Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream Racist...Covertly?

Shemise Evans 
In her article “Racist!”: Metapragmatic regimentation of racist discourse by Asian American youthAngela Reyes discusses ideologies surrounding racial discourse. She observes that by crying racist in a classroom setting, Asian American youth bring attention the ideologies of racism in regard to blackness and whiteness despite being indirectly associated with both categories. Reyes gives several examples of how Asian American youth cry “racist” within conversations in academic settings. For example, during a conversation about hair amongst Asian students, there was no accusation of racism from the students, however, during a discussion about piano keys,  a student cried “racist” and thereby bringing attention to the issues of racism based on the usage of particular words. In response to this, Reyes states in  that in different contexts, particular words that are often associated with blackness “do not invite a racist accusation” due to the fact that “Asian American youth systematically interpret only particular uses of the word “black” as racist: those that are recognized as indexically linked to negative racialized qualities” of African Americans (23).  It’s interesting how crying “racist” in a school setting takes a humorous or comedic turn for the students and is therefore never fully addressed by teachers. The teachers, who are the minority in these situations, are purposefully put in an uncomfortable situation by the student’s accusations, even if the students are not accusing the teachers of actually being racist. Reyes states that  “crying “racist” in classrooms (as well as in politics and entertainment) continually reshapes the development and movement of racial ideologies, so that what it means to be colorblind, post racial, or politically correct is in constant flux” (28). 
So why do people cry “racist”? Not simply Asian Americans or celebrities on television shows who portray interactions between people of different races, but everyday people. In what contexts do “racist cries” have substantial meaning as opposed to being used for social entertainment? 
To address this question,  I will present how three You Tubers (ordinary people who over time have gain celebrity status be creating and posting video content on the You Tube)  have handled the subject of crying racist in their videos. The You Tubers being referenced are: 
Shay CarlpastedGraphic.pdf       Kevin Wu    Phillip Defranco pastedGraphic_1.pdf
After reading Reyes’ article I was reminded of a portion of one of Shay Carl’s vlogs (video logs) on his "SHAYTARDS" Daily video diary channel entitled “Racist Chicks! 
During the vlog, Shay visits a store called Cow Ranch and comes across a section of the store where baby chickens are for sale. There, he sees white and black chickens kept in separate bins right next to each other and begins a sarcastic rant on what he calls “segregation in chickenry”. I found it interesting how our cultural notion of racism and segregation was mapped onto animals. In the spirit of the Asian American students in Reyes’ article, Shay humorously claims that the storeowners have projected  “segregation” by keeping the black and white chickens separated.  Starts at 6:09.

The second video I was reminded of is entitled “Girls are like M&M’s” and was created by Kevin Wu, better known as,  Kevjumba.

The most controversial You Tuber I’m subscribed to is Philip Defranco, who currently has a two “show” type channels and a vlog channel on You Tube.  Phil has often tackled issues of racism and class in his videos, which often spark heated debates and comments from viewers. Like the Asian American students, his videos and content are constructed to present serious issues and ideologies in a comedic fashion. As a white male openly and boldly discussing and crying “racist”, it is interesting to analyze how his experiences inform his statements and how the denotational context of his words are interpreted by viewers. His video entitled “Racism Can Be Fun!” can be found on his sxephil channel. The portion related to Reyes' article starts at 2:00 minutes in.
The top rated viewer comment for Phil’s video is as follows:  “All races are fun to talk to and play with”. It is this notion of “fun” that’s most interesting to consider.  Is there value in these kinds of videos and other comedic representation of racial interactions? 
An alternative perspective to this ideology  can be found in an African American viewer’s response video, which was posted by CoreyAllenX. His video addressees a lot of what’s been discussed in class as well as what's featured in Reyes’ article. response video to the comments on his first video should also considered.
Overall, it is clear that discussions about racism are ongoing and the way in which it is discussed derives entirely from the perspectives of the speakers. White Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans and others are all taking part in the reshaping of racial ideologies, maintaining the value of racial discourse in our society.

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