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‘Lamps everywhere’: Utterly psychotic New Orleans furniture commercials
07.08.2014
02:00 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Idiocracy
Race
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
Sparkle Johnson


 
I have no words—these commercials for New Orleans’ Hotel Furniture Liquidators star the Maryland performer Kevin Scott’s staggeringly offensive blackface-and-drag character “Sparkle Johnson.” (ZERO relation to the baffling-for-different-reasons HGTV dandy Josh “Sparkle” Johnson.) Why they thought racism, misogyny and classism would be a good way to sell used hotel furniture is anyone’s guess (my guess: because the South), but beyond the brashly anti-PC nature of the character, this stuff is just phenomenally fucked up.
 

 

 
If you’d like to see some more of Scott’s, er… act, I’d suggest you look up his “Aunt Grace” character and don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

Here’s an older ad for the same company, which shows that the unfathomably bizarre had been a tool in their tactical sales arsenal for a good while before they employed Mr. Scott.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Before Kehinde Wiley, there was Barkley L. Hendricks: magnificent portraits of African-Americans
06.10.2014
01:20 pm

Topics:
Art
Race

Tags:
Barkley L. Hendricks

Barkley T. Hendricks
“Lawdy Mama” (1969)

I learned of the existence of Barkley L. Hendricks just a few days ago, when a friend of mine posted “Lawdy Mama,” without attribution, on her Facebook page. Intrigued, I wrote a comment asking if it was ... Angela Davis painted in the manner of a 12th-century saint? I soon learned how wrong I was!

A recent Hendricks exhibition Duke University bore the title “Birth of the Cool,” and if any American painter can withstand such brazen comparison to Miles Davis, it’s probably Hendricks. (You can buy Trevor Schoonmaker’s catalog for the show here.)

I adore how individuated, forthright, and interesting all of his subjects are. I don’t know who these people were, of course, but they certainly seem lifted right off the streets of his native Philadelphia, costumery, attitude, and pride intact. From an artistic perspective, you can see traces of Frida Kahlo in the way the backgrounds and clothes complement the subjects (and the way that most of them are facing the viewer). There’s a whiff of Jasper Johns in the red-white-blue frame of “Icon for My Man Superman,” and maybe a little bit of Peter Grant in the use of color. But Hendricks’ clearest connection is as the inspiration to a current art world superstar, the incredible Kehinde Wiley. As the Village Voice once wrote in an assessment of Wiley, “And then there’s Barkley Hendricks—in fact, Wiley’s paintings are a kind of juiced-up redux of Hendricks, with similar centralized figures and an emphasis on pattern.”

Few artists would embody the 1970s slogan “Black is Beautiful” as thoroughly as Hendricks. Of course, not all of his subjects are African-American, but most of them are, and especially earlier in his career. If you Google his name you’ll find plenty of later works depicting people of other races.
 
Barkley T. Hendricks
“Icon for My Man Superman” (1969)
 
Barkley T. Hendricks
“Sir Charles, Alias Willie Harris” (1972)
 
Barkley T. Hendricks
“Dr. Kool” (1973)
 
Barkley T. Hendricks
“Bahsir (Robert Gowens)” (1975)
 
Barkley T. Hendricks
“Blood (Donald Formey)” (1975)
 
Barkley T. Hendricks
“Sweet Thang (Lynn Jenkins)” (1975-76)
 
Barkley T. Hendricks
“Steve” (1976)
 
Barkley T. Hendricks
“Misc. Tyrone (Tyrone Smith)” (1976)
 
Barkley T. Hendricks
“APB’s (Afro-Parisian Brothers)” (1978)
 
More fantastic images and a video on Hendricks—all after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Ask Lemmy: Straight talk from metal’s ace life coach
06.10.2014
06:25 am

Topics:
Amusing
Heroes
Music
Race
Sex

Tags:
Lemmy


 
If there were any doubt in your mind that Motörhead’s apparently indestructible singer/bassist Lemmy Kilmister is a total goddamn genius, I refer you to these two “Ask Lemmy” videos. They were produced for the program Hard N Heavy on the Canadian E1 network in 1994, and in them, the man who gave the world the lyric “They say music is the food of love/Let’s see if you’re hungry enough” offers some perfectly blunt, often hilarious, genuinely sage advice on matters of love, sex, and RACE RELATIONS.

