Showing posts with label Race. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Race. Show all posts

January 03, 2017

Miss Ann’s Seduction: Black Men & The Problematic White Women They Champion

Gisele Bündchen, photographed by Sølve Sundsbø
Black men…
There never seems to be a shortage of them burdening Black women with their ideas of how they think Black woman should act, feel, dress, and exist. 

And since they’ve positioned themselves as the nucleus for all things Black—Black thought, Black cool, Black activism, and Black opinions—mainstream media (read: white folks) are more inclined to listen to them. Especially when it suits the narrative and agenda of whiteness and/or white right-wing conservatism; which often loves to pathologize Blackness and Black activism.

White women…
If history, and lived experience, has taught us anything it’s that, when racist violence isn’t being committed on their behalf, white women can be just as truculent, racist, paternalistic and xenophobic as their male counterparts notwithstanding their place in the social hierarchy (as women); whether it be through their words, actions, or complicit inaction. And if, for whatever reason, it wasn’t obvious before, Donald Trump’s campaign and implausible rise from unethical real estate mogul to become the 2017 President-Elect cements how racist, violent and cunning white women can be considering 53% of them turned up to their polling stations to vote for a misogynist and racist demagogue who appealed to their prejudices.

And since most Black women aren’t malleable and don't shy away from asking the hard questions or for accountability, we’re often dismissed as loud, incorrigible, and divisive. Even when our voices are peppered with undeniable truths that are diminished, because they come from an experience and embodiment that's often erased. And so, it becomes easy to disparage our work and give undue credit to shrill, erroneous and hateful points of views; especially if the genesis of that hate is wrapped in a conventionally pretty
 (by mainstream standards), blond and young white package. 

November 02, 2016

Lifestyles of the Rich & Nignorant: Fame, Money & Cognitive Dissonance

In case you missed it, a video clip of rapper, Lil Wayne, doing a very recent Nightline interview with ABC News correspondent, Linsey Davis, has been making the rounds. The lead-in to the segment lists Wayne’s musical accomplishment as one of the most successful rappers of all time; even eclipsing Elvis Presley for more appearances on the Billboard 100 Chart. With that kind of cultural impact and platform in mind, Davis decided to pick what’s left of Lil Wayne’s brain, and ask him about social justice issues and his proximity to them. Specifically, Nightline wanted to know his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement. Furrowing his face in confusion, a seemingly disjointed Lil Wayne asked “What is it? What—what do you mean?” 

When Linsey Davis (bless her heart) attempted to explain the movement and its reason for existing— (Oh, hi white supremacy, state violence, and systemic racism), Lil Wayne said he found the mere concept of Black lives mattering “weird.”
“It’s not a name or it’s not whatever, whatever. It’s somebody got shot by a policeman for a f*cked up reason.”
That statement isn’t even the most misguided part of Lil Wayne’s statement and seeming state of confusion. He further mumbled, 
“I am a young, Black rich motherf*cker. If that don’t let you know that America understand Black mother f*ckers matter these days, I don’t know what it is,” He said, throwing up his hands. 
“That [cameraman] white; he filmin’ me. I’m a nigga. I don’t know what you mean, man. Don’t come at me with that dumb [indecipherable bleeped expletive], ma’am,” continued; highly agitated.
“My life matter. Especially to my bitches.”

June 16, 2015

Notes on a Scandal: Rachel Dolezal and the ‘Trans-Black’ Con

By now, you’ve probably heard the sordid and bewildering story of world class Decepticon, Rachel Dolezal, explode across your social media timelines. Each day since her cover was blown Rachel's alternate reality shatters in a million little pieces, as more information is revealed about her real identity. In the event you’ve been luxuriating on a remote island, off the coast of I’ve Got Fancier Shit to Worry About, here’s the gist of the situation: Rachel Dolezal—a White woman, and (now former) president of Spokane Washington’s NAACP chapter—has been living a good chunk of her adult life masquerading (with the help of slightly darker makeup, box braid extensions and Afro-textured wigs) as a biracial woman with a Black father, and reaping the benefits of colorism’s complexion hierarchy.

