Thursday, November 15, 2007

Facebook Users Want Answers about Racist Game

Below is the link to the Ethnic Newswatch article this blog is about.

In this article entitled, Facebook Users Want Answers about Racist Game, students who are part of the Facebook network came across a site that takes a stereotype to the next level by making a game of it. The group was called “How many Indians on the Bridge?” and the basic idea of the game was for people to count the number of Indians or “Aboriginal people walking across the Trans Canada Highway Bridge, also called the Duncan Bridge, as one drives across it.” People score points based on the number of people they count. A person is worth one point but people are able to get bonus points if they count drunken people, pregnant women, and mothers with children. People who are against the group stated that “they take a racial stereotypes of Natives and just think that all Natives are dirty and homeless and poor and drunks, and all reserves are gross, grungy and dirty. The people who were against this group “created an anti-game group called Quit it with Duncan Bridge.” The people within this group made many complaints to the Facebook Administration about the How Many Indians on the Bridge group but it took several weeks before the administrator of the anti group received a response. Within the response a customer service representative stated that the group was no longer up and not appearing on their sites so they believe that either “the creators or a Facebook administrator… removed the content.” After a year of this hate group being in existence it was now finally shut down.

I chose this article because Facebook is a very popular networking site which many people use. Facebook is a site created so people could be able to network and keep in touch with old friends as well as just a site where people could enjoy themselves. But this is not entirely possible if people are being offended by the content of some people’s fun and games. This article reminded me of discussions that took place in class regarding Johnson’s article entitled, Privilege, Oppression and Difference where he talks about privilege and how “the real illusion connected to difference is the popular assumption that people are naturally afraid of what they don’t know or understand.” (13) In other words, based off of stereotypes people think they know about a race but it is their fear of really not knowing that stops them from finding out the truth. It almost made me think about Johnson’s article called, Getting Off the Hook: Denial and Resistance, when he states “dominant groups practice this kind of denial, it rarely seems to occur to them that they’re in a poor position to know what they’re talking.” (109) In other words, people who are more privilege than others, white people in a better choice of words, deny they are doing anything wrong because to them it seems as though they know what they are talking about and it is the people of the accused or talked about race that is confused. I will end by saying this; people need to think about how they would feel if they were put into a situation like the one they put another through. “Do on to others as you want done on to you” is what my mother always says.

I found this article to be interesting because I am a member of the Facebook site and I never knew of a group like this which existed. It is very shocking to me that someone in this day and age would have the nerve to put up a site which puts another race down so they can have some kind of personal enjoyment. I do believe that Facebook should limit certain things or at least monitor the groups to make sure that it doesn’t offend anyone else’s nationality or ethnicity.

Mind of Mencia on Asians and America

Like Dave Chappelle, Carlos Mencia has a show which is similar to a one-man comedy show. But I believe this clip is from one of his live performances at a location I do not know. But is this portion of the skit, Mencia talks about how intelligent Asians are. He begins the skit with stating how easy it is to get a degree on-line because you can cheat your whole way through since there is no one there to watch you. Says when it comes time to take a test all you have to do is call up one of your Asian friends to come over. Mencia says Asians love to take tests and they are some of the smartest people in this country. He says that even though people complain about the school system being bad; it isn’t the problem because it is in that same school system that Asians kick our butts in. He says the problem is parents because when American children got to school for the first day we tell them to have fun and do their best. Yet, when Asian children go to school for the first day their parents tell them this is the most important day of their lives and if they get one “B” on their report card they [the parents] are going to kill them [the children]. He goes on to refer to Asian’s driving experience on the roads here in the United States and how he doesn’t understand how they can be so smart but become so entirely stupid once they get behind the wheel of a car. He also makes reference to how good of a work ethic Asians have. Mencia then ends this segment of the skit by explaining how America is a big game of tag. He says that somebody, referring to races, is always it; someone is always at the bottom being screwed over by everybody on the top. The days before the September 11th attacks African Americans, Latinos and Chicanos were at the bottom but since then Arabs and those of Islamic decent are at the bottom.

