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So yesterday, I went to the movie theater (to watch Princess and the Frog, which was good, btw, nice songs); and I saw an ad for one of those big historical dramas that French cinemas like so much, called "L'Autre Dumas" (The other Dumas); about Alexandre Dumas; and his relationship with one of his writing collaborator/ghost writer Guillaume Maquet. Gerard Depardieu plays Alexandre Dumas.

In case you're wondering "so, what?", this is a picture of Alexandre Dumas:
Dumas was a little bit Black, you see. Grandson of a Black slave from Saint Domingue aka Haiti. Yeah.
Funnily enough I never learned that one in any of the classes at school.

For added irony, the French word for "ghostwriter" is the same word as the French N-word. (Yes, people keep using it widely in the media without wondering if it might offend anyone). So all the synopsis are talking about it as the relationship between (white) Alexandre Dumas and his "N-word" with a heavy connotation of "and his slave". (One article I saw, not about the movie, but about a book on the same subject re-edited for the occasion uses the sentence: "L’ironie de l’Histoire veut qu’à l’heure où la France s’apprête, en 1848, à abolir l’esclavage trime dans les soutes de Paris un nouveau type d’esclave, le « nègre littéraire »." = "The irony of History wills that at the time when France, in 1848, is on the verge of abolishing slavery, a new type of slaves is working in the holds of Paris." Yeah, really. Ghostwriting = exactly like slavery! *facepalm*). Which, interestingly, back in 1845, was exactly the sort of word games a Pamphlet against Dumas on the subject of ghostwriting by Eugene de Mirecourt, who really liked to use racist language against Dumas, and for which Dumas even got him condemned. Which, it gets worse, according to the wikipedia is even where the etymology of this particular use of the word "nègre" in French comes from. Oh, for fuck's sake!

Are they really making a movie about Dumas and ghostwriting without addressing the context of racism that shaped the whole controversy? Or are they going to address the controversy blindingly ignoring the irony of what the fact having a white actor playing a biracial historical figure means about racism in contemporary France? Either way, this is full of fail.

ETA: Two articles in French criticising the whitewashing as well.
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Someone's making a documentary movie out of the whole whitewashing Avatar the last airbender controversies. Which, to me, looks like an awesome idea:

Two links

29 Aug 2009 12:02 pm
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Shoujo Kakumei Utena Friending Meme

If Black Women Were White Women

What if suddenly, instantly, the power of white femininity were transferred to black women?

The answer is clear – Black women would represent value, purity, and based on their natural traits; be worthy of protection and instantly become the objects of universal desire. White women would represent the opposite.

“Beauty tar potion” would become globally popular to get the “black look”. “Dove” would be replaced with a black soap called “Raven” to help exfoliate the skin and bring out subtle hints of melanin.

White female features would be declared violent. Their “jagged” thin lips, “knife sharp” noses, and “harsh” jaw lines would be nature’s way of declaring why men have a natural preference for the soft features of black women. Soft lips, soft cheekbones, and soft round noses would be proof of natural femininity.
Full pink lips and large dark eyes would become associated with virginal black girls, whose purity must not be compromised. Black female features would thus be said to represent youth.

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A rather academic and well written essay on Avatar the Last Airbender, and the white washing occuring in the movie adaptation:
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From [ profile] oyceter RaceFail '09 : this hurts us all:

SF book fandom, where are you?

Although a few authors and editors have come out against what WS and KC have done, where is the rest of the fandom? Like Jane says earlier, "Where are the con-comms, going apeshit to distance themselves from these serial fails of race and culture? Where are the guests-of-honor, specifically inviting underserved communities to visit at an upcoming con? (Where are the "discount if this is your first con evar" programs?) Why aren't the SF organizations like SFWA (okay, bad example) having a cow and putting out official position statements on outreach? Where are press-releases from the publishing houses, explaining their diversity efforts (in their lists and in their workplaces)?"

