Disney Princesses & The Definition of Whitewashing

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Saw this on Tumblr, I felt I should share it with the world..

(Source: http://triflesandparsnips.tumblr.com/post/63721180232/raptorific-seriously-it-surprises-me-that)

Seriously, it surprises me that people still don’t get that “whitewashing” doesn’t just mean “taking a character of color and turning them white,” but also applies to “focusing disproportionately on the stories of white people,” “glossing over or altering parts of a story to make it more palatable or make white people look better,” and “treating ‘white’ as the default race”

The fact that Disney churns out film after film after film after film about white people with a maximum of one film per ethnicity that showcases a group other than white people is whitewashing.

The fact that the story of “Pocahontas” (not her real name) has been substantially altered so that some of the white people in that story don’t look like such villains, with John Smith younger and Pocahontas significantly older, as well as recounting a popular myth of her saving John Smith from near-execution (a story John Smith made up to make himself look brave, the real Pocahontas told him to stop telling and hated him for using her to make himself look good, and he started to spread like wildfire after she died because she could no longer object) is whitewashing.

The fact that the characters on “How I Met Your Mother” are all white, and they supposedly live in New York City, but apparently associate exclusively with other white people (with the exception of Wayne Brady, who occasionally visits from out of town, and a recurring taxi driver) is whitewashing.

The fact that the Doctor has now been a white man a full twelve times in a row is whitewashingeven though the character’s always been white, because the idea that there’s a character whose entire appearance can change in a matter of seconds, yet ends up white twelve times in a row by pure random chance, implies that white is a neutral default and other races are a deviation from that norm.

The fact that people get really angry at the suggestion that characters like Newt Scamander or Hermione Granger could be black because the books never explicitly say “they are black” is whitewashing.

Because that’s the thing. People often assume that when someone’s race isn’t explicitly specified, they’re white. People insist that Katniss Everdeen must be white because it is possible for them to rationalize that idea in their head. People think of white as “raceless” and every other color or ethnicity as “raced,” and that’s what we call “eurocentrism.”

And that’s the thing about whitewashing. It’s this idea that a “person” is white, and a “person of color” is black or asian or arab or latin@ or whatever they might be.

It’s why people call John Stewart the “Black Green Lantern” but just call Hal Jordan the “Green Lantern.” It’s why Miles Morales is called “Black Spider-man” but Peter Parker is just “Spider-man.” If you want to throw gender into the mix, it’s why Jennifer Walters is the “She-Hulk” but Bruce Banner isn’t the “He-Hulk.”

People think “character” is white and “character + black” is black. There is no default race.Community did a whole episode about how a truly raceless character would look something like this monstrosity:

But there’s the tricky part: Once you stop thinking of white characters as “character” and start thinking of them as “character + white,” it becomes really overwhelming how many characters are white.

I mean, I know there’s a kerfuffle over Disney Princesses right now, so let’s look at the list of official Disney Princesses, shall we? That is, let’s look at the list and include everyone’s race, not just the princesses of color:

  • Snow White + White
  • Cinderella + White
  • Aurora + White
  • Ariel + White
  • Belle + White
  • Jasmine + Arab
  • Pocahontas + Native American
  • Mulan + Asian
  • Tiana + Black
  • Rapunzel + White
  • Merida + White
    Soon to be added:
  • Anna + White
  • Elsa + White

4 of those 13 women are women of color. All four of those women of color are different races than one another. At the moment, the number of white princesses is seven, but it’s about to go up to nine. All nine of those princesses are the same race as one another, despite a few of them being different nationalities, although most of them hail from Western Europe.

And a lot of people are saying “but they’re just accurately portraying the parts of the world those stories are set in!” First of all, the presence of a person of color has never been implausible in any part of the world, in any period of human history. Hell, a bunch of these movies were set after Shakespeare had born, lived, and died, but he still managed to write a play set centuries earlier featuring a black male lead in Italy.

Second, and most importantly, it’s not like they are being assigned a setting at random and have to accommodate it in their character designs. The people at Disney choose to set film after film after film in France and Germany and Denmark.

It’s not that those areas produce more or better fairy tales and folk tales than any of the other continents, it’s that the stories that come from those areas are the ones Disney considers universal.

In the eyes of Disney, there’s a Princess for Black little girls to look up to, a Princess for Native little girls to look up to, a Princess for Arab little girls to look up to, a Princess for Asian little girls to look up to, and nine princesses for all little girls to look up to. It’s no coincidence that in almost all promotional art featuring the “Princess Lineup,” Jasmine, Tiana, Mulan, and Pocahontas are all standing in the back, usually obscured by other white Princesses’ dresses, while the blonde lady brigade stands in the front.

And that is whitewashing.

I could not have said it any better.. Bravo..

