I'm usually skeptical of advertising. I know companies spend millions of dollars hoping that their body lotion or paper towels or lunch meat will bring me to tears.
But ads are powerful. They're a form of media where we see representations of ourselves and our society, just like on TV shows they interrupt. And it's rare to see people like me—with a black father and a white mother—represented in ads.
Earlier this year, like many other people, I heard about a Cheerios ad, "Just Checking," that featured an interracial family—a white mother, black father and their daughter—before I saw it. I was excited about it, sure, but why I was excited didn't really register until I finally did see it for myself.
My grandmother, Geneva Wright, in the 1950s in Syracuse, New York.
I grew up hearing a story.
My grandmother was a cleaning lady for a white family that kept the fingers and toes of black people in a jar on their mantle. No, this was not slavery. This was 1940's South Carolina. When I saw Lee Daniels' The Butler, I thought of my grandmother's experience, and how one can endure and somehow withstand dehumanization on a daily basis, only to survive, and love after it all.
I love a summer blockbuster. I'll take a dystopic future flick, a classic underdog tale, and all of the explosions you can send my way. When it comes to summer movies, escapism is a major draw; it's nice to sit back and fully immerse yourself in an alternate reality.
But it's hard to immerse yourself in a reality where people like you are relegated to the margins of the storyline. Which was my experience when watching this summer's Elysiumon the big screen.
I eagerly read Brittney Cooper's article on Salon this week, "The Politics of Being Friends with White People." While she and I have many demographics in common--being the academically accelerated Black girl in mostly white classes--there are huge differences in our experiences. I think much of that may have to do with geographical context.
Unlike Cooper, whose bio says she grew up in Louisiana, I grew up in Berkeley, California. Cooper talks about how it was the norm for white people in her community to vote Republican. I can understand that it would be difficult to form close ties with white people whose political ideologies have been traditionally been associated with racist legislation and racist political positions. Growing up in Berkeley in the 70s and 80s, Republicans were rare. In this kind of urban, progressive context, racism is a big no-no. White people have plenty of racist thoughts and feelings, but they learn how to keep them hidden, a false sort of progress.
Hugo Schwyzer is a narcissistic blowhole. This week, many of the women whom Schwyzer attacked and villified online over the years have successfully pushed the media frenzy around his recent admission that he's a fraud and an abuser into a bigger, more important discussion about the role that race has played in progressive, feminist media's support of Schwyzer over the years.
Take time to read through all the tweets on #solidarityisforwhitewomen, a hashtag started by Mikki Kendall, where people are posting all sorts of insights about how avowed white feminists can ignore and dimiss people of color—including the years of harassment Schwyzer inflicted, but also on other issues like the wage gap and media coverage.
"What woman here is so enamored of her own oppression that she cannot see her heel print upon another woman's face?"
– Audre Lorde
As I write this, two undocumented activists have spent 104 out of the last 108 hours in total isolation. Twenty-four-year-old Lulu Martinez and 22-year-old Maria Peniche are in solitary confinement at Arizona's Eloy Detention Center. It has been reported that Peniche is currently on suicide watch.
Why do images have such power? In this episode, comics collective Ladydrawers, Australian felt-tip-marker artist TextaQueen, and colorism researcher Jyoti Gupta all delve into the big issues of how visual media shapes how we see ourselves. Plus, two Bitch staffers talk with Equity Foundation Executive Director Karol Collymore about images that shaped us growing up, from fashion magazines to drawings of Ramona Quimby.
This episode is sponsored by GladRags, makers of washable cloth menstrual pads that are better for your body, your budget, and the environment. Use coupon code "bitchradio" for 15 percent off at their products online.
Laws restricting abortion rights have recently swept the country like a flood—legislatures in Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin have all launched into high-profile debates over abortion-rights rollbacks in the past month.
Barack Obama at this morning's press conference on the death of Trayvon Martin.
President Barack Obama has spoken out relatively rarely in his presidency on the big, controversial issues that dominate our headlines. In an analysis this week, the New York Times described his political strategy as a "hidden hand," saying: "While other presidents have put the bully in the bully pulpit, Mr. Obama uses his megaphone, and the power that comes with it, sparingly, speaking out when he decides his voice can shape the trajectory of an issue and staying silent when he thinks it might be counterproductive."
So it's extraordinary that Obama used his megaphone today to talk about why the Trayvon Martin case and "not guilty" verdict for George Zimmerman has led to such hurt and outrage across the country—and it's powerful the way he connected the politics of the case to his personal experiences with systemic racism.
Full text of the speech and more commentary is below.