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Note: This is very much a work in progress! It merely states my present thinking. Comments and suggestions are, of course, welcomed.

General rules I currently try to follow (click on links for further discussion):

  1. Bring up race, ethnic origin, immigration status, etc, only when it matters to the story and can be known for sure. You can, however, always give someone’s nationality, if known, as part of a general description: Pakistani scientist.
  2. Allow people to self-identify. Use their names for themselves: Cablinasian, biracial, colourless American, etc. If there is a more commonly known English name for their ethnic group, use it on first mention in parentheses: Romani (Gypsies).

    Always capitalize the names of races and ethnic groups: Black, White, Gypsy, etc.

    Five-race model: For the US I generally follow the five “race” model: White, Latino, Black, Asian, Native. Natives can be called Indians if it clear you do not mean India. For Asians, Latinos and Natives, unless you are talking about them as a whole, it is best to give an ethnic group where known: Navajo, Dominican American, Taiwanese American, etc.

  3. Do not make fun of other cultures – their language, dialect, accent, food, dress, hair, music, dance, holidays, religion, given names, etc. Different is just different, not laughable, screwed up, “exotic”, “ghetto”, criminal or threatening. Neither demonize other cultures nor idealize your own.
  4. Avoid racial slurs: nigger, whitey, white trash, Paki, Jap, kaffir, etc. Use them in quoted speech only if it matters to the story.
  5. Know and avoid stereotypes and tropes. For example:

    Some people fit these stereotypes and tropes, of course, but they are only safe to use if, like August Wilson, you show the full range of humanity that every race or ethnic group has. Otherwise you are confirming the stereotype.

    Know the danger signs of ethnic stereotyping. Know what mukokuseki is. People in outgroups have love lives, moral complexity, personal opinions and all the rest. They are individuals, Real People, not carboard cut-outs, boogeymen, a dozen stereotypes or part of a hive mind.

  6. Avoid Eurocentric, colonial and racially awkward words: modern, backward, tribal, savage, exotic, minorities, mulatto, inscrutable, slanted eyes, good hair, illegals, hut, medicine man, contribution, Mexican bandit, Muslim terrorist, Black crime, Third World, Oriental, Asiatic, Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, etc.
  7. Be careful with viewpoint words: we, our, here, ethnic, accent, freedom, foreign, native, settler, frontier, discover, etc. Unless your race, ethnic group or nation has a hive mind, write about it in the third person.
  8. Name the unnamed centre: Western science, the White press, US accent, etc – but keep in mind #1. If you are going to call something “Muslim”, “Islamic” or “Black”, for example,then you should also call their counterparts “Christian”, “Western” or “White”.

See also: 

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How my blog has looked through the ages (Click on images to enlarge. Links in italics are external and subject to rot):

 

2007:

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March 28th 2007: I move my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I chose the Quentin theme (pictured above) because it made my imported Blogger posts look the least bad.

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June 2007: I moved to the cleaner look of the White As Milk theme. I started doing posts on beautiful women and the brown background of Quentin looked terrible.

 

2008: 

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January 5th 2008: After playing around with different themes I move to the Connections theme. The picture is an angel from Leonardo’s “The Virgin of the Rocks” (1508).

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May 2008: Through most of 2008 and 2009 I used masthead pictures taken from an old picture of Quiloa. So much so that some thought my name was Quiloa!

 

2009:

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March 2009: I used this picture of Quiloa through most of 2009. Then about December I saw this masthead picture at mulattodiaries.com:

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It sold me on the MistyLook theme that I use to this day:

 

2010: 

20100115200112January 2010: The masthead picture comes from “Blues” (1929) by Archibald Motley.

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November 2010: From a picture of Nick’s Pub in Harlem. I loved this picture because it suggests people talking late at night, which is kind of how I saw my blog.

 

2011: 

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April 2011: Race map of metropolitan New York.

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July 2011: From a tomb painting from Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qurnah, Egypt, c. 1400 BC. I was doing posts on Cheikh Anta Diop.

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September 2011: Troy Davis. This was when the background turned black. That picture was too much for some, so I sarcastically changed it to:

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October 2011: Bambi, the Disney version. The grim underlying message of this picture for me is that the Disney film plays in the US while Jews are sent to Treblinka.

Now the masthead picture changes every month or so. Here are some of them:

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November 2011: From Vincent Van Gogh’s “Cafe Terrace at Night” (1888). In the same vein as Nick’s Pub.

 

2012: 

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January 2012: From a Mambu Bayoh photograph (2010).

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February 2012: Whitney Houston, R.I.P. Shows her sitting on a cloud with Michael Jackson. From youngearlgrey.tumblr.com.

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March 2012: Trayvon Martin.

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March 2012: Arrest George Zimmerman! From Google Images.

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April 2012: From “Curly” (2010) by Milos Gazdic.

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May 2012: From the Naked Black Justice poster.

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October 2012: From “Her SMIRK” (2012) by Mambu Bayoh. Model: Whippa Wiley.

 

2013: 

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May 2013: Being the only Black person. From Tumblr.

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June 2013: From “Secret Self” (2010) by Tim Okamura.

