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Archive for the ‘1990s’ Category

What do they teach about racism in American high schools? In “Lies My Teacher Told Me” (1995) James W. Loewen looked at 12 history books commonly used in American high schools. One of the things he looked at is what they teach about racism. Very little, as it turns out.

Most history books do not even have the word “racism” or “racial prejudice” in their index. None of the 12 point out out how racism grew out of the practice of keeping black slaves. Not one. The closest any of them get to the cause of racism is this:

[African Americans] looked different from members of white ethnic groups. The color of their skin made assimilation difficult. For this reason they remained outsiders.

Nothing more! And this was in the 1990s, not the 1950s! As if racism is completely natural, as if white Americans do not now or ever had screwed up ideas and feelings about black people!!!

It used to be worse: before 1970 they took the white Southern view of the Civil War and the Reconstruction that followed – like what you see in the Hollywood film “Gone With the Wind” (1939)!!!  You know, like everyone in the South – black, white and presumably Native American – was happy and the North went and destroyed it all, that it had little to do with freeing the slaves, that the North ruled the South after the war just to get rich.

Now they teach that being a slave is terrible – well, 10 out of 12 books do – that the war was about freeing the slaves and that the North tried its best during the 12 years of Reconstruction after the war to rule the South.

But even so they all underplay the racism of Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and any other white person they choose to make into a hero. None point out that there must be something sick and very wrong with white Americans for wanting to own black slaves.

All 12 history books underplay white American racism after 1877, both North and South. They all leave out stuff like:

  • What blacks themselves said, like Ida B. Wells or Richard Wright, about how it was to be black in America then
  • Sundown towns: thousands of towns in the North and Midwest where blacks had to leave by sundown
  • The Tulsa race riot in 1921
  • Ota Benga, an African who was shown behind bars in the Bronx Zoo in 1906.
  • That major league baseball forced out blacks in 1889
  • Violence against blacks who became successful

Only two books said blacks faced discrimination in the North! Even Loewen himself never uses the term Jim Crow!

The history books do point out examples of racism during this period, but the overall picture is one of white indifference, not white hatred. High school students are left to assume that if blacks fell behind the Jews and Italians who came to the country after the slaves were freed, it must be their own fault. Because, you know, racism is not a big deal.

See also:

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Remarks:

This song is next to unknown in America – where it was recorded! – but it reached #3 in Britain in 1994. I have wanted to post it for a long time but it was not embeddable.

Lyrics:

Yousou N’Dour in Wolof:

Boul ma sene, boul ma guiss madi re nga fokni mane
Khamouma li neka thi sama souf ak thi guinaw
Beugouma kouma khol oaldine yaw li neka si yaw
mo ne si man, li ne si mane moye dilene diapale

Neneh Cherry in English:

Roughneck and rudeness,
We should be using, on the ones who practice wicked charms
For the sword and the stone
Bad to the bone
Battle’s not over
Even when it’s won
And when a child is born into this world
It has no concept
Of the tone the skin it’s living in
It’s not a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
I’ll be waiting
I’ll be waiting

Youssou N’Dour in French:

J’assume les raisons qui nous poussent de changer tout,
J’aimerais qu’on oublie leur couleur pour qu’ils esperent
Beaucoup de sentiments de races qui font qu’ils desesperent
Je veux les deux mains ouvertes,
Des amis pour parler de leur peine, de leur joie
Pour qu’ils leur filent des infos qui ne divisent pas
Changer

Neneh Cherry in English:

7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
I’ll be waiting
I’ll be waiting
And when a child is born into this world
It has no concept
Of the tone the skin it´s living in
And there’s a million voices
And there’s a million voices
To tell you what you should be thinking
So you better sober up for just a second
We´re 7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
We´re 7 seconds away
For just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting

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Remarks:

Having done posts lately on both Darwin and Angela Bassett this is the perfect song. It is Angela Bassett you hear saying “Right here! Right now!”, sampled from her film “Strange Days” (1995). This song reached #2 on the British charts in 1999.

