No, that wasn’t funny, that was racist.

I received a FWD in my inbox today, I don’t often get forwards as I have my spam filters set to block them but somehow this one got through. It was titled “Funnies” and it was peppered with racist, anti-islamic and anti-immigrant humour, it wasn’t at all funny.

It was sent to me by someone who would never consider themselves racist, who would be horrified by such a charge and yet this is precisely how racism grows and is spread, we don’t think, and by not thinking we perpetuate stereotypes and feed racism . Here is a link to an excellent article on stereotyping and why we sometimes laugh at racist jokes and I have posted my response to the forwarded email below.

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“The Red Cross just knocked on my door and asked if we could contribute towards the floods in Pakistan. I said we’d love to, but our garden hose only reaches to the driveway”

I was devastated to find out my wife was having an affair but, by turning to religion, I was soon able to come to terms with the whole the thing.

I converted to Islam, and we’re stoning her in the morning!

Question – Are there too many immigrants in Britain ?
17% said yes;
11% said No;
72% said “I am not understanding the question please.”

“There’s a new Muslim clothing shop that opened in our shopping center, but  they threw me out after I asked if I could look at some of the bomber jackets.”—

Dear….,

This one in particular hurts, insert any of our Caribbean countries or people instead of Pakistan, it’s the same thing. I know you didn’t think too hard about these “jokes” but I was deeply upset when I saw them. Dehumanising people who are not like us through popular “jokes” are the actions that make it easy to act in racist ways, these types of actions, when directed at black people- President Obama as a witch doctor or as a dreadlocked, weed smoking drug dealer- offend us greatly and with justification, we cannot stand by and do the same thing to Indians and Muslims.

When I visited England to stay with my ex’s parents this was precisely the kind of thing his family found funny and I was told racist things like this on more than one occasion. Regarding immigrants in England I was told “this is a white country you know” all this said while I held my little brown half-English baby in my arms.

We cringe (or at least I cringe) when I hear of Iraqi civillians dead from the war, mothers, children, sisters, brothers, babies I cringe because I see my own family in their faces, they are human, with human wants, human needs and human loves, when we help spread the belief that Muslims and Pakistanis are not human, that they “sell bomber jackets” implying that they are all terrorists, or that the way to “help” flood victims in Pakistan would be to add water presumably so more Pakistanis can die we reduce their humanity and make it easier to accept the atrocities committed against them.

These are the same tactics used against black people in the early twentieth Century and still in play today, all the mockery, the coonery, the “humour” about black pickanninies stealing chicken and eating watermelon, the blackface, the “jokes” about black people living on welfare, or having multiple babies by multiple fathers, about our women being overly sexual-a charge often still leveled at young black victims of sexual assault in the media and in popular culture- all of that desensitised a nation so that when pregnant Mary Turner was strung from a tree by her ankles, burned and disemboweled and her foetus stomped on no one was prosecuted, no one was charged, few people even remember and even fewer care.

“Snow White and de Sebben Dwarves” featuring the over sexualisation of black women and the Mammy caricature, it also portrays us as stupid, uneducated and more interested in money, sex and bling than in self improvement…sound familiar?

I took the time to write all this because I love you, because this hurts, because I can see some unthinking person saying these things about my brown, vaguely Arab/Muslim-looking child and mostly because it matters that we brown people not fall into the traps set for us by white supremacist culture.

Here are some “jokes” about us from around the web, I don’t find them funny and essentially they are the same thing.
BLACK:
1.Q:why are black peoples nostrils so big?
A:because thats what GOD held them by when he was painting them.
2.Q:what do you get when you search for the word baboon from the dictionary?
A:a picture of Robert Mugabe.
3.Q: What is black, purple,and yellow?
A: A black person goin to church.

4.Q: What do you call a black guy who goes to college?
A: A Basketball player.

5.Q: What does it mean when you see a bunch of blacks running in one direction?
A: Jail break

6.Q: Why do black men have bigger manlinesses than white men?
A: Because as kids white men had toys to play with

7.Q: What does FUBU really stand for?
A: Farmers used to buy us.

8.Q: Did you hear about the black who died yesterday on Rt. 80?
A: He stuck his head out of the window at 100 mph and his lips beat him to death!

