In case my last name doesn’t make it obvious enough, I’m Asian. At the same time, as some of my friends have noticed, my last few girlfriends have all been decidedly not Asian.
To their mock-raised eyebrows, my response is, “I’m sorry. It’s not my fault.”
Okay, okay, I know what they’re thinking: As an Asian, I’m supposed to like “my own kind,” right?
Sure. And eat rice … and love math … and know just how much starch to add to your laundry … and all those other uncomfortable, racial stereotypes we’re not supposed to talk about.
Not surprisingly, I’ve often been slapped with the “Twinkie” label. In case you aren’t hip on your semi-offensive urban speak, a Twinkie is an Asian who acts white—that is, yellow on the outside, but white on the inside.
But, here’s a secret: My preference for dating non-Asian women wasn’t a conscious choice. Keep reading »
It does my heart good to see women of all races embrace Michelle Obama. It is too rare indeed for a brown-skinned woman, a descendant of slaves, a product of Chicago’s South Side to be lauded on an international stage. Considering the heavy burden of stereotype still faced by black women, I cheer a little each time the First Lady gets some shine for her strength and smarts. But I note that in their eagerness to identify with Obama and make her emblematic of modern woman, some mainstream feminists unwittingly erase a key part of her identity–her blackness–and deny the experiences and histories of many African American women in the process. Keep reading »
Anyone out there in the Frisky-verse speak Dutch? Because I would really love to understand what is going on in the trailer for “Only Decent People” (“Alleen Maar Nette Mensen”), a new film in The Netherlands that many people are decrying as racist. The film is about a white Jewish guy who dumps his white girlfriend when he realizes that he really loves a woman with a big booty, so he starts dating black women. Clutch Magazine reports that the black community in The Netherlands is cricizing the film and the novel it is based on, for portraying black women as “hyper-sexual” and most valued by society for the size of (some of) their asses. And watching the trailer, even in Dutch, it’s not hard to see how they came to that conclusion. Keep reading »
CBS’s new fall show “Elementary” has not even premiered yet, but already nerds everywhere are boycotting it. Why would people write off this modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes story starring Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller so soon?
There are a bunch of (not very good) reasons. Keep reading »
I was recently contacted through my website by a pregnant black woman who inquired about hiring me to perform standup at her baby shower. She and her husband were diehard comedy fans, and thought it would be fun to have a comic perform for their guests.
“How did you find me?” I asked. “I Googled ‘Fat Black Female Comics’ and you were one of the women that popped up!” she answered. “Everyone knows that fat black women are the funniest comics alive!”
After I hung up the phone, I sat there for a moment trying to figure out if I should be offended or not. While I understand that she was trying to be complimentary, I’m not sure if I am flattered by someone thinking that I am automatically funny just because I am plus-sized and black. Then I thought about the $1,500 she offered to pay me to stand in the middle of her living room and crack jokes for 30 minutes, and I instantly felt better. Throughout my career, I’ve been paid much less to do far worse. There was plenty of time for me to be offended later, but for now it was time to get paid!
Comedy is hard work, no matter what you look like. The perception that fat black women have an edge up, purely because of the size of their bodies, diminishes the amount of hard work, discipline and creativity that it takes for us to create this art form known as comedy. Furthermore, I think it’s crazy that someone would assume that all fat black women are funny.
On the other hand, I get it. Keep reading »
It’s not easy to make offensive jokes about ignorance. One person’s ignorant joke can be another person’s joke about ignorance and even if your comedy has the best of intentions, it’s frequently misunderstood. Offensive humor is tricky to balance, but smart humorists can do it well.
I believe Mindy Kaling from “The Office” is extremely smart and that she deserves all the success she’s garnered from her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and her upcoming sitcom “The Mindy Project.” But after watching the pilot for “The Mindy Project,” which is airing on Hulu Plus, I have to say I was disappointed about several squicky jokes made about race. Keep reading »
When the big news was announced last week that Zoe Saldana would be playing singer Nina Simone in a biopic, black cyberspace (yes, there is a “black Twitter” and a “black Facebook”) let out a collective “Oh, hell to the naw”!
For some it was because they did not believe that Zoe had enough acting talent to pull it off. Nina Simone was an extremely complex woman in real life, and the actress assigned to do this would be embarking upon the role of a lifetime. For others, the statements ranged from “Can Zoe even sing?” to “Wait, I thought she said she was a Latina?” to “Zoe is too skinny to play Nina Simone anyway!”
As the debate continued, it became clear to me that the issues surrounding the casting of Zoe ran much deeper than her acting ability. It was “skin deep.” Once again we were seeing an example of how Hollywood just doesn’t understand black women. To mainstream America, Black is “one color fits all.” But to African-American women, the color of our skin is much more than a random hue. In many ways, it uniquely shapes who we are and how we are treated in the world. For us, body image and self-esteem does not only involve loving your womanly body for the shape of it, but also embracing your complexion, hair texture and other features in a culture that constantly reminds you that thin white women are the standard of beauty. Keep reading »
“Think Like A Man,” the new
Tyler Perry romantic comedy [Update: based on a book by Steve Harvey] about black women and men, has allegedly been banned in France because officials say the film is not diverse enough. According to blogger Fabienne Flessel at the blog Global Voices:
Surprising as it may be, the answer lies in the fact that the film has an all-black cast. French cinema is often pointed at for not fairly displaying all components of the country’s multiethnic population.
It is unclear, though, whether “Think Like A Man” has literally been banned, or if it just is not being screened. But the Global Voices blogger and several other French-speaking bloggers quoted/translated in his article seem adamant that someone in a position of power in France is uninterested in promoting films by and about black folks. One blogger claims “Tyler Perry’s movies are never scheduled in any French movie theaters or are only released in DVDs, even thought he has been used to leading the U.S. box office.” Keep reading »