hayward who was lying facedown after being pulled off a BART train by police investigating a fight. An Alameda County judge signed an arrest warrant alleging murder, and Mehserle surrendered without incident, authorities said.

The shooting, which was recorded by passengers in videos widely circulated on the Internet and television, prompted public outrage, and some viewers said that the shooting appeared to be an execution.

Sources said Mehserle was in Nevada because he feared for his safety after death threats were made against him. Douglas County is 15 miles south of Carson City in northwestern Nevada and includes part of Lake Tahoe.

Mehserle’s attorney, Christopher W. Miller of Sacramento, confirmed early today that his client was arrested on suspicion of murder. He said he would not comment further until a news conference today.

I’m waiting to hear the charges. If they’re anything less than first-degree murder, I’m going to feel very tired again.

If anybody’s going to the protest today in Oakland, can you report in on how it went, in the comments?

S.O.S., Different Year

Happy New Year, all. Took me only 5 days to get angry about something; a new record for me! Well, more annoyed than anything else. Who can really afford to get angry about all the stupid crap we see in the media? Us WoC gotta watch that blood pressure, after all.

This article in the NYT is what’s annoying me. It starts off innocently enough with a classic “duh” moment, noting that many women take dangerous risks to end their pregnancies sans medical attention or prescribed drugs. It guarantees a surge in such homemade abortions by pretty much telling the readers what drugs to ask for and how to ask for them, then how to administer them (which sounds seriously problematic to me, but fine, they’re the Times, they can afford lawyers if someone tries it, dies, and the family sues them). It goes further into “no shit, Sherlock” territory by noting the reasons women might do this: cost, shame, a desire for privacy, distrust of hospitals, yatta yatta yatta.

Very quickly, though, it becomes clear that the article is specifically focusing on a certain subset of women: primarily Dominican women in the Washington Heights area. OK, makes sense; that’s who made up the primary focus of a study by Planned Parenthood cited in the article. But see if you can spot the point in the passage below where I started to get annoyed.
Continue reading

Ignorant Parents In Danger Of Raising Ignorant Children

So here’s the story as I understand it.  Every year at this elementary school they celebrate Thanksgiving by having the kids dress up as pilgrims and “indians”.  Parents, mainly those of Native descent, have begun to object to this for several reasons.  1. It’s a completely inaccurate portrayal of what went on when the pilgrims got here.  (I am also kind of sick of the way we lie to kids about history, only to have to reteach it later.  Columbus discovered America, anyone?  Lincoln fought the war to free the slaves?  But I digress.) 2. The “indian” outfits are stupid and based on racist stereotypes, anyway.  All they were asking is that they have the Thanksgiving stuff without the ignorant dress up time.  The school board agreed and said that the feast should happen without costumes.

And then.

Well, most of you who read this blog can guess what happened.

Condit Elementary School parent Michelle Raheja said she was not prepared for the backlash she got from helping to write an e-mail to a kindergarten teacher at the elementary school.

She and her daughter have been harassed as a result, she said Wednesday.

“It was a private message to one kindergarten teacher,” Raheja said. “She did not ask me if she could circulate it to others or circulate it to the principal. I don’t think she was ill-intentioned.”

On Tuesday, numerous parents and their children dressed in American Indian and Pilgrim costumes to protest a Claremont Unified School District decision to have a Thanksgiving feast without the costumes that have been traditional for decades.

Another group of protesters, many younger and of American Indian descent, carried signs that said “Racism,” “No Thanks No Giving,” “Respect” and “Don’t Celebrate Genocide.”

Raheja said she and about 15 to 20 parents in the school helped write the private e-mail message about their concerns with the dress in the Thanksgiving feast to a Condit elementary teacher. She said the e-mail was redistributed without her knowledge.

At the Tuesday feast, Raheja said her 5-year-old daughter was harassed. A parent dressed up as an American Indian, Raheja said, “did a war dance around my daughter.” The parent then told her daughter and others to “go to hell,” she said.

Let’s pause here a moment.  A war dance.  A WAR DANCE, PEOPLE.

