It’s taken almost two years for the bonkers, exhilarating same-sex romantic comedy I Love You Phillip Morris to finally reach theaters. Premiering at Sundance in January 2009, the movie was a near-casualty of nervous-nellie U.S. distributors—more comfortable with innocuous gay genres like the homosexual weepie or the martyr biopic—and countless release delays. In the interim, we’ve bided our time with such high-profile, big-screen depictions of man-man love as Brüno pantomiming oral on the ghost of Rob Pilatus and Colin Firth’s suicidal fusspot furtively nuzzling Matthew Goode in a Single Man flashback. Save it, Mary: Nothing tops ILYPM’s Jim Carrey as a top, sweatily, giddily ass-plowing a mustached muscle-daddy in the most gloriously raunchy, unrepentant moment in the an(n)als of Hollywood A-listers doing gay-for-pay.
Making their directorial debut, the screenwriting team Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Bad Santa) adapted then–Houston Press reporter Steve McVicker’s 2003 book about the real-life adventures of con man Steven Russell (Carrey), who once maintained a highly hetero, upright life as a Virginia Beach cop and church organist, sweetly tucking in his daughter at night and saying prayers with wife Debbie (Leslie Mann). But after a near-fatal car crash while driving home from the aforementioned d.l. cornholing, Steven storms out of the closet (“I’m gonna be a fag!”) and moves to Florida, sashaying down a South Beach boulevard with hot boyfriend Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro). Upscale lavender lifestyles come with steep price tags, however, and “living as high on the gay hog as I wanted to” leads Steven to credit-card and insurance fraud—and to prison in Texas, where he meets the delicate, diabetic love of his life, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor, a veteran of Uranian desire after 1998’s Velvet Goldmine). As they slow-dance and smooch to “Chances Are” in their cell during a prison riot, Steven vows to take care of everything, a lover’s promise that leads only to more spectacular crimes.
Tan and tanner
I Love You Phillip Morris
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Opens December 3
It also leads to the best performance of Carrey’s career. Where his unleashed id and rubbery body once served him as the new Jerry Lewis, that ’90s persona confined him to playing one sexless cretin after another. His later attempts as a more brooding romantic lead, in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Yes Man (2008), found him struggling to project emotional vulnerability, coming across instead as a tamped-down, listless narcissist. But in ILYPM, Carrey finds the perfect outlet for his manic energy: Id and libido are fused, with Steven driven by actual lust and the unwavering—and completely believable—determination to provide for his fragile boyfriend.
That Steven is both a die-hard romantic and a sociopath gives the filmmakers rich opportunities to tweak sodomite stereotypes, just as they scabrously destroyed Kris Kringle in Bad Santa. “Is the gay thing and stealing something that goes hand-in-hand?” asks wide-eyed Debbie (with whom Steven maintains a close relationship even after the rainbow flags start flying) about her newly out, arrested ex. Jimmy responds with, “What the fuck are you talking about?,” but Jean Genet certainly thought so. Make no mistake: ILYPM isn’t a heady treatise on queer outlaws à la Todd Haynes’s Poison. But Ficarra and Requa do place Steven and Phillip firmly in the tradition of eternally devoted criminal lovers, a province reserved almost exclusively for straights onscreen (think Badlands). The film also acknowledges the economy of sexual servicing behind bars without phobically dwelling on it—a casualness about gay lust further revealed in the carnal relationship Steven and Phillip, randy while in stir, continue having once sprung, enjoying some vigorous offshore fellating during a Key West vacation.
ILYPM’s boldest gambit (but one based entirely on fact) finds Steven, in his greatest scam, trying to fake his own death (I won’t say how)—a set piece that hilariously dares to send up the Academy’s gay necrophilia, in which the only good homo is a dead one (cf. Philadelphia, Milk). “Love’s the reason I’m layin’ here dyin’,” Carrey says in drawled voiceover at the film’s beginning before flashing back to the insane, Eros-fueled follies that led him to the hospital bed where he’s currently flatlining. Though end credits reveal the fate of the real-life Russell, the directors and Carrey prefer to close with an image suggesting an irrepressible and unbreakable (if incorrigible) man—a perfect ending to a film that advances the homosexual agenda without straight pity, condescension, or self-satisfaction.
Worries that efforts in the U.S. to limit enrollment of Asian students in top universities may migrate to Canada
by Stephanie Findlay and Nicholas Köhler on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 9:51am – 2025 Comments
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW TOLSON/ SIMON HAYTER
When Alexandra and her friend Rachel, both graduates of Toronto’s Havergal College, an all-girls private school, were deciding which university to go to, they didn’t even bother considering the University of Toronto. “The only people from our school who went to U of T were Asian,” explains Alexandra, a second-year student who looks like a girl from an Aritzia billboard. “All the white kids,” she says, “go to Queen’s, Western and McGill.”
