Thursday, August 5, 2010

Color Me Brown Links!

Color Me Brown is a feature in which links are showcased that deal with posts of interest.

It's well worth reading. Here's a tidbit

Perhaps one might argue that being Asian is not quite as "difficult" as being a member of another race or ethnicity. Asians are considered to be in a similar position as Jews in many ways in American society. We have light skin, generally perform well in school, and obey rules; a large percentage of Asians live in comfortable socioeconomic brackets. To many, Asians do not come to mind when the word "minority" and its stereotypical implications arise. In fact, Asians were held up as the "model minority" back in the fifties and sixties, as an example of what minorities can accomplish if only they put themselves into it and stopped blaming society and situation for their troubles. [Edited to fix ambiguous statements that could've been misconstrued. Thank you, Linda!]

But what we, over many other racial and ethnic groups, have acquired is a passive acceptance of the beliefs and treatment others subject us to. Many Asians do not have that much of a problem being considered the nerd-smart, obedient, socially awkward race. Better than being considered the hoodlum, or the troublemaker, or the good-for-nothing...right? It is, however, our own quiet acceptance of others' assumptions of what our race is like that ensures our position as a racial doormat.

The lack of Asians on book covers enforces the idea that Asians should be the quiet race. Because we are not the proud stars of our own stories, but rather the spectators and secondary characters to others'. We are always the best friend, never the protagonist. When I look at book covers featuring white models representing protagonists that I end up loving and relating to, I subconsciously associate myself with these white characters. It is my "Twinkie-ness" (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) that allows me to enjoy YA books. Reading YA lit the way it's currently jacketed takes away from my Asian identity, because both white society and my own Asian one do not allow for Asians to take a starring role

I am a college student and an avid reader. I can spend hours in a book store looking at the different titles and stories available for reading. However, as I continue to peruse the store, especially in the Young Adult section, I found that there are an overwhelming number of books that do not reflect the multicultural world that we all live in. Many of these books include white characters and white authors and while there is nothing wrong with these books, I find it increasingly hard to find books that have characters that look like me and my friends. I am African-American and my friends are from many different nationalities. Even though we may have different cultures, we all share one thing in common. We all love to read. More importantly, we all love to recommend each other books that we enjoyed and when we have the money, we typically buy these books. There are a number of talented authors and books that feature characters of various ethnic backgrounds, cultures, colors, races, socioeconomic status and more. The publishers believe in these books, but if the book sellers are not supplying them to store and working on having these books in stock, these books are being lost and their voices are being silenced.

The Hip Hop Facade
at GLBT Reading

From the looks of it, it seems like hip hop has become a facade of machismo when, in fact, one of its best features used to be self expression. For the male rappers, it does not come as a surprise that there isn’t a famous one who is openly gay. Men find it harder to deal with a gay public image, so they bury their real self in public denial. Aside from Man Parrish, who was among the few that set the path for Hip Hop, I don’t know anyone as big as Jay Z or lil Wayne who’ll admit they are gay.

In the meantime, people like Deadlee, Cazwell, Katastrophe and a lot more are here to stay. Although they are less famous, they are definitely realer than most and offer a voice to the minority, the GLBT.

There is a particular mystical element to the story. Twelve-year-old Lanesha can see spirits. In what way did that creative decision guide your choices in the novel?

Lanesha sees spirits because you can’t live in New Orleans without experiencing remnants of the past. The architecture, the churches, the above ground cemeteries, and even the music, all incorporate ghosts and echoes of slavery and French and Spanish colonization. Particularly, for African Americans, New Orleans is where African-based spiritual beliefs blended with Catholicism. It is the birthplace of ragtime and jazz, rhythms inspired by African drums. It is a place where medicinal healing by slaves and native peoples produced a “roots” based, holistic tradition. In New Orleans, many African Americans do not believe that the dead are inaccessible. It is not uncommon for someone to talk about receiving comfort and guidance from their ancestors. Dreams, spiritual visitations, and talking with the dead are all part of folklore and cultural and religious traditions.

Lanesha, when she first spoke, told me she was “born with a caul.” A caul is a portion of the amniotic sac that forms a veil over a newborn’s face. This is interpreted to mean the child will have “sight,” visions. In many cultures, cauls are preserved and used for healing or buried with reverence. By announcing her gift, Lanesha was heralding her southern heritage. She was telling me, matter-of-factly, that she accepted and experienced mysteries.

-Just reading that alone makes me even more eager to get my hands on Ninth Ward!

Neesha Meminger has done it again. Read her fabulous post On Terminology (specifically the word Caucasian).

here is the term as defined by
"Anthropology. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one of the traditional racial divisions of humankind, marked by fair to dark skin, straight to tightly curled hair, and light to very dark eyes, and originally inhabiting Europe, parts of North Africa, western Asia, and India: no longer in technical use."
The above definition, and this one on wiki which corroborates it, would mean that I would, technically, be considered Caucasian. As would Moroccans, Algerians, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Indians, and many other peoples of colour. It's obvious to me that most of the references I've seen to "Caucasian" are not intended to include myself, or any other people of colour. My guess is that in these instances, the writer actually means to say "white folks". This seems to be a very North American usage of the term. If you read the above-linked wiki entry, and any other info on the topic, really, you'll get a sense for why the term "Caucasian" is problematic, and how it has been rooted in racist and racially-motivated designations (that have nothing to do with reality).

Please visit these links and share your thoughts. And/or comment back here and discuss :) Feel free to share any other links you think are noteworthy; discussion posts, reviews, author interviews.


LM Preston said...

This is so powerful. Young people loving who they are and fighting for the right to have access to products that represent them. Bravo!

Najela said...

Thanks for linking to my letter. =)

Here's another link for a letter that a 10.5 year old wrote about the white washing of The Last Airbender. It made me so sad, but the little girl is an eloquent writer.

MissAttitude said...

@LM-I quite agree the actions of people like steph, Najela and the ten year old that Najela just liked to, are so inspiring!

@Najela=No problem, it deserves lots of exposure =)

Thanks for the link! I'll check it out. I am saddened that a ten year old has to speak up about an issue such as this. I'm grateful as well.