“Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned… Everything is war. Me say war. That until the’re no longer 1st class and 2nd class citizens of any nation… Until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes, me say war. That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race me say war!”
“A vision of cultural homogeneity that seeks to deflect attention away from or even excuse the oppressive, dehumanizing impact of white supremacy on the lives of black people by suggesting black people are racist too indicates that the culture remains ignorant of what racism really is and how it works. It shows that people are in denial. Why is it so difficult for many white folks to understand that racism is oppressive not because white folks have prejudicial feelings about blacks (they could have such feelings and leave us alone) but because it is a system that promotes domination and subjugation?”
I was born and raised in the Bay Area, a place that is considered very diverse. However, in the 80s, it was still the Indian and more specifically the Fijian-Indian community was very small, although growing. I can’t count the number of times I was called “Gandhi” (meant as a derogatory insult), made fun of for wearing “Gandhi dots” aka bindis, or asked if I really ate curry for every meal.
Indian culture was weird, and different, but suddenly one white girl in a punk/pop band puts on a bindi and she’s considered a trend-setter. One iconic white musician changes her look to include bindis, mehndi covered hands – oh sorry henna tattoos, and it’s the next big look. Naan and curry became the hot new dish, and everyone though Bikram yoga was the best workout. Yet my life, or my family’s life hasn’t gotten better from people suddenly “accepting” my culture.
I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.”
We keep coming back to the question of representation because identity is always about representation. People forget that when they wanted white women to get into the workforce because of the world war, what did they start doing? They started having a lot of commercials, a lot of movies, a lot of things that were redoing the female image, saying, “Hey, you can work for the war, but you can still be feminine.” So what we see is that the mass media, film, TV, all of these things, are powerful vehicles for maintaining the kinds of systems of domination we live under, imperialism, racism, sexism etc. Often there’s a denial of this and art is presented as politically neutral, as though it is not shaped by a reality of domination.
– Bell Hooks, Reel to Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies
A woman is a Miss or Ms. when she is single and becomes a Mrs. when she is married. Yet, a man is always a Mr. The terms Miss and Mrs. define a woman by whether she belongs to a man and they are still used to this day. They have become commonplace, yet, this is a prime example of just how sexist our society still is.
This great piece on ESPN with journalist Kate Fagan questioning whether former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling would have gotten just as harsh a punishment if what he said was about women. Make no mistake he is just as sexist and misogynistic as he is racist and bigoted. As Kate Fagan states, it is great that he is gone, while the racist comments are so blatant and everyone was rightfully outraged, the sexist comments were passed over.
In light of the racist, misogynistic and downright disgusting comments Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made in a TMZ released audio recording, there has been a wide range of debates throughout all sorts of media and Twitter about all forms of racism. If you follow the NBA, what Sterling said is not surprising in that he has a history of this, which is a whole other debate and sore on the NBA and it’s owners.
All of the talk (something I am glad to see) had me contemplating about racism in today’s America. I learned at a very young age racism was rampant and it was something I would have to deal with, most likely, for the rest of my life. As a little first grader on the playground who was told by a little girl that she couldn’t play with me because my skin was too dark and her parents told her she wasn’t allowed to touch or talk to dark people, I learned that lesson very quickly.