I can add nothing further here. Just watch.
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Black female filmmaker gently goes face-to-face with Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis
05.30.2014
12:54 pm

Topics:
Current Events
Movies
Race

Tags:
The Aryans


 
Mo Asumang, who’s the daughter of a black Ghanaian father and a white German mother, talks to the BBC about her new documentary The Aryans in which she peacefully confronts racists about what makes them tick.

There are some real zingers in this short piece, especially when she confronts a Ku Klux Klan member about his garb.

Filmmaker Mo Asumang embarks on a journey into the abyss of political evil and finds out that the Aryans originally come from an area which now belongs to Iran. ‘The Aryans’ is a personal journey into the madness of racism: Mo Asumang meets German neo-Nazis, America’s most notorious racist Tom Metzger and members of the Ku Klux Klan in the Midwest. When she encounters the true Aryans in Iran, she realizes that they are friendly and cosmopolitan people who lay no claims to being members of a superior race.

What I like about Mo’s interview style is her gentle approach. She’s not confrontational. It’s almost like the KKK members are ashamed or feel shameful of what they’re doing when they speak to her.  That’s a unique talent!
 

 
Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The whitest rap battle in history—on ‘Jeopardy’
05.20.2014
07:33 am

Topics:
Amusing
Hip-hop
Race
Television

Tags:
Jeopardy
Alex Trebek


 
Seeing Jeopardy host Alex Trebek and perpetual winner Ken Jennings recite classic hip-hop lyrics is one of the most amusingly dad-like things you will see all week.

Hearing such acutely caucasian people reciting lines from “Insane in the Brain,” “Mo Money Mo Problems,” and “The Humpty Dance” almost has the same effect as those classic Steve Allen bits where he recites pop song lyrics as poetry—and oh God, how I tried to find you a video of Allen’s jaw-droppingly hilarious reading of Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff”—but it’s not being played for laughs.
 

 
Kidding around about whitey’s white whiteness aside, Trebek actually does an uncommonly dignified job at this, but then again, it’s not his first rodeo. I especially enjoy the moment at the end where everyone blows it on the one white artist in the bunch, and Trebek unleashes his inner Canadian on that song title’s pronunciation. Awesome.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Kiss My Baadasssss: Ice-T’s Guide To Blaxploitation’
05.15.2014
07:53 am

Topics:
Movies
Race

Tags:
blaxploitation
Ice-T


Ice-T, still taking fashion cues from his superfly celluloid heroes
 
If you’re looking for a primer on blaxploitation cinema, I can’t imagine a more appropriate guide than Ice-T. “Kiss My Baadasssss: Ice-T’s Guide To Blaxploitation” has great commentary, with speakers ranging from feminist icon bell hooks to Isaac Hayes, but it’s Ice’s enthusiastic narration that truly sets the tone. He’s not kidding when he says “these movies were what made me”—the film even contains commentary from author, reformed pimp, and Ice’s namesake, Iceberg Slim. It’s a fair and sympathetic look at an influential (yet often unfairly maligned) genre, and it follows the trajectory of blaxploitation from its groundbreaking heyday to its descent into B movie madness.

The 1994 short was apparently an episode of a UK series called Without Walls, where (as far as I can tell), they just got interesting people to talk about something they liked or didn’t like, filmed them, and then edited it for cohesion. In this instance at least, the result is charming and (yes kids!) educational. While it’s pretty short, it’s a comprehensive little crash course in the blaxploitation genre.

Parts two and three can be found here and here.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Artist creates massive sugar sphinx invoking ‘Mammy’ iconography
05.08.2014
01:44 pm

Topics:
Art
Race

Tags:
Kara Walker
sugar


 
The Domino Sugar refinery, an iconic part of the East River view from Manhattan and closed since 2004, is undergoing slow demolition. It’s a contentious subject. The building was erected in 1882, and while not everyone wants to preserve it, many locals in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn have expressed anger and frustration at the plan to erect luxury apartments on the land, further gentrifying the area. It’s amidst this conflict artist Kara Walker‘s exhibit, “A Subtlety,” finds an appropriate home.

