Racism

arvan's picture

the (snow)faces change but the (appropriated) song remains the same, and the crowd goes wild.

I was tripping over the many tumblr conversations about Hugo Schwyzer lately.  A good number of people articulated some solid points about him, as well as the many who stated their outrage and distrust of him.  Some folks take his writing as separate from his life and others will not grant this as valid.  From what I see, he's done some pretty shitty things.  Each one of those points is worth discussing, yet something else was gnawing at me in all of this and that's what I want to discuss now.

How did a cis-het white man get to be a voice for feminism?

I was asking myself why is Hugo Schwyzer, a cis-het-white-male, even a topic in conversations about feminism?  Why are we discussing his languaging of feminist concepts?  Put otherwise, how did we get a privileged face in front of conversations about the abuse of privilege, mouthing the words of the oppressed with people accepting, repeating, defending and challenging him on his merits to speak for those denied equality by the privileged class of which he is a member?  

The short answer is that it depends on the audience as to whether he is or is not.  So, who then is willing to accept the face of Hugo Schwyzer as a mouthpiece for feminist ideals?  Who indeed?  Privileged, white people - that's who.  

EvilSlutClique's picture

Summer's Eve Update: Fail to the V

Last week we posted about an offensive ad for Summer's Eve that featured Cleopatra.  It turns out that the ad was just one part of Summer's Eve's new "Hail to the V" campaign, which features a whole series of ads that are sexist, racist, and just generally horrible.

Fleet - the company that owns the Summer's Eve brand - has launched a new campaign to promote their Summer's Eve feminine hygiene products. Attempting to portray their products as empowering to women, the “Hail to the V" campaign includes a series of video advertisements with Black, Latina and Caucasian talking hands, representing vaginas, that speak in a very stereotypical manner. The Richards Group, the agency behind these ads, has dismissed the criticism that the ads are racist, stating that their “in house multi-cultural experts” approved the campaign.

There is also a video ad that features knights jousting and martial artists fighting, backed by a voiceover that claims “over the ages and throughout the world, men have fought for it, battled for it and even died for it”. The accompanying series of print ads claim that famous women in history would have used Summer's Eve products had they been available back then. An ad featuring Cleopatra refers to her vagina as her “most precious resource” while an ad featuring Helen of Troy suggests that the fall of Troy was due to “more than her face”.

Their "Hail to the V" is really "FAIL to the V". The entire campaign is overwhelmingly sexist and insulting to both genders, as it reduces women to a single body part – “the center of civilization” as one ad calls it – and implies that all men’s actions are based solely on their desire for it. It also perpetuates stereotypes about black and Latina women. Summer's Eve ads claim to be about empowerment, but they're really about selling women the idea that we need their (unnecessary and often unhealthy) products in order to "feel fresh".

We've started a change.org petition asking C.B. Fleet to pull this entire offensive campaign.  Please sign and join us in telling Summer's Eve to correct this Fail to the V.

Change.org: Tell Summer’s Eve to End its Sexist & Racist Ad Campaign “Hail to the V"

Jaded's picture

Things People Need To Stop Believing

As a dusty third worldling, one of the things I learnt first was to see if there were other dusty people in the room whenever I go to any transnational feminist conferences. Something else I also learnt is to not expect ‘solidarity’ from anyone unless expressly proven otherwise — and these views are a result of the way people view me and my body in notIndia, what people assume of me in most internet spaces and fandoms. My friend and I compiled this list comprising of a few of the most repetitive and inane stereotypes that we’ve encountered of Third World Women. By no means is this list exhaustive, feel free to add your experiences in the comments — and tread carefully, the list is full of racial slurs and epithets.

1. We’re not disposable objects or your fetish or ‘flavour’ of the month. Not all Third World Women are ‘women’, but we don’t have the choice to identify the way we want, because exotification gets in the way of our special plans.

