a comment on seeing yourself in the media

darkplumgirl:

Whilst still in his teens my father was sent to the UK to finish his alevels and after that go to university. At the time, during the late 50s, a turban wearing sikh boy was a rarity even in london. Utterly unsure of himself on arrival in a very very different place to Kenya the only reassurance he felt, the only thing that made him feel that everything would workout was the sight as he was driven to his lodgings of another turban wearing sikh boy walking down the street.

The only abiding memory he is left with of his arrival, the only thing that mattered in the long term was the relief and joy at seeing someone who was like him. Someone had already been on the path he was on, someone had already blazed a trail. He wasn’t entirely alone.

It is very difficult to describe to someone who isn’t an immigrant, or a decendant of immigrants, or a person of colour just how alienating life can be. We may not strive to see a face like ours whilst walking on the street but that same exictment, that same exhileration at someone like us appearing on the TV or in the cinema still exists. My siblings and i still shush everyone and point when a sikh appears on tv. Theres no rational reason for it really, we don’t feel discriminated against in our day to day lives, we aren’t persecuted by anyone.

But still. Theres one of US!. On the actual TV. Someone made it.

Our parents cling to their past by watching satellite tv channels from ‘back home’. We stare at the tv channels in the country we consider our home and point at the british programmes when someone who looks like us appears on them. Its one more step to acceptance. One further step towards belonging.

Thats why its all the more heartbreaking when we’re reduced, in the countries we consider our home, to mere backdrops. Hip ethnic enclaves where white heteronormative storylines can be played out. The problem i have with Girls is similar to the problem i (and many others) had with the movie Notting Hill. Its very location was chosen because, bluntly, its ‘real life’ ethnic mix provided an area that was/is considered fashionable and as such attaching what was a pretty straighforward lovestory to a ‘trendy location’ was commercially attractive.

[…]

- Comment from The Guardian

(via madame-scary-von-spooky-britches)

ellobofilipino:

iwriteasiwrite:


Archaeologists have unearthed remnants of what they believe is a 1,000-year-old village on a jungle-covered mountaintop in the Philippines with limestone coffins of a type never before found in this Southeast Asian nation, officials said Thursday….
The discovery of the rectangular tombs, which were carved into limestone outcrops jutting from the forest ground, is important because it is the first indication that Filipinos at that time practiced a more advanced burial ritual than previously thought and that they used metal tools to carve the coffins.
 - Philippine Tomb Discovery At 1,000-Year-Old Village Show Unexpected Advances

This is some heady archaeological stuff. I mean, just absolutely amazing. I hope this gets a lot of play in our media, this needs to be prominently touted.
Discoveries like this basically rewrite what we understand about our archipelagic history. They are important in uncovering who we are and where we came from. The fact that there were hitherto unknown techniques in use is astonishing. Looking forward to the published study of the find.
The exciting part is, there is much more to be find throughout the country. We are an archaeological treasure trove, we just need the institutional support to explore.
The sad part of the story is the mention that most of our discovered archaeological sites are being destroyed by grave robbers and looters. These sites form an integral part of our national patrimony, they belong to every Filipino and help deepen our understanding of our heritage.
And it’s just fucking cool.

Whoah! All the Philippine history learned through the years will have to be unlearned and updated. I agree, this will radically change our understanding of our past, particularly the pre-Spanish period.
This reminds me of a long discussion back then on what parts of the Philippines might have been before the Spanish expeditions came. Sadly though, I cannot seem to find those exchanges in my archives anymore.
Anyway, like what we agreed on, historical records from our neighboring countries might reinforce knowledge derived from digs like this. But, before the research comes the funding… I wonder if there are Congressmen or Senators willing to spend on Philippine history…

ellobofilipino:

iwriteasiwrite:

Archaeologists have unearthed remnants of what they believe is a 1,000-year-old village on a jungle-covered mountaintop in the Philippines with limestone coffins of a type never before found in this Southeast Asian nation, officials said Thursday….

The discovery of the rectangular tombs, which were carved into limestone outcrops jutting from the forest ground, is important because it is the first indication that Filipinos at that time practiced a more advanced burial ritual than previously thought and that they used metal tools to carve the coffins.

 - Philippine Tomb Discovery At 1,000-Year-Old Village Show Unexpected Advances

This is some heady archaeological stuff. I mean, just absolutely amazing. I hope this gets a lot of play in our media, this needs to be prominently touted.

Discoveries like this basically rewrite what we understand about our archipelagic history. They are important in uncovering who we are and where we came from. The fact that there were hitherto unknown techniques in use is astonishing. Looking forward to the published study of the find.

