Monday, October 19, 2009

perform in front of anonymous, silent asians

Q: Why is Shakira white?

A: Because she is pretty.


--Wiki Answers


The singer/celebrity/pop star Shakira was born in Colombia. Do many people nevertheless think of her as "white"? Or instead as "Hispanic," or a "Latina"?

Or even as something else? After all, as Wikipedia explains, "She is the only child of Nidya del Carmen Ripoll Torrado and William Mebarak Chadid who are of Lebanese, Spanish (Catalan) and Italian descent."

As for me, I'm pretty tempted to say that when Shakira appeared recently on Saturday Night Live, she was at least acting white, center-staging herself the way she did against a backdrop of homogenized Asians.

If she's going for some new global, World Music thing here, she's definitely not doing something new in terms or racial choreography. Didn't this mode of cultural appropriation go out with Gwen Stefani?




The women on the drums behind Shakira, by the way, are wearing outfits in a traditional Korean style. Here's a performance where you can actually hear some other women performing this distinctly Korean form of drumming.

Are the women behind Shakira actually even playing their drums? I couldn't hear them.




Is it fair or right for Shakira to use Korean (or probably to most Americans watching it, "Asian") women as a backdrop like this? She can do whatever she wants, I suppose, but again, it sure is a familiar white thing she's doing. And it involves such familiar white moves -- homogenizing Asians (which Western people have long done, often in far more injurious ways), and silencing them (even when they're playing drums!), and failing to recognize and appreciate their distinct national cultures and traditions.

Since Shakira's use of these women involves all of that, for the sole purpose of spicing up her own self-presentation, rather than for actual recognition and celebration of traditional Korean women drummers (whom she doesn't even significantly incorporate into her music), I don't think it's at all right or fair. I think it's racist. Her racial choreography perpetuates ongoing, racist conceptions of Asians, and it participates in the more or less general silencing of them in U.S. culture.

As I've noted in previous posts, aside from Gwen Stefani's silenced Harajuku Girls, an Australian clothing outlet recently used a notably silenced, homogeneous group of Asians the same way:



Here's another recent example, which I wrote about here, a commercial for the Palm Pre. Once again, a white woman at the center, and anonymous, homogeneous Asians collectively, uniformly serving as her backdrop.



It seems to me that what's happening in these and many other examples is a particularly stark version of cultural appropriation. It's as if in terms of race, the white individuals at the center are just that, individuals -- as if they don't have a race, nor any particular culture. As they stand front and center in the brighter lights, it's as though these individuals are supposed to be absorbing racial and cultural energy, which flows onto them from the auras of the silent, anonymous, but culturally rich others. And in the process, those individualized performers become, I suppose, less white.

But they don't become less white, do they? As Shakira's performance in another example of this racist staging demonstrates, they're actually acting as white as ever.

96 comments:

  1. but what does "WHITE" mean anyway? I always thought Shakira was white, cos she looks white as hell. imagine my surprise when i found out she was half Lebanese and half Colombian. But neither of these ethnicities are actually races, so...

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  2. I hope I'm not waffling, DIMA, but white means a lot of different things, and depending on the context, and on what people know or don't know about someone, the same person can be taken as white or as non-white. In some ways, whiteness is also a performance, and in that sense it seems true that both "real" white people and non-white people can act white, and/or act in common white ways (which, as the post says, is what I think Shakira is doing in this performance).

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  3. I've never, ever thought of Shakira as white...maybe that's b/c I knew of her before her U.S. crossover.

    However, I don't think this is comparable to Gwen Steffani's actions for a couple of reasons:
    Gwen constantly talked about how much she loved the style in Harajuku & how it was such an inspiration for her to start a clothing line

    The Harajuku Girls that followed her around where actually told to not talk & to remain silent when in public.

    This makes Gwen's usage rather explicit.

    I'd really need some more examples before I'd make up my mind about Shakira's actions...like "are these women on tour w/her?"

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  4. Get over yourself! She's a Latin World Music artist. Shakira has used a lot of cultural influences in her music. "Ojos Asi" comes to mind right off the bat where she actually sings part of the song in Arabic. In this particular case, instead of seeing it as a "white girl traipsing around in front of a bunch of subjugated Asian concubines" I saw it as "Wow, I've never seen drumming like that." Yes, I could hear the drumming, and I'm actually curious to find out more about it after seeing her performance.

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  5. Yeah, I have never thought of her as white. I knew of her way before her U.S. crossover when she had gorgeous black hair.

    I don't think it's the same thing as Gwen Stefani, though for reasons as explained by Moxie and I don't know when a group of POC artists perform together, I don't see the same thing as when it's a white artist surrounded by POC ones. I don't see exploitation or cultural appropriation (not that it isn't possible).

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  6. I think Shakira qualifies as "white" by Latin American standards.

    In America, while the Italians and Irish eventually bought into whiteness, Latinos are not so easy to pin down. The standards here are different.

    I'm South American, and a Euro-mutt. I had a white American girl one time tell me "but you are so light-skinned."

    I answered "That's cause I'm white."
    I somewhat felt bad saying that, and I will explain later.

    I wasn't personally offended at all, why should I be? But it bugs me that a lot of Americans have this notion that Latinos are a race. Thinking of the term Hispanic as a race is a nightmare, but that is as broad as calling English-speakers Anglic and calling them a race.

    Standardized testing is even worse. What would a Brazilian immigrant fill out? Brazilians are Latinos, but they are not Hispanic. What about a Japanese-Brazilian?

    Back to why I felt bad about saying I was white... I felt that it was a nod to what people in the US think constitutes as white. I felt like I was buying into that. I consider myself Caucasian, but why white? It's not like people in this country perceive me as white when they meet me.

    I consider Shakira Caucasian, but I think her bleached hair, blue contacts, and her usage of Asians as stage props, speak of someone that is trying to buy into the American ideal of what is white.

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  7. thank you Al, Latinos are not a race
    this documentary explains black latinos
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny0M6QOVTIg

    Anyway this was a good post

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  8. Shakira,

    Probably in central and south america would be considered white. The definition of race changes from region to region. For some reason in Brazil I was not considered black, I found it odd. I was "brown". I have no idea what that means.

    I think Shakira probably considers herself white as well due to her cultural upbringing.

    Latino isn't always about race, it's about culture to many.

    I remember Shakira before she crossed over, as I have access to tons of spanish television programming (I'm in Texas, and live in a city with more hispanics than all of Puerto Rico), and those same stations tend to only focus on "white" hispanics, and if you watch them have almost no mention of people of color on them.

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  9. I have a couple questions, because I sort of see this conversation being derailed by this whole discussion of whether Shakira is "white":

    Does it matter, intellectually or personally, if the person perpetrating a Western appropriation of an Eastern culture, is white or not?

    I think that for an Asian person living in the US, the damaging stereotype -- the idea of Asians as silent props-- is still present.

    Should someone who may not identify as "white" be labeled "white" for the purposes of a discussion? I don't think so-- because I think what we are talking about here is an intersectionality issue between race and culture and we can still call out someone for cultural appropriation without calling them "white." I don't know how Shakira herself identifies and to me that is the most important qualifier.

    But it seems like everyone is talking about Shakira's whiteness rather than talking about the issue of Eastern culture being appropriated by the West for the use of decor.

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  10. Interesting post.

    I have never thought of Shakira as White. Although that may be because I knew that she has Middle Eastern and other roots from the beginning.

    To me, the women in the background don't symbolise any kind of exploitation, although it's hard to tell these days what these artistes are up to.

    From watching the video, it symbolises a cultural mix, to me. Kind of like mixing steel pans or an African drum with rock or a similar type or comparison, which is not necessarily exploitation in this context, to me anyway.

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  11. Lebanese are caucasian, so are many Colombians. Speaking spanish may make her "latina", but then that makes me latina too. My grandma was Mexican. She was also white.

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  12. Cultural appropriation is always a tricky thing. When does admiring another's culture turn into appropriation? The Gwen example is pretty stark in which case, I agree but is the fact that Korean Drummers are behind her automatically place in her appropriation category instead of the admiration category? She may have just wanted to highlight their unique drumming on her song. But let's not mince words, it is her song and therefore she is the star.

    I have had deep, long discussions with friends regarding artists such as Sting and Madonna who are said to be appropriationists because they don't properly give credit to genres they have borrowed from or have presented a watered down version of the music and/or style. For Madonna think Vogue (black gay club dancing) and for Sting think anything. Apparently he is a pompous snob but I still love his music.

    Maybe it's because like Jazz and heavy metal, I prefer the watered down versions. I don't own a Sarah Vaughn album but I have at least three from Sade.

    I'm not being facetious when I ask the appropriation v. admiration question. I really would like a better indicator to sort out these instances and how one might rub me the wrong way and the other, not at all.

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  13. My, you people are really obsessed about race!

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  14. Actually, when I first saw Shakira on SNL, I thought she was Beyonce and changed the channel.

    They both have wonderful talent and beautiful faces. The difference for me is this:

    Beyonce seems like a spoiled bitch and Shakira seems like she would be fun to hang out with.

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  15. It's so funny that you brought this up, because when Shakira did a similar performance on Dancing With the Stars last week, I had the exact same thought when I saw the Korean drummers. I noted how they were anonymous window dressing meant to accent Shakira's performance, and not performers in their own right. It was disappointing, but not surprising.

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  16. "Do many people nevertheless think of her as "white"? Or instead as "Hispanic," or a "Latina"? "

    Given the background on her family, I'd say white Lebanese-Latina. As the official gubmint forms say, "Latinos may be of any race," and Lebanese are certainly white (okay, except in detective stories of 1925 or so, where she'd be a mysterious "Levantine" -- it took me ages to figure out what that meant).

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  17. How could Shakira have better used the Korean drummers in her performance?

    Would it have been better if she let them solo or had the spotlight on them?

    Just curious...

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  18. I agree but is the fact that Korean Drummers are behind her automatically place in her appropriation category instead of the admiration category? She may have just wanted to highlight their unique drumming on her song. But let's not mince words, it is her song and therefore she is the star.

    See, I would have less issue with it if she (or her people) hired Korean drummers to play and didn't costume them in traditional Korean dress. That isn't how average modern Koreans dress every day. That is a traditional costume meant to evoke a certain feeling. I felt like it became appropriation because she was not using them for their talent and skill so much as for window dressing.

    To answer the question about appropriation vs. admiration, I think that is a very tricky thing for anyone from a Western culture to answer. I think that admiration is clear when we focus on the cultural wealth of another society without making it about "exoticism" and I think that's the biggest issue with Westerners using East Asian influences in their work; it's usually done to evoke an exotic feel.

