Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Language of Cultural Racism Speech Outline (Revise)

Title: The Language of Cultural Racism

Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about American cultural racism and its appearance in our language by giving historical context of that language.

Central Idea: American cultural racism is evident in the words we use to casually describe appearances, the words that we use to describe behavior and the statements we use to describe ourselves.


I. Attention: How many of you have seen advertisements for bar soap like Dove, Zest, etc?

II. Reveal: Soap advertising is an example of how things we use everyday usually have a historical context that we don't notice.

III. Relate to Audience: I am sure that all of us (hopefully) use soap.

IV. Background/Importance: Soap advertising as well as advertising in general is influenced by the audience and therefore society is broadcast’s to such as in the 1800's when Pears Soap was advertised as so powerful that it could wipe even the grimy and filthy dark skin color from an heathen African and keep a White man clean and white.

V. Topic Focus: During my time as a NCORE scholar, I have read and learned about how the images and language that we see in America’s society everyday influences and are influenced by Cultural Racism which reveals itself in many ways such as the language that we use every day to describe appearances, behavior, and ourselves.

VI. Preview: However, many people have always thought that racism is just a personal prejudice and hate towards a group but it is a lot deeper than that.

(Connective: A quick explanation of terms like racism, cultural racism, and systematic racism is needed to explain the impact of racist language.)


I. Understanding Cultural Racism, Racism, and Systematic racism is needed to understand the impact that racist language has as explained in Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria.

A. Racism is not necessarily just an individual act of hatred or superiority but also the system of advantage based on race.

B. American Cultural Racism is the cultural images and messages that affirm the assumed superiority and humanity of Whites and the assumed inferiority and dehumanization of people of color.

C. Systematic racism is basically the clockwork-like way that people reinforce racism daily, through pictures, television, and also, speech.

D. To summarize, racism is personal prejudice plus the power of society backing you up, cultural racism is the images and messages that uphold racism and systematic racism is the way that these images and messages are repeated.

(Connectives: Some may be wonder “Ok but how does that apply to us and things like pop culture?” and in response I ask you to look at this image.)

II. American cultural racism is apparent in the words we use to casually describe appearances.

A. I was in my Design 102 class preparing my project when I heard a girl talking about a party she went to say, “She was chink-eyed after her 3rd drink.”

B. Chink eyes is used to describe a person who has their eyes squinted together and who people think look “like a Asian” (Examples: When on is intoxicated, tired, high on drugs etc so much that their eyes are squinted or half closed.)

C. The word chink is a very derogatory term referring to people of Eastern Asian origin and came about during the Yellow Peril hysteria in the U.S. during which Chinese laborers immigrated to the United States and were put through much discrimination including the Chinese Exclusion Act which banned any further Chinese immigration.

D. The description of a person being a "chink" or a person who has their eyes squinted is essentially mocking and a direct attack at people of Asian descent.

E. The imagery itself is depicting the stereotype of people of Chinese descent all having "squinty" eyes.

(Connectives: Now that we’ve seen how cultural racism pops up in how we describe appearances, we can look at how it can appear in how we describe behavior)

III. American cultural racism is apparent in the words we use to describe behavior.

A. When describing others many people use the term "acting black" when engaged in stereotyped behavior such as being skilled physically as in sports or dancing

1. The phrase is historically relevant in the fact that from times of slavery, to segregation, the post civil rights era, and the current age, black people are stereotyped as being physically gifted but extremely unintelligent and ignorant.

2. In the movie Hellzapoppin', black servants are portrayed as simple-minded and child-like but good at dancing as the film shows them lindy hopping. .

B. There was a backlash against the movie Transformers 2 specifically against their portrayal of the Robots Mudflap and Skids who were acting in people mind’s as “black (“ghetto slang, gold teeth, etc) and were portrayed as always joking with each other and good at combat but simple and unintelligent (“We don’t read much”)

(Connectives: Many times when I have talk about issues such as this one with my peers, I am told that there is no need to be so politically correct.)

IV. American cultural racism is how we describe and exonerate ourselves.

A. Cultural racism is historically evident in how we refer to ourselves as not bothering to be "politically correct".

1. When I answered my teacher’s question about what was better to say, black people or African American, he then stated how he saw no need to be so politically correct all the time anyway.

2. Black is more inclusive of the presence of people with African ancestry who are not American or just African American.

B. Politically correct is a term that was first used as civil-rights backlash as explained by Will Hutton of The Observer.

