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Usually, this blog is about unpleasant realities that can seem insurmountable. I think the following news proves that just talking about race is enough to affect an entire industry. Corporations can and will do the right thing if enough people put up a fuss and speak out.

Bloomsbury USA is going to change the cover of its leading Young Adult fiction title this fall, Justine Larbalestier’s Liar. It was another case of whitewashing, where the white girl on the cover was supposed to represent the biracial black protagonist in the story. Many bloggers and readers expressed dismay at the misrepresentation of the main character and how the cover fed into the racist trend of sidelining both stories about people of color and authors of color (Larbalestier is white, but the conversation outgrew this one single instance), and how children of color so rarely find protagonists who look like they do on the covers of the books they are encouraged to buy. Justine took a professional risk and publicly criticized the decision to put a stock photo of a white girl on the book over her protests.

For those of you not aware, authors rarely have any say whatsoever in what the cover art for their work looks like when they are published at an old-school, non-print-on-demand publisher, the only kind of  publisher from which most books stores are willing to buy. If you want your print books to reach a large audience, you have to be willing to give up most of your creative control over everything: the audience to which the book is marketed, the language and vocabulary used in the story, the cover art, the marketing pitch, the blurb, etc. Having a contract not only with an agent but with a publisher with the clout of Bloomsbury is a big deal. Justine was brave enough to talk honestly on the Internet about a subject that could have cost her professional relationships vital to her career. She believed the risk was worth the potential cost to herself, to young readers, especially children of color if she did not. I agree with her.

It took less than two weeks of the story circulating between the blogs and publishing news media outlets for Bloomsbury to change its mind and order all of the old covers to be scrapped, conduct a photo shoot, and order new covers for the book. For a large print run like 100,000 copies, that must have cost them a significant amount of money, but the publishers decided to do it any way. The motivations behind doing this may not be as idealistic as Justine’s, and the new cover girl doesn’t actually have ‘nappy’ hair, but it is a vast, VAST improvement over the original cover.

Normally, I don’t approve of giving people ‘cookies’ for doing the right thing. But the reviews of Justine’s book make it sound fantastic, and I want this book to succeed beyond Bloomsbury’s expectations. Furthermore, Justine has recommended two authors of color who deserve as many accolades for their talents: Coe Booth, who has written Kendra, a coming-of-age story about a young mother and her teenage daughter afraid of repeating the past, and M. Sindy Felin’s Touching Snow.

Provided that this new face graces Liar when it hits the bookshelves in October, I will be one of the first to buy several copies.

Originally published at The Multiracial Muse. You can comment here or there.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: I’m so pissed off about this and various episodes of -isms this month that I had to take a step back. When I returned, this post was what came out. I hope you’ll be able to forgive me for my sarcasm. I’m trying not to throw things in frustration here, so I’m writing something for the sake of my furniture’s well-being. After all, I don’t even own most of it.

The Whitewashing of Liar )
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Despite the mediocre reception and critical reviews of several recent videogame-turned-movie-franchise ventures, Paramount Pictures decided to upgrade the incredibly popular Nickelodeon show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, into a live-action film. M. Night Shyamalan (of recent bombs like The Happening and Signs, the guy who went from a one-trick pony with The Sixth Sense to a one-trick pony with lots of corporate funding) is set to direct. Entertainment Weekly leaked the cast of the movie, and GUESS WHAT? ALL FOUR LEADS ARE WHITE AS <strike>SPARKLY VAMPIRES</strike> MR. STAY-PUFF. To add insult to injury, the casting directors picked Jesse “Beautiful Soul” McCartney (of Disney fame) to play to Zuko, who is the fantasy equivalent of an emo!goth warrior anti-hero.

Given that all four principals are clearly portrayed as representative of various East Asian cultures, and that the leads have the physical characteristics of each of their respective kingdoms, Paramount is set to make a movie off of a storyline that had no white people in it, especially not as the leads, using…white people as the leads.

 I’m so…tired of this ind of idiocy, so I’ll instead point you to a post in metafandom that has several links to articles discussing this in a more coherent way than I could do at this point.

Originally published at The Multiracial Muse. You can comment here or there.

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There are a lot of matter to contemplate after the historic victory of Barack Obama’s presidential win on Tuesday night. I wrote this comment below in an article on Racialicious entitled, “Good, and Now Back to Work”:

As someone who occupies both sides of this argument, I agree with the basic concept of what Wise says but strongly disapprove of the attitude he uses in saying it. There is no place in the progressive community for condescending and arrogant put-downs, ESPECIALLY from a white cisgendered able-bodied man.

