All Articles Tagged "race"

“I’m Very Connected To My Community”: How These Multiracial Celebrities Identify Themselves

November 23rd, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not biracial people should see themselves as Black or White, or simply both. These multiracial celebrities speak up about how they identify themselves in America.

Ya’ll Get On My Nerves Sometimes: Black Celebrities Who Have Gripes About Black People

November 17th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

These Black celebrities have personal gripes with their own people. Do you agree with some of their points? Or are these celebs way out of line?

Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

Michael B. Jordan

Michael B. Jordan said he was sick of all of the criticism that Black men get for dating White women. When shade started circulating his way after he was rumored to be dating Kendall Jenner, Jordan told GQ that in 2015, people need to get over themselves.

“A lot of black fans were feeling like, ‘Oh, my God, he should have been with a black woman’ and that whole thing.

I get it, but on the other hand it’s, like, relax. You know – it’s 2015. It’s okay! People can like one another, not necessarily from the same history or culture or whatever the f— it is.”

Working While Black: My Co-Worker Told HR I Sexually Harassed Her Because I Didn’t Help Her With A Project

November 12th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: Corbis

Source: Corbis

Editor’s Note: James Baldwin said to be conscious and Black in America is to be enraged most of the time. And sadly, those words are still true for many of us. In addition to the deeply depressing and unjust news headlines, there are the hostile situations we deal with everyday. For many of us, these incidents happen at work. In a culture where we spend more time working than with our families, these environments, with ignorant and entitled White people, can be everything from tiring to infuriating. In our new series, “Working While Black,” we compile some of those stories and share them with you, as a way to let you know you’re not alone, to offer advice on how to navigate these situations and hopefully to keep you from losing your mind, your temper or your job.

As told to Brande Victorian

Last week I was at work and a white woman at my job came to my desk and asked for help. I told her that I was busy at the moment but said I could help her in about 10 minutes. She became visibly annoyed and proceeded to stand over my desk, as if to force me to stop what I was doing and immediately assist her. I asked her if she wanted to leave the information I needed to help her on my desk and said if she did I would work on it as soon as I could.  She proceeded to tell me the matter was urgent and asked if I could work on it right now.

I’d already told the woman no, but to ease the obvious tension between us I started being playful with her to bring some levity to the situation. I joked that she was getting all “swole in the chest,” i.e. puffed up and angry. She proceeded to tell my supervisor that I refused to help her and that I sexually harassed her.

Because the woman said I made her feel uncomfortable those types of complaints are automatically are forwarded to human resources (HR). My supervisor told me not to worry about it but said HR would have to meet with me next week to discuss the “incident.”

As it turned out, HR didn’t seem to care much about my coworker’s white tears. When the HR specialist came to the office, she asked another rep about the incident and she said the white woman overreacted. As a side note, the HR woman is a Black church lady; she likes me and she knows what’s up. She asked if I ever touched the woman or had any interaction with her before. She asked how I made the “swole in the chest” comment and I relayed it to her in the same tone and then told me just stay away from her. Plus tomorrow is my last day at the job anyway and, considering in my next gig I’ll be working from home, I shouldn’t have to deal with this type of nonsense again for a long time.

 

Should Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. EVER Be Played By A White Actor?

November 11th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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When Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said that he dreamed of a day when we are no longer judged by the color of skin, but by the content of our character, I am certain he didn’t mean that we just erase his physical self altogether.

What I mean is, The Kent State Pan-African Studies department recently put on the play The Mountaintop, which is a story that centers around Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last night before he was assassinated. Nothing unusual or controversial about that.

Until you consider that in addition to casting a Black actor, the play’s producers also cast a White man to play Dr. King.