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July 2013: In the wake of the George Zimmerman trial, a picture of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin.

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August 2013: The Dark Knight from Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” (1975), who reminded me of xPraetorius, a troll then at his height.

 

2014: 

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February 2014: From “La Martinique” (1986) by Françoise Huguier

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April 2014: Model Loredana Ituah. From Tumblr.

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May 2014: Asian Heritage Month. Detail from an Ansel Adams photograph (1943) of morning exercises at the Manzanar Japanese American internment camp.

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August 12th 2014: A picture I made from Jet magazine covers, one from every ten years or so.

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August 14th 2014: “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot”. Ferguson protest at Howard University.

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September 25th 2014: The current masthead, for Hispanic Heritage Month. Taken from The Virgin’s Seed” (1991), a mural in East Los Angeles by Paul Botello.

See also:

 

 

 

Amara La Negra

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Note: Some of this post might not be strictly true: most of what is written about her is in Spanish and my Spanish is not very good! So corrections are welcomed.

Diana Danelys De Los Santos (1990- ), better known as Amara La Negra or Amara Santos, is a US singer and dancer. Her biggest song to date has been “Ayy” (2013) in the Dominican Republic. She is known for her big Afro, her lovely figure and her sensual dancing. She is beautiful!

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She was born to Dominican parents in the US. She was the daughter of a stage mother who lived not far from the Miami studios of Univision, the largest Spanish-language television network in the US. There she grew up before our eyes: at age four she won Miss Chiquitita. From age four to ten (late 1990s) she appeared on the variety show “Sábado Gigante” (1962- ). Later she danced with the likes of Celia Cruz, Gloría Estefan, Oscar de Leon and Los Tigres del Norte. At 19 she won third place on “Diva Latina”.

She has appeared on two other Spanish-language television networks in the US as well:

  • On Telemundo she has appeared in bit parts in telenovelas such as “Perro Amor” (2010).
  • On Mega TV she presented for “A Tacón Quita’o” (2011).

As a child she spent so much time working that she never learned to swim, skate or ride a bicycle! But that was hardly the worst of it:

“They said I was too black, my hair was too hard, I insisted on hair relaxers. … In school I was a victim of bullying, I was called whale, frog, cow, I was separated from the girls who were skinny & pretty. It was very difficult.”

At 13 she was 230 pounds (104kg). She lost weight, in time achieving the figure she has now. At 16 she went natural and now she loves her hair. Her grey-green eyes are real.

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She is proud to be Latina and Black“estoy muy orgullosa de ser una negra.” The Dominican press describes her as mulata and morena (brown), meaning they see her as partly White, not completely Black. She is in fact part Italian by blood. There is no One Drop Rule in the Dominican Republic.

Musically she grew up on the Queen of Disco (Donna Summer) and the Queen of Salsa (Celia Cruz) along with Tina Turner and La India. Her own music, as her record company puts it, “ranges from the Tropical to Urban Music, from Afro to Soul, to Dance, to Pop and R&B.” They say she has “strong Latin roots mixed with her purely Yankee style.”

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In 2013 she came out with a string of songs. The biggest by far was “Ayy”. Some do not like the video because of the booty dancing. She says the dancing and the short shorts were her mother’s idea! She says of the song:

“The kids have taken over [the song] ‘Ay’ and so I have been criticized but that is a song that is not made ​​for children.”

On October 30th she is set to appear in “Yo soy la salsa” (2014), a film about Dominican salsa band leader Johnny Pacheco, where she sings songs by the late Celia Cruz.

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See also:

Remarks:

NSFW! Booty dancing ahead. Amara La Negra herself says it is not for children. This song was a hit in the Dominican Republic in 2013.

Che Guevara

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A poster based on the iconic photograph taken by Alberto Korda in March 1960

Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928-1967), an Argentinian-born communist revolutionary and guerrilla leader, was Fidel Castro’s right-hand man during the Cuban Revolution. He wrote the book on guerrilla warfare. He went on to fight in failed revolutions in D.R. Congo and in Bolivia, where he was killed by the CIA.

He is a hero not just in Cuba but to everyone who loves freedom, says Nelson Mandela. In the US he is part of the intellectual tradition of radical thought among Blacks and Chicanos – and, among Whites, a cool T-shirt.

Guevara came from a well-to-do family in Argentina. He was part Irish, part Spanish. Growing up he read Marx and Neruda and listened to the stories of those who had fought in the Spanish Civil War.

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Che Guevara’s motorcycle. Source

During and after his studies to become a doctor, he travelled across Latin America on his motorcycle. The poverty shocked him. But it got worse: in 1954 in Guatemala he saw, with his own eyes, the CIA overthrowing the government, bombs dropping from planes and everything. He did what he could to help defend the capital but it was hopeless.

Like Fanon, Guevara was a doctor who saw that what patients suffered from most were the effects of Western imperialism. Poverty and disease were merely the symptoms. The countries of Latin America were run for the benefit of the US by the few at the top who did its bidding, leaving the masses poor. The US, as he saw, used its military might to keep it that way.

In Mexico he met Fidel Castro, who asked him to join his revolution to overthrow Batista, the US’s puppet dictator of Cuba.

