Capitalizing the ‘B’ in Black

Elia's Diamonds

Let’s get down to the words on the page.

We are a racial AND ethnic group in the United States and internationally around the world.

So why do people not capitalize the ‘B’ in Black when writing about Black characters in their books or whatever else?

I’m not really much of a grammar whiz but I wonder….

Words that are capitalized as opposed to words that are lowercase have a certain effect on many people when they see them on a page. Why is Black, as the race AND ethnicity of millions of people, treated like an adjective?

For the reason above, I see it as a slight against Black people that many writers, no matter what field, do not think to capitalize the ‘B’ in Black. In this instance, when talking about a group of people…Black is a pronoun, not an adjective, folks.

Evermore real,

MsQ

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Black Butler, European British motif

So I picked up a new anime today, Black Butler.

The truth is I kind of think its funny, occultish, and interesting, despite its exaggerated, supremacist European motif. I’m not surprised because many Japanese manga and anime artist seem to think anything white/European is the best thing on the planet. What I can’t stand for is the ever-present supremacist British attitude of Ciel as the main character.

Reading the English subtitles, which may or may not be accurate, I noticed in episode 13 that Ciel described the men from India as “Indian savages”. Considering all this bullshit talk coming out of England about Black folks and western Europe/Britain’s history with colonialism and their use of this word towards people of color, I wasn’t happy or impressed with its use in the subbing or Ciel’s attitude towards the Indian immigrants.

The funny thing about this show though is that they take hits even at other white people. So far they’ve made Italians and Irish out to be villians while Britains remain pure of Englishmen…smdh.

Japan needs to work ont their issues with racism towards [other] people of color so it stops popping up all over place or at least represented in a light that makes me believe their aware of what their doing.

~Truly,

MsQ

Inglorious Bastards, film

If at all possible, I have some of the same issues with Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards—my sister made me watch it—that I have with his Kill Bill movies, if not more.

 

1. The graphicness of the violence is at Tarantino’s usual level, though it isn’t unbelievable. Still gross though.

2. The use of Native/indigenous/Native American/Indian/American Indian references is most offensive. (I never know which race/ethnic phrasing is preferable, or rather “PC”, to use.)

3. Of course, they took two or three shots at Black people as a race, the only Black person in the film being male and French and the lover of a white Jewish woman (Emmanuelle).

4. There were three women in the film, though two of them appeared the most frequently. All the women are either being used for sex or they are women who, in my opinion, aren’t allowed to live because they are deceiving men. There was that disgusting scene with female French interpreter in her leopard hair piece and that one Nazi guy—brief but like most disgusting sex scenes left its mark on my memory, like Forest Gump (the sounds were enough… =_=). Then there was Bridgette Hammersmark and Emmanuelle Mimeux, who were both killed in the film by violent German Nazi men. Bridgette was a German spy for America and Britain. Emmanuelle was a blonde and blue-eyed Jewish woman, who sought revenge against the Nazis and paid for it with her life. Bridgette was strangled to death after she was found out and Emmanuelle was shot to death though her revenge was successful even if she wasn’t alive to see it.

 

I just got through watching the movie so I’m not ready to go in-depth about the film, but I’m grinding my teeth over it a bit. I wonder what Jewish, Native, and German audiences thought about it….

To White Writers

It would be less insulting if white writers, academics, and producers would just say, Its beyond the realm of my capabilities and experience to portray 3-dimensional characters of color who aren’t foils, gags, typecasted to the maximum, or supporting characters. It would much less insulting to just admit this rather than:

1. pretending that they can and failing,

2. supposing that they can and not trying,

3. and/or appropriating aspects of other cultures and misrepresenting them to entertain largely white audiences.

Just say you can’t do it. Put us all out of our misery. I’m not saying they all suck at this…just that most of them probably do.