It’s a plot twist worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan film…

Michael Oatman, who is Black, directed the play and told the local college paper that he cast the White actor because he was “one of the best actors I’ve ever seen.” And according to the Broadway World, Oatman also said of the casting choice:

“I truly wanted to explore the issue of racial ownership and authenticity. I didn’t want this to be a stunt, but a true exploration of King’s wish that we all be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin,” says Oatman on Kent State’s website. “I wanted the contrast . . . I wanted to see how the words rang differently or indeed the same, coming from two different actors, with two different racial backgrounds.”

However, the play’s original writer, Katori Hall, isn’t too pleased with the colorblind production. In fact, she calls it “an erasure of Black bodies.” And for The Root, she writes:

“Rage would come in the morning, but that night my jet-lagged self was fit to be tired. A weak sigh was followed by a quick forwarding of the email to my agent, who promptly reached out to Dramatists Play Service, which quickly sent a damning letter to the university about the race-revisionist casting. “While that might be considered an interesting experiment, it is also—quite clearly—not what the author wrote or intended.” Well, a playwright’s good intentions be damned.

While it is true that I never designated in the play text that King and Camae be played by black actors, reading comprehension and good-old scene analysis would lead any director to cast black or darker-complexioned actors. Hell, even in Russia, where black actors are scarce, the theater moved mountains to cast two black actors for the reading.

Neither the director nor the school consulted me or Dramatists Play Service regarding this experiment (though I have been told by a Twitter follower who lodged a complaint that the university claimed that I had spoken to the director and had given him creative license: #baldfacedlie).”

She also wrote:

“If Oatman were truly interested in finding out how, as he said, the “words rang differently or indeed the same, coming from two different actors, with two different racial backgrounds,” he lost a grand opportunity. No talkbacks were scheduled to truly measure the success of Oatman’s experiment about “racial ownership and authenticity.” With a playwright’s intention being dangerously distorted, Oatman’s experiment proved to be a self-serving and disrespectful directing exercise for a paying audience.”

In the wake of the Kent production, Hall has added a clause to her licensing agreement, which requires that any reproduction of her work be played by African-American or Black actors.

I certainly feel like that is a good idea.

But I also have to admit, I am kind of intrigued what a serious production of The Mountaintop would look like with a White Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? I am a fan of art that is both subversive and speculative. And it would be kind of cool to see how I would react to Dr. King’s words coming out of a White man’s mouth.

Like, would I feel the same about the War in Vietnam speech if King looked more like Tim Wise? Or would I feel like, once again a”White” man is centering himself in Black spaces? Or would I find the whole thing absurdly humorous? The latter is a strong possibility, especially when dealing with bad theater.

Now, I’m not saying that the Kent State production was bad theater. I’m sure the acting was superb. But generally speaking, nobody wants Dr. King turned into a punchline.

Not this soon. And not when his image has been already misappropriated on nightclub flyers, in McDonalds commercials and for sales at the mall.

Not to mention, Dr. King was assassinated in 1964. That means there are plenty of people around in this world who can adequately recall what Dr. King looked like. That includes his children. And I imagine for those people, particularly Black people who lived through the Civil Rights era (and even descendants of the era), they might take serious offense to a re-imagination of our hero when we haven’t even gotten the actual representation of him and notable Black figures (shout-out to Nina Simone and Harriet Tubman) correct.

As you can see, I am down the middle on this issue. But I am interested in the arguments either. So make sure to leave a comment below.

Ben Carson Is Not the First To “Rap” for Votes…

November 6th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Getty Images

Getty Images

I would like to say I am shocked by Ben Carson’s political radio ad in which he uses Hip Hop music to court Black voters. However, it is Ben Carson, a man who thinks the pyramids were a big silo for Jesus’ wild oats. Therefore nothing he will ever say and do will ever surprise me.

In fact, the only surprise here is that he didn’t have his wife Candy sing on the hook. That would have been just lovely…

But as some have noted, the ad is pretty ironic and slightly offensive. In particular, Drew Millard, in an article for Vice entitled “Ben Carson’s Rap Radio Ad Is an Embarrassment for Everyone,” wrote:

“It’s a testament to the total cluelessness of the GOP that its politicians have misinterpreted hip-hop’s simultaneous distrust and ironic appropriation of their party as nuggets of support, and somehow decided that they can cultivate that support simply by establishing that they are aware that hip-hop is a thing that people seem to like.”