The exciting part is, there is much more to be find throughout the country. We are an archaeological treasure trove, we just need the institutional support to explore.

The sad part of the story is the mention that most of our discovered archaeological sites are being destroyed by grave robbers and looters. These sites form an integral part of our national patrimony, they belong to every Filipino and help deepen our understanding of our heritage.

And it’s just fucking cool.

Whoah! All the Philippine history learned through the years will have to be unlearned and updated. I agree, this will radically change our understanding of our past, particularly the pre-Spanish period.

This reminds me of a long discussion back then on what parts of the Philippines might have been before the Spanish expeditions came. Sadly though, I cannot seem to find those exchanges in my archives anymore.

Anyway, like what we agreed on, historical records from our neighboring countries might reinforce knowledge derived from digs like this. But, before the research comes the funding… I wonder if there are Congressmen or Senators willing to spend on Philippine history…

(via pinoy-culture)

"television taught me to see “white” as simply the default for “human.”"

The very white poetry of ‘Mad Men’ | Capital New York (via s-m-i)

brown.

the-peony:

my hair is brown.
my eyes are brown.
my skin is a wheatish brown.
i was born brown.
does this make my soul
    brown too?
    are the rights i have brown?
    is the voice emanating out of my 
    pink lips
    lined with brown?
i am a coloured person.
  my essence is fleeting
  i can’t be thrown into
  a shade
  i am not to be measured
  in nanometers and wavelengths

i am a woman, a sister, an aunt, someone’s lover.
  not just brown

(via kartari)

"i’m really tired of people calling identities ‘labels’ and acting like its so laborious to acknowledge marked identities. anyone who talks about the need to erase identity ‘labels’ as if that would somehow equalize everything is kidding themselves. language is constantly changing already so what’s the problem with creating new words to describe non normative identities?"

youarenotyou (via mindovermatterzine)

(via genderfuckandsecrets)

Ethnic Stereotyping in the Porn Industry:

mehreenkasana:

I was having a discussion with several people on Twitter (mostly men and a few women) on how porn is not just dedicated to sexual gratification but a lot more than that. Little do viewers realize that the porn industry is notorious for its power in reinforcing ethnic stereotypes. A specific ethnic identity is limited and chained to a set of ‘traits’ and ‘characteristics.’ Asian women are shown as weak, easily dominated while Latina women are shown in roles of ‘spicy’ women with little control over their libido. In some clips, I have also seen Latina women portrayed typically as “illegal immigrants” in jail, indulging in sex with white police officers.

For an average man, the porn industry is simply about getting off to a few minutes of romping around in bed. For him, it is never about a women’s identity or control over her sexuality. It is never about ethnic stereotypes and reinforcement of racial images. But if you look closer, you’ll find financed racism in the porn industry where identities are toyed with and abused.

I remember viewing a clip shared by a friend once on how a white producer created a plot for a porn clip in which an “Iraqi” girl (read: a Latina girl wrapped in a hijab) had to “give her body” to a “brave” American soldier. It was beyond sickening.

You should read Darrell Hamamoto’s strong take on ethnic stereotyping in the porn industry. Here are excerpts of racial identities depicted typically in porn flicks:

Latinos and Hispanics

Pornography tends to stereotype Hispanic women as feisty, “hot and spicy Latinas”, sexy Señoritas, with a high sex drive and low impulse control. Many are portrayed as maids, illegal immigrants to the United States, or unfaithful wives. Since Latinos and Hispanics can be of any race (many are white Hispanic Americans, Mestizos etc.), cultural characteristics are sometimes portrayed via iconic items like South and Central American national costumes, sombreros, maracas, or Mexican dresses.

Asian women

Are viewed as sexually willing or submissive. Asian men are hardly portrayed in pairing with white women and not as common compared to white men with asian women porn. Asian women are mainly portrayed as the: “Dragon Ladies”, as servile “Lotus Blossom Babies”, “Innocent School Girls” in private school uniforms, “China dolls”, “Geisha girls”, war brides, or prostitutes. Japanese media have also at times sensationalistically promoted the stereotype of Japanese women overseas as “yellow cabs”. 

Black performers

Large penis size in Black men is consistently emphasized in pornography, often by exclusively casting actors with larger than average penises such as Lexington Steele, Kid Bengala, Jack Napier and Mandingo. Men are often treated to stereotypes of gang affiliation, working class labor, and are overrepresented in gang rape fetish films. Also, they are represented as overly aggressive and demanding, and are performing with white women. Similarly, black women are often portrayed with large breast and buttocks, or ‘booty’. They normally play a submissive role while performing with a white male.