Why the resounding silence? Editors, authors, fans—all the people who were not talking about RaceFail and what people in their field were doing: where are they?

If the prior months of RaceFail were "both sides behaving badly" (which I disagree with), what is this, and why has no one said anything?

Mely previously wrote, "Is group protest always right or good? No, it's not. It's a way to establish and enforce community norms, and it's only as right and good as the community norms are. It can be profoundly oppressive and profoundly abusive. But silence in the face of injury is also a way to establish and enforce community norms. You don't opt out of a community by remaining in it and never commenting on its big controversies; you just opt to abide by whatever party wins."

What SF book fandom is telling me—a woman, a person of color, and a long-time fan of SF books and a con-goer—what you are telling me is that you don't care. That these are, in fact, your community norms, that you are all right with people who have more power in your community (by virtue of profession, race, and gender) using that power to harm other, less powerful, members of your community. That you are fine with the erasure of women, of people of color, of those without the same professional privileges you enjoy, and that you are willing to stand by silently and let people be hurt. This is how it affects us. This. And this.

Your silence speaks volumes.

So.... what am I, as a fan and reader of SFF books, doing?

Am I linking you to the People of Colour in SF&F Carnival's 12th issue, which was released this week and which much like the awesome Feminist SF Carnival links to various discussions and essays on PoC characters and themes and how they're treated in various SFF media?

Am I linking you to the Asian Woman Blog Carnival which is doing a call for submissions and themes suggestions for its first edition?

Have I mentioned the Remyth Project, which is about PoC writing and creating about their mythologies and legends, so often erased, colonised, appropriated by others?

Being aware of the bias in the publishing industry and book store chains that will make it so that books by PoC and books about PoC are less likely to just come my way when I'm looking for books to read, or to be as widely marketed, recommended and reviewed, have I made a special effort to find those books and review them? Have I joined the [ profile] 50books_poc and taken the challenge to read and review 50 books by PoC?

Have I mentioned that a PoC genre press, [ profile] verb_noire, is getting started?

Have I ever blogged for the International Blog Against Racism? Have I linked to those posts?

Why haven't I? And what else could I do?

And back to the RaceFail '09, did I mention that [ profile] rydra_wong has archived all the links you may want to read know exactly what happened and why it is outrageous, and how people who are writers and editors have been using both their power in the SF industry and their white privilege to silence and sidetrack criticisms of racism and cultural appropriation and have attacked, insulted, demeaned, outed people who were making those criticism? What does it mean when people who are influential and active in the SFF community do so without other people who are active and influential in the SFF community calling them on their shit? Is it something that only concerns the people who suffer from it, or is racism in this community, in my community, something that concerns all of us?

And you, those of you that are also SFF fans, con-goers, forums participants, bloggers and reviewers of the SFF community, those of you that are white and have the privilege of ignoring racism and the people suffering from racist until they start yelling in your ears, what have you been doing?

Some links

4 Mar 2009 04:15 pm
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The Race Fail 09 is still going on, although now it's become, basically, well... honestly I don't know how to comment on it so I'll give you the links I found particularly interesting:

([ profile] coffeeandink by the way, is my favourite SFF blogger, I always found her posts to be consistently very interesting, well thought and articulated, and about a wide range of subjects related to SFF and fandom.)

Abigail Nussbaum and Hal Duncan both have some very interesting posts criticising the recent and less recent episodes of Battlestar Galactica, in particular in terms of metaphors mix-up; and how cowardly the tackling of dark, political themes actually is in the show.

[ profile] zoeiona on the problems with sexism and racism in the SFF genre.