I agree. But it is not just a Hip-Hop thing.

For instance, Carson’s crazy comrade Herman Cain once used stereotypical language and imagery in a radio ad aimed at getting Black people to vote Republican. More specifically, the 2004 radio ad features the Godfather Pizza founder chastising an unemployed “friend” for cheating on his wife and taking his pregnant “hoes” to get abortions. To which the friend says, “I don’t snuff my own seed.” This pleases Cain who then replies: “well, maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican.”

As clumsy and flat-out distasteful (outside of the obvious anti-abortion ickiness, the attempts at slang alone are enough to make you cringe), the ad is characteristic of how many politicians, of all stripes, use cultural signifiers to specifically appeal to the Black voters. In this instance, Cain was trying to connect his core anti-abortion beliefs to some of the more conservative folks within the African American community.

But in 2010, it was the Democratic National Committee, which used the voices of civil rights leaders of the past in a multi-million dollar advertising campaign directed at Black voters. The series of radio ads, which aired mostly on “urban radio,” shied away from using slang, Hip Hop and other Black culture cues. However “The Struggle” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s name were evoked in order to remind Black people about the sacrifices made to get us the right to vote.

One particular ad featured Civil Rights Leader Rev. Joseph Lowery who offered up his testimony about how he was bitten and beat during the turbulent movement and how those same forces were trying to stop President Obama’s agenda. He concluded his message with, “we owe it to the past. We owe it to the future.”

And in this NPR interview, University of Missouri professor Marvin Overby tells journalist Brian Naylor that generally speaking, politicians like radio because it not only gives them a captive audience (particularly those people stuck in car relying on public radio for their entertainment) but it also gives them a better way to “narrow cast” certain messages without offending the masses. This includes Black voters.

More specifically Overby states:

“They tend to be very program driven, and a lot of that is going to revolve around the music that the station chooses to play, and music tends to track demographics very well. So you don’t have middle-aged white soccer moms listening to the same radio stations as 20-something urban African-Americans.”

The article goes on to cite President Obama’s “We Got Your Back” political ad, which first ran on urban radio stations during his 2012 reelection campaign. In it, President Obama does his talking points over a pseudo-R&B beat while a Take Six-type group harmonizes in the background. The ad concluded with a request that voters go to “GottaVote.org (a now defunct site that redirected voters to President Obama’s main campaign page, which is also defunct)” to learn more about how they can have “the President’s back.”

More recently, Politico reported that last year some Democrats in the South used the shooting deaths of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin in a targeted radio campaign ads as well as mailers and flyers in an effort to connect with and sway Black voters specifically.

So while it is both problematic, and quite funny, that a staunch conservative Republican would appropriate Hip-Hop and other cultural signifiers to appeal to Black voters, he is not alone in this practice.

And if you think that is bad, wait until the campaign season gets into full swing. I guarantee you, they all will be rapping and doing the Nae Nae for us all across our airwaves.

Attorney Sets Up Go Fund Me Account For Spring Valley High Victim

October 29th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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spring valley assault victim feat

As we’ve been reporting about the assault at Spring Valley High, many of you have wondered how you could support the young girl, the victim in this case.

Thankfully, someone has taken it upon themselves to do just that.

Todd Rutherford, the attorney representing the young girl in South Carolina, has launched a Go Fund Me page on her behalf.

He writes:

We are the Rutherford Law Firm, LLC located in Columbia, SC. We currently represent the Spring Valley High School Victim who was assaulted by former Deputy, Ben Fields. 

