Colorlines - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 13:51
Placing black and Latino men at the center of race discussions in America is, of course, nothing new. But in recent years, as we discuss what seems to be a growing number of black and brown victims of police and vigilante violence, the conversation about race and masculinity has taken on a more urgent tone.
Two new art exhibits in New York City by openly gay men of color grapple with some of the sentiments that animate the discussions around black and Latino masculinity.
The first, and more celebrated, is Kehinde Wiley's exhibit "A New Republic" at the Brooklyn Museum. Wiley's work--often reproductions of famous 17th- and 18th-century European paintings that feature black people rather than white aristocrats--makes a simple-but-powerful statement: "We exist."
"Painting is about the world we live in," Wiley tells Colorlines. "Black people live in the world. My choice is to include them. This is my way of saying 'yes' to us."
At just 38, Wiley is among America's most celebrated artists. Since roughly 2001 he's painted enormous portraits of black men who mimic the poses of so-called Old Masters. The artist began this work while he was doing a residency at the Studio Museum of Harlem. He was walking down 125th Street and came across a crumbled piece of paper on the sidewalk. That paper turned out to be an NYPD mugshot of a young black man, head tilted slightly to the right, wearing a blank and impatient expression. That image forced Wiley, who'd been studying European portraiture since his childhood, to reconsider what the form says about power.
"[That piece of paper] made me [think] about portraiture in a radically different way. I began thinking about this mugshot as portraiture in a very perverse sense, a type of marking, a recording on one's place in the world in time," he told Helen Stoilas in a 2008 edition of The Art Newspaper. "I began to start thinking about a lot of the portraiture that I had enjoyed from the 18th century and noticed the difference between the two: how one is positioned in a way that is totally outside their control, shut down and relegated to those in power, whereas those in the other were positioning themselves in states [of grace] and self-possession."
That line of inquiry led Wiley to the create pieces such as "Mugshot Study" (2006), a portrait of the man in the mugshot that obscure the NYPD processing information. The painting gives the subject an angelic look and also challenges the viewer's implicit bias.
More portraits followed. There was his 2008 reproduction of the 19th century French painter Auguste Clésinger's "Femme piquée par un serpent" (pictured above) in which a young black man in a red fitted cap, green hoodie and blue jeans is laying down sensually with his face tipped toward the viewer and his underwear exposed. After Michael Jackson's death in 2009, Wiley made him the subject of "Equestrian Portrait of King Phillip II (Michael Jackson)", a riff on a portrait of the 16th-century Spanish monarch.
Most of Wiley's subjects have been far less famous than the King of Pop. They are instead chosen for his participatory art-making process. For example, Wiley has recruited black men in their late teens and early 20s on the streets of Brooklyn, invited them to his workspaces, and had them choose an 18th-century portrait to mimic. He would photograph and eventually paint these men in poses that play up their vulnerability. "My work is political and it is religious, but it's also decidedly homoerotic," Wiley explains. "When I'm approaching these guys, there's a presupposed engagement. I don't ask people what their sexualities are, but there's a sense in which male beauty is being negotiated in each of these works."
While occasionally ridiculed as "too bright" or "kitsch," Wiley's work has become so widely admired that it's even featured on Fox's new hit show "Empire."
What sets the Brooklyn Museum show apart from others is that it's a through-and-through survey of his work, which exists across multiple forms. Along with some of his more well-known portraits of black men, it also features his only known video installation, "Smile," stained glass paintings, sculptures and several works from the collections he did in China, Israel, and India. Several new works are also drawn from his time in Haiti and Jamaica, and they prominently feature black women.
The second artist at issue has work tucked within a larger exhibition at SoHo's Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. The show, "Irreverent: A Celebration of Censorship," features several paintings from Alex Donis' doomed 2001 exhibition "WAR." Provocative and controversial, these pieces feature hilarious and intimate scenes of Watts gang members in various dance poses with LAPD officers. Under the threat of protests and community violence, The Watts Towers Art Center canceled "WAR" two weeks before its debut.
A little more than a decade removed from the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, Donis' "WAR" paintings took tensions that had long roiled Los Angeles' black and Latino communities and mocked them with homoerotic disregard.
"Spider and Officer Johnson" (2001) by Alex Donis
"Scoob Dog and Officer Morales" (2001) by Alex Donis
The question piercing through Donis' work, as articulated by Jaime Villaneda in an essay from the original "WAR" catalogue, is the same one that Rodney King infamously asked in the midst of the '92 uprising sparked by his videotaped police beating: "Can we all just get along?"
The answer, especially recently, as communities have spoken out against racist police and vigilante violence in places like Ferguson, Staten Island and Denver is a resounding "no."