2. Not all Third World Women live in lands that are in a state of constant war. We exist in cities, between towns and villages — many in the West. There is no fixity of geo-political location, we don’t need to be in the Third World to be marginalised.

3. Not all of us live in tin shacks or mud houses, like every other group we too are scattered across classes and communities across the planet.

4. In popular culture and media, if Third World Women characters don’t wear shiny and bright colours, reality will not crack I assure you.

Jaded's picture

Borrowed Memories And Half-Sounded Syllables

Last week, I saw ‘A Passage To India‘ with my parents and grandma, it started out as a hilarious exercise in pointing out just how many racist elements could one mesh in a movie — turns out more than we can ever count! — and making cynical notes in my head like, “Not all Indians are always smiling all the time, okay?” and “Not all brown women keep their gaze centered on their feet, no not even always in colonial times!” to the part where my grandma started laughing at the “Silly white women trying to speak Hindi!” and then she started telling us about her school days — some 65 years ago when she was roughly about 12 years old¹ — where she and her friends would race to the Colonial Bungalow near their school in Pune, about running right home whenever they’d hear the horses hooves — for almost always it was the British in their town on horses — and trying to touch the fence of the Bungalow but being too scared to physically try it out, to the time when she and her older sister got caught and were lashed for ‘something’ which she doesn’t tell us. She was laughing at how uneven and rough their Hindi sounded, but didn’t know what the movie was about as her English isn’t as good – partly because of the time she was born in and in part because of her own decision to never ‘learn that tongue’ as an adolescent – and for a bit there, mum was transcribing what was happening on-screen and stripping the dialogue, settings from its inherent racism — pretty ironic for  a woman who once protested against the ‘White Imperial Capitalist Hegemony’ in the mid 80′s I thought — and by the time my grandma fully understood why were the White women speaking to the sari-clad-purdah-observing women, it wasn’t funny anymore to her. It took her a couple of days and a few sleeping pills to ‘become’ herself again.

Something like this isn’t a routine occurrence in my household — contrary to popular belief I don’t crumble and break down every time I pass a colonial structure or when I watch English movies or while reading English books — but a movie as specifically racist to Indians as ‘A Passage To India’ or going to the museum, looking at weapons that may have been used on some of my student’s great-grandparent’s are times when I want to re-write history or break away all ties with ‘my’ colonial past — whichever comes first. When faced with historical markers in specific situations, it becomes a tad difficult to view things objectively², to take the position dad took while viewing the film that, “This was an anti-racist book written in the colonial times! Pretty courageous on Forster’s part, no?”, to concede it under the label of This Is How Things Were Back Then. On some level I do understand that Forster like Joseph Conrad was ‘trying to do the right thing’, critiquing colonialism while it was going on — not a terribly popular opinion at that — but I find it very hard to applaud individuals who were more ‘humane’ than others — seeing how both perpetuated harmful and lingering stereotypes of the ‘native’ they were both writing of — to give Shiny Activist Medals™ to Dead White Dudes — a formidable camp on its own — that in no way produced any nuanced critiques of the Empire, not even ‘back then’. While Forster was writing ‘A Passage To India’, talking about Memsahibs and the ‘fascination’ all Brown men must inherently have with White women, we had writers like Premchand³ and Pandey Becan Sharma Ugra writing decidedly postcolonial literature — and many, many Dalit and tribal writers whose accounts  live primarily in their specific community’s oral traditions considering they ‘lacked’ Premchand or any other upper-caste Hindu writer of the time’s privilege to education and position in the caste-hierarchy.

arvan's picture

White Privilege: Sucking the Executioner's Cock

We recently posted a video on our tumblr feed, which demonstrates the pervasive and nauseating totality of White Privilege. The subject was addressed on DailyKos this morning, with the author dealing with the defensiveness, denial and disbelief from whites about whether such a thing exists.

