Archive for the ‘Race and ethnicity’ Category

A primate with a pipe

April 10, 2017

Yesterday’s Bizarro is yet another Ascent of Man evolution cartoon, but this time a guy intervenes at the ape stage to offer a stupid outfit to wear and a pipe to pretend to smoke:


This is an allusion to the (venerable) meme of monkeys or apes (usually chimpanzees) dressed as people — akin to popular art showing dogs playing cards, or folk museums with stuffed frogs engaged in folksy activities. But with the extra kick that monkeys and apes are uncannily similar to people — in a very common view, especially similar to black Africans and those of black African descent in other parts of the world. The pipe isn’t a necessary component of the dressed-ip primate figure, but it’s a very common one.


Annals of normalization: on the Santa Claus watch

April 7, 2017

From HuffPo on the 4th, this advance announcement about a Christmas book, “Santa Claus Will Be A Gay Black Man In A New Children’s Book: He’ll also be married to a white man”, by Curtis M. Wong:

Get ready to see Santa Claus in a new (and refreshingly diverse) light this holiday season, courtesy of a forthcoming parody children’s book.

On March 28, publisher Harper Design announced plans to release Santa’s Husband, which re-casts Kris Kringle as a black man in an interracial, same-sex relationship. Slated for an October release, the book will follow Santa’s life in the North Pole, except in this version, he’ll have a white husband who fills in for him at shopping malls around the world.


CK basks in Moonlight

February 27, 2017

For me, the main news from the Academy Awards last night was the triumph of the movie Moonlight, an innovative masterpiece that succeeded despite a tiny budget and a story situated amost entirely in a black world, with a central character who’s a (suppressed) gay man, and featuring a cast of mostly sympathetic, indeed moving, characters located in a rich socal context that is, however, unflinchingly shown as involving illegal drugs, jail time, and occasionally erupting frightening violence (along with friendship, affection, and a system of social support that operates in a subculture almost entirely out of sight of mainstream culture).

I should add that the nominees for the various awards included a large number of really excellent films: the best picture nominees had three fine powerfully black-themed movies (Moonlight, Fences, Hidden Figures), the language-themed movie Arrival, and the frothy, celebratory (but apparently rather conventional) musical La La Land.

I’ll say more about Moonlight (which I wrote an enthusiastic appreciation of here back on 11/24/16) at the Academy Awards in a moment, but as a lead-in to this morning’s Moonlight news, about a Calvin Klein photo shoot celebrating the company’s signing Moonlight stars Mahershala Ali and Trevante Rhodes as — whew! — underwear models. (By the way, both of these men give great interview.)


Chocolate Santa, and more

December 26, 2016

For the Feast of Stephen: a heartwarming Christmas bulletin from NOLA, mixed reviews from the Mall of America, plus some genuine outrageousness.  Minority holiday time.


The eyes reject

December 9, 2016

From a Facebook discussion between a black woman T, a white guy C, and me, over the interpretation of a baffling — because drastically poor in detail — news story involving two young black men, a set of store employees, and a policeman: the guys asked for sliced cheese; an employee said the store didn’t carry it; the employee then herded the staff into a back room, locked it, and called the police; the cop who turned up told the guys they had to leave the store or they’d be arrested. T and I suspected that race might have been involved in the incident, and I was especially dubious about the sliced cheese part of the story; C maintained that race was not at issue, and in any case we didn’t have enough information to suspect that it did. At this point, T to C:

please don’t use your woke status to affirm your reading of the story and to presume that Arnold is alone in his side eye.

That is, my figurative side eye (or side-eye): I didn’t actually look sideways to express distrust or disbelief, but I certainly did express those attitudes (verbally rather than visually).


