Racial Bias in Academy Awards?

In a society where we idolize celebrities, music artists, actors, and the like, mass attention is garnered around the Grammy awards show every year. An article by Britni Danielle in Ebony magazine discusses this year’s 59th annual Grammy awards. The focus of Danielle’s article is to highlight what appears to be racial bias amongst the Academy voters. For the first time since 1999, a Black rapper (Chance the Rapper) won the award for Best New Artist. However, while she notes that this seemed like a good start, the main transgression against Black artists was when Beyoncé’s album Lemonade lost in favor of Adele’s “Hello” for Album of the Year. Danielle describes Lemonade as a “cultural phenomenon.” Even in her acceptance speech, Adele acknowledged that Beyoncé’s album was worthy of the award, without explicitly saying so–that is, until she got backstage where she asked, “‘What the f-k does she have to do to win Album of the Year?'” The last time a Black artist won this award was in 2008. The article goes on to provide more examples of Black artists losing in favor of White artists. Frank Ocean calls out the Academy for this apparent bias as well.

This article shows that racial bias may be present in the minds of the voters for the Grammys. It seems as if much of the basis for the votes lies perhaps on opinion rather than an objective standpoint.

Danielle, Britni. “Frank Ocean Tried to Warn Us About the Grammys’ Unwillingness to Recognize Black Genius.” EBONY. N.p., 13 Feb. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

 

Black Women On-Screen as Future Texts

This article discusses the representation of black women on-screen and in popular culture. The author, Nina Cartier, claims that black culture has almost entirely shaped popular culture today. A statement which is very well true when looking at the popularity of hip hop and rap around the world. Due to this, it has become “cool” to be black… but not really. Nina quotes, “it is always cool to possess the vitality, originality, and magnetism black people as a whole seem to imbue, while accepting none of the pain, prejudice, and struggle the fact of actually having so much discernible melanin entails.” People want to be black without being black.

The article talks about Future Texts which are meant to be texts that provide a unique representation of the black experience and perhaps something similar to the idea of “40 million ways to be black.” These texts are meant to accept and be grounded in the history and culture of blackness and should not try to veer away from it. Cartier then goes on to analyze three women, Nicki Minaj, Kerry Washington and Tyler Perry (as Madea) and how they represent blackness on-screen. While I cannot say that I fully agree with the negative opinions she has on these personas, I do agree with her perception of women in general in popular culture.

She argues that black men are able to assert and undertake “powerful” roles in the media which therefore make them legitimate men. Meanwhile women are not considered fully women and are left to roles where no one wants to be them and hardly anyone wants them.

Cartier, Nina. “Black Women On-screen as Future Texts: A New Look at Black Pop Culture Representations.” 53.4 (2014): 150. Web.

 

 

 

#BlackWomenAtWork

This article, titled “Black Women are Opening up About Being Marginalized at Work” published by Ebony Magazine, discussed black women in the contemporary work place by looking at a recent new scandal. A few days ago, Billy O’Reilly, journalist who works for Fox News, completely discredited the political comments of Congresswoman Maxine Waters who happens to be a black woman. When asked about the Congresswoman’s comments on President Trump, O’Reilly claimed he was too distracted by her wig to understand what she was saying. He received great backlash and later apologized but the damage had been done. Since then, women and men alike have taken to twitter and other social media platforms to voice their anger and opinions on the topic. In fact it started a trend of the hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork allowing black women all over the country to share their experiences of sexism and racism within the work place.

Billy O’Reilly is a clear representation of white supremacy and “machismo.” His actions are a representation of how race and sexism are not two separate issues but often go hand in hand, and are experienced by many women across the nation and surely across the globe.

 

Danielle, Britni. “Black Women are Opening up About Being Marginalized at Work.” Ebony Magaine 28 Mar. 2017: n. pag. Web.

2nd Process Post

In our pursuit of continuing to find sources, we consulted databases from the Olin Library, Google scholar, and added more popular sources to our research. We added a focus on gender and race which added several new perspectives for our research. Women and race became the most popular subtopic in our new research. Nonetheless, we still have had difficulties finding the line between analyzing race from a humanities view versus a social science view. Moreover, this has made it difficult to find a breakthrough point. However, we have made some incremental progress in determining the direction of our research and are starting to gather what we each want to do for our individual project.

We visited our librarian Rachel Walton once more this past week, where we were able to formulate our thoughts on the research and compile some final research sources. She provided us with an extensive list once more. Our final topics have begun to slowly take shape. Following along with the syllabus, we will soon break apart topics and categories from research and start connecting our sources together. We have a large variety of sources from encyclopedias to poems that certainly tie into another. Next Tuesday, we are meeting again to outline our group presentation and finalize last items and sources for our research.

