Last night I Netflix’d How to Survive a Plague, the documentary chronicling the history of AIDS activist group ACT UP, and how they essentially protested the government into making HIV medication more accessible to those afflicted with it. It was a fascinating, informative, heartwrenching doc (made more heartwrenching by its soundtrack of Arthur Russell, the gentle, disco experimentalist who died of AIDS in 1992). I recommend it.
But one aspect troubled me. Why was ACT UP so white? Why, in a documentary about AIDS-afflicted gay men (mostly men) in 1980s and 1990s New York City, were there literally like three people of color in the whole film, only one of whom—Chicano artist Ray Navarro—had a speaking role. Where were the blacks and Latinos who came to symbolize ’90s gay liberation through movies, music, and other popular culture?  Where were the blacks and Latinos who lost their lives in far greater numbers than other ethnicities, particularly the whites who ran ACT UP—and continue to do so?  
So I googled “ACT Up” and “racism” and the only thing that came up, as it turned out, was the October 1990 issue of SPIN, which was guest edited by Spike Lee. In it, an article by Celia Farber entitled “AIDS: Words from the Front” explores the disproportionate amount of media coverage given to white AIDS activists, when the most disadvantaged communities were the most likely to need public and government assistance. The first few paragraphs describing a “Medicaid mill” in Harlem are some of the most devastating I’ve read in awhile. There’s a quote about heroin dealers putting a cap of AZT in every bag they sold. Fuck. And Keith Cylar, a black AIDS activist WITH ACT Up, provides the pull quote that brought the piece up in my google search, and discusses efforts he has made to get them to be less racist. Cylar was not in the film—he died of complications from AIDS and cardioarrhythmia in 2004. But his efforts are still felt by New Yorkers, whether you knew it or not: he co-founded Housing Works, the health care and housing resources organization that operates a terrific non-profit bookstore and some of the best secondhand stores in the city. 
So yeah, I recommend both watching that movie and reading that article, and understanding that the ramifications of that apparent racial disconnect (brought on in part by local and national government and institutionalized racism) continue to this day. Oh, and also, fuck Ed Koch. Enjoy hell.

Last night I Netflix’d How to Survive a Plague, the documentary chronicling the history of AIDS activist group ACT UP, and how they essentially protested the government into making HIV medication more accessible to those afflicted with it. It was a fascinating, informative, heartwrenching doc (made more heartwrenching by its soundtrack of Arthur Russell, the gentle, disco experimentalist who died of AIDS in 1992). I recommend it.

But one aspect troubled me. Why was ACT UP so white? Why, in a documentary about AIDS-afflicted gay men (mostly men) in 1980s and 1990s New York City, were there literally like three people of color in the whole film, only one of whom—Chicano artist Ray Navarro—had a speaking role. Where were the blacks and Latinos who came to symbolize ’90s gay liberation through movies, music, and other popular culture?  Where were the blacks and Latinos who lost their lives in far greater numbers than other ethnicities, particularly the whites who ran ACT UP—and continue to do so?  

So I googled “ACT Up” and “racism” and the only thing that came up, as it turned out, was the October 1990 issue of SPIN, which was guest edited by Spike Lee. In it, an article by Celia Farber entitled “AIDS: Words from the Front” explores the disproportionate amount of media coverage given to white AIDS activists, when the most disadvantaged communities were the most likely to need public and government assistance. The first few paragraphs describing a “Medicaid mill” in Harlem are some of the most devastating I’ve read in awhile. There’s a quote about heroin dealers putting a cap of AZT in every bag they sold. Fuck. And Keith Cylar, a black AIDS activist WITH ACT Up, provides the pull quote that brought the piece up in my google search, and discusses efforts he has made to get them to be less racist. Cylar was not in the film—he died of complications from AIDS and cardioarrhythmia in 2004. But his efforts are still felt by New Yorkers, whether you knew it or not: he co-founded Housing Works, the health care and housing resources organization that operates a terrific non-profit bookstore and some of the best secondhand stores in the city. 

So yeah, I recommend both watching that movie and reading that article, and understanding that the ramifications of that apparent racial disconnect (brought on in part by local and national government and institutionalized racism) continue to this day. Oh, and also, fuck Ed Koch. Enjoy hell.

thisisfusion

Check Out this Casting Call for ‘Fiery’ ‘Mami Chulas’

univisionnews:

image

By ALEX ALVAREZ

Oye, fellow CHICA$! Mamis, lemme ask u a kuestion. R u r3aDy 2 B on TV? Duh, rite? Well, locas, have I got the oportunidad 4 u! Peep this kasting kall looking for “fiery, passionate, spanish speaking bi-lingual goddesses who are those beautiful, exciting, mami chulas NY is notorious for (sic)” to take part in a show called “Mi Vida Loca.” DALE!