Jane Doe was the victim of police brutality. While seated in her desk, doing her math work, former Deputy Ben Fields forcibly removed her from the desk by choking her, flipping the desk over while she was still seated, and slinging her six feet across the classroom by her clothes. As a result, she suffers injuries to her ribs, back, neck, shoulder; a broken arm, and abrasions to her face. The funds raised will be put towards medical costs, educational expenses, and any other expenses she has to endure.

The fundraiser, which was created just hours ago, is seeking to raise $25,000.

In just 3 hours, a little more than 360 people have raised over $10,000.

If you’d like to contribute to this girl’s recovery and her other needs, you can do so here.

“It’s A Difference” Loni Love Tells Rachel Dolezal About Herself… And We’re Here For It

October 29th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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loni love tells rachel dolezal feat

Loni Love is a comedienne. She specializes in jokes. But when a pregnant Rachel Dolezal visited Loni and the women of “The Real,” she was very serious.

Dolezal is still out here telling the same story she was telling last year. Sitting on the couch, she told Loni, “White isn’t a race, it’s a state of mind and nothing about whiteness describes me.”

Loni wasn’t having it.

“Let me tell you something. I’m Black. I can’t be you. I can’t reverse myself. Let me tell you Rachel, if the police stop me…you can throw that off [referring to her wig] and show that nice, fine hair up under and you might get away. I may not. I may not even make it to the jail. So, it’s a difference.” 

And the church said Amen.

I don’t know who Rachel has been surrounding herself with since the days she was outed, but I’m glad that Loni took the opportunity to publicly tell her about her flawed thinking.

You can watch this particular episode of “The Real” on Monday, November 2.

In the meantime, watch the clip below.

When You Hurt Black Women I Got A Problem With It. Raven-Symoné’s Dad Talks Daughter’s Comments, ‘New Black’ & More

October 14th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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christopher pearman

Source: Facebook

I knew that I liked Raven’s daddy, Christopher Pearman, from the moment he came forward to share his thoughts about his daughter’s comments. He acknowledged that she was wrong and completely misspoke but her also acknowledged that she’s still his daughter and he’s going to support her. And I appreciate that.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. Quite a few folks want to hear more from him, including writer Antonio Moore, fromYour Black World.

The two men, of course, discussed Raven’s recent “ghetto names” comments, Black celebrities who’ve achieved a level of fame and status and subsequently dissociate themselves from the Black community and why no one is talking about the producers’ role in the whole names segment.

Mr. Pearman reminds me of that old school, conscious Black man you hear going at it in the barbershops across the country. He knows what time it is and is not afraid to tell you what’s up.

Check out a few of the highlights from the interview below and then be sure to listen in its entirety in the video on the next page.

On the comments

“Raven’s a comedienne from birth. You saw that on “The Cosby Show” so saw that all through her life. In this particular segment, I believe that it was mostly tongue and cheek…She got comfortable with it.

What got me as a father is that when you said that you would discriminate, you cross the line because you’re breaking the law and you don’t want to put yourself in that position on a national platform.”

Then Pearman shared how he received e-mails from young, Black girls who were hurt by Raven’s words.

“…and I’m very empathetic to that, especially when it comes to our little Black girls because

Black women have been discriminated for hundred years. You don’t want to be a part of that discrimination against your own people.

Now, do I believe that Raven would do that. No. I know that child she’s got a very beautiful heart. She’s just doing what she does, expressing her opinion. And of course she may make some gaffs, we’re human. And she apologized and she saw she was wrong. And that’s how I back her up. ‘Yeah, you were wrong’ but it’s about how you stand back up and face the fire.”

The Segment itself 

Antonio Moore, the interviewer, brought up an excellent point about how the entire segment was set up as if it were a joke. Before the panelists discussed the discriminatory practices in hiring, they showed a video of two non-Black teenagers making up elaborate, unrealistic names based on Black stereotypes. He said that all of the blame shouldn’t have been placed on Raven when it was producers who made that call.