Reflection

Thus far in our group, we have thoroughly researched and analyzed race through the humanities.  Last time, when start gathering sources, our group began to look at the Olin Library’s database and Google Scholar for scholarly articles regarding different aspects of race and the humanities. This time, we looked for more popular sources in addition to the other scholarly databases. Some articles, like“‘Get Out’ Perfectly Captures the Terrifying Truth About White Women” provided us with a different perspective on race. In that article, whites were the target of racism. Nonetheless, we have made significant progress towards our research goals. Recently, we have begun to narrow our subject field into various research topics we can eventually present on. The most recurring theme boils down to race and gender. In the article, “Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Rapist,” Angela Davis breaks down the stereotype of black men and rape. In another article, “The Social Construction of Whiteness: White Women, Race Matters,” Ruth Frankenburg writes about interracial relationships and white women. She mentioned that interracial marriage was illegal in many states up until 1967, when the Supreme Court rule in Loving v. Virginia that such a law is unconsitutional, and people can marry a person of whatever race they like. Again, white women and race came up as a specific subset of race and gender. Women and race continued to pop up in our research through the article, ““Africana Womanism in the Black Panther Party: A Personal Story.” Regina Jennings, a member of the Black Panther Party, joined to fight racism. Instead, she found herself fighting sexism within the party, but stuck with the organization believing racism was the greater evil to fight. These articles clearly highlight gender and race as a recurring theme. Race through poetry became another common theme throughout our research. Poetry has often been used as a device to give people agency over their oppressors or a means of escaping oppression. In this instance, these poems are used no differently. In “I too, sing America,” Langston Hughes garners the strength defy the status quo. He asserts his place alongside others in society and shakes off the oppressive forces that suggest otherwise. Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” accomplishes a similar goal. However, Maya Angelou confronts society with more tenacity, boldly declaring her success and her many unique characteristics while scolding those that attempt to look down on her or other blacks. She rises over the obstacles she faces due to race. Race through the lens of poetry shows the importance of agency as it deals with race and its dark side. For the remainder of our research and analysis, we set the goal of outlining the various themes that pop up in our work and choosing which ones interest us individually. Moreover, we have begun to discuss our group presentation and how that will shape up. While looking at race through the lens of the humanities has been a challenge, it has been rewarding being able to see a conventional topic through a different perspective. We are eager to present as a group our research!

Still I Rise

In Maya Angelou’s classic poem, Still I Rise, she tackles race from her perspective as a black-American but writes the poem to an audience who may be unreceptive of her. She opens with the first stanza by speaking to this person/these people about her legacy. She shows defiance despite their possible condemnation of her. In the second Stanza, she discusses her success and asks if her success upsets the targetted audience member. Then, she launches her full rise in the third stanza by equating her rise to natural phenomena rising, declaring it is in her very nature to transcend the oppression of her past. In the fourth stanza, she directly confronts the audience which now clearly seems to be society. She challenges society, accusing that it wishes for her to fail. The next three stanzas do the same. She aggressively confronts society for being racist and wishing to see a proud black woman like herself fail or not surmount the obstacles society has placed in front of her. Alas, in the poem’s final stanza, she liberates herself from an oppressive past of Jim Crow and slavery. She claims to be the hope and dream of a slave and her forebearers who could not so defiantly liberate themselves and succeed. Maya Angelou’s words depict the hopefulness of the American Dream and how she can rise to it.

 

“Analysis Of Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.” Poem Analysis. N.p., 01 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

“‘Black-ish’ Takes on Trump, Delivers the First Post-Obama Work of Art

In this review of the Black-ish episode that deals with the Trump election, the episode is very nicely summarized in regards to the three moving speeches by Dre (Anthony Anderson). The first speech is during the opening scene. During it, Dre talks about how Americans love upsets. In upsets, there are obviously both winners and losers. But, Dre wonders, “What happens when the winners and the losers are supposed to be on the same team?” The second speech by Dre comes at his work, where all his coworkers are arguing about who to blame for Trump’s election. While Dre remained silent for a great deal of this conversation, his speech quickly ended it.

“You think I’m not sad that Hillary didn’t win?” he says. “That I’m not terrified about what Trump’s about to do? I’m used to things not going my way. I’m sorry that you’re not and it’s blowing your mind, so excuse me if I get a little offended because I didn’t see all of this outrage when everything was happening to all of my people since we were stuffed on boats in chains. I love this country. As much if not more than you do. And don’t you ever forget that.”