Tim Wise has educated a lot of people, and I admire him and quote him often because of his efforts, but I’m betting he wasn’t in San Francisco or Omaha on Tuesday night, where the consequences of pushing centrism have eliminated decades of progressive efforts and enshrined racism, bigotry and homophobia into the state constitutions.

As a leftist progressive and the daughter or a first-generation dual American-Kittitian citizen, I am beyond elated at what happened on Tuesday. It was the culmination of decades of ambition, careful planning, and grassroots organization intermeshed with a cultural convergence and a shift in awareness among a new generation sick of the crap our progenitors handd down to us and allowed us to inherit. I was crying. I was weeping in joy and disbelief. It meant so much to me to know that I might soon have national health care and not worry about moving from state to state, that people lived up to their promise to vote the way they said they would, that negative campaigning is no longer a successful strategy when we expose it, that I can tell my future children that they can be anyone or anything they want to be, that I can tell my future grandchildren that I was there when the world changed.

However, I woke up the next day much more sober and aware of the immense challenges and expectations Obama faces. He had to be perfect and he had to be a centrist in order to win. He had to be better than not only every black American running before him but better than every other white American running against him. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I suspect that one of the consequences of a globally connected society is that the trend of watching every step you take will only grow more difficult. Guns and bitterness, anyone?

You can celebrate an historic moment and lose yourself in it for one night, even one week or one month, and still not lose sight of the ethical compromises you have made to ensure any victory rather than no victory at all.

 I barely had time to decide what was more important: my health care (and with it, my career opportunities, my parent’s financial stability, and my education) or my desire for integrity in a campaign. When I worked on his campaign for three months and gave up my sanity and most aspects of a non-political life to ensure that Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, Pensylvania kept our state blue, I went through a lot of ugly crap and saw others endure much, much worse in order to see Obama win. My initial motivations for helping him were anti-conservative sentiment, intense disgust with the racist idiocy surrounding me, and the knowledge that he held the promise of securing our Supreme Court from decades of evil legislation and providing America with health care and a (more) progressive environmental stance, to say nothing of a way out of Iraq and an end to deregulation and corporate greed. As I spent more time listening to what he was saying, it became clearer that while we desperately need a dramatic reversal from the last eight years, we are more likely to see a fundamental and permanent shift to the left if we have someone to talk the conservatives down and reign in their ire and indignation.

I don’t want to have to fight the fight of my lifetime every four years just to protect a reversal of Republican policies. I don’t think we can keep any of the changes we make for the better unless we educate the middle Americans and stop calling them stupid in public, even when they are stupid and bigoted and flat-out wrong. Me clinging to my moral ideals won’t help the poor and the disenfranchised nationally. Some leftists seem to forget that local action only goes so far and can be overturned easily. The American people are too afraid to revolt; if they were going to overthrow the political system, they would have done so already. I choose to change our laws and opinions from the inside out, because frankly, I can’t wait thirty years for a dramatic shift. I need change now.

Obama was not my first choice. He wasn’t even my second choice. He is my final choice. I don’t feel like I voted against Bush this time. I voted for Obama.

Originally published at The Multiracial Muse. You can comment here or there.

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I am now working on the Obama campaign every single day. I’ve been making phone calls and knocking on people’s doors trying to convince them to vote for Obama since the week of the Democratic National Convention at the end of August. Lots of our volunteers here in PA have become complacent, thinking that victory is a sure thing, which is absolutely not true, and the few of us hardcore workers have been trying to pick up the slack.

I have a commission-based job to plan out after the election, a NaNoWriMo novel to outline, a request from an editor for a short story partial, and re-enrollment at Harvard (my last chance) for next spring to worry about. I finished my voice acting projects earlier in the month, but more work is coming. It is so hard to keep up with the several blogs on which I’m supposed to be working, much less my RSS feeds to which I am normally addicted. There is never enough time as it is without the 2008 Election, and now that we’re down to the wire, everything is surreal, and I’m just trying to capture and catalogue it privately for future reflection as best I can.

I think the racists have intimidated a lot of our earlier canvassers who were people of color - everyone is so brave to put up with some of the crap people hurl at you. Just the other day, my boss’s white mom took a black woman out canvassing with her for the woman’s first canvas. The first house they approached, a woman looked out the window, saw the two of them, and screamed that if they didn’t get off her property in ten seconds, she was going to call the police and Thre Would Be Trouble. No Obama pins, no posters, no visible campaign materials. It was seeing a black woman on her doorstep that made her freak out.

The crap that ignorant (usually white) people will say to you when they think you’re white is really, really scary.

