Immigration Is Also Emigration

We are fed stark images of brown men in running or jumping positions; brown pregnant women clutching the hands of their several little brown children; gardeners in pickup trucks; and Spanish-speaking cleaning ladies and nannies who now fill the shoes that were once worn bitterly by black women.

From Fidel Castro's recent retirement to the genocide of indigenous Guatemalans by the CIA-funded military during the eighties, undocumented immigration has more to do with what's going on beyond our borders than within them.

Undocumented immigrants are depicted as two-dimensional creatures who overrun our country, never as humans leaving their own countries. Sure they are specified as Mexicans, Hondurans, or Haitians, but always in a way that neglects their personal histories back home. A Guatemalan man who enters the country without documents seems to suddenly pop into existence upon crossing our southern border. The fact that he is an indigenous Mayan fleeing military persecution--which the U.S. has historically funded--disappears in the eyes of Americans who accuse him of unlawfully invading their territory.

Beyond our borders are all those countries where “illegal” immigrants aren't yet immigrants, but citizens in their native lands. The same people who come here as unwanted strangers are only perceived of as invading homes, never as leaving behind their own homes, families and friends.

Through our conversations of undocumented immigration, we always frame them as the assaulters of our national sovereignty. What conveniently fails to come into our discussions, however, is the United States’ own assaults against the national sovereignty of the countries from which they are coming. After the passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994, hundreds of thousands of Mexican farm workers were thrown off their lands by a corrupt Mexican government working in league with greedy American developers. Even those that kept their land had a difficult time competing with heavily subsidized U.S. agricultural goods. As a result, they fled, and continue to flee, here by the hundreds of thousands seeking work to sustain their families.

The Cuban “wet-foot dry-foot policy” grants automatic admission to any Cuban who sets foot upon our soil, thanks to our animosity towards Fidel Castro’s government. Yet many people from poor Caribbean nations experiencing diasporas are continually rejected, especially Haitians who are continually denied recognition of amnesty status because of our diplomatic relations with the government of Haiti.

It’s important to see that there are many factors pushing immigrants out of their countries and pulling them into ours, many of which are greatly influenced by U.S. foreign relations. Once we expand the depth of our understanding of the processes of undocumented immigration into our country, we will come to understand that our popular policy approaches to the issue are far from solutions. From building walls to guest-worker programs, undocumented immigration is going to remain strong as long as we continue to tackle it as a mere occurrence within our borders.


"We Must Do Someting About Those Native Born Legal Citizens!"

I first heard about this on NPR but couldn't find the link to it, so here is the New York Times article about the study:
Immigrants in the state, about 35 percent of adults, are far less likely than native-born Americans to commit crimes, according to a study by the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan research group. Among men ages 18 to 40, the group most likely to commit crimes, native-born Americans were 10 times more likely than immigrants to be incarcerated for crimes in California prisons and jails. The study included both legal and illegal immigrants, without focusing separately on illegal immigrants. But it found that native-born American men ages 18 to 40 were at least eight times more likely to be imprisoned for crimes than Mexican immigrants in that age range who were not naturalized citizens — a group likely to have a high percentage of illegal immigrants.
So where's the press and the indignation of "native" born citizens over our most dangerous and menacing population in the United States, which is native born American citizens.

Opponents to immigration reform and to undocumented workers have been shouting for years about the "dangers" of "illegal" immigration, especially immigration from countries filled with brown people.


Obviously much of our suspicion was right all along. And this study is but one of the many things that proves it.

It's not surprising, however, that oppenents of immigrants "legal" or "illegal" will use scare tactics such as this to lash out against immigrants of color. Crime was one thing that kept whites riled up about newly freed Blacks (and still does mind you) in the 19th century; crime and drukeness was a propaganda tool that the white establishment used against the Irish; crime and fear of job losses was what whites also used against the Chinese in the 19th century and which helped pass the Chinese Exclusion Act; fear was used against Italian and other Eastern European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century, those crazy Italians and their strange Catholic and filth ridden ways would overrun "American culture" (i.e. WASP culture); and the list goes on.

