Tag Archives: hispanic

The Unbearable Whiteness Of Being (Part I)

FACT: All Asian Americans are Asian by definition, but not all Asians are Asian Americans. The truth is that most Asians aren’t. While they may share an ethnic heritage, as well as many cultural similarities, Asian people who were born and raised in and reside in an Asian country have vastly different wants and needs and priorities than those who were born and raised in and reside in North America [and other non-Asian countries].

I wanted to start out with that quote for two reasons.

First, because it’s stolen from my co-writer’s post last Friday, which was a really good post you should read.

Second, because I think it does a good job of establishing the complicated and sometimes uncomfortable nuance that goes into addressing identity politics. Which is what we’re going to be talking about today and in the weeks to follow.

More specifically, we’re gonna be talking about White people.

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We’ll probably cover my use of this specific gif sometime later…

Before we dive in, I just wanna make something clear.

Race is a social construct – a series of categories that we’ve made up and ones we’ve made up only very recently in the scope of history. The fact of the matter is that there’s no actual place you can draw a dividing line when it comes to human beings and there’s no good reason you’d want to.

Not that it’s ever stopped us.

For better or worse, we have divided the world up into so many arbitrary categories, and those divisions have played and continue to play a major role in today’s culture. In spite of what some folks might suggest, ignoring racism doesn’t make it go away, and if we want to end the unspeakable hassle that is identity politics, we’re going to need to start by actually addressing them.

And here at Culture War Reporters, I think we’ve done a decent job. Continue reading

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We’re All In Danger: An Open Letter to Minority Republicans

These are the facts:

Last Wednesday, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani – two Indian-born engineers living and working in the US – stepped into Austin’s Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas. As they had done so many times before, they ordered drinks and unwound after a long day of work. On this particular evening however, Kuchibhotla and Madasani were approached by another patron, Adam Purinton, who began to shout racial slurs at the two men and demanded to know “Which country are you from? Are you here illegally?”, before shouting “Get out of my country!

Purinton was thrown out of the bar, only to return with a gun, opening fire on Kuchibhotla and Madasani. Kuchibhotla was killed and Madasani was injured, along with twenty-four year old patron Ian Grillot, who attempted to subdue Purinton. Purinton fled on foot, and was next seen five hours later at an Applebees across the state line. Purinton claimed openly to having killed “two Middle-Eastern men.” Purinton was promptly arrested and extradited from Missouri back to Kansas, where he has been charged with first-degree murder, bail set at two-million dollars.

Once again, these are the facts.

What follows is the tricky part.

How do I write about this – any of this – without devolving into incoherent rage? After all these tragedies over all these years, have we gotten any closer to make sense of the senseless?

Perhaps I could write about how Indians and Sikhs have repeatedly been the targets of hatred intended for Arabs and Muslims. How ever since 9/11, an entire group of people who have done nothing – nothing – to harm the US have been harassed, belittled, and even murdered.

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And the 2012 massacre in Oak Creek, WI is just one of many examples

Continue reading

Grading Obama

There’s a tendency in this country to speak of ex-presidents with the same generosity one would use to speak of the recently departed. A “funeral parlance” (if you’ll forgive the awful pun) that leads folks to look on the old administration with rose-tinted glasses. Considering the replacement, that’s going to be doubly true this year.

Not at Culture War Reporters, though.

Here’s our final grade for Obama,

Note: The issues selected here are based upon the principles we here at CWR seem to touch on most frequently. We hope to make this a regular tradition, provided the United States still exists in four years and that this writer will not have been imprisoned or sent to work on a lunar penal colony.

Economic Equality:

Advocates of the president will be swift to point out that the unemployment rate at the beginning of the president’s term was in the double digits, and has since fallen to about 4.9% after years of slow but steady recovery. And there absolutely should be credit where it’s due- the Obama administration has seen the recovery of the economy. Can I whine about it not being enough though? You bet I can.

While many Americans are finally back to work, the positions they find themselves in are often low-paying with little to no security. While that’s not entirely the president’s fault, the president himself has been agonizingly slow (and bafflingly conservative) in advocating a raise for the minimum wage. While the extremely wealthy are paying slightly more in taxes, taxes have also risen for folks making less than $250,000 a year (which is the overwhelming ****ing majority of us) with the majority of the president’s proposed reforms having ended in defeat. All in all the extremely rich continue to enjoy unrivalled luxury and unchallenged control of US politics and wealth.