I chose this skit because it is not that often that a skit about stereotypes is done on Asians and I wanted to bring this across especially after having read both Frank Wu and Takaki and watched A Challenge to Democracy in and for class. It brought to light a very important fact that I never paid much attention to before. That fact is that in America someone is always tagged and they are being screw over by everybody on the top. Before World War II with the Japanese and the invasion of Mexican territories, black people were at the bottom or “it” during the times of slavery. After that it was the Mexicans turn of being “it” when they had to fight for the land and rights as mentioned in Takaki chapter 7. They were picked on by big bullies, America, because they eventually became “Foreigners in Their Native Lands” as mentioned in the title. In lands that once belong to them they no longer had any rights because “political restrictions lessened the ability of Mexicans not only to claim their rights as citizens, but also to protect their rights as landowners.” (179) After the Mexicans were the Asian’s turn to be “it.” It was after the attack on Pear Harbor by the Japanese that caused the United States to feel the need to evacuate the Asian of all descents to a camp according to A Challenge to Democracy only because to reduce a military hazard. In the video, the narrator makes reference that these individuals are not prisoners but they are enclosed in an area surrounded by wire fences and guarded by military police. The people have to work hard to feed themselves and the other families of their ethnicity. These people had to change their current occupations in order to work. Takaki chapter 10, like Mencia mentioned in his skit, states that Asians were smart individuals and went to school obtained their degrees but preferred to become teachers even though their degrees were in other areas. Also, Takaki mentions that Asians especially the Japanese are hard working people and were more willing to work when the had their families with them instead of being across seas. See, here in America, we can not just live life without someone being “tagged it.” Because whatever group of people is currently “it” stays that way until the people on top decide to pick on someone else or in other words become “it.”

I found this skit to be very entertaining and informative. Although I think stereotypes are wrong I still find them amusing. Also, I believe minorities should be the only race able to make fun of the stereotypes places upon us. I know that sounds like one-sided but if you really think about it, we all know what we had to experience to obtain the freedom we have today. We all had to fight and struggle for this freedom and to be claimed as American citizens. Only we can laugh out our own pain to help us make it through the next day. If the “majority” or rather white people, to be blunt, were to joke about the stereotypes they placed on us would belike them classifying us all over again.

KFC Commercial Dinner at the Table

In this commercial, Kentucky Fried Chicken or as it is better known, KFC, shows a middle-class African American family. The mother is sitting at the table with her two sons and her daughter. They go around the table saying what the best part of their day was. The mother is seen as passing the bucket of children around to the children so they all pick a piece out. The family looks to be very happy, have a clean looking appearance, and looks natural as to not wearing makeup. After the daughter and youngest son say what made their day so great the daughter asks her mother what was her best part of the day. The mother responded by saying, “Right now.” The oldest son asks her has she ever thought about finding some hobbies in a joking manner and everyone laughs. Right after this, KFC begins its advertisement of his chicken sale it was having during the time of this airing of the commercial. The commercial cuts back to the family making mention that KFC allows families to bond and then it cuts to a medium shot of the mother biting into the chicken. While she is seen biting into the chicken the narrator or rather the person doing the voiceover states that KFC’s chicken “has the same great taste with zero grams of fat.” Finally the commercial ends.

I chose this commercial for the many stereotypes it shows towards black people more so black families. One of the main stereotypes this commercial shows is that black families are fatherless. Some other stereotypes were that chicken makes black people happy and brings them closer together as mentioned in the commercial and in my opinion they are making reference to the stereotype that most black people are obese. I say this from the fact that when they mentioned it “has the same great taste with zero grams of fat” and showed a close up shot of the mother biting into the chicken. I thought of this as being a way to win over the black community because now they can get a whole dinner from KFC since working and being a single parent is such a time-consuming task and they can do it without the fear of gaining weight being a factor. In sense, the chicken is good for you. Maybe I am looking too much into this or maybe I am right on point either way this commercial is full of stereotypes. Chicken does not make black people happy or causes them to bond or become closer together. I am saying this in reference to the Ethnic Notions film we watched in class and how it showed black people excited about food or rather a watermelon in that case. Food is food. Every individual person in this world has his or her own favorite food and just because a few people like it doesn’t mean the whole race loves it. In regards to black people being obese, well that too comes the same film, Ethnic Notions, in regards to the Mammie character. She is supposed to be the caregiver of the children, naturally a mother even though in the film she was not a mother but more of a mothering type of person. In the film, the Mammy character is the only woman I remember seeing and she was always made to be bigger than the white women and looked upon as being more of an obese individual. Now, although the mother in this commercial was not obese or anything it was the fact that KFC mentioned the zero grams of fat while zooming in on her. I just think they could’ve just showed a wide shot of the family as a whole and delivered the message.