Much of these peoples fears are mainly based on the fear of the "dark skinned man" which has been a sometimes subtle, and not so subtle, undercurrent in American history.

And, as we can see, it still goes on today. One of the main issues that many opponents of immigration (mainly immigration of people of color from underdeveloped countries) use is "lose of culture," and yet when they say "lose of culture" or the "Balkanization of America" they mean the undercutting of the dominant culture in the United States, which is White Anglo Saxon [Christian] Culture, which is the culture of the ruling elite.

Image From:
Welker's Wikinomics Blog

"We Must Eat Dust"

Cross-posted from The Ghost of Tom Joad.

Found this at my school library's web log. Looks like it will be a good event, professor Dawn Mabalon is a very knowledgable person who I look forward to hear speaking:

Labor Archives and Research Center 22nd Anniversary Evening Program

Featuring Guest Speaker:

Dawn Mabalon
San Francisco State University

“We Must Eat Dust: Filipino Migratory Labor and Labor Organizing on the West Coast and Alaska, 1920s-1970s”


The event will be held at the ILWU, Local 34
4 Berry Street (2nd and King) on the Embarcadero
next to Giant’s Stadium. map

Friday, February 29, 2008 ~ 6 p.m.

Light Refreshments served at 6:00 p.m.,
program begins at 7:00 p.m.

Pinoy Jazz and Blues Music
by Little Brown Brother

Free and Open to the Public

This event is wheelchair accessible

LARC website

When it comes to labor history and race relations many unions were active agents in oppressing people of color during the Jim Crow era and even now. The Teamsters is one example. Looking at the demographics of my work it's made up of primarily people of color. I'd say around 60% or so, mainly Black and Latino with a sizable Asian population. However the locals in my area, especially my local, has mostly white males at the helm of leadership; however, in my local the majority of the nine shop stewards (seven of them) are people of color (but no women unfortunately). The ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) was one of the few exceptions in this, and has always had a militant and socialist/communist history behind it. ILWU Local 7, for example, was dominated by Pilipinos in the canneries and shipyards and took a militant stance against the government during the McCarthy Red Scare era.

Another aspect of American unions is that they also tend to downgrade people of color in working class struggles. Pilipinos in California and Hawii helped fight back against sugar plantation owners and giant agribusiness and created solidarity with themselves and Latino and Black workers.

I recommend to anyone interested in race relations and labor history to go to this event.



This was actually in a campus newspaper! I believe it's an independent newspaper, not affiliated with the University of Colorado journalism department (thank God!) but it is a newspaper none the less for the UC community.

I'll get straight to the point. Here is an excerpt from the Campus Press's recent Op-Ed piece titled "If it's a war the Asians want...":
I'm such a fool for not realizing it sooner. I can't tell you how many times the Asians have treated me like a retarded weasel and I've forgiven them. But now I know that Asians are not just "a product of their environment," and their rudeness is not a "cultural misunderstanding."

They hate us all.

And I say it's time we started hating them back. That's right-no more "tolerance." No more "cultural sensitivity." No more "Mr. Pretend-I'm-Not-Racist."

It's time for war.

But we won't attack their bodies or minds. We will attack their souls.
Than the newspaper gave a half-assed apology saying it was "satire:"
The Campus Press, as the only true vehicle for student voice to the CU community, offers a unique chance for aspiring journalists to learn this craft, and we are exploring a new and continuously evolving medium on a springboard to the professional world.

Like all aspiring journalists, we will learn from this experience and better our publication. The Campus Press has always been, and will continue to be, a source for credible university news and a voice for this student body.
The guy who wrote it was Max Karson and his e-mail is max.karson@colorado.edu

I'll comment more on this latter; right now I'm tired (it's 1:42 am) and a little dumbfounded and at a loss for words. Please read the whole article and distribute widely.


Juno Don't Like Chinese Babies

Read this good article in the San Francisco Chronicle a few weeks ago. It touches up on some good issues:
San Rafael real estate agent Lo Mei Seh was shocked when she saw a theatrical trailer for the hit movie "Juno" in December. In one scene, the title character sarcastically tells the rich suburban couple hoping to adopt her unborn child, "You shoulda gone to China. You know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those T-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events."

