Archive for Reading on the Rails

Reading on the Rails

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 18, 2010 by thebibliophile

I came across a witty and short piece, on Arabic Literature (In English), observing how Western media is quick to label womyn writers who write in Arabic, as the “Carrie Bradshaw of […]” insert Middle Eastern/Arabic country. How can you not love a piece that contains the quote, “what I’d really like to hear is someone being called “the bare-headed Ghada Abdel-Aal.”

Dr. Laura Schlessinger

The Root shares that Dr. Laura Schlessinger will be leaving her radio show, purportedly because she wants her First Amendment rights back. Riight. The analysis of Dr. Laura’s behavior deserves its very own blog post. I don’t know why anyone is surprised by what Dr. Laura said – hasn’t she been saying crazy things her entire career? And by crazy, I mean comments about gay men being predatory and about her opposition to gay marriage – though last year on Larry King’s show she said commitment between two people was a “beautiful and healthy thing.”  So, really, why is anyone surprised? This is where single-issue politics get us in’s ok when she says things about gay people, but we’re surprised when she turns that onto Black people. Side-eye to people being surprised by this one….someone pass Dr. Laura a bag of tea and let’s keep it moving.

The Root also has a piece comparing the treatment of Alicia Keys and Fantasia Barino, both of whom have been linked to married men. The analysis doesn’t go as deep as I’d like – to discuss class perceptions, perceptions of sexual orientation, and even the role or expectations of womyn – but it is worth checking out. What I would have really loved is if this had been a slightly longer piece that also discussed and put into context the fervor over Black womyn and their dating/romantic lives and the pressure to be coupled, and how that narrative changes, is affirmed, or challenged, when womyn do find partners – that is, other womyn’s partners. To me, Alicia Keys and Fantasia Barino complicate, challenge, and even serve as examples of what the kinds of choices we offer to womyn when we say, either be coupled or if not, be considered a “failed” womyn – a Black womyn who cannot be partnered of contained.

Recently, I’ve noticed that successful Black womyn have to be linked to men, or else…their sexuality and self seems uncontrollable and threatening. The narrative and expectation of being coupled has increased. And I wonder, who benefits from the pressure of Black womyn feeling they must partner?

Naomi Campbell and Rachel Zoe

And I know that Naomi Campbell is scary, with the cell phone throwing, camera pushing, and accepting of blood diamonds from murderous dictators, but isn’t it interesting how The Rachel Zoe Project  positions Naomi Campbell. Everyone is frightened, but from the clip, via Jezebel, to me at least, it looks like Rachel hasn’t gotten it together – and Naomi is handling business; and she didn’t even throw anything…

Michel Martin, host of "Tell Me More"

 The wonderful Michel Martin of NPR’s “Tell Me More,” had womyn on her show discussing being confused as the nanny of their biracial children. Check it out here.

And I love that Carleen Brice, on White Readers Meet Black Authors is having a Black author review Kathryn Stockett’s, The Help.


Reading on the Rails

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 5, 2010 by thebibliophile

"Afro Chair" via Apartment Therapy 10/2009


The blogosphere has been busy! In the last few weeks, I’ve been introduced to a few new blogs that have peaked my interest and got me thinking about several things I’d like to discuss and post in the coming months. First, One Grand Home, a blog that focuses specifically on domesticity and home decor, there is a post about Apartment Therapy, the wildly popular home decor site (and book series) and its problematic history of racism, classism, and appropriation. Read the post entitled, “A Problematic History of Race & Class at Apartment Therapy.”  The post is thoughtful, very well researched – it features images from Apartment Therapy as evidence, and it brings up very potent and current issues of how “home” functions as a politized space.  I particularly appreciate the discussion of gentrification and displacement. Two words: afro chair.   

Via Sociological Images, 1/2010


Over at Sociological Images, there’s an interesting piece on gendering and whitening professional on-line degree programs. Their post, “Gendering Online Degree Programs,” is a good read. Especially considering how many of these pop-ups we unwittingly view while on the internet.   

