The faux red carpet had been laid out for the famous and the wannabe-famous. Politicians and journalists arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, bedazzled in the hopes of basking in a few fleeting moments of fame, even if only by osmosis from proximity to celebrities. New to the Washington scene, I was to experience the spectacle with my husband, a journalist, and enjoy an evening out. Or at least an hour out. You see, as a spouse I was not allowed into the actual dinner. Those of us who are not participating in the hideous schmooze-fest that is this evening are relegated to attending the cocktail hour only, if that. Our guest was the extraordinarily brilliant Oscar-nominated director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin. Mr. Zeitlin’s unassuming demeanor was a refreshing taste of humility in a sea of pretentious politicians reeking of narcissism.
As I left the hotel and my husband went to the ballroom for the dinner, I realized he still had my keys. I approached the escalators that led down to the ballroom and asked the externally contracted security representatives if I could go down. They abruptly responded, “You can’t go down without a ticket.” I explained my situation and that I just wanted my keys from my husband in the foyer and that I wouldn’t need to enter in the ballroom. They refused to let me through. For the next half hour, they watched as I frantically called my husband but was unable to reach him.
Then something remarkable happened. I watched as they let countless other women through — all Caucasian — without even asking to see their tickets. I asked why they were allowing them to go freely when they had just told me that I needed a ticket. Their response? “Well, now we are checking tickets.” He rolled his eyes and let another woman through, this time actually checking her ticket. His smug tone, enveloped in condescension, taunted, “See? That’s what a ticket looks like.”
When I asked “Why did you lie to me, sir?” they threatened to have the Secret Service throw me out of the building — me, a 4’11” young woman who weighs 100 pounds soaking wet, who was all prettied up in elegant formal dress, who was simply trying to reach her husband. The only thing on me that could possibly inflict harm were my dainty silver stilettos, and they were too busy inflicting pain on my feet at the moment. My suspicion was confirmed when I saw the men ask a blonde woman for her ticket and she replied, “I lost it.” The snickering tough-guy responded, “I’d be happy to personally escort you down the escalators ma’am.”
Like a malignancy, it had crept in when I least expected it — this repugnant, infectious bigotry we have become so accustomed to. “White privilege” was on display, palpable to passersby who consoled me. I’ve come to expect this repulsive racism in many aspects of my life, but when I find it entrenched in these smaller encounters is when salt is sprinkled deep into the wounds. In these crystallizing moments it is clear that while I might see myself as just another all-American gal who has great affection for this country, others see me as something less than human, more now than ever before.
When I asked why the security representatives offered to personally escort white women without tickets downstairs while they watched me flounder, why they threatened to call the Secret Service on me, I was told, “We have to be extra careful with you all after the Boston bombings.”
I explained that I am a physician, that my husband is a noted journalist for a major American newspaper, and that our guest was an esteemed, Oscar-nominated director. They did not believe me. Never mind that the American flag flew proudly outside of our home for years, with my father taking it inside whenever it rained to protect it from damage. Never mind that I won “Most Patriotic” almost every July 4th growing up. Never mind that I have provided health care to some of America’s most underprivileged, even when they have refused to shake my hand because of my ethnicity.
I looked at him, struggling to bury my tears beneath whatever shred of dignity that remained. They finally saturated my lashes and flood onto my face. Shaking with rage, I said, “We are all human beings and I only ask that you give me the same respect you give others. All I am asking is to be treating with a dignity and humanity. What you did is wrong.” They stared straight ahead, arms crossed, and refused to even look at me. Up came the cruel, xenophobic, soundproof wall that I had seen in the eyes of so many after 9/11. Their eyes, flecked with disdain and hatred, looked through me.
The next affront came quickly thereafter. “You were here last year, weren’t you? You caused trouble here last year too. I know you,” they claimed, accusing me of being a party-crasher. Completely confused, I explained that this was my first time here and that I had no idea what he was referencing. Clearly, he had assumed all brown people look the same and had confused me for someone else.
I wonder what their reaction would have been to a well-dressed white woman trying to reach her husband. Would she have struggled for over an hour while they watched and offered to escort others in? Would they not have extended an offer to help, bended over backwards to offer assistance, just as they did with the woman who “lost her ticket”? Would the Boston bombings even be mentioned to a white woman?
Let’s stop this facade that we are a beacon of tolerance. I don’t need you to “tolerate” me. I don’t want you to merely put up with my presence. All I ask, all I have ever asked, is to be treated as a human being, that bigoted jingoism is not injected into every minute facet my life, that there remains at least the illusion of decency.
