Anita Blake–Half-Latina?! Who knew!

Laurell K. Hamilton has practically copied the passage about Anita being half-Latina from previous books and pasted it into every new book of this going-on-20-book-series. The only reason I think of Anita as half-Latina is because Hamilton keeps using Anita to say that she is. The truth is I don’t believe it. For the same reason that I can sometimes tell when a white writer is trying really hard to “write” a person of color, and failing horribly–its a sixth sense. Anita Blake’s biraciality has no real importance in the series; it can easily be removed, and the story would practically be the same. Anita Blake herself is not particularly a shining example of race consciousness, neither is Hamilton by her own admission. If you took out every point where Anita has said that her mother’s side of the family is Mexicano and replaced it with something white, privileged, middleclass, and American-sounding, and possibly made Anita blonde, this story would sound more or less the same if you ask me. My disbelief cannot be surrendered or suspended.

Why do I think of Anita as white? Well, Laurell K. Hamilton doesn’t really gives me a choice. I can never shake off this sensation that Hamilton is portraying Anita Blake as white while exotifying her as part Latina. Like I’ve said before, the only thing about Anita that’s Latina is her hair and that is constantly pointed at in the books. I think if you took out the grandma and the mother and replaced Anita with a white woman there would be absolutely no difference in the series. It doesn’t help that Anita has no substantial female friends (mentors or enemies either), she is homophobic, and she either victimizes other women or is portrayed as having antagonistic relationships with almost all the women who crop up in the series, especially the few women of color. Her whole presentation is that of a white woman. I was just making a horrible joke, actually, about her hair type because even that is aligned with the curliness of Jean Claude’s hair, an ancient white Frenchman who is the complete personification of Hamilton’s complex over pretty white people in her portrayal of Anita. All it would do is make Anita less ansty about being dark-haired and white.

Overall, Anita’s presentation is that of a white woman who emerges from the mind of a white woman. I’ve always struggled with LKH saying that Anita is half-Latina but never actually feeling that it was true or, I guess I should say, I’ve struggled with feeling that her Mexicana heritage matters…because her presentation is that of a white girl. What’s even the point of mentioning in almost every book that she’s half-Latina and forcing readers to ruminate over her angst with the situation? My point overall is that, as a woman of color reading about a woman who is at least mixed, I get no sense that Anita actually thinks about race as a serious issue (outside of her angst over her beauty and her history with her grandma); her background is that of a privileged, middleclass American white girl. As a half-white person (just plain white as an extension of Hamilton’s consciouness), race is something she can ignore if she wants.

Again, I continue to struggle with LKH saying that Anita is half-Latina but never actually feeling that it’s true. I don’t really intend to keep giving LKH my money, so I don’t know if this will change. I’ve stopped at Bullet and committed myself to not buying anymore.

Anita’s Mexican mother married a blond-haired, blue-eyed white man, Anita herself is pale as a sheet and its constantly alluded to over the course of the series, she surrounded by white people all the time, all her boyfriends are white, her background is pretty WASP. She’s white.

I’m through.

ever more real,

MsQ

Advertisements

Toying with Whitness and ‘darkness’

Elia's Diamonds

One of the few books I ever pick up anymore is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series–and that’s saying something. As I get older, my tastes become more specific. I am less amused by the things that occupied me as a child and as a young adult, percieving them as a semi-exciting maze that has no other paths and leads eventually, always, to the same damn dead end produced by the publishing market.

This being said, I have yet to write about in detail Laurell K. Hamilton’s fixation, like most racist fetishist participating in racialized fetishism on the page, with paleness and whiteness as opposed to brownness and the so-called ‘darkness’. Hamilton’s Anita Blake is caught up in the racialized dualism of ‘darkness; and whiteness with little to no middle ground. I will suspend my belief in the concept of the willful muse to go so far as to say that Laurell K. Hamilton herself is trapped in the same dualism, seeing as how Anita comes out of her head: Anita is a reflection of the author’s own psyche.