(x)

Homi Bhabha refers to this phenomena as racial fetishism as a fixation on other races being not different, but lesser or “mutilated” versions of the white male. Similarly, in her book “Racy Sex, Sexy Racism”, Gail Dines argues that “women of color are generally relegated to gonzo–a porn genre lacking any plot–which provides little glamour, security or status.

(via fuckyeahsouthasia)

brigidfitzgeraldreading:

A creation story of the lesbian blue star tattoo, from Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline D. Davis, Boots of leather, slippers of gold: the history of a lesbian community (New York: Psychology Press, 1993), pp. 189-190. (via)

(via newsfrompoems)

cosmicracechicano:

Commemorating the Chicano Moratorium, August 29, 1970.

Long live the Chicano liberation struggle!

Chicano Power!

(Source: chicanoaztlan, via fuckyeahmarxismleninism)

On the West's Moral Panic Over 'Multiculturalism'

downlo:

A good summary of the state of multiculturalism in western politics these days. Despite what some rightwing types would have you belief, multiculturalism is not and never has been hegemonic. It remains an unfulfilled ideal, a whipping boy, a seed of contention:

…“[O]thers” have to be distinguished in the popular mind from other “others.” So when black people attack other black people it is no longer crime but “black-on-black-crime;” if a young Muslim woman in killed over a romantic relationship it is not a murder but an “honor killing.” In a country like England that has been embroiled in virtually continuous terrorist conflict for the last forty years in Northern Ireland, the notion that there are “home-grown” Muslim bombers is supposed to represent not just a new demographic taking up armed struggle but an entirely new phenomenon. Even as the Catholic Church is embroiled in a global crisis over child sexual abuse and the Church of England is splintered in a row over gay priests, Islam and Muslims face particularly vehement demands to denounce homophobia.

The combined effect of these flawed distinctions and sweeping demonization is to unleash a series of moral panics. In 2009 in Switzerland, a national referendum banned the building of minarets in a country that has only four; in 2010, 70 per cent of voters in the state of Oklahoma support the banning of sharia law even though Muslims comprise less than 0.1 per cent of the population; in the Netherlands parliament seriously considered banning the burka–-a garment believed to be worn by fewer than fifty women in the entire country. Disproportionate in scale and distorted in nature, these actions cannot be understood as a viable response to their named targets but rather as emblems of a broader, deeper disruption in national, racial and religious identities. At a time of diminishing national sovereignty, particularly in Europe, such campaigns help the national imagination cohere around a fixed identity even as the ability of the nation-state to actually govern itself wanes. It is a curious and paradoxical fact that as national boundaries in Europe have started to fade, the electoral appeal of nationalism has increased….

But such assaults are by no means the preserve of the far right. Many who consider themselves on the left have given liberal cover to these assaults on religious and racial minorities, ostensibly acting in defense of democracy, Enlightenment values and equal rights—particularly relating to sexual orientation and gender. Their positioning rests on two major acts of sophistry. The first is an elision between Western values and liberal values that ignores the fact that liberal values are not fully entrenched in the West and that other regions of the world also have liberal traditions. Nowhere is this clearer than with gay rights, where whatever gains do exist are recent and highly contested. Thirty American states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, and only a handful of states have passed gay marriage through the popular legislative process. Not only is gay equality not a Western value, it’s not even a Californian value. The second is a desire to understand Western “values” in abstraction from Western practice. This surge in extolling Western virtues has coincided with an illegal war that has been underpinned by both authorized and unauthorized torture and a range of other atrocities and a spike in the electoral and political currency of racism and xenophobia.

Harry Potter and the Complicated Identity Politics

feminismistheshit:

J.K. Rowling subtly critiques, yet ultimately hews to, a fantasy script dependent on stereotypes culled from real-life racism.

What are the politics of Harry Potter? The rift in the magical world described over the course of J.K. Rowling’s epic pits the young wizard and his companions against the terrorizing, fascistic Lord Voldemort, who seeks to “cleanse” the wizarding community of “mudbloods,” those witches and wizards born into non-magical families. Parallels to the Holocaust and other genocides and apartheid regimes are easy to draw.

[…]

But Rowling’s ideology cannot simply be described as anti-racist, for as strongly as she condemns racially-motivated violence, Harry Potter remains a classic work of fantasy. And fantasy is a literary genre intent, above almost all else, on the reassuring order of classification and categorization, of blood lines and inheritances.

