Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Thoughts on Halloween

As a Christian, Halloween has always had a slight negative connotation, with all the ghouls, goblins, devils, and other monsters walking about.  In fact, my church has held a community function called “Harvest Fest” for years as an alternative to Halloween.  With Harvest Fest though, children and other participants could never dress up as these monsters.

With all that being said however, I actually like Halloween…always have (and no, it’s not all about the candy).  On Halloween, we have the chance to be someone else (similar to what Joe mentioned in his video).  We can be different than who we normally are 364 days a year.  We have the opportunity to be kids again and play dress up and make believe. 

Another aspect of Halloween I like is the fact that it’s the only time of year where we as a society collectively become more aware of the mysterious, unknown things of this world.  Personally I am fascinated by paranormal and things of a mystifying nature.  There’s so much we don’t know about this world and I would like to believe that there is indeed more to this reality than what we see.  I just can’t accept that this is all there is. 

In the end, I simply enjoy Halloween for its strange, paranormal nature and the chance to have a new persona so to speak (plus the candy :) ).  It doesn’t conflict with my beliefs at all.  Halloween’s fun, and that’s it.

Sidenote here, but I did some digging as to the connection between dressing up in costume and the spooky aspect of Halloween. 

Over at*, it said that Halloween originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).  The Celts (who lived 2,000 years ago) celebrated the new year on November 1, a day often associated with human death (perhaps because it marked the end of summer/harvest and the beginning of dark, cold winters).  It was believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.  During this event, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts and tell each other’s fortunes.  Over time, Samhain became All Souls Day, a day to honor the dead.  It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.  There’s a lot more to the history, but it’s not my intention to write a book lol.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We're a Culture, Not a Costume

A couple of weeks ago, I was on tumblr scanning through my dashboard, when I came across this:

This picture had me thinking, and I preceded to make this comment:
"Think about it.  You can say the same thing about dressing up as Native Americans, Eskimos, maybe even Greecians and Egyptians…."

Think about it.  Can you imagine how insulting it is for Native Americans, African Americans/blacks, and people of Japanese, Middle East, and other ethnic descent seeing their culture dressed up as a costume?  I'll never forget it.  During college - at around Halloween, I was with some friends at IHop.  While we were waiting to be seated, I saw this white guy dressed in a stereotypical Native American costume.  All I could think was "Wow...."  This gif. pretty much sums up my "internal" reaction at the time lol:

I think alot of the discomfort surrounding these costumes comes from stories of fraternities and sororities having parties where they dressed up in blackface or steotypical garb protraying other ethnicities.

However, there's something I can't help thinking about.  What about those who dress up as Vikings, or in traditional Irish or Swedish costume?  Heck what about samurai and ninjas (then again, you can always say that you're supposed to be an anime character), flapper girls, or dressing up in Victorian and medival costumes?  

I'll leave you with this conversation I read from ONTD (Oh No They Didn't) and more pictures from the campaign.  I wish I was able to tab forward and back with this.  Hopefully the letter ordering make sense:


A - like, black face is off limits and AWFUL. Absolutely, I think you'd have to be a fucking moron to think that's acceptable. But that's because of the historical implications of how it was used to de-masculinize blacks through minstrel shows in the 1800s and 1900s, and then later perpetuated through different media-related avenues (archetypes still seen in pop culture today).

but like.... Geishas? Really? I can't dress up in a historically accurate costume from another culture just because my ethnic background doesn't match it? I took a history class in college on the history of the Japanese Tea Ceremony and my professor (a white woman) dressed up in a traditional kimono and performed an entire authentic Tea ceremony for us.... is she being racist?

A black guy at my college (actually still a good friend of mine) dressed up Freshman year as a "WASP" and wore really pale make-up to make himself look white, used blonde hair color spray, and wore khakis, boat shoes, a bright pink Lacoste polo shirt, and a bright yellow sweater wrapped around his shoulders. Would that fall into the racist category?

B responding to A - someone posted what Gawker said about it which was along the lines of, if your costume is 'i'm being (this race) LOL' it's racist. In the example of your teacher, she was following tradition of Japanese culture, and respecting, rather than being like 'i'm a geisha girl hahahahahaha'. When it comes to your's just in poor taste imo. You can't be racist against white people because there's no history or institutionalized discrimination against white people. My opinion is, if you can't properly portray a person without "changing" your skin, it's not a good costume.

C to B - You can't be racist against white people because there's no history or institutionalized discrimination against white people.

There sort of is, a bit. Not all white people, but certain groups have been/continue to be discriminated against.

D to A - Geishas are one of the handful of stereotypes about Japanese culture - hell, even Asian culture to some people - so it really doesn't fucking matter how much background knowledge you know about the tea ceremony. It's reproducing the stereotype. Why don't you find some outfit a regular Japanese girl is wearing these days and say, "Hey, I'm dressed like a Japanese girl!"

Other cultures are defined in general to how different and exotic they are in relation to Western culture. It doesn't matter how lighthearted the intent it, dressing up as a stereotype just reinforces this idea.

Did you black friend reproduce stereotypes that contribute to the dehumanization of white people? No? Irrelevant example then.