What the fuck kind of ass do you have to be to tell a 5 year old to go to hell?  The same kind of ass who would do a “war dance” around one.

I don’t advocate violence, but if I had seen that, I would have just hauled off and hit that person.

Continuing…

On Wednesday, she said she had received more than 250 “hateful and intimidating” e-mails.

“They go from being anxious about political correctness to calling me (an epithet). They don’t know my daughter’s name, but they’ve said hateful and disgusting things about my daughter.” (Classy! –abw)

At Tuesday’s feast, Raheja said she was told “if I had any issue with the school, I need to leave the school, and my daughter would not be welcomed.”

Raheja said, “We love Condit. We love the staff. Overall, we’ve had a very good experience. But the anger and hatred has been unbearable.”

If you have an opinion on this matter, I suggest you express it to the Condit staff and administrators yourself.  Website is here, complete with contact information.  I personally think it’s a little messed up for them to have even allowed parents to act in despicable ways around kids at their school or to distribute that email in the first place.

Google News on the subject here.  Beware clueless people being quoted and yammering on about how horrible political correctness is because it keeps their children from parading around in “headdresses”.  Idiots.

Mirror Universe

You would think that any headline reading:

John McCain ‘endorsed by al-Qaeda supporters’

Would actually be from the Onion.  Or something the McCain campaign would say about Obama.  But no.

In a message broadcast on the password-protected al-Hesbah site, the group said they would also welcome a pre-election terror attack on the US because that would make a McCain win more likely.

In an endorsement that will not be welcomed by Mr McCain’s flagging campaign, the group said that if al-Qaeda wants to exhaust the USmilitarily and economically, the “impetuous” Republican presidential candidate is the better choice.
[...]
“…al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush.”

“If al-Qaeda carries out a big operation against American interests,” it said, “this act will be support of McCain because it will push the Americans deliberately to vote for McCain so that he takes revenge for them against al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda then will succeed in exhausting America till its last year in it.”

Mark Salter, a senior McCain adviser, had no immediate comment.

Yeah I bet he didn’t.  The above is from the Telegraph in the UK.  The NYTimes even mentioned it in an Op-Ed piece this weekend.  Though it’s hard to take a newspaper seriously when they also cover “Tattooed Leopard Man ditches hermit life.

The Telegraph points out that this posting is not an official al-Qaeda edict or anything, just the opinion of someone involved (perhaps) with the group.  But still.

For years people have been saying that we’re beyond satire, because the country is becoming so ridiculous that even the most far-fetched Saturday Night Live scenarios are really happening.  This, I think, definitely falls under that heading.  Though, I have to say, a strange reversal from four years ago when al-Qaeda supposedly was all for John Kerry.  Hmm.

Hat Tip: Mary

Louisiana State Senator Worries That There Will Soon Be Too Many Black People, Film At 11

I don’t even know if I have the stomach to do full commentary on this shit.  So here are the highlights.

Worried that welfare costs are rising as the number of taxpayers declines, state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said Tuesday he is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied.

“We’re on a train headed to the future and there’s a bridge out, ” LaBruzzo said of what he suspects are dangerous demographic trends. “And nobody wants to talk about it.”

LaBruzzo said he worries that people receiving government aid such as food stamps and publicly subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government. He said he is gathering statistics now.

Right.  He’s totally worried about there being enough tax dollars.  That’s all.  Really.

“What I’m really studying is any and all possibilities that we can reduce the number of people that are going from generational welfare to generational welfare, ” he said.

He said his program would be voluntary. It could involve tubal ligation, encouraging other forms of birth control or, to avoid charges of gender discrimination, vasectomies for men.

Oh I am so glad that we’re being very feminist about this!

LaBruzzo described the tube-tying incentive as a brainstorming exercise that has yet to take form as a bill for the Legislature to consider. He said it already has drawn critics who argue the idea is racist, sexist, unethical and immoral. He said more white people are on welfare than black people, so his proposal is not targeting race.

And anti-racist!  He just hates poor people, that’s all.