Twin Kings

December 4, 2016

Burger King has a long series of brief tv ads showing (usually) two people, mostly young people (presumably from their target audience), friends, who are enjoying BK specials while bantering and wearing their BK golden crowns. Lots of white males, some white females, and now two young black guys — who happen to be twins. Doing a black “street” style of speech and gesture (including some falsetto), playful and kind of goofy. A still:

You can watch the ad here. On 2016 Burger King 2 for $10 Whopper Meal TV Commercial, ‘Twins’.



November 24, 2016

… the recent movie. Which I saw on Monday and am still in the grip of. A stunning film, tracking its central character from a small, weak boy (in black Miami) to a big, hard man (in black Atlanta), as he struggles to carve out a place for himself in the world and to come to terms with his sexuality.

(#1) (more…)

The mazel tov cocktail

November 20, 2016

From the Washington Post on the 7th, “Actually, the Mazel Tov cocktail is real. And it’s delicious” by Maura Judkis, beginning:

In what will be perhaps the last great moment of comedy this presidential campaign season has given us, Donald Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes of criticized Jay Z after the rapper performed in Cleveland on Friday in support of Hillary Clinton.

“One of his main videos starts out with a crowd throwing mazel tov cocktails at the police,” said Hughes, referencing the “Run This Town” video.

Except: The explosive is called a molotov cocktail. “Mazel tov” [more or less literally, ‘good luck’] is a celebratory phrase in Hebrew — something you say when a baby is born, or a happy couple gets married. It’s not the first time a Republican has confused the two terms — when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was a county executive, he wrote “molotov” as a greeting to a Jewish constituent. So while Jewish people were laughing at Hughes’s malapropism, everyone else began to wonder: What is a mazel tov cocktail … ?

Judkis’s piece goes on to explain the mazel tov cocktail, and I’ll get to that. But some readers were made uneasy by these mazel tov / Molotov eggcorns, with their mixture of Judaism, Russian communism, and bomb-throwing protestors (like cartoon anarchists).


Gloomy tech days at the NYT

November 10, 2016

[11/12/16: Update on the NYTMagazine/Wesley Morris matter. By the time I got around to looking for Morris’s excellent piece “Last Taboo” on-line, my searches were shunted to another Morris piece, “Uncommon Ground” (to appear in print tomorrow). I posted about this; Ned Deily discovered that though he had been able to get to “Last Taboo”, he was now also diverted away from it; and Ned unearthed the Wayback Machine evidence for the piece on-line earlier. At least one reader reported no problem with the links, and not long after I posted, things were fixed for everyone. Alarm no more.

Meanwhile, I tried to get in touch with Morris about the problem, but saw no way to do it. Ned, ever helpful, reported that the NYT had a page listing Morris’s articles for them, and on it there was an Email Author button. So there was; it doesn’t give you an address, but directs messages to Morris out of public view. Unfortunately, the software returned the message

We could not process your request, please try again later. Sorry for the inconvenience.

— 25 times over two days. My patience is now officially exhausted. To hell with it.

Score card: one software glitch fixed, one apparently still flourishing.]

Now, back to my previous posting.]


Eliding the black penis

November 9, 2016

A remarkable long piece in the New York Times Magazine Culture issue on October 30th, by film critic and general cultural critic Wesley Morris, “The Last Taboo: Why American pop culture just can’t deal with black male sexuality”, on the elision (or, alternatively, mythologization) of black male sexuality. In a supremely ironic development, the text of Morris’s piece has itself been elided from the public record (no doubt by massive incompetence rather than malevolence): links on the NYT site (and, as far as I can tell, on all sites that refer to “The Last Taboo”) take you not to this article but to another, racially and sexually irrelevant, Morris piece, “Uncommon Ground: Our New Urban Oases”, on elevated railways turned into pedestrian parks, which is identified as being from the NYT Magazine’s Culture issue (puzzlingly dated October 27th), but it’s not in that issue.

I’ll start by showing you scans of the title pages of “The Last Taboo”, just to show you that I’m not making this up, and then go on to quoting at some length from Morris’s text, which I have spent a very long time typing in by hand.