 Boldtype has introduced me to Daily Lit, a website where you can sign up to have books sent to you in installments. Best of all, it is completely free! Note: I’m sure they sell your reading selections to a third party, but hey, free reading. The selection is not broad and their listing of African-American books is embarassingly paltry (and someone should tell them that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, while written about fictionalized Black people, is not written by an actual African-American and is not African-American literature), but still, free books.   

Check out this war propaganda from WWII,  from Life Magazine which is featured on Google Books. Pay close attention to the toothpaste ad, which declares:   

Look! Is not this your Daughter?/ Is not she young America? /She has a great Heritage, /A Future filled with Promise! We see her a Woman, Sympathetic and Smiling – with a Smile that owes much to her Lifelong use of Ipana and Massage.   

Now I can legitimately link the craze for tooth whitening to white sumpremacist notions of beautify and purity.   

Carleen Brice is featuring some great links on her site, White Readers Meet Black Authors, particularly a link to discussions of race in Young-Ault literature on the site Chasing Ray. Brice also astutely notes a trend I’ve also noticed: that in the rush to list the “best of 2009” the great list-makers who be, only seem comfortable including one author of color. That’s it. Brice wittily points to this “Highlander” tendency in her post, “There Can Be Only One.”   

Wench: A Novel

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez


And I am eagerly awaiting the release of the book Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez which examines the lives of four womyn living in a resort designed for white slaveowners and the enslaves Black womyn, with whom they were sexually engaged.The Sartorialist is running some great classic photographs featuring beautifully dressed people of color (a rarity for Sart, though I love the site).   

Via The Sartorialist, 1/2010


Overall I thought the comments were respectful and admiring, though it would have been even better, if comments like this, weren’t part of the mix:   

From stylespotterfashionblogger: They are all so smart. Love the tap dancing like shoes, and the wide leg pleat front trousers. They seem to take such pride in their images.   

What tap dancing shoes? What? And:   

From God’s Favorite Shoes: “WOW!!! Who is that family? Is it mine? Is that my great grandmother?(just kidding) Were they pimps? Were they educators? Who are they! I love a stylish family! Those men were so suave!!!”   

And this: “not only are the photos great due to B+W, fashion, etc., we are also looking at I’m assuming an African American family that was upper middle class, or even upper class, which was not very common during this time period, the history of the people/family is probably more fascinating than the tailored clothes.”   

Many of the commenters make remarks about Sart’s discovery of these photos, and the people in those photos, which not surprisingly I find not only problematic, but also telling. The people in the photographs, identified as being at City College, are youthful, alive, and well-dressed to the hilt. The credit given to Sart, somehow removes the agency from the people in the photograph – as if his style reach is so powerful it can reach back temporally to create fashionable images.   

Exotification aside, I think its pretty powerful when a predominantly white website, that features predominantly white fashionistas and commenters (though that doesn’t constitute all of the readership or all those featured) features people of color, so beatifully positioned – and then creates a fervor and excitement about how those people are dressed. That commenters are for the most part referencing the timelessness and elegance of the photographs, which doens’t always happen when a body of color is photographed.

I Heart the Internet: Reading on the Rails

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 16, 2008 by thebibliophile

Over at Diary of an Anxious Black Woman, there’s a fantastic critique of Jonathan Demme’s new movie Rachel Getting Married. Check it out here – it’s so well done – really thoughtful, really well written.

Then over at Assimilated Negro, Jeff Chang is breaking down the connection between Wall Street and hip-hop.

Carmen Van Kerckhove over at Racialicious is yet again dropping knowledge. The recent posts about Heroes and microcredit I found particularly interesting.

And over at Have Mastered The Art of…CRA , talented playwright, breaks down hip-hop and legos.

At Young, Black, and Fabulous, sketches of the Obama’s possible Inauguration ensembles are featured. And I’m sorry, I just have to say this, but is it me, or do too many of these designs, look butler-ish- but maybe this is just my own internalized oppression? Like maybe, perhaps, designers so accustomed to ignoring people of color, don’t know how dress a President-elect of color with the proper balance of swagger and elegance. I, surprisingly, really liked the dark navy Sean John suit design.  Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Cole, and Ferragama are also interesting. Brooks Brothers…well…

I heart the internet.