Ever more real,

Ms. Queenly

Brown People = Sex: The Matrix Reloaded & Hypersexualizing Brownness

Brown People = Sex: The Matrix Reloaded & Hypersexualizing Brownness

I’m pretty sure that I’m not the first person to say this. When I first saw The Matrix, it became the standard of film and story for me. I thought it was awesome, like so many other fans of the film. I could deal with the fact that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) or Captain Naomi (Jada Pinkett Smith) are technically just supporting character instead of The One himself/herself. To this day I still have a problem with the fact that Morpheus, in particular, had the potential to be The One and got pushed to the left for Neo (Keanu Reeves). But overall, I thought it

Once I saw The Matrix Reloaded, the second film in the trilogy, my perspective shifted a little bit. Even today, I cannot watch the movie from beginning to end and do not own it in my movie collection. The reason is because of that big orgy scene in the movie when Neo and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) are having sex.

There is this stereotypically tribal-like music drummed out during the scene. Neo and Trinity are off in their own private space and there are cuts between them having sex and the crazy party where everyone else is grinding on each other, jumping into the air, dancing, maybe even having sex, and just plain carrying on in this crowded, sweaty, semi-dark torch lit cave. A lot of the people in the cave seem to be brown skinned.

As an erotic romance writer, I do feel as if it is kind of contradictory for me to be saying this in a way, but even when I write and in real life, I have standards of intimacy that I uphold. So I wonder, is this scene in The Matrix Reloaded a celebration of life, intimacy, and “unity”, or just a reaffirmation of how white dominated society—film, music video, and all “departments” of Hollywood itself in particular—hypersexualize Black people/Brown folks as the epitome of savagery and primordial sexuality?

Is this just another demonstration of how white people, white filmmakers and photographers, pathologize Black people/Brown people or brownness as the earthy, animalistic, unrestrained, wild, and sexual?

Bear with me until the end, the language is about to get a little high and academic, please excuse me.

It reminds me of why many white people tan: to them it’s not just about “getting a little color”. White people tan because they have pathologized brownness to such a level that they don’t even think about it anymore, particularly Blackness—meaning that in their own heads, Black/brown skinnededness equals savage, dark sexuality. But by being people that only have tan/”browned” skin temporarily in most cases, they maintain their position as dominant whites  dressed in browned/tanned skin, “trying on Blackness/brownness” to be fad and hypersexualized for the moment. It’s the closest to being Black that they can get in reality in the absence of the option of temporarily becoming Black and they enjoy and are thrilled that they can momentarily be what they believe simultaneously to be the lowest or most base sexuality and the height of the sexually primordial in popular media—brown.

In Reloaded, Neo and Trinity don’t have to tan or become Black somehow. The “orgy scene” inside of the cave which is revealed in a montage of cuts and flashes while Neo and Trinity are having sex symbolizes a degree of savage “brown” sexuality that their white skin cannot completely embody by itself. It doesn’t matter that the people inside of the cave aren’t actually having sex. The fact they are in a separate area away from the “party” and at the same time Neo and Trinity having sex is still put next to the sexualized action of the brown people in the cave only makes it more clear that—again—savage, sensuous, primordially base sexuality in the movie is embodied in brown-skinned people and not in the white skinned heroes of the movies.

Point in case again (if this makes it any simpler):

The sexuality of the two “white-skinned” people (Keanu Reeves is Hawaiian/Chinese–generally multiracial-part white) engaging in sex is further personified by flashes to a cave full of brown people (though not exclusively brown) grinding and slithering sensuously on each other and acting wild to the beat of drums. Both main characters in the film, Neo and Trinity go on to be the “white-skinned” heroes in action, their repressed/latent sexuality contained in their fitted black clothes while at the same time it still remains that you see the most Black/brown people out of the whole damn film and the whole damn trilogy jammed in that cave engaged in sexualized action.

Personally, I’m offended by it and somewhat disappointed and uncomfortable but not surprised.

I’m done!

Ms. Queenly

Issued: Lynne Ewing’s Daughters of the Moon series

I really enjoyed reading the Daughter of the Moon books by Lynne Ewing as a teenager and this is what I have to say about them in retrospect.