In 1956 Castro landed in Cuba with just 80 men – the same week Bing Crosby arrived to play golf. Batista defeated Castro, killing all but 20 of his men. As they fled to the mountains, Guevara had to choose between a box of medicine and a box of bullets. He chose the box of bullets.

By 1958 their numbers had grown to 200. They came down from the mountains and cut Cuba in half. Guevara himself took Santa Clara, the third biggest city. By New Year’s Day 1959 Batista had fallen.

Guevara had hundreds of political prisoners killed without trial. He became the head of the national bank and later the minister of industry.

In December 1964 he spoke before the UN and briefly met Malcolm X. Then he travelled across Africa, reading Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” (1961).

To free the human race of its enemy, the United States of North America, Cuba was not enough. Nor was Vietnam. There needed to be several Vietnams at the same time. The more countries that freed themselves from the tree of Western imperialism, the weaker the tree would become. So he went to fight in D.R. Congo and Bolivia. The Tricontinental – Asia, Africa and Latin America – needed to work together to throw off the chains of Europe and North America and create a new world, one built for everyone, not just for rich Westerners.

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Pretty much how Guevara saw the world

See also:

“Dear White People” (2014) comes out today in the US. See the G-rated trailer above or the R-rated version. If you have seen the film I would be interested to hear what you think about it. Or, if like me, you have only seen the trailers, you can comment on that too, of course.

New York English

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New York English (1664- ) is the dialect of English spoken in New York City and some of its suburbs.

  • Home region: New York City, Long Island, north-eastern New Jersey.
  • Speakers: about 14 million, among them: Al Pacino (pictured), Barbra Streisand, Chris Rock, Christopher Walken, Donald Trump, Jay-Z, Jerry Seinfeld, Nicki Minaj, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, and Woody Allen.

There are differences by:

  • class – working-class, upper-middle-class;
  • ethnicity – Black, Latino, Jewish, Italian;
  • region – New York City, New Jersey, the Hamptons.

For example, “mischief night” is much better known in New Jersey than New York.

Accent: The “New Yawk” accent is the White working-class one. It is seen as being full of aw’s (New Yawk), oy’s (Joisey), th’s that become d’s (dem, dose) and dropped r’s (bigga). Some say it is fading, others not. It comes from a Dutch copy of a Wasp accent that came from New England. That Wasp accent is pretty much dead, but you can hear it in old recordings of Franklin Roosevelt.

Commonly among New Yorkers, according to dialect surveys (2013):

  • Pronunciation:
    • caramel – carra-mel;
    • been – bin;
    • crayon – cray-ahn;
    • lawyer – loyer;
    • mayonnaise – may-uh-naze;
    • pecan – PEE-can;
    • syrup – sir-up;
    • pajamas – puh-JAH-muhz;
    • route – root.
  • Dialect words:
    • soda – not pop, coke, soft drink or fizzy drink.
    • sneakers – not tennis shoes, gymshoes, trainers or running shoes.
    • you guys – not you all.
    • traffic circle – not roundabout or rotary.
    • water fountain – not drinking fountain.
    • highway – not freeway or motorway.
    • sunshower – raining when the sun shines.

That is pretty much how I speak: I score a 15 out of 16 (I say pecan as pih-CON).

Some words that seem to have come by way of New York English:

  • Dutch: boss, Yankee, Santa Claus, waffle, cookie, coleslaw, caboose, sleigh, snoop, spook.
  • Anglo: litterbug, speakeasy, newlywed, world war, knucklehead, doughnut, Labor Day, up the river (= in prison).
  • Black: hip hop, rap (music), chilling, jive, blunt, Man!, light up (a cigarette), blow your top, the Big Apple, cool, reefer, chops.
  • Yiddish: bottom line, big deal, for free, deli, klutz, low-life, mishmash, likewise (= me too), schlep, schmooze, So what?, How come?, What gives?, Enjoy!
  • Italian: pizza.
  • Spanish: barrio, bodega.

“Up the river” from New York was the infamous Sing Sing prison.

“Man!” was used by Blacks where Whites used “Boy!” (which has a racist meaning).

“Yankee” was a Dutch slur for Anglo Americans.

Conversational style:

According to linguist Deborah Tannen, New Yorkers compared to Californians:

  1. Talk louder and faster.
  2. Talk to be friendly.
  3. Will drop in and out of conversations they overhear.
  4. Do not silently listen but, to show interest, say stuff like “What?”, “Wow!”, “Oh, God!” or try to fill in or repeat your words.
  5. Will talk over the end of your sentence.
  6. Think that a pause of more than a half second is awkward.
  7. Tell stories with gestures, facial expressions and, to imitate dialogue, change pitch.
  8. Share personal experiences expecting you to do the same to get to know you
  9. Complain about “they”.

That all might seem like common sense to New Yorkers, but it can be off-putting to others.

Sources: mainly PBS, Etymology Online (2014), AALBC, Business Insider (2013), Wikipedia (2014), Abagond (2011), “You Are What You Speak” (2011) by Robert Lane Greene, “The Adventure of English” (2011) by Melvyn Bragg.

See also:

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