In an elaborate 21st century minstrel tale that probably makes Vijay Chokalingam envious, Rachel was able to craft a highly derivative life, as if she’d taken her cues from the scripted pages of a psychological thriller.

April 06, 2015

Black Like Me: How Mindy Kaling's Brother Claims He Duped Academia by Posing As a Black Man

Unpopular opinion: there are segments of non-Black people of color who map out their ‘American Dream’ through the lens of White Supremacy, cultivate their characters and make names for themselves by co-opting (or exploiting) the voices and experiences of Black-Americans, and who try to peddle some agenda by throwing Black people under the bus. And it’s something that has always stuck in my craw, because whatever the motive, ‘Blackness’ (whether it be through cultural appropriation or the perpetuation of anti-Blackness) seems to serve as the impetus for how some non-Black PoC attain upward mobility and notoriety.

Needless to say, Vijay Chokal-Ingam, the older brother of South Asian-American comedic actress and showrunner Mindy Kaling, is no exception. Vijay is kicking up some dust on social media by claiming to have once concocted a ploy—turned nefarious social experiment—as an undergrad, in which he pretended to be a Black man to garner acceptance into a medical school, and continued on with his alleged charade for 2 years, during his stint. 

March 17, 2015

Dark Roast, Flat White … Race 101? Why Starbucks’ #RaceTogether Campaign Lacks Steam

If there’s anything I love swilling more than red wine and vodka, it’s coffee. A delicious, highly-caffeinated, bold, dark, unflavored and unsweetened with just a splash of creamer cup of coffee. Frequently, I’ll amble into the nearest Starbucks… a place I have an ‘it’s aight, I guess’/ hate relationship with, to get my fix.

But now that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has rolled out a new campaign called #RaceTogether—an initiative that’s meant to encourage dialogue about race between baristas and customers—I can now tack on ‘thoroughly amused yet perplexed’ to my feelings about the coffee chain.

While I recognize that Shultz shamelessly and openly expresses progressive ideas about equality, appreciate his willingness to 'go there' with shareholders and consideration for employees, understand the sentiment behind ‘Race Together,’ and get that employees’ personal stories, anti-racism and anti-police violence protests are what prompted this effort, Starbucks would be doing the national discourse on race and inequality an even bigger solid if they examined whether they, themselves, pass muster when it comes to diversity and race among their corporate staff, as opposed to launching a public, jingle-filled campaign their busy baristas are expected to broach in-between making frappuccinos and soy lattes. Particularly since Starbucks serves as something of an emblem for gentrification and high real estate prices.  

February 24, 2015

Eau de Patchouli & Weed: Giuliana Rancic's Media Blunder & No Love for Black Girl Realness

I
Zendaya Coleman at the 2015 Oscars
n 2013, Black women across the social media-sphere galvanized in support of 7-year-old Tiana Parker when administrators at the Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma chastised, then sent her home for wearing her natural hair in dreadlocks, because they believed her hairstyle 
wasn't “presentable.”

That same year, 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke was threatened with expulsion when Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, FL told her to cut her Afro (a natural hairstyle she’d worn her entire life), after her mother complained to school officials that her daughter was being bullied and mocked about her hair.

Additionally, last year the U.S. military faced criticism after rolling out hairstyle restrictions that seemed to target Black women, before deciding to allow natural hairstyles like two-strand twists and removing words like “matted” and “unkempt” from their style and grooming guidelines.

Needless to say, I can probably outline an entire list of incidents that illustrate the politicization of natural hair as worn by Black women and girls and the myriad ways we are disparaged for styles and attributes most commonly ascribed to us, while white women and young girls are lauded as trendsetters for appropriating those very same styles. But, alas, perhaps rapper Nicki Minaj was onto something when, during a 2013 appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show, she said, 
“…It’s the ‘white girl’ thing. …If a white girl does something that seems to be, like, Black, then Black people think, ‘Oh, she’s embracing our culture,’ so they kind of ride with it; then white people think, ‘oh, she must be cool because she’s doing something Black.’ …It’s weird. But if a Black person do a Black thing, it ain’t that poppin,” when asked about Miley Cyrus being credited for Twerking.
And that seems to be the general sentiment of most mainstream media personalities and journalists who cover pop-culture, style and entertainment.

