No Black Person Is Ugly

As a rapper, Bay Area artist Lil B the Based God can be enigmatic, controversial and polarizing. And when he chooses to, he can also be conscious and insightful — as is the case with his latest song and video “No Black Person Is Ugly.”   Read More

Stripping Down to Reveal True Style

The What’s Underneath Project, developed by multimedia platform Stylelikeu takes a unique approach to show that style is deeper than the clothes you wear. Set in a 1-on-1 interview format, the series highlights different people from different backgrounds as they share their unique style and what makes them unique. The striking aspect? These people strip off their clothes as the interview progresses, leaving them sitting only in their underwear at the end.

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GOP Rep. Mistakes Senior U.S. Officials for Indian Citizens

And they say the Tea Party isn’t race motivated. That may be too broad but this hilarious incident goes to show how breathtakingly unaware some Republicans can be when it comes to race or geography. Freshman Congressman from Florida Curt Clawson confuses top U.S. government officials with a delegation from India.  Watch the video of the gaffe and read on at The Washington Post.

 

Police Brutality Is Now A Formality…

Those words spit by the Geto Boy’s Brad “Scarface” Jordan have never rang truer than right now. It seems like a day can’t go by without another visage of someone, mostly minorities, getting hammered by the police. After the jump, Vice takes a look at the recent highly publicized case of Eric Garner and the legacy of police brutality on black men. Read More

Study says Barbie is stunting girls’ career aspirations

Say what you will about the size of her waist, but Barbie is one of the most professionally accomplished toys in existence. Since her debut in 1959, Mattel’s ubiquitous doll has tried her hand at more than 130 careers, from ballerina to astronaut to zoologist.

But is Barbie’s resume inspiring the next generation of real girls to attempt similarly diverse careers? It doesn’t look like it. A new study published in the journal Sex Roles that suggests playing with Barbies can actually stunt little girls’ career aspirations.

It looks like feminists were right all along: Barbie is bad for girls, regardless of the uniform she’s wearing.

The study, conducted by the psychology lab at Oregon State University, gave girls ages 4 to 7 one of three dolls to play with: Barbie dressed as a fashion model (which was, in fact, her original incarnation), Barbie dressed as a doctor, or Mrs. Potato Head. Those who played with either of the Barbies later viewed themselves as having fewer career options than boys do, and espoused a preference for more “pink collar” jobs like teacher or flight attendant. Those who played with Mrs. Potato Head, on the other hand, were able to envision themselves in more varied — and less gendernormative — roles, like firefighter or pilot.

When drawing attention to these types of studies, the goal is not in any way to disparage traditionally feminine roles, which have long been undervalued and under-payed by a society that continues to place a premium on masculinity. Rather, this is about recognizing the limiting effect that playing with heavily gendered toys can have on children’s ultimate ambitions. Of course little girls can — and absolutely should — dream of becoming teachers, librarians and nurses. But they also should know that they are not beholden to these careers by virtue of their gender any more than the boys are.

So where does that leave us? The study concludes that it may actually be the image of Barbie herself that hems in career imagination; Barbie is one of the only toys marketed to little girls that has a mature female body, and was modeled after the German post-war, erotic doll Bild Lilli. Being confronted with her impossibly tiny waist, big boobs and long legs conveys “a sexualized adult world to young girls” that can unintentionally limit their imagination about their future professions.

Mrs. Potato Head obviously isn’t an accurate representation of the average female body type either (because, well… she’s a potato), but apparently even a root vegetable with detachable facial features sends a better message to little girls than do Barbie’s unrealistic curves.

It’s important to note this trend isn’t new. Barbie’s figure has been a source of controversy for years. One recent study showed that girls who play with skinny dolls may eat less afterwards, and Sports Illustrated turned the kids’ toy into a very adult sex object for its 50th anniversarySwimsuit Edition in February.

This really is a shame — as the former owner of at least 13 different Barbies, I can attest to the fact that playing with them can be a lot of fun. Companies are starting to discover the market for empowering toys, with dolls like the more realistically-proportioned Lammily potentially hitting shelves soon. But as long as Barbie maintains her sexualized silhouette, Mattel’s efforts to pass her off as a role model may always fall flat.

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You Need to Watch Laverne Cox’s Inspiring Speech on Transgender Issues

Last week, the Trans 100 list went public, celebrating those who have raised the public profile or made a difference for transgender people. This list was read live two weeks ago, at the Trans 100 gala in Chicago. The event also featured keynote speeches by author Janet Mock and Laverne Cox of Orange Is the New Black.

Cox’s speech hinged on the saying, “Hurt people hurt people” and the “revolutionary action” of trans people loving each other, and touched on issues of oppression, kindness, and healing. It’s a powerful, emotional speech, especially when she speaks of the crowdfunding effort for the documentary about CeCe McDonald, a transgender activist who served 19 months in a men’s prison after defending herself from an attack in 2011.

“So often, trans people are told that our lives don’t matter,” Cox says. “Particularly black trans women. And tens of thousands of dollars were raised for this woman CeCe McDonald to prove that our lives do matter.”

Co-Screenwriter of ‘Noah’ Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film

O.K. let’s see if this makes sense.

No doubt, one of the most talked about films so far this year is Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. The film has gotten its share of rave reviews, though there are those who have major problems with it. However, one cannot deny that it is truly an ambitious, unique and original film – the kind of risk-taking movie you wish Hollywood would make more of, like they used to.

However, there is that one thing; That one thing that stuck out in my mind when I saw the film: “Hey, where are the black folks or people or color in the film?