9.Q: What do you call 400 black people swiming in a river?
A: An oil spill

http://www.authentichistory.com/diversity/african/3-coon/5-chickwatermelon/index.html  A really good link about racism in popular culture. I’ve also attached some images that were considered both amusing and appropriate when they were released.
love…
____________________________

A fantastic rev…

Aside

A fantastic review of Rihanna’s rise to the top of the pop heap. Image

 

 

A quote from the article “The runaway success of the melancholic retro-rave “We Found Love” certifies Rihanna as one of the most successful pop singers of all time, according to Billboard magazine. It’s her 20th Top 20 hit, amassed faster than any other solo artist in chart history. But it’s the video that really dazzles. On Oct. 20, film director Dennis Dortch (“A Good Day to be Black & Sexy”) tweeted the clip along with the comments, “Wow. I believe this to be flyest music video ever by a major (black) recording artist.” He later added, “I wish someone would cast her in an indie film.”

 

Read it, it is fantastic!

Well designed: Alexis Campbell speaks of her first love and passion

While most 22 year olds are busy planning their outfits for  endless rounds of weekend parties, Alexis Campbell is staring at her overlock sewing machine, contemplating the finish of an outfit from the dozens of unfinished pieces that line every surface of her studio. The  tiny workspace she shares with her father is thankfully cool and breezy, but sweat beads on her brow as she concentrates on the details. She is hard at work… perpetually at work. It is Tuesday, and that is just how it is, day and night, around Alexis.

Alexis fixing one of her creations worn by Shanelle Johnson

The former student of The St. Michael School, and graduate of Harrison College’s ‘A’ level program, was once on a course to become either an architect or an interior designer, and says that she fell into the world of fashion design by accident. “I studied ‘A’ Level Geometric and Mechanical Engineering, Maths, and Art at Harrison College; but by the end of my time there, I was still undecided as to which direction to take.”

It was that indecision that led Alexis to sign up for a course offered at the Barbados Community College in fashion design.

Swimwear that is designed for looking good, not getting wet.

“I was just killing time, really,” she admits, “and it took me a very long time to realise that fashion design was actually something that I was good at.” Recalling her life before fashion, Alexis says, “Just like any little girl, I used to make clothes for my dolls when I was bored, and as I got older I decided that I hated paying lots of money for the cheaply made clothes found in Bridgetown.” With her distaste for overpriced garments spurring her on, Alexis decided to make her own clothes. Her first attempts were less than stellar, and she recalls with amusement the black and white polka dot pants that were “shooting”, and suffered from a badly-cut inseam that impaired her movement.

“My dad saw me in those pants and took me home later, and showed my how to cut a pants pattern. I was 11.” She laughs as she recalls the “horrifying” effort, but admits that it was the constant support from her father Richard that kept her trying her hand at designing, over and over again.

Animal print romper with leather shoulder detail

The epiphany came for Alexis near the end of her second year at the Barbados Community College. “During that year, coming down to my last semester, I finally realised that I could make a business of fashion— and it didn’t seem like a job. I could sew, and still be an artist, and still make money.”

In 2009 she showed her first collection at BMEX, and still appears amused and stunned by the response. “It was menswear, and people were surprised that a little girl like me could do stuff like that. Many people didn’t really believe that I had done all the work myself.” But she had done all the work herself, having perfected her tailoring skills under the tutelage of her father. 

Richard Campbell is a tailor with more than 30 years’ experience, and Alexis spent many years paying close attention to his pattern making skills. “BCC taught me how to cut patterns, and my father showed me how to perfect them. I watched him during my school years, and as soon as I was old enough I started helping in the workroom. I owe a lot of my success to my father.”

Of her future plans, the young designer is enthusiastic. “I would love to do Caribbean Fashion Week, and the Islands Of the World Fashion show in the Bahamas, because I want to show people what Barbados has to offer.”

Screenshot from Lifetime's Project Runway of Anya Ayoung-Chee with fashion guru Tim Gunn

She also spoke about the door that has been opened by Anya Ayoung-Chee, the Trinidadian designer who wowed the fashion world with her Caribbean charm and design skills on the American “reality” television show, Project Runway. “I would love to do Project Runway! I think that I could compete with the designers there. I know I could be great, and I know I’d do Barbados proud— if I ever got the opportunity.”

Alexis Campbell in one of her designs with jewellery by Keith Shepherd of Christian Friis Jewellery