Despite being a native English speaker who was born in New Orleans and a physician who trained at a prestigious institution, all people see is the color of my skin. After this incident, I will no longer apologize, either for my faith or my complexion. It is not my job to convince you to distinguish me from the violent sociopaths that claim to be Muslims, whose terrorism I neither support, nor condone. It is your job. Just like when a disturbed young white man shoots up a movie theatre or a school, it is my job, as someone with a conscience, to distinguish them from others. It’s not my job to plead with you to shake my hand without cringing, nor am I going to applaud you when you treat me with common decency; it’s not an accomplishment. It’s simply the right thing to do. Honestly, it’s not that hard.
This year, Quvenzhané Wallis took the world by storm with her staggering performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild. At several award ceremonies, reporters refused to the learn the accurate pronunciation of her name, and one reporter allegedly told Wallis, “I’m gonna call you Annie,” because her name was too difficult to pronounce. If reporters can learn to pronounce Gerard Depardieu and Monique Lhuillier then surely they can take the time to learn how to pronounce Quvenzhané. It’s not hard; it’s just not deemed worthy of your energy because she is someone of color.
A school child recently threatened my 12-year-old niece claiming, “I’m going to kill you Miss Bin Laden.” Again, it is not my job to teach your children manners and social justice, to remove the disgusting threads of racism that you have woven into their hearts with your insecurities. Last week, a 39-year-old Muslim American cab driver who served in the Iraq war was attacked and had his jaw broken in a hate crime. The assailant, an executive from an aviation company, told the veteran “I will slice your fucking throat right now.” I suppose the “support the troops” rhetoric by the right only applies to white veterans.
It wasn’t enough that I have had to prove my “American-ness” at every step of my career, but now the next generation is suffering as well. It wasn’t enough that I was asked whether my father taught me how to make bombs, or that I was told that I was doomed to the seventh circle of hell during my medical school interviews. I was also asked whether I would wear a burqa or if my parents would arrange my marriage during interviews. It is outrageous that I have to actually prove to the world how horrified I am that an 8-year-old boy was brutally murdered by a terrorist bombing. Any normal human being feels this agonizing grief with the rest of the country. I do not have to prove to you that, I, too, find it morally reprehensible. Of course I do. I have a heart. I am human.
So, I no longer want a seat at your restaurant, where you serve me begrudgingly, where I am belittled for asking for food without pork, where I endure your dirty looks at my hijabi friend. I want my pride intact, I want this struggle of mine to be recognized, for you to look me in the eye and acknowledge that yes, this tumor called bigotry is indeed rivering through your veins, polluting your mind, and is so malignant that it compels you to squash my dignity.
It’s the little indignities that slowly devastate your soul. The ones where your guard is down, and you just expect to dress up, look pretty, and enjoy an evening as a newlywed, or at the Oscars, but instead end up humiliated and snubbed. The ubiquitous racist slap in the face is thinly veiled just beneath the carefully crafted façade. This filthy, highly infectious plague is transforming our nation into one of unwarranted suspicion and anguish inflicted on disenfranchised, voiceless people of color. And now, it is no longer my job to enlighten you. To quote what you so often tell ethnic communities, “It’s time for you to step up to the plate, take responsibility, and stop taking what I have earned,” my integrity, my dignity.
Public reaction to white male vs black male stealing a bike
This is what we mean we say the black is already assumed to be a criminal.
Also notice the tone difference. How the black kid is being shamed and how the white man is given the benefit of the doubt.
The lie of the “Justice” system is that it’s there to protect white people. This is a fallacy. One that will one day, sooner rather than later, come back to haunt you. The “Justice” system is there, not to protect white people but to protect white people from being punished. (In addition to making massive profits of course) White people, both those who work to be non-racist as well as those who don’t, might take some comfort in knowing that in most cases, they don’t have to worry about the police. Often, they have no reason to think about the system at all. The part so many of you seem to be forgetting is that while some of you will read about the Prison Industrial Complex and others will absorb statistic after statistic that says Black people are unfairly targeted, given higher incarceration rates and longer sentences for the same or lessor crimes, you haven’t thought about what that means for you personally.
