Quotable Quote of the Month

What does it take for Republicans to take off the flag pin and say, 'I am just too embarrassed to be on this team'?".- Bill Maher

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Guest Post by Joanna: A Girl Like Me (Video)

Last week, I discovered the blog My Name Is JuJuBe. I contacted the blogger (Joanna) and asked if she'd be interested in writing a guest post for Diversity Ink. She is in the process of working on ideas for an original post for DI. In the meantime, she gave me the OK to use any of her previously written blog posts.

The following,
A Girl Like Me (Video), was posted by Joanna on her blog on June 18, 2010:

This is a video that was made in 2007 by a teenage girl named Kiri Davis. It discusses the standards of beauty than young Black women feel like they need to conform to in order to "fit in." It angers me to see that these young women are made to feel less attractive because of the color of their skin, or the texture of their hair. It shows the power of the white supremacist system upon the way Black children view themselves

Black children are constantly bombarded by images of Black people as being somehow inferior, of being less. They are told consciously AND subliminally that looking more white makes a person more beautiful physically, mentally and emotionally. This is such a disturbing message for children to receive. Every child deserves to feel beautiful. Every child needs to hear positive reinforcement, to be told that they are smart, and that they are good people. And, unfortunately, the message being given to Black children is the exact opposite.

Is it fair to a Black child that nearly all of the people they see on television are white? That the images they see of Black people in the media are overwhelmingly negative? Absolutely not!

I remember a few years back, I worked at the Pomonok neighborhood center in the after school program. Nearly all of the children who attended the program were Black children. Yet the books they were given to read featured overwhelmingly white characters, and the dolls they were given to play with with were usually blond haired and blue eyed.

(White) people seem to think that this does not have an effect on children, that is doesn't matter WHAT race a doll or a character in a book has. Yet, when new toys and books for the children were brought in featuring darker skin tones, the kids were overjoyed. They LOVED having characters to relate to who looked like them. They enjoyed playing with dolls that shared their skin tones. For the first time, the little girls and boys were engrossed in books about characters that they could relate to. They no longer looked at reading and learning as a chore. They looked forward to reading about historical Black figures. They enjoyed stories about Black children, and absorbed the messages the books were relating more readily. They began to express more pride in themselves.

It sickens me to think about the overwhelmingly negative messages we are transmitting to young children about Blackness as it relates to beauty, intelligence and morality. I believe that we have a responsibility as a society to promote positive images of Black people, not only to Black children, but to all children. Children learn VERY early on about racism and the society hierarchy that skin color places individuals on. We need to counter that programming. We need to show children that beauty comes in all shades, that morality is universal, and that intelligence has nothing to do with skin color.

A while back, a friend and I had a discussion about children's television programming. We thought it would be a great idea to start a network for children of color, a network that would show Black children in a positive light. He has a 3 year old Black daughter, and he wants her to grow up feeling beautiful and special. He does not want her to get the idea that she is somehow less because she is Black. He believes that children's programming that shows more Black children would really enhance the learning experience of Black children. We considered actually attempting to do something related to this idea, but we had no idea how to go about it. But, it is would definitely be a step in the right direction towards erasing the programming children receive early on regarding race.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Michael Jackson: An Icon of Diversity

Note: To commemorate the 1 year anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson (who passed away on June 25, 2009), I am re-posting the following. This was originally posted on July 3, 2009

Although I wrote about Michael Jackson over at my pop culture blog on the day he died (which you can read by clicking here), I had been meaning to put together a separate post about MJ for Diversity Ink. For various reasons, I was unable to get one up until now.

The day after Michael's death, I was preparing for my radio show that night which was a tribute to him. As I was getting ready to head to the radio station, I was pondering Michael's place among the greats of popular music. To me, Michael is in that exclusive club of ultra-megastars (along with Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and The Beatles). The criteria I used for inclusion is: name recognition on a global level, influence on performing styles and fashion/pop culture (not only on other artists, but the general public), the power to create fan hysteria, and the ability to maintain all of these factors over a long period of time. There are others who come close to this status, but they aren't quite there in my opinion. As a sidebar, I think that Prince could have achieved ultra-megastar status if he wanted it; Madonna would probably sell her soul for entry into that club.