The show is billed as an “homage to the unpaid and overworked artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the kitchens of the new world on the occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.” Walker’s monumental sphinx centerpiece is 75.5-feet long, 35.5 feet high, and 26 feet wide, with a “mammy” kerchief and caricaturized, animalistic stance. There are also amber-colored “Sugar Babies,” realistic, life-size children that drip and melt with a molasses-like substance. The work certainly feels like Walker, though the materials are unexpected, as she’s most well-known for her disturbingly beautiful silhouette depictions of the plantation South.

The slave labor used on sugar plantations in the Caribbean and Americas is the obvious reference, but it’s also worth noting that the purpose of a refinery is to remove the molasses from raw sugar, thereby turning brown sugar into a sparkling crystalline white. “A Subtlety,” which is free, will be open to the public Saturday, May 10th. It will be open Fridays 4 to 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 to 6 p.m. until its close on June 6.
 

During construction, before being coated in sugar
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Gothamist

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘What motherf*cking color are writers supposed to be?’: The righteous rage of Chester Himes
05.05.2014
09:09 am

Topics:
Books
Race

Tags:
Chester Himes

000111semihc.jpg
 
Chester Himes’ early life was as disjointed and chaotic as the crime fictions he later wrote. Born in into an African-American family in Jefferson, Missouri 1909, Himes was witness to the racism endemic in the States at the time. His father worked as a teacher; he was the son of a slave and wanted to instil the value of education in Himes and his brother, Joseph Jr. Their mother thought she had married beneath her worth, and believed that being of lighter skin was the only way to progress in America—his mother’s emphasis on white skin color caused Himes some confusion (later reflected in Himes’ novels) of what it actually meant to be black. This mismatch of parentage led to an unsettling acrimony between his mother and father that pervaded Himes’ childhood. His mother eventually made a rent in the marriage by over-nighting in a “whites only” hotel, the following morning she told the management she was black. Word of the scandal caused Himes’ father to be fired from his teaching post and it was the start of his long and slow decline into failure.

The event that Chester Himes claimed filled him with guilt and anger was Joseph Jr.‘s blinding at school in a tragic accident. The brothers were to attend a chemistry class where they were to make gunpowder. After misbehaving, Himes was barred by his mother from attending the class. Joseph Jr. went alone, mixed the wrong chemicals and they exploded in his face. Joseph Jr.  was refused treatment at the first available hospital because of segregation and by the time he reached a black hospital, it was too late to save his sight. As Himes later wrote in The Quality of Hurt:

“That one moment in my life hurt me as much as all the others put together. I loved my brother. I had never been separated from him and that moment was shocking, shattering, and terrifying…. We pulled into the emergency entrance of a white people’s hospital. White clad doctors and attendants appeared. I remember sitting in the back seat with Joe watching the pantomime being enacted in the car’s bright lights. A white man was refusing; my father was pleading. Dejectedly my father turned away; he was crying like a baby. My mother was fumbling in her handbag for a handkerchief; I hoped it was for a pistol.”

Himes left high school with below average marks, but had ambitions to continue with his education and passed entrance exams for Ohio State University. Here Himes was shocked to see the way in which his fellow African-Americans accepted the way they were treated by racist whites. His anger drove him to action, and he was eventually expelled after a fist fight with a lecturer. Himes drifted and fell into a criminal life as a pimp, bootlegger and bank robber. He was eventually caught and sentenced to 20-25-years for armed robbery. Chester Himes was only nineteen years old.

In prison he started writing short stories about prison life, which were published in various black magazines, and eventually in Esquire magazine. Prison also showed him how humans will do almost anything to stay alive.

“There is an indomitable quality within the human spirit that can not be destroyed; a face deep within the human personality that is impregnable to all assaults ... we would be drooling idiots, dangerous maniacs, raving beasts—if it were not for that quality and force within all humans that cries ‘I will live.’”

 
0111semihc.jpg
 
Released from jail after seven years, Himes started his career as a writer. His early books, If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945) and Lonely Crusade (1947) examined elements of Himes’ ambiguous relationship to ethnicity and class.

“The face may be the face of Africa, but the heart has the beat of Wall Street.”

In later years, a friend wrote Himes saying he was “the most popular of the colored writers.” Himes responded:

“What motherfucking color are writers supposed to be?”

Himes was not easily swayed by simplistic political argument, and was critical of Left as much as he was of the Right. Instead he viewed his life as “absurd”:

“Given my disposition, my attitude towards authority, my sensitivity towards race, along with my appetites and physical reactions and sex stimulations, my normal life was absurd.”