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When I got this casting call (“kasting kall”) in my inbox (from Doron Ofir, the guy who did Jersey Shore) I actually cracked up because they managed to hit every horrible stereotype ever (except “ay, dios mio!”). It was incredibly thorough in its stereotyping. So good job, I guess, fuckfaces. 

This is the entirety of VH-1’s documentary on Rodney King, hip-hop and the LA Riots, via Ego Trip. IT IS CRUCIAL VIEWING, especially considering the bs that is the false and damaging rebranding of American society as “post-racial.” This was only 20 years ago. Related: THE FUCKING SUPREME COURT IS PROBABLY GONNA LEGALIZE SB-1070, AKA LEGALIZE RACIAL PROFILING AT THE STATE LEVEL. 

djripley

djripley:

withrevolutionarycries:

thefeeloffree:

Kelly Rowland- Keep It Between Us

ft Lance Gross

As a random side note: I love how this is lit. Who ever was in charge of lighting has clearly actually worked with dark-skinned/brown-skinned people before.

It’s an awesome side note. When I was teaching Intro to Media Criticism I blew my students minds by having them read a little piece where a lighting designer for film talked about the moment he realized he’d only been taught to light white people. They had never thought about the relationship between the technical and the political - like the actual visibility and legibility and expressiveness (and gorgeousness) of human beings’ faces and bodies that can be brought out or erased, systematically, by a medium if it’s produced in a certain way.

So deep. 

JOHN LEGUIZAMO RIGHTS A TRAGICOMEDY

Back in August, I got into a small YouTube mail fracas (I know) with Yannis Pappas, the white male comedian who portrays “Maurica Rodriguez,” a stereotypical sassy Latina from the Lower East Side. Someone sent his video links to my boyfriend, who is in the band Das Racist, suggesting he might like it. God knows why; that person should delete all Das Racist mp3s from their iTunes immediately, since Pappas’ “Maurica Rodriguez” is in fact, actually racist.

Like many whites (and non-whites) dressing up as ethnic female characters (i.e. every season of Saturday Night Live), Pappas’ portrayal of Maurica is an extension of a racist stereotype, in this case his notion that the Lower East Side (read: poor) Latina is inherently sassy, trifling, and—don’t forget—SPICY! Pappas also uses his Latina-face to liberally utilize the n-word, which he seems to relish, and of which mama don’t take no mess.

I left a comment saying all those things, not really expecting any response since, you know, it’s a fucking YouTube comment. So obviously I was amazed when dude totally wrote me back! In personal YouTube Message! POSSIBLY THE FIRST OF ITS KIND! His response:

finally!!! congrats! you are officially the first negative comment for maurica since she was created! the only one! you get the attention! you’re right that is exactly like i created her i just wanted to use the n word, be sexist and rasict and not funny and see if i could get people to think it was funny, not racist and not sexist. I tricked them all except you! you’re amazing! you are going to do great things!!!
love always,
Detrond 
the guy who plays Yannis Pappis. Yannis Pappas is just a stand up comedian character i play.

you’re amazing! great work.

It didn’t surprise me that Yannis Pappis (or Detrond, the Greek-American who plays him) reacted so defensively. (What completely surprised me was that he sent me a YOUTUBE MESSAGE! YO!) It also didn’t surprise me that his defensive email seemed to justify or deflect my comments with an “everyone else likes it, you must be stupid” attitude. Furthermore it did not surprise me that his immediate response was an attempt at gaslighting since I was, allegedly, his first negative comment. (Really? And he’s performing this character in New York?)

What did surprise me was how much his response bummed me out. Not that I expected him to be like, “You’re right… it’s time for me to re-evaluate my entire act!” It was even the fact of his response in the first place, with entitlement that doubled the way Maurica smarted my heart. Like, not only did he feel entitled to assume the role of “Maurica” based on his condescending view of Latinas, but he felt entitled to then shit on a Latina for expressing her dismay. White male privilege on white male privilege on white male privilege. I didn’t respond, of course. Because fuck that guy. But I’ve had it in the back of my mind for months, since it happened. 

So today, in a lightweight internet k-hole, I discovered John Leguizamo’s “House of Buggin,” a short-lived follow-up to “In Living Color” that featured mostly Latinos. (Leguizamo’s refusal to make the cast more white contributed to the show’s cancellation after one season.) ((Yes, I shocked myself that I didn’t already know about “House of Buggin.”)) About 30 minutes into the YouTube wormhole, I discovered this clip, from Leguizamo’s 1993 one-man show “Spic-o-rama,” a story of a family in Jackson Heights preparing for a wedding. Maurica is a wholesale bite off Leguizamo’s “All My Life” bit, watchable below. But Leguizamo’s portrayal of a middle-aged Latina is one of the tenderest, realest, most feminist bits of cross-dressing comedy I have ever seen. This clip’s two minutes long, yet his character is deep, humbling, and legitimately funny—he doesn’t exploit his vision of her life, but brings it to light while giving her a natural spirit. It split me open, a bit, before it healed me. I will love John Leguizamo forever. 

In case there was any doubt in your mind that the Park Slope PMRC was being, how you say, selective in its outrage… I went by the not-yet-opened hip-hop club on my way back from my run in the park today and let me tell you these people are TRIPPING. Its future resting place is the old Royal Video location, which is basically already the noisiest fucking part of Flatbush barring where it crosses Atlantic. Standing on that corner, you can see/feel/hear a loud train rumbling underneath yr feet, cars constantly honking, drunk homeless sailors threatening to grab you at any moment, and like 12 stoplights in that one intersection. Just across the way (‘mere steps’ in craigslist apt broker parlance), interestingly enough, is the Flatbush Farm, where yuppies often gather to eat overpriced, extremely mediocre food and get wasted on micropints from Oregermany. They, too, boast an open-air backyard, where people have exercised their capitalist right to be loud, rowdy and obnoxious ever since it opened five years ago. No one protested when that happened, and I’d bet some of the freaked-out anti-rap neighbors are frequent patrons. You can yell with impunity! Before it existed, INCIDENTALLY, there was a tiny ass record shop next door where you could see rappers  perform impromptu shit, announced only via a cardboard notice on the window*. JUST SAYING. I live 4 avenues away (in Boerum Hill, not that it makes much of a difference, but I feel as though I must say it) and am going to visit Prime 6 constantly. I’m also starting a petition to get rid of that fucking cheese shop on the same block, simply because its sign and font are cloying and invasive to my eyes. I can do that, right? Read this piece on gentrification on Flatbush Ave — which frankly has not benefited the pre-existing community, unlike the claims of Head Petitioner/Keeper of Indie Rock Jennifer McMillen— and also, fuck off yuppie scum.
*I can’t remember the name of it, someone refresh my memory?

In case there was any doubt in your mind that the Park Slope PMRC was being, how you say, selective in its outrage… I went by the not-yet-opened hip-hop club on my way back from my run in the park today and let me tell you these people are TRIPPING. Its future resting place is the old Royal Video location, which is basically already the noisiest fucking part of Flatbush barring where it crosses Atlantic. Standing on that corner, you can see/feel/hear a loud train rumbling underneath yr feet, cars constantly honking, drunk homeless sailors threatening to grab you at any moment, and like 12 stoplights in that one intersection. Just across the way (‘mere steps’ in craigslist apt broker parlance), interestingly enough, is the Flatbush Farm, where yuppies often gather to eat overpriced, extremely mediocre food and get wasted on micropints from Oregermany. They, too, boast an open-air backyard, where people have exercised their capitalist right to be loud, rowdy and obnoxious ever since it opened five years ago. No one protested when that happened, and I’d bet some of the freaked-out anti-rap neighbors are frequent patrons. You can yell with impunity! Before it existed, INCIDENTALLY, there was a tiny ass record shop next door where you could see rappers  perform impromptu shit, announced only via a cardboard notice on the window*. JUST SAYING. I live 4 avenues away (in Boerum Hill, not that it makes much of a difference, but I feel as though I must say it) and am going to visit Prime 6 constantly. I’m also starting a petition to get rid of that fucking cheese shop on the same block, simply because its sign and font are cloying and invasive to my eyes. I can do that, right? Read this piece on gentrification on Flatbush Ave — which frankly has not benefited the pre-existing community, unlike the claims of Head Petitioner/Keeper of Indie Rock Jennifer McMillen— and also, fuck off yuppie scum.

*I can’t remember the name of it, someone refresh my memory?