Though we’re meant to abhor Voldemort’s obsession with “pure” blood lines, father-to-son inheritances are crucial to fulfilling Harry’s destiny as savior of the magical community. The “Deathly Hallows” referred to in the title of the seventh book are three medieval magical objects made by pureblood brothers and thought to allow their owners to avoid death. Toward the end of the book, Harry learns he is the rightful heir to one of the hallows and can access the two others as well. So the boy wizard tasked with fighting the pureblood ideology is himself a descendent of one of the most prestigious families in magical history. The plot device is too conventional to be ironic, and fits squarely within the fantasy tradition of ascribing high-born histories to even the most humble heroes. Think of Aragorn in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Like Tolkien, Rowling depicts a variety of magical species in addition to human wizards. Tolkien unabashedly racialized his magical beings; Tall, pale Elves spoke a beautiful Latinate tongue; little Hobbits were simple, fun-loving, loyal folk; and dark-skinned “southern” human tribes sided in battle with orcs, savage creatures no better than animals.

Rowling’s world isn’t all that different. A magical species called Veelas are high-born, fairy-like creatures who seduce men and possess unnatural, silvery-white beauty. Over the course of the books, the young wizards do learn to respect house elves, a species in slavery to human masters. Yet even in freedom, the elves’ personalities are depicted as fundamentally servile. A rather pathetic elf named Kreacher feels his subordination so keenly that when he fails in tasks assigned to him by Harry, he beats himself to a pulp. We’re meant to feel sorry for Kreacher, but elves have no agency—they owe even their liberation movement to humans.

The position of women in the narrative fits this vision of prescribed social roles and hierarchies. Harry’s heroes—his school headmaster, godfather, and various magical sporting figures—are all men. His dead mother, the Muggle-born Lily, is portrayed as the source of love and sacrifice in his life, while his late father, James, was daring, brash, and heroic. The books do strike some blows against gender stereotypes, portraying brave female warriors, a number of uncommonly cruel and violent female characters, and, of course, Harry’s best friend Hermione, a heroine because of her ability to turn academic acumen into practical magical solutions. But on the whole, Rowling’s wizarding society conforms to boringly conventional gender roles. Dads, like the loveable Mr. Weasley (father of red-headed sidekick Ron), go off to work while steadfast moms stay home cooking, cleaning, and rearing large families. Magical education doesn’t begin until the age of 11, so witches are also tasked with full-time parenting and educational responsibilities over young children, Rowling clarified for a curious reader at her website.

The best window into how Rowling subtly critiques, yet ultimately hews to, a fantasy script dependent on stereotypes culled from real-life racism is the acrimony between humans and goblins, an important plot device in book seven. Goblins in the series are humanoid beings (they can mate with people) skilled at forging metal and protecting valuables. Harry and Ron distrust goblins, but the naïve Hermione reminds them that wizards have been cruel to goblins throughout history, provoking bad behavior from the creatures. Against his better instincts, Harry cuts a deal with the goblin Griphook: In exchange for help in obtaining a magical object deep with a protected vault, Harry will give Griphook a valuable medieval sword he has inherited. But Harry soon learns goblin ideas of ownership are different than human ideas; while people believe they own an object once they pay for it and can pass it to whomever they like, goblins believe a valuable object must be returned to its creator—often a goblin—upon its purchaser’s death. Thus, Griphook steals the sword from Harry without fully upholding his end of the bargain. The ultimate judgment is that whole categories of creatures, even those whose blood is intermingled in the human race, cannot be trusted.

Of course, one could make the argument that Rowling is “color-blind;” her minor characters sport a variety of ethnic names—Anthony Goldstein, Parvati Patil, Cho Chang. But even as Rowling attempts to neutralize race by presenting a diverse cast of young wizards, she creates a world in which some beings are born into stereotypes they cannot overcome and that render them inherently inferior. This is, unfortunately, par for the course in the fantasy genre, in which pretend humanoid species have too often been used as a cover for our reactionary assumptions about different types of real people.

The hierarchical, patriarchal undertones of the fantasy genre will likely be lost on children caught up in Harry’s quest to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort. The series is great fun, and I wouldn’t deny anyone the pleasure of reading these books. But the politics of Harry Potter, while broadly anti-authoritarian, are far more complicated at the level of individual identity, and cannot be described as progressive. Perhaps this is why science fiction is ultimately a more radical genre than fantasy. While fantasy looks backwards for its myths and mores, sci-fi looks forward. So here’s hoping the next J.K. Rowling washes her hands of Tolkien and, perhaps in her next series of books, popularizes Madeline L’Engle instead.

(Source: aliveforalittlewhile)