Pearman said he would expect Whoopi, the more seasoned panelist and leader of the Hot Topics segment to speak up about that and not his daughter who is new to the show.

Still, he acknowledged Raven’s role in that position.

“My only concern was, it’s important that she watches the words that she uses and understands that  she is representing her Black people.”

Viewer’s reaction to her comments

While Pearman didn’t agree with his daughter’s comments, he also didn’t like the way people responded to them.

“People were asking for her head and asking me to give them her head.”

Though he says he would never do that to his daughter, he understands the sentiment, the hurt, anger and disappointment people felt.

“When you hurt Black women in any kind of way, I got a problem with it.”

Raven saying she doesn’t view herself as African American 

Listening to Raven’s father speak for 30 seconds, you understand that he’s a proud Black man. So Antonio wanted to know how he felt about Raven telling Oprah that she doesn’t see herself as African American.

“That was messed up. That was just messed up. Dumb shit. But I understand where she’s coming from. I sort of feel that way. If there’s an evolving of us as a species, we will evolve to an intelligence that we all are equal. And for us to still play the color game, it an example of an un-evolving.”

He referenced Malcolm X’s transformation when he came back from Mecca, with a new understanding that people are all the same and should be treated equally. But he did reference that though some things have improved for the Black community, there is still so much further to go. Still, he said that people of this generation, Raven’s generation don’t have the same struggle he did growing up.

He told a story of his grandmother showing him a tree that looked like glass. She told him that this was the tree where slave owners took slaves to trees to whip them. They had done it so often that the bark was stripped from the tree to appear like glass. Though Pearman said he got and understood it, young people today they don’t understand that.

“People of this generation don’t have the same struggle we had.”

Shaun King’s Wife Jumps To His Defense: “He’s No Rachel Dolezal”

August 23rd, 2015 - By Ashley Monaé
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When Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King’s race was questioned earlier this week, social media was not here for it and neither was his wife, Rai King, but for different reasons.

After constant conversations throughout the week regarding a conservative blog that alleged King lied about his ethnicity and was a white man misrepresenting his race as Black, his wife passionately spoke out and shut down the rumors for good.

On Thursday (Aug. 18), Rai took to Facebook and posted an emotional message in defense of her husband, in which she acknowledges the background and story of Shaun’s race as “beautifully difficult, and painful.” She wrote:

“Shaun is a flawed and imperfect man. He has made many mistakes. Just like me and just like you. But regarding his race, he has never lied. Not once,” she wrote. “His story is beautifully difficult, and painful. And I’ve actually encouraged him to tell it publicly because it is a unique expression of this country’s sordid and ridiculous history with race. But it’s his story to tell. On his own terms. When he’s ready to tell it. Out of respect for his mother, and all involved, I hope he continues to let the talking heads talk while he does the real work of holding judicial systems accountable for the 742 women and men they’ve gunned down this year alone.”

She also responds to those who dubbed him as “Rachel Dolezal 2.0” saying, “Just know this, there is nothing fake about Shaun King. He’s no Rachel Dolezal. What’s white about him is white, and what’s Black about him is Black and always has been from the time he was a child. There’s no spray tan, no fake Black hairstyles, no attempt to make himself appear any more ethnic than he already does.”

Read Rai’s full letter here.

 

 

Now Back To The Revolution: Shaun King Explicitly Details His Parentage And Race

August 20th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Shaun-King feat

Yesterday, social media was in a tizzy talking about Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King and his racial makeup. A conservative, right-winged, historically inaccurate website Breitbart attempted to make King out of a liar saying that he’s only been pretending to be Black, pretending to be oppressed. And while King was a bit careful and guarded when he issued his initial response to the attack, today, in an extended essay for The Daily Kos, he told the full story, or as much as felt comfortable sharing with many who sought to discredit him yesterday.