Seh, the mother of two adopted Chinese girls, noticed a young Asian girl sitting behind her getting noticeably upset and muttering, "That's so mean and unfair."

"I calmed myself down, saying these things are just going to happen, and as a parent I have to teach my children to be strong," she says. But after that particular scene was shown on televised award shows like the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards, she became angry all over again.

"I know some people will say 'lighten up,' but that's not the point," Seh says. "The trailer is misleading" about the complexities of adopting infants from China.

"It's not only hurtful, but harmful," she says.


The irony of the "Juno" line is that adopting from China is very difficult.


The parents also say that the "Juno" line also plays on racist Asian stereotypes in an unacceptable way.

"Could you have made that joke with any other minority?" Scott says. "I don't think so. You'd catch hell."

The Struggle

Blatant or subtle,
What's better for the struggle?
A nameless mass of faces,
or Angela Davis?

What's easier to target?
Thousands who sing,
or Martin Luther King?

Maybe both.

Maybe by getting to Malcolm X,
you can impoverish and imprison the rest.


Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes: Part I

I just finished watching a great documentary by Byron Hurt called Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes on the PBS show [I]ndependent Lens. I just want the film to speak for itself and quote a few people interviewed in it.

One thing the film makes clear is that it just doesn't blame hip-hop for being misogynistic or sexist and it just doesn't blame Black men but instead points out the great prevailing misogyny in American culture. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson states:
When you think about American society, the notion of violent masculinity is at the heart of American identity. The preoccupation with Jesse James and the outlaw, the rebel, much of that is associated in the American mindset, the collective imagination of the nation, with the expansion of the frontier. In the history of American social imagination, the violent man using the gun to defend his family, his kip and kin, becomes a suitable metaphor for the notion of manhood.
Rapper Chuck D puts it best during the movie when he speaks on white supremacy and confronting it:
The dominant image of black masculinity in hip-hop is the fact that somebody can be confrontational but confrontational with the wrong cat. It’s like they’re not ever confrontational with the cats that will claim I’ll wipe your whole neighborhood out, because it’s almost like they’re trained not to even see them. It’s like, my beef is with this cat right here that looks just like me. The rise of the culture of black animosity is something that adds to the street credibility factor. It’s like almost to the point where 2Pac and Biggie were used as martyrs for this new endorsement of black animosity.
And more from Chuck D:
Black death has been pimped by corporations. Young people think that the street credibility is the gig that will ride them to some profitability in life.


Black manhood, by the structures and powers that be, the corporations, they’ve found a way that they think they can put soul in a bottle. If they can put soul in a bottle, then they could put manhood in a bottle. And then show the bottle in advertising. And we’ll follow the crumbs to the big bad wolf.
Latter on in the documentary Hurt focuses on how corporations, owned by white males, exploit the Black community through their selling of hip-hop. Talib Kwelli reacts to some comments some up and coming rappers who say they need to act thug to become real big time rappers
Those are the same cats who are just listening to the radio and just watching TV.
They’re confused. They don’t know. We have trusted the media and the corporations to define what hip-hop is. Back in the days when it first came out, and ABC did a story on rap, you’d be like, I know that’s bullshit. I know it’s not true. But now you see it on the news. You see it on BET. Because they call themselves hip-hop now. Now Hot 97 is the station where hip-hop lives, so we hear that, but we don’t understand that it’s some corporation owned by people who have nothing to do with hip-hop. They’re just trying to cash in. It’s like, hip-hop lives there. So they must know. That must be what rap is. No, we had never let the media define us, so why are we doing that now?
Hurt then interviews former Def Jam president Carmen Ashurs-Watson who had this to say:
The time when we switched to gangster music was the same time that majors bought up all the labels. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence. At the time that we were able to get a bigger place in the record stores and a bigger presence because of this major marketing capacity, the music became less and less conscience. We went to Columbia, and then the next thing I know, our producers of Public Enemy were over producing an Ice Cube album, and then the next thing I know we’re pushing a group called Bitches With Problems...
Followed by Chuck D:
Once that perpetuated into one thing and corporations get involved, yes you’ll sell two million NWA’s as opposed to one million [Public Enemy]. You’re gonna go from “Fight the Power” to “Gin and Juice."