While your skin color may work in your favor as far as jail time goes, being a victim of white-on-white crime, is quite the opposite. 96% of all rapes are committed by white men. Yet, 80% of rape inmates are Black. This means most male rapists are walking free. Free to rape again, simply because of the color of their skin. Now, add that to the fact that most crime, is intraracial and not interracial and you have white on white homicide at 86%. White on white homicide is slightly lower than Black on Black homicide but remember, Black people are getting sent to jail these days for breathing. White people are being given less than a slap on the wrist for even vicious crimes.
If you are white, not only should you be angry that criminals with your skin tone aren’t getting punished, you should be terrified that criminals of your skin tone will find you.
“In conclusion, The People’s Republic of China demands that America stop using their cry of human rights violations against other sovereign nations in order to declare war on them to steal their resources when America flagrantly violates the human rights of Afro-descendants and other minorities within its own country.”
this article just drops stat. after stat. on the racial inequalities in the U.S. good read.
When China calls out your shit about human rights. And has the numbers to back it up. Then you know you’ve fucked up.
Holy shit I have never seen an official statement from China be so on point.
Damn, China is on its game. Sure it’s from May of 2011 but that doesn’t mean it’s any less valid.
You go China
- So You Want to Write a Fantasy: Writing Female Characters
- So You want to Write a Fantasy: Culture
- SYWTWAF: Writing What you Don’t know
- A list of adjectives to describe physical attributes, Or, As it turns out, I could go to Starbucks with half this list
- Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
- Some primers
- More Primers
- RaceFail ‘09: Or where Deepad’s I didn’t dream of Dragons comes from, and why.
- Writing characters of Color
- Writing Outside your experience
- Media Representations Wiki - stereotypes/tropes/culture/etc
- On A:TLA’s whitewashing - All The World’s White, the Rest of Us merely live in it
- The Face of the Other: Do Manga & Anime characters look “white”?
- Describing Characters of Color pt 1 & Describing Characters of Color (pt 2)
- I Didn’t Dream of Dragons
- So You Want to: Avoid Unfortunate Implications
- Transracial Writing for the Sincere
- Why Writing Colorblind is Writing White
- What a Girl Wants: Representation
- An Equal Place at the Table
- Avoiding LGBTQ Stereotypes
- The Problem With Colorblindness (and the Rest of Racebending.com)
- Making Movies for White People: A Tongue in Cheek critique of Minority Representation in the Media, or lack thereof
- From Margin to Center: Writing Characters of Color via Racialicious
- Writing Characters of Color - a helpful community!
- Why my Protagonists aren’t white (even though I am.)
- The Dangers of Telling a Single Story (a helpful Video)
- The Lack of People of Color in Historical Fictions
- How to Read and Respond to Literature of Color
- The Advantages of being a White Writer (in getting published)
- Writing Characters of Colour (Now With 10% Less White Liberal Anxiety!)
- Fic and Skin Tone (discusses Nyota Uhura, otherwise relevant)
- On Problematic Writing
- Writing Race in YA fiction: Debunking Myths
- Diversity Writers: How to Write People of Color
- The Importance of Inclusionary Writing
- Overcoming the Noble Savage and the Sexy Squaw: Native Steampunk
- The Intersection of Race and Steampunk: Colonialism’s After-Effects & Other Stories, from a Steampunk of Colour’s Perspective
- Beyond Victoriana: For EVERYTHING Steampunk/1800s/Industrial Revolution that isn’t just Victorian England and the archives Tales of the Urban Adventurer
- Can I just watch A Game of Thrones in Peace? (A brown feminist fan rant).
- Fantasy and Sci-Fi race Bingo
- Invoking Strangely Colored people
- Many Voices
- AfroFuturism, SciFi, and the History of the Future
- Some Open Thoughts on Race & Dsyutopia
- When Will White People Stop Making Movies like Avatar?
- Portraying POC in YA Fantasy: Are we There Yet?
- Debunking White Fantasy
- Racism in Fantasy
- Magical Realism is Fantasy written in Spanish.
1.) It’s not hard to figure out what to do, there are plenty of resources.
People say you have to get it right, do your research, but … what else are you supposed to research? It’s not like people with more pigment in their skin have completely different personalities than those with less, any more than any individual. It’s frustrating when I can’t even figure out what the heck people are talking about.
Bam. Research step one done for you.
2.) Writing characters of color/minorities is a good thing.