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  19. "I noted how they were anonymous window dressing meant to accent Shakira's performance, and not performers in their own right. It was disappointing, but not surprising."

    This seems to be the accepted notion of a lot of people who agree with this blog. I think it's much ado about nothing.

    I think since she is the star, no matter what ethnicity was behind her(it could have been aborignies blowing didgeridoos), they would have been presented as anonymous and lurking in the shadows. The point is NOT those woman. The main attraction is Shakira.

    I have never considered Shakira white, but again, I've always known she is half lebanese and half Columbian. I can also hear her accent/inflections in her voice, and her dancing is not white at all. She does not look white either(to me). Ok, she has bleached hair and wears contacts, and her nose is photoshopped to be slimmer and longer, but she changed to be more accepted by the 'mainstream'. Of course that meant being a bit physically white-washed, but I think she is white-washed just enough to still be considered exotic.

    Her skin is not the skin of a white American, and her hair is not the texture of a white American.

    Moreover---

    As an Asian(South Asian), I would like to challenge these unfounded attempts to glorify the individualism in Asian cultures. Of course I know US history and the oppression of Asians, and the portrayal of Asians as a homogenous ethnic group BUT---

    ASIANS THEMSELVES PORTRAY THEIR CULTURE LIKE THAT AT TIMES.

    A large part of Asian cultures consist of conformity and not standing out. Asian cultures do not always VALUE the individual or individual expression.

    Again this does not mean that Western cultures should be able to get away with DE-VALUING Asians. But it's something to keep in mind.

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  20. Pistolina,
    I really appreciate your comment, and think that it's right on. Especially this--"I think that for an Asian person living in the US, the damaging stereotype -- the idea of Asians as silent props-- is still present"--which is getting lost in the shuffle.

    It seems like there are really two conversations happening in macon's post: One is about whiteness (acting white vs being white, what it means to be or act white, and who gets to decide) and another is about cultural appropriation, which (as Pistolina points out) perhaps does not have to be limited to cultural appropriation as practiced by white people.

    In some ways, the bit about whiteness deserves its own post or posts. The whole notion of "acting white" is a fairly loaded one...

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  21. ITA with plastiknoise.

    Macon, as a white guy, you really need to ask more questions and make less "universal" statements on behalf of groups you're not a part of. These women are not silent props. Music is about crossing cultures and sharing. Shakira pulls global influences into her music and intergrates the influences into her music with great respect.

    There's nothing wrong with traditional dress. A mariachi band just wouldn't be the same in jeans and a t-shirt.

    These women are not being portrayed as silent geishas, they're being shown as traditional drummer, talented women bringing the culture and history of Korea onto a global stage.

    As someone with Asian heritage, I'm always thrilled to see Asian culture presented in a positive light.

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  22. The two comments from the folks defending these portrayals of Asians because "Asians like that!" were funny.

    True, Macon is treading on shaky ground when he tries to assume what other ethnic groups will find offensive, but his generalizations are no more wrong than the commenters.

    Some Asians may be cool with being portrayed as silent witnesses to the greatness of white people, other Asians will not be cool.

    It's the same with every other group of people.

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  23. macon said: "In some ways, whiteness is also a performance, and in that sense it seems true that both "real" white people and non-white people can act white, and/or act in common white ways (which, as the post says, is what I think Shakira is doing in this performance)."

    I disagree. Maybe it's true that historically it's been white people who have used Asians as backdrops, but there's nothing inherently "white" about Shakira's racist gesture.

    At best, all you can say is that Shakira is a non-white performer using people as props in a way that historically we're used to seeing white people do. She's not "acting white" - she's a non-white performer doing something racist. It would be racist thing to do no matter who was doing it.

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  24. Wow. I just knew when I clicked over to the comments there would be some of, "But...but...Shakira's ethnic, too! So she can't be racist because she herself has a race!" I'm surprised there's not more of it than there is.

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  25. Eh, big deal? I'm Asian and don't find it insulting in the least bit that Asians are incorporated into pop culture, be it through music, movies, or commercials, even if it is just sometimes in the background. I'm scratching my head, trying to figure out how this can even be seen as derogatory. I understand that the purpose of this blog is to pick on supposed white racism, but I find this to be a big stretch. What good is complaining about every possible slight going to do? Probably make white people think twice about including us again in the future.

    Hell, we've come a long way since "Sixteen Candles" and "Lang Duc Dong". I'll take superficial admiration over open ridicule, thank you.

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  26. @Rachel

    You know, that is something I wish would be addressed more, even if I don't feel it applies to this example.

    Racism is NOT ok just because it's done by another POC. Too many people, whites and POC alike, act like if, for example, Carlos Mencia makes racist jokes about Asians (as he has done), it's "ok" because he's latino.

    Debating whether someone is white or not as if that's the dealbreaker for racist vs nonracist shows a lack of understanding on the subject matter and a very narrow view of how this relates to race relations as a whole. In relating this to a blog about whiteness and racism, instead of asking "Is the person doing this white or not?" the questions should be "How is this viewed by white people? What messages does this send? Does this lead white people to believe this is ok? Why do whites assume this is ok?"

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  27. Hmm, I think I would have to hesitate before calling this one racist, but in context with the other adds, maybe there is something a bit off.

    Assuming the best intentions, how exactly would Shakira be able to incorporate traditional Korean Drumming into her show? Comparing SNL with the other video, traditional drumming is performed in groups, with uniform clothing so that is just a carry over. Would better lighting, or taking them out of the background make enough difference? It seems like it would help. If Shakira cannot appear with traditional drummers and not be racist who could? Only Korean performers?

    Does the prejudiced plus power relationship apply in this case? Obviously stars have more power, but I'm not sure that Shakira was really acting in a prejudiced way. It does fit in with the anonymous Asian theme, but would it have been OK to use say a group of African drummers in a dark background or would that be racist too? If, for visual impact, Shakira wanted to appear with poorly lighted drummers, is she only allowed to perform with white drummers?

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  28. Hey good luck emptying that ocean with your teaspoon!

    This sort of cultural exchange and appropriation has been going on since the beginning of time and decrying it is a) futile b)stupid c) misguided and d) stupid...and.. (did I mention stupid?)

    In the first place complaining that Shakira(!) is acting all Asian-y an' shit, is ridiculous and beside the point.

    Pop culture goes where it will, without caring much about the whinging and craptastic commentary produced by various cultural malcontents, crackpots, and nay-sayers.

    If influential artists suddenly think South African gumboot dancing is cool, guess what? It's going to get borrowed.

    Y'all gots to bone up on your Baudrillard before you can play this ridiculous game with any sort of authority.

    ****

    By the way, quick question, why are white "anti-racicts" always the first to notice another person's race?

    Indeed, why are the "anti-racists" so obsessed with breaking down Shakira's ethnicity in such extensive, exhaustive, tiresome detail?

    "anti-racists"? Yeah, not so much.

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  29. Macon is just presenting questions to ask yourself. Everyone is different and will feel differently about the questions at hand. Intercultural/race relations are about continuous learning and growth. We all come from different/diverse backgrounds, with no 2 people being the exact same anywhere in the world. With that being said I can see what Macon is presenting here. It is valid because it is an interpretation on an art form. Anything creative/created is open for interpretation. So here is my standpoint on the questions presented here:

    1. Is Shakira white?

    No. She is Hispanic/Spanish. (This is my worldview)

    2. Didn't this mode of cultural appropriation go out with Gwen Stefani?

    It approached the same lines, but Stefani is in another dimension. Stefani has also appropriated Reggae/Jamaican culture which I am a part of. I still listen to her music and cite her as a favored artist.

    3. Are the women behind Shakira actually even playing their drums?

    I say no. I heard some distance sounds that did not seem like drums being currently played. I think it was prerecorded drumming , as not to ruin the effect of the unnecessary backbends and twists. Didn't anyone else notice how painfully slow they were just to get into the poses at the end with Shakira? Also did NO ONE see the women to Shakira's left rise before the others? She looked confused to me. Why would that be?

    4. Is it fair or right for Shakira to use Korean (or probably to most Americans watching it, "Asian") women as a backdrop like this?

    Fair/Right is subjective. But if I had to go there, I would say that the women were not presented in a non-familiar western standard. I do agree with this statement from plastiknoise :

    "I would like to challenge these unfounded attempts to glorify the individualism in Asian cultures. Of course I know US history and the oppression of Asians, and the portrayal of Asians as a homogeneous ethnic group BUT---

    ASIANS THEMSELVES PORTRAY THEIR CULTURE LIKE THAT AT TIMES.

    A large part of Asian cultures consist of conformity and not standing out. Asian cultures do not always VALUE the individual or individual expression."


    That being said I have no idea what the point was here. And there always is with performance/art. So leaving it blank leaves us to make our own assumptions. I think Shakira/her people use the Korean drumming to highlight the subtle drums in the song and so Shakira could do a back-bend.

    5. But they don't become less white, do they?

    I never thought of her as white, so no she is not lest white in my eyes. I will say the performance sucked and it seemed everyone on stage was presenting one/two presence(s), while Shakira was presenting another. It didn't work! And in highlighting that it didn't work, one can point out how the Asian women drummers were in the ill-lighted background pretending to play drums. And I definitely would ask what the HELL was that about?! Made no sense.

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  30. Captured Shadow said...

    Assuming the best intentions, how exactly would Shakira be able to incorporate traditional Korean Drumming into her show?


    This is what I want to know. Instead of just crying foul, how about suggesting how it could have been done better?

    To me, Shakira is the performer, the spotlight is supposed to be on her. Like Captured Shadow asked, if she wanted drummers dimly lit in the background, would white people have been preferred? If so, why is that?

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  31. @plastiknoise, this is kind of a tangent, but: her dancing isn't white? Since when is dance style an indicator of race? I have seven years of middle eastern dance training under my belt, but that doesn't make me middle eastern.

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  32. "but what does "WHITE" mean anyway?"

    Whatever "white" people say it means. That's the essence of "white" privilege....Exactly!

    White people created the whole taxonomy of color/value/worth.

    "We" aver that "one of ours is worth 10 of yours."

    Insofar as it has bearing and consequence in contemporary life, "Color" is an artifact of 'white' ethnocentricity, metastacized into "supremacy/superiority."

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  33. You can hate on Shakira all you want but I thought her performance was great. She has performed and collaborated with people of other races before too. She's definitely not a racist. Does shouting "witch" on the Internet make you feel big? Well I guess this is what people sign up for when they become celebrities but still...