If this film had been made back during the epic “Biblical film” era, in the 1950s, well then, yes, you would expect that.

But even Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments has black people in it. So, here we are well into the 21stcentury, and Noah is populated with nothing but white people, many who speak with British or Australian accents.

Well, in a new interview on the website The High Calling (HERE) the co-screenwriter of the film Ari Handel, who wrote Noah with Aronofsky, was asked about the lack of diversity and addressed by saying:

“From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise.”

He goes on to say:

“You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, “Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.” Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, “Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?” That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.”

Really? That’s the best he could do? Why not just say, we just didn’t want to be bothered? I would have bought that.

So let me see if I understand this. In other words, if we put black people or POC in the film, then people would notice it, and that would have been like really, really distracting, taking people out of the film. So instead, we got a whole bunch of white British, American and Australian actors to represent all mankind, because it‘s just a lot easier?

And, furthermore, putting people of color in the film would have somewhat diminished the biblical Noah, making it look, God forbid, like some kind of Star Trek movie?

Sorry I’m all confused here. I was thinking that, if you want to represent all mankind in a film, then wouldn’t it make sense to have a cast that did actually represent all of mankind, in every color and hue, instead of having an all white cast, and telling audiences to just squint their eyes, and pretend that he’s another race, because it’s all just a myth after all? So black people can’t be mythical too? Nope, I guess we’re too real, too urban.

Am I wrong here, or is Handel? You tell us.

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What I Learned From Tweeting With A Black Woman’s Avatar For #RaceSwapExp

Two weeks ago, after writer and activist Suey Park sparked a wave of protest and dude-bro angst with her response to the Colbert Report’s racist tweet, I heeded Suey’s call and began to tweet about why Colbert’s work did not qualify as satire, did nothing to improve the lived experiences of people of color and was often racist and transmisogynist. Some of my tweets were included in the first half dozen or so pieces about the trending hashtag and the conversation it ignited. For me, the experience was thought provoking and empowering; it was also rather easy. How? I was tweeting as a white man. Everything I said was accepted, supported, re-tweeted or (at worst) ignored.

That was in stark contrast to the countless rape/death threats leveled at Suey and many other women. Not to mention the myriad bro-pundits—Huffington Post’s Josh Zepps and Slate’s Dave Weigel are obvious examples—desperate to derail and silence Park by calling her opinions “stupid” and using phrases like “weaponized hashtags.” This flurry of dude-bro logic and mansplaining led to something unexpected in my timeline, as many women of color and black women began to switch their avatars to those of white men. The result? A dramatic decrease in the number of trolls and the severity of said trolls. Fed-Up Hipster wrote a great piece about why she’s had a bearded white hipster’s avi since last fall.

Mikki Kendall—who launched #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, among others—inspired other women of color and black women to offer up photographs of themselves for white people who wanted to participate in #RaceSwapExp for the week. Shortly thereafter, I expressed my interest in participating and Feminista Jones was gracious enough to allow me to use a picture of her for the next five days. I’ll admit I was hesitant: How would people respond? Would the content of my tweets change or be received differently? The basic requirement for #RaceSwapExp was that you couldn’t change how or what you tweeted—and you had to obtain permission from the person whose avatar you used. I learned a few lessons about white supremacy and misogyny while tweeting as “Christine” with a picture of Feminista Jones as my avi.

1. My follower count went up by about 65. The vast majority of these were social justice-minded people; many (not all) were women of color. I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m thrilled.

2. My troll count went from a handful per week to many more, overnight. I was blocking/reporting around 15 to 25 of them per day. Many were eggs, some were white liberals, some were right-wingers and others were just dudes of unknown political origin.

3. The level of hateful tweets went from zero to off the charts. With many of these trolls, I would respond once and then block them, or just block them. One such troll, @vincentBrook666, tweeted the following to me in all caps.

(This was a manual RT response to the original tweet, as @vincentBrook666 deleted the original tweet.)

That type of language was fairly typical and nothing like I had ever experienced before. I was simultaneously horrified and not surprised. Though this language makes you feel uncomfortable (as it should), people are spoken to this way on a daily basis.

4. I didn’t change the tone or content of my tweets; however, I did tell at least one troll to jump off a cliff. I called another troll “white boy,” which in hindsight was probably provocative. I was very frustrated. Would I have tweeted that with my regular avatar? I believe so. I’d called out Dave Weigel’s ahistorical and white dude-bro coverage of #CancelColbert—with my regular avi—and he responded by blocking me. Were both of my responses perceived differently with a black woman’s avi? Definitely. Is this perception because of racist assumptions about black women and women of color? Of course.

5. Before switching my avatar, I’d been labeled a white hipster and called a faggot. One troll said that I was only defending women of color because I wanted to sleep with them. Because it’s somehow impossible for a man to just respect the humanity of black women?

6. The mansplaining came from all directions—self-proclaimed liberals, far-right conservatives and libertarians. A gay white journalist who I know in real life explained that I don’t understand satire.

For me, #RaceSwapExp was eye-opening because it allowed me, for one week, to experience a little bit of what black women and women of color deal with 24/7/365 in all online spaces: endless trolling, racist and misogynistic hate, tactics that silence and derail, demeaning assaults on their humanity. Even so, no matter what happened to me, it was just an experiment. I was (and am) privileged—I knew that in a few days I could go back to the safety of my regular avi. For the brilliant women of color that I follow, that’s not an option. If nothing else, this experience has given a new urgency to my personal resolve: I will work to dismantle white supremacy, decenter whiteness and center the voices of black people in my work and my life. TC mark

By  CHRISTOPHER CARBONE for Thought Catalogue