Although this commercial has some negative aspects of African American families, I still like the fact that it shows a black family as one with “class.” Typically black people are seen on television as being ghetto, ignorant, and living in bad homes and neighborhoods. Even though the family here isn’t wealthy or upper-class I am happy they are living a decent living especially since there is not a father figure around. In a sense, it makes the black woman look strong enough to keep her family together with one income and still be a supportive mother.

The Dave Chappell Show: Chicken Skit

Dave Chappelle had a show that was kind of like a one-man comedy show. In this skit of the show it talks about how racism can be so shocking sometimes that the victim doesn’t even get mad. Instead, they become so shocked that the racist act, joke, or whatever it was, was done and/or said. He talks about his experience to Mississippi and how he entered a diner. He sat at the counter and looked over the menu. He begins to tell the man behind the counter what he would like to order but the man cuts him and said chicken. Chappelle is so shocked that the man was right but he wanted to know how the man knew what he wanted to order. He said the man just gave him the look that said, “Now, come on.” But he goes on to say the man states everyone in the whole diner knew what he wanted as soon as he walked through the door. Now just to clarify, based on the accent Chappelle does, the man behind the counter is supposed to be white. Chappelle says the man goes on to say, “It ain’t no secret down here that blacks and chickens are quite fond of one another.” So, in other words, black people eat chicken more than anything else. Chappelle states how the man’s comment made him upset, not angry but just upset. He says that after all these years he thought he liked chicken because it was good but now he is finding out that he likes it because he is “genetically pre-disposed to liking chicken.” What Chappelle is saying here is based on his ancestry, since they supposedly ate a lot of chicken it is just a well known fact that he does the same because he too is black like his ancestors. Chappelle goes on to say in this skit how he is afraid to chicken in public now for the fear of white people watching him and making comments saying “Look at him. He loves it.” “Just like it says in the encyclopedia. Look at how happy he looks.” Basically, people thinks chicken makes black people happy.

I chose this skit because it shows a stereotype of black people plus I love Dave Chappelle’s Show. The skits in his shows demonstrate a lot of the stereotypes which exist in the country involving a variety of races. The main thing that stuck out to me about this skit was the comment the white man behind the counter made about black people and chicken. Like in the film we watched in class, Ethnic Notions, food makes black people happy. In the film, black people were supposed to LOVE watermelons to death. Based off the film, when black people were seen eating watermelons they were the happiest bunch of people. Also, it seemed more like a treat for them instead of just some food. This same idea of chicken applies to black people. In sense, black people were the creators of fried chicken, baked chicken, and barbequed/grilled chicken from when they had to make dinners for their slave masters. But this doesn’t mean that black people think about chicken all the time and it makes out day when we get some. Stereotypes are crazy and provides people with empty ideas of how people really are.

I find Dave Chappelle’s show to be very entertaining. Chappelle takes stereotypes for all races and makes a joke out of them. I believe that in this intense world we live in today, laughing is a good way to relax and forget about all of your problems as well as the problems of the world. Even still, I honestly hate the fact stereotypes exist and people feed so much into them. I like to say that I do not feed into them but the truth is I know I do. But I am glad that minority comedians exist to help lighten the situation and the stress of them.

Van Beuren Studios Presents Tom and Jerry Cartoon: Plane Dumb

Back in 1932, Van Beuren Studios created a show called Tom and Jerry. Please do not get mistaken for the Tom and Jerry show we know of today involving a cat, Tom, and a mouse named Jerry. The episodes on the show varied from show to show. Tom and Jerry’s cartoons were more like comedies and it showed the two men doing different task or occupations based on the show. Tom is the tall one and Jerry is the short white guy. In this episode, Plane Dumb, Tom and Jerry are seen on an airplane on their way to Africa. Along their non-stop journey they finally spot Africa and they are seen outlining the continent with the plane. Tom is happy to have made it there without stopping. But in the mist of Tom’s excitement Jerry states how they will not be safe in Africa. Tom suggests they disguise themselves and reaches on the side of his seat, (still on the airplane and he is the pilot) and pulls out a can of paint. He sticks his hands in the can of paint in the shape of a bowl, pulls them out and rubs his face. Jerry does the same. Now both men are seen in blackface with huge white lips. For some reason, after applying the blackfaces their accents and way of talk changes. They no longer have the voice of white men instead they sound very similar to black men and they are no longer forming complete sentences. But, shortly after Tom and Jerry applies the blackface their plane sudden begins to go berserk and they crash into the ocean. While stranded in the ocean, sitting on the wing of the plane Tom and Jerry are harassed by many sea creatures from an octopus, to sharks to a whale. Eventually they get across to Africa. Before they get to the shore it is seen full of animals, but as all the animals see them approach they scatter and head for hiding. Two animals (I couldn’t make out what they were suppose to be) eventually ran from the woods and passed Tom and Jerry. This startles Tom and Jerry so they look for refuge in a nearby cave. The cave is dark but the only things you can see in this part of the episode are Tom and Jerry’s white lips and the whites of their eyes. There is one portion when the two hears the roar of a lion that the camera zooms in on them. Up close they look like, at least in my opinion, like monkeys or something related to the ape, gorilla, and monkey family. But in the cave, they also hear the echoes of a bat and someone or something grabs Tom’s ankle. Tom asks Jerry if it is him that as his ankle and Jerry replies with a no. Tom wants him to say it is him because the unknown is scaring him. Somehow the cave lightens up and shows a row of African skeletons singing a hymn saying they are ready to the lord. I say the skeletons are African because their bones are black and they too have big fat white lips. Tom and Jerry run out of the cave and as soon as they exit, Africans are seen popping out of bushes and from behind trees with spears preparing to chase and hunt down Tom and Jerry. They chase the two men and Tom and Jerry decide to wipe their faces clean since they see the black face is not helping them and then the show ends.

