insert witty title here

24.November.08

ok, so I have much to post, little time, so lets get to it.

1. I’ve been waiting to find some commentary on this catchy but messed up song, you know, “Arab Money” by Busta. The song has a hot beat…but is pretty racist. I found a good article at Racialicious:

Busta’s Busted: “Arab Money”

by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

I know, I know. If you’re looking for socially conscious rap or hip hop, you don’t go to Busta Rhymes. But this still surprises me:

Maytha from KABOBfest has highlighted Rhyme’s song “Arab Money,” which has some disgustingly racist lyrics. Maytha brings up some great points about this video, namely, that it is a blatant example of the acceptability of anti-Arab racism……

Busta Rhymes’ song (and its fakey Arabic chorus–shudder) is just one more instance of hip hop’s cultural appropriation of Middle Eastern music (producer Timbaland has been “sampling” Arabic songs for years: remember Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin”? That is Egyptian artist Hossam Ramzy’s “Khusara Khusara” that you hear)….

When I first heard the song, I didn’t know whether to be angrier about the sexism (Rhymes makes reference to “Middle East women and Middle East bread”—things), the racism, or the casual name dropping in what Maytha calls “baseless stereotypes masquerading as knowledge….

The major problem with Rhyme’s song is that it uses cultural appropriation to perpetuate stereotypes, which are not only absorbed by non-Arab audiences, but can be internalized by Arabs. Case in point: Maytha shows us Arab American hip hop artist/producer Noose’s reworking of “Arab money” into an equally stereotype-ridden video. Perhaps it was missing the icing, however: there wasn’t a belly dancer…..

Another thought that crosses my mind is that “Arab” is used not as an ethnicity but as an adjective for money. Which begs the question, what kind of money is “Arab” money? From Busta Rhymes’ and Noose’s songs, I gather it has something to do with an obscene amount of wealth, which is in itself a stereotype. But this is especially dangerous in that colloquialisms are easily twisted (please reference the history of the terms “gay” and “queer” for further examples), and “Arab” could (and in some cases has) become a pejorative term, used in negative ways just like “African”, “native” and “Jew” have been.

This is the problem with cultural appropriation: initially, things are appropriated for a reason (wearing a keffiyah to show solidarity with Palestinians, for example). But quickly, this same appropriation turns into empty name-dropping, outright stealing (here’s looking at you, Timbaland), and/or derogatory usage against the original “owner” of whatever was appropriated.

I can’t help but wonder whether Busta Rhymes will get any Arab money for this album.

Great commentary. I’m glad I found this. Though I can’t help laughing (and secretly doing when i hear the song) at Busta’s dance to the song.

2. I found this article on Feministe on mixed race relationships. I must admit I think I have found myself saying some of these before, more than once:

What not to say about mixed race relationships

Inspired by this (The comments thread rather then the article itself) .1) You’ll have such beautiful children.

“But that’s a nice thing to say!”. Yes but it’s also a tired old stereotype. Plus, nothing magic happens when mixed race people procreate, i.e two less than averagely good looking people will probably have a less than averagely good looking child.

2) Any cooking metaphors/ animal husbandry metaphors

Mix..blend…yuck, yuck, yuck. Remember you’re talking about human beings, not food. People can’t actually mix or blend. Also, people in mixed race relationships (MRR) have children for exactly the same reasons other people do, not as some kind of eugenics project. When people say “Oh x ethnicity with y ethnicity, that’s a really good mix”, is that meant to be taken seriously? Is there such a thing as a bad ethnic mix? Are they expecting people in MRR’s to be grateful for their approval?

3)Whether you approve of them or not

Yes, everyone’s entitled to their opinion but consider the wisdom of sharing that opinion, and whether the person you’re talking to wants that opinion. If the reason you don’t approve is “It’s not fair on the children”, then the 1960’s are calling and they want their prejudice back.

4) Speculate as to why they are having a Mixed Race relationship.

Unless you are dating that person, then it’s really none of your business. Even if you think it’s just a big fetish, so what? Are you the love police, ready to bust up any relationship that doesn’t fit your criteria?

Again, people in MRR’s, are probably with each other for the same reasons as any other relationship – because they like each other and being together.

5)Any stereotypes (positive or negative) or your general opinion of their partner’s ethinic group.

Aside from having heard all the stereotypes already, do you think the person you are talking to will say “Oh you’re right, all “n” men are domineering/romantic/generous/mean (delete as appropriate). I should leave him/stay with him forever.”?

Makes to step back and think about things….

3.  A blog from Salon has voted Jay Smooth one of the Sexiest Men of the Year. I second that motion.

Jay Smooth is the hip-hop vlogging, self-confessed nerd, founder of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, and mastermind of hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine. Ill Doctrine comments on contemporary hip-hop, something I admittedly know very little about but of which I am now an avid slobbering novice fan, as well as everything that touches, informs, reflects, and develops hip-hop. Which is everything. His videos are intelligent, funny, and make me slightly ashamed that the most I contribute to the Internerd are posts about peanut butter (this blog) and yoga classes (old blog).