(I didn't find any SCC icons I liked, so I made my own. Lookie!)
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"Going Native" sf, anthropology and colonialism by [ profile] coffeeandink

There's a recent survey done by the Anti Defamation League about antisemitism in Europe,7340,L-3669706,00.html
A lesson in modern antisemitism and this other post by [ profile] chopchica talks about it and about her own experience with antisemitism while travelling in Europe. As a French Jew, it's a little bit odd for me to see a post talking about this from the experience of an American on a trip, but actually it's a bit of an eye opener because there are many things I taught myself not to pay attention to just because I'm used to them. I'm also used to see my concerns dismissed and being treated like a pain in the ass when I insist on complaining about the lack sandwich with chicken rather than three different choices of pork or cheese at local RPG conventions.

Over at the westeros board (yes, I still read it, just lurking, shut up), Scott Bakker insists on showing his ass to the public in a thread (and its sequel) about the treatment of women in his books and people who think it's sexist (and people who think any reading about sexism and misogynism in a book is a grave insult that should never be done because it's so awful!! yeahhhhhhh right). On the same thread, several people, especially Kalbear, Maia and needle are being awesome.

There's a Celia Friedman interview at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist with some interesting discussions about sexism in fantasy as well, especially in the comments.
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I've been pointed out that one of my paragraph in the post I had pasted from the thread could be read as implying that I thought the death of Jews, in the Shoah, as somehow more important than the current suffering and death of the Palestinian people, when I said it was not a genocide, and as a result dismissing their plight. I wrote this line because this claim (calling what Palestinians suffer a genocide) is something I have heard a few times, and indeed, I've seen someone make this comparison in another thread at the board. However I was not my intent to dismiss the Palestinians' suffering and horrid current plight and I apologize for writing something which could be read that way. I have bow retracted (via striking it out) of my previous post.
Another person commented addressing this paragraph to say that while it was not a genocide, it was in effect ethnic cleansing. I am not educated and knowledgeable enough to address that comment with the seriousness it deserves, which I'm sorry for. But I thought you guys should be made aware at this objection to my post.

My one day suspension having ended, I sent a PM to Ran telling him that I thought I deserved an explainion

This is his answer, and my own answer to him.
lengthy )

There are maybe some people reading this who are puzzled and confused about this, because the first post I made on the subject was flocked. Given that a lot of people commented there knowing it was flocked, I would rather not unlock it. So, sorry for the confusion

There are maybe some people, especially other boarders, who are disagreeing with me deeply about this in general. I want to tell you that I prefer a thousand time for someone to tell me fair and square that they disagree with me, than for them to be bashing me in private under a flock post. Seriously few things make me feel more betrayed.

I'm leaving the board now. I spent a lot of good times there, and I'm sorry to abandon all the people there I enjoyed discussing with, but I don't think I can enjoy myself there anymore.

And that's it for this subject.


14 Jan 2009 08:57 pm
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Thought inducing post linked from my flist by a few people, if you've missed it: I didn't dream of dragons by [ profile] deepad

It is causing me quite a bit of discomfort because it is hitting some right spot.

Also I've been wondering if my username was perhaps horribly presumptuous and if I should change it >_>;

ETA: actually I should just rec this list of links collected by [ profile] rydra_wong
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I love my flist for it already said everything I might want to say about the first solid news we get on the cast of the Avatar live action movie : here, and here, and here, and god why here.

Is there some kind of rule that says liveaction fantasy must be pasty white regardless of the BLATANT pointers in the text/animated canon about the fact that characters are in fact of colour? It feels like the Earthsea adaptations all over again :(

And yeah, people's eagerness to downplay, justify or rationnalise away this shit is making me want to scream.


2 Feb 2008 07:07 pm
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Hi. My username is [ profile] etrangere, and I'm probably a racist.

Basically one big fucking word to what [ profile] carlanime said over there.

As long as we are not willing to admit those things to ourselves and to others, no matter how embarrassing it is, and act in consequences, racism will go on. Saying "I am not a racist" (especially if you follow it with a "but..." >_>;;) is not enough.
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This is a subject I almost posted about a few months ago, during the latest HP racism merry-go-round (not the Christmas and antisemitism one which I was too busy being swamped under work to properly follow which is a shame because it looked pretty interesting and I missed some excellent post and could link to only one of them), and eventually didn't because I wasn't too sure of myself. Then today [ profile] lodessa just polled her flist, among other things, about : "Do you consider Jewish people to be White/Caucasian?"

