Thursday, November 5, 2009

Obama's Election One Year Later



One year ago yesterday was the election of President Barack Hussein Obama. It's still hard to believe that we overcame that obstacle and are already almost 11 months into his presidency.

365 days flew by. We both wonder how to broach the subject of discussing accomplishments which also leaving room for some criticism. Overall, we both are very pleased and think that critics need to wait a while before they judge so harshly. The healthcare plan he is trying to push through would be a major improvement for those in America without healthcare, a large percentage of which are minorities.

Even if Obama does not substantively change the situation for the impoverished citizens of America he has now paved the way symbolically. There is no higher level of authority African Americans can strive for, this does not mean that we are in a "post-racial" society, but that there is hope because he was elected. As we watch Michelle Obama jump double-dutch on the front lawn and just see a different set of faces representing the country we have found a new sense of pride.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A "Black" Barbie?

A couple of weeks ago, Mattel released three new Black Barbies. These Barbies were a toy that has long been called for by American society, but looking at these dolls there was some confusion. I don't think we were the only ones to notice the slight touches to whiten these dolls, one has green eyes, the other is with a child that has very light skin and all have wavy or straight hair. This is not to say that there are no African Americans with such features, but one would expect these dolls to authentically represent Black culture and heritage, in what it seems would be the more dominate depiction of a Black female. The hair issue bugs us, tying into the whole "Good Hair" Chris Rock movie, Mattel couldn't even give these dolls real curls.

Overall these dolls are not terrible, they do a good job of reflecting the growing mixed population of children, but Mattel should not be marketing these as their "black" barbies. They are not a good, ethnic representation of the entire African American population.

Why did Mattel feel the need to add these subtle touches to the dolls? Why couldn't they have dark hair, brown eyes and brown children? Are we reading into this too much or does it seem to represent the subconscious of a continued belief that whiter/lighter skin is better?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

How Shocking, Our First Lady's Heritage Traces Back to Slavery...







Last week The New York Times published an article entitled, "In First Lady's Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery" by Rachel L. Swarns and Jodi Kantor. The article shined light on Michelle Obama's roots, dating back to the institution of slavery. Michelle’s genealogy exposes the true patchwork heritage of America.

While the article was riveting and acknowledged the strong ties America--black America--has to slavery, our first reaction to this article was, "no duh!" Do we actually think that either our society is so far removed from slavery that black heritage in America no longer traces back that far? Or is it shocking that our first lady’s heritage can be traced back to such an oppressive institution? We are all educated individuals who took 7th grade history--blacks in America are proof of the injustices of the triangle trade and the displacement of Africans. Granted, Michelle is a testament of how far America has come from the days that relied so heavily on slavery for economic growth. But calculate the years, struggles and continued struggles of blacks dating back to the 17th c.—our society is more connected to slavery than our first lady’s heritage has to suggest. Racial tensions, inadequate social and economic equality, and a legacy as second-rate, lives today in black America. Not very pc but let’s get real, the chains of slavery have taken on a new form. Write articles, discuss, discover, reveal these chains.


>>http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/us/politics/08genealogy.html

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Obama Hatred

First off, we want to apologize for taking such a long vacation. College is always too hectic, but hopefully now that we are finally establishing our schedules, we will fit blogging in as well.

Recently, there was an article in NY Magazine about groups in America organizing against Obama. Now, we have to simply recognize that this is to be expected, of course there are American citizens who are unhappy with Obama's policies, just like there were American citizens who disliked Bush's policies. That said, the examples given in this article are just stunning.

As New Yorkers, we realize that we are in a sort of political bubble. Not everyone in New York City thinks alike, but rarely do we come across individuals who would liken Obama to Hitler. The hatred and outright outrageous beliefs of these individuals must be read for yourself. Most shocking are the statistics, proving that these individuals are not the only ones who are still circulating conspiracy theories about Obama being born in another country, a muslim, and a socialist. Apparently, "33 percent of New Jersey Republics believed that Obama was not a citizen and 14 percent thought he was the Antichrist" (Weiss). It is unfathomable, that people are so blinded by their hatred for Obama to go to such extremes.