BET is the cancer of black manhood in the world. They have one-dinemsionalized
us and commodified us into being a one-trick image. We’re throwing money at the camera. We’re flashing jewelry that can actually give a town in Africa water. We got 160 million dollar contracts because we got happy niggas.
When asked about what happens when he confronts mainstream rappers about the misogyny and falling into the racist corporate trap Chuck D answers:
They couldn’t even look you in the eye. Fuck that. We can really get to the nuts and nails of this. They couldn’t even look you in the eye. Number one, cats can’t even look a man in the eye. If they look a man in the eye, they think it’s confrontation. Why? Because they can’t answer. They can’t answer to it. And it’s almost like now, and it ain’t their fault. This is all systematic. It’s all part of genocidally breaking things down to the point where people are gonna follow a program that gets played out for them. This is the play. This is the playbook. Y’all gonna follow through. Crank robots up, they gonna do what robots do, what you told them to do.
I'll blog more about white consumption of hip-hop and white supremacy in marketing hip-hop in part II.

Transcript obtained from Media Education Foundation.

Image From:
Rappers Den

Saturday Beats: Dark and Alone

A day late but always great writing and reflection from our incarcerated Bay Area youth.

In My Dark, Lonely Corner
Look deep in my eyes past the beautiful green
and tell me what the heck is it that you can see
No coward in me lived most of my life in these streets
and since a very young age,
I’ve been accustomed to the heat pull and down my jeans
not many people want it with me
‘cause I was raised among a tough breed
and when you speak to me, y
you’ll find no trace of child ‘hood memories
sick of the spirits that haunt me in the night when I sleep
and these rivals want me so bad that I keep a pistol
underneath my sheets
not that I’m scared of death
but I wouldn’t want my mama to grieve for me
still I would never live my life on my knees
I rather choose to die on my feet
seen many people fall down victim to this dirty concrete
now the hood is stained with blood nobody cries for a thug
and growing up in these playgrounds were those dirty fake
people that not so many rise above
started off hustle in dubs,
now were counting out the dope by the trunk
now look back into my life to my hard earned stripes
and I feel like the tears started boiling up onto my eyes as
I fade away in the night thinking where would I go when I
some say I’m burning in the lake of eternal flames
but I’ve lived my life so foul
bet the devil going to chew and spit me out
I’m in an unpaved road trying to find my way back home
and I’m all alone cause I said fudge dots friends a long time
now mama please forgive me for all the wrong I did
reminisce back in the days that I was a lost little kid
so young, so sweet, but most of all innocent
now all that’s gone 'cause this game gets so thick
pray to the Lord every night so He knows that I truly repent
but I wonder is this too much to forgive?
-El Michacano, Kastro, Santa Clara


Gang Injunctions in the City by the Bay

A video I saw at the Filipino Community Center which was put on by H.O.M.E.Y. (Homies Organizing the Mission for Empowered Youth) about gang injunctions and how they adversely affect youth of color, specifically Blacks and Latinos. A very good video I saw at a very good hip-hop event for the youth.


Thoughts on White Privilege and Feminism

Vibracobra, on the feminist blog Mind the Gap, blogs about white privilege and white feminists:
You might be familiar with the video that Sudy (of A Womyn’s Ecdysis) made a while back, showcasing a collection of comments by self-identified feminists in people’s comments threads, some of which are pretty horrifying.


Anyway, inspired by a recent post on male privilege here, I think it might be a good idea to make a few similar points on white privilege, based on the personal experience of some of my friends and acquaintances. Some of these points might not occur to us that easily. After all, one of the things about privilege is that, the more privileged you are, the more confident you feel that you don’t have to question your privilege. So, here are a few points, which I hope will be as much of a wake-up call to you as they were for me.