C. “It was actually perceived by many as a right-wing tactic to dismiss—or backlash against—left-leaning social change.”-Will Hutton

D. This expression was used to dismiss the need for human rights and social change in the 1960s and 70s.

E. The phrase” “politically correct tells me that their issues have no importance and do not need to be thought about.

(Connectives: Language, when examined, is one of the marks of our culture and a culture that contains Cultural Racism translates it through language..)


I. Signal the end of the speech: Hopefully, we now have seen how Cultural racism can be more than just an individual’s prejudice and include the historical context and systematic cultural support that continue racism.

II. Reinforce the central idea: As in the case of Pears soap advertising, analyzing the messages that society and the media can help us figure out how our language is influenced by it.

III. Clear closing line: Hopefully this gives people a better background to see in another light the skeletons in these phrases’ closets.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Are You Saying That IM Being Racist?"

Sooooo...lately I have been pissing off my professors. Im that annoying black girl that wont stop bringing race into the conversation (cause it totally wasnt there before right?)

In my Graphic Design seminar, we are talking about careers in Graphic Design and the movements/principles that back them. We were going over the 20s when I noticed that all 20+ examples of posters were the same white mainstream themed. That kinda made me irritated. So after the class, I approached my teacher about maybe including slides of posters created by people who lived different (i.e. somebody who aint white). His response? "Well I dont have time to put more posters or examples in." which translates in my head to "The narratives of non-white people arent important and dont mean anything, at least not enough to include in a class that is supposed to be preparing us for life outside of school." So then I countered, "Well how about just keeping the themes that you are surrounding and just taking out posters and putting in ones that come from a different viewpoint but the same theme." So as he pondered that, I left for my next class.

So I thought I handled that pretty ok. Then, I had Sociology.

The way my sociology class is taught is very problematic to me. See the class itself is awesome because we are looking at the effects of capitalism on the individual human. However the whiteness of this human is implict if not stated. Oftentimes my teacher compares "Traditional Societies" with "Modern Societies", My problem isnt even necessarily that Modern societies are Western European based or influenced because hey, capitalism and "modern" themselves are (I think) Euro-created. What I have a real problem with though is how my teacher portrays "Traditional societies". When he talks about "traditional societies" that are European, he usually brings up slides of the Medieval times. However with non-western European societies, the same twentieth century depictions of "tribal life" (with loinclothes and spears galore) are always shown. Also we are always taught that those tribes and by extensions those countries who havent bought into "modernity" yet are underdeveloped and all run around chanting "Ai-yi-yi". We are never shown societies that are more "advanced" or at least live in a larger communities like the Mesopotamians or Egyptians. I mean, I dont see European Cavemen when he talks about traditional western european societies.

Also I have a problem with the way he polarized "traditional" and "modern" life because in all reality, there are many aspects of society that would be considered traditional and aspects of thought-to-be "traditional" societies that are "modern". I could talk about the invention of metal (not by Europeans either) or the highly sophisticated water systems developed by societies in West Africa (that Europeans societies copied and now are labeled "modern"). Anyway I raise my hand about these stereotyped and Eurocentric views all the time but usually he talks about how I cant take this personally or culturally or whatever and keeps going

So finally I approached him after class (after being blown off the first time) and asked him why European societies were portrayed this way and non-Western European societies other ways. (and then i accidentally went off on a tangent about how people of color's bodies are considered to be accessible to all via the tribal images but i didnt really mean to bring that up) anyways I got back on track and the breakdown of what he said is that this is what tribal and traditional societies are like and that he is just telling us the differences and such. and then he said how any "modern" qualities that I saw in traditional societies was most likely my wishful thinking. Then he started on the "Are you saying that Im being racist by showing these images?" and i knew at that point that he just wasnt listening. So I just left and ranted with a mentor of mine. But I am not sure what to do.

So Speech Communications has been interesting as well but at least in a good way. I have given 2 speeches so far and am giving on next wednesday. The first one was Self Introduction-themed so I gave my classmates a taste of what it is like being one of the few black females on campus and the questions I get ask and behaviors that are directed towards me. Then I gave a speech about whitewashing (or Racebending in this case) of the Last Airbender movie and the movement that is going on. Now my speech theme is based on Fascinating Issues and Concepts of Communication. My speech is on The Language of Cultural Racism. however my teacher is pretty cool and helps me with my structure and with delivering a speech in which the delivery is just as good as the content. So I like that class.

So those are some of the big issues that I have been dealing with so far this semester. On sunday I am taking a canoe trip so i can get some peace.