Talking about race with white people

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6079_Smith_W

She doesn't need to learn any more about residential schools. She has suffered too.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/senator-lynn-beyak-suffered-residential-...

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

She says some of her best friends are Indians so she can't be a racist.

6079_Smith_W

Talking with Japanese actors about whitewashing in this case. But it is a great and telling interview about the subject, about racism, and about cultural differences. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/ghost-shell-4-japanese-actr...

Paladin1

I've seen a lot of comments regarding the Japanese and how people (us North Americaners) are perturbed or even angrey how they (Japanese) don't seem to give a shit about this stuff.

To me suggesting the Japanese "fail to understand race controversy" is kind of ignorant. Maybe to them there is no race controversy, who are we to tell them they fail to understand it?

 

As far as I was aware the Major from TGitS was portrayed as a woman mixed between causcasian and japanese. Physically speaking when you look at the characters side by side Scarlett J. looks like the actress to act the part.

The Iron Fist Netflix series I bellieve got accusetd of Whitewashing too only in that case a number of people didn't seem to get that the main character was white and that was a major part of the plot line.

6079_Smith_W

In the course of the article they pretty clearly get past the superficiality of that idea to the racism that was behind it. That's what I took from it, anyway.

And as for the characters, it is also clear that it isn't just about looks.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

My village has a great little museum and since this is the 75th anniversary of that particular ethnic cleansing they are highlighting it.  Since my 87 year old mother-in-law's family lived close to the Japanese mill many of her best school friends got interned. She and others in our town are trying to make sure we don't forget.  The museum is doing a great job at discussing the racist history of this corner of Canada.

On Friday, April 7th, from 2:00 to 3:00, the Cumberland Museum and Archives invites the public to join us for a presentation on the Royston Lumber Company and the community of Japanese Canadians who lived and worked there. The Royston Lumber Company was founded in 1917 and was a highly significant operation located about 2 miles south of the town of Cumberland. All of the company’s shares were Japanese owned, and approximately 100 or more Japanese were employed by the mill, either directly or through logging. The presentation showcases archival photos, artifacts, film and oral histories from our collections.

Then, at 4:00, join Dawn Copeman for a guided walking tour of the No. 1 Japanese Townsite in Coal Creek Historic Park, where a prominent Japanese Canadian community flourished for 49 years, until 1942 when the Government of Canada enacted the War Measures Act and thirty-one families were forcibly removed. 

http://www.cumberlandmuseum.ca/events/commemorative-events-to-mark-75th-...

Paladin1

I'm sure there are movies out there that are guilty of whitewashing but I don't think Ghost in the Shell is one of them.

One of the women in the article above points out that scarlett johansson's eyes didn't have any emotion (or something to that effect) when meeting her mom.  It might just well be because she's portraying a cyborg.  There seems to be a lot of "Japanese wouldn't at that way LOL" from the women.  Given that actors don't decide their own lines or scenes I don't think it would have mattered what nationality was casted in the lead role.  I guess the only way to really pick up on those nuances would be if it was a Japanese directed move. But the Japanese didn't direct this movie or write the adaptation. The developers/writers of Ghost in the Shell had to have sold the rights to make the movie, it's their intellectual property.

6079_Smith_W
Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

A very interesting article, and well written.

But in terms of "insights per word" it did get slightly upstaged by the title of a link at the bottom:

"I Haven't Read Rachel Dolezal's Book, But I Identify as a Person Who Has".

And who are we to throw shade on that man's "lived reality"?

 

6079_Smith_W

Yeah, there are a few people trying to pass racial dysphoria off as a real thing , but there is still a big difference between getting your black identity from old National Geographics (and trying to not get tripped up in lies about TV) and people who can't walk into any bathrooms without either getting screamed at or punched.

And that is a great article. Thanks for the tip.

"Fire, or Garbage fire?"

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Yeah, there are a few people trying to pass racial dysphoria off as a real thing , but there is still a big difference between getting your black identity from old National Geographics (and trying to not get tripped up in lies about TV) and people who can't walk into any bathrooms without either getting screamed at or punched.