In the 1951 essay "Many Thousands Gone," James Baldwin wrote, "It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story."
Wiley and Donis have been using their visual art to tell stories of black and brown manhood in America, stories of men who've been erased, hunted and hated.
Now, more than ever, America is looking.
The Brooklyn Museum of Art began showing "A New Republic" on February 20; it will remain until May 24.
The Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art opened "Irreverent: A Celebration of Censorship" on February 13. It will be there until May 3.
New America Media - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 13:39
OAKLAND, Calif. – Between his full-time job as a paid caregiver and being a parent, Sonny Villar has little time for anything else, especially because of the hours he spends commuting to and from work by bus.“It’s very, very tiring,”... Viji Sundaram http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=68
New America Media - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 12:53
The Justice Department will not bring federal charges against George Zimmerman, the 31-year-old Florida man who was tried and found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the New York Times reports.Federal prosecutors found that... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 12:04
Meet Johnny Lopez, a 25-year-old Oakland native who was recently profiled by Fusion's Ingrid Rojas in a look at that city's rich legacy of turf dancing:
Turfing is a mostly black artform that's existed in Oakland for years. In 2009, it went viral because of video of one group, Turf Feinz, dancing in honor of a recently slain friend:
Colorlines - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 12:01
As was widely expected, the Department of Justice declined to bring federal charges against George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin back in 2012. Federal prosecutors have concluded that there's not enough evidence to prove Zimmerman violated Martin's civil rights, according to ABC News.
The news come almost exactly three years after Martin's death, and nearly two years since Zimmerman was acquitted by a Florida jury in the killing.
"The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy. It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country," said Attorney General Eric Holder, according to a statement obtained by BuzzFeed. "Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man's premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface. We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future."
New America Media - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 09:55
The word “lynching” reflects some of the darkest and most hateful times in the United States, and it conjures up disturbing images of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, and the vicious abuse and murder of thousands of innocent people. However,... VOXXI http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 09:26
Julio Zegarra-Ballon, a small business owner from St. Louis, Missouri, has been named the $1,000 prize winner of the “A Day in the Life of an Immigrant Entrepreneur” contest sponsored by the WE Global Network, formerly known as the Global... New America Media http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 07:49
It's been nearly 15 years since MC Jin burst onto the rap scene. In 2000, the fresh-faced recent high school grad from Queens broke out on BET's "106 & Park." But Jin's was an uneasy type of fame. He proudly called himself "the original chink-eyed MC," playing up stereotypes of Asian-Americans that were pervasive in American pop culture. He wound up getting signed to Ruff Ryders, where he released the deeply problematic song "Learn Chinese."
"I'm at a point now where I don't cringe if I hear 'Learn Chinese,'" he told Jeanho at BuzzFeed. "But I don't think there was ever one point when I was genuinely, genuinely proud of that song." He adds, "I definitely still cringe at that video."
As Jeanho writes:
The video for "Learn Chinese" is a study in the hackneyed stereotypes of Orientalist fantasy. Jin plays two characters in it: the villain in an eye patch and thin mustache who leads a gang of karate-chopping henchmen, and the hero who rescues the sexy Asian girls from some den of iniquity deep in the bowels of a glamorized Chinatown ghetto. The concept is intercut with shots of Jin in a maroon jogging suit rapping underneath an arched, neon-lit Chinese gate, a diamond-encrusted "R" chain swinging from his neck, the famous logo of the Ruff Ryders.
His music has predictably evolved since then, and so has his political consciousness around what his work means:
The first single is "Chinese New Year," a revelatory celebration of Jin's Chinese-American identity, the story of his family's immigrant, working-class roots, and a candid acknowledgment of the failures in his rap career thus far -- including regret over "Learn Chinese," the first single off The Rest Is History, and probably still the most recognizable song in Jin's oeuvre.
Jin blames his youth and industry naiveté for the misguided execution. "I look back, and I had this opportunity to make a statement. That was my first single to the world that the label was going to get behind. My criticism of it now is: You had this opportunity, Jin, and that was the statement you made?"
Colorlines - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 07:32
Here's some of what I'm reading up on this morning:
- Benjamin Crump takes the case of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, an unarmed man shot dead by police on video in Pasco, Wash.
- It's Election Day in Chicago, and Rahm Emmanuel may face a runoff.
- The European Commission signs off on Greece's deal with its creditors.
- Apple's new emojis include a black Santa.
- Zendaya Coleman schools Giuliana Rancic after the "Fashion Police" host makes racist comments about Coleman's hair.
- Frequently enjoying the sauna might lead to a longer life.
- Bikram Yoga's rape problem.