White Privilege not only exists - it is the law of the land.  From the onset, this country has been built on the sweat, blood & tears of non-whites.  The First Nations were systematically slaughtered and culturally obliterated.  Africans were brought here as slaves.  We have sent people to every continent to kill non-whites.  It was only after uber-white Germany attacked us directly, that we engaged in war with whites.  The French & Indian wars were two white empires fighting for control of the right to steal the land from the First Nations.  

Since our Declaration of Independence, we have been fighting for white privilege.  The racism of the South / GOP / Bible Belt is proof that we have not shed this desire.

The most vile and disturbing aspect to me is the deliberate efforts of most of the white US to pretend that this racism is not there.  We gladly turn to our TV show, movies, iPods, flat-screen TV's, double-latte's, 401k's, wallpaper for the living room, SUV purchases and any of the myriad distractions / ego-strokes that are provided for us by the very people and system that profit in dollars from the price paid in blood by non-whites across the planet.

But, we're stroking the hand of our own executioner.  This system is not designed for some white utopia for us all to live in.  It is a very small, gated community - designed to drive 95% of the planet into labor and poverty, 4% to be jailers and 1% to bathe in the glorious light of a Maxfield Parrish dreamland exclusively populated by the owners of this planet: a few greedy, amoral men who will sell us to slaughter.

The grease of this entire system is every "oscillating Richard" white person who goes along thinking "I'm not racist" / "I'm not the problem" / "What me worry?" and any other excuse that will allow them to proceed with their "American Dream" pursuit to join the very smart, very special, very responsible "good people".  We turn our eyes to our future home, our children's schools, that new electronic device, the esteem of our peers and making smart choices with our careers.  

We don't see racism because we don't want to see it and we can get away with not seeing it.

Our success, our joy, our prosperity, our delight, our social standing, the heat in our house, the food on our table, the health of our children - all paid for in the blood of non-whites.  

To this day.

"If you're not part of the solution - you're part of the problem"

Olga Wolstenholme's picture

Happy Thanksgiving: Or Why it’s Never Too Late to Brush Up on Your History

I like Thanksgiving. I like turkey, and mashed potatoes, and gravy. I like gathering around with my family and eating some sort of pie. What I don’t like however is what Thanksgiving actually celebrates. You know, the genocide of an entire people. Columbus day is on the 12th of October, and in Canada we always celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. Thanksgiving. Columbus. Turkey. Mass murder. And colonisation. It’s all wrapped up into this one day where we give thanks to a people who helped our ancestors survive the winter here by showing us which foods to harvest and whatnot.

The part that is often left out of history books is that we then proceeded to rape, kill and otherwise physically  and emotionally maim the natives of this fine country we now call our own. Columbus set the whole thing in motion when he “discovered” the Americas, and yet we still celebrate the dude like a hero. Spurred on by the absurdity of it all a lot of people are supporting the Reconsider Columbus Day campaign for change. There’s even a video:


Olga Wolstenholme's picture

Am I Bad Feminist?

I have a confession to make. I know jack squat about feminist theory.  No, really, it’s true. I’m busted!  You found me out!  I’ve never read The Feminine Mystique (I can’t even tell you who wrote it with utmost certainty), I’ve never read The Second Sex (the only reason I know who wrote that is because I love me a French existentialist), and I have no idea what the difference is between first wave, second wave, or third wave feminism.  Seriously, I have no idea.  Although, I’m confident enough that I could probably fake my way through a pretty decent guess.  At least with someone who didn’t know any better.  And even then most of what I’ve picked up is from movies, TV, and every other form of media, but then only by chance.

I can pretty much count on my fingers the number of books I’ve read that weren’t novels and that were somewhat related to feminist theory.  I remember when I was about 18 I bought two books from the woman’s studies section at the new Indigo bookstore in downtown Montreal the titles of which were Bitch and Slut.  The only reason I picked up these particular books is because of their succinct and titillating titles.  I only got around to reading them about four years later and anyone with a mind can figure out the premises: i.e. women who hold power are bitches and women who have sex are sluts.