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Angela Bassett in “Waiting to Exhale” (1995) in her most iconic scene.

 

Angela Bassett (1958- ), an American actress, is perhaps the best black female actress alive in Hollywood. She is both more beautiful and far more talented than Halle Berry, the only black woman so far to win an Oscar for best actress. Bassett has played Tina Turner, the wife of Malcolm X (twice) and the mother of Biggie Smalls.

Some of her films:

  • 1991: Boyz N the Hood
  • 1992: Malcolm X
  • 1993: What’s Love Got to Do with It
  • 1995: Waiting to Exhale (pictured above)
  • 1995: Strange Days
  • 1998: How Stella Got Her Groove Back
  • 2006: Akeelah and the Bee
  • 2008: Meet the Browns
  • 2009: Notorious

I already knew who she was by the time she appeared in “Malcolm X” but apparently it was playing Tina Turner a year later in “What’s Love Got to Do with It” that made her name with mainstream American audiences.

She lost the lead in “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (1999) to Halle Berry. She turned down the lead in “Monster’s Ball” (2001) because of how it shows black women – and because she does not do nude scenes. Halle Berry took that part and went on to win an Oscar for best actress.

Angela Bassett was born on the very same day as Madonna: August 16th 1958. She was born in Harlem but her mother soon moved to St Petersburg, Florida, where she grew up in public housing.

In 1974 she saw James Earl Jones in “Of Mice and Men” on a school trip to Washington, DC:

I just sat there after the play, boo-hoo crying, weeping. I couldn’t move, and I remember thinking, “My gosh, if I could make somebody feel the way I feel right now!”

From that moment she began to think about becoming an actress.

She got a scholarship to Yale. After getting her degree in African American Studies, she studied acting at the Yale School of Drama. She had to unlearn her Southern accent. There she met Courtney B. Vance, whom she would one day marry.

After Yale she acted in some television ads, the soap opera “Guiding Light” and two August Wilson plays. Then her friend Larry Fishburne helped her to land a part in “Boyz N the Hood”. She played the mother of the main character – but to her she was playing her own mother. That got her noticed as a serious actress in Hollywood.

In 1993 she starred opposite Fishburne in “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, with her cast as Tina to his Ike. She broke her hand during shooting – but that only helped her to play Tina Turner even better. Tina Turner did her make-up and taught her the dance moves. One reviewer said that Bassett, “captures the erotic youthquake that was Tina Turner in the ’60s and early ’70s”.

In 1997 she married actor Courtney B. Vance. He played her husband when she appeared in the last season of “ER” (2008-2009). They have a boy and a girl: Slater and Bronwyn, both born in 2006 by means of a surrogate mother (Bassett was 47 at the time of their birth).

See also:

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Remarks:

I was going to do “100 Yard Dash” (2009) but got kind of sidetracked! This is that video with the television heads.

Lyrics:

[Q-Tip]
Ummah, Ummah, Ummah

1 – S-A double-D-I-Q
Yo, he wanna get involved with you
Mr. S-A double-D-I-Q
Yo, he wanna get involved with you
Mr. S-A double-D-I-Q
Yo, he wanna get involved with you
Mr. S-A double-D-I-Q
Yo he wanna get involved

[Raphael Saadiq]
Met this girl walking in the ghetto
(Uh huh, uh huh)
Looking good but looking down
(What’s you say, come on by)
Said she needed inspiration
(What’d you say)
I said, ‘Get yo shit cause we’re goin uptown’
(Uptown baby, uptown, say what)
I could tell she was feelin better
(Yeah, yeah come on, yeah)
When she got inside the car
(When she got inside the car)
She was a dark-skinned girl with pretty cornrows
(uh uh)
She was doin her best to try to hide her scars
(Say come on now, what you say now)

[Raphael Saadiq]
2 – I don’t really care
About that there, just get involved
Boy you, makin me feel, uh oh so real
Just get involved

