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.

“Focus on Race: Interracial Dating”

A clipping from the Tyra Banks show:

Tyra Banks show

“Focus on Race: Interracial Dating” It premiered on the Tyra Show October 9, 2006. The recap for the show is at

Tyra has been known for showcasing topics that many other talk show hosts steer away from. Well on this showing of the Tyra Show it was a continuation of her “Focus on Race” topic. This time she was referring to interracial dating and how many people perceived interracial relationships as well as how those who are within the relationship feel about others people’s perceptions and comments. For one portion of the show, Tyra had a focus, which consisted of a group of people whom were all in an interracial relationship. People stated that the black woman should not date a white man because it sends her back to slavery times when it was ok for white men to have their way with the black women. It was said that the White woman was with the black man only to “rebel against her parents.” Even though these people were in their own interracial relationship they still had their own perceptions of the other couples and why they were together. Also, on the show she had guests on that discussed how they felt about people of their own race making comments that refers to them as being a “sell-out.” But the thing I found most interesting on this segment of the show was the fact that even within the gay interracial community, they too experienced the same trials and tribulations as those of the heterosexual interracial community in regards to relationships. She had on the show an Asian and White couple and they talked about how whenever they went out to gay clubs or functions other people would look at them funny and label them as being, according to the Asian man, a “Potato Queen.” The Asian man stated that many people would say that he hated himself and who he was which was why he was dating a white man instead of a man within his own race. But he stated that he was happy with whom he was and that he was just in-love.

This segment of the Tyra Show reminded me slightly of Johnson’s article, “Privilege, Oppression and Difference.” Within this article Johnson had discussed 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) With this come stereotypes which are nothing more than thoughts or ideas society places upon a group/race of people so in their minds they have a better understanding of how the groups of people are and know what to expect from them. The same applies with these interracial relationships. Many people think that people date other races because they are not happy with their own race, that they are ashamed of it or simply that they expect to obtain something from their partner. But the one thing I have found particularly interesting is the gay community disliking or rather having a problem with interracial relationships. It had seemed to me they would be much more understanding of the being casted out by the heterosexual community that they would accepted just about anything that was outside of the norm since that is where they sat. Even though has not been something that has been discussed in class I find it to be a very interesting topic and something we ignore or play blind to because it doesn’t affect the majority of the nation. It is like the privilege theory Johnson has stated in article stating that until we are faced where we no longer have the privilege is when we realize rather value and better understand the privileges we do hold.

I love the Tyra Banks Show and attempt to watch every episode if possible and if I am not able to watch the re-runs late at night. Like I stated before, Tyra discusses topics which I have found many other talk shows hosts to ignore or steer away from. Tyra and her show is something that people of ALL RACES and AGES can watch and enjoy and understand but mostly importantly leave with some kind of message or better understand of how other races, genders, and just basically people in general feel about each other. This segment like many other ones is really great to learn from and to accept people for who they are and the choices/decisions they make.

School Guards Break Child's Arm And Arrest Her For Dropping Cake

This is a video from Fox News in Los Angles:

LA Daily News

“Protest Rally to be Held in Knight High Arrests” This newspaper article can be found at It was published/ last updated on September 28, 2007.

A sixteen year old girl by the name of Pleajhai Mervin was assaulted by a security guard at her local high school. Mervin was bumped into and dropped her cake on the floor during a celebration of one of her friend’s birthday. The security guard told Mervin to clean up the cake so she complied and pick up the cake and threw it away. She then proceeded to the bathroom to wash her hands. She says after she came out of the bathroom the same security guard told her to finish cleaning up the cake off the floor. She said she did but once again complied with the man and picked up the crumbs. Mervin went back to clean her crumbs from the cake about three time before she proceeded to head to class. She then says that the security guard grabbed her and had her face down on one of the lunch tables which during this time not only did he fracture her wrist but he also called her “nappy head.” At the time Mervin was not aware that this was a racial term but after talking to her mother she found out the extent of this phrase. Also, this same security guard broke the wrist of another young lady who was the sister of a young man who was also assaulted for videotaping the incident using his camera phone. Both the brother and sister were arrested on the charges of suspicion of battery. Mervin’s mother demanded that the school fire the security guard but instead they told her that if he was to get fired she would be charged with assault which she was and arrested. Mervin’s mother was laid off her job without pay. Mervin’s mother works for one of the school within the county. The brother and sister as well as Mervin, who was later arrested, were all suspended from school for five days.

