10 Warning Signs for People of Color in Interracial Relationships

10 Warning Signs for People of Color in Interracial Relationships

The Sexualization of Willow Smith

I love Willow Smith and also thought this was so spot-on..

The Belle Jar

We need to talk for a hot second about the sexualization of young girls.

Specifically, we need to talk about the sexualization of Willow Smith by the media.

In case you’ve somehow missed the whole hullaballoo, the picture below of thirteen year old Willow and twenty year old actor Moises Arias was recently posted on Instagram, and the internet subsequently exploded.

Willow-Smith-and-Moises-Arias-2

Everyone immediately leapt to the conclusion that the photograph was somehow sexual. Hollywood Life referred to it as “compromising.” Complex Magazine said that it was “creepy.” Folks on twitter said that it was “disgusting on so many levels,” and promised that the picture would “seriously gross you out.” Even Sesali Bowen, coming to Willow’s defence in an article on Feministing, wrote, “The photo itself is sexy. I can’t deny that.” The general consensus seemed to be that, whether you thought (or cared) that the photograph…

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White Privilege: Looks Like Princeton Needs to Strengthen Their History Curriculum

It perplexes the hell out of me that educated people have such a problem grasping the concept of privilege. I think it’s because when we think of the word “privilege,” many of us tend to think of rewards. A gold star, a sum of money, a medal. Especially money. We tend to think of ease and comfort.

And while there is certainly an element of ease involved in white privilege, what it’s really about is opportunity.

I hate to give publicity to anyone who seems like a douchebag (and this guy really, really does), but what got me thinking about this was an article I saw today. It was shared by Guerrilla Feminism on Facebook, and it concerned the writing of a Jewish Princeton student who was denouncing the idea of white privilege. After telling readers of his ancestors’ struggles (and deaths) during the Holocaust, he goes on to say this:

That’s the problem with calling someone out for the “privilege” which you assume has defined their narrative. You don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are. Assuming they’ve benefitted from “power systems” or other conspiratorial imaginary institutions denies them credit for all they’ve done, things of which you may not even conceive. You don’t know whose father died defending your freedom. You don’t know whose mother escaped oppression. You don’t know who conquered their demons, or may still conquering them now.

The truth is, though, that I have been exceptionally privileged in my life, albeit not in the way any detractors would have it.
It has been my distinct privilege that my grandparents came to America. First, that there was a place at all that would take them from the ruins of Europe. And second, that such a place was one where they could legally enter, learn the language, and acclimate to a society that ultimately allowed them to flourish.

It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.

Now, let me just take a moment to say that I don’t in any way mean to diminish someone else’s struggle. The experiences of his family in the Holocaust, the experiences of any Jewish person in America, those are experiences I’ve never had and will never know. The Holocaust was horrifying, devastating, and any person that went through that deserves respect and more.

That said…what this guy says after that isn’t quite accurate. If you read the entire article, he describes the hard work of his grandparents and father, earning money, getting into great schools, running a successful (but, he points out, not very influential) business. His place in life, he says, is owed to the hard work of those who came before him, not to the color of his skin, and as you can read in the excerpt I posted, America doesn’t care about religion or race.

Wait, what?

This is where we can see a dude who, while he is obviously well-written and well-educated concerning his personal family history, seems to have missed a great deal in terms of American history, not to mention religious studies. Which is weird, because he’s obviously familiar with Martin Luther King Jr. (“the content of your character”). So why doesn’t he care to acknowledge the Civil Rights movement?

What if your hard-working grandfather and father had come to America….and not had access to the job opportunities available only to white people? To the same lunch counters that white businessmen had access to? The same neighborhoods? The same water fountains?

Maybe their hard work would have been a little bit different, and maybe even a little more divided- between family, work, and fighting to be accepted as a full human being.

This guy seems to already know that context is extremely important- he points out that you never know another person’s struggles, another person’s background, their history, their context. And yet, he’s content to focus on one big part of history while ignoring another ENORMOUS part of it.

That’s not to undermine the accomplishments of his family, or even of the man himself. But if you’ve gotten into Princeton, you must’ve had to take some sort of social science? Some kind of history? How could you have forgotten Civil Rights (not to mention, oh I don’t know, slavery)?

Having white privilege doesn’t mean that all white people have lives that are, to quote this article, “a cake walk.” (And I wonder if Kyle Becker of Independent Journal Review even know what a cakewalk is or where it came from?) It doesn’t mean you’ve never had to work hard, that you are rich, or that your achievements are not worthwhile. What it means is that you (and those in the generations before you in America) had access to opportunities that not all people do; that you’ve never had to wonder if MAYBE you weren’t hired at a job because of the color of you skin; that you’ve generally seen people that look similar to you in most facets of popular media; and that you’ve never felt that you had to make drastic changes to your vernacular in order to be perceived as intelligent, let alone fully human.

Tal Fortgang, from whitey to whitey: I understand that you’ve worked hard, that your family has worked hard, and I’m very happy that because of that, the American Dream is coming true for you.

But let me remind you that the American Dream was originally a white dream. Allow me to assure you that if you and your family hadn’t been white? That hard work would have been doubled by displacement, by an uncertain history, by discrimination, and by segregation.

The fact that you can simply ignore the Civil Rights movement and use Martin Luther King’s words out of context in order to deny your privilege, I think, says it all.

(Oh, and America doesn’t care about race or religion? You could stand to do some reading up on your current events as well.)

