This has been a big year for independent media. Magazines and websites like OOMK, The Geek Agenda, A Room of Our Own, Libertine, The Occupied Times, Jump Mag, EVB, The Body Narratives, Novara Media, Holdfast Magazine, Arts Emergency, For Books’ Sake, The TV Collective and HYSTERIA have been making waves and producing groundbreaking work, all with very few resources. That perennial lack of resources has seen great outlets like The Feminist Times have to shut up shop. So this is your reminder to support Independent media wherever and whenever you can, either by contributing work, sharing on social media or donating if possible. Reader funded platforms such as this are only possible because of you and your support.
2015 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for Media Diversified. We’ll be launching our Experts Directory in January and in the meantime we’re helping to recruit experts of colour for a new BBC2 show airing in the spring, continuing to work with Bush Theatre to disrupt the ubiquity of whiteness when it comes to theatre critique and providing writers for a Lebara project on migration. Please get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more about any of these opportunities.
Without further adieu a list of our most read articles in 2014. Read, enjoy and share! Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year.
Samantha Asumadu – Editor-in-chief
At No. 10 “Africa” a celebrity must have
Samira Sawlani takes on the White Celebrity Saviour Complex:
Far from being altruistic, ‘celebrity humanitarianism’ is significantly contaminated and ideological: it is most often self-serving, helping to promote institutional aggrandizement and the celebrity ‘brand’; it advances consumerism and corporate capitalism, and rationalizes the very global inequality it seeks to redress; it is fundamentally depoliticizing, despite its pretensions to ‘activism’; and it contributes to a ‘postdemocratic’ political landscape, which appears outwardly open and consensual, but is in fact managed by unaccountable elites. ~ Ilan Kapoor
Acts of charity can be great, many celebrities make large donations or set up their own organisations supporting good causes, but then so do non-celebrities, civilians like you and me.
What we are discussing here is a very different kind of animal, the neo-colonial kind, that which is now a part of popular culture involving the stars flying first class, armed with a must have kit of anti-bacterial hand lotion, camera-man, sad smile and the anticipation of finally saying the words “All the pain and sadness, yet these people are smiling, it makes me appreciate everything I have, my life will never be the same again.”
Carolyn Wysinger takes us on a journey into the corporate workplace, where as the ‘first boi in’ her inventive transgression of gender dress codes also means getting used to ‘the daily stares, the interested glances of some and the disdain of others.’
‘My decision to not comply with the gendered codes at GT Inc was a defining moment for all involved. When I raised my hand to clarify the company rule
“So anytime we wear a dress shirt we must wear a tie as well right?”
the room went silent and my trainer stared at me for a good 2 to 3 minutes and finally answered hesitantly “Yes, the men do, yes.”
I decided to ignore the “men do” part. Clearly, my trainer did not have any experience with these types of questions or situations. This is symptomatic of the lack of dialogue on the subject. As with most cases of discrimination in the US, without a federal case there is usually little conversation or awareness. This lack of discourse can leave things open to the discretion of the workplace, but it does not serve the LGBTQ communities at large at all.
Teacher Darren Chetty describes a little discussed phenomenon:
‘I’ve spent almost two decades teaching in English primary schools, which serve multiracial, multicultural, multifaith communities. I want to explore two things I have noticed.
1) Almost without exception, whenever children are asked to write a story in school, children of colour will write a story featuring white characters with ‘traditional’ English names who speak English as a first language.
2) Teachers do not discuss this phenomenon.
Furthermore, simply pointing these two things out can lead to some angry responses in my experience.
Why are you making an issue of race when children are colourblind?”
is an example of the sort of question that sometimes gets asked.
In a blistering polemic Sofia Ahmed explains how once again in an ‘attempt at unabashed apologism, Muslim groups such as the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) have asked Muslim women to don a ‘Poppy Hijab’ in order to remember the Muslim soldiers that took part in the two world wars.’ The gesture as often happens has been appropriated by politicians and war mongers to celebrate militarism.
‘Marketing the poppy as a stance against extremism suggests that refusing the symbol is tantamount to ‘extremism’. A great selling point right there. Buy a £22 hijab to prove that you’re not a terrorist, wannabe ‘jihadi bride’ – planning on running off to Syria to find your ISIS prince in bloodstained camouflage. It almost made me think I should buy one, it might make walking through security checks at airports a little easier. I could get on a train without being accosted by a fully uniformed soldier, drunkenly telling me he joined the army to “kill dirty Muslims”
Taimour Khan discusses how beards are cool and edgy if you’re white and a cause of suspicion if you’re not.
