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the whiskey propagandist
23rd Aug 12 • 0 notes • Reblog
Fear of a Black President

The irony of Barack Obama is this: he has become the most successful black politician in American history by avoiding the radioactive racial issues of yesteryear, by being “clean” (as Joe Biden once labeled him)—and yet his indelible blackness irradiates everything he touches. This irony is rooted in the greater ironies of the country he leads. For most of American history, our political system was premised on two conflicting facts—one, an oft-stated love of democracy; the other, an undemocratic white supremacy inscribed at every level of government. In warring against that paradox, African Americans have historically been restricted to the realm of protest and agitation. But when President Barack Obama pledged to “get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he was not protesting or agitating. He was not appealing to federal power—he was employing it. The power was black—and, in certain quarters, was received as such.
No amount of rhetorical moderation could change this. It did not matter that the president addressed himself to “every parent in America.” His insistence that “everybody [pull] together” was irrelevant. It meant nothing that he declined to cast aspersions on the investigating authorities, or to speculate on events. Even the fact that Obama expressed his own connection to Martin in the quietest way imaginable—“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”—would not mollify his opposition. It is, after all, one thing to hear “I am Trayvon Martin” from the usual placard-waving rabble-rousers. Hearing it from the commander of the greatest military machine in human history is another.
By virtue of his background—the son of a black man and a white woman, someone who grew up in multiethnic communities around the world—Obama has enjoyed a distinctive vantage point on race relations in America. Beyond that, he has displayed enviable dexterity at navigating between black and white America, and at finding a language that speaks to a critical mass in both communities. He emerged into national view at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, with a speech heralding a nation uncolored by old prejudices and shameful history. There was no talk of the effects of racism. Instead Obama stressed the power of parenting, and condemned those who would say that a black child carrying a book was “acting white.” He cast himself as the child of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas and asserted, “In no other country on Earth is my story even possible.” When, as a senator, he was asked if the response to Hurricane Katrina evidenced racism, Obama responded by calling the “ineptitude” of the response “color-blind.”
Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy—white supremacy. The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.
Obama’s first term has coincided with a strategy of massive resistance on the part of his Republican opposition in the House, and a record number of filibuster threats in the Senate. It would be nice if this were merely a reaction to Obama’s politics or his policies—if this resistance truly were, as it is generally described, merely one more sign of our growing “polarization” as a nation. But the greatest abiding challenge to Obama’s national political standing has always rested on the existential fact that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin. As a candidate, Barack Obama understood this.
“The thing is, a black man can’t be president in America, given the racial aversion and history that’s still out there,” Cornell Belcher, a pollster for Obama, told the journalist Gwen Ifill after the 2008 election. “However, an extraordinary, gifted, and talented young man who happens to be black can be president.”

Fear of a Black President

The irony of Barack Obama is this: he has become the most successful black politician in American history by avoiding the radioactive racial issues of yesteryear, by being “clean” (as Joe Biden once labeled him)—and yet his indelible blackness irradiates everything he touches. This irony is rooted in the greater ironies of the country he leads. For most of American history, our political system was premised on two conflicting facts—one, an oft-stated love of democracy; the other, an undemocratic white supremacy inscribed at every level of government. In warring against that paradox, African Americans have historically been restricted to the realm of protest and agitation. But when President Barack Obama pledged to “get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he was not protesting or agitating. He was not appealing to federal power—he was employing it. The power was black—and, in certain quarters, was received as such.

No amount of rhetorical moderation could change this. It did not matter that the president addressed himself to “every parent in America.” His insistence that “everybody [pull] together” was irrelevant. It meant nothing that he declined to cast aspersions on the investigating authorities, or to speculate on events. Even the fact that Obama expressed his own connection to Martin in the quietest way imaginable—“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”—would not mollify his opposition. It is, after all, one thing to hear “I am Trayvon Martin” from the usual placard-waving rabble-rousers. Hearing it from the commander of the greatest military machine in human history is another.

By virtue of his background—the son of a black man and a white woman, someone who grew up in multiethnic communities around the world—Obama has enjoyed a distinctive vantage point on race relations in America. Beyond that, he has displayed enviable dexterity at navigating between black and white America, and at finding a language that speaks to a critical mass in both communities. He emerged into national view at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, with a speech heralding a nation uncolored by old prejudices and shameful history. There was no talk of the effects of racism. Instead Obama stressed the power of parenting, and condemned those who would say that a black child carrying a book was “acting white.” He cast himself as the child of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas and asserted, “In no other country on Earth is my story even possible.” When, as a senator, he was asked if the response to Hurricane Katrina evidenced racism, Obama responded by calling the “ineptitude” of the response “color-blind.”

Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy—white supremacy. The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.

Obama’s first term has coincided with a strategy of massive resistance on the part of his Republican opposition in the House, and a record number of filibuster threats in the Senate. It would be nice if this were merely a reaction to Obama’s politics or his policies—if this resistance truly were, as it is generally described, merely one more sign of our growing “polarization” as a nation. But the greatest abiding challenge to Obama’s national political standing has always rested on the existential fact that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin. As a candidate, Barack Obama understood this.

“The thing is, a black man can’t be president in America, given the racial aversion and history that’s still out there,” Cornell Belcher, a pollster for Obama, told the journalist Gwen Ifill after the 2008 election. “However, an extraordinary, gifted, and talented young man who happens to be black can be president.”

31st Jul 12 • 18 notes • Reblog

pridenotprejudice:

iamabutchsolo:

Life of Pi movie trailer

It looks awesome. AND IT’S NOT WHITEWASHED.

this is one of my favorite books. so excited.

(Source: daughterofmulan)

28th Jul 12 • 0 notes • Reblog
Florida Republican testifies that the GOP has been specifically plotting to suppress the black vote.
16th Jul 12 • 2,310 notes • Reblog

karnythia:

Beauty Whitewashed: How White Ideals Exclude Women of Color

ethiopienne:

gerrycanavan:

These are pretty striking.

internal-acceptance-movement:

While we talk a lot about harmful media beauty ideals like extreme thinness, appearance-focused “fitness,” sex appeal, and photoshopping phoniness, one of the most oppressive ideals excludes anyone who isn’t … white. We call it the whitewashing of beauty.

In a country where a full one-third of the population is black, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latina, the serious underrepresentation of women of color in media is really disturbing. Further, when you only account for the women of color shown in positive roles or depictions – especially those depicted as beautiful or desirable – the number is almost negligible.

The mainstream beauty ideal is almost exclusively white, making it all the more unattainable for women of color. Though beautiful women of color like Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson, Halle Berry and others have achieved renown in U.S. culture, media representations of these women have become increasingly “anglicized” or “whitewashed” over time, with lighter-colored, straighter hair, lighter makeup, colored contacts and often shrinking figures.

Even when the women are being recognized for something other than their beauty, like, say, an Oscar nomination for incredibly talented actress Gabourey Sidibe of “Precious,” magazines like Elle still feel the need to whitewash her in order to feature her image on the cover. 

While representation of women of color in media has increased slightly over the past decade, finding positive depictions of women with dark skin tones or natural hair is still nearly impossible in mainstream media.Further, when we do see women of color represented as beauty icons in media, they almost always already fit white ideals –meaning they already have light skin tones, light-colored, straight hair, ideally “white” facial features, thin figures, etc. 

Essentially, WOC are viewing a distorted reality and holding themselves to the unattainable standard set by the non-reality of popular media – and most often, those standards are based on oppressive, power-laden ideals of whiteness. 

Recognizing the ridiculous lack of diversity in representation of media, and particularly when it comes to portrayals of beauty, is absolutely crucial for people of all races.

Recognizing is the first step toward rejecting those messages and the negative feelings they inspire about our bodies. After we reject them, we can continuously redefine beauty for ourselves – on our own terms – with the help of the beautiful people in our lives who recognize other forms of beauty as well. 

By Lindsay Kite, 2011. “Beauty Whitewashed: How White Ideals Exclude Women of Color.” Published at www.beautyredefined.net/beauty-whitewashed-how-white-ideals-exclude-women-of-color.

I can’t believe we still have to explain this…but here ya go…

30th Jun 12 • 2 notes • Reblog

If you’re a white vegan and you haven’t seen them, you should really watch Sistah Vegan’s videos on youtube, especially if you’re someone that’s out trying to convince people. You need to be aware of the social and historical context of food, culture, and imperialism to critically analyze veganism and diet in America, especially if you’re trying speak to people of color (you should probably just listen).

26th Jun 12 • 20 notes • Reblog

[Dwayne Glenn McDuffie (February 20, 1962 – February 21, 2011)]

Well, I think being a writer that the reader knows is black puts a lot of the mainstream—I say “mainstream,” I mean “white,” readership on edge. I mean, white male readership on edge. They’re really looking for some proof that I’m trying to—the phrase I get all the time is I’m always trying to “shove my agenda down their throats,” which seems sexually charged to me, I don’t know.