This wasn’t the kind of absurdity Camus or Beckett would have recognized, but it was a response to life that was to reverberate with European audiences.

Himes never had the respect he deserved when resident in America, and it was only after his move to France that he was rightly acclaimed as a writer of great importance, power and true originality. It was also in France that Himes began the series of crime novels (the classic “Coffin” Ed and “Grave Digger” Jones series, which included A Rage in Harlem and Cotton Comes to Harlem) that placed Chester Himes on par with Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

The following video clips give a good introduction to Chester Himes his life and work.
 

 
More on Chester Himes, after the jump….
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Racist L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is also an egomaniac who runs terrible, self-obsessed ads
04.28.2014
06:17 am

Topics:
Race
Sports

Tags:
Donald T. Sterling

Donald T. Sterling
 
So it turns out that the owner of the L.A. Clippers, Donald T. Sterling, is a loathsome racist who told his girlfriend V. Stiviano that recent photographs of her and Magic Johnson bothered him “a lot, that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.” Naturally the media jumped on this and Sterling has been ridiculed and denounced just about everywhere. In racist Amerikkka, it’s nice to have such a clear-cut, undeniable example of racism so that even the “somewhat” racist crowd have an opportunity to prove how not-racist they are.

In addition to harboring these loathsome views, Sterling has committed some other unpardonable sins, first and foremost being just about the nastiest thing I could ever think to call anyone, a West Coast version of Donald Trump. Attentive readers of the L.A. Times will be familiar with these bizarre advertisements sprinkled about occasionally in which Sterling is touting not so much any enterprise he’s associated with, but Donald T. Sterling himself.

Here’s Irvine resident and astute blogger Kevin Drum describing the horror:
 

He gives away lots of money, and when he does he makes sure everyone knows about it. Ads thanking Sterling for his good deeds simply litter the Times. ... They’re all the same: they have terrible, amateur production values; they all use the exact same cutout portrait of Sterling; and they all feature photos of the people honoring Sterling that look like they were taken with a 60s-era Instamatic. These ads appear multiple times a week. Sometimes multiple times a day. Sterling is constantly being honored for something or other, and every single honor is an occasion for him to advertise the fact in the LA Times. And always with the exact same cutout photo of himself. It’s kind of creepy.

 
Here’s an example, taken from Sunday’s paper:
 
Donald T. Sterling
 
Here are a couple other examples of the light Sterling touch, always with the same stupid photo:
 
Donald T. Sterling
 
Donald T. Sterling
 
While we’re cataloguing the bizarre workings of Sterling’s brain, I have to mention quickly this amazing thing that Josh Marshall at TPM caught over the weekend. In 2003 Sterling sued a former mistress of his to get back the house he once gave her. Asked to identify his own handwriting, Sterling answered as follows (the questioner’s follow-up is just about the funniest thing ever):
 
Donald T. Sterling
 
By the way, apparently Sterling’s racist views have been public knowledge for quite a while now. In addition to this helpful Deadspin guide to Sterling’s racism going back decades, here’s comedian/rapper/entrepreneur Nick Cannon on ESPN nine months ago having difficulty defending the owner of his favorite basketball team (jump to the 1:30 mark):
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Invoking blackface, conservative idiot whines that Stephen Colbert is racist towards conservatives!


 
I seldom write about political matters anymore on DM because there’s an assumption that if you hate Republicans then you must automatically be a Democrat and I got tired of offering the disclaimer that the only reason I would ever vote for a Democrat is to keep the Republican out of office. Not only that, once-reliable traffic-generators like “Glenn Beck says something OFF THE WALL (again)” or “Sarah Palin says something IDIOTIC (again)” don’t really bring in that much traffic anymore. Republicans are fucking idiots. If they weren’t, then they wouldn’t be Republicans. Most people who read this blog probably don’t need anyone, including me, explaining that to them. I prefer to ignore them.

Today, though, I’m making an exception for the #1 dumbest rightwing reaction to Stephen Colbert taking over for David Letterman. This is just too good.

Young Ben Shapiro was once the wimpy “boy wonder” to Andrew Breitbart’s blob-shaped crusader and he usually makes about as much sense as his blustery late mentor, except that no one takes him nearly as seriously. Lil’ Ben is now the editor of a silly blog called Truth Revolt that no one reads except for lefty bloggers who want to mock him. He’s written a new book called How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them and he’s proud of the fact that he was still a virgin on his wedding day.