Even within the ultra-megastar club, Michael Jackson rises above the others in one regard: the ability to obliterate racial lines in a way that was unprecedented and has never been duplicated. Just to be clear, I am not saying that the appeal of Sinatra, Elvis, and The Beatles was strictly a "white thing" because I enjoy all of them as I am sure others do too who aren't white. Still, Michael Jackson's crossover appeal puts him in a class by himself.

There have been countless black artists who've had racially diverse fan bases (for example, James Brown, Aretha, and artists on the Motown roster). Having said that, the era's social climate dictated that there were certain boundaries that weren't to be crossed. If Suzie from the suburbs let it be known that she was madly in love with "The Godfather of Soul" after seeing his dazzling performance in Ski Party, I doubt that it would have went over well with her parents. Even though by the 1980s, race relations had improved to a point where it was possible for Michael Jackson to have the type of crossover appeal he had, there were likely non-black parents who weren't thrilled that their kids' bedroom walls were covered with images of "The Gloved One". Still, it was something about Michael Jackson that made it OK for people of all races to scream in delight at the very sight of him. Consider this... if New Edition had the massive crossover appeal of Michael Jackson, do you think Maurice Starr would have found it necessary to create New Kids On the Block?

Over the past week while pondering Michael Jackson's diverse appeal, I thought to myself, "How did he do it?" Although I don't think there's a right or wrong answer, I have a couple of theories. I feel that the grooming Michael received during his years at Motown helped lay the groundwork for his later solo success. I think he also appealed to the kid in us with his Peter Pan persona and ability to do things on stage that appeared magical. Whatever the reasons for Michael Jackson's global appeal, we will never see an artist achieve that level of fame again.

Below is one of my favorite Michael Jackson performances and one that really illustrates the title of this post. It's from one of two 30th anniversary concerts that Michael did at Madison Square Garden in 2001. These are the last shows he ever did.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Glenn Beck Plays the Race Card... From the Bottom of the Deck

Just when I thought Glenn Beck couldn't get any lower, he manages to reach a whole new depth. On both his radio and TV programs on June 14, Beck aired an edited audio clip of President Obama in order to paint Obama as being racist against white executives.

In the clip below, Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) breaks it down:

If you don't believe the remaining part of the quote read by Cenk was real, below is a link to the 1995 interview Obama did with Bill Thompson (host of the online series Eye On Books). The clip is almost 13 minutes so if you only want to hear the portion where Obama talks about responsibility on the part of blacks and whites, go to the 12:24 mark.

1995 interview

I've heard some conservatives accuse liberals of divisiveness and race baiting, yet these same conservatives are reluctant to call out anyone they feel is on their side such as Beck. If you believe Beck is on your side, stop snoring and start paying attention because he's playing you. His brazenness in airing the cropped clip shows that he feels his core audience is either too dumb to do any research or that they simply don't care. Although I think President Obama was wrong not to talk to BP CEO Tony Hayward sooner than he did, Beck's injection of race into this matter is a reach to say the least.

For all of you in the anti-Obama camp, put down your Haterade for just a moment and look at this objectively. Can you honestly say that Glenn Beck was playing it straight by saying President Obama didn't want to talk to Hayward because he's white? If so, I'd love to hear your argument(s). If you think Beck is the greatest thing since Sen. Joe McCarthy, but feel he's wrong in this case, there's no shame in saying so.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Who Has the Upper Hand When Selling Items Online?

In May 2010, the Economics Department at Stanford University published an interesting study. Titled, The Visible Hand: Race and Online Market Outcomes, the study examines the role race plays in the decision making of online consumers.

For those who believe racism is a thing of the past, if Stanford's study doesn't change your mind I don't know what will. Without question, we have come a long way in combating racism. However, the battle isn't even close to being over.

Personally, I have had success selling items online. Then again, I don't post photos of my hand holding the item... just the item itself. It now makes me wonder if my first name has ever prevented someone from buying something from me online. To those saying, "what?!", I'll let you in on something. There are some who believe that "Malcolm" is a black person's name. An ex-girlfriend (who incidentally is white) once told me that one of her brothers figured I was black based on my first name. My guess is he figured that because arguably the most famous Malcolm (X) is black, so was I. To quote Mr. Cross, "I know it's crazy, but it's true." Apparently, her brother wasn't familiar with Forbes, McDowell, McLaren, Atterbury, or Muggeridge.

Below is a clip of The Young Turks in which they break down the study conducted by Stanford. Towards the end of the clip, co-host Ana Kasparian brings up a separate study done in Italy which shows the correlation between empathy and race.