Als, the word socialist is bandied about a lot here. I don’t think it means what conservatives think it means. Libraries are socialist. The Post office is socialist. The Veteran’s Administration, Social Security, Medicare and the Wall Street bailout are socialist programs. Obama? Not so much.

Interesting links for the week:

· http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2008 (where the candidates fall on a political spectrum - you’ll probably be surpised)
· http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/10/on-road-western-pennsylvania.html (I can say without a doubt that the shocking examples of PA political behavior do not surpise me. At all.)

If I've enlightened, inspired or enslaved your mind, please consider buying me a tea. Hell, just buy me one anyway. I'm still poor.

Originally published at Folklore Fanatic. You can comment here or there.

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[cross-posted to dot_race_snark]

 So what’s a desperate Republican to do when his other racist smears aren’t working? Why, compare Obama to the most infamous black acquitted murderer in modern history, that’s what!

A banner slogan on the Pemberton Republican Club’s Web site that said, “Obama loves America like O.J. loved Nicole,” disappeared yesterday after local Democrats alleged racist campaign tactics.
The Web master, Ed Kuck, a recently elected Republican County committeeman, said he had seen the slogan on an Internet site and copied it onto the club’s Web page about a month ago as “a joke.”

Apparently, this ‘quote’ has been making the rounds on conservative blogs.

I just…have no words to describe how fucked up this is.

If I've enlightened, inspired or enslaved your mind, please consider buying me a tea. Hell, just buy me one anyway. I'm still poor.

Originally published at Folklore Fanatic. You can comment here or there.

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There’s a discussion going on at Racialicious about Tim Wise’s newest article, “Your Whiteness Is Showing,” a great piece that basically destroys any reasonable argument about why white feminists refuse to vote for Obama.

See, I was so furious at the behavior of many, MANY, so-called ‘progressives’ in the blogosphere. Not just at Hillary supporters around the time of her concession speech, but at Barack supporters during the same time period as well. Most of what galled me does not bear repeating here.

I thought through two drafts of this post. One was a livid diatribe, wherein I told off everybody and pointed out how stupid everyone was being and exactly why they were being so incredibly stupid. Another was a conciliatory gesture of entreaty and unity, in wich I pleaded for the common cause of social justice to remain in people’s minds before their emotions overrode rational thought. The final one basically just said, Screw you guys. I’m going home.”

That’s why I couldn’t post any of it. Luckily enough, my narcolepsy is kicking in, and I’m too tired and halucinatory to really care what anyone thinks right now. Woo-hoo!

That’s the upshot of sleeping disorders: even if you f*** up, there’s plausible deniability.

 

 

 

Anyway, on to the post. It’s a response of mine to the convo over at Racialicious:

I cannot believe that any true progressive would look at the current situation and do anything BUT vote for the Democratic or Green candidate, DESPITE whoever he/she picks or doesn’t pick as a running mate.

There are two parties of anry people out here in the blogosphere: those who support Hillary are willing to vote McCain or not vote to spite Obama, and those who support Barack but will vote McCain or stay home if he puts Hillary on the ticket.

I think the fact that so many people are willing to jeopardize our economy and more lives in Iraq, a failing healthcare system and a government in serious need of a fox-purging of its henhouses shows how incredibly privileged they are. It’s not like the people who will directly benefit ( or SUFFER) depending on thr outcome of this election are more important than their f***ing principles. God we swallow our pride and vote to do the most good now, when we have a decent chance, while we still have a chance. It’s not like the past two years have had a series of devastating Supreme COurt decisions on everything from Freedom of Speech to equal pay after Bush replaced two justices. It’s not as if Stevens is 88 (30 years older than Tim Russert when he died this Friday) and the other progressive three are only a few years younger. We shouldn’t care one whit, because we’re going to “take a stand!” *eyeroll*

For anyone who thinks thee is no way Obama could lose — an argument I hear from people on both extremes — I would point you to the latest gallup polls to show you that Obama’s actually losing among certain voting blocs.

That’s right: after everything, 911, Katrina, Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanemo, FEMA, the wiretapping, the CIA leaks, the suppression of environmental warnings, the deregulation of nearly every agency that was doing any good against corporate interests, the callousness and arrogance with which the Bush administration has recklessly pursued the interests of the few rich and powerful…

McCain and Obama are virtually TIED.

Newsflash: Obama and Clinton? Both centrists.

Clinton? Allowed racist codespeak to taint Obama. She’s white, and people are surprised when her privilege and prejudice show?

