Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New on Change.org: White features/black beauty and What do you call a black man in a suit?

My latest posts on Change.org:

...on black women in the modeling industry:
In a society that privileges a typically European (read: white) standard of beauty — pale skin, straight hair, slim noses and lips — there is a penalty for being the opposite of that standard, for having physical features common to people with African ancestry. Black people pay the cost for their physicality everywhere from the bedroom — where blackness can reduce a woman's sexual currency — to the boardroom, where employers develop policies that penalize African-Americans for wearing their hair in natural styles. But in no career is the penalty for "looking black" higher than in fashion, an industry devoted to beauty and to framing, promoting and defending whiteness as its standard.

As the new Canadian short film The Color of Beauty (which can be viewed in its entirety online) describes, black girls who succeed in the fashion industry have the "very skinny nose, the very elegant faces." In other words, they really look like "white girls that were painted black," as photographer Justin Peery puts it in the film. That's what agents see as beautiful — girls who have a different skin pigment, but the same features as any other white model. As for girls with "big eyes, big noses, big lips — big whatevers," all traits that are common to African Americans — well, it's a lot harder. Read more...

...on the idiocy of Bill Maher and Bill O'Reilly:
Think that America's first black president, that professor you had in undergrad, or that your boss or mailman are representations of real black manhood? Nuh-uh. According to Bill O'Reilly and Bill Maher, real black men look like drug dealers and act like extras from New Jack City.

Last week, the two Bills shocked no one when they made some off-the-cuff remarks endorsing the stereotype that African-American men are, by definition, violent criminals.

O'Reilly, in an O'Reilly Factor discussion with black Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill, began by describing how the National Guard could intimidate smugglers along America's southern border: "Say you're a cocaine dealer," he said to Hill, before telling the professor that he "kind of look[s] like one a little bit." The clean-cut, be-suited Hill, retorted with, "And you look like a cocaine user."

Meanwhile Maher, in his opening monologue on Real Time with Bill Maher, offered that it's time for President Obama to "act like a real black man" in dealings with British Petroleum. What exactly might this entail, you ask? "I want him in a meeting with the BP CEOs, you know, where he lifts up his shirt where you can see the gun in his pants. That's — 'we've got a motherfucking problem here?' Shoot somebody in the foot."

Reminds me of that old (painfully true) "joke" that goes: "What do you call a black man with (insert something positive like an education or money)?" The answer: Well...something unprintable. Read more...

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