Nothing Like An Annoying Headline

It's amazing what a ridiculous headline can do.

"Whites to become minority in U.S by 2050" -from Reuters

Is this supposed to scare white people? Does it even? And would that change anything? Yes, I don't know, and no.

Before reading the article, I'm pretty sure that Latinos and their gosh-darned high fertility rates have something to do with it. Blacks and Asians are probably in there too, and then there are the whites. The whites, with their low-fertility rates and so-on. And I'm pretty sure that people of color--especially Latinos--are going to be sexualized. This is not gender-neutral. It implicitly sexualizes women of color...though to me, it's pretty explicit.

So of course, after reading the article, the headline was on target.

The headlines that hurt the most are ones such as this one. They say everything without saying anything at all. "Whites to become minority..." Whereas for other races or ethnicities, it wouldn't mean much to know they'll still be 'minorities,' it's a big deal for whites because they will no longer be the majority. Hmm...

If this were a movie, it would merit a "Whaaat?" As if white people are somehow going to be the shockingly new marginalized group of our time.

It might as well say "whites to become the new 'coloreds' by 2050." That darn 'm' word. Minority is not a race-neutral word. It's a tool of oppression.

These eight words are pure racism and pure sexism. This headline makes a lot of noise about race/ethnicity, gender, and even class--since lower classes of color have higher fertility rates--but I scoff at the tactlessness of this 'whites' over 'non-whites' language.

That's hypocritical of me to say because I am doing the same thing when I use the words "people of color," which creates the same white/non-white binary I am so passionately against.



Identity Politics: "Selling Out" and "Being Black"

Jill Nelson in the New York Times Book Review reviews two books, one by Randall Kennedy, Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal, and another one by his conservative counterpart Shelby Steele, A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win. Nelson opens up the review:
For Americans of African descent, one of the difficulties in writing about identity is that the discussion, intentionally or not, is simultaneously intensely personal and profoundly public. Our unique experience and the racial identification manifested in melanin binds us inextricably to both our individual, subjective, personal experiences and to the collective experience of the group. Efforts to be seen as “an individual” necessitate that we differentiate ourselves from some supposedly monolithic black identity and authenticity. Like it or not, our individuality is dependent on first identifying and, depending on where we are coming from and where we are going, either embracing or distancing ourselves from the group.
Nelson has many critiques for both authors, especially when it comes to Kennedy dangerously asserting that possibly snitching on the Black Panthers and other "sellout" examples are not really examples of "selling" out but either certain Black folks being misguided or doing so simply because they saw it as helping out the Black community as a whole. Another one of her critiques is that of Steele's when he tries to draw to many connections between him and Obama (both had white mothers) and his sense of playing the victim to Blacks by being called a "race traitor" and yet not acknowledging that he made a huge profit out of being called a sellout.

One quote that stuck out to me in this pretty well balanced review was this:
Perhaps most troubling about both Steele and Kennedy is the virtual absence of any acknowledgment of the ways in which white racism, and the more subtle and prevalent white privilege, influence black identity and necessitate, for some, a strong collective identity as a defense against white power. “Obviously, black responsibility is the greatest — if not the only — transformative power available to blacks,” Steele says. But this is simply not true. Ditto for Kennedy’s assertion that “open expression of racial prejudice is politically and socially suicidal.” Tell that to Trent Lott, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond and Don Imus, to name but a few. Lott and Imus were finally taken to task for their racist comments, but after what has become an American ritual of denial, apology and a brief stay in the woodshed, they were back.
In studying racism we always tend to ignore the power of white privilege in shaping American society and indeed in shaping the "macro-identity" of American populations of Blacks, Chicanos, Pilipinos, etc. We must always have a critical eye on white privilege when studying racism, not by just studying the effects of racism on people of color but also studying white privilege itself and the creation of white privilege and how it benefits whites.