I chose this article because I thought there was only one kind of Tom and Jerry show and plus I had never seen an actual blackface cartoon before. I thought it was interesting and worth sharing with others. As I watched this cartoon, it reminded me of when we watched Ethnic Notions in class and our discussion about blackface performances. Like in Ethnic Notions, the character’s facial features were exaggerated when it came it looking like a black person. Ethnic Notions discussed that many white performers did blackface in the exaggerated look of black people having huge fat lips and big beady eyes because it was funnier and it gave white people another reason besides the color of their skin to outcaste black people. These performances by white actors in blackface, according to Ethnic Notions were to also show black people as being buffoons and being unintelligent. I noticed these things also in this cartoon, Tom and Jerry when the two men did not know the sounds certain animals made, whether certain fish were dangerous or not, and whether there was a way to communicate with certain animals. Before they wore the blackface they were more intelligent people whom spoke proper English but after putting it on their English was more broken up and they tend to ask dumb questions to one another, at least in my opinion. Cartoons like this should not be aired and even in Bugs Bunny cartoons when they make reference to black people they need to stop using these blackface characteristics.

I found this cartoon, like I mentioned before, to be interesting. I knew of performances which existed showing blackface actors but to put the idea into a children’s cartoon… well that just amazes me. I think it is so interesting how “White America” pollutes the minds of children during their times of innocence and brainwash them to believe and feel however they want the children to feel. If a person sees or hears something enough, no matter how morally wrong it may be, the person begins to believe it to be true. I find it to be so sad how cruel this world really is.

A Black Woman's Smile

A Black Woman’s Smile which is written and narrated by Ty Gray-El is a piece which states how hard it is to make a black woman smile. It states that you have to be a strong individual to make a black woman smile. If you are able to make a black woman smile than that in it is an accomplishment. This than states why it is so had for a make woman to smile how she has suffered through so much in life that it takes great strength for herself to for her to accomplish what is thought to be such an easy task. It makes reference that she has birthed and raised children during a time when it was so hard for a woman to do such a task by herself but she did. In other words, during the times of slavery it was very often that many black women and their husbands were no together and she was left by herself to raise not only her children but help other slave mothers raise theirs as well as her slave master’s children. This narrator goes on to say that for a person to put a smile on the face of a black woman, “You would need the strength of Samson, the nerve of Joshua, and the courage of David facing Goliath.” Within this statement, he is making reference to great people within the bible who at some point or another showed their worth. He goes on to say that in her wounds “she has cultivated the marvels of the world only to have her hopes and dreams aborted, and her aspirations show up dead on arrival” In other words, through everything she had to endure being a slave on the plantation or inside the home she carried though skills, traits and values with her to only continuously be denied freedom and to get a thought of hope for a better day to quickly realize it would not be anytime soon. The narrator states how the black woman gave birth to great individuals, in sense of being strong workers for the slave master, only to never be able to truly show them her love and to raise them and watch them grow up. He then goes on to state the many things a black woman had to endure. Such as mothering her child, watch him be taken from her, branded, and she is then shipped to an auction where she has to allow white men to touch her and do with her as they please to “help them better decide” to purchase her. As he continues he goes on to state that something as painful as this travels through the DNA of a person’s future ancestry and it is this that still makes it a hard task to accomplish. The pain of raising and mothering someone else’s baby for them to grow up and despise you after everything you have done to make sure they grew up healthy and strong. He then goes on to express in detail all of her struggles and what has caused how magnificent a person would have to be to make her forget about all of these things and smile. Then the narrator tells that a black woman had to be the strength for not only herself but for her children and for her man when they could not be their own strength. As he continues with his narration, he states that the black woman is tired of being called everything negative besides being called the “child of God that she is.” Towards the end of this piece the narrator tells what it is that really makes “a black woman smile and that is her man; a real man.” A man of great strength and a man that is doing what he is suppose to being doing than she will smile willingly and beautifully. Gray-El ends the piece by showing a mural of great black women and states how breathtaking it is to see a black woman smile.

