I am biracial, borne of a Taiwanese mother and American father. My features are decidedly not Caucasian, but hard to pin down to one specific category, a tiny frustration that gets at the heart of humans, because subconsciously, we all live to categorize. I deal with a host of questions pertaining to my background from “What you mixed with, girl?” to the timid “What … background are you?” I will entertain these questions, my response varying on the scale from begrudging to enthusiastic. It’s a conversation that I have a lot, and I’ve come to just suck it up and deal because people do not deal well with ambiguity. To categorize, to separate, to push things into clearly labeled boxes soothes the mind. It sets expectations, dictates how to behave, and prevents you from making statements like the ones I’m about to discuss. Keep reading »
As a kid, I was used to standing out for lots of reasons, like my “Star Wars” obsession or the black eyeliner and vampire chic that made up my high school wardrobe.
I never expected my race to be one of those reasons.
I grew up as an Asian-American among Asian-Americans, so I certainly wasn’t used to being viewed as what we English Lit majors call “the exotic other.” Even when I went to college in St. Louis, it wasn’t that much of a problem. I did go on a date with a guy who went on about his trip to Japan and the extreme “femininity” of its women, but that was about it.
It wasn’t until I moved to the UK that it kicked in: men – and it was always men – shouting “NEE HOW MA” or “KOH-NEE-CHEE-WAAAH” or even “Me love you long time!” as I walked down the street; starting conversations with “Soooo … are you from … China?” before they’d even asked my name; playing up their supposed interest in Asian culture while going on about how “feminine” and beautiful Asian women are. Keep reading »
Yesterday, we, and many, many others, breathed a sigh of relief when Chris Brown told a radio station that he and Rihanna had once again broken up. (They’re both too young for him to be “wife”-ing her, he said.) Humor site The Onion did their spin on the story today, penning the story “Heartbroken Chris Brown Always Thought Rihanna Was Woman He’d Beat To Death,” in which Brown (obviously, not really Brown) laments he’ll never get to murder her in a domestic violence incident. Here’s a sample:
After revealing yesterday that he had recently split up with longtime girlfriend Rihanna, a heartbroken Chris Brown tearfully told reporters that he always thought the 25-year-old singer was going to be the woman he’d beat to death one day. “Despite all the ups and downs, I was so sure Rihanna was the one I’d take by the throat one day and fatally assault, and even toward the end I continued to hold out hope that we’d be together until the day she died at my hands from blunt-force trauma,” Brown, 24, said in a radio interview this week, telling DJs he still has abusive feelings for his ex-flame and is hopeful that he might punch her again one day.
Simply, I thought the piece was cringe-inducingly hilarious — it’s supposed to make you viscerally uncomfortable about how far domestic violence can go. Not everyone agrees, instead seeing it as mocking violence against women of color. Keep reading »
You might have been sitting at your desk at work wondering to yourself, “Hmm, I wonder if it’s a good idea now for fashion magazines to hire Caucasian fashion models and smear their faces in blackface paint.” I am here now to put your mind at ease. No, it’s still not a good idea. You got that, Vogue Netherlands?
The magazine’s May 2013 issue depicted light-skinned, Dutch model Querelle Jansen wearing a dark black face as she poses in homage to dancer Josephine Baker (right) and model/actress Grace Jones (left). (Both were inspirations to Marc Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton collections, fall 2008 and spring 2009 respectively.) Yet instead of hiring actual, you know, black models, the magazine used a white model in blackface.
Vogue realizes that actual black models do work in the fashion industry, right? It’s not like they are unicorns. [Clutch Magazine]
Fresh off a week of the Internet wondering whether singer Indie.Arie lightened her skin on the artwork for her new single, there’s a new Black woman looking awfully light-skinned. “Scandal” stars Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn posed in flagrante on the cover of this week’s Entertainment Weekly and if you aren’t distracted by Goldwyn’s chest hair peeking out from underneath his shirt, you’ll notice Washington’s looking a lot lighter-skinned than her usual gorgeous chocolate brown skin. The reason, I suppose, is probably the same reason as it was for Indie.Arie: the set lighting and camera flashes wash her out. Given all the attention paid to magazine covers by an art department staff (and trust us, there is a ton of attention paid — covers are what move magazines), we know the choice to leave it that way is deliberate. I think Kerry Washington looks gorgeous no matter what. But I also think women of color are beautiful no matter the darkness or lightness of their skin. I wish our culture, including our pop culture, didn’t privilege the light-skinned and lighten darker women. [Entertainment Weekly]
Has India.Arie been bleaching her dark skin to a lighter color?!?! That didn’t sound right to me when tongues started wagging last week that the famously self-accepting singer behind the song “I Am Not My Hair” might have either used skin bleaching creams — which is notoriously terrible for skin — or purposefully been lightened through the magic of Photoshop a la Beyoncé or Freida Pinto.
The alleged evidence was the artwork for her new single “Cocoa Butter” off the album Songversation, in which Indie.Arie is leaning against a beige wall and her normally-Serena-Williams-colored skin is more of a Kim Kardashian hue.
But Indie.Arie responded on Twitter on Friday and told us all to chill: Keep reading »