[Raphael Saadiq]
Everytime i take you around friends
(Come on, everytime I take you around friends)
I catch them looking at you love
(Lookin’ at you love, lookin’ at you love like that)
You know it never ever bothered me
Because i know that i’m the one you’re thinking of

Repeat 2

[Q-Tip]
Word up, word up, word up yo
Raphael just stopped in his tracks
Get involved and make it into the pack
You know the way that you present your thing
We in the belly so we might as well cling
The way you shine shorty you da shit
The princess in the pauper pit
We may be poor but we rich in soul
Just get involved and get in control
Just get involved and get in control
You know the way we do it, yo we roll

Oh, oh, oh, oh

Repeat 1

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Remarks:

Merry Christmas!

Lyrics:

Verse 1: Run

It was December 24 on Hollis after the dark
My man Santa saw a rabbi and gave the strangest remark
He said that giving was his living and I had to take part
So I grabbed a bag of goodies and I hopped up on his cart
I laced the pockets of the poor and gave the hoodie a play
Dropped some dollars up on Hollis and I went on my way
I hear your jingle Mr. Kringle peep the single, my man
so Santa hit a brotha off and come as quick as you can!

[chorus]
Santa Baby
Just slip a Benzo under the tree for me
A ’98 convertible, light blue
I’m looking for a fly guy, like you
So hurry down the chimney tonight…

Verse 3: Ma$e

Now all Mase know
When its eight twenty-four
He be looking at the door for the ho ho ho
Cause I know
When theres a christmas uptown
Ain’t no chimney for santa to come down

Verse 4: Puff Daddy

Now to me, PD I had alot
Appreciated everything that I got
Though I used to take my pops
Who aint caught me shaking the box
Cause I knew I couldn’t wait till it turned 12 o’clock

Verse 5: Snoop Doggy Dogg

Cookies and Milk
Satin and Silk
I’m chillin in the living room, wrapped in a quilt
I’m waiting on this fat Red Suit wearing-comparing
My gifts to my homeboy next door to me
A gift here, none there, but who cares
My little sister needs a comb just to braid her nappy hair
Bbut here we go again waiting on the enemy
To slide down the chimney
Look here, that ain’t reality

[chorus]
Santa Baby
Just slip a Benzo under the tree for me
A ’98 convertible, light blue
I’m looking for a fly guy, like you
So hurry down the chimney tonight…

Verse 6: Salt & Pepa

Santa Baby, are you really real?
Chris Kringle
Let me see you make my pockets jingle (ching ching)
We need some jobs in the ghetto
Too much gangbanging where kids are playin
I hear the church bells ringing
On christmas eve
I believe
Jesus-calling me
Forget the gifts and the shopping lists
And the new kicks
Your just falling for tricks
(you better praise him)

[chorus]
Santa Baby
Just slip a Benzo under the tree for me
A ’98 convertible, light blue
I’m looking for a fly guy, like you
So hurry down the chimney tonight…

Verse 7: Fredro Starr

It’s the gritty-the grimy
The low down, the shifty
Yo Sticky, christmas time in the city
Late night, stars are bright
We gettin rocked!
With the 50 St. Nicholas
Start rippin this

Verse 8: Sticky Fingaz

Its the Grinch who stole christmas
Climbin down ya chimney
Kids open up they gifts
They all gonna be empty
Just like mine was
I hate to say it
But if I wasnt a boy I wouldnt have had nuthin to play wit!

Verse 9: Keith Murray

On December 25th I knew I wasn’t getting jack
when I saw Santa Claus on the corner buying crack
I ran up on him with the (blur) and asked him “yo whats up with that?”
He said “there aint no christmas kid” and I can’t get him back
Back in the days, Christmas was deep
My moms put presents under the tree while I played sleep
And peeped ha! Santa Claus never gave me nuthin
Seen them mad faces, lying and frontin
So do some good to the ghetto, Mr. Chris Kringle
Come and stay awhile, kick it with God’s Angel
Take and acknowledge my wisdom and understand
That Santa Claus is a black man
word up

[chorus 2 times]
Santa Baby
Just slip a Benzo under the tree for me
A ’98 convertible, light blue
I’m looking for a fly guy, like you
So hurry down the chimney tonight

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Remarks:

K-Ci and Jojo’s remake of the old Bobby Womack song. I could not stand Jodeci back then, but I love this song.

