Jun. 10, 2014
Color-Blind Racial Ideology Linked to Racism, Both Online and Offline
Images from racial theme parties that are posted on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace not only elicit different reactions from different people based on their race and their attitudes toward diversity, they also represent an indirect way to express racist views about minorities, according to published research by a University of Illinois professor who studies the convergence of race and the Internet.
In a study that examined the associations between responses to racial theme party images on social networking sites and a color-blind racial ideology, Brendesha Tynes, a professor of educational psychology and of African American studies at Illinois, discovered that white students and those who rated highly in color-blind racial attitudes were more likely not to be offended by images from racially themed parties at which attendees dressed and acted as caricatures of racial stereotypes (for example, photos of students dressed in blackface make-up attending a “gangsta party” to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day).
“People who reported higher racial color-blind attitudes were more likely to be white, and more likely to condone or not be bothered by racial-theme party images,” Tynes said. “In fact, some even encouraged the photos by adding comments of their own such as ‘Where’s the Colt 45?’ or ‘Party like a rock star.’ ”
To conduct the study, Tynes showed 217 ethnically diverse college students images from racially themed parties and prompted them to respond as if they were writing on a friend’s Facebook or MySpace page.
“Since so much of campus life is moving online, we tried to mimic the online social network environment as much as we could,” Tynes said. “What we saw were people’s responses almost in real time.”
Fifty-eight percent of African-Americans were unequivocally bothered by the images, compared with only 21 percent of whites. The majority of white respondents (41 percent) were in the bothered-ambivalent group, and 24 percent were in the not bothered-ambivalent group.
In the written response portion of the study, the responses ranged from approval and nonchalance (“OMG!! I can’t believe you guys would think of that!!! Horrible … but kinda funny not gonna lie”) to mild opprobrium and outrage (“This is obscenely offensive”).
The students also were asked questions about their attitudes toward racial privilege, institutional discrimination and racial issues. Those who scored higher on the measure were more likely to hold color-blind racial attitudes, and were more likely to be ambivalent or not bothered by the race party photos.
Respondents low in racial color-blindness were much more vocal in expressing their displeasure and opposition to these images, and would even go so far as to “de-friend” someone over posting those images, Tynes said.
According to Tynes, a color-blind racial attitude is the prevailing racial ideology of the post-Civil Rights era, and is the view that seeing race is inherently wrong.
“If you subscribe to a color-blind racial ideology, you don’t think that race or racism exists, or that it should exist,” Tynes said. “You are more likely to think that people who talk about race and racism are the ones who perpetuate it. You think that racial problems are just isolated incidents and that people need to get over it and move on. You’re also not very likely to support affirmative action, and probably have a lower multi-cultural competence.”
Tynes, who recently was awarded a $1.4 million grant to study the effects of online racial discrimination by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said that along with the role children and adolescents play in producing online hate, her inspiration for the study was the numerous racially themed parties that occurred on college campuses across the country in 2007 and the resultant blowback when images from the parties were posted on Facebook and MySpace.
“I wanted to see whether color-blind racial attitudes played a role in condoning images,” she said. “What we found is that the color-blind ideal commonly socialized and valued among whites may actually be detrimental to race relations on college campuses.”
Tynes’ research also revealed an incongruence of reactions among white students that she’s dubbed “Facebook face.”
“To their friends, they would express mild approval of the party photos or just not discuss race,” Tynes said. “But in private, in a reaction that they thought their friends wouldn’t see, some students would let us know that they thought the image was racist or that it angered them. We think that it’s because whites have been socialized not to talk about race.”
While the anonymity of social network sites can contribute to indirect racism, Tynes also says that the very same websites can be used for good, not only by throwing light on what happens at racially themed parties, but also by crowd-sourcing users’ opposition to the parties.
“Just as people use Facebook and MySpace to post photos from the racial theme parties, others use it to criticize and protest against the parties and the images,” she said. “They would use it as a forum for long discussions about the implications of throwing these types of parties, and why they’re fundamentally wrong.”
Since a color-blind racial ideology is associated with endorsement of the racial theme party photos, Tynes says that mandatory courses on issues of racism and multicultural competence are necessary for students from elementary school through college.
Specifically, beginning in elementary school, texts should provide a more comprehensive view of American history and culture, not just focus primarily on whites.
“Simply telling people to celebrate diversity or multiculturalism or saying, generically, that we believe in tolerance isn’t sufficient,” Tynes said. “We need to teach people about structural racism, about the ways that race still shapes people’s life chances and how the media informs our attitudes toward race.”
Tynes and co-author Suzanne L. Markoe of the University of California, Los Angeles, published their research in the March issue of the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.
Literally the least surprising study results ever.