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  34. @ Natasha, who here has said they hate Shakira? It is possible to critique a person's choices without hating them.

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  35. What I don't understand is, how can you call her performance "racist", yet write a post some weeks back defining racism as prejudice+power? You seem to be classifying Shakira as you see fit. When she does something in poor racial taste, she is white, so you can refer to it as racist. Otherwise, she is Latina?

    I don't see why you are allowed to define what she is racially as it suits you. Because if you define her by what she is, a Latina, then how can her actions be racist, by your own definition? Or even defining her as multiracial, since when does that mean white in America?

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  36. I'm torn about this issue, and it basically comes down to how I view Shakira.

    Before this video, I had always thought of her as Columbian, and thus thought of her music as an affirmation of Latin culture in a sea of American cultural ominance.

    Now, however, I can see her as white, and thus her appropriation of Korean music as a kind of international theft.

    Puzzling.

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  37. Some of you self righteous whites need to get over yourselves. I can't believe that you actually have to nerve to act like you can speak for Asians. The very idea that people can't appropriate others' cultures is outright stupid. Are Asians racist for adopting Western style clothing and music? We live in a global world. It's only natural and to be expected that there will be cross cultural mixing. In Asia, it's common to see music videos of pop artists with European orchestras playing in the background. Imagine that! They must be racist.

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  38. Hating on != hating. This post is not exactly Shakira fan mail.

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  39. I had a question similar to Macon's opening question in the original post.

    I would be interested to hear how people of mixed ethnicity feel (or do not feel) attached to the races of their parents.

    I was thinking recently about President Obama.

    I think it is a wonderful milestone for anyone with a different heritage/race/culture to be elected President of the United States. I also understand the importance of highlighting the fact that he is "black". The fact that anyone other than a white man could be elected into the highest office makes me feel hopeful for the future - regarless of his politics.

    To address my original question, why is President Obama always considered black? He is as much black as he is white. I wonder how he racially identifies himself.

    Any thoughts?

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  40. I'm confused. So the only people who can use a musical instrument are the people from that culture? And only then for the "recognition and appreciation of distinct national cultures and traditions"? Would a row of blond woman playing Korean drums been less offensive because white "culture" has already been homogenized, or more offensive because their ancestors didn't invent that style of music?

    Can Shakira have a person of African descent in a suit playing backup classical violin or would it be important for that violinist to be of Italian descent since classical violin music as we know it originated in Italy?

    Can blond women who aren't from Sweeden play back up Sweedish style folk music for Shakira or is that offensive too?

    I personally get annoyed when I can't hear the singing for the instrumentals, but if the sound mixer had pumped up the instrumentals more so that you could hear the drums over the singing, would that have made it ok?

    Or is it the vocal silence of the backup musician that's the problem? Would it be ok if they also had backup vocals? Or do they need to be the lead singers?

    Does being Latina, or white, mean Shakira can never play music based in other cultures? Never dance in a manner inspired by other cultures? Isn't that a little limiting? Where does musical fusion and innovation turn into racism?

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  41. This may not make much of a difference, but a lot of industry parties in Hollywood and NYC use young, white models as silent props. They stand around the room in various positions, sometimes in bondage, sometimes in weird costumes, making strange expressions. It's supposed to be edgy and cool. Quite frankly, I think it's douchy, but to each his/her own. The common thread is that most of them are female.

    I think this may be more of a sexist thing than a racist thing. Asians are generally viewed as docile. Asian women, doubly so. I think the tide is turning for Asian men in media, though. John Cho, Kal Penn, Aaron Yoo, Rick Yune, and Jack Yang are some of the most handsome guys in film and television, in my opinion. We're turning more into multiracial relationships in media and away from the WASP Alpha male. It's slow, but it's coming. John Cho and Gabrielle Union are a groundbreaking casting decision and are a big reason why I watch "FlashForward".

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  42. @ Becca....

    Well said!

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  43. If you find Shakira's "cultural appropriation" out of line, you should check out Japanese rap. But for a taste of how African-Americans are placed in Japanese media, I recommend this video of a famous MMA fighter:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=satMxqJdfo0&feature=related

    The reason for the banana is because he's generally compared to a gorilla. I couldn't find any videos which juxtapose him with a gorilla doing the same actions because they've all been removed. And for a ridiculous cultural hodgepodge, nothing beats what happens when Bob Sapp enters a Japanese arena:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Wq0YdbHlxo&feature=related

    Finally, he's expected to throw some kind of fake monkey-style fit induced by pre-fight rage no matter where he is. Here, beginning at 3:45 is a normal example. Notice the reactions of the female interviewer. Oddly, none of the European fighters were expected to do any of this stuff:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGksZLJF96w&feature=related

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  44. @squirrel, I was about to say that I feel just as uncomfortable watching Black singers play backup vocalists for Japanese singers because I sit there wondering if they were chosen because they have great unique vocals (ie. for their talent), or because they were Black (for use as props). And then I saw your comment. So are you saying that it's okay to be prejudiced because everyone else is prejudiced?

    Btw, I can't hear the drums in Shakira's clip.

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  45. Hawk Mom, I got a glimpse of Cho and Union on "Flash Forward" last week. I was stoked! They are certainly a groundbreaking and attractive couple. As for your point about the Shakira appearance being sexist, I'm sure it's both racist and sexist. Another sexist example of using women as backdrops would be the girls who used to perform behind Robert Palmer.

    As for the commenter who said that Asians don't like to stand out, I wouldn't use that to justify Asian women being routinely used as wallpaper. Many cultures outside of America are more communal than they are individual, but so what? That doesn't make it okay for us to reduce them to nameless decorations in a Western context.

    Laslty, I don't think Shakira's race really matters. When the Harry Connick Jr. blackface uproar was going on, some Aussies explained that the performers were of Indian and Lebanese descent. I responded that if I, a black person, taped my eyes while imitating an Asian celebrity, it would be a white supremacist act despite the fact that I'm a POC.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Daniel, President Obama has referred to himself as black on occasion after occasion. If you check out his memoir, Dreams from My Father, you'll get his take on how he feels about folks who label themselves as multiracial. Suffice it to say, he's not a big fan of it because the people he's met who have done this tend to be trying to distance themselves from blackness, or so that is his general view.

    ReplyDelete
  47. fromthetropics,

    Did you watch the whole video with the banana? It's not even close to being as vile as some of the shows Sapp's been on in Japan. Let me repeat: for a long time the going joke in Japan was that Sapp was a gorilla. Monkey!

    Liberal Americans (if they had close friends who weren't white Americans) would learn what should be obvious: racism in America is nothing compared to that in most countries, including Asian ones. Japan is rife with companies that won't even allow white people in!

    So I'm not saying that racism is acceptable because it's ubiquitous, but that this site's liberal self-flagellation is silly because it obsesses about racism that is insignificant or nonexistent. Here are some political posters Matt Yglesias (hyper-liberal) linked to yesterday in a discussion about European racism:

    http://leganordbasilicatamanifestievolantini.blogspot.com/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spp-poster.jpg

    Europeans! Our supposed cultural superiors!

    ReplyDelete
  48. anti-lib, you should read around on this (my) blog more carefully. Once you do, you'll realize that deploying the tired old Arab Trader Argument will get you nowhere here. As for "liberal," who you callin' a liberal?! Liberals annoy the hell out of me. And as for "self-flagellating," well, you do like those tired old cliches, don't you?

    ReplyDelete
  49. > Did you watch the whole video with the banana?

    @anti-lib - No, I did not watch it. The description was enough for me to know that Japan's treatment of it's stupidly racist and derogatory that it doesn't require me to point out what squirrel (is that you too?) already did. Such that it's not comparable to what we're discussing here. What I was trying to point out that even the subtle ones in Japan maybe based on stereotypes and prejudice.

    Anyway, I don't get what you're saying. So the Japanese/Asians are worst racists (in your eyes at least) and therefore it's okay for others to be a little bit racist? Well, I disagree with that.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Macon D, thanks for including the video of the Korean drummers, since I couldn't get much of a handle on them in Shakira's clip.

    I think that's what irks me about this kind of cultural appropriation, however people choose to label the person doing it. The musician in me wants to hear the drummers; if they are included, surely it's to showcase their talent? But the beats I could here weren't quite their beats...

    I've seen a lot of solo artists collaborate with groups, and do so in a way which showcases the group. For example, when Paul Simon collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, I never forgot the group's name afterwards and have always recognised their distinctive style since; it was a balanced collaberation between equals.

    I didn't see any of that in Shakira's performance. What I saw here on this particular clip were a group of women used as props. And the anthropologist in me wants to know who they are, where they're from, whether this is a cultural style (again, thanks Macon) or whether it's just some random 'Asian' prop. And if I went on the Shakira clip alone without reading this post, I would have concluded she *is* using them as a prop (and she didn't even seem in synch at the end when she joined in).

    It looked like tacky and crude appropriation, women used as props by someone richer and more powerful than them, musicians used as props by someone richer and more powerful than them, and 'Asians' used as props by someone richer and more powerful than them.

    And where was this performance? On a US tv show. And who is the targeted audience for this show? People in the US - a country richer and more powerful than Korea.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Before I'd even read your Arab Trader post:

    "Right and wrong are not determined or proved by what everyone does... "

    I'd responded to it:

    "So I'm not saying that racism is acceptable because it's ubiquitous, but that this site's liberal self-flagellation is silly because it obsesses about racism that is insignificant or nonexistent."

    None of the examples in this post look very racist to me and none of them come close to what you hear if you spend time around foreign-born who trust you (since you're very PC you probably don't have close non-white friends.) Since it's impossible to define racism, I just view this stuff on a continuum and these examples are weak by comparison.

    "A simple and far better way to determine right and wrong... but “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Acts of racism fail this test by their very nature."

    Not even close to true. Eddie Murphy's impression of white people (stilted, ungainly, nasal-voiced) is beloved by whites. And the best moment on SNL was him dressed in white-face. If I were to stand in front of a black crowd in black-face, the reaction would be different. Hence, there is no "Golden Rule."

    Here's a test on whether you're a liberal:

    http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=Are-you-liberal

    I scored 2/15. What did you score?

    ReplyDelete
  52. @anti-lib, I'm really bothered by the generalisations you make about us, the people on this site.

    I had to go and google 'liberal', since where I'm from it means something very specific. And it appears to me that in the US, liberalism refers to an economic position. According to Wikipedia, "Ideologically, all major US parties are Liberal and always have been." So where are the accusations of 'liberal' coming from, and what has liberalism to do with not being racist?