Lyrics:

I just wanna dedicate this song
to all the lovers in the world tonight
and I expect that to be the whole world
because everybody needs someone
or something to love

Yeah
when it’s cold outside
girl, who are you holding
you’ll be holding me
well, well, well, well, well
said if y’all don’t mind
can I talk about this woman I have
she’s always complaining about the things she ain’t got
and the things her girlfriend’s got
but lady I will let you know
I can’t be in two places at one time

If you think you’re lonely now
ooh yeah
wait until tonight, girl
oh, you better wait til tonight
yeah, baby
wait until tonight girl
if you think you’re lonely now
wait until tonight girl
I’ll be long gone, yes I will
wait until tonight, girl
you better wait until tonight

When skeletons come out of your closet
and chase you all around the room
memories sound like a ghost
and if you is scared
talk to me, baby

If you think you’re lonely now
wait until tonight, girl
wait until tonight
wait until tonight baby(yeah yeah)
wait until tonight girl
you better wait until tonight
if you think you’re lonely now
wait until tonight girl
do you believe me baby

Ain’t it funny how tables turn
when things ain’t goin your way
when love walks out, pain walks in
you can’t help to say

If you think you’re lonely now
wait until tonight, girl
if you think you’re lonely now
you better wait girl, yeah
wait until tonight, girl
if you think you’re lonely now
if you think you’re lonely now
hold on, ooh yeah
wait until tonight, girl
ooh, yeah

I wanna testify
I wanna testify
I wanna testify to ya
I just got one thing to say
if you think you’re lonely now

If you think you’re lonely now
baby, yeah
wait until tonight, girl
(repeat chorus until fade)

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Remarks:

From 1995, this is Faith Evans’s very first single. You can tell because in the video version (not this live version) Biggie Smalls introduces her like we have never heard of her before. The song went to #4 on the R&B charts. I like this live version way better than the video version.

Lyrics:

I remember the way, you used to love me
I remember the days, you used to love me

You don’t appreciate the time
I put into this love affair of ours baby
I couldn’t let you walk around
Thinking it’s alright to let me down

I remember the way, you used to love me
I remember the days, you used to love me

I gave you all my precious love
And anything you wanted from me
You didn’t hear me calling out
Calling for your warm affection after all this time
You can’t deny what I’m feeling is real
And I stood around, stood by your side
Went through all the hurt and pain
And you turned and walked away

I remember the way, you used to love me
I remember the days, you used to love me

Can’t give up on the way you used to give it to me
Give it to me
What a feeling it’s for real

I remember the way, you used to love me
I remember the days, you used to love me

You didn’t hear me calling out
And that’s not what love’s about
I remember you used to love me
You used to love me every day
Now your love has gone away
I remember I remember

I remember the way, you used to love me
I remember the days, you used to love me

See also:

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Chief Wahoo chief-wahoo(1947- ), pictured right, is the  American Indian chief who is the trademark of the Cleveland Indians, an American baseball team. Some say it is racist. The NAACP, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and most Native American leaders want him dropped.

Even the name “Indians” is based on a racist stereotype: “In place of the Naps”, said the Cleveland Leader in 1915 when the name was changed, “we’ll have the Indians, on the warpath all the time, and eager for scalps to dangle at their belts.”

In 1928 they started wearing a picture of an Indian on their uniforms. In 1947 along came Chief Wahoo.