January 23, 2015

'Light Girls' - The Good, The Bad, & The Cringeworthy

Curious, but skeptical, I decided to turn to the OWN network on Monday night and watch the premiere of Bill Duke’s second documentary on colorism Light Girls, a follow up to Dark Girls—which explored the marginalization and ridicule darker complexioned Black women face. 
Light Girls continued the ongoing discussion about intraracial discrimination and presented personal anecdotes from more than 200 people on the opposite (most preferred) end of the complexion panorama; interviews with lighter- skinned Black and biracial (half-Black) women, including TV journalist Soledad O’Brien, actress Raven-Symoné, glamour model Amber Rose, and “image activist” Michaela Angela Davis, among others.

October 08, 2014

Colorless is the New Black: Does Wealth Misinform Black Celebs' Views on Race?


Recently actress Raven-Symoné caught up with Oprah during a segment of Where Are They Now? Where she talked about how she’s been spending the bulk of her time from under the scrutiny of pop-culture’s critical eye. 
Raven discussed the ways she’s been able to side-step the pitfalls of fame many other child stars succumb to, how excited she is to be enrolled in college, and reflected on the things that make her So Raven. But it was when the star started rambling about eschewing labels while addressing questions about her sexuality (and then, her racial identity), that the masses heard the sound of a record screeching to a halt. 

September 14, 2014

TV Diversity Report: Networks Decide to Embrace Color This Fall

For years  networks and TV writers have made half-hearted attempts (if any) to diversify casts of popular cable and network shows or to create ethnic characters that deviate from tired racial TV tropes; and when prompted to do so they relent, practically kicking and screaming the entire way, or have fallen flat … leaning heavily on stereotypes or sloppily developed rhetorical devices to prop up popular white cast members or to merely silence TV viewers looking for stories that aren't white-washed.  

Save for well-scripted shows of yore –Living SingleGirlfriends, A Different World and, of course, The Cosby Show and today's steady diet of contrived shenanigans cranked out by the ‘Reality’ TV machine, and until very recently, prime-time network TV’s diversity landscape had been bleak, notwithstanding that Black people surpass the general public in TV consumption, social media and buying power. 

January 22, 2014

Lions, and Tigers, and Racist Chairs? Oh My!

Crossposted at Intersection of Madness & Reality.


I made a deal with myself, that I’d vet my battles a bit more thoroughly and not get worked up about the continued racial micro-aggressions and misogynoir©Moya Bailey that seems to grace my social media timelines at every turn, as of late, for my own peace of mind. Trying to bob and weave around the proverbial blows of isms, becomes exasperating; so I offer my thoughts as often or as little as I feel like it, or not at all... at least not publicly... or will reserve them for personal conversations among the safety of friends, supporters, and family.


A new year is upon us, but the upward ratchet of anti-black foolery and sexism and the anonymity the internet provides for many, continues to thrive. To be clear, social media isn't to blame for racism or for ‘making people racist’; technology has merely made it easier to illuminate and expedite the dark side of people’s thoughts.  The curtain has been yanked open, exposing regular folks, celebrities, leaders, and media entities that should know better but who choose not to do better; which is why I no longer assign ‘ignorance’ as an excuse to absolve anti-blackness and racially charged sexism, because I believe that kind of sociopathy to be deliberate and intentional; for instance …

September 22, 2013

Nature's Classroom: Reenacting Slavery as a Learning Tool?

Exploring How One Massachusetts Program Misses the Mark


Picture being a parent, signing off on a permission slip enabling your child access to what you think will be an once-in-a-lifetime educational experience that’ll enhance what they're already learning at school. Now imagine, later, discovering that the ‘experience’ you permitted your son or daughter to participate in included them being chased at night, through the woods, while being assailed with racial epithets and insults during a slavery reenactment. Definitely not the type of educational team building any parent would knowingly sign off on without some trepidation, I'm sure.

