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Posts Tagged ‘Race’

It’s obvious what the issues with Barbie are. She perpetuates an unattainable beauty standard, influencing impressionable, young girls globally. Barbie also maintains sexism against women with her stereotypically female careers. What I want to talk about is how white she is. Launched in 1959, it would be eight years until an African American version were released in 1967, but only “Colored Francie’s” skin was darker, her facial features were still Caucasian. In 1968, the popularly adopted “official African American Barbie” named Christie was released with more genuine African American features. Then, 20 years later in 1988, Teresa, a Hispanic Barbie, was released.

BARBIE® 2015 Birthday Wishes® Doll – Hispanic

Mattel has been applauded for their efforts of including ethnically correct African American features in their doll line, but you would never be able to tell that Teresa is in the least bit Hispanic. Mattel now has 27 versions of their African American doll, varying in shades of skin, facial features and names, but major retailers like Target and Walmart have been cited for variations in pricing between identical versions of Caucasian and African American Barbies. Teresa stands along side her only variation, a new Barbie labeled on Mattel’s website as “BARBIE® 2015 Birthday Wishes® Doll – Hispanic.

BARBIE® Fashionistas® Teresa&® Doll

The progress of racial inclusion is incredibly slow at Mattel. Where are the 27 versions of Hispanic dolls? Where are any Asian dolls? As the widely accepted American icon of current, feminine beauty standards, Barbie excludes the representation of a significant part of modern America. Therefore, Barbie devalues those women as Americans because they don’t fit the mold of the ideal American woman: white, sometimes black, barely Hispanic.

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Can a song be an american icon? When contemplating what song represents the U.S.A, there are many that spring to mind, Bruce Springsteen, ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ or Don McLean, ‘American Pie’ to name but a few. But perhaps ‘White America’ by Eminem is a song that represents more of the U.S.A and its people than other songs, as it addresses something that is so very much an integral part of the American ideal, freedom of speech.

The song was released by  Eminem in 2002, describing his rise to fame and prominence in the rap game concentrating on allegations by parents and politicians that he was negatively influencing criminal behaviour on young white children. Lynne Cheney, the former Second Lady as wife of former U.S Vice President Dick Cheney repeatedly spoke out against Eminem’s lyrics citing her objections to his ‘glorification’ of violence against women and homosexuals and his sexually explicit lyrics (picking up on the issue already made famous by another former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper Gore).

Lynne Cheney gave testimony before the U.S Congress in September 200 in which Eminem was singled out and his lyrics condemned and  his right to free speech questioned. She said that Eminem and those like him “ironically” threaten First Amendment freedoms because they are “so objectionable that more.. good citizens find appealing the idea that government regulation should remove entertainment industry products from the public square.” Eminem’s response in the song made good use of the First Amendment, “…Hypocrisy, fuck you Ms. Cheney, fuck you Tipper Gore, fuck you with the freest of speech this
divided states of embarrassment will allow me to have, fuck you…” While freedom of Speech is protected under federal law and the protections afforded under the First Amendment are undoubtedly the most expansive of any industrialised nation, there are a few exceptions such as; child pornography laws, speech that incites imminent lawless action, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising.

But to question Eminem’s right to free speech must seem alien to so many Americans. Part of the reason why the government was able to garner so much support for its war against Nazi Germany and in its global fight against communism was its portrayal of America as the last bastion of defense against tyranny, freedom vs oppression. As he mentions in the song, “how many people are proud to be citizens of this beautiful country of ours, the stripes and the stars for the rights that men have died for to protect, the women and men who have broke their neck’s for the freedom of speech the United States Government has sworn to uphold”.

The significant point about having legislation and a bill of rights to protect Freedom of Speech is that no matter how much you may disagree with it, it is there to protect everyone. When we encounter speech we disagree with, we shouldn’t try to suppress it, but should instead use our own freedom of speech to argue against the ideas that offend us. While this song is perhaps not so typical of representing America, it raises the issue of one of the keystones of American society.

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HLaking. I found this video on Elvis Presley and the Black community really interesting and relevant to this weeks readings and discussions. I found it useful and interesting to study Elvis’s influence and relationship within the Black Community and music industry. It is a very brief clip, but I thought it added to the overall debate surrounding the idea of Elvis being a ‘White Trash’ icon and a symbol for American soldiers. Also the reaction from White Middle classes is really interesting in how strong their reaction is.

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American Communism

Image

This image is from the website http://msct.ucps.k12.nc.us/ncdesk/Espiranza/Depression%20Era%20Photos.htm and is a poster from 1924 designed by Hugo Gellert. The poster calls for votes for William Z. Foster as President, and the end to race oppression, imperialist wars and recognition and defence of the Soviet Union. This image is striking because it shows that the USA indeed had a communist party, candidates for President and Vice-President and crossed the boundaries between farmers and industrial workers through the Farmer-Labour Party as well as Blacks and Whites. 

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Elvis

I disagree that Elvis did bridge the gap between races.
An example of this is Big Mama Thornton and her original rendition of Hound dog. I was not aware that Hound dog was released by a black artist before Elvis released his own version. I think that Elvis use of ‘black peoples’ music wouldn’t bridge a gap but further intensify it because ‘their’ music was being popularized by a white man and any connection between the two was non-existent.

big mamma thornton.jpg

Katie Jane

 

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