 

 

Bill O’Reilly Bashes Beyoncé: Problems in the White Community

Just a few days ago, Bill O’Reilly showed several clips from Beyoncé videos and said something along the lines of, “Shame on you Beyoncé. You’re not empowering women. Look at all the teen/unplanned pregnancies in the black community!”

(Bill O’Reilly just wants to keep young black girls on the right path. Such a kind heart. <3)

“Disgraceful,” said my grandfather, who was next to me on the couch. Fox News is a favorite channel at his house.

Frowning and perplexed, I refrained from trying to question Bill O’Reilly through the TV screen. Instead, I’ll present my thoughts here.

Bill O’Reilly apparently criticized Beyoncé out of concern not only for young impressionable women, but out of concern for the black community. I’ve noticed that O’Reilly and Fox and a lot of news sources in general are quick and almost happy to point out problems they observe as belonging to “the black community.” Violence in the black community. Poverty in the black community. Abuse in the black community. Pregnancy, abortion, sex. You get the idea— you just take any problem you can think of, and you add “in the black community.”

So…where’s the concern for the issues of the white community?

I’m serious. Most of these newscasters are white, aren’t they? And just look at what’s been in the news lately:

-that Clippers guy, his rant and how he was just banned from the NBA

-that Bundy guy (really, how could anyone defend a guy named Bundy?) and his racist remarks 

this racist letter distributed in a neighborhood in Denver

-the KKK launching a neighborhood watch initiative. I sure do feel safer now!

How can you look at this and not see the ENORMOUS problem here?

Why isn’t Bill O’Reilly calling on the white community to call friends out on their racism, to discourage family members from associating with organizations like the KKK, to tell their children exactly why Cliven Bundy and Don Sterling’s remarks were so wrong? Forget the black community for minute, Fox, and take a look at all those aging white viewers you’ve got. There’s a definite problem, and instead of trying to solve it, the white community is just looking the other way, pretending these current events and remarks are all isolated incidents.

The closest any news source seems to have come to doing this is CNN, who seems to want to help the KKK change its image.  You’re right CNN— we don’t need to abolish the KKK, we just need to rebrand them and make them “new”!

As my grandfather would say, it’s a disgrace!

Fellow white people, please join me in my concern. There is a problem here, and it’s OUR racism. If we are the mainstream,  if we are the majority, shouldn’t we be striving to set a good example? We can’t continue to let these kinds of attitudes permeate and represent our community.

**And on a personal note, Bill O’Reilly— if you’re concerned about unplanned pregnancies, why aren’t you more concerned about access to contraception and less concerned about deprecating black female sexuality?

The Semiotics of Race, or: Walks on the Wild Side

The Semiotics of Race, or: Walks on the Wild Side

The ad was in a women’s magazine and if I remember correctly, was for a perfume. It featured a white woman lying in bed with a black man. The man’s shirtless back was to the viewer, making only his taut, muscular form and powerful-looking arms and shoulders visible. He was faceless, unidentified. The woman looked sultrily at us from over his mysterious form, satisfaction writ large over her features. She had partaken of whatever delights this man had to offer and was smugly, luxuriantly basking in the afterglow.

The ad copy was, “Take a walk on the wild side.”

My teacher used the ad as an example of how marketers can use certain words and images to convey large amounts of information subtly and effectively. A white woman having sex with a black man? How risqué. The implication: be a little like that woman. Spray on that perfume and feel like the kind of girl who has sex with faceless, muscular black men in ritzy hotel rooms because it’s an adventure, a thrill, a risk, something illicitly pleasurable.

These are the semiotics of race. This is why columnists will trip over themselves not to call Lupita Nyong’o or Angela Basset “beautiful”, choosing instead to use terms that call to mind a kind of savage, animalistic magnetism: fierce, striking, edgy, eye-catching. Words like “pretty” and “beautiful” and “cute” are for white women whose bodies and sexualities are not seen as wild, animal, or untamed. Black men are hulking, threatening, thuggish; white men are charming, sexy heartthrobs with hearts of gold. Brown women are exotic, with their “honey-coloured” skin and their “mystical”, “enchanting” beauty, unlike their white counterparts, who are held up as not only ideal, but knowable and safe. White people are beautiful; non-white people are dangerous.

Quick Note on Racist Body Stereotypes

So primarily thanks to tumblr (dear god I love that place), particularly this awesome blog and also this awesome blog and many others, I’ve gotten some views and some feedback on that post about, well, dicks. 

With time, more writing, more shares, etc, my hope is that eventually this blog will include more perspectives on interracial couples/racism than my own and my man’s, and I wanted to make sure I shared some of that feedback.

One of the things I saw repeatedly was that a lot of black women in particular have been asked by white dudes how they compare to black dudes. -_- So much intimidation and insecurity.

Another thing was that the discussion should be opened up to include ALL racist body stereotypes (e.g. black women all have big butts), how they’re perpetuated, and ESPECIALLY how they’re fetishized by white people.*

Last but not least, someone on tumblr remarked, “This is the type of thing that white people need to tell other white people…”

Yeah, we really do. What white people (I need to think of tags that will bring in more white people) really need to get past is that idea that racism isn’t our problem…because basically, when it comes to racism, we ARE the problem. Our obliviousness IS the problem.

So in my next post, which will hopefully come tomorrow, I’m going to try and address the feedback I got and go into a little more detail.

And thank you so, so much to those who posted the link to my blog. It is deeply appreciated (and so is your feedback, your suggestions, your criticism, etc).

*Yes, I KNOW white people aren’t the only people who fetishize other races. That doesn’t excuse the problem.