1,000$ question.

Now before I go further, I must give you some context on how I see things. I'm French. In France, a few weeks ago there was an attempt to pass a law to actually let people do statistic studies using ethnic categories. That law was among other things asked by anti-racism groups in order to actually measure racism and its prejudice against people. (It was of course, also asked by big compagnies which would like to be able to do market studies about products like ethnic hair care and skin scare products... but never mind that). The law was eventually rejected after being voted for being anti-constitutionnal.

Classifying people by "races" isn't being looked up very nicely in France. There's some good reasons for that. History, for one : there's this little story about the French state, circa 1939, asking Jews to sign up on list so they could be protected against Nazis, and then a few month later this same list being used to gather up Jews and deport them. As a child, I was taught that racism was, before everything, believing that there are such a thing as human races. Then, there's the whole thing of hierarchizing those "races" or associating specific traits, personnalities and abilities to those "races". But before that, you actually have to pretend that categorizing Humanity according racial lines has an actual scientific ground. Which it doesn't, it's total bullshit, ask any good genetician.

But "races" (and even there I have to use those quotation marks around the word) as used by anti-racist people, in the US or elsewhere, isn't so much about that as it is about the social groups formed around the visibility of cultural/ethnic differences. Being black-skinned is pretty visible, and that's got an effect on the practical life of people who are Black and live as minority within larger group, as well as with the cultural identity they self-identify, and I understand that.

But it still makes me go twitch.

So, chronologicaly, the first time I passed a quizz/test thing on the internet and they asked me my "race", I kind of frowned, and scratched my head. But I wanted to see the result of whatever it was, so I scanned the list : of course they didn't have "Jewish" on it, so after a while I clicked on "Other". I think I did that a few times over the years (not many internet quizzes ask you that).

Then I saw a few racism discussions in fandoms. I read, I learned, eventually I participated too. Among other things I learned about the concept of priviledge, and realized there were some I enjoyed, and some of which I was deprived. And once, I saw a link to a little .pdf pamphlet (which I wish I had kept a link to. ETA : this one : I can fix it, by damaliayo! thanks to [ profile] cryptoxin for linking to it), which was giving white people some advice about how to not be racist. One of the first advice was owning up to the idea that we have race, and that this race was White.

Of course I had a little problem with that.

I don't self-identify as White, first because I still think the concept of "race" is stupid and wrong even if it's useful to fight against racism; and I don't really identify with the White culture (even though it's an obvious influence since I live in it) or the White agenda (as someone said over at [ profile] lodessa's post) since I'm Jewish. And I went away from studying Anthropology with the firm belief that you can't go around and tell people what they should identify as. Identity, complex thing, voluntary basis only.

Then again, that wasn't that pamphlet point. Because If I had been Black, Asian or Native American or whatever, would I have identified as a Person of Colour? Hell, yes. So, not identifying as White, in this configuration, does that mean I see white skin as "default"? Well... kinda. Hello me own skanky race issues.

However, I'm still not happy using racial categories as if there were, you know, actual human races out there. So that's still stopping me.

But an important point remains : I enjoy white priviledge. I know I enjoy it, even if I don't know and might never know how it is to live without enjoying it. I know I've never been called an "immigrant" even though I'm just as 3rd generation immigrant as your average Maghrebin youth from the Parisian suburbs who would typically be called that, with all the insidious racism going with it.

When talking about the Jews overall, there's another issue. The majority of the Jewish population in the US is, I believe, Ashkenazi, who look very "white" overall. However there are Black Jews (both the Ethiopan Jews and from conversion and mixing), and there are big population of Jews from the Mediterranean region and the middle east who can look pretty dark skinned (My mother who was born in Algeria has been confused for Arab at least a couple of times). So you can't really treat "Jewish" as a whole as a racial category separate from the others.