    I also think it's a bit much of you to say that none of us whites would have PoC as close friends. Because of why? You used the term PC; the only meaning of that I know is 'politically correct', a term which refers to saying what you don't think in order to win votes. Well, people like that may not have PoC as friends, but I don't think anyone here is paying lip-service to win votes.

    I also object to you saying that discussing small acts is akin to self-flagellating. One of the tools used by racists in my country is to say that only extreme cases of racism are actually racism; anything short of a kkk lynching (and sometimes even that) is considered not worth talking about. But having close friends who are PoC, I know that the small acts do matter, and that they do affect people. Whether we are talking about a lynching or talking about death by a thousand cuts, it's still racism, it's still systemic, and we are discussing it.

    If you have a problem with that, go away.

    ReplyDelete
  53. @fromthetropics

    "@anti-lib - No, I did not watch it. The description was enough for me to know that Japan's treatment of it's stupidly racist and derogatory that it doesn't require me to point out what squirrel (is that you too?) already did. Such that it's not comparable to what we're discussing here. What I was trying to point out that even the subtle ones in Japan maybe based on stereotypes and prejudice."

    Why limit yourself to looking at the videos posted by macon d? If you're a connoisseur of racism, then you should be interested in the really good stuff and I'm telling you, if you want to see some complex, extreme, knee-jerk racism, don't bother with White American TV commercials or videos; watch the Japanese stuff and talk to foreigners from almost everywhere. White Americans are some of the least racist people in the world.

    ReplyDelete
  54. cinnamon girl,

    Your definition of liberalism sounds not like the current American definition, but like the old one, which was proto-libertarian; new liberalism is statist, coercive, and politically correct. (American liberals want America to be as much like Sweden as possible.) So included in American liberalism are the ideas that Whites are monumentally racist and enjoy structural advantages over "PoC." This might make sense today, except that the highest median wage, life expectancy, and college graduation rates are not held by Whites, but by Asians. But macon d, et al obsess about the subtlest of White racism because they're overwhelmed with White guilt (hence the flagellation); sites like these are cathartic for them, as they must be for you with your history of beating up Aborigines.

    The reason most PCs don't have close non-White friends in America is because PCs cringe or throw a tantrum every time someone says anything about race (except that White people are really racist.) This almost guarantees that no one but another PC can befriend them. Example: Macon d recommends calling people who wear racialist Halloween costumes dipshits in that post. Example: Macon d wants to apologize to Koreans on behalf of White people because some Koreans were paid by Shakira to drum. (How many Koreans want to listen to that nonsense?)

    ReplyDelete
  55. >White Americans are some of the least racist people in the world.

    So you ARE going back to the 'we're only a little bit racist, so it's okay' argument?

    >Why limit yourself to looking at the videos posted by macon d?...if you want to see some complex, extreme, knee-jerk racism...

    No, I do not want to see them. (I've seen other ones of Bob Sapp and they were enough. Btw, this makes your assumption that I limit myself to what macon shows presumptuous.) But if you want to, you can. Also, I have personally experienced racism from the Japanese since young. So yeah, I know racism exists in Japan and elsewhere. (That's right, you're not the only one who knows that.) I'm one who believes we all have racist tendencies within us. Part of the reason I come to this blog is to unlearn them. The other is to undo the effects of the racism I've experienced by learning about *how* racism works in all its nuances as well as overtness. But in your case you seem to just want to yell that someone else is more racist and so the little racisms back home don't count.

    >"So I'm not saying that racism is acceptable because it's ubiquitous, but that this site's liberal self-flagellation is silly because it obsesses about racism that is insignificant or nonexistent."

    It may be insignificant or nonexistent to you, but not to many others.

    ReplyDelete
  56. >>>So you ARE going back to the 'we're only a little bit racist, so it's okay' argument?

    No. A reasonable person performs some kind of triage. If racism among Whites in America is nowhere close to what it is in most other groups, then you focus on those other groups. You know how endemic extreme racism is in Japan; you probably have some idea of what level of racism is generally acceptable amongst Black Americans. The differences are stark. So, spend time learning about and working on others' racism, which is much more dire.

    >>>I'm one who believes we all have racist tendencies within us.

    Especially Jesse Jackson:

    "There is nothing more painful to me … than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

    >>>Part of the reason I come to this blog is to unlearn them.

    You're not. You're just spending time congratulating yourself on how PC you are.

    >>>The other is to undo the effects of the racism I've experienced by learning about *how* racism works in all its nuances as well as overtness. But in your case you seem to just want to yell that someone else is more racist and so the little racisms back home don't count.

    It's not that they don't count; it's that if you have a reasonable frame of reference you realize that your racism is weak and pathetic.

    >>>It may be insignificant or nonexistent to you, but not to many others.

    Maybe many PCs or people who've gotten rich convincing PCs that they're evil (i.e. J. Jackson). Don't let JJ victimize you, FTT.

    Finally, will macon d ever cut the cord, or am I going to quit reading his weird blog because of comment moderation?

    ReplyDelete
  57. Anti-Lib Squirrel, you are really rude. Did you just come here to pick fights? Are you a troll?

    Your definition of libralism is different to all the others I have read and is irrelevant to me. You seem to be hurling the word libral around as an insult because it's your personal beef, but that does not mean it's fitting.

    And your accusations of being PC are inaccurate and offensive. I have already stated why.

    You don't seem to understand the point of this blog. If you're interested in the subject matter fine. But if you're just here to tell us how weak and pathetic we are, please fuck off.

    ReplyDelete
  58. @anit-lib squirrel:


    "No. A reasonable person performs some kind of triage. If racism among Whites in America is nowhere close to what it is in most other groups, then you focus on those other groups. You know how endemic extreme racism is in Japan; you probably have some idea of what level of racism is generally acceptable amongst Black Americans. The differences are stark. So, spend time learning about and working on others' racism, which is much more dire."

    A reasonable person performs triage if that person is a healthcare worker, working in an emergency situation(diaster, crisis, battlefield etc), or in a hospital. Therefore I find it funny(yes funny, literally), that you would use this term. Your usage of this term indicates to me that you view racism as a dire situation in the US indeed. 'You doth protest to much'!


    'You're not. You're just spending time congratulating yourself on how PC you are.'

    What's P.C., personal computer? If not, why should people not come to this blog to agree or disagree with what others write? You're here. Why ascribe underlying motives to people that may be opposite to yours? Unless someone states the exact reasons as to why they are here for whatever the reason, why do you care? Keep in mind this is a blog. Most of the participants are anonymous. Hence anyone reading it can post comments for the most part or just read other's post. If they don't like the content of the blog, well, they can choose to bypass it all together. You can choose to respond or not respond. As for people 'spending time congratulating themselves as to how 'PC' they are, can you see through the computer screen as they are doing this? If so, is that one of your talents, watching people through computer screens in order to discern their levels of PC?

    ReplyDelete
  59. 'It's not that they don't count; it's that if you have a reasonable frame of reference you realize that your racism is weak and pathetic.'

    Yes, and you are going to teach the Negroes, Chinamen and other assorted coloureds as to what really constitutes racism as it's really in their 'heads'. They are to stupid and infantile that they need the guiding hand of the benevolent white folks to teach them these things! Thank you white folks, especially anti-lib! Yes Sir!

    'But macon d, et al obsess about the subtlest of White racism because they're overwhelmed with White guilt (hence the flagellation)'

    Maybe Macon enjoys being 'flagellated'. Are you taking him to task for his sexual practices? Maybe most of the people here as sado-masochists. What's your point , all ridiculing aside? The point is that you are using the situation in different countries to 'prove' your points. What's being discussed here is racism in the the US for the most part, not in Japan or China. Perhaps you should go to one of these blogs that address this and comment accordingly.

    It's sort of like blacks(and this is who I think the most of your ire is directed at) should be grateful that they live in a country where the white folks treat their 'coloureds' better than they do in Japan or China or any other countries you'd care to compare the US to.

    You show your blatant racist ideas by the arguments you use to counter others. The only meaning I can derive from any of them is basically 'shut up , know your place, or go back to where you come from if you don't like it here'. You just couch it in seemingly polite language.

    Many of these 'coloureds' you are talking down to, are American born and bred, have through descent, been on this continent for hundreds of years, and have just as much of a right as any white person to be here; discuss injustices(It's not just a leftist of rightist thing, it's a human thing); is asking to be treated equally; demand to be treated equally; not to be treated in a benevolent fashion by white folk as second-class citizens.

    A lot of the complaints you have about what you describe as PC are used to shut down legitimate talk of racism. Instead you use euphemisms for the old time racially blatant verbiage and viewpoints. In essence; You do-not have any arguments to counter your naysayers. Saying so and so does this , or this country does that as a mode of comparison in addressing the treatment of racialized people in the US, means nothing.

    Diverting the discussions to pull 'facts' out of your ass means nothing. Are you frightened that the white people who come here to discuss these topics will go out and proselytize their new found views? Are you afraid white people as a group will loose power?

    ' Finally, will macon d ever cut the cord, or am I going to quit reading his weird blog because of comment moderation?'

    Quit reading the blog if you find it so weird, unless you are reading it for solely prurient reasons(I read the National Enquirer for that). Otherwise put your concerns to music and play it on a violin. Have a nice day, carry on.
    P.S. You should add a 'y' to squirrel as that would provide a more apt description for your moniker based upon your counter-arguments.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Anti-Lib SquirrelyOctober 22, 2009 at 7:27 PM

    "A reasonable person performs triage if that person is a healthcare worker... "

    Meaning-creep is everywhere; this should help:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Triage

    "As for people 'spending time congratulating themselves as to how 'PC' they are, can you see through the computer screen as they are doing this?"

    Yes.

    "They are to (sic) (second time in two comments) stupid and infantile... "

    "The point is that you are using the situation in different countries to 'prove' your points. What's being discussed here is racism in the the US for the most part, not in Japan or China."

    Because it's hard to even define "racism" the whole thing ends up as a judgement call. There's a continuum (kind of) of racialist behavior with 1 as essentially inoffensive behavior and 10 as genocide. This blog takes a bunch of 1s and 2s and calls them 5s. I call attention to what I deem to be real 5s.

    "It's sort of like blacks(and this is who I think the most of your ire is directed at) should be grateful that they live in a country where the white folks treat their 'coloureds' better than they do in Japan or China or any other countries you'd care to compare the US to."

    Most of my 'ire is directed' at white PC libs who have no frame of reference.

    "The only meaning I can derive from any of them is basically 'shut up , know your place, or go back to where you come from if you don't like it here'."