May. 26, 2014
The issue is one that is as central to Middle Grade novels and Middle Grade authors as YA novels and authors. Is there an apartheid in MG literature? The numbers surely suggest yes. Rather than blaming The Market or, worse still, middle grade authors of color, perhaps we as a community need to come up with some solutions. These solutions might include:
1. As the CNN article suggests, BIGGER MEGAPHONES. Who are the biggest middle grade names and voices out there? Kate DiCamillo, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, WE NEED YOU (and people like you) to not only support books by and about people of color, but lend your voice and considerable authority to the conversation.
2. Agents and Editors willing to believe in, invest in, and market authors of color (and stories about characters of color). But agents and editors need support too – so we need agencies and publishing houses committed to issues of diversity. (While recognizing that some are already so, I’m looking at you, Tu Books)
How can you help your organization put diversity on the agenda? Maybe your agency/publishing house needs to regularly read and share blogs addressing diversity like that of the CBC diversity committee. Maybe your agency/publishing house needs to have a book club, google hang out, or twitter chat where you read, discuss and recommend to each other stories by and about people of color (even from among books you don’t represent!). Maybe your agency/publishing house needs to hire more agents or editors of color! Maybe your agency/publishing house could publicly pledge to increase the number of authors of color they represent, or books they publish by and about people of color! (And become an industry leader and role model for doing so!)
3. Librarians, teachers, parents, and readers to promote and embrace stories by and about characters of color – and not just during African- or Asian American history months! Stories that represent our diverse world are needed by all children all year round – not once a month, and not simply trotting out special ‘ethnic’ books for ‘ethnic’ children. And think about genre, too — are all the stories about African American characters historical fiction addressing segregation and slavery? Does your science fiction and fantasy collection feature any Native American, Asian American or Latino/a authors?
4. Authors Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo established the Diversity in YA blog (and reading series!), perhaps there needs to be a similar blog set up called Diversity in MG!
5. Established authors paying attention to ‘who else is at the table’ (or on the panel, as the case may be). Is there a wonderful author of color or book about a character of color you love? Pass it on to your editor or agent! Talk it up on your blog! Tweet, Instagram or shout from the rooftops about it! Someone helped you get where you are, why not pay it forward? (while this is related to point #1 above about bigger megaphones, I also don’t think you need to be a ‘major name’ to support diversity.)
Authors, how’s this for an easily achievable step: When invited to speak somewhere, take the responsibility to ask who else is coming. I learned this trick from several white male academics I know who, when asked to speak somewhere, always ask who else is going to be there. If they realize it will be yet another all white panel/speaker series/conference, they suggest other names. I actually know of one man who has bowed out of several panels to make room for other voices. Now I’m not advocating for tokenism (stick that one person of color on the panel!) but for us as colleagues to think how even small everyday actions can help us be a part of the solution, rather than part of perpetuating the problem.
6. All authors paying attention to the diversity present in their stories. Now, like my comment on panels above, this doesn’t mean ‘stick in a token kid of color/disabled kid/LGBTQ kid’ into your story, but rather, that we all write stories that reflect the world around us (and most of us live in a pretty diverse world). There are plenty of good resources on writing cross culturally out there – but I recommend this post on the “12 Fundamentals of Writing the Other (and the Self)” by Daniel José Older, and this one by Cynthia Leitich Smith called “Writing, Tonto and the Wise Cracking Minority Sidekick who is the First to Die.”
N.B. Although obviously important, I put this point about writing across cultures purposefully last. This is because I think it problematic that conversations about diversity in children’s literature so often become only about non-POC authors being ‘brave’ enough to write racially diverse stories. Now, I’m not endorsing any type of essentialism – ie. suggesting something ridiculous and limiting like authors should only write about characters whose ethnicities, sexualities, genders, etc. are exactly like theirs. Of course not. But I still want to borrow here a slogan from the disability activism movement: ‘Nothing About Us Without Us.’
Mar. 21, 2014
[image description: 2 tweets from Chuks @Black_in_Asia
1: “My 12yo cousin today told me that she was sad because she isn’t beautiful because she isn’t light skinned.”
2: “I asked her if she had seen Lupita and how gorgeous she was, and it immediately changed her frown to a big smile. :) #ThePowerofRepresentation”]
(Source: owning-my-truth, via veganweedsoup)
Mar. 20, 2014
…think about a term like “welfare queen” or “food stamp president.” On one level, like a dog whistle, it’s silent. Silent about race. It seems race-neutral. But on another, it also has a shrill blast, like a dog whistle, that can be heard by certain folks. And what the blast is is a warning about race and a warning, in particular about threatening minorities. And the idea that I’m trying to get across here is, racism has evolved. Or, in particular, public racism has evolved. The way in which racism, the way in which racial divisions are stoked in public discourse has changed. And now it operates on two levels. On one level, it allows plausible deniability. This isn’t really about race, it’s just about welfare. Just about food stamps. And on another, there’s a subtext, an underground message which can be piercingly loud, and that is: minorities are threatening us. And so when people dog whistle about criminals, welfare cheats, terrorists, Islam, Sharia law, ostensibly they’re talking about culture, behavior, religion, but underneath are these old stereotypes of degraded minorities, but also, and this is important, implicitly of whites who are trustworthy, hard-working, decent.