LaBruzzo said other, mainstream strategies for attacking poverty, such as education reforms and programs informing people about family planning issues, have repeatedly failed to solve the problem. He said he is simply looking for new ways to address it.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, he’s a racist, ‘ ” LaBruzzo said. “The hard part is to sit down and think of some solutions.”

LaBruzzo said he opposes abortion and paying people to have abortions. He described a sterilization program as providing poor people with better opportunities to avoid welfare, because they would have fewer children to feed and clothe.

He acknowledged his idea might be a difficult sell politically.

NO SHIT.

Also: children are the cause of welfare, not poor economic situations, lack of opportunities, lack of funding for education (that never works, anyway!), or a culture that is constantly at war against those who don’t live like the assholes on Friends.  No, none of that is to blame!

Officers in Sean Bell shooting acquitted

I don’t want to detract from the Seal Press debate, but I guess we’ll just have lots of things to discuss this weekend. Just saw this: the officers who shot Sean Bell and his friends more than 50 times have been acquitted. Continue reading

Which came first, my uterus or my skin?

Lots of bloggers have been commenting on Gloria Steinem’s opinion article in the NYTimes a few days back. I can’t comment on it; I’m too angry. But the rest o’ ya’ll? Feel free. =)

1/16 edit: Looks like the politicians, amazingly, are trying to be smarter than Steinem. Dunno how I feel about “neither race nor gender should be a part of the campaign”; that strikes me as naive. It is an issue. It’s always an issue, even when the candidates are only white men. But I can see why they’d declare a truce.

-Nora

Getting Attention is Nice

Just tooting my own horn a bit here.  And mostly because I’m kind of flabbergasted at some of the things I’m finding lately.

Firstly, back in September Electronic Village named me as one of the Top 10 Black Bloggers on the internet (ranked via Technorati authority).  I came in #5, which really surprised me as I didn’t think I scored that high against some of the other amazing bloggers out there, many of whom are on my blogroll.  Apparently there were 75 bloggers on the list then, and now they’ve identified over 400.  Needless to say I slipped down in the ranks to somewhere between 11 and 25, but I’m still honored to be mentioned.

Earlier this week my blog was mentioned in this boston.com piece on black bloggers.

These intellectual challenges to mainstream and other viewpoints are some of the opinions Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander-American, and black bloggers are exposing on a growing number of sites focused on social, political, and cultural issues. The sometimes facetiously named blogs range from Angry Asian Man to The Angry Black Woman. Readers can find Latino viewpoints at Guanabee, The Unapologetic Mexican, or Latino Pundit. Those interested in information from an Asian angle head to Ultrabrown, Zuky, or Sepia Mutiny. Sites created by blacks include The Field Negro, Too Sense, and Resist Racism. But often these bloggers discard the handcuffs of their ethnic origins to tackle subjects affecting a range of racial or ethnic groups.

These sites – many of which launched in the past year, although a few are older – have become places where people of color gather to refine ideas or form thoughts about race relations, racial inequities, and the role pop culture has in exacerbating stereotypes. The writers often bring attention to subjects not yet covered by mainstream media.

(There’s some discussion going on at Rachel’s Tavern about the handcuffs remark.)

And, of course, there’s my date with the radio, which resulted in some visits from the NPR website.  I’ve been invited back to News & Notes for the Monday after Thanksgiving.  My excitement is hardly contained!

Looking back to a few years ago when I started this blog, my goals were to rant and maybe educate a few folks.  I mostly wanted to have a space to write up my thoughts on race so that, in the event that I got into conversations/arguments/debates on the topic, I could point to various posts and say “That’s everything you need to know.”  The mission has evolved a little, but I never thought I’d have so many readers or that I’d become part of such an amazing community.  It’s pretty cool.  Even if I started out a wee facetiously…

The Grass is Always Greener

Earlier this month, black British actor David Harewood published an essay in the Guardian lamenting the lack of media attention for the “Black BAFTAS” and the lack of black actors on British television.