Then of course, people should be aware that there are physical characteristics which have been historically associated to Jews by racist people. Someday I might even properly rant about the way it disturbs me that JKR could describe Snape as sallow skinned and hook nosed, and a master of potions; or, even worse, the goblins has having very similar characteristics as well as being, you know, money-grabbing bankers; while still co-opting the history of antisemitic opression to write her story.

The bottom line is, I think, that those racial categories the US (and a few other countries) use can be a useful tool to fight racism, but they're also problematic. I think neither the US nor France have the best approach about them. US condones too much the idea that "race" is relevent in an essentialist way, and France blissfully ignores issues of priviledge as well as removing the tools to actually know how much racism is a problem. Those categories when used do not represent any essential truth about people, but social classifications which happen and reflect society's basic racism. On the one hand, most Jews enjoy white priviledge and are therefore White/Caucasian. On the other hand, Jews, even in the US, don't exactly enjoy perfect tolerance and integration, and belong to a cultural group which is often separated from the WASP culture that "White/Caucasian" means. Maybe another way to think such system would be better able to represent both those truths at the same time.

IMHO, I'm simply looking at what I understand of American culture through a foreigner's eyes and via the internet.
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Note for self 1: Do not participate in discussions about racism / sexism before going to bed. It makes you belligerent instead of sleepy.

Note for self 2: I wish I could find again that macro with that snowman melting and the "oh noes! it's so hard to be white" legend.
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Nobody likes being called a racist. That holds true as well when you're being explained very nicely and politely that something you said could, in certain circumstances, be interpretated as racist. It's an upsetting accusation. It's one of the thing we typically think of as EVIL, right along the Godwin point and rape.

Trouble is, more often than not, the accusation is true.

The thing is, we're all, in some way, racist. we're all liable to one day say something with racist conotations. That means me, you, my family, my friends, my coworkers. That's no because me, you, my family, my friends, my coworkers actively think that Black people (or whatever other "races" would be targetted) are not human being, should be oppressed, exterminated or whatever exemples of active and violent racist. That's simply because our culture is dripping with implicite racism (and also with sexism and homophobia, etc.). We breath it and we often don't realize it, at least not until we fall victim to it.

So being called up for it when we didn't realize in the first place we said anything wrong, when we really believe ourselves to be a enlightened, self-concious, progressive person is upsetting.

Sometimes (way too often) that causes knee jerk reactions. The 'OMG HOW DARE YOU CALL ME A RACIST' kinds.

I understand that, but... while saying something racist while not being aware of it is one thing that's going to happen to anyone, conciously ignoring and scorning the people who've kindly (or not) informed you of your own prejudices is a whole other thing.

No, I am not saying that you should bow and let anyone who pulls a "Racist!" card get their way, but you should seriously consider your own prejudices. Because it's likely you have some, and no, it's not going to kill you to admit it, rectify, appologize.
Sure it's embarrassing and upsetting, but the alternative is worse.

The alternative is being of those people who intentionnally turn a blind eye to racism because they held their own pride as more important than actively trying to not be racist.

I've been there. I've said stuff that were offensively ignorant regarding Black people. It took me a full day before I backpedaled and appologized (and I'm very glad I did). It will likely happen to me again despite the fact that I think myself as anti-racist.

Again, appologizing and rectifying isn't that hard. It's not going to kill anyone.

Post related to the current [ profile] daily_deviant merrygoround :
[ profile] witchqueen's initial post.
[ profile] liviapenn's collection of links on the subjet.
[ profile] bethbethbeth's take on it.
[ profile] daily_deviant's current official answer.

ETA: On the other side, here are some of links to posts by people that try to defend D_D :
[ profile] greenspine on racism
[ profile] celandined on racism which is particulary funny in the way she accuses people of making unfounded accusations, makes herself an unfounded accusation which she then admits was wrong, and then do something very similar to what she was accusing witchqueen of. All in one post, kudos.
with a cute anecdoque on bullying that has nothing to do with anything. Links removed after poster's request.

