Tragicmulattoes's Blog

April 11, 2010

What Some Folks Don’t Understand…

Filed under: Media,mulatto misconceptions — tragicmulattos @ 6:56 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

We’ll Tell You If You’re Black Or Not

*****This is NOT my Article*****. This is an excellent response to John Judis, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic.

Apr 9 2010, 10:00 AM ET

From John Judis, noted scholar of black identity:

When asked about his race on the census form, Barack Obama, the child of a white Kansan and black African, did not take the option of checking both “white” and “black” or “some other race.” Instead, he checked “black, African American or Negro.” By doing that, Obama probably did what was expected of him, but he also confirmed an enduring legacy of American racism…
In its American incarnation, blackness emerged as a social category in the seventeenth century as part of Southern whites’ attempt to justify the economic and social subordination of Africans who had been brought to the country in bondage. The legal interpretation of blackness was accompanied by laws barring miscegenation between whites and blacks. The one-drop rule endured after the Civil War and after emancipation as a justification of racial segregation and of the tiered economy of the sharecroppers….
By denying the existence of race, one denies the existence of racial inequality. Yet by using the constructed language of race, one perpetuates invidious racial distinctions. Obama faced this dilemma when he chose how to designate himself on the census. And he may have done the right thing–but only in the short run. If racism is finally to disappear, so must the peculiar logic of blackness.

The claim that biracial African-Americans who identify as such are confirming “an enduring legacy of American racism,” is so broad as to be meaningless.Taken on face value, it can be applied to any American who checks any race on the census form, since our concept of race, itself–not just biraciality–is “an enduring legacy of American racism.”

But it’s telling that Judis is only interested in one side of the ledger–he wags his finger at the “peculiar logic of blackness,” but has nothing to say about the peculiar, and at times malicious, logic of whiteness. Shifting with the decades and the mores of the country, “whiteness” is as invented and dubious as the one-drop rule. But Judis does not think that referring to John F. Kennedy as “white” is somehow a problem. He is not asking what Joe Lieberman checked on his census form.
Judis view of race originates in the sense that the best way to view black identity is through the lens of white racism. It’s broadly true that the very existence of the descendants of Africans in this country is “an enduring legacy of American racism.” But it’s also an enduring legacy of a lot more–the human capacity for ingenuity, the enduring resonance of the American idea, and in cases like these, the remarkable ability to wave aside intellectuals who believe that black people are ill-equipped to define themselves, and must defer to the divine majesty of What White Folks Think. If “What What White Folks Think” holds that Barack Obama isn’t black, what right does he, much less other black people, have to consider himself as such?
As an aside, this is an incredibly callous display of arrogance. In fascinating fashion, Barack Obama has written about creating identity, of finding some of himself in Malcolm X’s acts of reinvention, in the stability of the Robinson family, in the spirituality and rhythms of  the black church, in the trash-talk of South Side basketball courts, in the courage of the Civil Rights pioneers, all the while holding on to the mother who raised him, and grandparents who helped rear him. But John Judis, evidently, knows better.
His response is a caricature of the worst stereotypes of white liberalism. Note the invocation of a “Marxist View Of Race.” Note the sense that blackness is strictly the work of “Southern Whites.” Note the arrogance of assuming that “blackness” is defined by 17th century racists, and that the people being defined have no agency. In one fell column, Judis anoints himself High Arbiter of Blackness, and then dismisses Obama’s complicated and arduous process as the president simply doing “what was expected of him.”
The only appropriate response to this sentiment is to regrettably resort to the language of my folks and ask the following–Who the fuck is John Judis?
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November 26, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

https://i2.wp.com/4.bp.blogspot.com/_hTk_Zy9Dc1s/SgEP2ZcLneI/AAAAAAAAAAs/YG1L-k-vEk4/s400/The+Princess+and+the+Frog.jpg

“Tis the night before Disney makes history (damn near 100 years after it’s first animated feature film). I’ve purposely stayed away from reading too much about the movie-I want to go in with a fresh mind and a clean lens. It ain’t easy being a skeptic. I, like your average American girl, was raised under the tutelage of the Disney Princesses. Ariel, Pocahontas, and Jasmine have all contributed to my formative ideas of what it is to be a woman. Dainty, scantily clad, whiny, and reasonably rebellious until my prince finally came and gave me a reason to shut the fuck up and live happily ever after. But I digress…

I’m sure (I hope)  the formation of the Tiana character received much attention and input from African Americans and Louisiana natives. Apparently, (as with all Disney flicks) there are some obvious improbabilities; for instance the flick is set in the early 20th century but no reference to the racial climate of a segregated state is presented in the film. Louisiana was a “peculiar state”, indeed. Despite oppressive racism and segregation (the home of Plessy v. Ferguson)  de facto multiracial communities did exist.

I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed that the prince isn’t Black. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s disappointing. Recently it’s been made known that films with Black couples are deemed less digestible for domestic and international audiences (see recent UK photo shop controversy). So the assumption is, if the main character is Black, the spouse should not be Black (think about Will Smith’s career as of late). What’s funny is, there is NO WAY they would have a Black prince getting romantic with a White princess on the big screen. Can you IMAGINE Ariel or Belle pining after Prince Jamal in some tight corset with her bosoms heaving while staring lovingly out the window?? HELL NO. But it’s okay for Pocahontas (yes, I know it’s based on a historical occurrence but let’s not act like they didn’t fuck up the whole story anyway), and Tiana. It sort of harks back to European imperial notions of White female purity. Certainly their bodies can’t be defiled by romantic interactions with non-Whites. But the bodies of women of color are already tainted and therefore need no protection from men of other races, especially not from White men.

https://i0.wp.com/4.bp.blogspot.com/_Kl7yL_h95qc/ScAuKk3DioI/AAAAAAAAOmI/tQ1C1vASdi0/s400/Disney%27s+first+black+princess,+Princess+Tiana+-+and+the+%27white%27+Prince+Naveen.jpg

It’s obvious that Prince Naveen is purposely darker than the average White prince, but if he’s supposed to be biracial, they sure did push it with his appearance. Then again, Prince Naveen’s racial ambiguity is very much a reality in Louisiana historically, so I can’t be too mad about that. Plus, they did a great job with the Princess’ facial features! I wish they would have kept the initial Afroish hair though:

https://i1.wp.com/3.bp.blogspot.com/_HPKQTYuXkvs/SIZujoPYX-I/AAAAAAAAAH8/czlHMTllwWQ/s320/Princess+Tiana+Frog+Princess+Disney.jpg

Anyway, I’ll report back if I actually get a chance to see it this weekend. I heard it’s sold out of some theaters already. I have no intention of fighting my way through crowds cuz I have no qualms getting hype with a 10 year old! LOL.