Mar. 18, 2014
Why did this photo earn him an indefinite suspension with a recommendation of expulsion???
This kid may not get an education because he took a picture of himself holding up 3 fingers. The number on his football jersey is 3. Because he is black, the school district he lives in is trying to claim he was flashing a Vice Lords gang sign. Welcome to “post-racial” America, where you can kill a young man for listening to his music loud, or for wearing a hoodie, but only if you are white. Where you can beat and brutalize a black woman on a crowded street and get off with misdemeanor charges, but that same woman can face 60 years for firing a warning shot in self defense. This kind of bullshit happens everyday, and it is principally people with my skin color both perpetrating it, and ignoring it. I’m fucking tired of reading these stories every morning, and also frustrated that I have next to no idea what to do about it.
Mar. 17, 2014
The other day I posted this tweet:
"Wait they cast a white chick for Tiger Lily in the new Peter Pan? Did they not remember Lone Ranger last year? Or, you know, racism?"
(If you didn’t hear, Rooney Mara is supposedly playing Tiger Lily, who is a princess of the “Native” tribe, in the reboot.)
I got tons of Tweets agreeing with me, and then a lot of Tweets like this as well:
"I agree they shouldn’t screw around with classic characters. Oh wait they cast a Black Guy as Human Torch."
"Are you actually retarded? Black men were cast to play Heimdall and the Human Torch, why aren’t you complaining about that?"
Well, no sir, I’m not “retarded.” Thanks for asking. But from the general tone of the responses (most were civil, for the record), seems like there are lot people upset about black people replacing white people in the Marvel Universe. And they consider that issue a valid counter-argument to my comment about Tiger Lily’s casting. (I guess because they think both have “changing canon” in common?)
I’d like to clear up some stuff here, especially with regards to my initial tweet:
I am not upset about Tiger Lily, a role originally written for a Native American female character in the book, being cast as white because it upsets the canon. Screw canon. I am upset about a role that was expressly written as a female minority being given to white actor instead. And here is why.
Most lead characters and lead actors of movies are white. Period. I even dug up a recent study to back that up, like this is some fucking term paper or something: Across 100 top-grossing films of 2012, only 10.8% of speaking characters were Black, 4.2% were Hispanic, 5% were Asian, and 3.6% were from other (or mixed race) ethnicities. Just over three-quarters of all speaking characters are White (76.3%).
(In referring to “speaking characters”, I also assume that’s counting judges and store clerks and taxi drivers with just a line or two. You see a lot of casting stick minority characters to check the boxes of “yeah, we had diversity, look!” So we’re not even talking about opportunities to carry the whole movie here.)
Another thing to note from the study: “These trends are relatively stable, as little deviation is observed across the 5-year sample.” Gee, no movement towards reflecting the country or world we live in! Fantastic.
Bottom line, actors of ethnicity don’t get a lot of work to begin with. And that very fact creates a scarcity in the number of actors of different ethnicities to choose from when casting. It’s a chicken and the egg syndrome. In what instance can you point out a role where a Native American actress has a chance to be a lead in any movie? Almost none. So why chase a dream that doesn’t seem like it could come true, because the system would never allow it?
It’s a self-perpetuating reality we live with, so the only way to change it is to break the norm, and cast more leading characters with more diversity. At the very least give roles that are intended to be ethnically diverse to ethnically diverse actors, I mean, BARE MINIMUM, PEOPLE.
So for me, the opportunity to give a leading role that could be a Native American, a possible protagonist role that the audience could relate to and live the story through, to a white actor, is kind of shitty and backwards to me. And that’s why I posted my initial tweet.
To compare Tiger Lily being cast as a white women to Human Torch or Heimdall being cast as an African-American is not equivalent, because I don’t think this issue is about violating or adhereing to “lore,” I think it’s about providing more representation. And that’s why I think that the Human Torch being cast as African-American is an awesome thing, because that move evolves Hollywood and storytelling and the Marvel universe.
Remember in the past, lead characters were most likely written as white in the first place, because they were created in an even more white-centric world. Fantastic Four debuted in 1961, segregation was outlawed in 1964. You can’t say that the culture at large at the time didn’t influence the creator’s choices when making these characters! Fast forward fifty years, the culture at large NOW doesn’t match up with the lore from before, and we should be open to changing it.