Christina Engela's picture

A World Without Fear

Xenophobia?

What's that?

Recently there were some widely publicized outbreaks of violence in South Africa which were directed at foreigners living in the country, particularly illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Somalia. The term xenophobia was applied to these acts of violence, and many have taken it to mean only this sort of attack on foreign nationals living among the local population - attacks fueled by differences of nationality only. Sorry to burst this little nationalistic bubble - but that's not all there is to xenophobia.

Some very biased and obviously prejudiced people who represent South Africa at the UN and also in other offices of government have recently asserted that racism and xenophobia are far more "important" issues to address than homophobia. Comparing homophobia to racism, they say, is an insult to the victims of racism. Hmm. This appears to be one group having been marginalized and persecuted, recently liberated, and now looking for somebody else to be "better" than and to explore its new-found "superiority" over.

Are you hated? Are you marginalized or persecuted for something which you cannot help being, or for something that is as natural to you as breathing? Congratulations - that makes you another equal victim of xenophobia!
LaPrincipessa's picture

Why Mel Gibson's Latest Scandal Is Important

Trigger Warning: Some of this post and linked audio are very graphic and triggering. 

So, I don't mean I actually like (alleged) verbal and physical abuse, I abhor it with all of my being. Abuse in all of its forms hurt women and children and scar generations leaving dire social consequences and years long ramifications that take a toll in every aspect of our lives.

The images on television of partner abuse is usually of some woman trudging into a shelter bloody and bruised , having just run from an abusive husband/boyfriend. When politicians stand up and speak out against partner abuse they often point to lack of funds for battered women shelters and want to increase aid for women who have left an (physically) abusive relationship. But no one talks about emotional, verbal and mental abuse. Stalking, rampant possessiveness, jealousy, consistent anger , manipulation, financial abuse, and constantly attacking a partner's self esteem with perpetual put downs and insults - all of this is considered emotional or verbal abuse. But hardly anyone seems willing to acknowledge this publicly; there is little to no media attention paid to verbal and emotional abuse.

So when Mel Gibson is heard (allegedly) cursing out, screaming at, intimidating, insulting, and  threatening  the life of his partner on tape, the media takes notice and suddenly this type of abuse is at the forefront of America's pop-culture consciousness.

arvan's picture

Call for Submissions: Refuse The Silence

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Morgane Richardson and I'm collecting the stories of women of color currently attending elite liberal-arts colleges in the United States.

Refuse the Silence is a project that encourages women of color currently enrolled in elite liberal arts colleges in the United States to share their stories.  Being a woman of color myself and having attended Middlebury College from 2004 to 2008, my hope is to present these stories, in the form of a book, to college administrators with a suggested plan of action to improve the college climate for women of color.

I am looking for vivid and honest personal stories and essays about the experiences of women of color in elite liberal arts colleges throughout the United States.

I am looking to attract submissions that reflect experiences, friendships and realizations made during the college years. Themes to consider include but are not limited to,

•    identity
•    socioeconomic, cultural, racial issues
•    classroom dynamics
•    turning points
•    depression
•    challenging moments
•    friendships
•    dating
•    student/professor dynamics
•    sex, sexuality

Contributions will be accepted in the form of a poem, letter, journal entry, personal reflection and/or essay. Entries should not exceed ten pages. Your submisions will be cautiously edited for grammar and comprehensibility. Unfortunately, I will not be able to include everyone's submissions. Priority will be given to those who submit their work before the September 1st, 2010 deadline.

I hope that you will use your voice and share your story with me. Let us refuse the silence and show the world who we are, who we are becoming, and how we can help others.

I invite you to share this information with your friends, family members, and classmates so that we can have as many voices possible involved in this important discussion in our communities.

Sincerely,

Morgane Veronique Richardson

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