mercredi, octobre 04, 2006

Should Race Trump Class?

The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality by Walter Benn Michaels was released yesterday and offers very interesting theories about inequality in America. More specifically he posits that America has given diversity a problematic definition and writes with much chagrin that race has precluded class in terms of diversity. He further postulates that everytime we talk about race, we fail the poor. Why is it, he asserts, that discussions of race take precedence over discussions of class. In essence, the book talks about the problems Michaels sees with issues of race trumping issues of class in America.

Now, I already know that the book will be problematic for me because there is a good reason why issues of race dominate the need for diversity. Though class is an incredibly important topic, I wonder if Michaels speaks to the intersections of class and race. I wonder too if Michaels speaks to the discrimination, hurdles, and barriers to entry that many upwardly mobile people of color face. Needless to say in order to answer these questions, I need to read the book. In the meantime, what are your thoughts?

cant -- noun: 1. The idioms and peculiarities of speech in any sect, class, or occupation.2. The use of religious phraseology without understanding or sincerity. 3. Empty, solemn speech, implying what is not felt; insincere talk; hypocrisy. 4. A whining manner of speaking, especially of beggars.

"I never realized until lately that women were supposed to be the inferior sex"
--- Katherine Hepburn

mardi, octobre 03, 2006

Fractional Relations

Much has been written in the past few years about the fractional relationships between Black and Hispanics. Currently, the New York Times is running a multi-part series on the rising hispanic population in the South. Beraged by anxieties and bigoted assumptions that plague both groups, Blacks and Hispanics are becoming more and more contentious towards one another personally and professionally. The following is a cursory list of articles, books and the like on the subject. After I've finished my current book project, I want to do one on race wars where this will be explored. If you have time, check out the following literature and post your thoughts:

Brown Like Me
Blacks and Latinos Clash
The Presumed Alliance
Black-Brown Relations and Stereotypes
Neither Enemies nor Friends:Latinos,Blacks,Afro-Latinos
Turning Out Blackness: Race and Nation in the History of Puerto Rican Television
Todd Boyd on NPR discussing Black-Latino Relations

Selected Biography of Black, Latino and Asian Relations

riparian -- adj: Of or pertaining to the bank of a river or stream.

"Plain women know more about men than beautiful women do" -- Katherine Hepburn

lundi, octobre 02, 2006

There's Something About Flav...

Or is there. I must admit, I watch the show. I've watched both season 1 and will finish the current second season. I guess its that train wreck syndrome. The show is an uncut version of the worst possible stereotypes and assumptions about a host of people: women, people of color, working class individuals, etc. but according to recent reports that The Flavor of Love is Vh1's highest rated cable series in the history of the channel, bringing in almost six million viewers in the season 1 finale and at the start of season 2, three million people tuned in. A very sweet turnover for William Drayton aka Flava Flav, once member of the seminal rap group Public Enemy turned drug addict and eventual Rikers Island inmate to reality television star.

Lola Ogunnaike's article in Sunday's New York Times recounts the fame of reality television's latest star, the gripes that many people have with the replication of the myriad of stereotypes that the show employs, and even Flava Flav's appearance but I find it interesting that she did not propose the idea of the PIMP and its virtual embodiment in the figure of the Black man. The icon of the PIMP has ingrained itself in pop culture traversing music, comedy and film, almost always in the figure of the Black man. The PIMP culture is essential to the success of The Flavor of Love as Flav walks around the mansion with his cock strut, making the women perform various tasks for him (i.e. cleaning Warren G's nasty ass house, stripping for him, etc.) all the while proclaiming his sexual prowess. He has direct [sexual] access to all the women, demanding them to "crowd around your man" after each elimination period, pouring out champagne for the firls who were asked to leave.

The image of Black men as beacons of sexual dexterity, power, and stamina is nothing new. The PIMP image takes it a bit futher, intonating that Black men exert not only sexual but domestic control over women --- demanding power over the private AND public space. The PIMP image is inherently sexist and demeaning but is lauded in pop culture,and contributes largely to the success of the Flavor of Love. Black male virility is now equated with the PIMP with monetary results to back it up. Flav embodies the pimp to a T, both as a reality star and in his personal life. He shrouds himself with material things while the women flock to obey his every commands. The women fight each other and stab each other in the back to win his affections (Flav even has his own concierge/bodyguard in the figure of Big Rick). He has his friends come over (G-Unit, DJ Quik, 3 6 Mafia, etc.) in order to judge his women. He has six children and 2 grandchildren and frequently asserts his desire to have four more children (children often being a symbol of virility). All in all Flav is the latest rapper and Black male celebrity to associate himself with PIMPdom. Could this be the ultimate male fantasy? Perhaps, the stereotype of Black male virility and PIMPdom is a source of both fantasy and envy for men of other races, inspiring simultaneous congradulatory and disparaging remarks? Is as Chris Rock puts it, "a stereotype that Black men need to keep alive"? To take it further, do Black men have a problem with the Big Dick/PIMP stereotype, if not why? Its clear that Flav doesn't.

cataract -- noun:1. A great fall of water over a precipice; a large waterfall.2. A downpour; a flood. 3. A clouding or opacity of the lens or capsule of the eye, which obstructs the passage of light.

"Enemies are so stimulating" --- Katherine Hepburn