That's kind of what interests me about the whole Rachel Dolezal thing (sorry, no, I'm not going to google her new chosen African name, because I'm too lazy).

If she had not existed, and if some blonde-haired white guy had said "OK, fine then, can I just 'identify' as black and now I'm black and people should validate that?" I think that guy would have been condemned as a "shitlord", or assumed to be "stirring the pot", and certainly would have been told that his comparison was absurd and ridiculous and would never happen, like gay men marrying a tennis raquet.

And then it really, actually, honestly DID happen.  So now we actually DO have to discuss it, and in particular, discuss what limits (if any) there should be on the whole "I identify as...." phenomenon.

If we should support her identifying as black when she's clearly not, then why not as a "wolfkin"?  What's the difference?

And if we need not support her claims of blackness, then what onus should there be on anyone to support someone's claim of being "gender fluid"?  To be fair, at least "black" (and for that matter, "wolf") are things we all agree exist.

6079_Smith_W

I don't see much difference with your "wolfkin" example, except that wolfkin aren't a real people with a real history of discrimination and appropriation.

As for gender, I just pointed pointed our a couple of differences. Need more? Never mind that most of the white guys who have done it tended to wind up with a lot of people believing them (Archie Delaney, Ward Churchill) along with its associated status. Dolzeal didn't do too bad for herself either.

And of course there are people who have had to try to pass for white to meet standards of beauty, or to get a job, or be allowed in a neighbourhood, or to not always have to be looking over their shoulder for a cop. I'd say the reasons for that have a bit more to do with racism in our society than a person's identity.

I don't know too many for whom it was such a case of identity that they attempted (and in many cases succeeded) suicide because of it. Or wound up assaulted or murdered because of that identity.

In any case, let me know when they write it up in the DSM.

 

 

Timebandit

Loved the article in The Stranger. Ijeoma Oluo is a brilliant writer, and I thought she handled Dolezal more kindly than she had to. Dolezal clearly has some mental health issues, but I don't think indulging her fantasies that she's black are doing her any favours.

PS: Smith, it's "Belaney". :) 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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I don't see much difference with your "wolfkin" example, except that wolfkin aren't a real people with a real history of discrimination and appropriation.

And neither are the so-called "gender-fluid".

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Never mind that most of the white guys who have done it tended to wind up with a lot of people believing them (Archie Delaney, Ward Churchill)

I'm not familiar with Archie Delaney, but for what it's worth, I never bought Churchill's nonsense either.

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I don't know too many for whom it was such a case of identity that they attempted (and in many cases succeeded) suicide because of it.

Are you referring to trans-people again?

Or do you know of some "gender-fluids" who were bullied into suicide (that you could share with us)?

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In any case, let me know when they write it up in the DSM.

In the index, it probably says "Otherkin.......see Delusions (p.982)".  But let the "otherkin" movement have some time on this... they'll get there and have their own special thing.

6079_Smith_W

I thought your comparison was with people who try to change their race.

And did I need to clarify my point that gender dysphoria is in the DSM as something which is neither an illness nor a delusion?

Anyway, here's another take on it, with some stats on those suicide numbers:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/barrierbreaker/no-its-not-like-gender-dysph...

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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I thought your comparison was with people who try to change their race.

"Change" their race?

Sorry, but don't you mean "identify as the race they've always been"?

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And did I need to clarify my point that gender dysphoria is in the DSM as something which is neither an illness nor a delusion?

You shouldn't need to do that.  But could you clarify whether the DSM regards gender dysphoria as meaning a man who identifies as  a woman (or vice versa) as opposed to a man or woman who identifies as neither?  Because they're actually not the same thing and we seem to keep mixing them up somehow.

NorthReport

I wanted to post this in the most recent black lives matter thread. Could someone suggest how I can use the search engine to find it? 

Patterns Of Death In The South Still Show The Outlines Of Slavery

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/mortality-black-belt/

6079_Smith_W

In this case Magoo, I actually meant "try to pass themselves off as", but since there are some people who have a good reason for wanting to pass, I figured I should use more neutral language.