Compare Chief Wahoo to the trademark for Coon Chicken Inn, which comes from the same period in history and was still in use as late as the 1950s. Then compare it to the current trademark of another sports team which uses an Indian image, the Chicago Blackhawks:

chief-wahooblackhawkscoonchickeninn

It is bad enough to use an Indian image at all in a country that has practised genocide against them. As the New York Daily News pointed out, it would be like a football team in Germany calling themselves the Hamburg Jews or something. But on top of that comes this image of Chief Wahoo.

After all, what if the Cleveland team had called itself the Cleveland Coons and used a coon image like the one above? And what if fans came to the game in blackface? Who would put up with it? Yet some Cleveland fans come to the game in redface:

Redface

According to a Sports Illustrated opinion poll from 2002 most people see Indian names and images on sports team as not being racist:

Although most Native American activists and tribal leaders consider Indian team names and mascots offensive, neither Native Americans in general nor a cross section of U.S. sports fans agree.

It is unclear where Sports Illustrated found enough Native Americans to poll or why whites, who make up most of “a cross section of U.S. sport fans”, would be a good judge of how offensive it is.

Some point out that white people are used on trademarks too, like the one for the New England Patriots:

patriots

How this is not like Chief Wahoo:

  1. It is a picture with some dignity.
  2. It was presumably created by a white person.
  3. It is not one of the few images of white people that are seen nationwide. Unlike Native Americans, whites have the power to create whatever images they want of themselves and have them seen all across the country.
  4. Whites are mostly not seen as members of a race, as “white” people – but just as people. That is not true for people of colour in America.

Cleveland should go back to what they had before: a stylized “C”. After all, letters are good enough for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, who, unlike Cleveland, have won a World Series or two within the past 60 years.

redsoxyankees

Thanks to alwaysright101 for suggesting this topic.

Update (January 30th 2018): Chief Wahoo will be dropped from team uniforms starting in 2019 – but not the team name, the Indians. – The Root.

See also:

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gina12

Gina Torres (1969- ) is an American actress. She starred in the television shows “Firefly” (2002-2003) and “Cleopatra 2525” (2000-2001), but in general she plays a supporting character in science fiction & fantasy or FBI agent sort of shows, like “Hercules”, “24”, “Alias”, “Standoff” and two of the Matrix films. You can see her now in “FlashForward” which is an FBI science fiction show!  She is tall, pretty and does her own stunts. Oh, and she can sing opera too.

gina02

gina18Those who do not watch those sort of shows might remember her as the wife of Chris Rock in “I Think I Love My Wife” (2007).

Off stage she is the wife of Larry Fishburne, another serious black actor. They married in 2002 and had a daughter, Delilah, in 2007. They live in New Rochelle, New York just north of New York City

She is tall, thin and has beautiful eyes and beautiful lips! Her natural hair seems to be Type 3. She is as tall as a model: 5 foot 10 (1.78 m). And as tall as her husband!

At first I thought she was Nuyorican. She is in fact from New York – she was born in Manhattan and grew up in the Bronx – but her parents came from Cuba, not Puerto Rico. Her father was a newspaper typesetter.

Her parents loved Latin jazz and so did she. She wanted to be a singer – and had talent: she got into La Guardia High School for the Arts in New York. She sang opera, jazz and gospel. She wanted to go to university and had the grades but her parents did not have the money.

So she went to Lincoln Center and did office work hoping to get noticed. She did. That led to stage acting (“Dreamgirls”, “Antigone”, “Blood Wedding” and others) and, in time, to television. From 1995 to 1996 she played Magdelena on the soap opera “One Life to Live”.

She got her start as an action character on “Xena: Warrior Princess” in 1997. She only appeared once, but that led to a regular part on “Hercules” (1998-1999) and then to two seasons of  “Cleopatra 2525” (2000-2001) where she was one of the three main characters. That led to parts on the Matrix films and primetime shows.

Torres:

You have to have a spirit of warrior in you. You’re going to be facing battles as a woman in this industry and a woman of color. You have to be prepared to face battles of respect and pride and sexuality, and you can’t tire of fighting.

