Colorblind Racism

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“The U.S. media could fulfill all of these functions [in mass media] without treating members of racial and ethnic minority groups any differently than they treat the majority.” -Racism, Sexism and the Media, Chapter 2 page 34.

Same goes for the newest term of ‘colorblind racism,’ how if one doesn’t comment on the color of another’s skin, they feel as though racism is no longer an issue. Pretending the problem doesn’t exist isn’t solving the problem.

#colorblindracism #iggnoranceisntbliss #racismandthemedia #fightracism #jett

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Week 13

Women of Color in the Media – Jennifer Lopez

For woman of color, there are many stereotypes that have been ascribed to the body. A big butt is now considered to be an ethnic character trait. How is gender represented? How much of it is objectification to the agency of women? Is it more so their racial identity that sexualizes them or just their bodies? These questions become harder and harder to answer when beauty, sexuality, and bodies are associated to race. The reality is, people recognize these features by categorizing race. Africans, Asians, and Latina/os can generally be distinguished through looks because the features differ from each other. Notably, one feature people often use to differentiate is skin color, but this has actually become more difficult due to the abundant increase of ethnically ambiguous people. People of color who find careers in the media industry are more easily casted when their skin color could be portrayed as any race. Now, the concept of a racialized body has been used to identify the background of an individual, and more specifically, women.

In the movie, Selena (1997), Jennifer Lopez, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, was casted to play the Mexican-American icon. This casting choice caused major backlash and controversy, but Lopez defended herself by claiming that she shared an ethnic identity beyond “national” origins with Selena as they were both Latinas that had the shared experience of growing up Latina in this country. Yet, their common upbringing wasn’t what convinced audiences to accept her role, rather, it was their similar curves. Lopez herself felt comfortable identifying with Selena because, “…she was, well, curvy” (p. 232). This isn’t the problem, embracing one’s body shape is wonderful; no one should have a say or problem with how a women’s body looks. However, when it is “…precisely the body, in particularly the curves, that proved to be the most compelling way Lopez and others found to speak about how Latinas are constituted as radicalized subjects…” (Negron, p. 235), it racially marks a Latina body. It encourages a capitalistic view on body that exploits culture because the media or audience isn’t accepting the curves in itself, they’re accepting it because it is associated with her Latina background. Although, I can see the significance in this acceptance because it is a way for Latinas to reclaim their beauty, “big butts” in general should be accepted and there should definitely be representation of all body assets (Negron, p. 236). When society encourages media to focus so much on the bodies of women of color, while it encourages acceptance, it also causes women to be vulnerable. For example Negron writes “…her racialized body became the most effective way to bring her down and stand judgment” (Negron p. 244). Race is a social concept, and racializing a woman’s body relates to the ideology formed by social and historical concepts when trying to define how a race is supposed to look like. More specifically, the media highlights a woman’s curves and relate it to their ethnicity, thus setting standards for all women of the same culture.

Moreover, the visibility of the Latina body in the media and popular culture has Jennifer Lopez and Selena’s body to be sexualized, and racialized within the media. At the end of the article, “Jennifer’s Butt: Valorizing the Puerto Rican Racialized Female Body,” she declares that her show of culture and her ethnic background is about “being real” (Negron, p. 246). She was referring to the sexualization of her body and the association it has with her racial background. Furthermore, she takes pride as the “next big bottom in Puerto Rican culture” (Negron, p. 246). Although, in Dangerous Curves: Latina, the chapter “Disciplining J.Lo: Booty Politics in Tabloid News,” contradicts her actions by stating that “Lopez consciously negotiates the ways in which she is racialized by shaping how she is coded in the media through transforming signifiers such as clothing, hair door, hair style, skin color, body weight, music and of course, her paramours” (Molina-Guzmán, p. 59). These transformative practices allow her to be susceptible to ambiguity. This asserts the idea that Lopez is actually racially flexible and can transform her look. This is common because styles change, women are allowed to change their style all the time, especially those in the entertainment industry but it creates conflict with the themes of beauty and acceptance for women of color because people start to see her style change as a racial change. As the ideal boric beauty, she had the option to be ethically ambiguous but because the standards of American beauty have been skewed to accept a body shape that differs from Jennifer Lopez’s shape, the hype of her derrière emphasized her “exotic body.” She became one of the most sought out Latina actress in Hollywood and accepted her role as a Latina woman in Hollywood. She is a “consumable Latin ‘chiquita’ legend” (Molina-Guzmán, p. 63), she proudly proclaims her Latina ancestry and she’s even created music in her ethnic language but then issues arise when she tries the hip-hop genre and starts dating black entertainer Sean Combs, now society claims she’s moving “in” to Blackness (Molina-Guzmán, p. 62-65) or dating Ben Affleck and this constitutes dangerous flirtations with whiteness (Molina-Guzmán, p. 66)? This is why race and the body being correlated with one another is a problem. She should still be a great iconic Puerto Rican that has nothing to do with her body or who she dates, why is there an expectation on her style for her to prove she is Puerto Rican? Representations and narratives in the media is why I believe there was so much focus on her body.