ETA : Thank God, [ profile] daily_deviant has removed the tag and appologized.
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Stolen from [ profile] harrytheheir's journal, but I'd just have to share the new :

Israeli group announces anti-Semitic cartoons contest!
A Danish paper publishes a cartoon that mocks Muslims.
An Iranian paper responds with a Holocaust cartoons contest -
- Now a group of Israelis announce their own anti-Semitic cartoons contest!

Amitai Sandy (29), graphic artist and publisher of Dimona Comix Publishing, from Tel-Aviv, Israel, has followed the unfolding of the “Muhammad cartoon-gate” events in amazement, until finally he came up with the right answer to all this insanity - and so he announced today the launch of a new anti-Semitic cartoons contest - this time drawn by Jews themselves!

“We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!” said Sandy “No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!”

I am SO amused XD
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From Ursula Leguin's website

Most of the characters in my fantasy and far-future sf books are not white. They're mixed, they're rainbow. In my first big sf novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, the only person from Earth is a black man and everybody else in the book is Inuit (or Tibetan) brown. In my first fantasy novels (the ones the miniseries is "based on"), A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan, everybody's brown or copper-red or black, except the Kargish people in the East and their descendants in the Archipelago, who are white, with fair or dark hair. Tenar is a Karg, a brunette white person. Ged is an Archipelagan, a redbrown man. Vetch, from the East Reach, is black.

This color scheme was conscious and deliberate from the start. I didn't see why everybody in sf had to be a honky named Bob or Joe or Bill. I didn't see why everybody in heroic fantasy had to be white (and all the leading women had "violet eyes"). I didn't even believe it. Whites are a minority on Earth now -- why wouldn't they still be either a minority, or just swallowed up in the larger colored gene pool, in the future?

The fantasy tradition I was writing in came from North Europe, which is why it was about white people. I'm white, but not European. My people could be any color I liked, and I like red and brown and black. I was a little wily about my color scheme. I figured some white kids (the books were published for "young adults") might not identify easily straight off with a brown kid, so I kind of eased the information about skin color in by degrees -- hoping that the reader would get "into Ged's skin," and only then discover it wasn't a white one.

rest of the text )

Overall, I definitly agree. In SF it is not always so grevious, but I always had the feeling that in fantasy there was an overabundance of european influenced societies (especially celtic, of course) compared to anything else. You sometimes have the token oriental-spunned world, mostly Japanese, and the Arabian Nights series (Tanith Lee's Tale of the Flat Earth and Weis&Hickman's Rose of the Prophet springs to my mind), but otherwise tales with emphatically non-white characters shine by their absence. I love celtic mythologies as much as anyone else, but it was good that there was one famous, critically acclaimed story where most of the protagonists were emphatically described as black, or dark-skinned. That was Earthsea. Apparently this mini-serie sucks for many other reasons, but that's the one thing that extremely annoys me about it.

Comments ?
salinea: (Default)
snatched from [ profile] masqthphlsphr

Read more... )

Bought two books by Charlene Harris, as recced by [ profile] generalblossom, and am currently reading "To say nothing about the dog", which has too many dogs but also has cat, luckily, and is funny, not in the way I most like my funnies, but very funny still.

Started playing at the Clamp Campus RP community (bounces excitedly)
Failed to watch the Village today, as my friend had got the time for the seance wrong, but we shall try again tommorrow. Instead spent much of the afternoon discussing Mage the Ascension with Nicky, who's planning on GM it. Mage is my favourite RPG. It's so open, so adaptable, so based on interpretation. I just love discussing about it like no other games. Of course, I don't even GM it, at least, not on a regular basis. Strange how some visions are so perfect in your mind you are not able to reach for them in reality because you fear disapointement.

Watching France - Israel football makes my mother racist. Is a depressing thought.


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