How Larry Fishburne won her heart: the Wikipedia says they met on the set of a Matrix film. Not true: they met and dated years before. One of their dates was during the New York blizzard of 1995: all the snow of one winter fell in one day. And they were outside having a snowball fight in Fort Tryon Park! Then they sat down on a bench overlooking the Hudson River. Sitting there knee-deep in snow he pulled out his harmonica and serenaded her.

gina17gina19gina05gina10gina08gina07gina15gina03

See also:

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purplepeople

Purple people (1974?- ) are creatures from the moral universe of white racists – along with Arab traders, black best friends, Rented Negroes and Will Smith. Purple people come up whenever a white person (and on occasion even a black person) wants to show how colour-blind he is, how race does not affect his judgement. You hear about them in statements like this: “I don’t care if you’re black, white, purple or green, it’s the person that counts.” Sometimes polka dots and stripes are thrown in too.

On the face of it, it does sound colour-blind. But then why is it that it comes across as a put-down to people of colour? And why does it seem to be said mostly by the very people who are anything but colour-blind?  Why is it you cannot imagine Tim Wise or Martin Luther King saying something like this?

Take the last question first because it answers the others: an anti-racist like Tim Wise would never bring up purple people (except to talk about them like I am) because he takes colour and race too seriously. It is not something to be made light of by putting it in the same sentence with polka dots and stripes, not something to be compared to science fiction creatures from another world like purple people.

Why it seems that white people do it:

  1. Their colour is not a serious issue because it does not directly affect them in a bad way.
  2. They do not want to talk about colour. They want to wave the whole thing away instead of face it and deal with it seriously – another piece of racist deflection.

Compare:

  • I don’t care if you’re black, white, purple or green, it’s the person that counts.
  • I don’t care if you’re black or white, it’s the person that counts.

The second statement is more serious and also harder to defend. Even worse, it can lead into uncomfortable talk about race.

Throwing in purple, green, polka dots and stripes makes colour seem less serious than it is. It does that by making it just about physical description and not culture, history, pain, identity, injustice, divided cities, bad schools, unemployment and all the rest.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine just how innocent these statements about purple people are.

Just so you know, I did an Internet search: those who bring up purple people the most these days are Republicans who are against Obama – trying to prove that race has nothing to do with it.

And just so you know, white people are racist against purple people, so even on that level the thing is a lie. How do we know? Because of Second Life, an online world where you can make yourself look anyway you want. One women on Second Life made herself white and people were friendly, but when she made herself purple the very same people would not talk to her, even if she said, “Hi!” first. Even cyborgs got more love.

See also:

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mcdull02

McDull (1988), or Mak Dau (麥兜) as he is called in Cantonese, is a cartoon character from Hong Kong, a boy pig with a brown round patch over his right eye. In China his films can stand their own against the likes of Harry Potter.

America has Mickey Mouse, Japan has Hello Kitty and Hong Kong has McDull.

McDull does not have beauty, brains, wealth or even good luck. He is slow and fat. His father has disappeared and his mother is bringing him up on her own in some poor part of Hong Kong that is dirty and falling apart. She is stern and expects too much of him. Yet he has a big heart and big dreams.When one thing fails, he tries another,never giving up, never losing heart. His hero is Lee Lai-Shan, the only person from Hong Kong ever to win an Olympic gold medal. McDull’s head may be in the clouds but his heart is in the right place – even if his bowels are always getting him into trouble!

His stories are heartwarming, somewhat sad but full of laughs – even if you do not get the tongue-in-cheek satire on Hong Kong life and the play on Cantonese slang. The stories show a deep, bittersweet love for Hong Kong. Told through the eyes of a boy, they have the wisdom of years.

Unlike Disney, nothing is cleaned up and made to seem better than it is; no smiley face is pasted over life’s troubles. Its sense of the world is urban whereas Disney’s is suburban.

McDull is the creation of artist Alice Mak and writer Brian Tse. McDull started out as a character in the comic books of his distant cousin, McMug. By the 1990s he had his own comic books. In the 2000s he had his own films.

The first film was “My Life as McDull” (2001). The fourth and latest one came out just last summer, “McDull Kungfu Kindergarten” (2009). The films mix together drawings with computer animation and live action shots.

McDull’s teacher is Ms Chan. She looks like a white woman with wavy brown hair but acts like she is Chinese. The same with the school’s headmaster. Even strangers in the streets of Hong Kong look like them. Curious.

One night McDull makes a little man named Excreman out of his dung (there is quite a bit of bathroom humour in these stories). He gives him a scarf of toilet paper and a small cup for a hat. Together in the middle of the night they go to Dung World. There Excreman tells him of his dream of helping flowers to grow. Before he brings McDull back to his room he says:

Remember us whenever you see the humblest, the deserted and the despised.

I found out about McDull while reading about Lou Jing, the half-black singer from Shanghai. People called her “Stupid” when she was growing up. She said that McDull would tell them that she is not stupid but kind.

See also:

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childrearingMost white parents and some black parents in America believe in bringing up children in a colour-blind way: they never talk about race but just say stuff like “Everybody’s equal”, “God made all of us” and “Under the skin, we’re all the same”. Some go even further and make sure their children have a chance to regularly meet people of other races, like at school.

It sounds great, but in practice it does not work in most cases.

There was an article in Newsweek a few weeks ago called “See Baby Discriminate” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Supported by the latest studies, they say that children will still see colour anyway. All they learn from their parents’ silence is that they are uncomfortable talking about race. As one six-year-old white boy put it:

Parents don’t like us to talk about our skin, so don’t let them hear you.

Some interesting findings:

  • In one study five and six-year-olds (100 white, 100 black) were given a pack of cards with drawings of people on them. The children were told to sort them into two piles any way they wanted. Only 16% sorted them by sex, while 68% sorted by them by race – without being asked!
  • In a twist on the blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise, four and five-year-olds at a preschool were given T-shirts, half of them red, half of them blue, given out in no particular order. They were told to wear them every day for three weeks.  That was it. The teachers said nothing more about it, they did not divide the children according to their T-shirt colour or anything. Yet after three weeks the children who wore blue T-shirts thought the blues were nicer and had more intelligence than the reds, while the reds thought they were the better ones.
  • Going to a mixed-race school does not necessarily make one any less racist. It seems to work for six-year-olds, but not for anyone eight or older. If anything it seems to have opposite effect: the more evenly balanced the races in a high school are, the less likely one will have a best friend from another race. And, mixed school or not, only 8% of white high school students have a best friend from another race. For blacks it is 15%.

Bronson and Merryman say it is better to talk to your children about race than not. Most parents of colour do, but 75% of white parents do not. In fact it makes them very uncomfortable.

Yet no one brings up their children in a gender-blind way, as if there were no such thing as boys and girls, men and women. Not only do parents freely talk about gender, they even make sure to talk about how gender stereotypes are bad and unfair. Why should race be any different?

As to black children, colour-blind child rearing will leave them unprepared for the racism they will face. Studies show it is best to feed them with good images of blacks and not with too much doubt and suspicion about whites.

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Pretty-in-Pink-movie-03I never thought I would be writing a part three so soon, but when a post gets more than 300 comments, then it is time.

To review:

  • In part one I said that it boiled down to racism on the part of white men: they do not want black children.
  • In part two I said it is not quite that simple: way before marriage it is women who apply race to dating decisions, not men. Men are dogs and will go for any halfway good-looking woman they think they have a chance with. A Columbia University study on speed dating supports this view.

Now for part three: A big thing that keeps coming up in the comments is how white men approach black women. Often they wait for a black woman to show some clear sign of interest before they ask her out! It seems like a cowardly excuse. Man up and just ask her!

