“There’s too much diversity in the show” was just the first of many racially charged microaggressions committed by my grandmother while we were driving to have birthday dinner with my mom. The conversation about television had started innocuously, but quickly developed into a debate about the “diversity quota” and the “overabundance” of representation. The conversation particularly focused on Shonda Rhimes’ “How to Get Away with Murder.” (more…)
The guest author of this piece is Madison Thompson, a second year Pacific University student majoring in Philosophy: Ethics, Law, and Society and minoring in Creative Writing. In her spare time, she likes to read, write, surf, play Assassins Creed, and, most of all, play with dogs.
Music’s highest earning musician, Taylor Swift, found herself amidst another controversy pertaining to her newest music video Wildest Dreams. The contention stems from the entirely white cast filming on location in Africa amongst lions, zebras, and giraffe – oh my! Many have taken to the internet to express their support for the video, but surprisingly, the negative seems to outweigh the positive feedback. On the U.S. NPR blog, journalists Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe wrote: “We are shocked to think that in 2015, Taylor Swift, her record label and her video production group would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa.”
This isn’t the first time Swift has come under fire for cultural insensitivity in one of her music videos. Her hit Shake It Off has been criticized for portraying woman of color as the “ghetto” dancers, while having an all white woman cast for the parts of ballerinas. The singer was also forced to take a step back after a scuffle with Nicki Minaj over what Minaj said to be inherent racism in the music industry.
While she has yet to comment on the discrepencies in the two music videos, in response to the rapper she said, “I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke.”
The problem of cultural insensitivity in the music video rests on the fact that white artists who adopt black culture as their own reap the benefits of another culture that, mainly women, are belittled and trivialized for having. Khloe Kardashian posted a photo to Instagram of herself wearing a niquab (a traditional headdress worn by Muslim women, only exposing the eyes), and many people liked it because “her eyes looked beautiful”, whereas if someone saw a young, Muslim woman wearing the same thing, they might think “terrorist” before anything else.
I think Amanda Steinbleg said it best when she called out Kylie Jenner for posting an Instagram photo of herself sporting cornrows: “When you appropriate black features and culture but fail toyou’re your position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards your wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”
Seven white college students sit around a dorm room at their private university playing King’s Cup when a Jack is pulled. The rule of choice? End every sentence with the N-word. Everyone nods and the game goes on with laughing, screaming, and the vulgar word flying around every ten seconds. There weren’t any African Americans in the room, so it doesn’t count, right?
Wrong. When this happened to me at the beginning of first semester, I didn’t know what to do so I did nothing. I did not want to say anything in fear of my new friends saying, “So what? It’s not like they’re here.” Even as a minority myself, I could not bring myself to say anything even though I knew I should. I felt exactly what any sane student would: Uncomfortable and afraid of being challenged, teased, and laughed at. I mean, why should I stick up for them if they’re not in the room?