Colorlines - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 07:20
Marshawn Lynch's future with the Seattle Seahawks may be up in the air, but he's still proving to be a very savvy businessman with a bright future away from the field. The controversial running back, whose standoffs with sports reporters at press conferences included such memorable phrases like, "Thanks for asking" is seeking to trademark his most memorable line: "I'm just here so I won't get fined."
Here's what that looked like during the run-up to the Super Bowl:
The Seattle Times reports that Lynch isn't so much trying to make money off of the phrase so much as trying to prevent other people from doing so. He's previously obtained trademark protection for "Beast Mode" and "About that action, boss."
Colorlines - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 04:54
Besides all of the Common and John Legend goodness--the performance! those speeches! David Oyewolo's* tears!--the most popular Oscar topic on my Facebook timeline is Patricia Arquette.
If you don't already know it by heart, Arquette, who won Best Supporting Actress for "Boyhood," mixed a basic call for women's equality with some rotting entrails and then she served up leftovers for the folks who didn't get some the first time around.
First there was her acceptance speech. The money quote:
"...To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!"
But apparently things got too good for Arquette. Backstage, she added:
"The truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface there are huge issues that really do affect women. And it's time for all the men who love women and gay people and others, to fight for us now. ... Equal means equal. The older women get, the less money they make. It's inexcusable--we go around the world talking about equal rights for women in other countries."
Let's, for the record, state what's wrong with both of her comments.
I doubt she intended this, but in her speech she used the dog whistle of "every taxpayer and citizen of this nation." In 2015 speak we know that these taxpaying citizens who fought for y'alls rights is code for white people. Or "white women who marched with Dr. Kang." Or simply, "men, women and children who are not Latino ill#@gals living off of good, hardworking Americans who make this country great."
"Every taxpayer and citizen of this nation and others" is the new "Law and order." "The new "welfare queen." If "The Boondocks'" hilariously self-hating Uncle Ruckus moved onto Latinos, he would be singing about how how those brown parasites are breathing up all the air.
The backstage statement intensifies the wackness of the speech. In an era when People Style Watch is quoting Roxanne Gay, Arquette's comments provide a powerful example of a feminism fail.
Arquette's demand for "gay people," "men who love women" and "others" to start fighting for equal pay for women of course assumes that "gay people" aren't women, that "men who love women" aren't gay, and that "others" are non-male, heterosexual constituencies who have benefited from the justice work of fine taxpaying citizens. The comment also implies that The Gays, the straight men who love women and those others who "we" have sacrificed for haven't taken up the issue of pay equity.
Then Arquette gets mighty white when she mentions how "we go around the world talking about equal rights for women in other countries." I can't say who the "Medium" actress visualized when she spoke of these "women in other countries" us hypocrites are so eager to help. But to me it sounds like she's imagining those "Muslim-women-forced-to-wear-veils" and maybe a couple of "Africans."
For the tenors in the choir I'm probably preaching to, it's quite apparent that Arquette doesn't understand Kimberlé Crenshaw's essential theory of "intersectionality." The actress doesn't understand that systems of racism, religious bias, economic deprivation and LGBTQ-phobia can intensify the effects of sexism for some people.
There's just one thing. As I said on Facebook, I think it's a mistake for people to assume that everybody knows what "intersectionality" is. I've seen tweets that treat a term and concept that Crenshaw herself says is difficult as if it's as common as the alphabet. My favorites so far (I'm not linking to them because I don't want to blow up private citizens): "Oh, Patricia Arquette... Ever heard of intersections? Maybe you should look that up," and "Okay so I was with Patricia Arquette until she decided to be like 'INTERSECTIONALITY WUT IS THAT.'"
I get how intersectionality becomes common sense if you've heard of it. But if you haven't had the privilege of taking women's studies courses, haven't been exposed to the black feminist canon, or you haven't had the time or tech to consume the online cultural products of young feminist thinkers, that term might not be that hot in your streets.
Thanks to the Internet, black feminists, allies and evangelists have been able to spread this core concept to larger audiences. But I--a person who just spent about 500 words making fun of Patricia Arquette's coded racial language--am saying that--strategically speaking--"intersectionality" isn't quite ready for the "no-duh" treatment yet.
As Krenshaw herself is quoted as saying to Bim Adewunmi of The New Statesmen, "[Intersectionality] is not easy. It's not as though the existing frameworks that we have--from our culture, our politics or our law--automatically lead people to being conversant and literate in intersectionality."
*Piece has been updated to correct the spelling of "Oyelowo"
New America Media - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:53
The most vocal newspaper in corruption fighting, Nguoi Cao Tuoi, has been given a record fine of 32,000 USD while its chief editor has been removed from his post after a controversial inspection of the newspaper by inspectors from the... Vietnam Right Now http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:39
Body-worn cameras aren't just for police officers. Agents with Customs and Border Protection began testing out body-mounted cameras this week as the second phase of a "feasibility study" examining accountability mechanisms in the wake of a scathing independent review of the department's use-of-force practices, the Albuquerque Journal reported. New Mexico is one of the program's pilot locations.