Dalyn Montgomery, also known as brohammas, has an interesting take on this at his blog, Pages From My Notebook. He is a white American man who lives in Philadelphia. He dated in the 1990s and, in the end, married a black woman.

He says white men have three main ways of approaching women:

  1. The scuzz ball: He expresses his interest directly. No games. If he gets shot down, he moves on. What his approach lacks in quality he makes up in quantity. Sooner or later some woman will say yes. He wants sex, not a girlfriend.
  2. The “normal” guy: He plays a cat-and-mouse game with a woman to show his interest, but not too directly or strongly: he does not want to seem like a scuzz ball – or appear too desperate (even if he is). That is why in “Swingers” (1996) they wait three days before they call a girl back.
  3. The “friends” guy: He becomes your friend, but he hopes to take it to another level later on, hoping that by then he has gained your trust, etc. This is how Duckie failed to get Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink” (1986).

Most white men try each of these at some point in their lives. Some white men follow none of them: Montgomery calls them the curve balls.

Now he adds to all this that white people are taught that black people hate them.

So with all that in mind, here is how each approach views black women:

  • The scuzz ball: Black women, especially young ones, are easy and I need to get laid.
  • The normal guy: If she is extremely hot or if I have something to prove, then I will go after her, otherwise going after white women is way more promising.
  • The friends guy: What? Me with a black woman? Come on. (They lack confidence even with women of their own race.)

How do black women see this? Scuzz balls have the wrong sort of interest, of course, while the other two, from what I can tell, come off as having too little interest.

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DanyelSmithDanyel Smith (1965- ) is an American writer, best known as the former editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine. Yesterday she started work as executive editor of theroot.com. She has written two books: “More Like Wrestling” (2002) and “Bliss” (2005). She is married to Elliott Wilson, former editor-in-chief of XXL magazine!

I know I have read her stuff because her name is familiar, but I could not tell you what. She has written for Vibe, the New York Times, The Rolling Stone, Spin, The New Yorker, the San Francisco Guardian and others, writing mostly about music, particularly hip hop.

She was born in Oakland, California. At seven she started writing. At ten her family moved to Los Angeles, There she went to an all-black Catholic high school for girls. She got into Berkeley and went there for a few years but then dropped out without telling her parents.

She lived with her sister in Oakland and started writing. This was the 1980s when hip hop was something new:

When I first heard hip-hop, there’s no way to describe how it affected my life . It was such a great conversation, and no one was writing about it. I was happy to.

Then her stepfather appeared, driving up from Los Angeles, and asked what was going on. He took her to the offices of the San Francisco Bay Guardian and made her show her work to someone who could gainfully employ her. She met Tommy Tompkins: “Danyel was a remarkable individual, strong-willed, interesting, and cantankerous.”  He saw her talent and hired her. His advice to her about writing: “Just tell the truth. Tell your truth and you will be fine.”

Her articles started appearing in Rolling Stone, Vibe and others. In 1993 she took an offer to work for Billboard in New York. That did not work out but soon she landed at Vibe. In 1997 she became its first black editor-in-chief. Then in 1999 she left.

Over the next three years she wrote “More Like Wrestling” about two sisters living in Oakland in the 1980s in the age of crack. It is one of the first novels by and about black Oakland.

One editor saw the book and told her that she had to make a decision whether or not she was writing for black people or white people. And that she needed to have clearer heroes and heroines in the book.

The New York Times said her prose was “lyrical if sometimes rocky”. Michael Eric Dyson said it was “a work of beauty and moral complexity about love in its resplendent and damaging incarnations.”

The writers she looks to are Zora Neale Hurston, Terry McMillan, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Joan Didion, Cristina Garcia, Sister Souljah and Ernest Hemingway.

“Bliss”, came out in 2005. It gives an inside view of the music industry. She says it is about “living with pain – not about forgiving or forgetting it”.

In 2006 she returned to Vibe. It was troubled and under new owners. In 2009 it went broke.  Now she is at The Root.

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