But I came on the Justice League after a very successful run. And during that run, they had added two black characters to the team, and it was already planned that two more black members would join the team very shortly. So when I came on the book, I was told right up front “Bring the black Green Lantern in, and bring in Firestorm,” who’s kind of a young Spiderman-ish superhero, black college kid. And I’m like, “Oh, great, okay.” And before I knew it, I had broken what I call the Rule of Three. And that rule is, in popular entertainment, if there are three black people in it, it is a black product. You can have two black guys, although it’s a stretch. If you have three, it’s a black show. And suddenly it was a black show. And somebody, I think the artist, did a pinup, with all the black characters. And somebody leaked it and said “That’s the cover! McDuffie’s gonna turn the Justice League all black! He’s getting rid of the white guys!” Never part of the plan, never even considered, but it freaked people out, so they’re reading this stuff looking for proof…

But there is a hardcore piece of the audience whose back goes up whenever you go into these issues, and they don’t even realize it. And what kills me about it is that when they’re writing about it, they’re always hyperrational. You know, “Look the fact is, there are more white characters, and if you picked randomly, you would end up with all white teams. And the fact that there were three black people on this team is statistically ridiculous. It’s obviously a quota.” And the quota arguments on fictional teams crack me up. Because who’s actually—I’m sorry, is somebody losing a job here? Which fictional character is losing a job? There’s no connection. They’re not talking about what’s going on in the comics. They’re talking about what they think is going on in their lives (and that’s not really going on either.)

That kind of goes into, sort of, the fundamental thing that we’re getting out of the genre, which is our heroic image of ourselves. You know, it’s very much a power fantasy, it’s very much a male power fantasy, it’s very much a white power fantasy. So if I write, as I have many times, a story where Daredevil, who doesn’t have powers, gets the drop on Thor, who has unbelievable powers, people go “Oh, that was so cool! Daredevil was so clever!” If I have Black Panther do the same thing—“That’s impossible!” It’s like, yeah, it’s impossible with Daredevil too, man. It’s like, I write Batman all the time, in Justice League, where he’s hanging out with seven guys who, by any logic, should be able to you know, eat his lunch without even working up a sweat. And he’s constantly outmaneuvering them, and outfighting them and out-thinking them, and we think “Batman is so cool!” But when black characters do—much less, relative to where their positions are—it makes the readership uncomfortable, because they’re not used to seeing it.

26th Jun 12 • 2 notes • Reblog
America still doesn't know how to discuss race.

Last week, the Pew Research Center released a report called “The Rise of Asian Americans,” offering a portrait seemingly full of good news. Asian Americans, Pew said, are on the whole more educated, affluent and happier than other Americans. They hew more strongly to family values and an ethic of hard work. And, quietly, these 17 million Asian Americans have surpassed Hispanics as the largest and fastest-growing cohort of immigrants to the U.S.

The report made headlines everywhere: “Asians Top of the Immigration Class” was a typical, if somewhat ham-handed, one. The leading advocacy groups for Asian Americans were silent for a beat. Then they decried the report. It was “disparaging,” “shallow,” “disturbing.” It perpetuated a patronizing stereotype of Asians as dutiful nerds, a “model minority.” It overlooked the true cultural diversity of the Asian population and obscured the struggles and pain of countless Asians.

Rarely in either the Pew report or in the advocates’ response was this possibility raised: both the good and the bad could be true at the same time.

02nd Jun 12 • 0 notes • Reblog
I can’t walk away from a conversation about critical race theory.

I just stopped everything I was doing to have a long conversation with my friend explaining the difference between the dictionary and sociological definitions of racism. 

01st Jun 12 • 11,883 notes • Reblog
"I don’t like this expression ‘First World problems.’ It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are."
— Teju Cole
01st Jun 12 • 26 notes • Reblog
so we can all agree to stop saying “first world problems,” right?

barbiehighheels:

Because it’s incorrect? For many people that “first world” still doesn’t exist. This notion of “first world problems” is so bothersome because of how it’s used. When we’re going to complain about our smart phones and HBO shows, let’s stop acting like these are expectations of everyone living here. Just be honest and call them what they are

#privilege problems

There’s another aspect to the “first world problems” thing, which is that it is racist in that it dehumanizes people in the third world. You think people in the third world don’t still get upset when their cell phone battery dies, they can’t get wifi, or their tea gets cold before they drink it? They are real people, they experience this shit like we do. Acting like they don’t completely erases the complexity of their humanity and reduces them to a trope.

“I don’t like this expression ‘First World problems.’ It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.”

— Teju Cole, author of Open City