Shapiro possesses pretty much the most punchable face I think I’ve ever seen. He fills me with visceral hatred. Which is kind of funny because in his latest Truth Revolt “think piece” Shapiro makes an inadvertently hilarious argument for the comedic genius, not to mention vital cultural importance of Stephen Colbert by complaining that:

“It is nearly impossible to watch an episode of The Colbert Report without coming away with a viscerally negative response to conservatives.”

Sharply observed, fuckwit! Give that man a Kewpie Doll…

But in the wake of all the conservative hand-wringing about Colbert replacing Letterman (Rush Limbaugh said that CBS was declaring “war” on the heartland with this pick) Babyface Ben sees something far more sinister going on:  Colbert IS a racist! He’s a racist against conservatives!

Blackface, which has an ugly history dating back to at least the fifteenth century according to historian John Strausbaugh, was used to portray demeaning and horrifying stereotypes of blacks. Such stereotypical imitation has not been limited to blacks, of course; actors tasked with playing stereotypical Jew Shylock often donned a fake nose and red wig, as did actors who were supposed to play Barabas in The Jew of Malta. Such stereotypical potrayals [sic] create a false sense of blacks, or Jews, or whomever becomes the target of such nastiness.

And this is precisely what Colbert does with regard to politics: he engages in Conservativeface. He needs no makeup or bulbous appendage to play a conservative – after all, conservatives come in every shape and size. Instead, he acts as though he is a conservative – an idiotic, racist, sexist, bigoted, brutal conservative. He out-Archie Bunkers Archie Bunker. His audience laughs and scoffs at brutal religious “Colbert” who wishes to persecute gays; they chortle at evil sexist “Colbert” who thinks men are victims of sexism. This is the purpose of Colbert’s routine. His show is about pure hatred for conservatives in the same way that blackface was about pure hatred of blacks. In order to justify their racism, racists had to create a false perception of blacks; in the same way, Colbert and his audience can justify their racism only by creating a false perception of conservatives.

No, no Ben, you’re confused. Colbert gives a very, very, very accurate portrayal of conservatives. Didn’t you just write:

“It is nearly impossible to watch an episode of The Colbert Report without coming away with a viscerally negative response to conservatives.”

It’s because conservatives are assholes, Ben. Like you. Someone who doesn’t get the fucking joke..

The comments below Shapiro’s logic-addled rant are as delicious as you might expect:

The only thing this article accomplished is making me think that I might not be too sad if society as a whole started systematically disenfranchising and dehumanizing conservatives. After all, if this guy is that attached to the blackface metaphor he should at least get to experience it for real firsthand.

Here’s another:

Is this an article or a rationalization? Sounds like more right wing sour grapes to me. Colbert’s character is successful because it is such a dead-on satire. You can listen to Rush and Fox News and conclude that Colbert is misrepresenting them as somehow worse, or more extreme than they really are? Laughable. Go re-examine your life. You’re on the wrong side.

Tee-hee. Expecting self-awareness from the likes of lil’ Ben seems a tad far-fetched, though.

Oh, brother. There’s this thing called satire and it always exagerrates its subject. That’s how it works. Minstrel shows weren’t satire. They were mockery and cultural appropriation. Is Mr Shapiro claiming that people are born conservative and Mr Colbert is stereotyping the entire conservative “race?”

Or…

BUT WHOOOOO WILL THINK OF THE BILLIONAIRE INDUSTRIALISTS AND UNEDUCATED SOUTHERN WHITE BIGOTS??

What about?

it’s almost as if you’re providing the source material for him to be successful…oh wait, you have

Here’s another good one:

You just compared the schtick of a comedian on a comedy network to the institutional and societal approved degradation of a entire race of people. Which in addition to being monumentally stupid is also precisely why folks like Colbert mock conservatives, your feigned attempts at equivocating always shines a light on the underbelly of your magnificent ignorance.

Not sure if Ben Shapiro and Truth Revolt are important enough targets for Colbert and his writers to take notice of—some attention from him is what Shapiro seems to be aiming for with this insipid drivel—but it would be amusing to hear their take on how the author of How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them scored such a humiliating own goal.

Meanwhile, Colbert did what he does best on last night’s program, totally pwning “Papa Bear”:
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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