  1. Ending? WTF is this?: The ending was definitely whack and rushed. The series is like twenty books long and it ends like that? Don’t want to put spoilers here but it was really lame and cliché….
  2. Shimmery Lights = a Girl’s Power???: Why is it that the only power that women and girls have is this shimmery metaphorical light? Women who use force are looked down upon, even when it’s to save their live and other people’s lives; these women are looked at as aggressive or animalistic. Ewing portrays the goddesses as pacifist and their powers are pacifistic. I understand that there’s a message of non-violence, but why does a woman’s goodness and worth have to be aligned with a gentle, motherly demeanor and nonviolence when the world demands that a woman know how to protect herself and her daughters even if she must sometimes use violence to protect. It’s the difference between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. It’s the reason I have issues with Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon. Ewing’s biography states that she is also a counselor for ‘troubled’ teens. I don’t understand how she came up with the girl powers =  non-violent powers theme, knowing that we live in a violent world. I feel the same way about Sailor Moon to a somewhat lesser degree. More to come on this topic in later posts.
  3. Jimena, the only sista in the crew: With the exception of Jimena, there are no girl goddesses of color. The first racial/ethnic group that white writers select from for the magical girl genre is Latin@, because in my opinion they view them as tan versions of themselves. Not too dark to be disassociated with the purity of white femaleness, not too white that there’s no difference between them and other white character. And Jimena adds spice and a flare of color to the all-white cast of this girl power series. The only young woman of color, of course, Jimena.  I shouldn’t be surprised.
  4. Inspired: Like with Sailor Moon, when I was growing up, Ewing’s Daughter of the Moon was a real source of inspiration to me, combining the magical/supernatural with slice of life and girl power, even though there aren’t many people of color involved. It’s difficult to completely identify with a series when people who look like you aren’t present, as a young woman of color. Still, the series wasn’t a complete loss and I still look upon it favorable in some ways.
  5. Heterosexist obsession with boys: Are all young girls really obsessed with boys or are they this way because we keep writing them into existence. Ewing doesn’t crack down any barriers or break any molds on this front. The only thing that saves the goddesses from being read as total boy-crazy airheads is their internal and external struggle with the antagonistic forces in the series and the building of their characters. That’s saying a lot.
  6. Followers?: Sounds like Twitter and Google Reader… There is a lot of metaphorical meaning in the symbols surrounding the Atrox but also some passive commentary on teen culture.
  7. Dressing, Club scenes, and Dancing: I love the way Ewing describes the clothes, hair, makeup and the club and night scenes. I love the way she talks about the goddess girls’ strut!
  8. Ewing would pick Latin and goddesses hailed and propagated by Eurocentric academia: ‘nuff said
  9. Sons of Dark: …well that ended pretty damn quickly and she killed them all off!!! I keep wondering if, in addition to the crappy, rushed ending of Daughters of Moon, it was a publishing issue that caused Ewing to write these bad/cliché ending for the Daughters and the Sons.
  10. The Choice: Why did she make it so that the girls either had to ascend to some higher plane or lose their memories and their powers and remain on earth? That kind of took me out of the story.
  11. Hunger for something more intense: Someone described Daughters of the Moon as “lackluster”. I think there is something about the style of writing and third person omniscience that I find to be “lackluster”. I had just convinced my sister to read Harry Potter with me and we took turns reading out loud with each other until we did the whole series. I wanted to push it a bit further and read Daughters of the Moon. As I was reading it out loud to her, I realized that there was something almost boring about reading it out loud, something too PG-13, or something. I just couldn’t figure out what was turning me off from it where in my teen years, I was enthralled and couldn’t get enough. Maybe because I know the end, it just isn’t filled with as many possibilities for the new and exciting to me.
  12. Using their powers: As always with magical girl stories, I always like to see them use their powers in the given situation. That’s exciting for me.
  13. Gender binary: Gotta bring it up, it must be done. Everybody in the books fits neatly into ‘male’ or ‘female’. It’d have been nice to see some queerness up in this series.  I’m finding more and more that my own sexuality and gender identity leans away from the male-female binary.
  14. Body positivity: I always loved how the goddesses were so comfortable with their bodies (or became that way). I felt like in order to be a goddess or goddess-like, like these girls, I should look like that. Too bad I’m not white or particularly thin…and I don’t have long flowy magical pony hair….
  15. Cover art: I love the cover photos for the original hardbacks of the series and I own all of them. Like I said, it’s difficult for a Black girl in the white dominated media but I always loved these covers and thought the models were beautiful and ethereal-looking.

