Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ambercrombie and FUBU


In Dwight McBride’s article titled Why I hate Abercrombie & Fitch he discusses how Abercrombie advertises and targets only upper and middle class white people. He talks about the ads for the clothing company and how its not only promotes a clothing industry but it also promotes a lifestyle. McBride finds it very wrong and discriminating in the way that the brand Abercrombie promotes whiteness.
Although Abercrombie definitely does promote a certain idea of whiteness by using almost strictly white models for their advertisements and magazines, it is not the only retailer that targets a specific race or ethnic group.
I chose to look at a clothing line called FUBU. On their online website www.fubu.com, the majority of their models are African Americans. The site shows many well dressed African Americans, however it is not specifically targeted to a certain age group like Abercrombie is. Also, in their advertisements that are available to view on the website, it shows many African American models and has rap music being played. Also, there is an advertisement for FUBU children’s clothing in which there are numerous children pictured in it, there is one white child but only about a third of his face is in the picture. So by looking at FUBU’s website and advertisements it is very obvious what group of people they are targeting. However, I do believe that FUBU is not discriminating quite the way that Abercrombie did.
I chose this clothing line because although I do believe that McBride does have a relevant point that Abercrombie was discriminating, I do believe that most retailers have a target market. A target market can be determined by age, gender, style, and income and I believe that Abercrombie was just positioning their clothing line into the marketing mix. However, I do not agree with the hiring practices and the discrimination that took place in that process.
I have found that McBride’s article goes along with this website in that McBride states that “Abercrombie & Fitch has devised a very clear marketing and advertising strategy that celebrates whiteness” (66). As stated above I believe that all clothing stores have a target marketing strategy that they aim at certain demographics and that is what Abercrombie is doing as well as FUBU. They are just targeting different groups of consumers.
Another statement from McBride’s article that goes along with the connection between these two companies is that McBride states, “Of the group shots, two include the one African American model (or even visible person of color) in these pages, white all of the rest of the photos are of male and female models who appear to be white” (66). Just as the whites are the target market and the main people featured in their advertisements, FUBU targets the African American market and the main people featured in their advertisements are African Americans. As stated before, there is an advertisement on the FUBU website that features many children and only one of those children is white and he is only partially visible in the advertisement. There is only one other picture on the website that features a white person. So just as though Abercrombie does not feature many pictures of African Americans, FUBU does not feature many pictures of white people.
I think that it is fine for a company to have a target market that they are trying to sell their clothing too as long as they are not discriminating in the process. I feel that what Abercrombie did in the way of hiring practices was very wrong, not only were they discriminating against race, but they were also telling people that they were not pretty. I think that is very wrong. I think that people should be able to shop wherever they want and buy whatever style of clothing that they prefer.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Yes, Dear

Season 6: Episode 116: Martial Aid

I chose to do an episode of “yes, dear”. In this episode Greg and Kim have a couple over for dinner. This couple has a very dysfunctional relationship, the husband controls everything that the wife does, tells her what she will eat, drink, and when she should talk. Kim finds this to be very wrong and offensive and when the couple leaves she is extremely nice to Greg, cooks him his favorite breakfast, does all the housework and lets him do whatever he wants because she is so thankful that he doesn’t treat her the way that their friends husband treated his wife. Greg loves the attention that he is getting from this and continues to invite the couple over so he can wreak the benefits after they leave. He then tells Jimmy about the couple because Jimmy and Christine are in a fight, so Jimmy and Christine go out with this couple and the same thing happens, Christine is so appalled by how this husband treats his wife so she is extremely attentive to Jimmy.
The reason why I chose to do this episode is because it shows male privilege and it also shows how Jimmy and Greg take advantage of the fact that Christine and Kim feel like they owe Jimmy and Greg something just because Jimmy and Greg don’t treat them badly. Jimmy and Greg should treat them fairly because they are their wives and they love them, Kim and Christine don’t owe them anything for treating them fairly.
One connection that I made with our readings from class is that in Johnson’s chapter 2, Privilege, Oppression, and Difference, it states “privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do” (21). This relates to the “yes, dear” episode because the men don’t feel the need to be nice to their wives because they are being nice to them, but the wives feel the need to be nice to the men because they treat them better than their friends husband treats his wife. In a society in which privilege does not exist, the men would feel as though their wives do not owe them anything and that they should treat their wives nicely all the time and then they could be expected to be treated the same in return.
Another connection that I made with this episode and Johnson’s chapter 2 is in chapter 2 it states, “The second form of privilege- what McIntosh calls ‘conferred dominance’- goes a step further by giving one group power over another” (23). The Johnson goes on to talk about how this usually comes in the form of men controlling conversations held with women. In the episode, the friends of Jimmy and Christine, the husband controlled when his wife would talk. He always degraded whatever she said, and he also would order what she wanted to drink and eat without consulting her first to see what she would like. He basically acted as though he had power over her and she was supposed to do, say, and think whatever he told her to.
Overall, this is not a good message to send to kids or teenagers through television. If they see it on television they may get the same attitudes and beliefs in their heads. However, I believe that younger viewers may be able to recognize what is wrong in the episode and see the male privilege that is being portrayed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jena 6