When I watched this speech, I was speechless, just as his coworkers were. To end the episode, Dre praises America for its’ accomplishments and asks for everyone to come together to make lemonade out of lemons.

Mathews, Liam. “Black-ish Takes on Trump, Delivers the First Post-Obama Work of Art.”TVGuide.com. N.p., 11 Jan. 2017. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.

“‘Get Out’ Perfectly Captures the Terrifying Truth About White Women”

When I first came across this article, it was presented as a review for director Jordan Peele’s new movie Get Out. But when I read it, I was horrified at the amount of racist undertones and reliance on stereotypes in regards to white women. The thesis of author Kendra James’ review is very straightforward: white women are not to be trusted.

As a fairly avid reader of Cosmopolitan articles, I assumed that the thesis was written in a sarcastic tone. But I quickly realized that James’ thesis was very serious. James unfairly generalizes the plot’s shocking twist to the entire group of white women. While she (justly) complains about white women voting for Donald Trump, it was horrifying when she complained about white women standing up for their own rights. “I feel it every time I realize there’s a white woman on my Twitter timeline who will tweet in earnest for Planned Parenthood while sparing only a perfunctory tweet for Black Lives Matter or the Standing Rock Sioux.” James’ complaint reminded me much of Dr. Taylor’s speech, in particular the part that I agreed with. If every minority group works together to gain more rights, then they all will reap the benefits. In my opinion, James should revisit her article with fresh eyes and ask herself if she really wants to believe all the stereotypes about white women. In order to create an accepting society, we must all accept everyone and not fall for ridiculous stereotypes.

James, Kendra. “”Get Out” Perfectly Captures the Terrifying Truth About White Women.”Cosmopolitan. Cosmopolitan, 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.

Womanism in the Black Panther Party

This article is an autobiographical account of a woman, Regina Jennings, who joined the Black Panther Party. Regina opens to article by establishing a difference between feminism and African womanism, which differs in that it is rooted in Black culture (146). Regina joined the Black Panther Party to fight racism, but she ended up fighting sexism as well, so she reflects upon this experience that is colored by African womanism. She explains that the main reason she decided to join was that she had witnessed police brutality and racism throughout her life (147). In highlighting the sexism that she encountered while in the Party, Regina hopes to educate others in an effort to prevent the same from happening again. When she joined the Party, she had a drug addiction, but with the help of the captain and other members, she was able to overcome the addiction and devote herself to learning about her people and to the cause (148). She described that the Party and the Black community in Oakland were like a family to each other. The Party gave back to the community by establishing a free breakfast program for children. The Party members frequently sacrificed their own hunger in order to provide food for poor families and children (149). Things changed when Regina’s captain decided he wanted her, and he began to make advances (150). He made her life “miserable” (150). Even though she was being treated with deliberate sexism by someone whom she cared for and used to respect, she still wanted to remain in the Party (151). While this sexism was an issue, there was a bigger “enemy” to fight (151). After failed attempts to get Regina to leave, her captain had her transferred, where she was met with continued sexism. Within the Party, there were both sexist men and men who tried to advocate for the rights of the women members, however those were at a disadvantage. Regina offers an interesting inside perspective on the fight for Black rights, as she was able to identify the internal weaknesses of the Party but still emphasize all the good things the Party did for the Black community.

Jennings, Regina. “Africana Womanism in the Black Panther Party: A Personal Story.” Western Journal of Black Studies 25.3 (2001): 146-52. ProQuest. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.

Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Rapist

This reading discusses exactly what the title depicts: rape, racism and the mythical black rapist. Throughout history black men have been deemed rapists and proclaimed to have animal-like sexual urges that they cannot control but can only act upon. Black men have been said to assault white women in an effort to avenge the white man. This idea is an aggression towards black people as a whole because a mythical rapist implies a mythical whore i.e. the black woman (58).  Davis, the author, believes that racism is a provocation of race and actually began with white slave owners who felt the bodies of their black female slaves were their property and therefore always sexually accessible.  Additionally, rape was many times used as a justifiable reason to lynch a black man, even if there was no evidence of such event taking place. Davis also ties racism closely to sexism and describes how white and other colored women have also been negatively affected by rape, and therefore racism.

Angela Davis attempts to disabuse the idea of the black rapist and instead discusses the possibility of many rapes, if not the majority, being carried out by white men especially in the higher class who have wealth and status over others. This reading not only sheds light on a society’s mythical idea of race but also racism in the judicial system, educational institutions and in government (63).

 

Davis, Angela. Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Rapist. Bhavnani, Kum-Kum. Feminism and “race”. Oxford ; New York: Oxford UP, 2001. Print. Oxford Readings in Feminism.

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