A Not So Romantic Experience with the Romance Genre

One of the first romance novels I ever read, in addition to Julie Garwood’s The Lion’s Lady, was Silver Angel by Johanna Lindsay. One of the most painful things I have ever experienced and continue to experience to this day is the way Black women are portrayed as minor characters and stepping stones to white heroines in romance and beyond. I’ll never forget the African princess in Silver Angel. She is sentenced to mass rape by the palace guards when she spits in the sheik’s face for opening her clothes and feeling her breasts when she is brought in to be “sampled” for his harem, like a slave on an auction block or a piece of meat at the market or a cow to be bought. Maybe she was sold to the sheik by her own people or kidnapped—who knows. All I remember experiencing, in her brief appearance, was this feeling of complete and utter worthlessness, that people can do anything to Black women and no one cares.

I suppose I should have felt happy that the kidnapped white girl heroine traded her own freedom in order to save the African princess from such a fate. Now all I think, sarcastically, is this: “Oh, didn’t the white girl look so noble, saving the African princess like that—kudos for her. Oh and look! She got seduced and found a husband in the process (though she was never in any real danger because he wasn’t going to let anything happen to her anyway)!”. (I feel like I can’t even properly explain the whole thing without talking about the white characters for the background story. The guy in the story is part-Arab, of course *rolls eyes*, and his twin brother is a sheik while he himself is a nobleman in England. He has to pose for his brother for a while because there’s some danger and encounters an English woman who has been sold to the sheik as a concubine. The African princess is encountered when he has to choose women for himself from among the new meat, so that he’s not touching his brother’s women.)

It’s not so much an issue of white writers being deliberately cruel. I view them as willfully ignorant, but the real issue is the fact that Black women/people are minorities in representation and in influence/power and/or they’re tokenized in white people’s writing.

This is a very painful experience for me, one that I live with every time I crack open a book, and I had a hard time writing this down. It is something I experience again and again, reading works from white writers where people of color are mostly exotified, eroticized, brutalized, and only appear as minor characters if they appear at all. People of color are the splash of brightness, the background for white writers to prop up or paint their imaginations onto. Mostly, we’re just props to them.

Reading work from writers of my own race, on the other hand, is different challenge in and of itself along with everything else.

For real,

Queen

Does Laurell K. Hamilton ‘like’ Black people enough to include them more in ABVH?

I’ve never heard anything positive about people from the Mid-West and racism. I don’t know if Laurell K. Hamilton ‘likes’ Black people. She certainly does spend a lot of time making sure that the only two Black and part-Black persons who appear now and again in the series are sufficiently subservient, raped, tortured, mutilated, sexist/helpless, victimized, etc. (Jamil, Vivian). It also doesn’t help that both of these characters are lycans, inextricably tying Black people with animal behavior and baseness/lowness in the series. With the exception of the two ancient, creepy, chalky vampires accompanying Musette in Cerulean Sins, in Hamilton’s world, Black people don’t seem to catch vampirism so naturally she doesn’t have to write about them. Figures.

I don’t think that I want her too anyway. I don’t think her skills are that good so as to attempt to transcend her own glorified whiteness. I really don’t believe that out of all the Black people rumored to live in St. Louis that there’s not one who is a main character or regularly seen face in the series in her imagination. To boot, no Black person in ABHV has any authority or power.

I think as a white woman who is always most likely surrounded by white people, Black people never really occur to her for her books.

But if I had to say if Hamilton ‘likes’ Black people, I’d say no.

MsQ