Apparently, one Hartford school decided to treat its middle-school students to a history lesson many of them wouldn't forget. Last fall seventh graders from the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy attended a 4-day outing at an environmental education facility called Nature’s Classroom; which boasts thirteen sites in New York and New England and promises that students will come away from their experience having developed a “sense of community, confidence in themselves, and an appreciation for others that will carry over to the school community.” However, that’s not the warm feeling some left the program with after participating in an Underground Railroad slavery vignette which allegedly included: pretending to be up for sale at a slave auction, pretending to be on a slave ship, cotton picking, and the like.  

And since James and Sandra Baker (of Farmington, CT) seem like the type of parents who would never knowingly agree to have their child subjected to that kind of mental mind fuck exercise, they removed her from the school and filed a human rights complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and with the Department of Education (on behalf of their daughter) against the Hartford school system, after learning the details of the trip. 

May 22, 2013

Ghetto Express: America's Poverty Tours

How 'Real Bronx Tours' Exploited a NYC Borough for Amusement


If you’re a curious suburbanite or someone who lives a sequestered life of comfort and privilege, every now and again after turning off the evening news and deep-sighing into your tumbler of single malt scotch, you may wonder how ‘the lessers’ manage to function in the ‘hood'. 

Or maybe you read Robert Huber's inflammatory piece in Philadelphia Magazine about what it’s like ‘Being White in Philly’ and want the opportunity to go ‘sploring around some urban neighborhood, so you can see what makes the ‘hoodrats’ tick. 
Well, the opportunity to put on your best safari ensemble from TravelSmith and get knee-deep in a hardcore hood expedition has come and gone; because until very recently, a company called Real Bronx Tours was offering curious (mostly European) spectators tours “through a real New York City GHETTO” as promised via its, now defunct, website.  A 2012 archived blurb from RBT reads …
"When we think about the Bronx we see images of the 70s and 80s when this borough was notorious for drugs, gangs, crime and murders. Over thirty years later quite a bit has changed including the birth of the hip-hop movement, a new [y]ankee stadium, renovation of the Mott Haven historic district and the re-creation of the infamous South Bronx. Real Bronx Tours will take you on a three hour journey into this diverse and mysterious borough called the Bronx. Sites on this tour will include: Yankee Stadium, Mott Haven Historic District, Bronx Zoo, Bronx Museum, South Bronx, Arthur Avenue (Little Italy), Grand Concourse and a ride through a real New York City "GHETTO."

August 17, 2012

(Mis)Casting Call: The Erasure of Nina Simone's Image

Nina Simone: pioneer, influential, volatile, classical music genius, revolutionary, regal and every bit the High Priestess of Soul.

If anybody is worthy of having her story brought to the big screen for posterity, it would, and should, most assuredly be Nina. Despite having to overcome racism and colorism, Nina left a legacy of music and activism that continues to resonate with her fans, lifelong and new.  

When it was announced in 2010 that a Nina Simone biopic—based on a script by TV writer, Cynthia Mort—was in development and that singer, Mary J. Blige was slated to play her, the public's interest was piqued, though some (including myself) were a bit skeptical about whether Mary had the range and right look to portray such a dynamic and complex figure.  And while Mary J. Blige emotes a similar feeling of consciousness about love and heartbreak in her own music, she doesn't necessarily harness the same sense of social awareness Nina did.  Nonetheless, some of us stayed abreast of the project, which was slated to start filming last year. Alas, it was stalled by a series of setbacks that delayed production and Mary J. Blige dropped out of the film, reportedly, due to funding. 

Folks were left to ponder who would play Nina, and bloggers and fans campaigned for the Black actresses they thought were better suited for the role – including Viola Davis, Lauryn Hill, India Arie and Adepero Oduye, who starred in the Dee Rees film, Pariah – so many were left with feelings of confusion and dismay when Afro-Latina actress Zoe Saldana was announced as Mary J. Blige’s replacement. With Saldana on-board to play Nina, suddenly the film’s financial setbacks were resolved and filming picked up momentum. 