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Final Grade: D+

Continue reading

Obama Doesn’t Care About Black People(?)

During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when many poor and black residents of New Orleans continued to struggle for survival, rapper Kanye West angrily commented that the current president “[didn’t] care about black people.” A decade later, and the sentiment of the White House doesn’t seem to have changed much. In spite of the overwhelming support given by black Americans to Obama during his candidacy, it often seems that he’s less than willing to return to the favor.

Take, for example, the execution of Troy Davis.

Troy Davis was convicted in 1991 for the shooting of a Georgia police officer- a crime which he denied until his dying day. In the years following his conviction, greater and greater evidence arose suggesting that Davis was indeed innocent. By the time of his death, seven of the nine key witnesses who had helped convict recanted their testimony, many citing police coercion. Of the two remaining witnesses, one reported that he was no longer certain and the other was believed by many to have been the actual gunman.

Support for Davis’s release poured in from across the globe, even gaining such notable supporters as former president Carter, archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former head of the FBI, the head of the NAACP, and congressman and civil rights veteran John Lewis.

In spite of the worldwide campaign on his behalf, Davis was executed on a late September night in 2011- the one man in the world who could’ve saved him not even lifting a finger. In spite of the rumors (swiftly discredited) that Obama had reached out to the state of Georgia, the president, by all accounts, sat idly by during what many labelled a modern-day lynching, the White House only confirming that the president would not involve himself. Continue reading

Arizona’s Attack on Mexican-American Studies

It occurs to me that it’s been too long since we actually had an actual “report” here, rather than rabid opinion piece. To that end, we’re going to be examining the state of Arizona’s recent assault on its Mexican-American ethnic studies programs. This story isn’t the freshest (or a full-on report; baby steps, people), but with relatively new developments, and how little attention the story was given in general, it’s worth reviewing.

In spring of 2010, Arizona decided to ban ethnic studies classes in its public schools for grades K-12 (HB [House Bill] 2281). Of course, by “ethnic studies”, the state of Arizona meant “Mexican-American/Chicano” studies, and as Tuscon school board member Michael Hicks clarified:

“Honestly, this law won’t be applied to any other of our [ethnic studies] courses. It was strictly written for one course, which is the Mexican-American studies program.”

-Interview with The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal, 04/02/12 Continue reading

Fame Day: Alex Alonso

alonsoGordon’s absence has forced me to dedicate yet another Fame Day to a man in the comic book industry [a post on a woman is in the near future] to join the ranks of Anka, McDuffie, and Fraction.

Introducing the Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics, Axel Alonso. Interviewed by FOX News Latino [which I didn’t even know was a thing], he was asked the question: “Is that a new initiative at Marvel Comics is doing? We’re going with the Latinos now?”

This question was in response to a few “new” characters appearing in the publisher’s titles, with Miss America being one of them. First featured in Marvel Mystery Comics #49 in November 1943, Miss America was originally another embodiment of the United States in World War II, a star-spangled powerhouse punching out Nazis. Now, in 2013, Miss America is the moniker for America Chavez, a Latina teenager and new member of the Young Avengers [one of Marvel’s bestselling new titles]. Also mentioned was the new Blatino Ultimate Spider-Man, who has already been covered on this site.

From left to right: Miss America Chavez, Miles Morales [Ultimate Spider-Man]

From left to right: Miss America Chavez, Miles Morales [Ultimate Spider-Man]

Alonso, a Mexican-American himself, replied:

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t motivated, on a personal level, to have Hispanic characters represented in comic books, but this isn’t some PC initiative, [this is] capitalism.”

He acknowledged that a growing range of people read comics, and that as a publishing company it is their “responsibility to make them feel included.” Going back to his comment about “capitalism,” the fact of the matter is that as a company it’s in their best interest to create a product that appeals to the fastest growing demographic in America.