Sexy to me has a lot to do with a combination of two crucial elements: intelligence and self-confidence. And I don’t mean that kind of swaggering and unchallenged self-confidence that we attach to so-called sexy men, the Clooneys and Pitts of the world. What I see in Jay Smooth is that intelligence coupled with that good sense called humor. His posts are relevant and challenging, and they demand a lot of critical thinking from his viewers, and they avoid bombast. He doesn’t take it easy. He makes his ideas complex, and he does it with this smile — eyes at half-mast, eyebrows a-quizzical — that shows he’s comfortable and confident with who he is and what he says. That, my friends, is the crucial combo.

Plus he’s cute as hell

4. And last but DEFINITELY not least….another reason I love me some JT:

p.s. 1:01 –  Wtf is Samberg doing??

1:13- Go ‘hed Paul Rudd. Go ‘hed.

***AND, I found this amazing article on Beyaki from PostBougie, originally posted by BlackScientist:

If You Liked It Then You Shoulda Put A Ring On it: Beyonce and Socially Conservative Idealogy

Let me say upfront that Beyonce is my choice poison. If I had to choose one musical artist with a crappy message who I could listen to for the rest of my life, it’d be her (beating out weezy f baby only because of her music videos). I love Beyonce. She is my favorite overachiever. You can find me any day naomi campbell walk-ing back and forth in my bedroom to “Freakum Dress” or trying to shake my derriere to “Single Ladies”.

THAT BEING SAID.

Beyonce is like the feds when it comes to promoting a conservative social agenda. She alone is policing social behavior like bill o’reilly is paying her do it. The whole time I’m getting down to her jams I’m just like “dang b! thats jacked up!” The messages in her songs almost always encourage patriarchy, female subservience, and heteronormativity like a mug! –pretty much conformity overall (including gender conformity) to the socially conservative status quo. In her songs, Beyonce celebrates the oppressive power dynamic that exists between men and women, while simultaneously trying to imply that women can utilize the subordinate position in a heterosexual romantic relationship to empower themselves. If he doesn’t marry you, step! That’ll show him who’s boss. She perpetuates this entanglement of systems of inequalities, such as marriage, with other concepts that have been socially constructed such as love and gender.

And i understand she’s talking to her audience and that many girls and boys can relate to what she’s saying, circumstantially. But I just wish there could be some critical analysis of her implications, and maybe the tweaking of a few words here and there. The fact that she legitimizes only certain expressions of ‘love’ (commitment), masculinity and femininity, and what that means for young girls and boys who are trying to shape their identities, as well as for grown folk who are expressing themselves in alternative ways. Also how those particular expressions that she endorses are part of the larger structure that keeps people in their places, acting as productive bodies for the economy. I want whoever is on her team to at least consider these ideas, and how they could alter her message to communicate a more progressive politics on gender, sex, sexuality, and certain institutions.

Now for kicks, I want to highlight some lyrics that have stood out to me as being particularly annoying and as leaning right of center. Please, add some if you have any! or argue with me about how Beyonce made “Independent Woman” or whatever.

Lyric: If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it.
Translation: If you liked it – “It” most likely refers to a woman here, and perhaps one’s relationship with her, or her sexual abilities. If you liked the woman you were with, you should have married her because not only is that the only way to keep a woman but it is the only legitimate form of recognizing love.

Lyric: Pull me into your arms. Say I’m the one you own. If you don’t you’ll be alone. And like a ghost, I’ll be gone.
Translation: This is why you put a ring on it. Marriage has historically been about who has property rights over women. So tell me you own me, it makes my heart warm.

Lyric: You need a real woman in your life. Taking care of home and still fly. And Ima help you build up your account. When you’re in those big meetings for the mills, you take me just to compliment the deal.
Translation: I’m a trophy wife. When you make business deals, you tote me along like a new car. I’m your favorite prop. Oh, and I can clean the kitchen, wash clothes, cook your dinner, AND put your durag on, all in monolo blahnik heels.

Lyric: I can do for you what Martin did for the people. Ran by the man but the women keep the tempo. It’s very seldom that you’re blessed to find your equal. Still play my part and let you take the lead role, believe me. I’ll follow, this could be easy. I’ll be the help whenever you need me.
Translation: I’ll validate your masculinity by letting you take the ‘lead role’, because the only way I know how to support you is by ensuring that you feel control over me. I’m comfortable fading into the background and being your hot assistant sidekick.  You’re the block, but I’m the lights. You’re the diamond, and I’m the little glimpse of light that makes you shine.

I can’t even start on “If I Were A Boy”… that’s like a whole nother blog in itself.

These are just a few examples trying to illustrate why Beyonce is one of the biggest, albeit flyest, proponents of a retrograde conservative ideology that is restrictive to everyone’s expression, normative and non-conforming alike. It either traps you within (with limited options of expression and often oblivious privilege) or marks you outside (in what is sometimes a more intimately liberated but nonetheless socially and politically marginalized space).

alright, sleepy time for me. later haters.

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