Chicago Defender
Sept. 21-Sept. 23, 2007
Vol. 102, Iss. 78; pg. 5
Ethnic Newswatch

I chose to write about an article that I found on Ethnic Newswatch from the Chicago Defender about the Jena 6 case. In this story, a mother of three children, including two African American males, Lisa Hayden, went to Jena, La., to speak with some of the residents to see how they felt about the case. According to Hayden, she felt as thought the case was completely insane and stated, “It really had no place in our society. It…made a mockery of our justice system” (pg 5). She traveled around the town of Jena to popular places in which both black and white community members spent time. She found that many community members did not want to be directly quoted or have their pictures taken because they said that they have to live there and they didn’t want people to know who they were and where the stood on the issue.
Overall, Hayden found that the community members that she spoke to said they were relatively unimpressed with the case stating that it wasn’t the first time that something like this has happened there. One man expressed shame over how the legal system was handling the situation but most people described the situation as a misunderstanding.
The reason why I chose this article because it stood out compared to the other articles pertaining to the Jena 6 case. Most articles think that it’s a terrible situation and in this article, the issue is kind of swept under the rug and they act like it is no big deal. I found connections in the article with Johnson’s chapter 8, Getting off the Hook: Denial and Resistance.
One connection that I found in this article that relates to Johnson’s chapter 8 is in the article it is stated that the schoolyard nooses were related to the rodeo, not lynching. This goes a long with an excerpt from chapter 8 the states, “[They] act as though a lack of conscious intent means a lack of effect, as if saying it was only a joke or only being aware of it as a joke is enough to make it just a joke” (114). This acts as though they were oblivious to the fact that the nooses could have been referring to the lynching and rather they were just referring to the rodeo therefore there was no harmful meaning behind them.
This is also an example of Johnson’s call it something else. By saying that it was referring to the rodeo, it takes them off the hook for it meaning something racially. Also, when the community members say that this is simply a misunderstanding, it shows that they are simply denying what truly was going on at the school that day. By calling it a misunderstanding they are trying to put the issue behind them and point a blind eye towards the fact that it is truly an issue that needs to be addressed.
Overall, I feel as though this article is rather upsetting that some of the members of Jena feel as though this instance was just a misunderstanding and they think that it should be put behind them. In all actuality, it’s a sign that racism does still occur in today’s society and it is still an issue. I can understand why these people did not want their pictures taken or to be directly quoted because their views truly showed an opposing view of many of the other community members and even people across the world.

Sunday, October 28, 2007



Here are two pictures of a man in blackface. These men are white men who have their face colored a very black color so they can portray a black man in the theater. These men have their face a very dark black color, they have exaggerated lips usually in a white or pink color. I chose these pictures because they showed the typical man in blackface. They have the very dark face color and exaggerated lips and one is portrayed as very happy while the other one is frowning.
In class we watched the movie Ethnic Notions. In the movie it showed men wearing blackface and performing in the theater. The movie discussed how with the use of blackface helped shape many stereotypes of black men and women. In their acts they would have comical skits in which the performers would portray lazy, superstitious black characters who were cowardly, who stole, lied and did not speak very strong English. As a result, the genre played an important role in shaping perceptions of and prejudices about blacks generally and African Americans in particular. Some social commentators have stated that blackface provided an outlet for whites' fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar, and a socially acceptable way of expressing their feelings and fears about race and control.
These skits lead to other nicknames and stereotypes of the black population. As shown in the movie, such nicknames as coon and mammy were used to stereotype African Americans. The coon was portrayed as a poor, lazy, black male and the mammy was an over weight, happy black female slave. These images were shown in the theater and continued to be shown in all types of media at the time.
At the beginning days of the theater, blacks were not able to perform in the theater. Only white males would be actors and that’s why they would wear blackface. Also it is believed to be the reason why black females were always portrayed as being large, and man-like because in the theater the black female characters were played by white males. However, finally when they started to allow blacks to perform in some skits, they would make the blacks apply dark color to their faces to make them the very dark color. The black actors found this to be discriminating but they preferred to apply blackface rather than do other menial labor jobs that were available to them at the time.
Also, they always showed black characters, male and female, with very large, over exaggerated lips. This led to the stereotype that blacks have large lips. They would normally have the lips be a white or pink color and make them very large. So overall, the blackface character in the theaters led to several stereotypes being developed about African Americans. Not only did it portray them as lazy and not very intelligent, they also portrayed physical stereotypes.
I find it rather interesting that this was so accepted by the population at the time. I really found it interesting that they also made the blacks apply the dark color to their faces. This shows that the stereotypes were obviously not true if they had to have the blacks apply it to their faces to match the stereotype. However, media and entertainment plays a large role in developing stereotypes and constructing the way we think and feel about certain groups so its easy to believe that this helped develop lasting stereotypes.