August 01, 2012

Victoria Foyt’s ‘Save the Pearls’, A World Bereft of White Privilege and Beauty Standards

While browsing the internet for current events, I happened upon some buzz of the “WTF?” variety regarding an independently published YA novel written by Victoria Foyt called, “Save the Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden.” A quick Google search led me to an interesting list of results; which included dismay from bloggers, Amazon stats [the book was rated poorly], and its official site. The cover art for the book features a young woman whose skin and hair color are split bilaterally, down the middle [black skin, raven colored hair on one side, flaxen haired and pale skin on the other]. An official synopsis [from the Save the Pearls site] reads…
In a post-apocalyptic world where resistance to an overheated environment defines class and beauty, Eden Newman’s white skin brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. The clock is ticking: if Eden doesn’t mate before her eighteenth birthday, she’ll be left outside to die.

If only a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class would pick up her mate option, she’d be safe. But no matter how much Eden darkens her skin and hair, she’s still a Pearl, still ugly-cursed with a tragically low mate-rate of 15%.

Just maybe one Coal sees the real Eden and will save her-she has begun secretly dating her handsome co-worker Jamal. 
I haven’t read the entire book, but based on the generous excerpts I’ve been able to without having to pay and Foyt’sown misguided views on what constitutes anti-racism and racism, I’ve gleaned all that I need and then some, so more than enough to offer a critique on Foyt’s work.

May 31, 2012

Writer Nalo Hopkinson on Discussing Race

Caribbean-Canadian writer and novelist, Nalo Hopkinson discusses the mechanics and importance of having an honest and open discourse about race, with people who've decided that doing so is somehow racist.

In this clip, Hopkinson speaks on how ineffective silence is when trying to address race, and recalls a discussion between another Black writer and a woman who insisted that she "didn't see race" or make it a problem in her life; to which the other writer replied, "If you can't see something that threatens my life daily, you can't be my ally." 

Hopkinson also stresses the importance of learning to address matters of race, while still acknowledging that none of us are a monolith and won't respond the same when interacting in similar scenarios; in other words, we need to learn how to acknowledge that people are different, and learn to respect those differences without resorting to oppressive silencing. We need to learn how to discuss race, deal with the myriad of emotions those discussions will provoke, and learn how listen when someone’s sharing their lived experience, without growing defensive. 



March 25, 2012

Toni Morrison Talks Race

May, 1993 interview featuring Charlie Rose interviewing literary giant, Toni Morrison. In this short clip, Charlie Rose asks Morrison about her experiences encountering racism. Toni rejects responsibility of having to shoulder the burden of explaining racism and how it functions, by redirecting the question back to Charlie Rose and white people to explain.

March 23, 2012

I Know Trayvon Martin


I know Trayvon Martin…

I came-of-age watching him sit on the stoop of some tenement; baggy jeans, clean sneakers and hooded sweatshirt, shooting the shit with his friends and arguing over NBA front-runners and the best teams. When I attended Weaver High School, I watched him sit in the back of the class, swathed in the same urban uniform, tapping beats on a desk… aloof and disinterested. Sometimes, the teacher would say something that piqued his interest and he’d interject before going back to nodding his head to whatever freestyle beat he was composing on his desk.
During algebra class he’d shuffle up to the front of the room, calmly push the hood of his sweatshirt back, pick up a piece of chalk, and effortlessly solve a complex math equation, much to the teacher’s delight and mild surprise. 

I’d see him congregated in the cafeteria with a group of his friends pointing and laughing raucously as they played the dozens, roasting one another amid an eager group of like-minded spectators.  
I got to know him a bit beyond his casual, be-hooded demeanor while bouncing yearbook, prom, and fundraising ideas off each another during weekly Class of 1996 meetings. He made an exception the night of prom and opted for a black tuxedo instead… leaving his hooded sweatshirt at home for the evening. 