Many factors can influence what society considers appealing – the way one is dressed, their actions, the way they carry themselves, social status and wealth, and even things that are not in their control, like race, and body size and shape. These traits are attributed into the social construction of race, and results in superficial physical and cultural characteristics that are systematically associated with a racial identity in order to label people, like women. This could potentially cause much conflict for people because it has to power to place a woman’s body as an ideal or a disappointment upon body types because of a factor they have no control over, their race. When Lopez creates a sexually charged music video showing off her butt, will the audience think that she was born with a big butt and the clothing she’s wearing emphasizes that? Or is it that she’s a Latina and that Latina’s are supposedly all curvy? What happens when a Latina women does not have a big butt, does that make her unauthentic as a Latina women?

The goal is to diminish stereotypes, but this mentality that Latina bodies are all curves, hurts any progress of that. If we associate race and bodies together, it’ll be hard to define what is accepted because it causes women of color, women in general, to obsess over what they have or what they lack. In every culture and society, there is a general perspective and views about beauty and so many people are influenced by what media depicts as beautiful. Too many women change their outward appearance in order to be defined as beautiful and it doesn’t help when there are racial expectations of a woman’s body. Stereotypes are placed and racializing the body for women of color presents society with unrealistic body types.

Week 12

“Make America Great Again”

The current presidential election coverage in the media has shown a disappointing lack of progress in racism. This is primarily due to the narrative of the presidential campaigns produced by media, specifically Donald Trump, who has had directed many media narratives favoring white supremacy.

The best way to uncover how media narratives cover Trump’s campaign in relation to white privilege and white supremacy is by evaluating Trump’s main slogan, “Make America Great Again.” It is a common campaign slogan used by politicians, such as the 40th white president Ronald Reagan, and most recently, the 2016 presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Who is Trump making the promise to “Make America Great Again” to? This statement implies that America use to be great back in the day, but the truth is the past wasn’t all that great. In comparison to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, “Change we can believe in,” Obama’s slogan implies that American did need change. So, the first serious African-American presidential candidate America has ever had believed we needed change, and now we have Donald Trump pushing to revert that change and restore America to when it was supposedly great again.

America has barely made any headway in terms of racial progress, past or present. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva in Racism without Racists explains how Americans, Whites in particular, are in denial about the reality of racial issues. He wrote, “Most whites believe that if blacks and other minorities would just stop thinking about the past, work hard, and complain less (particularly about racial discrimination), then Americans of all hues could “all get along” (Silva, 2009, p. 1). If this notion were true, shouldn’t Donald Trump be endorsing an idea of a better future rather than trying to bring back the “old” America?

In a Huffington Post article titled, “Donald Trump: When the Media Flirts With White Supremacy,” it goes into detail about the concept of the term “birther,” and the underlying context that “black Americans were not meant to inherit American citizenship by birth.” This term relates to the huge issue concerning President Obama’s citizenship and in 2011, Trump was asked whether or not he believed the president was born in America, Trump’s answer was that he can’t be sure about Obama’s citizenship, but he can definitely prove he was himself. His answer gives the impression that he’s been in America all his life; he belongs here, but why, because he’s White? This idea of “birthers” is relevant to the belief that white people are not racially seen and named because they are just simply the human race. There has been instances of him asserting superiority over another race when he become a central figure in racial controversy due to comments like, Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and criminals and his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. Trump’s many comments over the past few months suggests that America is not great due to the people of color occupying this country which is why he is trying reinforce the idea of making it great once again by returning the country back to the “humans.” Silva writes, “How is it possible to have this tremendous degree of racial inequality in a country where most whites claim that race is no longer relevant? (Silva, 2009, p. 2),” the answer is – race is relevant, just as white supremacy and white privilege is relevant.