    Example?

    "... not to be treated in a benevolent fashion by white folk as second-class citizens."

    White folk are second to Asian-Americans in: median wage, life expectancy, college graduation rates, etc. If there is some racial class structure, Whites aren't at the top.

    "Instead you use euphemisms for the old time racially blatant verbiage and viewpoints."

    Example?

    "Are you afraid white people as a group will loose (sic) power?"

    Power resides in individual hands. Just because Obama is president doesn't mean that Blacks are now in charge.

    ReplyDelete
  61. @ Anti-Lib Squirrily,

    Because it's hard to even define "racism" the whole thing ends up as a judgement call. There's a continuum (kind of) of racialist behavior with 1 as essentially inoffensive behavior and 10 as genocide. This blog takes a bunch of 1s and 2s and calls them 5s. I call attention to what I deem to be real 5s.

    I think this may be the crux of the disconnect between the way you feel and this blog (and the people who comment on it).

    You may see racism as some sliding scale to rate from 1-10 and then triage, but I don't, and I haven't seen that viewpoint expressed on this blog before now. Like you say, it's a very subjective way to view racism.

    If you are genuinely interested, and not just pushing your own agenda, I'd like to suggest that you do some reading on racism 101. That may help you here if your intent is not to alienate people.

    A open mind is always welcome; but one that has come here already made up and full of generalisations instead of questions will probably be met with scorn and ridicule.

    ReplyDelete
  62. >I call attention to what I deem to be real 5s.

    Okay. So let's say there is a scale. But what does it matter when you don't care about the 5s (as per your comment on the halloween post)? You said, "as long as they don't sound like they're leading to rash behavior." So as long as the KKK don't declare they will kill ppl it's okay? It's okay if cops are prejudiced against Black people and have a tendency to assume that they are criminals even if they're not and thus pull them over for no reason, or arrest them for no valid reason, or even kill them for no valid reason...because you didn't see it coming, coz when they were talking racist/prejudiced crap in the coffee room with you they didn't declare they were gonna go kill some black people that day. So it's okay. You didn't know it was coming. It just kinda happened, you know.

    >You're not. You're just spending time congratulating yourself on how PC you are.

    Example? Oh, wait, here's an example of you being self-congratulatory: "White Americans are some of the least racist people in the world."

    Herneith said >>"Are you afraid white people as a group will loose (sic) power?"

    anti-lib sq said >Power resides in individual hands. Just because Obama is president doesn't mean that Blacks are now in charge.

    Your second sentence is exactly Herneith's point. That the white group is still in charge because most institutions are still dominated by white people (leading to institutional racism), and therefore Obama being president does not now mean blacks are in charge.

    ReplyDelete
  63. @anti-lib :

    'As for people 'spending time congratulating themselves as to how 'PC' they are, can you see through the computer screen as they are doing this?"

    Yes.'

    If this is so, please see if you can predict the lottery numbers for tonight as I am sure that this is another one of your hidden talents.

    'Because it's hard to even define "racism" the whole thing ends up as a judgement call. There's a continuum (kind of) of racialist behavior with 1 as essentially inoffensive behavior and 10 as genocide. This blog takes a bunch of 1s and 2s and calls them 5s. I call attention to what I deem to be real 5s.'

    Yes, and you are an arbiter as to what constitutes racism from a racialized person's view. Please. Okay, I get it ! Tell us what the 5s and up are within the context of American society, not some other country please.

    'Most of my 'ire is directed' at white PC libs who have no frame of reference.'

    Since when did concerns of racism in the US become the domain of white 'liberals'? Oh, right, racialized people's opinons don't count. Are you telling me that people with other political affiliations do-not have such concerns?

    '"The only meaning I can derive from any of them is basically 'shut up , know your place, or go back to where you come from if you don't like it here'."

    Example? '

    All your posts.

    'White folk are second to Asian-Americans in: median wage, life expectancy, college graduation rates, etc. If there is some racial class structure, Whites aren't at the top.'

    There you go pulling 'facts' out of your ass. A typical method used when employing the Arab Trader argument.
    But then again, your ire is directed mostly at blacks with Asians coming in a close second.

    '"Instead you use euphemisms for the old time racially blatant verbiage and viewpoints."

    Example?'

    Everything you post.

    'Power resides in individual hands. Just because Obama is president doesn't mean that Blacks are now in charge.'

    Yes, especially if you're white. It must piss you off that there are white people out there who don't subscribe to your racist mentality.

    'White Americans are some of the least racist people in the world.'

    Racialized people should therefore be grateful that they are allowed to live in predominantly white countries and should shut up and quit complaining. Yes, right, I see it now. In fact, they are lucky to be allowed to live period! This, despite the fact that many or most may be multi-generational. After all, the only true Americans are white people. I get it.

    ReplyDelete
  64. @Herneith,

    When someone makes a factual claim on the internets all you have to do is Google the Wikipedia entry (you're already sitting next to a computer) where you will find the relevant data and the supporting links. Thus, you learn something that might change your views. So, I pulled nothing from my ass, merely pointed to data amassed by the BLS, the Census Bureau, etc.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States

    Click 'Race'

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_outcomes_in_the_United_States_by_race_and_other_classifications

    The reason I asked for specific examples in my prior comment was because I don't know what you're talking about. If you don't quote specific statements, then that doesn't change.

    ReplyDelete
  65. @anti-lib squirrely:


    Anti-lib, I put Wikipedia on par with this; http://www.theonion.com/content/node/43742. Anyone can write an article, quote sources, and publish it on Wikipedia. The two sources you quote are indicative of this. The first one gives statistics without any real interpretive analysis such as this page does; http://www.asian-nation.org/model-minority.shtml The second link takes me to a page which says the topic does not exist.

    I use Wikipedia if I want to look up the history of 'Bugs Bunny' or some other cartoon character or trivia of some sort. They don't even allow Wikipedia to be cited in most schools! If I want to reference some topic or information, I use journals, studies, books written by academics, you get my drift? I don't know how many times I have come across warnings that the 'Topic may be suspect in regards to facts or neutrality', I paraphrase. So no I don't use Wikipedia as a reference, a jump off point maybe for trivia or entertainment. Nor would I cite it as a source of reliable or analytic information. I prefer to cross reference any information I need so as to garner a more balanced insight into a topic. Nope, Wikipedia doesn't provide this.

    'The reason I asked for specific examples in my prior comment was because I don't know what you're talking about. If you don't quote specific statements, then that doesn't change.'

    There is no 'specific' examples to be given, for as I iterated all of your post are condescending and racist in tone. There is nothing to argue about and there's nothing you can teach an ornery negress such as myself. Nice try, have a nice day.

    ReplyDelete
  66. irritated colombianOctober 23, 2009 at 11:00 PM

    DIMA and Macon: who the heck are you to police Shakira's identity.

    As a Colombian-American, who is "white" in the sense that I am not racially Black or Amerindian, but whose ethnicity and heritage is "Hispanic" I find it deeply offensive that you believe it is appropriate for you to decide what her identity (racial, ethnic or otherwise) is. From what I've read (I went through a big Shakira phase when I was like 12) she considers being middle eastern to be just as important to her as her nationality (Colombian).

    This discussion of whether or not Shakira is "acting white" is based entirely on an American paradigm of race relations and completely ignores the different cultural context that shapes her relationship with whiteness as well as Asian-ness.

    Would it surprise the hell out of you to know that Colombia has a pretty decent-sized Asian population? Or that a few years ago Mandarin was the most popular major at the University in Bogota? Or that despite its 60-odd years of political turmoil there are immigrant enclaves from the middle east and Japan?

    Colombia has its share of racism and bigotry, but it is not a mirror of the "western mindest" that characterizes race relations in a continent and a half away in the US and Canada.

    Newsflash: Other countries in the America's have dramatically more interesting, rich and multifaceted cultures and histories then most Americans (even those trying their darndest to be ultra-PC) would even consider giving them credit for. Afterall, its much easier to write off South America as a weird little sattelite US full of oppressed others then see it for a continent full of separate histories, cultures, and identities. Sure North and South American countries are all built off of the remnants of colonial systems (still exploited by north america today). But give Colombians credit for having their own culture.

    And make an attempt to learn something about their world before assuming that they have no culture at all.

    ReplyDelete
  67. This is a really confused post. Why would we consider Shakira white? Just because, like your Wiki Answers quote says, she's pretty? Or just because she arranges a certain performance in a possibly racist way that we happen to see as white? Or just because she sells millions of records, and it's just inconceivable to some of us that a light-skinned mainstream pop star in the US who sings a lot of her songs in English could NOT be white?

    I doubt that Shakira considers herself white. From everything I've read and heard about her, her mixed heritage is a big part of her identity. She still sings a lot of songs in Spanish, has featured singing in Arabic, and is very proud of her origins. When she guest stars on other people's albums (I'm thinking of Wyclef Jean's "Carnival 2" right now, but I know I've heard others that I can't remember at the moment), she's almost always there in a role that emphasizes her Latina heritage, singing in a very "Spanish flavor".

    In record stores like FYE, you don't find her in the pop/rock section. You find her in Latin Music. I'm not saying that's a good thing. I find it frustrating and divisive. But it is, IMO, an indicator of who she sells herself as and who her biggest fan base is (chain stores tend to follow the money).

    I think that a lot of people are interested in seeing Shakira as a white person, but Shakira herself is not necessarily one of those people. I think she wants to be the biggest star she can be, doing her own style of music which happens to have elements of mainstream pop, Latin rock and influences from other cultures around the world. She's a lot like Wyclef Jean in that way, and like Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon too.

    Gwen Stefani? Not so much.

    Regarding the performance on SNL: like Roxie said, I'd have to know a little more about the song before I made up my mind about this. The first thing I'd want to know is, can you hear the drumming properly on the actual album track? Can you see the drummers in Shakira's live performances? Are they acknowledged at all, or are they just props?

    I would suspect they are acknowledged on the album, because that's how Shakira generally works. You can't judge it from the SNL show, because that show is not a Shakira production. She has no control over stage lighting, set design, staging or sound engineering on that show. Those are all planned by the show's production team. and the standard plan in most of these guest performances is "sell the star". SNL are showing their guest Shakira, not "Shakira and the amazing Korean drummers she is working with at the moment". Usually a guest musician will be asked what s/he thinks of the mix, but then again mixes do get flubbed. I used to work in TV production, on shows a lot like SNL, and a lot of times I'd see an amazing performance in the studio that just didn't come through on TV.