Obama? Condescended to women during the campaign (although I personally think his posse is more to blame for the internet misogyny than he is). He’s male, and people are surprised that he calls women by demeaning nicknames?

I would vote for either of them over McCain any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Why, you ask? Because my health care bills can’t wait another four or eight years for people to find the perfect candidate to support their principles. Because the conservatives are remarkably good at inciting fear, increasing tensions and driving their sheep to the polls in massive numbers.

Progressives operate on the assumption that everyone should treat others with respect and mind their own business. Conservatives operate on the assumption that people who disagree with them are wrong and should be criminalized, and they never take a day off. It’s remarkably easy to herd a bunch of lemmings into a line and march them off to battle (or off a cliff). Meanwhile, progressives think that they have infinite amounts of time to argue and bicker and create divisons within their ranks because, hey! They’ve got this one in the bag!

Yeah. I remember hearing that one in 2004, too.

In summary, I’m not buying it. Some of us can’t afford to wait for change until it’s convenient for others to vote for it. We need it now, before it’s too late.

Originally published at The Multiracial Muse. You can comment here or there.

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Come on, Mrs. Clinton. I just...I think so much has been said already, but there's one really apt post that addresses you and says all of the things I want to say. I think it would be redundant of me to reiterate them when someone else has already phrased them so eloquently, so here you go:

The Curvature - Dear Hillary Clinton
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Come on, Mrs. Clinton. I just…I think so much has been said already, but there’s one really apt post that addresses you and says all of the things I want to say. I think it would be redundant of me to reiterate them when someone else has already phrased them so eloquently, so here you go:

The Curvature - Dear Hillary Clinton

If I've enlightened, inspired or enslaved your mind, please consider buying me a tea. Hell, just buy me one anyway. I'm still poor.

Originally published at Folklore Fanatic. You can comment here or there.

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Karnythia talked about the way in which Women of Color view acts of chivalry today. The gist of her insightful post, at least in my humble opinion, is that WoC are rarely, if ever, afforded the kind of Princess and Pedestal treatment from white men that many white women find degrading and insulting — things like men holding out chaires for women, insisting to pay the check or walk her home, and yes, calling a woman a “sweetie.” Juxtaposing this, Men of Color are taught to be ever-respectful of all women, that an offer of assistance or protection does not automatically question a woman’s ability to take care of herself but shows repect and solidarity instead.

For the most part, women of color, especially black women in the U.S.A., never benefitted from the ideals of chivalric love continued past medieval times and into the Enlightenment Period. They never experienced the pampering and idealizing of “Republican Motherhood” during the Nineteenth Century that leaves a bad taste in white women’s mouths. They have been taught to be self-reliant, because most of the time, white men have treated WoC as objects, not as people. They have had to rely on men of color to play any chivalrous roles available. Women of color are far more likely to see chivalry as a sign of respect and politeness than as condescension or assertion of control.

It may not be a perfect world, but we all work with what we have, and since the playing field is so different between white women and women of color, it’s no surprise that Karnythia took a lot of flak for pointing these truths out. Some white females cannot seem to accept that ‘OMG! Chivalry isn’t always sexist!’, or at least there are differing opinions as to what constitutes sexism in the PoC community.

Discrimination doesn’t happen in a vacuum. More often than not, there are multiple prejudices at work in any given problematic situation.

Here are my two different responses at her cross-posts:

First, at the LJ Feminist Community:

I know this has already been said, but I wanted to add my two cents:

1. It’s the effect, not the intent, that matters. In this case, Obama realized that what he said, although totally innocent in his mind, could be hurtful or demeaning to women, and he made a effort to correct his behavior.

2. Men are inherently going to be sexist at times, just like white people are racist sometimes and don’t even know it. Stuff happens. It’s what you do in reaction to a problem that defines your position. Obama swiftly called up the reporter and apologized. I have a feeling he’s going to be a lot more cautious about what he says to female strangers in the future.

3. We don’t know his motivations, but we do know that he’s trying to better himself. As I’m not inside Obama’s head, I can’t say whether it’s the realization that he may have bad habits that might hurt others or the fact that everything he does is being recorded at all times that ultimately drives him, but hopefully his behavior will continue to improve.

4. Everyone should hold open the damn door for everyone. Doors are heavy, and they like to hit you in the face.

5. I am perfectly okay with anti-door discrimination.

Then on her blog post (emphasis added):

I call people ‘hon’ all of the time. So it [meaning 'sweetie'] was sexist. He bloody apologized, and he did so before the woman complained to him. THAT’S what’s important here. He didn’t become defensive and insist he did nothing wrong; he said he was sorry immediately and learned from the experience.