On his parentage

The reports about my race, about my past, and about the pain I’ve endured are all lies. My mother is a senior citizen. I refuse to speak in detail about the nature of my mother’s past, or her sexual partners, and I am gravely embarrassed to even be saying this now, but I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man. My mother and I have discussed her affair. She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment. This has been my lived reality for nearly 30 of my 35 years on earth. I am not ashamed of it, or of who I am—never that—but I was advised by my pastor nearly 20 years ago that this was not a mess of my doing and it was not my responsibility to fix it. All of my siblings and I have different parents. I’m actually not even sure how many siblings I have. It is horrifying to me that my most personal information, for the most nefarious reasons, has been forced out into the open and that my private past and pain have been used as jokes and fodder to discredit me and the greater movement for justice in America. I resent that lies have been reported as truth and that the obviously racist intentions of these attacks have been consistently downplayed at my expense and that of my family.

Learning and coming to terms with his Blackness

When I was 8 years old and in the second grade, black children first began asking me if I was “mixed.” In our house, my white mother, the sweetest woman ever and one of the best friends I’ve ever had, didn’t talk much about race. Most white families don’t. It’s part of the privilege. I didn’t even know what “mixed” was. This isn’t a secret. I’ve told this story publicly in front of thousands of people.

After that day when I was first asked if I was mixed, while I was still a very young child, kids and their well-intentioned parents began telling me they knew who my black father was, that I was so and so’s cousin, etc. This was in small-town Versailles, Kentucky, in the 1980s. It happened regularly for years on end. While I didn’t have an understanding of the national dialogue on interracial children, I knew even as a young child that what people were telling meant something very peculiar and unflattering about my mother. I was aware at how different I looked than my siblings, but didn’t understand DNA or genealogy. They were my family and I loved them…

By the time I reached middle school, I fully identified myself not even as biracial, but just as black. Of course, that was an oversimplification of my story, but that was what made sense at that time. Adults who loved and knew me, on many occasions sat me down and told me that I was black. As you could imagine, this had a profound impact on me and soon became my truth.

He also spoke in depth the very real abuses he suffered as a Black child in a rural town, including being called Nigger, being spat on, having tobacco thrown in his face and being jumped by a mob of angry, racist teenagers.

As a result of that beating, King has had to have several spinal surgeries. He had to have one after he was accepted to Morehouse, on a full academic and leadership scholarship. He subsequently lost the scholarship and was later awarded one by Oprah Winfrey.

She wanted it to be for “diamonds in the rough” and that was pretty much who I was at that point. I didn’t apply for it. Nobody does. The college selects brothers who need it and I was, very gratefully, chosen for it

And lastly he addressed the intentions with which people sought to question or raise doubt to his racial identity.

Not one person behind these reports has remotely good intentions—quite the opposite, in fact. Since these articles have been released, my family and I have received constant death threats and nonstop racist harassment. Multiple members of my family have been harassed and we now have been forced to take extra security measures for our safety.

This was the goal… divide and conquer. But I will not allow it to define or distract me for one more day and hope that all of you reading this will move on with me. I have promised my wife, kids, extended family, and friends that this will be the last time I talk about this publicly for a long time. My work has never been about me and I’ve never made a big deal about my race. I’ve actually tried hard to avoid ever making a big deal out of it and have, instead, simply tried to do good work that matters. I’m eager to get back to the cause that concerns me most.

My focus will continue to be ending police brutality. I believe it is the pre-eminent civil rights issue of modern America and that, together, we can fight against it effectively.

It is a complete and utter shame that Shaun had to come out and detail his parentage. Particularly when the people who are calling for it, could care less about whether or not he’s exploiting Black people. It was never about that. It’s sad. But if there’s any good that can come of this, people will think twice about the information and the source of the information they consume. And perhaps we won’t be so ready and willing to tear down our own letters just because White folks said so.

Amen, God Bless and goodnight, there’s nothing more to see here.

You can read Shaun’s full essay over at The Daily Kos.