As an adult I listened to a hooded young teenager just like Trayvon, exchanging loud and crude stories about high school dating prospects with his friends as they sat in the back of an empty-- (save me and them) complimentary downtown shuttle bus. I sat towards the front, rolled my eyes with a smirk and shook my head as he boastfully showed off to his friends. “Be careful” the driver… a White male… warned me, as he side-eyed and nodded in the direction of the young boys. “Oh, they’re fine. They’re just being silly.” I said, annoyed by his warning. Trayvon’s hooded contemporary took a break from fronting for his friends, shuffled to the front and sheepishly asked me, “Miss, um, you wouldn’t happen to have 75 cents uhh… would you? I’m short for the bus ride home.” I shook my head, recalling how only minutes prior he’d been putting on a show for his buddies, and handed him 3 quarters… which I happened to have in my pants pocket from an earlier transaction. “Thanks Miss! I appreciate it.” He said. 

While walking to Carlos Supermarket in the Asylum Hill-Farmington Avenue section of Hartford, I watched a young, Black teenager in a hooded sweatshirt size up an older woman struggling to pull her shopping buggy along the sidewalk. He removed his earphones long enough to ask her if she needed help before realizing that he knew her as an acquaintance of his mother’s. She seemed pleased as one of those “your mother should be proud” smiles passed across her face.
See, I know Trayvon. While he isn’t a choir boy or above reproach, I grew up with the likes of him and know he is more than a “suspicious looking” perpetrator in a hooded sweatshirt who "always gets away",  skulking down a dark, rainy street. I know that sometimes he’s walking with a purpose and that purpose isn’t always to cause harm or to rob someone. 

My nephews are Trayvon Martin. They love candy and juice boxes, and will be teenagers in about 10 and 13 years respectively. According to the social construct of White supremacy and privilege, whose opinions about young Black and Latino boys (and young girls) are predicated on gross racial stereotypes and according to Geraldo Rivera, my nephews should be subject to scrutiny and possibly marked for death by trigger-happy vigilante bigots like George Zimmerman, because they have the nerve to expect their humanity to be taken into account, if they dare walk down the street while Black and dressed in a hooded sweatshirt. They deserve to be racially profiled, even amidst all the Post-Racial America propaganda... and somehow being Black is the scarlet letter they'll have to suffer for. 

March 14, 2012

Realty TV, Race & Culture: Shahs of Sunset


I've never hidden my affinity for pop-culture- which is saturated with 'Reality' TV these days- and my enjoyment for offering snarky commentary about the insta-fame that creates the celeb-reality machine. Lately, however, my brain began to short-circuit from the overwhelming number of Reality TV shows that have seemingly replaced legitimate television programming. The all-or-nothing behavior that guarantees more camera time, a bigger paycheck, and an inevitable spin-off show, 40-year-old women with college age daughters channeling Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and jumping off of conference room tables… it’s all too much, even by trash TV standards.

That some Black women are willing participants of the combative behavior that’s encouraged by producers, prompting folks to lambaste and hold all of us accountable, isn't lost on me. I wrote about my unwillingness to shoulder the heat (particularly since I’m not, personally, cashing any reality TV checks) for how a certain segment of Black women choose to act in front of a national TV viewing audience, and especially since white women don’t feel any sense obligation to shoulder the burden for how their sistren act on these shows. 
That aside, another group of brown people are being taken to task for daring to deviate from the social mores and norms expected of their community and its image... 

Shahs of Sunset, a new reality show (courtesy of Ryan Seacrest) featuring a group of well-heeled, Los Angeles-based Persian-Americans (whose families settled in America to escape the 1979 Iranian Revolution), has caused some folks to sound off following its debut; which I decided to watch this past Sunday. The Persian community have deemed the show racist and embarrassing and have started a series of online petitions in hopes of getting the it yanked off the air. One of the surefire breakout cast members of the show, Reza Farahan, is openly gay and has been making the media rounds since Shahs... aired. Farahan's sexual orientation is not widely accepted in the Iranian/Middle Eastern community, but he makes no apologies for who he is. 