…in Britain, TV and film producers and directors are still nervous about black actors in leading roles. Ask anyone in the street to name five American black actors and they can do it; but ask them to name five British counterparts and they will be stuck. That is not because the talent does not exist, but because we just don’t get that exposure here.

It is only when they go to the US that actors such as [Thandie] Newton and [Chiwetel] Ejiofor get the parts, and therefore the acclaim, they deserve. [...] black Britons seem to get better parts over there, even on the small screen.

Americans simply seem to be more comfortable with black actors in leading roles, and with the whole concept of “generic” parts in which race is not an issue. Dennis Haysbert and Morgan Freeman have both played the American president, while Haysbert is now the leader of a special operations unit in the new David Mamet drama The Unit.

I find it incredibly interesting to see the view of us from the outside. Considering the issues we have with representation, it was hard for me to imagine anyone looking at the roles for black actors with envy.

And as much as I want to say that Harewood has a skewed view, so do I. I watch some British TV, but most of the shows I watch are either produced by the same guy or written by a guy who works on projects with that producer. So even if I’m seeing a fair amount of PoC, I just may be in the hands of the half dozen people at the BBC who care about such things.

I have been very fortunate in my career in Britain, in that I have managed to play plenty of parts that were not conceived specifically for a black actor. I am not entirely alone in this – think of Freema Agyeman as Doctor Who’s sidekick Martha Jones, for example, or first Adrian Lester and now Ashley Walters in Hustle – but many of my peers have struggled in this respect. To get roles with authority and weight still seems to be extremely difficult. All too often, black actors are only seen fit to be secondary characters: “the best friend”, say, or “the good cop”. I think I have played more black policemen than there are black policemen. And these are not the kind of roles that get you noticed.

By contrast, when I was in America last year for the premiere of Blood Diamond, I was amazed at the variety and scope of some of the castings I was going into. Casting directors told me openly that no new American television series gets the green light without at least two or three leading ethnic minority roles. If nothing else, in that melting pot of a country it makes business sense to have a cast in which the audience can recognise itself.

Hmm…. I wonder if maybe Harewood isn’t being a bit lied to. Just looking at the new SF television shows on this season (which I had to watch for an article… which is going up tomorrow!) I saw a LOT of white people in lead/recurring roles–Journeyman, Moonlight, Chuck, Flash Gordon, Reaper–and the two shows that include CoC in their recurring slots are still helmed by white people–Bionic Woman, Pushing Daisies.

Without events such as Screen Nation, much of the work done by black British people in film and television would go unnoticed. Do awards like these ghettoise black actors, or somehow relegate them? Of course not. If I win a prize on Monday evening, I will accept it with just as much pride as if I had been given a Bafta or an Oscar.

Good question. It looks like Britain is suffering from the same kind of problems regarding race and representation that our media has. But perhaps from different angles and for different reasons. Though I was really pleased with the representations I saw in, say, Doctor Who, others see that show and its spinoff as problematic. There’s still a lot of work to do.

Fortunately, folks like Harewood are paying attention and speaking out. But he’s an actor, not someone who creates shows for the BBC. Those are the people who need to be paying attention.

Oh wait:

Neil Gaiman has said he will soon make fantasy television shows for the BBC.
[...]
“I’ve been in talks with the BBC for about two years about doing an original fantasy series for them, which I keep putting off because my plate is so full.

“I think it’s time to clear some plate for them.
[...]
One option he is looking at is a television version of his novel Anansi Boys which has just been made for radio by BBC World Service.

“I thought this would be so cool if we could do it as four 42-minute episodes for the BBC or even ITV,” he explained. “I don’t think anybody has actually done a drama, the cast of which was almost completely black, in which the point of it was not that the cast was completely black.”

Emphasis mine.

Maybe Gaiman will be a good influence on the BBC. And then he can come back over here and be a good influence on us.

Oh wait:

When Anansi Boys first came out, we got a number of very big [Hollywood] directors going after it and all of them basically ended up saying the same thing, which was they had real problems with a story as black people as leads in a fantasy movie. [...] It’s one of those strange moments when you go “I don’t know if it’s racist or if it’s just stupid…”

Sigh.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 142 other followers