Through Anita, Hamilton toys with the idea of brownness through summer tans and suggestions of “darker heritage’, but couches the entire story from the prospective of a woman who is half white and middleclass, with an angelic deceased Latina mother, a mean strict Catholic Latina grandmother, surrounded by her white lovers–a score of men telling her how beautful she is mostly because the women around her are either victims, “meat” for abuse and weak, tarts that just wanna start something with Anita, resources for Anita to learn for and therefore do not appear often (and nor are they called upon by Anita as allies regularly), or more evil, sadistic, and scary than Anita is and, therefore, must be killed. Examples are Vivian, Raina, the Mother of All Darkness, Jade, Belle Morte, Cherry, and so on and so forth. Infrequent characters like Sylvie (victimized by Hamilton as well) and Claudia being the exception (and still white and blond at that).

Hamilton spends all this time, all sixteen or so books, establishing Anita as a woman whose beauty lies merely in the suggestion of her ‘darker heritage’, when she herself is pasty pale, petite, and curly-haired and might as well be white. She toys with the idea of ‘darkness’ while never really presenting anybody besides minor characters like Raphael and Jamil as truly “dark” or ethnic, whatever that may mean. What is the (political) point of even building and portraying Anita as half Latina when she’s just going to play with the idea of her being Latina? You could easily swap her out for a white girl and there wouldn’t be that much of a difference. There’s no point in emphasizing her Latina heritage if all her worth is couched in her pale white skin. Her Latina blood is just something to eroticize and exotify.

Shoot, the only thing that’s Latina about Anita, as my friend who is Mexican would say, is her hair. Believe it.

I am sick of writers and the media couching racial commentary in multiracial and biracial terms, as if this is the only perspective valid enough to be represented because whites are more accepting of someone who is half white. Of course, not everyone who is multiracial or biracial is half white, that’s a given, but that’s the most common “combination” that gets recognized and fetishized.

Laurell K. Hamilton uses biraciality as a spring board to toy with color and brownness when in reality there are no main characters who are people of color. Everything and everyone is seamlessly and technically white. Everybody is white, even Anita, at the very least physically. And I think its because LKH knows that a person, particularly a woman, who is truly ethnically brown, or dare I say, Black even, would stick out like a sore thumb with all those pretty, pale, white Europeans that she’s crowded this story with.

Ever more real,

Ms. Queenly

Le Cliche au France

[Originally posted to my new writing blog @ Cradle of Cicadas. Hope to get more of my creative writing posted there. I sometimes think I really don’t have the tact or patience for political writing so creative writing is really my forte.]

Artist’s Note: Recently I was thinking about a critique I wrote on the top ten things I just could not stand about Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series which I really enjoyed when I first started reading. Someone commented rather scornfully on the fact that I said that hearing French sometimes makes me almost literally ill in the same sentence that I “complained” about racism in the books. I can never make anyone understand why I feel the way I do or think the way I think because they are not me and have not lived my life.  That doesn’t stop me from writing.

Le Cliche au France

did you know? did you know?

they whispered sweet nothings

in the ears of slaves

promising revolution

to white sheets

instead of hands in the fields

and Black women whose

children sometimes

belonged to masters

who impregnated

unwilling bodies

with sensual tongues

and fondling hands

did you hear? did you hear?

Haiti the Horse

dropped her french master’s load

and demanded freedom

so he told her

in the world’s most romantic language

“of course you may have your independence

however you must pay me for the labor you have

taken from me”

the english that my mouth speaks

is called “dialect”

called broken

called uneducated

my english

isn’t really considered english

because it isn’t the queen’s

or plymouth rock’s

nor is it flowery

and nor does it roll its rrrr’s

or rise from the grave of antiquity

if it isn’t worth anything

then why is my tongue constantly

colonized by the color of white skin

and silenced

by mixed skin

and colored skin

they say french

is the most romantic language

the language of love

yet a french tongue

can still speak white

and speak hate

with chains and flowers

and bloody wine

its a well-documented history

in spite of the revolution

and I’m still a Black woman

wherever I happen to go

no matter who I’m talking to

so when french tongues speak

i may find it soft and pleasing on the ear

but i still get a little sick inside

and don’t think anything special

because i know that this tongue

has made me wear chains

just like the tongue of the colonizer

in my own mouth

The Black “Gurrlfriend” Character

You’ve seen her before. You know who she is. Read what I think about this stereotype of Black women in pop media and literature.

Queenly

You know who she is.

You’ve seen her before.

She’s in movies with a mostly white cast or books chocked full of white characters. She is normally married to a white man or is the best friend of a white girl or running in a clique of white and/or wealthy girls (she may even be a snob herself). And even when she’s married to, dating, or in some type of relationship with another Black person or person of color they are the only “colored” people around.