‘In the last decade bearded men of colour have become so synonymous with the caricature of an ever-present threat that communities such as the Sikh Community have suffered immensely, due to the heightened paranoia.
Most elements of society are guilty of exploiting and furthering the fear of the bearded figure, from the right-wing press to film.’
What makes Lovecraft especially challenging now is that his racism is inextricable from what he is lauded for. In The madness of HP Lovecraft. Phendershon Djeli Clark shows him to be a writer whose primary virtue was his vulnerability to all-consuming existential terror, and ability to express it. Modern readers must assess without trying to deny or explain away the hatred and inhumanity that came from said terror.
‘I had come to believe that by now the racism of H.P. Lovecraft, the celebrated author of horror and fantasy, was a settled matter–like declaring Wrath of Khan the best film in the Star Trek franchise. Arguing against such a thing should be absurd. I certainly thought so after the matter was thrust into the spotlight in December 2011, when author Nnedi Okorafor won the esteemed World Fantasy Award–whose statuette is none other than H.P. Lovecraft’s disembodied head. Okorafor had been unaware of the depths of Lovecraft’s “issues,” until a friend sent her his 1912 poem, On the Creation of Niggers, where blacks are fashioned by the gods as “a beast . . . in semi-human figure.”
This was no one-off, some “misspeak” by the author. Lovecraft’s racial biases ran deep and strong, as evidenced by his stories–from exotic locales with tropic natives lacerating themselves before mad gods in acts of “negro fetishism” (Call of Cthulhu), to descriptions of a black man as “gorilla-like” and one of the world’s “many ugly things” (Herbert West-Reanimator).
Igloo Australia needs no introduction, but Shane Thomas’s take on her appropriation is as relevant today as it was last year when we first published it.
‘Popular culture is one of the few things that link a large portion of this country – and further afield. It’s one of many aspects of how we mediate our relationship with ourselves, and those around us. This very website is founded on such a belief. So you’re not going to get much change with me by stating that popular culture doesn’t matter.
That is the question. And in a piece that may need a trigger warning for not only the language but the seeming hopelessness Emma Dabiri passionately and powerfully explains not only who stole all the Black Women from Britain, but why.
‘Here in the UK, the visibility of black women in representations of mainstream Black British culture is such that you might be forgiven for thinking we are an endangered species. The near erasure of Black British women from this terrain, which is in the main dominated by black men and white women, is rarely commented upon, despite its prominence. What is actually going on here? Is this some manifestation of the quite frankly ridiculous Eldridge Cleaver quote above. Or is it something else?’
A thoughtful read by David Osa Omaduson on class, ethnicity, education and the “mundane violence” of cultural value.
‘Here’s the scenario: two children, one white and one black, walk into an exhibition filled with portraits of white people. Both children enjoy it. After the exhibition they make self-portraits out of food. The black child asks for brown ingredients – cocoa pops, hot chocolate powder – to represent his skin in the portrait. The white child does not bother with colour in the same way. Her whiteness is not a colour that needs to be marked or thought about, it is naturalized as normal, a seamless part of the wall-to-wall whiteness of the surrounding exhibition. On closer inspection the portraits show further nuances of colouring and also commonality. Other features such as nose, lips, eyes and hair were not represented mimetically. As the brown skin colour of the portrait on the left stands out because of its purposeful colouring, it creates a link between the child and their artwork, making visible what is taken for granted in this space – whiteness.’
This article by Blogueiras Negras about Brazil’s new TV show ‘Sexo e as Negas’ caused one hell of a stir. It got picked up by outlets across the U.S and at one point we were in fear of a lawsuit. So it’s a must read
‘In racist discourses, Black women are those who work for sex, while the white woman is the woman who is worthy of romantic love, kindness and respect. These same dualities are repeated in “Sexo e as Negas”, where the main character is a white woman who seeks love, while the black women live only for sex, which reminds us of another Brazilian expression which also has its roots in slavery and has remained practically unchanged – “White women are for marriage, mulatas are for fucking and black women are for work”.’
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