I chose this piece because it is so moving and deep and truly is something that needs to be shared with many people. I couldn’t question anything about this piece but I do know that it covers many aspects of what we have discussed in class and many of our readings. Upon watching and listening to this piece created by Ty Gray-El I thought about the novel Kindred and how Dana mentioned that many black mothers did not have the father’s around to help raise the children because they were mostly out doing field work. But one thing in particular that I remember is her going to visit Alice to see her father being beat and taken away back to fields. I remember how she said that at times the fathers or husbands were sometimes even sold off to other plantations. I could only imagine how hard something like that had to be on a person; a woman at that. This piece of work was something that needed to be created so many people can beyond doubt begin to understand why the black woman is such a being with a hard exterior but once you make it past that she is so soft and shows emotion just like the next. It needed to be made because although Kindred was detailed enough to tell of the struggles women had to face, it still was not detailed enough. This piece really explains why the black woman is the way she is and that if you are someone to put an honest smile on her face instead of a forced one, if you are even lucky enough to get that much, than you are a person of great strength. Also, it is true that only her man can continuously keep a beautiful and warm smile on her face because other than him and her family everything else is just temporary.

I found this piece to be so inspirational and moving and thought provoking. When I first heard it I wanted to cry and laugh and smile all at the same time because I realized that we as women are very strong beings. We are much more powerful and willed than any other people like Gray-El mentions in the piece. I have seen many pieces done about slavery but nothing as wonderful as this.

Monday, October 8, 2007

When It Stops Being Funny: The New "Madea"

Los Angles Sentinel

When It Stops Being Funny: The New "Madea" found on the BGSU Library site (Ethnic Newswatch):

Upon reading the title of this article written by Jasmyne A. Cannick from the Los Angles Sentinel I thought it was going to be about a new character which Tyler Perry was portraying. But instead, the article talks about a white man by the name of Charles Knipp who goes around and performs in “Blackface” and portrays as many stereotypes as he possibly can about African Americans. Knipp has done most of his performances down south and is planning to do a performance in Los Angles. He doesn’t see anything wrong with what he does and doesn’t really care how wrong it is or who he offends as long as he makes money from it. Knipp not only dresses up in blackface but he also portrays the “mammy” character and uses as much Ebonics as he sees fit. According to Cannick, “He [Knipp] describes his character Shirley Q. Liquor as an ‘inarticulate black welfare mother with 19 children.’” Knipp takes stereotypes and racism to another level by making fun of holiday’s which the African American community celebrates and are very proud of as well as make fun of the African Americans whom have gotten our people this far and have provided and died so that we may experience a “fair and just” lifestyle of living.

If we as people ever want to be viewed as equals or at least truly respected by our counterparts then why do we allow things and behaviors like Knipps’ to exist and carry on? I feel as though the Black community as a whole complains about how bad things are for ourselves and how racism still exists and how we are treated so unjust but if we continue to allow Knipps and others to portray us in the negative light in which he is then nothing will ever change. The biggest problem with this situation is the fact that Knipps is one of those individuals whom are given certain privileges that the African American community/people have to fight so hard for. Also, with Knipps being White he has a better chance of influencing his peers that this is how we are. It is funny how we complain about our people being attacked verbally, physically, and mentally with hate crimes yet we still pay to watch the things in which gives these people reason to hate us.

I have found this article to be very informative because I for one had no idea Knipps was going around performing such degrading acts. It is one thing for someone who experiences the hardships of their own race to make fun of it but it is another when someone who creates the hardships makes fun of it. I know I might make fun of black people or even Latinos but that is because sometimes you have to find something to smile about when things get rough. It is almost like finding that silver lining.