She’s loud. She wears hoop earrings, braids (or heaven forbid unnaturally straight hair or weave usually dyed blond or some shade of blond), some form of typical/atypical ethnic hairstyle, tight pants, short skirts, and low cut, belly-exposing tops. Animal print something is near her (handbag, purse, nails, blankets, sheets, cell phone, earrings, jacket/coat) or there’s an actual live “exotic” animal near her. She dances, sings, cooks, does hair, chauffeurs, is a nanny maid (usually has a close master-slave family relationship with her non-Black employer), and/or makes crass jokes. She is portrayed as wild and exotic, an African mistress, a full-figured fertility goddess abundant in love, maternity, and bosom. She’s a hypersexual animal–rwarrr! She’s a professional dressed in a two-piece suit, middleclass, college educated, frigid bitch with no knowledge of her people’s past–classy not ghetto. Increasingly, she’s Black but she’s mixed with white or something else–the best of both worlds. She’s a prostitute, a mistress, a fast food worker she’s a victim to be used as an example for the author, director, or artist’s white main characters. She’s the only Black woman in the horror movie and she usually dies–very quickly so no one cares or very violently (sometimes like all the other losers in the film or worse than them). She is sometimes promiscuous and/or flirtatious and most likely has children–sometimes several children. If she’s in a comic, manga, cartoon, or anime she’s scantily clad, showing her breasts, legs ass, hips, and thighs and anything else she can put on display; she has big oftentimes glossy lips lots of jewelry and she has music notes inside of speech bubbles. Oftentimes, she is portrayed as violent or plain “gung ho” in the best or worst of situations.

She is the “friend” who says something soulful and inspirational right when her white or “Asian” [term used both cautiously and sarcastically] friend needs it most. But, most of all, she is NEVER the main character. She may only have one or two lines but she always says what her non-Black friend needs to hear most because she is bumbumbum–THE BLACK GIRLFRIEND CHARACTER!!!

Sistas, beware! This stereotype is dangerous. It appears in many different forms and all types of media especially now that America has a “Black president” . White America is now increasingly interested once again in the existence of Black peoples and how the Black folks operate. Books, ads, commercials, movies, daily television, music videos, porn, radio–you name it, she’s probably there. The Black Girlfriend Character or archetype never sleeps.

There was once a time when I would have given anything to see a Black female character in the mainstream but now I’m not so sure I like what I see. Black women are at the bottom of “racial heap” at no fault really of their own but because of a history that continuously and systemically tries to destroy everything that we are through our bodies and the bodies of the women and children around them. We are so much more than stereotypes allow us to be, especially when those stereotypes are being perpetuated outside of ourselves and our communities.

Can we even hope for a better tomorrow?

Though I do try not to be aware of it, but I both hope and expect. More to come on the topic….

*snap* Gurrlfriend!

Ms. Queenly

[Originally posted to Ms. Queenly’s Blog here.]

New Pieces on Ms. Queenly’s Blog

There is a new piece on Ms. Queenly’s Blog entitled “Racialized Censorship”. Check it out. I can at least be honest and for real about my thoughts here.

The second half is for readers by invitation only.

—————————————————————-

In some ways, I was very fortunate that I got to spend Thanksgiving at a wealthy white classmate’s house on Mercer Island. My family got to be together back home in Georgia, but when I told them about my evening they said they didn’t have nowhere near what I got to experience. I even got to escape my racist white housemates (who are moving out together, by the way–white flight? Maybe, but thank God!).

I was fortunate in some ways, I think.

In other ways…I was cursed! Check out my Thanksgiving experience on Ms. Queenly’s Blog at msqueenly.wordpress.com!

For real, always,

Ms. Queenly

The Gods of BDB Boardom Have Soken!

The General Manager of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Message Board has spoken! I hath been judged! Having received an official warning, I will be banned if I do not shut my trap!

A thread question to the author has been pulled by mods and I’ve been attacked and ganged up on by hardcore board members all in the same day. 😦

It is official. J.R. Ward’s message board is reserved for hero worship only. My account EliasDiamond will be banned if I do not cease in my inquiries primarily about race and culture, class, sexism, and heterosexism in her books.

I will raise no more topics…online at BDB at least!