I don’t like the notion that fantasy authors are under some kind of obligation to present ethnically diverse worlds. I’m English, and a fair sized part of English history consists of unwashed beardy white people in mead halls. If I’m inspired by my own history and cultural heritage, then that’s what I’m damn well going to write about. I’m not writing about some other culture just to appease the people who think there aren’t enough black characters in fantasy, or whatever. You want it, you write it. Nothing to do with me.
3.) Your all White Fantasy Land Didn’t Exist in Real Life:
…the rather medieval one has more diversity than real medieval Germany probably had […] In a world with medieval means of transport, it just doesn’t seem natural to me to mix dark-skinned people with blue-eyed blondes in one setting. I just try to give the people a colour that fits the place where they live.
You mean like the people from Africa and the Middle east who began to take over Southern Spain, as well as the Jews who were pretty well spread out throughout Europe, the Middle Easterners they would have met on the Crusades, and the incoming Mongol Hordes who spread to the very edges of Eastern Europe before the empire finally collapsed? Don’t forget that Turkey is right there, and the silk road would have gone from Song Dynasty China, through India, and ended in Turkey before moving further westwards into places like Germany. Also the attempts at the Franco-Mongol alliance would have been pretty interesting. (That’s about the 13th century - arguably smack dab in Middle Ages Europe and definite contact between France/Christian Europe and the Mongolian Empire.)
Unless you’re writing everything in the far reaches of Denmark or something, historically speaking, I call bullshit on people who have societies that are only all white ever, because it’s just inaccurate. Consider the relative closeness of Northern Africa to Spain, or Turkey to the rest of Europe, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Crusades, Slavery existing in Europe, including England, the slave trade, imperialism, Pax Mongolica, The Silk Road, Jewish Diaspora, the Islamic Empire vs The Holy Roman Empire, Egypt, Algeria, China’s sailing across the world, The Maruyan/Gupta Empires of India, tea trades, Columbus sailing in hopes of finding China, etc, etc, etc.
4.) I mean I just don’t believe you anymore. It’s unrealistic. Seriously guys.
You’d think I’d just denied the holocaust or something. Get a grip. All I said was that I’m going to write about my own cultural experience and anyone who thinks I should do otherwise for the sake of political correctness can bugger off.
This isn’t even about being PC this is just not being wrong about everything.
Somebody told a real life woman that her skin was too brown to play an imaginary creature. That basically in the whole fictional world of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, where you have dragons and trolls and talking trees, where you draw the line, where imagination is capped out, no more room, is for a brown hobbit.
Like firery eyeball thing, no problem but don’t even try to imagine a Samoan elf. That shit will blow your mind.
Wherein Wyatt Cenac remains perfect, and completely articulates our Mission Statement.
Just putting this out there: it’s not just a rant that I alone and a few associated other (and I do mean FEW) other Tumblr users have. It’s a legitimate problem with the mainstream media industry in the United States, and for THG to be what it’s about and NOT challenge that harmful and problematic status quo is just a betrayal of the text.
Kenyan model Ajuma Nasenyana fights skin lightening and European standards of beauty
From Clutch Magazine – Like many other parts of the world, Africa is no stranger to European standards of beauty. The practice of skin lightening is becoming rampant in many African countries as some folks go to drastic lengths to shed their dark complexions for lighter, “more acceptable” ones. And from advertising and magazines, to TV and film, the black aesthetics are being pushed out, while European standards of beauty — blonde hair, blue eyes — are becoming more mainstream.
“It seems that the world is conspiring in preaching that there is something wrong with Kenyan ladies’ kinky hair and dark skin,” Kenyan model Ajuma Nasenyana told the Daily Nation.
Nasenyana wonders why European skincare companies that push lightening creams are entering Kenya marketing the European standard of beauty.
“Their leaflets are all about skin lightening, and they seem to be doing good business in Kenya. It just shocks me. It’s not OK for a Caucasian to tell us to lighten our skin,” she said.
Despite her beauty and that of women like her, Nasenyana is dismayed that while she is heralded abroad for her dark skin, at home she is seen as less than ideal.
I don’t see how anyone can think that this woman isn’t beautiful <3
The fact that some people think she’s less attractive just because of her skin colour is just…UGH
She’s stunning and she’s gorgeous <3
Anyone in the Triangle area, I recommend you avoid going to Downtown Sports Bar and Grill in Raleigh, NC, in the future. And tell your friends, too.
Wow, with this coming on the heels of legislation banning scientists from dishing out bad news on climate change, North Carolina is very swiftly becoming one of the most frightingly backwards States in the union.