I couldn't get past thinking that this hatred is deeper than just opposition to Obama's policies. The fact that people have shown up at rallies with Obama "photoshopped as a half-naked African native in a hut with a grass skirt and a bone in his nose" (Weiss). These actions seem to be more than disapproval. Such comparisons are much like minstrel shows, or the many epithets that have luckily become very politically incorrect. Later in the article, a man claims Obama didn't write his autobiography, but then goes on to mention race, which clearly has nothing to do with who wrote Dreams From My Father or whether Obama was born in the United States.

Do you think individuals with these viewpoints are fueled by racism? What will this hatred lead to?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Everyone's A Little Bit Racist

So we love Broadway shows especially, the most popular of them all, Avenue Q--a quasi-Sesame Street show. Avenue Q was inspired by Sesame Street, but addresses issues mostly faced by adults--for those who have now grown out of Bert and Bernie. With an amazing soundtrack, we'd like to share one of the songs that perfectly illustrate the issues of race today. Everyone's A Little Bit Racist, asks listeners to acknowledge our "judgments based on race". We are all racist and as the song says, "it doesn't mean we go on committing hate crimes." And we agree that we MUST all face the influences of society. As Beverley Tatum argued, passive racists are standing still on the conveyor belt yet reaching the same destination--racism.

We are all a part of the problem, so start walking against the conveyor belt.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Good Hair"

So, we came across this movie called "Good Hair". This movie was inspired by Chris Rock's daughter asking him why she doesn't have good hair. The fact that his daughter asked him this question deeply saddened us. What happened to the Afrocentric pride? "Black is Beautiful" no longer seems to be instilled in the youth of America.

While this appears to be a comedy, it seems slightly twisted, why are black women still spending so much money to have straight hair like barbie? We have specifically done research and papers about this issue. The self-hatred in the black community unfortunately continues as beauty is still defined in a Euro-centric way. Maybe this movie will lead to a wider understanding, but we feel it is more likely to create it into a joke. Will Chris Rock's light-hearted approach prove to be beneficial to American society?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jacob Lawerence: The Great Migration









While at the MOMA last week, we stumbled upon the infamous Jacob Lawerence 60 panel-series illustratting the migration of blacks to the North during the early 1900's. Only 30 of the panels are displayed at the MOMA--the odd numbers. The rest are living at the Phillips Collection in Washinton D.C. The series was painted following Jacob Lawernece's personal experience when moving from the South. Absolutely reviting and beautiful images from an artistic lens of a migrant. Check it out: The MOMA has free admission on Friday afternoons this summer!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flashback: Obama on Race














We will never forget the 2008 elections--the election of the first President of African decent. It took two-hundred and twenty years and forty-four elections, but finally the American people have elected a president who: carries the product of a melting pot in the pigment of his skin, witnessed the economic struggles that very few of our precedent presidents have and most importantly--at least for the sake of this blog--he carries the consciousness of a minority in our, still, racially oppressive society.

We want to share our absolute favorite speech Barack Obama gave during his 2008 presidential campaign. "A More Perfect Union"--a speech that may be remembered by many as either Obama's speech on race or Obama's speech condemning Rev. Jeremiah Wright's racist comments. We remember this speech as the day a political leader, with a national platform to share his ideals, finally illustrated the complex issue of race in modern America. The over-arching theme for us was the "union" of all races. Americans achieving "a more perfect union"--a union that still needs to overcome the economic disparities between blacks and whites and a union that will achieve educational equality beyond Brown v. Board of Ed.

Obama says, "We can tackle race only as spectacle--as we did in the O.J. trial--or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina--or as fodder for the nightly news." He goes on to call on Americans to take control," But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And another one. And nothing will change." Americans were given a chance to address race and we are still idle...

How can a society that has now elected a president who believes racism continues to oppress people of color, still believe that racism is an issue of the past?