And dysphoria is just not feeling that you are the gender you were assigned at birth. There is nothing specifying that it is binary. So no, there are no different things to mix up.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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And dysphoria is just not feeling that you are the gender you were assigned at birth. There is nothing specifying that it is binary.

Well, other than pretty much all of the animal kingdom.  And most of the plant kingdom, too.  How's "gender-fluid" corn faring these days?  Reproducing?  If so, as sperm or egg, or "please don't label me"?

6079_Smith_W

This is about gender, not sex.

(actually it is about race. Or perhaps dead horses)

But if that's the tangent you want to go on, no, it isn't about all the animal kingdom, or the plant kingdom. mosses switch back and forth from sexual to spore-producing every life cycle. There are plenty of hermaphroditic animals (slugs, for example), and a number of fish which change sex.

http://community.lovenature.com/wild/6-surprising-animals-that-can-chang...

As for physical intersex qualities in humans, it is at about 1.5 percent.

And animals exhibiting behaviour of the opposite sex:

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/22/7-gender-bending-animals/

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I see.

So if I wish to be addressed as "he" today, and "she" on Sunday, and "they" seven days after that, there's plenty of evidence that this is a normal part of nature and not just me being narcissistic?

6079_Smith_W

Edward Albee estate yanks rights to theatre production over casting of black actor. What were they thinking?

http://www.onstageblog.com/columns/2017/5/18/estate-of-edward-albee-yank...

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I suppose one could come at this from a variety of different angles.

One would be the idea that, having written a play (which will necessarily be interpreted by persons other than yourself) you should get to dictate who those others must be.  A bit like if Bob Dylan licenced the performance of "Blowin' in the Wind" on the strict condition that it be played on a Gibson guitar.

Another would to wonder what it means to be an actor, if not to pretend to be someone you're not.  In some theatre/movies, this could be problematic (e.g. when a character's exact form is ambiguous or unimportant) and in others, quite necessary (e.g. when you have to play a Romulan, and they can't seem to find a Romulan actor for the role).

If Albee were still alive, and had things to say, I'd at least listen.  But are we supposed to care what his children's children think about a casting decision??  At some arbitrary point in time his heirs' copyright claims will expire, at which point anyone would be free to stage a performance of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" with an all Muppet cast.

voice of the damned

Given that the older couple, George and Martha, are named after a pair of famous American slaveholders, it might change the intended symbolism of the play if one of the characters that they torment is perceived by the audience as black.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Personally, I don't have any concerns over whether this or that character in the play is performed by a person of colour.  I feel like that's the chance you take when you author a symphony, but cannot play all the instruments, or author a play, but cannot play all the parts.  To me, whether this is a "good" or "bad" thing is entirely immaterial.  If you write a play, and cannot perform all the parts yourself, then someone else must, and they'll bring their own thing to it.

I guess, to put it another way, I think that authoring a play, or authoring a piece of music, necessarily means understanding that someone else will take your work and interpret it.  That's different from (say) a painter or a sculptor who create free-standing works that don't need to be interpreted by anyone other than the audience (which is always the case).

6079_Smith_W

Yeah. I might be interested in what Albee's opinion would be. Too bad he just died in September.

Doesn't change the fact this is a ridiculous decision that flies in the face of every time a white actor got cast for a non-white role.

 

voice of the damned

@ Magoo

Well, what we might wish the copyright laws to say, and what those laws actually do say, could be two different things. I'll just say that if the law gave me the power to veto casting choices for WAOVW, I would give serious thought to exercising that perogrative in the event of a non-white actor being cast.

In fact, you could make an argument that casting a black person as Nick hinders an honest portrayal of racism in America. Because the implication would be that American society in the 1950s was so colour-blind that a middle-aged man and his wife could spend an entire night trying to torment and humiliate a younger couple, without once making a racist crack about the couple being interracial.  

6079_Smith_W

The notion that it is actually about realistic portrayal is also nonsense. British theatre started with only men playing roles, after all. And since when has everything on the stage been strictly realistic, or even strictly by the book?

Sure there was a case recently of an Othello production being cancelled.