This incident involving this young lady has been said to be very similar to that of the Jena 6. Based on previous discussions in class regarding Jena 6 and racism and what people believe to be pranks or unharmful comments/acts brings about the idea of privilege and power. In regards to Jena 6, the school did not support or offer help to the true victims of the crime which were the black students even though in all reality they knew the crime was wrong. Instead they offered their support, help and sympathy to the more privileged individuals, the ones they related to more. Like in that situation, the same is happening here in Palmdale, California. The school officials should not allow a huge man to call a student a derogatory name as well as apply such force to a child, a minor who for one complied with his given orders/commands as well as not put up a fight to resist. Also, allowing him to get away with injuring not one but two students and attacking and pinning down another because he was videotaping the incident makes it understandable why many are seeing this as an act of racism rather than one of pure justice.

This incident along with the Jena 6 makes me really question what is going on with our society. I don’t understand how people can do certain things and not see a problem with it or see why and how other people are negatively affected by it. I felt great pity that this young lady and her mother as well as the two siblings have to experience this in a world that seems to no longer be moving forward but instead it’s almost like we are at a stand still slowing regressing. I feel as though we all, every race, need to really analyze the things we do before we do them and think about how it affects the other person. Sometimes we need to put our own feelings and pride on the backburner and spare someone else the pain and any hardships we may cause to them.

Details Emerge in W. Va. Torture Case

Although this is from CNN, it also tells of the exact same story:

“Details Emerge in West Virginia Torture Case” is a story that appeared on ABC News earlier this month in regards to a woman’s suffering in West Virginia that has been a result of a hate crime and much torture she has had to face. ABC’s written article can be found,

In West Virginia, a 20 year old woman was severely beaten and torture for what police has begun to investigate as a hate crime. Although, police are not certain exactly how Megan Williams, the 20 year old victim of this hate crime, ended up inside the shed of six individuals whom sexually assaulted, beaten, tortured, forced Williams to eat feces from both dogs and rats, they are definitely sure she was held against her will. Williams endured this treatment for a duration of a week until West Virginia police received an anonymous call to go out and investigate the shed of the six individuals. Police have been said to have been at the front porch questioning a young woman when they saw a woman limping towards the door with out-stretched arms stating, “Please, help me!” The six individuals whom held Williams captive were three males and three females, whose ages ranged from 20 to 49, all of whom have a combined 108 criminal charges that West Virginia police have filed against them. Also, Williams was forced to drink out of a toilet, choked with a cable cord, had hot water poured on her, and while being stabbed in her leg was called many racial slurs and was being told she was being treated this way because she was black.

Williams’ mother, Carmen Williams, said in her child’s defense, “I don't understand a human being doing another human being the way they did my daughter. I didn't know there were people like that out here.” Upon hearing Carmen Williams say this I thought back to Zinn and how the Indians were treated by Columbus. They too were tortured much worse, in my opinion, than Williams but that doesn’t make what has happened to her any less of a crime. But because of his article I can actually “understand a human being doing another human being the way they did [Williams].” Zinn was able to, in a way, prepare me for something like this through previous readings we have done in class, but he nor do I think anyone could’ve helped prepare me to believe torture from one human being to another still existed or happened in our society to this very day.

I chose this story because it really touched me deeply and like the Indians by which Columbus and his tortured I felt really sorry for Megan Williams. I do understand Carmen Williams statement of “I didn’t know there were people like that out here,” because I thought that even though racism still exists human beings understand a little more than all of our ancestors that despite color we are all human. To me it is one thing to find or believe you are higher than another race or even to use a racial slur to someone of another race but to simply intentionally torture and cause pain to someone because they are of a different race is… beyond horrible and sadistic… it’s along the lines of cruel and unjust.