While Alonso agrees that comic books have not always treated minorities with due respect, he also acknowledges that stereotypes are more complex then they might first appear. He took part in helping to create Mexican heroes the Zapata Brothers, who were based on his cousins in Mexico. The two wear full luchador regalia, and while this may be perceived by some as racist, Alonso would argue otherwise. “Is that a little stereotypical?” he says, “Yeah,  but it’s also fun and a part of our culture.” Growing up watching these wrestling matches growing up they struck him as being an important part of his culture.

When asked why Latino characters haven’t achieved the same status and notoriety of heroes like Batman and Wolverine, his response was “Why haven’t they become that yet?” His opinion is that, with America’s ever-shifting cultural landscape, it’s an inevitability. You can’t force an audience, or simply make a character big, it just evolves and happens naturally.

Unfortunately, fellow member of “The Big 2” DC declined to be interviewed for this piece. While Marvel has its fair share of seemingly racist characters [Mexican villain/anti-hero Armadillo] DC has a large mark of shame in Extraño, a “gay Latino magician who had HIV and referred to himself as ‘Auntie.’” That being said, it’s a shame that they didn’t offer a means of looking forward through heroes such as Blue Beetle [Jamie Reyes] and Vibe [Paco Ramone] who has his own new title.

Alonso is a man who realizes that comic books are a business, and one that needs to make money and that has an impact on its readers. His joy that Miles Morales exists as a character is in “knowing that there would be a child out there who would see Spider-Man peel back that mask to see a different face and a face that resembled their own.” He understands that, and that’s worth giving him credit for.

TLC (That Lousy Channel)

A couple weeks ago, I unleashed my wrath against NBC for their exploitative and fetishistic show, Stars Earn Stripes. Despite their cold, calculated attempt to make a quick profit off of the sacrifices and hardships of the armed forces, NBC, as a channel, still manages to pump out a handful of decent shows.

The same can’t be said for TLC.

If you’re not familiar with TLC, they’re the channel responsible for such shows as Toddlers & Tiaras and those fifteen different series about midgets (yes, I’ll be using the term ‘midget’, get used to it). Now there’s been some criticism already that TLC (The Learning Channel) doesn’t have a thing to do with learning (not anymore, anyways), but my issue with TLC goes further than that. TLC isn’t just unhelpful or unintelligent- it’s straight-up bad for you.

Here’s Why:

I. Whites Only?

When Evan and I were having a discussion about TLC a few days ago, I brought up how strange it was that they had so many shows about midgets. His response was that he suspected it had something to do with the “celebration of diversity.” That’s probably how TLC would spin it, too. Their plethora of shows centering on midgets (Big Tiny, The Little Couple, Little People- Big World) unusually large families (19 Kids and Counting, Table for 12, formerly John & Kate Plus 8, United Bates of America), and other shows such as High School Moms, Sister Wives, or My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding are all part of their mission to portray the diversity our world and help us all learn from each other.

Only that’s some ol’ ********.

See, if TLC were actually showing you giant (by Western standards) families or midgets in the interest of promoting understanding, they might actually show some diversity. But just go to the TLC television show page and tell me what you don’t see.

Where are all the black people? Where are all the Asians? Where are the shows about Hispanic families? For Pete’s sake, the combined non-white population of the US is nearing 50%, and TLC doesn’t have a single show starring a non-white family! What’s up with that? Not only are there no shows centered on non-whites this year, but if you look at their “Past Shows” section, you will find one show with a black star and one show with an Asian co-star. Not only is TLC pretty lacking in racial diversity when it comes to its shows, but other major demographic groups are left out as well. Non-Christian religious groups make up nearly 20% of the population- where’s the show about the day-to-day lives of American Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists? Wouldn’t we benefit from a show about life on a Navajo reservation more than Long Island Medium? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say “Yeah- yeah, it would be.”

II. The “Freak-Show”

So we’ve established TLC’s programming is more or less exclusively about white people, let’s take a look at what white people. Counting up the subject material of this year’s shows, we have 19 out of 36 programs centered on what could certainly be titled “abnormal”. That is, one out of two TLC shows deals is about midgets, huge families, addiction, hoarding, teen pregnancy, fringe religious groups (see Breaking Amish or Sister Wives), and the like, with the other 17 shows centered (largely) on wedding dresses and people who bake stuff. Is there anything inherently wrong with all of this? Not at all. In fact, a lot of the subject matter these shows cover looks pretty interesting- most notably Abby and Brittany, a series following conjoined twins. You can’t tell me that you aren’t really intrigued by that.