"Body-worn cameras are viewed as a potential tool that may help CBP continue its progress toward greater transparency and accountability," the agency said in a statement, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
In recent years, the Border Patrol has developed an increasingly visible accountability and deadly force problem. Agents with the department have killed an average of seven people a year since January 2010, and declined to discipline a single agent involved in a deadly force investigation.
"[Body-worn cameras] will help protect abuse victims," Vicki Gaubeca, director of the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights said in a statement," and if used appropriately these cameras will help ensure that CBP's interaction with community members is fair and lawful." Far from a complete solution though, the ACLU warns, body-worn cameras must be coupled with more transparency and an end to racial profiling in order to address the agency's troublingly use of deadly force.
Colorlines - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:26
You knew John Legend's acceptance speech for Best Song at the Oscars was going to be good when he quoted Nina Simone and said, "It's an artist's duty to relflect the tmes in which we live." From there, he called out the attacks on voting rights and racial disparities in incarceration. His performance with Common of the "Selma" theme song "Glory" was the night's most moving moment, but his speech really brought down the house.
First, here's Common and John Legend's powerful performance:
And here are the speeches that followed:
Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of "Birdman," which closed out the night by winning the award for Best Picture, managed to overcome Sean Penn's racist "Who gave this son of a bitch a green card?" joke and called for "dignity and respect for immigrants" in his speech:
Colorlines - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:24
While it's true that this year's Oscars were dominated by white actors, actors of color showed up in full force and looked stunning on Hollywood's biggest stage.February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015
New America Media - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 11:20
Months after debuting in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Cindy Moon, aka “Silk,” makes a silky transition to her own comic book series as Marvel’s newest Asian American superheroine.The first installment of Silk hit shelves on Feb. 18. Drawn by... Koream Journal http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
In Their Moment of ‘Glory,’ Common and John Legend Showed the World Why the Selma Struggle Truly Is ‘Now’
New America Media - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 11:00
Despite being nominated in only two categories, Selma stole the Oscars Sunday night by virtue of a Best Original Song victory that was preceded by an electrifying performance of the song, “Glory,” by John Legend and Common.The musical performance added... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 10:21
Alejandro Iñárritu, winner of the 2015 Best Director Oscar for the film Birdman, dedicated his win to his fellow Mexicans in Mexico and the United States. “I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and the... New America Media http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 07:27
Here's how Twitter took down #OscarsSoWhite during the actual ceremony:February 23, 2015
It's very fitting that the Oscars have rappers on stage this year and they're white people.-- Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015
#OscarsSoWhite that Gwyneth Paltrow's Mexican nanny will be presenting a statuette any minute now-- Lalo Alcaraz (@laloalcaraz) February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015
#OscarsSoWhite even the Jazz movie is a bunch of stern white dudes-- naxuu (@naxuu) February 23, 2015 February 23, 2015
I know this is "just an awards show" but these "We shoulda nominated black people" jokes simply do not work.-- roxane gay (@rgay) February 23, 2015
Ending the Oscars with a racist joke seems fitting for this Oscar season, Sean Penn.-- E. Alex Jung (@e_alexjung) February 23, 2015
Colorlines - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 07:18
Here's some of what I'm reading up on this morning:
- The White House says Obama is staying flexible on the terms with which to combat IS.
- Somalia's al-Shabab is apparently urging attacks on shopping malls in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.
- 11 students from Wesleyan overdose on MDMA; one remains in critical condition.
- Honda's CEO is ousted to make room for the engineer who will replace him.
- The Apple-Android divide isn't just for smartphones: it's for cars, too.
- The superbug known as CRE has spread to North Carolina.
- It turns out one of the biggest climate-change deniers has been paid more than $1 million from the fossil fuel industry and never disclosed it in the scientific papers he published.
Dori J. Maynard's Passing. Announcements:
Dori's Memorial Service:
Plans for a memorial service in
Please direct your inquiries to:
Evelyn Hsu, MIJE Program Director
We're sorry for the technical glitches with the livestream of Dori's memorial service.
Link to view the entire service at Chapel of the Chimes (1:00:56): http://youtu.be/2oL1IkAnCEU
Link to view highlights from the service (05:24): http://youtu.be/tqoAxZ-ZoN4
Plans for a memorial service in
Washington DC are pending.
Evelyn Hsu, MIJE Program Director
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Dori Maynard tweets on Diversity, Media & More
@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine