Friday, June 4, 2010

Is the Race Card an Ace, a Deuce or the Joker?

Amy Alkon blogs about a controversy over Claudia Schiffer (IMDB entry) posing as a 60's era black woman with an exaggerated afro:


While the picture may be in poor taste and certainly doesn't do much for a woman as good looking as Claudia Schiffer, is it racist?

Grow up. Calling the image above "racist" only cheapens the word and detracts from genuine problems that may or may not be racial in origin but do affect members of different races unequally.

The modern use of "racist" as an epithet is largely a relic of the civil rights movement. Activists got a lot of mileage out of the stereotype of violent Southern troglodytes. As a convenient label the word also served to massage the egos of white liberals who were horrified by the fire hoses and police dogs but could take satisfaction in knowing that neither they nor anyone they knew would ever do such a thing.

In fact, most racism -- like most evil -- is banal. There’s nothing sensational about redlining. No archival newsreel can illustrate the pernicious effects of affirmative action nor what it means to be seen as a person who, without the assistance of well-meaning whites, cannot compete.

2 comments:

  1. I've been a model professionally up until about 5 years ago. That's what brought me to the NYC area from the rez upstate New York. I'm sensitive to racism and am also very vocal about it when I see an injustice being committed. My fam have been involved in the Mohawk Warriors movement; google that if you're curious. Anyway, to get back to my first statement, I've worked as a model. We are asked to do all sorts of things, sometimes for reasons only the photographer can understand. As a person of Native descent, I've even been asked to pose wearing feathers and a fur loincloth, complete with braids and whatever the sterotypical acoutrement.

    Maybe it's a little different, considering I have a least Native blood. But still, I do not see Claudia's photo as being racist! Why? Because she is portraying an image of a beautiful black woman, including proudly wearing the hair in a natural hairstyle as opposed to another model, who IS of African American descent, Tyra Banks! Tyra is well known for wearing silky straight extensions and wigs in blonde colors.

    Claudia is portraying a POSITIVE image, whilst Tyra exemplifies the self loathing that is often the case unfortunately with many ladies of color; the hatred of having "nappy hair".

    Now, to give an example of what WOULD be considered racist is if let's say, Claudia was dressed as Aunt Jemima complete with doo-rag bandana on her head, and posing as a housekeeper or a cook.

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  2. You make some good points. A model is not her photos any more than a actor is his role.

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