...for Ashley

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Continuing the Economic Disparities

In an article in the New York Times on Saturday, the topic of privilege and the opportunities it opens up was apparent. This summer many college students I know, including myself, have been unemployed, unable to even find unpaid internships where their skills could be put to use. The hard economic times are not the subject of this post though---the realization that many internships (and jobs) require connections and knowing people is. In the job world that we are now finding ourselves a part of there are many unexpected obstacles. I believe part of this has evolved out of many feeling they can do anything if they really put their minds to it, an American dream element has infiltrated many of our childhoods. This would not be so problematic if agencies like those mentioned in the article did not exist. These companies become the middlemen, obtaining jobs for college students who have the money to pay for their services, leaving out the majority of hard working students who do not have the means nor the connections to secure positions, even for the summer. The fact that some have spent $5-8,000 on getting their internships widens the gap between rich and poor. As these students attain these internships, they begin to secure future jobs, making it harder once again for lower class students, even those who have been lucky enough to get scholarships to top schools, to ensure employments in their future. Do you think that services like these should be allowed to step between students and internships?

>>http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/business/09intern.html?_r=1&em

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One of the Most Underrated Documentaries: STAND

In this Travis Smiley documentary filmed the summer of 2008, STAND examines the question of the black man's position in American society in the context of Barack Obama's campaign for president and the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. As Tavis takes a roadtrip with some of the most prominent African-American intellectuals including Cornel West, Wren T. Brown , Michael Eric Dyson, and Cliff West they discuss everything from the influence of black culture on the world to the shift that has occurred in the black community. The stories shared and the poignant moments of the group standing on the balcony where MLK was assassinated create a much needed film tackling the issues that are still staring our society in the face.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Even a MacAurthor recipient is pulling the "race card"?

When will we finally agree that racism is alive and kicking? This week has been all about Gates, Obama's much needed response, then a bunch of talking heads trying to get the whole story. We are tired of discussing whether or not this was racism--it was. A Harvard professor who has dealt with race issues within academia and his own life was present at the event in question, so why are we still trying to get the whole play-by-play of whether this had to do with race or not? Must read OP-ED piece by Stanley Fish--much more compelling and persuasive:

>>http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/24/henry-louis-gates-deja-vu-all-over-again/

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An exhibition of Emory Douglas' works during the Black Panther movement: 7.22.09 - 10.18.09















Must attend. Lets recognize black-history beyond its alloted month! More than 150 posters created during the Black Panther movement.

Vestiges of Hitler on Fox News?

Fox News host stumbles over racist epithets when commenting on the impurity of Americans. The rant does not last for very long nor does he make much sense, but it surely is revealing of our society.

video

What? Where is the connection between inter-racial marriage and purity? If this doesn't have undertones of Hitler, I don't know what does. Apology or not, these views are around us. In Brooklyn we live in neighborhoods filled with inter-racial couples and we can only imagine some of the comments they are subject to.

Check-out his week-later apology:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why was a renowned Harvard professor arrested for entering his own home?












We know why: discrimination. If you had never heard of Henry Louis Gates, now you have. Henry Louis "Skip" Gates is one of the greatest intellectuals of our time. Currently a Harvard professor with a burger named after him, Gates is an educator, writer, editor and Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research. Accused of breaking into his own home, Gates was arrested for exhibiting "loud and tumultuous behavior." When the police arrived they told Gates they were investigating a break-in, when Gates immediately responds, "Why because I'm a black man in America?" Gates did not hold back on the police and with reason. We're wondering why the call was even made in the first place? Misunderstandings can happen, but no matter how much we want to beat around the bush; this incident was a product of our racist society. Now how much of this situation was due to race? Who knows. It is for certain that Gates' arrest had an element of racism.

Journey for Change: Chris Rock's wife works to empower teens in Bushwick
















Last summer thirty kids from Bushwick, Brooklyn traveled to South Africa to grow into civic leaders within their Brooklyn communities. So the travel down to South Africa in the hopes of achieving some kind of enlightenment gets a bit old, but The Angel Rock Project seems to be taking a new approach in breaking the vicious cycle of underprivileged communities in the United States. Taken to poverty-ridden areas struggling with AIDS, these thirty Brooklyn students are exposed to worse living conditions and given a chance to give aid rather than receive. The aim of the project is to create confidence and global awareness for students, who in our society, fall into the vicious cycle of poverty. The article below discusses a bit of the experience and the surprisingly unwanted return home.