Trump never exactly specifies a moment in history when America was “great,” but I can’t recall a time when this country was “great” place to live as a citizen of color compared to the progress we’ve made now. A passage in The Matter of Whiteness reads, “The media, politics, education are still in the hands of white people, still speak for whites while claiming – and sometimes sincerely aiming – to speak for humanity” (Dyer, pg. 11), the underlying notion is that being white is being human and this secures a position of power. Trump has consistently been pushing for an immigration policy or deportation policy against Latinos, imagine the impact that would have on so many lives and even the economy but Trump’s think this would be a saving grace away. This is coming from a white privileged perspective because his solution to “Make America Great Again” has been nothing but needless proposals to remove every race in America except White people, who are apparently just “humans” (Dyer, pg.11),

Donald Trump’s slogan supports this statement, “…in Western representation whites are overwhelmingly and disproportionately predominant, have the central and elaborated roles, and above all are placed as the norm, the ordinary, the standard (Dyer, pg.11),” and that’s how he wants America to continue. If elected, Trump’s attempt to restore America to its former ways would not be in the favor of people of color but rather the white privileged society, more so than it already is.

Week 15

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“Profound offense strikes at a person’s core values and sense of self. It is caused, for example, by the desecration of a religious symbol or by the violation of profound cultural norms, such as those associated with respect for the dead…One could also feel profound offense if one felt that one or one’s culture is not being treated with fairness or with respect. It is common for people to frame their objections to cultural appropriation in terms of offense” (Young, Brunk, 2012, pg. 5).

Many people who appropriate culture or don clothing that’s sacred to an individual’s culture don’t realize how demeaning it is for that person. People begin exploiting the culture of people of color without any regards or understanding of the history, experience and traditions. When this happens, it makes it seem like it’s okay to not respect someone’s ethnic identity because they feel entitled to take it from them and it becomes another form of representation out of their control.

Week 13

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“I see these shifts in gender and race representation as located within struggles between generations so that representation itself becomes an arsenal in a kind a cultural territory war. Within this particular battlefield, the struggles of the past to represent women and people of color are read through nostalgic lens as an “old school” kind of politics. Indeed, contemporary manifestations of “girl power” and the “urban” render the language of sexism and disenfranchisement as old-fashioned and even quaint. The dismissal of the language and the politics associated with it is characteristic of “new school” politics, where commodity culture is situated not in opposition to those politics but rather provides the very means to exploit and represent these dynamics of race and gender” (Banet-Weiser, p. 205).

In the media and in real life, political correctness is a big deal and everyone should do there best to abide by it. Language plays a huge factor in that. As the quote states, representation has changed so much as time progresses and America has had many past issues with gender representation before but now it’s considered as “old-policy fashioned.” Now, I believe the “new school” politics could refer to equality for transgendered individuals because it is also similar to what happened with the “Jim Crow” laws, in which certain places would have public bathrooms marked “for colored only.” Now the famous store Target has created a new pro-transgender bathroom allowing those who choose to identify with a different gender choose which restroom to use. However, there has been many backlash against this decision, including some post-feminists who believe a gender inclusive restroom is dangerous. I’m not sure how to feel about Target’s decision. On one hand I am all for equal rights and I can see how difficult it may be for transgendered individuals choosing one when they identify as another, but as a woman who does shop at target I’ve seen other people make very valid points about the potential dangers that could arise just by allowing any individuals to choose which restroom to use. This also relates hugely with Naomi Gordon-Loebl’s article about gender or hetero spaces, it’s difficult because as much as some people want to include all races, all genders, not everyone feels the same. So, how do we achieve equality for all people but also regard women and children who feel vulnerable to this decision?