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/01/31/edmonton-theatre-company-...

But again, that is in the shadow of a long history of white people getting non-white roles and no one saying a damn thing.

 

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Well, I guess I'm suggesting that authoring a play (that other artists will interpret) or writing a symphony (that 100 or so artists will interpret) necessarily means understanding that you can control one half (the script or the notes) but others will interpret the other half.  This isn't like a painting or a sculpture or a book, where the only other necessary participant is an audience, who will always be free to make what they will of it.

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Doesn't change the fact this is a ridiculous decision that flies in the face of every time a white actor got cast for a non-white role.

I feel like this hangs on a small knife's edge.

If a white actor is chosen to play Othello in blackface, pretending to be black, that's beyond disgusting.

If a white actor is chosen to play Othello as a white man, to explore (for whatever reason) how that might inform the character of Othello, then my mind is open.

This is, after all, why we can have a female Thor.  She's not pretending she's a male Thor.  I'm OK with that no matter the character or the actor, because there's nothing dishonest about it.  Again, every actor pretends to be something they're not.  But a white actor "pretending to be a black actor", who in turn is pretending to be "King Othello" is a different thing.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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But again, that is in the shadow of a long history of white people getting non-white roles and no one saying a damn thing.

I think we kind of cross-posted (maybe I was slow with the typing).

But what's a "non-white" role?  In the context of what we're talking about, what might be a "non-black" role?

Personally, my interest is only in whether some white actor dons some "yellow face" to play an Asian, but not whether the play or movie or whatever wants to imagine some initially Asian character as white.

6079_Smith_W

Like this article says, lots of theatres believe in colour blind casting, so long as the actor is white. And the link about the RSC Hamlet production is also worth reading:

http://jezebel.com/5980419/many-major-theaters-believe-in-color-blind-ca...

And some numbers.

https://qz.com/842610/broadways-race-problem-is-unmasked-by-data-but-the...

So despite the fact one theatre backed down in Edmonton after complaints, the yanking of the rights that happened with Albee's play (and the lame excuse) is more the norm.

 

 

voice of the damned

 In the context of what we're talking about, what might be a "non-black" role?

Well, for example, I think Archie Bunker only worked when portrayed by a white guy, or at least someone who could reasonably appear white. His diatribes against African-Americans would have sounded pretty bizarre coming from Redd Foxx.

And for what it's worth, I fully agreed with the Walterdale being asked to pull their production of Othello.

6079_Smith_W

Well yes, but the character isn't Archie Bunker is he? And the character's race isn't critical to the story. The only thing they are hanging this on is a few references about complexion. I don't have a hard copy on my shelves and I'm not going to haul out the movie and watch it, but who's to say those references couldn't be delivered ironically to turn around the meaning?

Ever seen Julie Taymor's Titus (which has a fabulous line about race delivered by a black character)? I didn't read any critics taking issue with her radical change of Shakspeare's text at the end of that film.

(and as an aside, in the only stage production I have seen of that play, Aaron was played by a white actor, which is much harder to work around than in Albee's play, if you are familiar with the story)

But the bigger point is not about altering text or staging to deal with those small issues, it is the fact this gets jumped on as as something impossible to change, and you don't hear that nearly as often when it is a white actor.

Had there not been that stark double standard I would have been fine with a white woman playing Othello. In principle there is nothing wrong with it, and making the character a woman is an interesting take on it. But in the current climate, including protests about how white the Academy Awards are, it is a case of the last straw.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Well, for example, I think Archie Bunker only worked when portrayed by a white guy, or at least someone who could reasonably appear white. His diatribes against African-Americans would have sounded pretty bizarre coming from Redd Foxx.

Just as an aside, I think that *if* there were ever to be a black Archie Bunker, I could scarcely imagine a better actor to fill those shoes than Redd Foxx.  He almost kind of was the black Archie Bunker, except his Edith had passed away, and Lamont wasn't a woman, but if all the other ducks could have been herded into a row, it could have worked.

As it happened, Sherman Hemsley kind of got to be the black Archie, which was almost ironic since The Jeffersons was a spin-off from All In The Family.

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