There’s a learning curve in the Obama camp, something that the Clinton camp is sorely lacking at this point.

This whole subject has me wondering if my Dad behaves differently towards women at his office (there are few) vs. women in public. Of course, now that he has less hair and has paled slightly since I was a child, he probably looks less threatening. But I think he said a couple of months ago that he still would debate offering to help a white woman alone in a park if some white man was harassing her, because he wouldn’t want to end up shot.

The MoC catch-22 of chivalry with a gun at your back reminds me of that line from “Mrs. Robinson”: Any way you look at this you lose.

So my final words on this? I would have been insulted. I would have probably made a snarky comment for my news report, too. But I also would have accepted a personal apology, which some feminist bloggers seem unable or unwilling to do.

To the Hillary supporters: Look. I’m not trying to minimize the crap that has happened to her during this camaign. It pisses me the hell off, too. Please don’t confuse a rebuttal of the blind outrage that I see over “Sweetiegate” as a dismissal of concerns over sexism. I was so disgusted at the mainstream media’s treatment of her leading up to Super Tuesday that I foamed at the mouth and cheered as the pundits threw up their hands and looked like idiots, the stupid paid shills. I am, however, turned off by Clinton’s efforts to taint Obama’s candidacy in order to better her own campaign. Her unwillingness to apologize when she does something wrong is HUGELY problematic to me.

Both Senators need to tell their PR people and supporters to calm the hell down and stop saying stupid things in their names. Six months ago, Democrats had this election served to them on a silver platter. How did we manage to turn it down for a brass tack?

Whose fault is that? Can we lay all of the blame at the feet of the candidates and John McCain, or does part of the problem lie with us?

Originally published at The Multiracial Muse. You can comment here or there.

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While I’m choking on the allergens and pollutants from our coal plants here in PA and can’t do any productive work, I just thought I’d share a few links at the Washington Post that I found depressing and upsetting interesting.

Knowing that people think you are somewhow less-than-human is one thing. It’s not fun, but it’s a daily fact of life.

Reading that there are bigots actually willing to go on record with their prejudices in front of both white and black campaign canvassers is quite another.

Highlights include:

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: “It wasn’t pretty.” She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: “Hang that darky from a tree!”

In a letter to the editor published in a local paper, Tunkhannock Borough Mayor Norm Ball explained his support of Hillary Clinton this way: “Barack Hussein Obama and all of his talk will do nothing for our country. There is so much that people don’t know about his upbringing in the Muslim world. His stepfather was a radical Muslim and the ranting of his minister against the white America, you can’t convince me that some of that didn’t rub off on him.

“No, I want a president that will salute our flag, and put their hand on the Bible when they take the oath of office.”

Karen Seifert, a volunteer from New York, was outside of the largest polling location in Lackawanna County, Pa., on primary day when she was pressed by a Clinton volunteer to explain her backing of Obama. “I trust him,” Seifert replied. According to Seifert, the woman pointed to Obama’s face on Seifert’s T-shirt and said: “He’s a half-breed and he’s a Muslim. How can you trust that?”

If you have a really strong stomach and a lot of spare time, you can read through the 3300+ comments on the article, many of them racist and nonsensical, others defensive of Obama because he’s half-white and they believe in ‘color-blindness.’ Oh, yeay.

Other posts and analysis of interest:

Transcript: Election 2008: Racist Incidents Rattle Obama Backers

Dark Side of the Campaign

Opinion: Misogyny I Won’t Miss

Oh, and McCain says, “Not to worry! When I’m President, almost all of our troops will be home by 2013!

…Um, yeah. NO.

The one bright spot today was that California’s Supreme Court overturned the gay marriage ban there because it relegated GBLT couples to “second-class citizenship.” Schwarzenegger has vowed to veto any challenges to the ruling, which is probably the most honorable position he’s taken on anything, ever. Pretty damn cool. I’m liking California more and more every day.

If I've enlightened, inspired or enslaved your mind, please consider buying me a tea. Hell, just buy me one anyway. I'm still poor.

Originally published at Folklore Fanatic. You can comment here or there.

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Not to mention the way he portrays the SPLC and the ACLU simply because they disagree with his warped views on immigration.

I mean, honestly -- does the man even listen to his own network? Just this morning CNN did a piece on how racism in housing has become a subtle art and that landlords will often let the answering machine pick up prospective callers and try to guess the race of the caller to avoid approving tenants of color without having the government's fairhousing enforcers catch them.

Doesn't sound like a post-racial, ideal America to me, Lou.

This is the first time that I've felt like defending Condi Rice, ever.

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