I must admit, during a segment of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, I did find Reza’s candor and unwillingness to shoulder or placate the demands of his community, refreshing. When asked if he was worried that his lifestyle and appearance on the show would potentially depict Iranian-Americans in a negative light, Farahan said he didn't care what the Iranian community at large thought, as he only sought to represent himself... 
“I have an important message, all the bling and Mercedes aside: I’m an openly gay Persian man. According to the country I was born in, I don’t even exist.” He said during a recent interview... his comments, perhaps, a pointed dig at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim, "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country," during a 2007 Columbia University appearance.
Farahan also said... "I don't mind being stereotyped as materialistic. Middle Easterners have many stereotypes, and materialism is one of the better ones. We're usually viewed as evil terrorists, so if you're going to stereotype me I'd prefer it be because we love gold and Mercedes instead of Uzis."
30 year old unemployed, easily rankled and spoiled "Persian princess" Golnesa "GG" Gharachedaghi, another seemingly volatile and catty standout on the show, made it known in an upcoming episode promo that she “hates ants and ugly people”, and was incited to wrath after being accused by another cast member of wearing an ensemble purchased from H&M. Golnesa was also unapologetic about bragging that her father paid the bulk of her living expenses and funded her lavish social life. 

One other interesting element is that the group of socialites consist of Jewish and Muslim Iranian-Americans. In the premiere episode, they engaged in a spirited discussion during a gathering about religion, marriage, and cultural expectations...
“I can’t believe we’re having this stupid conversation, in this day and age, about religion. There’s Persian Muslims, Persian Jews, Persian Christians, there’s Bahais… How much more of this bullshit do we have to talk about?” a cast member complained.  
While I understand the frustration of the Iranian-American community, at yet another show that's poised for popularity due to its over-the-top perpetuation of racial tropes for ratings, would it be fair to posit that the decadent and capitalist behavior being showcased on Shahs of Sunset is seemingly more American than it is Iranian? Is it also a stretch to believe that Reza's appearance and experiences as an openly gay Middle Eastern-American man, may be the one grain of good that can come out of this reality TV show?

The notion that most or all Black women engage in combative behavior and act gregariously in upscale social hubs and are prone to tantrums a la Nene Leakes from Real Housewives of Atlanta, is absurd (contrary to what Brian White, VH1, or any other critic may think). In much the same way I believe Black women shouldn't be saddled with the weight of the Sapphire stereotype that's been heaped on us, Iranian-Americans have every right to dismantle the racist stereotypes ascribed to them; but they shouldn't take what they see on Shahs of Sunset as a personal affront. Mainstream society's narrow views on marginalized groups in this country is their issue to work through and correct, not ours. I'm personally sick of being expected to teach the ignorant and to explain away how Black women are portrayed on reality TV to people who should know better than to think that black and brown folks function as monolithic communities. 

Is petitioning for a superficial TV show to be taken off the air and accepting responsibility for how a specific segment of Iranian-Americans act really effective? Honestly, I'm not sure. Reality TV programming isn't meant to create teachable moments or be political, as much as it is meant to entertain and create ratings. None of this is meant to dissuade the Iranian-American community from holding Ryan Seacrest or VH1 accountable for these depictions, as much as it is me opining that those petitioning against the show shouldn't accept responsibility for how this particular group of Iranian-Americans choose to act on TV. As Farahan suggested, they represent themselves. 




February 26, 2012

Coffee Rhetoric Redux-- If You're Black, Get Back!



