Archive for December, 2009

White Savior Stories

I have been back in forth on whether to write a post about The Blindside. Ultimately, I am choosing not to because there is a plethora of articles on the web about the racial, white-privilege undertones of the film.

However, the issue of White savior stories is still important. Many have tried to articulate that because The Blindside is a true story people should stop complaining about the racial issues. However, that is the exact problem. Most of the true stories about African-Americans (or ethnic-minorities) coming out of negative situation don’t involve White people. Films and books like The Pact, which display the determination of African-Americans without a major White figure in their lives, are not highlighted and these stories are not produced by major film studios and don’t get the literary notoriety. Why? Well, I don’t believe it is because the folks at these studios and publishing companies don’t care, they simply want to make money. People don’t go to see these films or read these books because they don’t have the same type of good feelings appeal, they don’t give the allusion that privileged folks – white or otherwise – must help the impoverished transcend their situation. Why do films like Lean on Me get ignored but Dangerous Minds, though rejected by critics, gaine mass success or why does Erin Gruwell have her story massively publicized through the production of  Freedom Writers while Geoffrey Canada ‘s story – no relation – gets little airtime? Just think about it.

It get a little frustrated with SNL and Mad TV because they are usually shallow and I find them offensive rather than insightful or comical,  but occasionally their parodies are actually good satire. Here is a funny and intelligent skit about White female character’s as saviors.

Like any good satire, it is funny because it is ridiculous, yet true. But like any satire it is supposed to make the viewer change themselves and society, not just laugh. So let’s start supporting more of the true stories of African-Americans not just the ones that make White people look good.

Don’t get me wrong, I value what White people do in African-American communities, but when we only highlight those stories, it gives the perception that African-Americans cannot overcome situations without White folks. I don’t want movies like Blindside to not be produced, I want to see more movies produced that show the reality of African-American transcendence of poverty and social oppression.

The larger issue of all of these “inspirational” stories, whether casted with a White lead, Black lead or otherwise, is that most true stories about African-Americans and other ethnic-minorities don’t involve coming out of poverty or socially difficult situations. Most true stories are just about life. I would ultimately like to see more films that don’t focus on the misfortune of ethnic-minorities. We need balance.

How Asian culture affects future generations

This was initially posted by DJ Chaung, and is a brief conversation about broad Asian culture – I realize that Asian culture is diverse . Being married to an Asian (Taiwanese) American woman has given me an interesting perspective of an Asian-American experience. At times, even unthinkingly, my wife is in-between White-American culture and Taiwanese culture. And although we are both ethnic-minorities, her experience as an Asian-American woman is much different than my experience as an African-American male. The differences are not solely in the way our skin tone is accepted by society, but in our personal understandings and experiences. We both have the tension of what DuBois calls a “double-consciousness”, but the way double consciousness manifests itself is unique. In addition, many Asian-Americans – even those several generations removed from immigration – deal with a cultural generation gap that is considerably greater than that of African-Americans.

What are your thoughts on this video and the influence of Asian culture?

Invictus

Here is my review of the movie Invictus that just posted on the Urban Faith website.

HP Racist?

HP responded on its blog.

“We are working with our partners to learn more,” HP said. “The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that the camera might have difficulty ‘seeing’ contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting.”

“Everything we do is focused on ensuring that we provide a high-quality experience for all our customers, who are ethnically diverse and live and work around the world,” HP continued. “That’s why when issues surface, we take them seriously and work hard to understand the root causes.”

I believe that HP is being up front, but I can’t help but ask why HP didn’t  test the camera on a variety of folks from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and in multiple lighting situations – maybe they did, but if so it seems it wasn’t sufficient.

HP isn’t a racist organization, but I do think this is an example of privilege based on skin gradient.  HP probably didn’t consider that the camera wouldn’t work the same with darker skinned individuals. It is kind of like band-aids not being mass produced in darker tones.

Pray for Obama

Has anyone actually seen one of these T-shirts?

Before anyone thinks that folks are actually praying for Obama take a look at the verse and its context.

8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.

10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven [d] from their ruined homes.

11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.

13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.

14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.

15 May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

I don’t have much to say, I am just disgusted with the people of propagate this trash.

It is not funny, it is not poignant, it is not appropriate and, most importantly, it is not Christian.

A brief thought on Tiger Woods

I don’t respect Tiger Woods for his infidelity, but I do believe that he is trying to do the right thing by dropping golf and focusing on his family. He himself called his acts “transgressions”, he knows that weight of what he has done.  I definitely feel for his wife and children, but I also feel for him. Sin is eroding to the soul. Both those who have been sinned against and those who have sinned feel the destructive burn of sinfulness.

What angers me is all the conversation about how much money golf is going to lose – and how much money news stations and tabloids are making from running this story.  The money doesn’t matter in the least bit. I am flabbergasted that so many people are, at least outwardly, so concerned with the financial aspect of this issue that they are forgetting the hearts and souls involved.

Instead of critiquing him and examining is every actions, let us – especially Christians – pray  that Tiger and his family find true friends to rely on, that, in some why, they will find a God who loves them, and that their marriage , which most everyone sees as sacred and right, be restored.   At this moment they are both suffering from feeling like unloved beings.

This is a beautiful picture . . .

let us all hope that, despite it being tarnished, this picture can restored to is full beauty.

The restoration of beauty, reconcilation of relationships, and redemption from the bondage of sin are at the center of the Christian faith, so may it be at the center of our hearts and minds.

Glen Beck & “White Culture”

Why is it so hard for Beck to define White culture – especially when he says Obama has a hatred of it?

What is “White culture”?

My personal take is that there is “White culture” just like there is “Black culture”. But just as within Black culture, White culture is not monolithic, nor should everyone who is White be stereotyped into a rigid Whiteness.*

An interesting characterization of “White culture” -in the shallow expression of culture** – is the Stuff White People Like Blog and the subsequent book Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions. If you haven’t seen either they both contain a list of things that typically White people enjoy: farmer’s markets; bookstores; wine tasting; etc (Our of Ur and Urban Faith posted a interesting article about the potential of small groups being a White Christian thing.)

I actually don’t like the book/website because it is limited and Lander, the creator, is making misinformed generalizations. It is really only touching on one section of White America. I think about lower-class Whites, or blue-collar Whites, or inner-city Whites, or rural Whites, the book/website it isn’t really stuff “White” people like, it is stuff a certain level of educated and socialized White like.

But there is something important in the book/website. It affirms that there is a culture typical to Whites – more appropriately various White cultures within a boarder American experience. White folks who deny that they have a culture and assume that  their actions are universally normal hinder actual multiculturalism, diversity and reconciliation because that perspective naturally color-blinds the world.

But again, it is also dangerous to ignore the diversity within Black and White folks  – as well as Asians, Latinos etc.  We literally make things black and white and don’t examine the variations and blending. So many Black folks have to fight the assumption that we ALL like, fried chicken, rap, baggy jeans, the N-word, basketball etc. and fight Being called “White” when we don’t like those things or happen to like NPR. Also, some white folks fight being called a “wigger” ( a common expression I heard when growing up) when they are genuinely a child of Hip Hop culture.

So I return to the original question, what is “White Culture”?

*The conversation is beyond just  Black/White – but Beck’s comments and interaction with the issue of culture was/is mainly Black/White.

**There are deeper culture values that are help differently in different cultures (i.e. preception of eldery, perception of time, gender roles, role of religion etc.). These are perhaps the real difference that divide folks. Which is why people of different ethnicities seem to be able to increasingly feel capable of working together – a fairly shallow exercise – but struggle with worshiping  and living together.