Posts tagged racism

Backlash over accidentally racist tweet urges #CancelColbert

Oxford's white students start their own misguided anti-racism blog.

Is a medieval video game historically accurate without people of color?

MedievalPOC occupies an unusual space in the Tumblrblogosphere, combining an anti-racist social justice message with citation-filled historical research.

You’d think this would be harmless enough, but right now its author is on the receiving end of some Anita Sarkeesian-style backlash. 

According to its mission statement, the purpose of MedievalPOC is to “address common misconceptions that People of Color did not exist in Europe before the Enlightenment, and to emphasize the cognitive dissonance in the way this is reflected in media produced today.”

It’s become a popular resource during debates over the relative “realism” of everything from Disney’s Frozen to HBO’s Game of Thrones, and often receives messages from people asking for advice when researching racial diversity throughout history. 

Last week, MedievalPOC reader tengokujin submitted a question about a video game called Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which is currently being marketed on Kickstarter as a “realistic single-player RPG set in medieval Europe” with “period accurate melee combat.” tengokujin asked MedievalPOC for information regarding any non-white ethnicities that might plausibly be included in the game, saying:

“I asked the devs if they plan on adding any NPCs of other-than-white-descent and received a polite reply of “[In Central Bohemia, there] were, unfortunately, almost none.” A casual search turns up the Mongols, so I figured there’s gotta be more. Do you have any sources or books that would indicate significant presence of other ethnicities?”

Basically, it was an academic question. Now seems like a good time to point out that there was no suggestion that the creators of Kingdom Come should be pressured into altering the content of their game.

MedievalPOC’s reply seemed somewhat unimpressed with the game’s lack of diversity, pointing out the lack of roles for female characters. “I can tell that representation really isn’t a priority there,” they wrote. “For example, their £600,000 goal of adding miniquests in which a female player character is even possiblecame after “Live Medieval In-Game Music” and “Symphonic Orchestra Soundtrack”, and remains unfulfilled as of yet. However, being able to “seduce local women” is already a part of the base game.”

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Paula Deen issues public apology for using racial slur

Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign masks real racism

In the three days since Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” video went online, it’s received over 3 million views and prompted discussion about inner beauty and self-esteem issues for women. Many viewers have called it “beautiful” and “eye-opening.”

“You are more beautiful than you think,” the video attests.

But if Dove’s entire point seems borrowed from One Direction; the viral video, in which a forensic artist illustrates the way women downplay their own appearances, is cloaking something more serious than the idea that women don’t know-oh-oh what makes them beautiful.

In the video, the forensic artist, who can’t see the women he’s drawing, asks them to describe their physical appearances. The adjectives the women use to describe themselves are pejorative: big, freckled. When they describe each other, however, the words change from negatives to positives: “protruding chin” becomes “nice thin chin.” Bystanders comment on how “nice” and “pretty” the women’s eyes are. One woman, looking at the two portraits of herself, comments that the self-described portrait is “closed off and fatter…sadder, too.” The other one is “more open, friendly, happy.”

After they see the two photos, the women stop describing themselves in purely physical terms. One of them states that her “natural beauty” impacts everything else in her life, from her profession to how she treats her children. “It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”

Some viewers, however, aren’t convinced that what Dove is offering up as “natural beauty” in this instance is what they should be buying. On Tumblr, jazzylittledrops has eloquently argued for a different reading of the video, as less a deconstruction of healthy self-esteem and more an insidious reminder that even when being told they are beautiful, women are still being valued by their physical attributes above all else—and that those attributes have alarmingly racist connotations.

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How to spot a white supremacist on Twitter

For as long as the Internet has been commonplace, law enforcement agents have found it helpful in catching criminals (and not just the stupid ones who post video evidence of their crimes on YouTube, either). Extremist groups—such as the various American white-supremacist organizations—also find the Internet useful for connecting with like-minded people.

But it’s intensely time-consuming for police to personally wade through the web’s ever-growing number of white supremacist tweets and other social media postings in search of the relative handful of extremist posts indicating a possible threat.

Maybe there’s an easier way. Two researchers, J. M. Berger and Bill Strathearn, from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) in London, have developed an algorithm with a high rate of success in identifying extremists on Twitter, by analyzing the relationships between Twitter account holders (as opposed to analyzing the actual posted content).

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