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Will Smith: Django Unchained

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I recently came across an entertainment news piece that may be old to some but its brand new to me. That little piece of entertainment news was the fact that Will Smith was originally who Quentin Tarantino had in mind for Django, but he turned it down. His initial reasoning was scheduling conflicts, but then he came out with his real reason. Django wasn’t the main character in that story.

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Yeezus and A Different State of Black

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This summer there will be two Hip-Hop albums being released by two entirely different Hip-Hop artists. One entitled “Yeezus” by pop icon and household name, Kanye West. The other entitled “A Different State of Black” will be self released by an independent artist by the name of adVerSity. Two separate artists, two completely opposite levels of fame, but something tells me the subject matter might be fairly similar on both projects.

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Is Gay The New Black?

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A popular phrase I keep hearing is “Gay is the New Black.” For anyone who has not heard this phrase, it is reference to the LGBT community looking for equal rights within America, one of the most discussed issues being a same-sex marriage bill, much like African Americans looked for civil rights during the early 1960’s. Now I personally believe gay people should have the right to get married. Regardless of anyone’s dogma concerning how natural/unnatural, whether people are born gay vs. it being choice, if anyone’s God accepts Gay people; at the end of the day, the government should not be allowed to tell consenting adults if they can get married or not. People of varying religious practices should not intervene in the marriage of consenting adults. You have the right to disagree, but if you think what these people are truly doing is wrong, it is between them and God and not your duty to go around policing the public. To the Christians screaming from the rooftops about Gay Marriage (I see you Westboro Baptist Church), does the New Testament not state that Jesus intervened in the public stoning of Mary to simply state, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Practice what you preach.

My concern though is simply with the statement “Gay is the New Black” because I genuinely don’t see how it is. If the message behind that statement is that the LGBT community would like to be treated as equal citizens, then by all means I understand that. But to say it is the new black is discounting what many African Americans went through in the 1960’s.

Let’s just use a scenario that before this decade is over, gays are allowed to marry and from that point on can’t be “legally” discriminated against. Then that would make this decade similar to the late 1950’s to early 1960’s for African Americans considering that the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. I’m sorry but I don’t see Gays having separate sections on buses, separate water fountains and entrances to go through..

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I don’t see Gay Pride Marches being stopped by Policemen striking people across the head with batons or having German Shepherds sicced on them.

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I don’t see news articles stating how mentally inferior Gays are. I also don’t see Gay Civil Rights leaders getting murder in droves and forced to flee the country, (shouts out to Assata Shakur who is still hiding in Cuba from government officials).

The most recent Hate Crimes report, that I’m able to find, from the FBI shows that as of 2009, there are still more cases of Hate Crimes against people of varying races and religious backgrounds, with sexuality being number three.

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I may be swinging for the fences but to me that says “Niggas and Muslims” are still getting attacked more frequently than homosexuals, once again this information is as of 2009.

Even looking at Television, Reality Shows are at the top of proverbial television entertainment hill and there are many prominent reality shows with gay leads or based around Gay Culture. Once again referencing my earlier reference to now being equivalent to the blacks 1960’s and quick Google search would show:

May 1963: Thousands of African Americans, mostly children, arrested while protesting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Eugene “Bull” Conner unleashes fire hoses and police dogs on demonstrators.

June 1963: Medgar Evers, civil rights activist, murdered and killer not convicted until over 30 years later.

October 1963: Sam Cooke and band arrested for registering at a whites only motel in Louisiana. Later becoming the inspiration to “A Change Is Gonna Come.

And the stores go on and on…

I don’t want this to be taken as an attempt to downplay the LGBT Movement, I hope the community gets an opportunity to feel equal in America in this lifetime and people can stop arguing over people’s sexual preference. I just think that calling Gay The New Black drastically takes away from what African Americans went through to obtain the ability to be treated as equals within America, though instances like Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo make me question if blacks can even be considered treated like equal citizens, but thats my own personal take. Calling “Gay the New Black” would be like calling the Boston Bombing the New 9/11. Both incredibly horrible events that woke up America, but on differing scales that should not be compared to one another.

Rap Music+Prison=Money

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I just read a very interesting article about a letter sent to a Hip Hop website from an anonymous industry insider. Whether the man’s claims are true or not, I myself can’t prove. All I can say is its very plausible and if true should be thoroughly investigated and criminal charges be brought up against all involved.

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Black Genesis (A Look Into The Black African Origins of Ancient Egypt)

Reference: “Black Genesis: The Prehistoric Origins of Ancient Egypt” by Robert Bauval & Thomas Brophy Ph.D.

Introduction
In 1954 Professor Cheikh Anta Diop began the Black African origin theory for the Egyptian civilization. He developed a scientific approach; using radiocarbon dating & biochemistry to test the melanin content present in ancient mummy corpses to determine their original skin tone. Melanin is a natural polymer that regulates pigmentation in humans. Egyptian authorities refused to allow any testing on mummified remains.

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