Saturday Beats: Hope

Three walls
One door with one clear window
Me on the inside
Time and opportunity on the outside
Two things that the hall you
Get a lot of or not to many of
All the money in the world couldn't
Buy back the time that's past me by
In the hall. All the good shit done
In my life couldn’t earn back
The opportunity wasted.
The only light that shines is
Comin’ through that window,
So for the time being let that sun shine
…as bright as possible.
So I can hope
-Marcus, Alameda


February's Black History Box

Black History Month is a beautiful thing when it's put on by those who are genuinely conscious of the profound role that blacks have had in this country. I respect that. But in light of the manner in which it has been celebrated throughout my twenty years of life in this country...well, from my experience, it's framed all wrong.

We definitely need to teach what contributions blacks have made, but before we teach about that we need to first talk about what it means for those contributions to be absent when it comes to the teachings of History itself. The problem is that our Anglo-centric educational system boxes "Black History" into a month, separating it from "U.S. History."

Everything, I guess, is easier to handle when its in some form of a box. Gender? Check a box. Race? Check a box. Juvenile delinquents go in this 'box,' adult criminals go in that one. And here, let's just draw a nice line around "US" to box them out.

This boxing happens in an infinite number of ways, and everything we box is something that we ultimately have no control over. You can label and incarcerate as many criminals as you want, but you'll never capture Evil itself.

Same with history lessons: all the class worksheets in the world wouldn't capture History. You'd have to have some kind of insane sheet of 'multicultural' paper that is infinite on all sides--where would I begin? And how? So I like my 8.5 by 11 sheet of white paper to study a historical timeline. Hey, why not? It's a way to get History under a false sense of control.

So here we are, in February's Black History Box. It's too overwhelming for the majority of our white educators to even consider history as a multifaceted subject. It's nicer to put it on that 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper where we can treat history as a linear progression of whiteness studded with black and brown featurettes here and there. So we box it up in a book, ship it to schools, and perpetuate history within a false sense of Anglo normativity.


A Cross-Section of Americana: Analysis

So what do all these Super Bowl ads tell us about America and race relations. Well, for one, despite all this talk about being color-blind, which is what most people say they are when it comes to "viewing" or talking about race, we can see that America, is in fact, not color blind. If whites were truly color blind (and the rest of America for that matter) these commercials would make no sense.

"Huh, pandas? I don't get it. Just pandas speaking plain old English."

"What does a shrunken head have to do with that man in face paint? Weird?"

"Why is a mariachi band playing right now?"


The one subject that really binds all of these commercials is "foreigness," as all ads feature foreigners whom are people of color and whom have "funny" and "weird" accents (save the Latino from the Taco Bell commercial). One thing about their accents is that they are supposed to be at the expense of the person with the accent; especially the commercial in where Carlos Mencia is teaching "his buddies" on how to pick up "American" chicks (cause, you know, America women totally don't have accents). We are supposed to laugh at them because they do not speak English "properly" and/or speak it with a "funny" accent.

One thing that is bothersome about the "funny" accent bit is who has the funny accent and who doesn't. Having a French or Italian accent is sexy, having an English accent means you are smart, and having a upper class Spanish (from Spain) accent is also sexy and "exotic." While the sexy and intellectual accents are solely confined to Europe the weird and funny accents are confined to people of color (save that one Russian dude). Having an Indian accent means you are a nerd, having a Chinese accent means you are stupid.

I remember Amy Tan talking about how smart her mother was but because she had a Chinese accent many would mistaken her for dumb and when she would talk to sales reps over the phone or tried to do business with others over the phone Mz. Tan would have to eventually cut in and talk for her (or even pretend to be her with her mother whispering in her ear what to say) in order for her mother to be taken seriously. Again, English accent, "Oh sooooo smart!" Chinese accent, "God! Can't you understand anything I'm saying!"

Of course there were the two SalesGenie.com ads. The thing about these two ads is that they involved no research on Indian or Chinese culture and language. All they were was a bunch of stereotypes taken from memory and written down on paper. The Indian guy had to have an accent and had to have a bunch of kids and had to work in a cubicle under a white boss. The pandas had to have Chinese accents, use bamboo font for their signs, and they had to own a small business. There was nothing really to these ads. They didn't really have any jokes and no points. The could have easily used different ethnicities (or the same) in similar situations and nothing more. But they instead decided to opt for two "foreigners" in their ads that came straight out of a Simpsons cartoon and a yellow face movie. The writers views of Asians weren't from first hand experience (obviously, though not that that would help them) but instead through popular culture such as TV shows, commercials, and movies.

The other one (more than likely) shows a First Nationer with stereotypical body and face paint, a grass skirt, something frilly on his head, and a wood cane. This is one stereotype that I have blogged about before as Hollywood producers and writers (whether it be for TV shows, commercials, movies etc.) can't seem to get away with portraying First Nation natives as anything more than blow darting, human eating, primitive sub-humans. And almost always for comedic affect. Not only that but in the commercial for Cars.com contrasts the half-naked native with well clothed intelligent whites in their modern (and convenient) building.

These of course aren't all of the ads but this little snipit of the ads tells us a lot. America is considered a "National holiday" by many; a day were all Americans sit down at the tube and watch, what is considered, America's sport (sorry baseball). Super Bowl ads also reflect America. They are big-money corporations spending top dollar to make sure that (1) were are entertained by their commercials, and (2) that we (most importantly) buy their products. And of course the media obliges to this by constantly showing us news stories about the upcoming Super Bowl commercials. So you've got many things here that show us America: food crazed, sports hungry fans being bombarded by greedy money grubbing capitalists looking to turn a simple procedure of supply and demand economics into a spectacle.

So if anything these ads are supposed to appeal to a wide swath of Americans; or, more precisly, what corporate America thinks Americans are, which is normally 18 to 35 year old beer guzzling, sex crazed, comedic starved white males.

What we saw in these ads was very much the underlying popular image of race in America. One that views Asians as either hard working and/or slightly dumb with funny accents, natives that shrink you head, "pathetic" and nerdy foreigners with "hilarious" accents (what's up with the African dude and the chicken?), and Latinos meant to entertain us hard working uptight whites.

The one thing to keep in mind with this is that these ads didn't invent or come up with these stereotypes. What they did was use the stereotypes already circulating in pop culture; they essentially plucked the first stereotypical thing that came to their mind and tried to make it into popular entertainment.

Super Bowl Ads: A Cross-Section of Americana

Ok, first off, I totally want to see Wall-E?

Now that I got that off my chest I want to talk about what of the first genuine "Holy shit that's so fucking racist!" moment I've had in about a month or so. It happened watching the Super Bowl and it involves pandas.

"Oh! Pandas, I love pandas. Being so cute and cuddly soft."

Yeah, so do I. But you won't really love these pandas or, more precisely, the creators of the pandas. Here's the vid.

As you can see from the video the two pandas speak in stereotypical "FOBy" Chinese accents reminiscent of older, and more openly racist, movies of the past that featured Asian characters (unless of course you are Rob Schneider).

The two pandas are inappropriately named "Ling-Ling" and "Ching-Ching." Just by the names themselves you could tell the writers weren't concerned with actually getting Chinese culture "right" they were just concerned with giving the audience Orientalism; that is, Asian cultured projected outwards as seen by Western eyes. These guys couldn't have come up with better names? They couldn't have spent ten minutes on the internet to look for actual Chinese names? (I have yet to meet anyone with the names "Ling-Ling" and "Ching-Ching")

Most of what whites project onto Chinese Americans (as well as the overall Asian American community) can be seen in this ad. The pandas have "funny" accents and are small business owners; they are slightly dumb (Duh! because of their accents!) and can't run the business well.

Jenn from Reappropriate puts it best:
The commercial’s soundtracks include gongs and mandolins, and the writing is in that “chopstix” font that is supposed to be reminscent [sic] of Chinese. “Ching Ching” the wife panda is clearly supposed to be a manipulative laze, who sits on her ass while “Ling Ling” does the work of running the store, playing up the “shrew” stereotype of Asian wives that has become more prevalent of late. “Ling Ling” meanwhile, is viewed as idiotic — eating his (implicitly shoddy) products.

While yellow face isn't practiced in Hollywood anymore (again, save Rob Schneider) Asians continue to be stereotyped in American society through the mainstream media (anyone remember the Abecrombie & Fitch controversy?) as the perpetual foreigners, the model minority, the always working but never having fun males and the "exotic" undersexed women, they continue to be stereotyped as having funny accents (speaking "Chinglish"), and as well as knowing kung-fu and adhering to "old and wise traditions."

Asians are also one of the few minorities in which it is "OK" to make fun of. Would that ad have passed muster at SalesGenie if it featured a bunch of crows speaking Ebonics, being lazy, drinking 40s, and a whole other number of "lazy" Black stereotypes (well...it did pass muster at Disney); answer is probably not. But Asians continue to be seen as the "nonthreatening minority" in many white American eyes and thus OK to make fun of. But those weren't the only ads during the Super Bowl that protrayed racist stereoypes. In fact, the ads ran a whole range of pure Americana. I'm only going to go over them briefly here and give the rest of my analysis for all of the rest in my next blog post.

The first that caught my eye that night was another SalesGenie.com ad. This time featuring a stereotypical Indian with name "Ramesh Chalkrapani" (hwere the fuck do they get their names from, Simpsons writers?). Instead of having a small business like the "Chinese" pandas Ramesh has a stereotypical Indian job: a white color business job where he is stuck in a cubicle. He also has "seven kids," cause...you know...dem Hindus just love to have tons and tons of kids (as did Apu in The Simpsons). One thing about both ads, writes Tom from 41 mtf:
What really monkeys my wrench is that I don’t understand why these commercials were so blatantly racist without making any kind of joke out of it. It was as if Salesgenie.com really didn’t know they were using stereotypes in the first place.

The next ad was for Budlight which featured the horribly racist and vulgar comic Carlos Mencia who is known for stealing jokes from Black comedians and not giving them credit. As from the previous two commercials I blogged about this one predominantly features accents and "awkward foreigners" trying to pick up "American" (read: white or "white-washed" women).

Another internet startup is the culprit in this one. This time from Cars.com. It features a "witch doctor" from either The Amazon or Africa (they probably purposefully try to make him an ambiguous native) in where he shrinks heads and is referred to as more of a commodity than an actual human. Apparently according to mainstream media every single "native" is an expert in shrunken heads or cannibalism as those are the only non-North American natives to appear in popular mainstream media in many years.

Right after that little racist commercial came the infamous "Ching-Ching" and "Ling-Ling" commercial.

Finally there is Taco Bell. The ad features a bunch of white business people trying to get to a meeting. But WAIT! They have the new Taco Bell "Fiesta Platter!" So that means they have to have a fiesta. And of course you can't eat Mexican food without a bunch of Mexicans surrounding you playing music for your enjoyment. Taco Bell can't seem to get away from two bit Mexican stereotypes in their commercials.

Just to keep this post short (like I said earlier) I'll write more of my analysis in another post.


Time for Your Daily Dose of Queasiness

Let me warn you people. This is bad, and I don't mean bad as in Lawrence Fishburne is baaaaaad, I mean this is, "Oh God I just cringed" bad.

But this video also has a serious side to it. Now what is it that made Mitt say "Who let the dogs out," (HOLY SHIT THAT'S LIKE FUCKING SIX YEARS OLD!! In the words of Joey Styles "OOOOHHH MY GAAAAWWWWDDDD!") and "bling-bling." Well obviously he didn't get that terminology from actually hanging out with Black people because Black people don't fucking talk like that!

What is shaping Mitt's view, and for that matter much of white America's view, on Black "culture" and Black "speak" is the media. Most of what white and non-Black America think Black culture is, is actually from music videos produced by white owned record labels and newscasts and TV shows (such as cops) produced and owned by white people (even BET isn't owned by Blacks anymore, or at least their original Black owners). While these little "Oh my God Romney is so white" asides might be funny the also show the seriousness of how the media affects white peoeple's mind on who and what Black people are.

Whites are the most segregated race in America and what they see in the media is more than likely the only thing they see of a certain race. Which is why media representation is so important and so dangerous.