Week 12

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“If the shame lies in the face, Lopez’s display was (at least) a triple sign of symbolic warfare: “showing ass” as a sign of pride, “kiss my ass” as a form of revenge against a hostile cultural gaze, and “I’m going to kick your ass” to offset the economic exploitation implicated in racism. In Lopez’s case, this third rear victory is now dramatically evident in her current status as one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses- Latina or not. No wonder she says, “I have a curvaceous Latin body… I like to accentuate that.” So would I- all the way to the bank.” (Negron, p. 235)

In the reading for this week I really liked the focus of accepting the body type. This mentality of Lopez’s really does classify as a victory. I think as a person who’s been the media for a very long time has set a standard for a lot of women in the industry and in general. I chose Demi Lovato because she’s famously known as someone who’s had body issues and is also a Latina. No one can truly say why or how anyone’s body is formed the way it is but it generally does have to do with genetics. So, embracing how your body is , whether it’s related to race or not, is a wonderful thing. For people like Lopez who has seniority in the entertainment industry, who’s gone through negative and degrading comments, to use it and positively, I believe has helped people such as Lovato and in turn, has helped women of color everywhere.

Week 11

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“…there is no discussion of white people. In fact for most of the time white people speak about nothing but white people, it’s just that we couch it in terms of ‘people’ in general…in Western representation whites are overwhelmingly and disproportionately predominant, have the central and elaborated roles, and above all are placed as the norm, the ordinary, the standard.” (Dyer, Richard, “The Matter of Whiteness,” 2005, pg. 11)

I found these images online created by Julio Salgado. He created a series of images (such as the pictures above) and transformed casts from popular television shows to show how it would look if they were played by minorities. Salgado stated that, “My intention here is to be confrontational and turn popular white characters into POC [people of color] characters.” I want to point out that the only reason this would be considered confrontational is because his subject was people of color. Like in the quote mentioned above, there is no discussion of white people because having an all white cast like the shows Full House or Sex and The City is considered the norm, where would the controversy be in that? Representation of Whites are what the general standard is thus, there is virtually no reason for controversy against that race unlike with the issue of post-racism. That concept deals with people of color still being underrepresented, that issue is real but reverse racism isn’t real. When white people accuse people of color of racism and discrimination, for issues like the Black Lives Matter movement or creating spaces for themselves like the BET channel that white people aren’t a part of, they believe it’s excluding them and is reverse racism. This is unfounded because racism is when a group of people is being negatively targeted for their race but this doesn’t usually occur within White people because they’ve never had a problem with being represented.

Week 16: Continued Underrepresentation in Media

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“Minorities constituted just 5 percent of the creators of digital platform and syndicated programming during the 2012-13 season” (Bunche, pg. 22) “11 percent of the creators of digital platform and syndicated program- ming during the 2012-13 season were women… it corresponds to underrepresentation by a factor of more than 4 to 1 for women among the creators of digital and syndicated shows.” (Bunche, pg. 23)


I chose this because Mindy Kaling has transcended many boundaries by being the creator, writer, and lead actress in her show, the Mindy project. Being both a woman and a person of color Mindy has defied many odds which can be see in the statistics from the Bunche center. Much of her show is based on what it mean to be a woman while also a person of color. She is a prime example of someone different who has excelled in a predominantly white male setting.

Where’s Her Movie?

“Women (red line) claimed the lead roles in only 25.3 percent of the 174 top films examined for 2013. This figure is a bit lower than the share the group claimed in 2012 (30.8 percent) but virtually identical to 2011’s figure (25.6 percent). Because women constitute slightly more than half the U.S. population, they were underrepresented by a factor of about 2 to 1 among leads for the films examined in 2013. Films that featured female leads that year include: Gravity, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Saving Mr. Banks.” -Bunche Center 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping the Script

I chose this image of Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson) as an example of the lack of leading female roles in big Hollywood blockbusters. Hollywood is afraid of change, and it’s painfully evident in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. Out of all the Avengers (2012) from the movie, Black Widow is the only one to not have a her own standalone movie. Even newer MCU characters such as Ant Man, Dr. Strange, and Black Panther will (or already did) get their own standalone movies. It’ll be over a decade from the original Avengers movie, if at all, until Black Widow gets her fair shake, even though audiences react positively to the character. Everyone gets their own movie, why her? Girl’s need someone to look up to, as well.

-Edgar Nava

 

week 16

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“Compared to minorities, women enjoyed fewer gains in Hollywood employment…they posted small gains in only two employment arenas (among film directors and the creators of broadcast scripted shows…they remain underrepresented on every front” (Bunche, 1). #women #media #underrepresented #Hollywood #Mack

Women are still facing difficulty with having their voice heard in the media. They are often objects and it is difficult to have their voice heard.