    So yes, the SNL performance does anonymize the Korean drummers, but that's an issue I'd take up with SNL, not Shakira.

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  68. Confused post? Where does the post say that we should consider her white? I read it as raising questions about what whiteness is. It is in part, or at times, a performance, and I think she's definitely acting like a white performer in that SNL performance. You should read the comments here too, very informative on these matters, and on the different ways Shakira's race gets read. A lot of people do consider her "white."

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  69. I am reading the comments, AE, and even before I read them I was aware that a lot of people consider her white, but a lot of other people consider her not white. And I'm not sure it even matters what people think she is. We don't get to define Shakira based on what we think, how she acts or how she looks. Shakira defines Shakira. And like I said, I really doubt that Shakira thinks of herself as a white person.

    I called Macon's post confused because it argues in circles. Why is Shakira white? No particular reason, but she sure acts like a white person. Why is it white to have anonymous Asians in the background of your performance? Because all these white people do it, including Shakira. But Shakira isn't white, is she? Yes, because she acts white.... The post is raising some valid talking points, but with false logic at the center of it all.

    Shakira is also accused of "failing to recognize and appreciate their (Asians) distinct national cultures and traditions." But in the paragraph before, "The women... are wearing outfits in a traditional Korean style," and are performing a "distinctly Korean form of drumming" (which, I agree, you can't hear at all in the clip). So how is Shakira failing to recognize?

    I get that this resembles the unfortunate and blatantly racist Pre adverts and other instances where large groups of Asians were used as living props for white people. And if the drummers are as inaudible and disconnected from the song in the CD track as they were on SNL, I agree that they're just being used to make Shakira look "exotic".

    But you can't judge it from clips of her on SNL or DWTS, because the staging on those shows is not, in any way, up to Shakira. Neither is the sound production. And, judging by Shakira's other work, it would be really unlike her to have these women as guests and not let them be heard on the album.

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  70. I called Macon's post confused because it argues in circles. Why is Shakira white? No particular reason, but she sure acts like a white person. Why is it white to have anonymous Asians in the background of your performance? Because all these white people do it, including Shakira. But Shakira isn't white, is she? Yes, because she acts white.... The post is raising some valid talking points, but with false logic at the center of it all.

    I get your point that the staging can't be blamed on Shakira (though as I understand it, the same problem of inaudibility occurred in her other performance with these Korean drummers, on "Dancing with the Stars," I think), but I don't see the post as confused in the other way that you're saying it is. It doesn't say "Why is Shakira white?" It asks IF people see her as white, or as something else, which the post also acknowledges would be quite reasonable, given her background, and then it goes on to say that in her SNL performance, she seems to be "acting white." That's not saying that she "is white." After all, as Macon clearly realizes, no one "is white." White people are beige, or pink, and whiteness is a sociohistorical fiction that's been glommed onto them.

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  71. Thank you for including the Palm Pre commercial! I hate that one with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. It's just so SMUGLY RACIST.
    I nearly throw my laptop every time I see it.

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  72. 'sup, Macon. There's something that I've been thinking about from the very first time you responded to something that I wrote on this blog, by linking to something on your blog on my blog. It's related to this Palm Pre commercial.

    I wonder if you are actually doing more harm than good by continuing to post these racist commercials in an attempt to dissect or critique them. The only place that I have seen that commercial is on this blog. I have seen an edited version of the Palm Pre commercial several times on television, and I am assuming that the reason that I've seen only the edit is because Sprint decided to pull the commercial off of television for the very reasons that you criticized it initially.

    So what does it mean when one of the few places that people actually see this racist imagery is on a blog that is supposedly intended to end the use of racist imagery?

    The same thing happened with the link that you first posted on my blog--some Old Navy commercial with a naked black female mannequin... remember? I'd never seen that commercial before and haven't since. It's like you're contributing to the pollution of the universe by giving these images/information such a wide platform.

    What do you think?

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  73. Mbfs,

    Nah. I don't think my platform is all that broad/popular. I also trust that most of the people who see the ads here also read what I write about them. I can also see that the intended effect of helping people see the egregious effects I point out with examples here in other cultural products is working. I think all of these phenomena outweigh the pollution possibility that you describe.

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  74. Just would like to point out two things to people-

    1. Yes, sometimes performers use props and costumes to entertain people. Please do not confuse racism with inconsiderate-ness or thoughtlessness. Those women do not have to be there if they don't want to be and it in no way makes a person racist to utilise different cultures in their performances (without learning about them etc). Please remember what 'racist' actually means.

    2. Shakira is not white. Full blooded arabic people (e.g. Lebanese people) range from dark brown to pale skinned and I have seen a lot of very pale arabic people who would look white in any picture but in person you can see their skin tone/hue is completely different to that of a white person's. Your features/hair also make up the distinction between being white and being brown- Shakira has tanned skin, thick black hair (with an entirely different texture to white people's hair) and very dark (almost black) eyes. Her body type is also very typical of an arabic woman's body. Shakira's father (before he got older and probably paled naturally/got grey hair etc) is a brown lebanese man. Her mother is italian/catalan so it is VERY likely that she is mixed (like Beyonce's mother) and so if she is brown and white ('tanned') then that would make Shakira only 1/4 white. Please visit Youtube etc and look at picture slide shows of her growing up (before the image-whitening) to see for yourself- a good example is ''Tus Gafas Oscuras''. She has the exact colouring of Salma Hayek and even has very similar heritage. Both are half lebanese/half white (and raised in latin cultures- again though, it is likely Shakira's mother is at least tanned) and I'm sure everyone agrees Salma is brown.

    Just a quick point- if any of you are so convinced lebanese are white (which is absurd) then why is Salma brown? The only ethnic heritage she has is from one lebanese parent. She has absolutely no native/indian blood (i.e. Mexican).

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  75. Jesus Christ, she's white. This is the problem with your site. 'White' people live outside of America too, meaning that there isn't a universal 'white culture'. A white Russian immigrant to the US won't be anymore culturally similar to a White American, than a Kenyan immigrant is to an African-American, or a Korean immigrant is to either.

    Shakira is white, her father is Lebanese and is white (in Latin America Syrians, Armenians, and Lebanese people who made up most of the Near Eastern immigrants are considered white -- because the majority have white skin and are Caucasian) and her mom is Catalan/Italian and white. She like millions of other Latin Americans is a descendant of immigrants to Latin America.
    I'm Puerto Rican and my dad is of Lebanese descent -- he's just as white as a European (light brown hair, prominent nose, fair skin, green eyes). My mom on the other hand is of Corsican, Canarian and Polish descent -- she's white too. So just because I'm Puerto Rican and partially of Middle Eastern descent doesn't mean I'm not white. Race isn't dependant on geography! (not to mention race is SOO subjective.. 'white' for example isn't a race it's signifies a Caucasian of light skin tone vs. a Caucasian who is 'brown'). That being said I am not culturally a White American, because I have my own unique culture, so yes my race is Caucasian (and white) but no I don't consider myself culturally white American. American society seems to not be able to distinguish culture and race!

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  76. Cris- Did you even watch the Youtube video I recommended?

    ...I know you didn't because anyone who ever does immediately stops thinking of Shakira as 'white'.

    You say your father is of Lebanese 'descent'. I have noticed that Americans mention 'descent' to mean 'somewhere in my ancestry'. In which case- if your father is not a full blooded Lebanese man or has other blood in him then of course he could be white. Take Cher for example- for years I thought she was brown because of Native American blood but then I found out that the Native blood is from generations ago and her father is actually Armenian. If Armenians are white then why is Cher brown? PLEASE don't anyone reply that she isn't because there are decades worth of pictures where she is brown and in any biopic of her, people old enough to remember always say what a fuss she caused on TV as people weren't used to seeing ethnic people on their shows.

    You can't cover that up (although Cher seems to be trying). I find it odd that she would though considering she herself has made statements about experiencing racism growing up and that she felt happy when she travelled to Armenia because everyone looked like her and she finally felt that she 'fit in' somewhere (or something to that effect).

    I have two albums of Cher- one is her latest hits where she has the white-blonde wig and ghost-face and the other shows her with tanned skin and long straight black hair (wearing an ethnic dress).

    Just because what you see now is white doesn't mean these artists always were.

    I'm always curious about why people won't accept that Middle Easterners are brown (or tanned). There may be some people there who are white (doesn't mean they are full blooded Middle Easterners). There may be some who are so pale they seem white but there are so many mixed race people (white/middle east) who turn out 'tanned' (Salma/Shakira/Cher) so how could that be if all Middle Easterners are white?

    I see some strange comments (one today actually) where people have actually written that they consider Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek to be white (!!).

    Shakira is not white.

    Not by hair/eyes/body type/skin (debatable I'm sure)/culture

    ...and she is probably a better artist for it. I'd rather see a singer incorporating other cultures in her performances (possibly for effect rather than appreciation) than see a singer not (!) and just strip off on stage while pretending to sing.

    I have noticed Shakira miming a lot these days though...shame.

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  77. I think everyone has a different impression of what white means. To me, if I say someone is white, I'm talking about the lightness of their skin. Not about their eye color, hair color, culture, or ethnic background. If their skin is light, then it's "white".

    It seems to me that others take into account a person's cultural heritage when talking about their "whiteness". Thus, I think the confusion when someone says Shakira is white (talking about her light skin) and others saying she's not white (talking about her heritage).

    If I let myself, I can be "brown", too, like Shakira. If I get a lot of sun, my skin tans to a nice golden color and then I really do look like I'm latina (which I am - in part). I think Shakira has the same skin tone as I do. She tans and thus she is golden-colored. If she doesn't tan for a while, I'm willing to bet she'll look quite white, like me.

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  78. Elsariel- Hello! I am not sure if your comment was in reference to any points I made in my previous comment but I would like to add something to this debate; Ralph Macchio. I thought I was watching a good looking, brown young boy in the 'Karate Kid' films and I have read (in his bios) that he made a name for himself by playing the 'ethnic' kid in films. Yet because his nationality (or heritage should I say) is Italian all the online websites label his ethnicity as white. I cannot understand this. The man is much darker than most latinos who are labelled brown. People seem to grasp hold of a concept (that certain nationalities are specific colours) and then won't let go.

    I was very interested in your point regarding your skin tone and how much it alters your perceived race (i.e. makes you look more latina) when you have tanned. This supports the fact that skin tone is not the only factor which decides your ethnic label.

    White people are still easily recognisable as white even when they have tanned as dark as a (brown) latina.

    This is because of their other features. If you look (much more?...sorry I don't know you!) latina when tanned then this is because you probably looked like a light skinned latina to begin with?