E to A - It doesn't matter if you don't find it offensive.. the fact is apparently a lot of Japanese people DO. End of story.

A to E - ...but many Japanese DON'T find it offensive. Many Catholics find dressing up as a pregnant nun offensive, but it's still generally OK. If someone were to dress up as a "fat American" I'm sure there be plenty of offended people, but does that make it off-limits?

so if more than one person finds a costume "offensive", it's now off limits? Is it really a black and white issue, or is there a grey area?

F to A directly above - if someone wanted to dress up as a fat American in the US it's not like it would take a lot of work or offend a lot of people

there is a huge fucking difference between dressing up as a historically oppressed minority (neither Catholics nor the overweight, by the way) and well, not....

Further reading:
We're a Culture, Not a Costume - ONTD
We're a Culture, Not a Costume - CNN
Stop Racist Halloween Costumes - The Root
Pretty much just do a simple search on Google ;)

Sidenote:  Apparently in the very first picture above, the girl painted brown pretending to get bitten from a vampire was apparently supposed to be Lil' Wayne.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What is "Nude" to You?

Look at the above pictures.  These shades of color are classified as the color "nude".  You'll find this category of color in everything from lady's undergarments to makeup.

Now take a look at the pictures again.  Notice anything yet?  What does the shade remind you of...or should I say what skin color does it remind you of?

I'm not one to sweat the small stuff or make a mountain out of a mole-hill.  However, what bothers me is how the universal shade of "nude" for the most part resembles the shade of  white people in general.  The implication is that the shade and skin color of white people is the default and ONLY definition of "nude", if that makes sense.  And that doesn't sit well with me.

I don't know about you, but as a black woman, the above examples aren't considered "nude" to me, or rather, "nude" is relative and the shade should change with the person in question.  For example, "nude" for me would be more of a brown shade.  But instead I have to look at the above shades and deem that as universally "nude".  Simply put, there shouldn't be one single standard and shade of the color "nude" when the color would mean something different for many groups of women.  Once again, anything Caucasian related is held either as the standard or default. 

To me, there really shouldn't be a shade titled "nude" in the first place.  Instead, "nude" should be a theme, as whenever a woman, no matter her skin color or ethinicity, wears something close to her skin tone such as in the mentioned examples above.

Now maybe I'm looking too much into this and misunderstood the meaning behind the color nude.

And yes, I know women of ethinicities like Japanese and Chinese have skin colors that match some of the shades of nude.  However, I was looking at this topic through the context of whiteness being held as some sort of standard when it comes to beauty and appearance.

Originally posted Aug 12, 2010

My Thoughts on the Biracial Spider-Man Controversy

This post was done back on August 6th.

Last night and into the a.m. hours, I was commenting up a storm over at Yahoo, the article being about the new biracial Spider-Man.  Some of the things I learned:
1) Folk can't read.

Direct quote:
Over in the comic book world, the change to the Spider-Man character has been rocking the Web. Meet Miles Morales, the half-black, half-Latino teenager who takes over when (spoiler alert!) Peter Parker is killed.  Before anyone gets too upset, keep in mind that, first, the September relaunch of "Ultimate Spider-Man" is an alternate universe from the Marvel comic book series in which the original Peter Parker is alive and well.
Did you read that?  The comic takes place in an ALTERNATE UNIVERSE.  So Peter Parker is STILL ALIVE in the main storyline.  But apparently, that hasn't sunk in for many of the posters.  All they see is that the new Spider-Man isn't white.

2)People (mostly white people) don't understand that black superheroes are seen as not as profitable as white superheroes, nor do they have as much of a following.  Nor are they as marketed to the public.

3)People jump to the conclusion that it's a P.C. thing rather than it simply being a new superhero that just happens to be mixed (over there people refer to him as black), with dramatizations of PC ruining everything - as if by making Spider-Man not white, the franchise is ruined.
4)People (mainly white people again) don't understand that changing Spider-Man's race in an alternative storyline is COMPLETELY different than changing the race of an ethnic character to a white character in a historical documentary or a single universe story or show.  Anyway, with blacks and others that aren't white still making up a small percentage in comics (and the entertainment industry in general), no one will be keen on whites taking the few opportunities that minorities have.

Another thing.  A common comment that I read was that there's "only one" Spider-Man, and he's Peter Parker.  What I wonder about is if the new Spider-Man was white, would there be as much of a reaction.  Is the issue the fact that the new guy isn't Peter Parker, or is it that he isn't white?

One thing I have to say is that folk can be dramatic.  I've seen comments jumping to complaints about the President, whites being replaced, etc., etc.  Too many people making a big deal out of nothing if you ask me.
As for changing the race of Spider-Man, since it's an alternative storyline and because superheroes are replaced all the time....I say GO FOR IT!  It's pretty cool that they went for a different race :)

Here is an EXCELLENT article about the whole thing from the blog The Root.

I give you:
New Spider-Man:  Not the Obama of Comics

First Post

For those out there reading this, welcome :) ! 

This blog is for everything from randoms thoughts that I would like to share to opinions about current events and pop culture to responses to blogs that I read around the 'net.

Well that pretty much covers it ;)

The next few posts coming up are ones I've done a while ago, but were posted over at my livejournal account.