But that’s not the problem. The problem is the vicious redundancy, and what it says about TLC’s motives here. Currently, TLC is airing two shows about large families (to say nothing about all their past shows about large families), as well as three shows centered on midgets (again, they’ve had other shows about midgets in the past). Why the redundancy? Because it’s about money. The concepts behind both sets of shows are being squeezed for every last penny, meaning when TLC has a camera crew following a family of twenty or a four-foot couple, it’s not because they want to make a quick buck.

“But Gordon, you veritable living library of knowledge, do intentions really make a difference?”

Absolutely.

If I went around with Peter Dinklage and said, “Meet one of the most talented actors of our generation who is also a midget”, that would be constructive. If I went around with Peter Dinklage shouting “Yo! Check out the midget!”, that would be awful. Same goes for anything- just look at Michelangelo’s David. The inention of the piece as a representation of Florence as a brave and mighty city is what makes the statue art instead of marble porn.

Like so…

With this in mind, doubt must be cast upon the rest of TLC’s programming- we’re forced to strongly consider that shows like Long Island Medium, Addicted, Strange Sex, and the like aren’t here for our edification, but for our entertainment. This is all just voyeurism- a chance to stare at people who are different than us. TLC doesn’t keep pumping out these shows about midgets and massive families because they think each show is unique, but because each show is the same. Because they don’t look at the individual qualities (or lack-thereof) of these people- they’re just reduce them to being nothing more than “abnormal”, which is why they feel they can keep making these series. It’s objectification, pure and simple.

III. Only Encouraging Them

In addition to their lack of diversity, and objectification of people who are (by our standards) “abnormal”, TLC is also responsible for for delightful little pile of festering garbage we all know as Toddlers & Tiaras.

Even if you thought my previous point was a little shaky, you really can’t argue with this. TLC openly advertises T&T as a show you’re meant to laugh at. The ridiculously dolled-up girls, the psychotic mothers, the manipulation, the abuse. It’s a show meant to make you feel better about yourself as a human being; that you’re not some morbidly-obese Midwesterner or spray-tanned monstrosity on your fifteenth cosmetic surgery desperately trying to live out your crushed dreams of glory by slathering your daughter with her weight in makeup. Now I’ve got a seriously dark sense of humor, but not even I think that’s funny.

“But Gordon! It’s not like TLC is promoting this idiocy- you say yourself that you’re meant to laugh at these people!”

Ah, but TLC is rewarding these people. Keep in mind that attention is what this is all about, and that the message here is “You don’t have to be talented or smart or funny to be on tv! If you’re a big enough *******, you can still get on!”. Torment your little girl, and you can still get on nationally-viewed television. If we’re going to make any progress towards getting rid of this child-abuse, we need to stop airing this- it’s just rewarding bad behavior and making us worse on the whole. What’s it say about TLC that they show mothers berating their five year-olds and expect us to be entertained?

No, I am not.

And again, with Toddlers & Tiaras as a major TLC show (along with their spin-off Here Comes Honey Boo Boo), this casts serious doubt on TLC’s intentions with their other shows. If you’re expected to find a collection of mentally disturbed women abusing toddlers funny, are you also really expected to be edified by watching The Little Couple or My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, or are these just “freaks” with their lives filmed for your voyeuristic pleasure.

So let’s review what we have here. A channel whose programming is centered almost exclusively on whites, with a majority of its programs centered on “abnormal” families and individuals, presented not for any educational or instructive value, but for your entertainment, demonstrating TLC’s complete and utter contempt for both the “stars” of its shows and for you as an audience. And the rotten, mildewed cherry on top of this bilge-pie is that the entirety of TLC’s programs are presented with this veneer of tolerance and understanding, so they can pass off their twisted side-show as somehow healthy and admirable.  At least when the circuses advertised a chance to see the wolf-boy or bearded woman, they were up-front about it.

As with NBC, I have this to say to the folks over at TLC: