Day: July 17, 2008

Media Politics Race Matters TV

The View: Whoopi Explains Racism, Hasselbeck Cries

Footage revealing that Jesse Jackson used the N-word (in addition to saying he wanted to cut Barack Obama’s “nuts off”) sparked a heated discussion between The View’s Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Hasselbeck, a staunch Republican, held back tears as she grappled with the double standard that black people are using the N-word, while she’s trying to teach her children otherwise. The mother of two explains, “When we live in a world where pop culture then uses that term and we’re trying to get to a place where we feel like we’re in the same place and we feel like we’re in the same world how are we supposed to then move forward if we keep using terms that bring back that pain?”

Goldberg quickly cuts Hasselbeck off and clears up the misconception that we are all “living in the same world,” arguing that her own mother’s lack of voting rights in America is evidence of the different worlds. “You must acknowledge the understanding of what it [the N-Word] is and why it is, in order to go [forward],” Goldberg insists.

All double standards are hard to understand, and it is practically impossible to selectively delegate which racial groups are empowered to use the word and in what context (ie: Are bi-racial people, who appear to be white, allowed to use the word?).

But Goldberg just might have good cause to defend the usage of the word and stress the understanding of the hows and whys before extracting it completely. It wasn’t too long ago that blacks had to accept the double standard that was segregation and slavery under the Constitution, so it shouldn’t be too hard for Hasselbeck to understand the double standard of one ridiculous little word.

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Accolades Movies Race Matters

Disney’s Black Princess: Maids, Maddy, Voodoo & New Orleans

Last year, the Walt Disney Co. began production on an animated fairy tale, The Frog Princess, set for 2009, featuring Disney’s first black princess. Fastforward a year later and the original concept has been criticized for its reinforcement of racial prejudice and stereotypes, according to the U.K.’s Telegraph.

Originally, the film’s heroine was to be a chambermaid named Maddy (ahem, “mammy”?!) working for a spoilt white debutante in 1920s New Orleans. Maddy was supposed to be helped by a voodoo priestess fairy godmother to win the heart of a white prince, after he rescued her from a voodoo magician.

As a result of its damaging and demeaning racial tones, the groundbreaking film’s title has been changed to The Princess and The Frog, with the princess being renamed Tiana.

“It’s disappointing,” Rodney Hinds, features editor of The Voice newspaper, said. “Some of the stereotyping of people from our community is still rigid in people’s minds. We have our own dreams and stories like everyone else, and we want them to be portrayed positively.”

A spokesman for Disney said: “The story takes place in the charming elegance and grandeur of New Orleans’ fabled French Quarter during the Jazz Age… Princess Tiana will be a heroine in the great tradition of Disney’s rich animated fairy tale legacy, and all other characters and aspects of the story will be treated with the greatest respect and sensitivity.”

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Europe Ga Ga Music

Ga Ga: Quenching Blindie’s ‘Thirst’

All Jimmy Hendrix fans hold on to your hats! A new sensation has hit town in the form of a four-piece funk/indie/rock band called The Thirst.

This London-based motley crew from Brixton–who used to MC and DJ before switching mic’s for guitars–is made up of brothers, Mensah (vocal/guitar) and Kwame (bass), Marcus (drums/backing vocal), and Mark (rhythm guitar).

They are the first exclusive signing to The Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood’s (who recently entered rehab for alcoholism) label, Wooden Records, and their album, On The Brink, has just been released.

Get more info on these up-and-coming rockers by checking out their website.

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Thirst

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Africa Health Race Matters

Genetics Blamed For HIV Among African Descendants

The recent headlines, concerning a new study on HIV/AIDS, have been frightening: “Genetic Variation May Raise AIDS Infection Risk in Africans ” ( AND “Scientists Make Gene Link To African HIV Epidemic” (Times Online). But the media and even the scientists may be jumping the gun by making such bold declarations.

A new study published in the Cell Host and Microbe journal has researchers concluding that sub-Saharan Africans and their descendants are more susceptible to the HIV virus because of their genetics: the lack of a Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC), commonly referred to as the Duffy protein.

In the presence of the protein, according to the study, HIV particles are absorbed–diminishing the virus’ chances of infecting vulnerable white blood cells. However, the absence of the Duffy protein acts as a protector from the malaria parasite.

The results and interpretations of this study provide a plausible explanation for the disproportionate number of African and African-Americans affected by the HIV virus in relation to their European counterparts. It also deflects from the common excuse of sexual behavior patterns. But it should not be overlooked that declaring an ethnic group genetically predisposed to fall prey to a modern day plague smacks of racial propaganda.

Cheryl Winkler, head of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute, in Frederick, Md. cautions, “This definitely requires more study and replication of results before you can make these assumptions. They have a model here, but they don’t have enough evidence.”

Let us not forget that it is often argued in the scientific field that the bias of researchers and their preconceived notions and hypothesis can skew data results. In other words, researchers might be discovering exactly what they’re looking for and possibly overlooking other factors.

It should also be noted that the study was conducted exclusively on American military personnel which not only eliminated many of the socioeconomic variables that might have an impact on HIV susceptibility but also excluded Africans from the study.

David Goldstein, a Duke University population geneticist who studies HIV genetics, points out that African Americans have an especially diverse genetic heritage making it more difficult to link a particular gene to HIV susceptibility.

If the study didn’t include any Africans why are they being accused of genetic shortcomings in the headlines?

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Fashion Project Runway Race Matters TV

Project Runway Season 5 Delights Blindie With Diversity

Project Runway Season Five premiered Wednesday night, and we couldn’t be happier: there are three African-American designers this year, and two of them are women!

Here’s the lineup: Terri Stevens, 39, from Chicago; Korto Momolu, 33, from Little Rock via Liberia; and Jerell Scott, 28, originally from Houston. To top it off, the Bravo competition finally included an Asian male–Jerry, 32, from Montana (previous seasons featured Asian females).

Blindie predicts…

  • Jerell will be a treasure trove of one-liners and sass (“All you other designers can go home one by one”)
  • Terri will give us indie chic, as she has already described her style as “Aerosmith meets Lauryn Hill meets Michael Jackson”
  • Korto will be all business and full of design surprises, as she aspires to be the first African American winner (an honor stolen from Season One’s Kara Saun!)

As the elimination process crept closer, we held our breath as Korto and Jerry landed in the elimination line-up. And just when we thought this season was going to be a couture melting pot, Jerry was sent packing after creating an American Psycho-esque ensemble from a shower curtain and a table cloth.

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