In the wake of the latest foolery courtesy of a St. Louis-based promotional company, involving an ill-conceived marketing idea, themed: "Battle of the Complexions" pitting dark, brown, and lighter complected Black women against one another, I'm re-posting an essay I did in August, 2011 about Shadeism or what's also known as Colorism; which is still very much an issue in the Black-- (and other minority)-- communities, despite denials to the contrary. 
In perhaps, an equally as foolish attempt at insulting the collective public's intelligence, the promotional company responsible for the event released a convoluted apology (below), chalking up the idea as a tribute to Black History Month... 
MACK TV WOULD LIKE TO CLEAR UP THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF OUR CONCEPT FOR THIS PARTY...ITS NOT TO DEGRADE WOMEN OR DIVIDE SKIN COLORS. ITS SIMPLY TO SEE WHICH COMPLEXION OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN RACE REPRESENTS THE MOST (lightskinned, caramel-brown, or darkskinned) AS A WHOLE , MALE & FEMALE! I CAN SEE THE MISUNDERSTANDING WITH OUR PROMO.....WE COULD HAVE USED A BETTER CHOICE OF WORDS....WE DID NOT MEAN TO OFFEND THE OFFENDED
ITS BLACK HISTORY MONTH , SO WE MADE A PARTY THEME DEDICATED TO OUR AFRICAN AMERICAN CROWD. THE YOUNGER GENERATION IS LOVING THIS PARTY BECAUSE HERE'S THE FIRST TIME EVER YOU CAN COME OUT & BE PROUD THAT YOU ARE BLACK!! REGARDLESS OF YOUR SKIN TONE SORRY FOR THE CONFUSION & MISLEADING INFO.
ITS BLACK HISTORY MONTH , SO LETS BE PROUD OF THE SKIN WE'RE IN!! REPRESENT YOUR COMPLEXION! ...



If You're Black, Get Back!  
Originally posted August 8th, 2011

No rap lyric has incited Black women to chorus the way the beginning of Lil Wayne’s verse in Every Girl in the World, in which he expresses his desire for “a long-haired, thick Redbone, who opens up her legs to filet mignon” has.

Hair and skin-color continue to haunt my sistren. Deeply rooted issues of Colorism are extensively blogged and written about by mostly Black female bloggers and writers, who take rappers to task for preferring racially ambiguous looking, seemingly non-Black women to frolic with on and off the sets of their videos.
Recently controversial novelist, Kola Boof sounded off at Wale via Twitter, in a long, sometimes expletive-filled tirade about his video Pretty Girls not featuring enough Black women… that eventually culminated in a feud of sorts. Kola berated Wale (whose parents are Nigerian)- accusing him of prompting young Black women in Nigeria to want to bleach their skin in order to compete: “Wale is doing more than just dig light women. He [sic] selling AFRICAN CHILDREN on skin bleaching … making them feel BLACK is ugly…”

Additionally, Actor/Singer Tyrese also felt the backlash of frustrated darker-skinned women, confused as to why his video was seemingly devoid of obviously Black women. “So I’m getting tweets … why aren’t any “Black Women” in your video.  I had a 2 days audition.[Sic]  I welcomed ALL women and went with the BEST.” he tweeted exasperatedly.

When framed within the context of entertainers and their sex lives, Colorism is undeniable. I acknowledge that it thrives within this realm and influences the aesthetic of many Black men, however, I’m a bit flummoxed as to why Black women continue to look to entertainers and athletes to validate their worth and personal brand of beauty. I understand wanting to see more honest and diverse examples of Black beauty in music videos; But when do we stop holding rappers responsible for how we essentially should view ourselves? When do we stop allowing Lil Wayne’s preference for a “long-haired, thick Redbone” to bother us and realize that when Black men (many of whom are also darker-complexioned) punctuate their preferences with disdain for dark women, it’s their deep-seated issues… and has nothing to do with us? When some Black men reach the pinnacle of financial success, they get to dictate who keeps their mattress warm and comfy… and for some, darker skin just doesn’t suffice.  As frustrating as their self-loathing is, that’s just the way it is. Quite frankly, when I look in the mirror, I’m not wondering whether heavily tattooed rappers with platinum dental work and several children by several different women, think I’m too dark to be considered attractive. Black men who look down on women for having darker complexions… have soul searching to do. Black women who agonize over and doubt themselves on account of a troubled individual’s superficiality… have soul searching to do.

This is definitely not an attempt to trivialize the impact of Colorism… My hope is that Black women with darker complexions move away from seeking acceptance in empty, cold places and hold themselves in high regard, despite the odds stacked against them.
Prolific film director Bill Duke eloquently explores the issue in this 9-minute trailer for his documentary,  
Dark Girls





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