    I don't mean to make judgements I am just trying to expand in more detail on my previous comments.

    Also- with all due respect to you and your views, Shakira is arabic. I don't know if you have similar heritage but if not then it may not be fair to comment that you believe your skin tone to be the same. Without knowing her personally it would be difficult to know if any current picture shows an accurate enough portrayal to make judgements about her skin tone/hue. Judging by every single early picture of Shakira I have ever seen (pre-photoshopping and airbrushing)- she has always looked like a light skinned (but definitely tanned) black haired, arabic woman. In Europe this is not the definition of white (because there are so many 'whiter' people to compare to I suppose!!) In other parts of the world she may be considered white e.g. perhaps where everyone is very black? (I'm not saying this is true or that I believe it, just trying to offer possibilities for why people label things differently in different areas of the world).

    Well, I suppose it's irrelevant what we think about her skin colour anyway, the only reason it bothers me is because it would be nice to see her looking natural in just ONE video and really promoting her race/culture NOT with fake blonde hair/blue contacts and a bit of belly dancing but really representing her 'people' by actually identifying in public as one of them. Just occasionally would be nice!

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  79. Well, now Shakira has moved on to performing with a large group of Black women as a backdrop. Makes her look cool ("Lookitme! I can keep up with the darkies when it comes to dancing!") and even more pristinely White.

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  80. Just to clarify something I touched on in a previous comment- that the label 'white' does not solely mean 'white skinned'.

    Take Keanu Reeves as an example. He identifies as a white man (apparently- according to websites). To me, a man is made up of more than his skin colour. A man is his skin, hair, eyes and culture (etc.)

    Keanu Reeves looks completely asian (to me) except for his pale skin. Surely a more accurate description/labelling of him would be; 'white skinned asian man'?

    However, I cannot and will not accept comments/statements that Shakira is white skinned (there's no question she is arabic feature-wise) as I have seen far too many pictures of her in her early years (before professional photos).

    To get back to the original point of this debate- I do not believe for a moment that Shakira read into her performance as deeply as we are discussing it now. Nobody wears ordinary clothes on stage (unless they're boring!) so just because asian women don't necessarily dress like that now doesn't mean it is ignorant for them to wear that attire on stage.

    I will repeat an earlier point- even if it is thoughtless to latch on to a trend for the sake of entertainment; that has absolutely nothing to do with being racist. Ignorance and racism are two completely different things (just sometimes linked to similar subjects).

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  81. Elena,

    I was actually surprised (a long time ago) to hear that Reeves' racial heritage is mixed -- before that, I just thought he was "white."

    Also, Arab Americans are classified as "white" by the U.S. Census.

    You also wrote,

    To get back to the original point of this debate- I do not believe for a moment that Shakira read into her performance as deeply as we are discussing it now.

    Whatever she or anyone else involved with the performance thought they were doing doesn't matter -- we can't even know that. What matters here is effects, not apparent intentions.

    Nobody wears ordinary clothes on stage (unless they're boring!) so just because asian women don't necessarily dress like that now doesn't mean it is ignorant for them to wear that attire on stage.

    The point is white-like center-staging, with POC used in the background as props. It's a very common white mode of performance, and Shakira is basically replicating it here, however white or not she herself is, and however white or not people think she is.

    Ignorance and racism are two completely different things (just sometimes linked to similar subjects).

    People can be absolutely ignorant of the effects of their actions. That doesn't then mean that none of their actions can be "racist." Again, what counts is racist effects, not intent.

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  82. Macon D, (this reply is in two halves)
    I was actually surprised (a long time ago) to hear that Reeves' racial heritage is mixed -- before that, I just thought he was "white."
    Sorry love but you’re quite possibly the only person I have ever come across that has ever stated they could not tell that Keanu Reeves was Asian. Even ignoring his name the man has very distinctive Asian features. As most famous people can probably afford a few holidays a year the man often has a healthy natural tan in his films so I actually didn’t realise he was even white skinned- I just thought he was pale. If he states he has white skin then I will believe him (it’s not my place to argue with someone who really should know!).

    Also, Arab Americans are classified as "white" by the U.S. Census.
    I honestly could not care less what the U.S. Census states. This is not meant disrespectfully however you have worded the above sentence as though the U.S. Census stating something makes it fact. It doesn’t. The U.S. of A has also invented the word ‘Hispanic’ which is included in your census (correct me if I am wrong?) and that has to be the most politically incorrect load of rubbish I have ever heard. I was almost as shocked as when I found out about the state of your health care system. Inventing a word to describe entire races of people whose (sometimes) only common ‘traits’ are that they speak Spanish and have emigrated to the U.S.A. is offensive and racist. There is even a loophole about the label applying to all future offspring! So instead of doing what non-Spanish speaking white people do when they emigrate to the U.S.A. and just referring to themselves as American they now have an extra label just to forever separate them from ‘real’ Americans...which I thought were the natives but...anyway, you’ll have to forgive me if I really don’t put too much value in what rubbish goes into your census- it only applies in America anyway so please don’t assume that just because your government does things one way that everyone else in the world must too because we mostly don’t.
    Whatever she or anyone else involved with the performance thought they were doing doesn't matter -- we can't even know that. What matters here is effects, not apparent intentions.
    Sorry but I have to disagree with you (again!). Intention is everything. If we based all of our decisions on effects instead of asking for the reason behind actions then there would be a lot of confusion in the world. If you saw me knock an old black lady to the ground would you immediately assume I am racist and write about my ‘racism’ in blogs (after helping the woman of course ) or would you ask me why I did it? I could then offer numerous explanations; the lady was on fire or perhaps she was hard of hearing and failed to hear my cries that she was about to fall into a huge crater... (Bit extreme yes but you get my point!) The fact is is that you are right- we do not know what her intentions were so it would surely be stupid of people to make snap judgements that could be entirely wrong (either way) and which could lead to a lot of heartache for an artist mislabelled as something because of those judgements? I‘m also surprised (sorry if I am wrong) that no-one has even pointed out the most obvious thing of all- there wouldn’t be any negative effects if we didn’t let there be.

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  83. part 2:

    The point is white-like center-staging, with POC used in the background as props. It's a very common white mode of performance, and Shakira is basically replicating it here, however white or not she herself is, and however white or not people think she is.
    Actually I believe this is more about trends. People of colour became much cooler in the industry a while back when the Latin boom kicked in and when rap (fuelled by Eminem) became extremely popular in the mainstream. So now all the white performers have people of colour in the background (as it’s trendy, not to say anything about who’s the ‘boss’!) and to support this I can see that other artists of colour (Beyoncé/Mary J. Blige/Ciara etc.) also have people of colour dancing/singing in the background. It seems to me that comments like the one above (‘white-like centre-staging’) imply that artists should only have people of the same colour/ethnicity in the background or they will be heavily criticised as being ignorant or worse, racist. I don’t really believe this is fair. I would go as far as saying it is shallow of artists to simply follow trends but I certainly wouldn’t say that makes them racist. Again if people watching the performance choose to let the positioning of the entertainers on stage affect their views on race then I’d rather be discussing that problem than this one.

    People can be absolutely ignorant of the effects of their actions. That doesn't then mean that none of their actions can be "racist." Again, what counts is racist effects, not intent.
    I never said ignorant people couldn’t commit racist actions?
    Again, the only racist effects are the racist views people choose to adopt and frankly if someone were so inclined I think they probably already were racist and didn’t need a performance by a pop singer to guide them.
    Thanks for replying- I like debating interesting points because you never really know what alternate views someone might bring up. I would also like to point out (as I know my earlier comment about the U.S. census will seem harsh) that I am aware there are white Arabs out there it’s just that with all the wars, travelling, race-mixing and general emigrations, I simply do not believe that those people would have DNA tests showing they were 100% (or close to that) Arabic.

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  84. Macon, it's disingenuous of you to flip-flop on whether you consider Middle Easters white or not to fit your current argument.

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  85. "Sorry love but you’re quite possibly the only person I have ever come across that has ever stated they could not tell that Keanu Reeves was Asian."

    I thought he was "just plain white" too. Never gave it a second thought until now.

    "I honestly could not care less what the U.S. Census states. This is not meant disrespectfully however you have worded the above sentence as though the U.S. Census stating something makes it fact. It doesn’t."

    When social constructs such as race and race heirarchy are systemic, that is, rooted in blanket power structures such as government bureaucratic labeling (and thus affect how that government and its followers treat various people based on those labels), being called "white" by the census makes an arab-american experience life differently than say a black american.

    "[the "hispanic" rant omitted for space]"

    It seems like you really do care what the US census says. Yes, "Hispanic" as a label in the census is messed up, and that doesn't change the fact that Arab-Americans being labeled "white" has an impact on how such people are treated by the world around them.

    "Intention is everything. If we based all of our decisions on effects instead of asking for the reason behind actions then there would be a lot of confusion in the world."

    When I got drunk and crashed into that minivan full of kids when I sped through a red light while yelling at pedestrians, I didn't intend to kill anyone, so you should just let me off the hook.

    "If you saw me knock an old black lady to the ground would you immediately assume I am racist and write about my ‘racism’ in blogs... or would you ask me why I did it? I could then offer numerous explanations; the lady was on fire or perhaps she was hard of hearing and failed to hear my cries that she was about to fall into a huge crater...

    I'm new at this sorta thing so correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this what they call a strawman?

    [continued]

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  86. [continuing]

    "The fact is is that you are right-we do not know what her intentions were so it would surely be stupid of people to make snap judgements that could be entirely wrong (either way) and which could lead to a lot of heartache for an artist mislabelled as something because of those judgements?"

    Anything but racism! Pop stars are victims too!

    "I‘m also surprised (sorry if I am wrong) that no-one has even pointed out the most obvious thing of all- there wouldn’t be any negative effects if we didn’t let there be."

    The "let's all be colorblind" line.

    "Actually I believe this is more about trends."

    Right, because trends are safe and racism is threatening.

    "...when rap (fuelled by Eminem) became extremely popular in the mainstream."

    Rap was popular in the mainstream LONG before Eminen. White people don't get to claim credit for everything, ya know.

    "...to support this I can see that other artists of colour (Beyoncé/Mary J. Blige/Ciara etc.) also have people of colour dancing/singing in the background."

    Some animals eat their young. Does that mean it isn't bad if we do it, too?

    "I would go as far as saying it is shallow of artists to simply follow trends but I certainly wouldn’t say that makes them racist."