American First


American’s have been putting themselves above other groups of people for a long time. As American’s we tend to think of ourselves as superior to almost all others. I chose this cartoon because it shows the superiority that we as American’s take for granted. Especially at the very beginning, we enslaved many different ethnicities of people and treated others unfairly so we could benefit from it.
In this cartoon it shows a happy woman reading stories to younger children. The woman’s shirt says “America First”. This shows the attitude that as Americans we think of what is best for us rather than what we have to do to others to achieve it. The caption in the cartoon reads, “…and the wolf chewed up the children and spit out their bones…but those were Foreign Children and it really didn’t matter.” This again shows heartlessness and no compassion for foreign people, as long as American’s were not suffering from the loss of the foreign people, they did not care what happened to them
I found connections between this cartoon and the reading we read in class by Howard Zinn, titled Drawing the Color line. In Zinn’s chapter two he states, “African slavery lacked two elements that made American slavery the most cruel form of slavery in history: the frenzy for limitless profit that comes from capitalistic agriculture; the reduction of the slave to less than human status by the use of racial hatred, with that relentless clarity based on color, where white was master, black was slave” (26). This shows that as Americans we treated our slaves with the least amount of respect. We brought them down to a status that wasn’t even of human kind. This goes a long with the cartoon because in the cartoon it says how the wolf chewed up the children and spit out their bones but it didn’t matter because they were foreign children. This, in a way, is what Americans did to the slaves. We worked them so hard and made them live in certain conditions that brought many of them to their death.
Also in chapter two, Zinn states, “Under these conditions, perhaps, one of every three blacks transported overseas died, but huge profits made it worth while for the slave trader, and so the blacks were packed into the holds like fish” (26). Again, in this quote, it shows that the Americans treated the slaves like fish; they transported them to America in large quantities that forced them to practically live on top of each other. This caused many of the slaves to die because they were living under terrible conditions, however, the slave traders continued to transport the slaves in this way because they were still making a profit off of them regardless of how many of them were dying. This again shows how we use our authority to benefit us and not pay any attention to what we are doing to other groups of people.
In the end, I think that it is very sad that we have done this to many different cultures. I also think however, that there were some whites that did show concern for what they were doing to the other ethnicities and realized that what we were doing was wrong. I think that today we are also making up for what was done in the passed through affirmative action laws. This is helping to smooth things over between the different races and ethnicities to help make it a fair world that we live in.