Tiger Lily, in the book, is actually portrayed in an EXTREMELY racist way. But hey, it could be a great opportunity to re-invent the character as a Native American to be proud of, rather than dodge the issue entirely, and take the role away and give it to a white woman.
Why NOT re-imagine Tiger Lily so that the audience can fall in love with and admire a woman of color? Or reimagine a superhero as an African-American, one among a TON of white ones we see every day? Let’s show the audience that they can live through anyone’s eyes!
We have to make an effort to change the pattern of only seeing stories through white characters’ points of view, so that in the future, diverse protagonists are just a given. So that we can have heroes and villians and judges and love interests of all backgrounds, and not have to point it out as “look how special this is!” Evolving stories and lore is a GOOD THING FOR OUR WORLD.
And bottom line, if you feel so disenfranchised by one role out of TONS of roles being changed up ethnically, if you are saying you can’t possibly relate to a character who is another race from you, well, I think that’s more a problem of your own than anything else. But don’t worry, the stastics say you’ll have lots of other entertainment for your point of view to choose from. Around 75%, actually. Hooray, I guess? :/
So yeah, I guess that’s my expansion on my previous 140 character Tweet, haha. Happy weekend!
Mar. 16, 2014
White people scream race doesn’t matter until someone makes their favorite character black
Mar. 15, 2014
If you’re not upset about Katniss, Tonto, or Kahn being played by white people, but you are upset about Annie being played by a black girl, you’re probably racist.
And by probably I mean definitely.
Mar. 15, 2014
Look, I’m glad ‘12 Years [a Slave]’ got made and it’s wonderful that people are seeing it and there is another view of what happened in America. But I’m not real sure why Steve McQueen wanted to tackle that particular sort of thing.
[‘Fruitvale Station’] explains things like the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the problems with stop and search, and is just more poignant. America is much more willing to acknowledge what happened in the past: ‘We freed the slaves! It’s all good!’ But to say: ‘We are still unnecessarily killing black men’ – let’s have a conversation about that.
Samuel L. Jackson (via artyartyhadaparty)
I think in light of 12 Years a Slave winning the Oscar for Best Picture, this needs to be remembered. Because it is a very important point in terms of the palatability of 12 Years a Slave and why Fruitvale Station didn’t even get nominated when it has such acclaim outside of the Oscar world.
(Source: seashoresunmapped, via melissadoom)
Mar. 7, 2014
Marissa Alexander’s sentence could triple for warning shot fired against abusive husband
March 2, 2014
Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman whose case generated outrage when she was sentenced to 20 years in prison may end up behind bars for 60 years for the same crime.
The Office of State Attorney Angela Corey will seek to put Marissa Alexander in prison for 60 years, essentially a life sentence, if it succeeds in convicting her for a second time for firing a shot in the direction of her estranged husband and two of his children. Her trial is scheduled to begin on July 28.
Alexander, 33, was previously convicted in 2012 of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Circuit Judge James Daniel under the state’s 10-20-life law. Daniel actually imposed three separate 20-year sentences on Alexander but ordered that they be served concurrently, which meant Alexander would get out in 20 years.
The conviction was thrown out after the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled that Daniel made a mistake in shifting the burden to Alexander to prove she was acting in self-defense. During jury instructions, Daniel said she must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was battered by her husband.
Alexander’s case drew national attention after she was denied immunity under the state’s Stand Your Ground law, with critics saying the crime Alexander was convicted of didn’t warrant 20 years behind bars. Supporters of Alexander blasted prosecutors Friday for seeking to triple her prison sentence.
“It’s unimaginable that a woman acting in self-defense, who injured no one, can be given what amounts to a life sentence,” said Free Marissa Now spokeswoman Helen Gilbert. “This must send chills down the spine of every woman and everyone who cares about women and every woman in an abusive relationship.”
Seeking 60 years is an incredibly abusive and outrageous action by Corey, Gilbert said.
But Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei, the lead prosecutor in the case, told the Times-Union his office was simply following the sentencing laws of the state of Florida.
The same appeals court that ordered Alexander’s retrial separately ruled last year that when a defendant is convicted of multiple counts under 10-20-life that arose from the same crime, judges must make the sentences consecutive and are not allowed to impose them concurrently.
The law has not changed since Alexander was sentenced in 2012, but courts throughout the state have been struggling to interpret what the Legislature meant when it passed sentencing laws regarding 10-20-life.
The Alexander case inspired the so-called “warning-shot” bill that will be part of the Florida legislative session that begins Tuesday. The proposal, which is expected to pass, would create an exception to the 10-20-life law and prohibit those who fire a warning shot from getting 20 years in prison.
(Source: thepeoplesrecord, via angry-hippo)