    It absolutely makes it racist, Elena. That is what priveledge is all about. White people have the backing of the whole supremacist system to just go with the flow and not think twice about how our actions affect others. It may very well be a trend, AND it is made possible by a culture of othering and objectifying.

    "I would also like to point out... that I am aware there are white Arabs out there it’s just that with all the wars, travelling, race-mixing and general emigrations, I simply do not believe that those people would have DNA tests showing they were 100% (or close to that) Arabic."

    Race isn't about DNA, Elena. It's about how people are perceived and treated. You are demonstrating that by thinking you know more about people's genetics, lineage and family history than they have themselves told you, simply by them being labeled as "Arab".

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  87. Race isn't about DNA, Elena.

    This.

    Race itself is a purely social construct. It purports to dovetail with genetics, but that's just a load of pseudoscientific hooey. It's gobsmacking just how many people lack basic awareness of the fact that there exists only one race of humans.

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  88. Cloudy said,

    Macon, it's disingenuous of you to flip-flop on whether you consider Middle Easters white or not to fit your current argument.

    I didn't say I consider Middle Easterners white. I said the U.S. Census classifies Arab Americans as white. That doesn't mean Middle Easterners and/or Arab Americans are not considered non-white in many other contexts, especially if they have darker skin.

    I don't simply consider Middle Easterners and/or Arab Americans either white or non-white; in the U.S., they get considered one or the other, depending on the context, and on their features.

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  89. Now for a brief detour:

    I thought he [Keanu Reeves] was "just plain white" too. Never gave it a second thought until now.

    I remember seeing a "Making of" feature for "The Replacements." He was having difficulty during the Electric Slide dance scene. Poking fun at himself, he said, verbatim: "I can't do it. I'm White." So I'll take his word for it. Just like I'll take Halle Berry's, Zoe Saldana's, Tiger Woods', Barack Obama's, and so on.

    Yes, I know about Reeves' multicultural ancestry (and I'm sure he knows more about it than I do). I know he was born in Lebanon. I know he has Hawaiian, Chinese, and Arabic ancestors. However, in his own words and the eyes of the world we live in, he's White, regardless of how contrary that is to genetics and genealogy.

    Race is not what you have; it's what you live.

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  90. Part 1
    Framongill and RVCBard: Whilst I still cannot fathom how anyone could miss his Asian features I will remind you that I also stated that I am aware he identifies as being a white man and also that I will too believe him when he says he has white skin (again, because he should know!).

    Framongill: Some of your responses were rather patronising and very ‘simplified’. The ‘let’s all be colour blind’ comment really missed the point I was making. If grown adults allow others to influence their opinions on who is higher up in the ‘food chain’ so to speak then that is really quite pathetic. I think so many people confuse ignorance with racism and it is a shame. It is (arguably) acceptable to say that someone following a trend which can have negative effects is ignorant as the effects can lead to racism...but racism is the effect NOT the instigator (which was ignorance).

    I always laugh a bit when I hear people say there’s no such thing as race. I completely understand that we are all part of the same race (humanly and ethnically) however there is no denying (I sincerely hope) that there are sometimes extreme differences between...hmm...’peoples’? And therefore we say ‘races’. I personally use this word because it’s in the dictionary and part of my language- I don’t use the word ‘race’ to imply there are better races than others, it just describes the varying people in the world.

    Framongill: So you’re saying that your census classes an entire race of people (sorry...an entire...’group’?) of people as ‘white’ so that they will have a better life...?! That’s a fantastic and highly accurate census you must have there. Does this mislabelling work? Are Arabs treated better now? I think I just discovered a way to end the racism against black people in your country... I only care what anyone’s census says when it includes blatant racism.

    Framongill: Please don’t oversimplify other people’s genuine arguments with comments like ...’if I killed a bunch of kids...’ etc. as that is a poor way of having a serious debate. Clearly if you choose to poison yourself and become drunk and then choose to drive it is fairly clear that your intentions were not entirely against committing harm to others and that example is not really in the same category as deciding whether or not to label an artist as racist (again people are using the wrong word) based on a performance of theirs.

    Framongill: What’s a strawman and what does the ‘anything but racism’ line actually mean?

    Framongill: If it is more about a trend then that implies ignorance is the cause of the behaviour rather than say, if it was about thinking you were better than others...THEN it would be about racism. Again, until we find out the intentions behind her actions we cannot know therefore it is not fair to label somebody as something so evil without having full knowledge. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    Commie Bastard: No. Just no.

    RVCBard: Sorry, what do you mean about taking Halle Berry’s word for it?

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  91. Part 2

    Framongill: I can assure you that Eminem (and this comes from rap superstars even today of all colours) opened a lot of doors. I know rap was huge but the mainstreamers probably couldn’t name three huge rappers and I doubt they were making as much money from endorsements etc. Eminem is the brand name that brought rap to the forefront at award shows and the charts and made it as profitable as it is now...I’m not gonna comment on the benefit of Eminem being introduced to us though or the rather racist comment you made about white people not taking credit for everything- now that is an example of racism. We have evidence for that- do you see the difference between that and making assumptions about a singer based on a performance?

    Framongill: The comment I made about ethnic artists having ethnic people on stage too was in support of the comment I made about this being a trend issue NOT to say that it means everyone must do it; another example of you bulldozing over very legitimate arguments with bitchy comments. I know I wrote a lengthy reply to MaconD but please read things carefully to fully understand the argument before replying otherwise there is no point in replying.

    Everyone: Following trends does not make you racist. The issue here is that a lot of people don’t seem to understand what racist actually means. If you believe you are better than another race then you are racist. If you refuse to socialise with or hire people of different colours then you are racist. If you believe one group of people or ‘race’ has certain personality traits (like being loud) then you are ignorant NOT racist (unless you are also racist!). Following a trend that may lead to racist effects (in foolish-minded people) is ignorant and stupid but until someone explains how they feel about another race compared to their own you cannot know if they are racist or not.

    Framongill, Commie Bastard and RVCBard: As we use the word race to distinguish between people of certain physical traits which are decided by genes, I think it’s fair to say that race is about DNA. Colour is about skin and ‘it’s what you live’ (RVCBard) is clearly about culture.

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  92. Let me tell you, Shakira is not white, there are many white hispanics in latin america but Shakira is not one of them. Her skin is dark olive skin, if you don't believe me take a look at her first video "pies descalzos" and all her films from the same album and you will notice an extremely different skin color.

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  93. Shakira is mixed race and in the context of the United States would not be white. A lot of her popularity is based on her image as an exotic Latina with a big butt(not being racist or sexist here, she deliberately shows her body off in the way she dresses and dances) In Columbia she might pass for or be considered white. In Latin America one does not have to be pale to be white and "whiteness" often has a lot to do with economic class. This however really has nothing to do with whether or not the music video being discussed is racists, whites do not have a monopoly on racism. Certainly there are plenty of Asian Americans that are racist towards Latinos and Blacks. In this instance I would agree. They are nameless faceless representations of something "exotic" that somehow make her song more trendy and hip. The fact that Shakira's popularity is also based on a certain exotic factor is just ironic. Nationality is also something I would take into consideration. Shakira lives and works in the United States, the most dominant country in the world and is using these Korean woman, I don't know whether or not they speak English, as decorations, representations of a culture her audience mostly does not understand. But most importantly I think is class. Shakira is rich and famous they are not. One does not have to be born "white" or "American" to take on racist or imperialist attitudes. Another example of racism from Shakira that personally infuriates me is her new hit single "Gypsy". In it she basically says gypsies are too lazy to hold down a job never keep promises or plan ahead and steal stuff. Sounds like something Hitler might have said. I know this is probably on account of her ignorance and not malice and the fact that Roma(the proper term for gypsy) people are not a very visible presence in the Americas. Why would they be with all the stereotypes, easier to say something like Im Greek, or I just love hanging out on the beach. I am part Roma and find this piling on to the usually innocent but still annoying and damaging stereotypes most people have about gypsy culture. Roma are a race like any other, Roma can be doctors lawyers rocket scientists. Even those that do make their living doing things like dancing and singing mix tradition with practical business sense to make money to eat and live. They can keep agreements and most Roma do not steal, at least not any more than other races. But what does Shakira care shes just having fun and making money. In her mind she likes gypsies and their "wild and free lifestyle."

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  94. well ppl, being latin american is not being dark skinned..latino is not a race, we have never defined it liike that, that's something that u americans have made up, being latino is being born and having family born in any latin american country, i'm white, i have spanish and scottish ancestry, but my family has lived generations here,i'm panamanian, and most of my friends r white, not cause i chose them white, just because this is how the population is. saying that latin american is a race is as stupid as saying canadian is a race, it's nationality, i'd rather say that shakira's a caucasian latin american, the caucasian latin american make up the 40 percent of latin america, being the biggest racial group in latin america, look it on wikipedia, (big surprise for u huh?) and particularly being a majority in argentina, chile, uruguay, brazil, costa rica and cuba, and being an important population in the rest of the countries where they generally form the elite, the rich ppl, or middle class ppl,and sometimes poor ppl, like here for instance, and also every country having regions where most ppl are white, for example guadalajara mexico, has a predominant white population cause of a strong german immigration and the colonial spanish who settled there, my province is quite full of white ppl, since hundred of years and despite the mixing, as well as central provinces of panama, there are a lot of whites, a majority, and panama city has many white cause many ppl from these provinces go there, and because being a cosmopolitan city, many foreign settled there in the past and even more now, in my country, as well as the all of latin america, u find ppl from the darkest black to the lightest white...and believe me, some years ago, I would have never imagined that u didn't know such a thing...u r very ignorant ppl, u have to read more...best regards

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  95. g.c. morrison- who is saying that latin is a race? of course it isn't! I know white and caucasian are not the same thing but if you are trying to say that Shakira is white then you are wrong- visit www.celebrityschoolpics.com to see for yourself.

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  96. shakira may not be thought of as white in the United States but probably would be in Latin America. That said the truth is she is mixed race. She also prides herself on having a big butt. Because sex sells not so much musical talent. But she really does act as white here and its not even the skin color really she is rich famous speaks English lives in the US. The random Asians presumably don't speak English and are foreign. In all those adds you see the white person as larger than life. An "individual" those ethnic people almost more like animal and plant life that decorates a place. Its also clear in those adds that the white person is who we relate too, the white person is "us" the viewer. This pattern is also very common in books and movies. Most books and movies about far away places are written by a white person or prominently display the white explorer, who often helps save the natives, Dances With Wolves is a good example even though I like that movie and think it was a good thing for it's time, instead of just having a book or movie by the people its about.

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