Santa and Religion


I chose to do this political cartoon with Santa Claus. In the cartoon Santa first tries to say “Merry Christmas” then he is told that he can’t say that. Next he tries to say “Happy Hanukah” but he is also told that he can’t say that. Again he tries to say Kwanzaka and Ramadan and he still is told that he can’t say that. The reason he is not allowed to say these things is because it would be privileging one religion over the others. Due to the fact that Christianity is dominant and the majority of the people celebrate Christmas, he wants to say that but that is not politically correct so he is told he can’t say that. He then ends on his fourth try by just saying “Yo”.
The reason I chose this cartoon is because after seeing it, I realized the privilege I have as a Christian that Merry Christmas is the dominant term used for the holiday. Also in the cartoon, I saw connection of him following the path of least resistance by ending by just saying “Yo” and it also got me to thinking about why Merry Christmas is the most common term used.
In this cartoon, Santa is trying to wish people a Merry Christmas, but he is corrected each time he tries to say something because by wishing someone a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukah, it is leaving out people of other religious backgrounds. In our society, Merry Christmas tends to be the dominate way we address the holiday. One reason for this could be that the majority of people are Christians and therefore celebrate Christmas. As stated in chapter six of Johnson titled What it all has to do With Us Johnson states, “In the end, the default position is to adopt the dominant version of reality and act as though it’s the only one there is” (80). Therefore, we use Merry Christmas as the term to address the holiday and act as though it’s the only way to address it and just turn a blind eye to the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas. This is not the correct way to address the problem, but we have been doing it for so long that it is hard to change.
In the end, Santa just ends up saying “Yo”. This shows that there really isn’t a way to address the holiday without offending another group of people. By just saying yo, Santa is taking the path of least resistance because no group can object to that. As stated in Johnson, “By comparison, the path of least resistance is far more appealing, which is why it’s the one we’re most likely to choose” (80). Due to the fact that no one will object to him saying yo, Santa is avoiding any confrontations that he may run into with other religious groups and therefore taking the path of least resistance.
So is there really a correct way to refer to the holiday? I don’t think that there is a way that we can refer to the holiday without making another group of people mad. I think that it is something that has become such a large part of our culture that it would be really hard to change. The fact that we refer to it as Merry Christmas definitely gives privilege to a certain group of people but I think that the other groups have come to accept it as being referred to it as Christmas and it would be really hard to change.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Mammy

Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University

Above are three different pictures of mammies. In the first picture it shows a robust black female with big lips and eyes wearing a handkerchief on her head. She looks to be scolding one of her own children. In the second picture are two mammies holding white babies. They are also large black women who are wearing handkerchiefs on their heads and aprons. Their lips and eyes also are large. Finally in the last picture is just a head shot of a mammy. She is portrayed as very happy and also has many of the same physical features as the women in the other two pictures, large lips, big eyes, and wearing a handkerchief on her head. I chose to do these images because these are images that mammy was recognized as doing. She was not loving to her own children, as shown in the first picture, she cared for the white children as in the second picture, and she was portrayed as being very happy and doing whatever it was her master asked her to do, as shown in the last picture.
These pictures relate very closely with the images that we saw in the movie Ethnic Notions. In Ethnic Notions there were many pictures of the mammy with a big smile on her face while she was doing laundry or other household chores. There was also a clip that showed the mammy doing laundry outside and then as soon as the young white child came out, she insisted that she would make him pancakes. The whole time she was smiling and whistling and was portrayed as being very happy.
Also, in all of the pictures of the mammy she was always shown as a large woman with very dark skin. She always had a huge smile on her face and also had large lips and big eyes. There was never an image that portrayed her with different physical characteristics. These pictures go right a long with that stereotype and continue to show the mammy with all of those same physical features.
In the movie, the mammy was always very nice and pleasant to the white children. She cared for them in a loving, motherly way. She was portrayed as willing to do whatever the child wanted her to do and she tended to the white children’s every need. This is what is being portrayed in the second picture. The mammies are holding and taking care of the white babies, as a mother would do. However, in contrast, the mammies were shown as always being brutish to their own children. There were images in the movie that shows the mammy spanking her own child while having them lying across her lap. She was always punishing her own children and was never shown as caring for them in a loving way as she was shown doing to the white children. This is portrayed in the first picture of the mammy correcting her own child when they are saying their prayers. There is no loving or caring feeling when you look at this image.
I feel that this portrayal of the mammy is rather said. First of all, the fact that she is shown as always being very happy and satisfied with her lifestyle and the work that she is told to do is very sad and wrong. She obviously is not happy that she is under someone’s control and has to tend to their every need. We all know that life for slaves was not a pleasant thing and the fact that they show the mammy as being happy and willing to do her job all of the time is a misconception.
Second, the fact that they show images of the mammy taking care of the white children and tending to their needs and loving them like a mother would and then showing the exact opposite when it comes to her own children is a very sad image as well. This obviously wasn’t exactly how it was and it is wrong that there are so many images portraying life as being that way. Also, it really wasn’t a choice for the mammy to take care of the white children and treat them that way, she had to, it was part of her job.
Finally, the fact that they show the mammy with having the same physical characteristics is very stereotypical as well. The fact that they show the mammy as being very dark skinned, with big lips and big eyes and being overweight just gives many reasons to believe that she is unprivileged. They obviously all did not look this way however they still continued to portray the mammy looking that way. In the end I think that the whole idea and portrayal of the mammy is very discriminating and sad.