Tag Archives: Latino

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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Running the Race on The Bachelor

It’s been a quite a few years since the summer I spent watching Jillian Harris do her level best to find the perfect man on Season 5 of The Bachelorette. Fast forward to the beginning of 2016 and I find myself in the same position, this time with 27-year-old Hoosier heartthrob Ben Higgins. A number of things have changed in those seven years, like the price of bitcoin and the existence of this blog, while others haven’t, like my relationship status [single], ABC’s continued broadcasting of the search for love, and The Bachelor and The Bachelorette‘s respective track records with race.

Is Race on The Bachelor/Bachelorette Really an Issue?

Luckily for me, I’m not nearly the first person to cover this topic. Of particular note is Karen X. Cheng’s “Minorities on The Bachelor: When do they get eliminated?”, which lists the contestants who were racial minorities on both shows and, as the title suggests, exactly what week they did not receive a rose. Worth keeping in mind is that as of 2014 The Bachelor was in its 18th season, and The Bachelorette in its 10th.

Minorities On The Bachelor and The Bachelorette

Check out more specific, well-designed graphs by heading over to the article itself.

Cheng noted that there appeared to be a drastic spike after 2012, during which there was a class action lawsuit leveled against the series regarding “the deliberate exclusion of people of color from the roles of the Bachelor and Bachelorette underscores the significant barriers that people of color continue to face in media and the broader marketplace.” While the lawsuit was later dismissed she posits that the sheer amount of negative press the show garnered is what resulted in the network scrambling to make a change so quickly. Continue reading

Avi Arad: Diverse Futures, Passed [Opportunities]

It happened in an instant.

One moment film producer Avi Arad was sleeping peacefully in his bed, the second a chilling sensation ran the course of his entire body, forcing his eyes open. He could feel it in his gut, the dreadful realization that this was it. There was no going back to the way things were before.

Standing up, he wearily made his way over to the bedroom window. He looked out upon a world that continued to doze, blissfully unaware. They had no idea what had just taken place, how everything had changed.

Inwardly he took some small solace in the fact that he had expected this. Those who can foresee what is to come, even if powerless to stop it, can revel in making the choices that will one day become unavailable to them.

Everything was different now, and he knew that. This was a brand new world, one he had no part in creating.

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

Shame Day: Microaggressions

A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a website called The Microaggressions Project and then promptly forgot about it. Returning to it tonight I looked over the “About” page, which had the following paragraph at the top:

This project is a response to “it’s not a big deal” – “it” is a big deal. ”It” is in the everyday. ”It” is shoved in your face when you are least expecting it. ”It” happens when you expect it the most. ”It” is a reminder of your difference. ”It” enforces difference. ”It” can be painful. ”It” can be laughed off. ”It” can slide unnoticed by either the speaker, listener or both. ”It” can silence people. ”It” reminds us of the ways in which we and people like us continue to be excluded and oppressed. ”It” matters because these relate to a bigger “it”: a society where social difference has systematic consequences for the “others.”

A little later on they define what “microaggressions” are, a term that was originally coined to speak about racial experiences. From the essay “Racial microaggressions in everyday life: implications for clinical practice,” which appeared in American Psychologist, Vol. 62, No.4:

“Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”

One example of this could be a White couple walking down the street and having a Black man pass by them on the sidewalk. The woman clutches her purse tighter against her body, the subconscious idea being, of course, that Black men are prone to crime and should not be trusted.

As an Asian-Canadian I’ve experienced microaggressions plenty of times. I’ve had someone ask me if I was half-White [I am clearly not] with their rationale being that my “English was very good.” It can be an everyday occurrence for non-White people [I deign to use the word minorities, since I do believe that balance is turning the other way], and begs the question: “Why is this such a big deal?”

Writer of the aforementioned article and author of Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation, Derald Wing Sue, PhD, has observed that microaggressions have actually been found to: “(a) assail the mental health of recipients, (b) create a hostile and invalidating work or campus climate, (c) perpetuate stereotype threat, (d) create physical health problems, (e) saturate the broader society with cues that signal devaluation of social group identities, (f) lower work productivity and problem solving abilities, and (g) be partially responsible for creating inequities in education, employment and health care.”

In other words, a Black or Latino man being stopped for a “random vehicle check” by police could be upset, and may even be accused of overreacting. Maybe they should simply be used to this and not let it bother them. The truth is that it makes them feel, even if only subconsciously, like second-class citizens. It’s true in a case as blatant as this one, and in an as subtle an action as hanging a Confederate flag or  having a Native American stereotype as a high school mascot.

To broaden this to the scope that The Microaggressions Project seeks to attain, microaggressions can include people saying to a person with Asperger’s, with no ill-intent whatsoever, “That you seem so normal!” It can be a 17-year-old girl being told by her gynecologist that just because she has access to birth control pills doesn’t mean she can just sleep around.

Microaggressions work in every direction. It’s like going to a Vietnamese restaurant and being given a fork and spoon instead of chopsticks because you’re White and not Asian. Microaggressions are built on assumptions and can make people painfully aware of who they are. They are rarely meant to offend, but often do. 

It truly is a shame that so much of the time we send out microaggressions without so much as a second thought, and then defend ourselves by deeming the offended to be “too sensitive.” While we won’t always be aware of how our words or actions can harm others, we can at the very least listen to the people being hurt, and in doing so try to lessen the presence of microaggressions in our society.

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.