Alexandra eventually chose the University of Western Ontario. Her younger brother, now a high school senior deciding where he’d like to go, will head “either east, west or to McGill”—unusual academic options, but in keeping with what he wants from his university experience. “East would suit him because it’s chill, out west he could be a ski bum,” says Alexandra, who explains her little brother wants to study hard, but is also looking for a good time—which rules out U of T, a school with an academic reputation that can be a bit of a killjoy.
Or, as Alexandra puts it—she asked that her real name not be used in this article, and broached the topic of race at universities hesitantly—a “reputation of being Asian.”
Discussing the role that race plays in the self-selecting communities that more and more characterize university campuses makes many people uncomfortable. Still, an “Asian” school has come to mean one that is so academically focused that some students feel they can no longer compete or have fun. Indeed, Rachel, Alexandra and her brother belong to a growing cohort of student that’s eschewing some big-name schools over perceptions that they’re “too Asian.” It’s a term being used in some U.S. academic circles to describe a phenomenon that’s become such a cause for concern to university admissions officers and high school guidance counsellors that several elite universities to the south have faced scandals in recent years over limiting Asian applicants and keeping the numbers of white students artificially high.
Although university administrators here are loath to discuss the issue, students talk about it all the time. “Too Asian” is not about racism, say students like Alexandra: many white students simply believe that competing with Asians—both Asian Canadians and international students—requires a sacrifice of time and freedom they’re not willing to make. They complain that they can’t compete for spots in the best schools and can’t party as much as they’d like (too bad for them, most will say). Asian kids, meanwhile, say they are resented for taking the spots of white kids. “At graduation a Canadian—i.e. ‘white’—mother told me that I’m the reason her son didn’t get a space in university and that all the immigrants in the country are taking up university spots,” says Frankie Mao, a 22-year-old arts student at the University of British Columbia. “I knew it was wrong, being generalized in this category,” says Mao, “but f–k, I worked hard for it.”
That Asian students work harder is a fact born out by hard data. They tend to be strivers, high achievers and single-minded in their approach to university. Stephen Hsu, a physics prof at the University of Oregon who has written about the often subtle forms of discrimination faced by Asian-American university applicants, describes them as doing “disproportionately well—they tend to have high SAT scores, good grades in high school, and a lot of them really want to go to top universities.” In Canada, say Canadian high school guidance counsellors, that means the top-tier post-secondary institutions with international profiles specializing in math, science and business: U of T, UBC and the University of Waterloo. White students, by contrast, are more likely to choose universities and build their school lives around social interaction, athletics and self-actualization—and, yes, alcohol. When the two styles collide, the result is separation rather than integration.
The dilemma is this: Canadian institutions operate as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, and admirably so. Privately, however, many in the education community worry that universities risk becoming too skewed one way, changing campus life—a debate that’s been more or less out in the open in the U.S. for years but remains muted here. And that puts Canadian universities in a quandary. If they openly address the issue of race they expose themselves to criticisms that they are proﬁling and committing an injustice. If they don’t, Canada’s universities, far from the cultural mosaics they’re supposed to be—oases of dialogue, mutual understanding and diversity—risk becoming places of many solitudes, deserts of non-communication. It’s a tough question to have to think about.
Asian-Canadian students are far more likely to talk about and assert their ethnic identities than white students. “I’m Asian,” says 21-year-old Susie Su, a third-year student at UBC’s Sauder School of Business. “I do have traditional Asian parents. I feel the pressure of finding a good job and raising a good family.” That pressure helps shape more than just the way Su handles study and school assignments; it shapes the way she interacts with her colleagues. “If I feel like it’s going to be an event where it’s all white people, I probably wouldn’t want to go,” she says. “There’s a lot of just drinking. It’s not that I don’t like white people. But you tend to hang out with people of the same race.”
Catherine Costigan, a psychology assistant prof at the University of Victoria, says it’s unsurprising that Asian students are segregated from “mainstream” campus life. She cites studies that show Chinese youth are bullied more than their non-Asian peers. As a so-called “model minority,” they are more frequently targeted because of being “too smart” and “teachers’ pets.” To counter peer ostracism and resentment, Costigan says Chinese students reaffirm their ethnicity.
The value of education has been drilled into Asian students by their parents, likely for cultural and socio-economic reasons. “It’s often described that Asians are the new Jews,” says Jon Reider, director of college counselling at San Francisco University High School and a former Stanford University admissions officer. “That in the face of discrimination, what you do is you study. And there’s a long tradition in Chinese culture, for example, going back to Confucius, of social mobility based on merit.”
Demographics contribute to the high degree of academic success among Asian-Canadian students. “Our highly selective immigration process means that we get many highly educated parents, so they have similar aspirations for their children,” says Robert Sweet, a retired Lakehead University education prof who has studied the parenting styles of immigrants as they relate to education. Sweet’s latest study, “Post-high school pathways of immigrant youth,” released last month, found that more than 70 per cent of students in the Toronto District School Board who immigrated from East Asia went on to university, compared to 52 per cent of Europeans, the next highest group, and 12 per cent of Caribbean, the lowest. This is in contrast to English-speaking Toronto students born in Canada—of which just 42 per cent confirmed admission to university.
Diane Bondy, a recently retired Ottawa-area guidance counsellor, notes that by the end of her 20-year career, competition among some Asian parents had reached a fever pitch. “Asian parents do their homework and the students are going to U of T or they’re going to Queen’s,” says Bondy, who points out that “Asians get more support from their parents financially and academically.” She also observed that the focus on academics was often to the exclusion of social interaction. “The kids were getting 98 per cent but they didn’t have other skills,” she says. “Their parents would come in and write in the resumé letters that they were in clubs. But the kids weren’t able to do anything in those clubs because they were academically focused.”
Students can carry that narrow scope into university, where they risk alienating their more fun-loving peers. The division is perhaps most extreme at Waterloo, where students have dubbed the MC and DC buildings—the Mathematics & Computer Building and the William G. Davis Computer Research Centre, respectively—“mainland China” and “downtown China,” and where some students told Maclean’s they can go for days without speaking English. Writes one Waterloo mathematics graduate on an online forum: “I once had a tutorial session for the whole class where the TA got frustrated with speaking English and started giving the answer in Mandarin. A lot of the class understood his answer.”
“My dad said if you don’t go into engineering, I won’t pay your tuition,” says Jason Yin, a Taiwanese software engineering student at Waterloo. “They are very traditional. They believe school is about work, studying, go home and studying some more.” Hard-studying Waterloo lends itself particularly to those goals. “We had a problem getting students out of their bedrooms,” says Nikki Best, a former residence don who sits on Waterloo’s student government, who explains they “didn’t want to get behind in their grades because of coming out to social events.”
That’s not to say Asian students form any sort of monolithic presence on Canadian campuses. “The mainland China group tends to stick together,” says Anthony Wong, 19, a Waterloo software engineering student. “We can talk to them,” says Jonathan Ing, also 19 and in Waterloo’s software engineering program, “but we don’t mingle.” Complains Waterloo student Simon Wang, a Chinese national who is frustrated by the segregation at Waterloo: “Why bother to come to Canada and pay five times as much to speak Chinese?” Meanwhile, Calgarian Joyce Chau identifies as “completely whitewashed,” a “banana”: “I look Asian but I’m white in all other respects.” Chau, a 19-year-old UBC business student, lived in residence her first year, where she met the majority of her (white) friends. “It’s harder to integrate into a group with Asians—you may or may not get introduced,” says Chau, who accepts the segregation as just “part of the university experience.”
Such balkanization is reflected in official student organizations: there is little Asian representation on student government, campus newspapers or college radio stations. At UBC, where the student body is roughly 40 per cent Asian, not one Asian sits on the student executive. Same goes for Waterloo. Asian students do, however, participate in organizations beyond the university mainstream, and long-standing cultural clubs function as a sort of ad hoc government. “After you graduate you won’t care about student government, but you’ll care about your club,” says Stan He, president of the Dragon Seed Connection, an on-campus Chinese club with over 300 members. (His business cards feature both dragon and robot motifs.) The Dragon Seed offers its members social functions, tutoring help, volunteer opportunities, poker and mah-jong tournaments, and special holiday parties—including at Halloween and Christmas. It even has an exclusive partnership with Solid Entertainment, a promotions and events-planning company that sponsors massive fundraising events and gives Dragon Seed exclusive selling rights on campus. He says that the dozen or so Asian clubs at UBC serve well over 4,000 students and cater to the whole spectrum of cultural identification—from “whitewashed” to “Honger,” a once-pejorative term now adopted by students with Hong Kong backgrounds. The Dragon Seed lies somewhere in between—“We’re the middle ground,” He says. “We have international students, but we all speak English.”
Or take the Chinese Varsity Club. With upwards of 500 members, it’s the largest student social club at UBC. The executives say they’ve captured a niche market: Chinese commuter students from the outlying Richmond, Burnaby and North Vancouver communities who hope to find a social network at the big school. “Students from high school already hear about us from older brothers and sisters,” says Peter Yang, the 21-year-old accounting student who is the club’s VP external. “You want to break out of the cycle of studying and being lonely,” says Brian Cheung, its president.
The impact of high admissions rates for Asian students has been an issue for years in the U.S., where high school guidance counsellors have come to accept that it’s just more difficult to sell their Asian applicants to elite colleges. In 2006, at its annual meeting, the National Association for College Admission Counseling explored the issue in an expert panel discussion called “Too Asian?” One panellist, Rachel Cederberg—an Asian-American then working as an admissions official at Colorado College—described fellow admissions officers complaining of “yet another Asian student who wants to major in math and science and who plays the violin.” A Boston Globe article early this year asked, “Do colleges redline Asian-Americans?” and concluded there’s likely an “Asian ceiling” at elite U.S. universities. After California passed Proposition 209 in 1996 forbidding affirmative action in the state’s public dealings, Asians soared to 40 per cent of the population at public universities, even though they make up just 13 per cent of state residents. And U.S. studies suggest Ivy League schools have taken the issue of Asian academic prowess so seriously that they’ve operated with secret quotas for decades to maintain their WASP credentials.
n his 2009 book No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal, Princeton University sociologist Thomas Espenshade surveyed 10 elite U.S. universities and found that Asian applicants needed an extra 140 points on their SAT scores to be on equal footing with white applicants. Scandals over such unfair admissions practices have surfaced in recent years at Stanford, Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley and elsewhere. Hsu, the Oregon physicist, draws a comparison between Asian-Americans and Jewish students who began arriving at the Ivy League in the first half of the last century. “You can find well-documented internal discussions at places like Harvard and Yale and Princeton about why we shouldn’t admit these people, they’re working so hard and they’re so obviously ambitious, but we want to keep our WASP pedigree here.”
To quell the influx of Jewish students, Ivy League schools abandoned their meritocratic admissions processes in favour of one that focused on the details of an applicant’s private life—questions about race, religion, even about the maiden name of an applicant’s mother. Schools also began looking at such intangibles as character, personality and leadership potential. Canadian universities, apart from highly competitive professional programs and faculties, don’t quiz applicants the same way, and rely entirely on transcripts. Likely that is a good thing. And yet, that meritocratic process results, especially in Canada’s elite university programs, in a concentration of Asian students.
The upshot is that race is defining Canadian university campuses in a way it did not 25 years ago. Diversity has enriched these schools, but it has also put them at risk of being increasingly fractured along ethnic lines. It’s a superficial form of multiculturalism that is expressed in the main through segregated, self-selecting, discrete communities. It would behoove the leadership of our universities to recognize these issues and take them seriously. And yet, that’s exactly what’s not happening. Indeed, discussions with Canada’s top university presidents reveal for the most part that they are in a state of denial.
“This is a non-issue,” wrote U of T president David Naylor in an email. “We’ve never had a student complain about this. In fact, this is a false stereotype, as we know that Asian students are fully engaged in extracurricular activities. So the whole concept is false.”
As Cheryl Misak, the U of T’s VP and provost, puts it: “We have a properly diverse mix, with no particular group extra prominent—we’re the rainbow nation and we’ve got every sort of student and everyone is on merit.” Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur echoes a similar sentiment. “There is a great tendency in our society to learn more about other nations and other cultures,” he says. “Universities are the hotbed of these kind of activities. If you want to see more economic and political diversity, I think they star.”
These positions arguably represent a missed opportunity. Universities have the potential of establishing real cultural change. It makes sense that the head of the Canadian university with perhaps the highest number of Asian students is the most candid and the most concerned. Indeed, Stephen Toope has, since his arrival in 2006 as UBC president, made the issue central to his agenda—including outreach and newspaper op-ed pieces touting the importance of making the university campus a meeting place not only of diversity but also of dialogue.
Among Canadian universities, UBC is one of the few institutions that publishes the ethnic makeup of its student body. Toope says that the university’s Asian student population is not “widely out of whack with the community,” although the stats tell a slightly different story. According to a 2009 UBC report on direct undergraduate entrants, 43 per cent of its students self-identify as ethnically Chinese, Korean or Japanese, as compared to 38 per cent who self-identify as white. Although Vancouver is a richly diverse city, according to data from the 2006 census, just 21.5 per cent of its residents identify as a Chinese, Korean or Japanese visible minority.
Toope says drawing the various communities present on Canadian campuses into a common medium can be challenging. “Across Canada it isn’t always the case that you’re seeing as much engagement from the new communities as perhaps we should,” he says. Toope uses the experience of Turkish immigrants in Germany as a cautionary tale—“there are groups that never find a way to participate in the broader community.” Such circumstances persist precisely because the issue of race is not attacked head on. “I don’t want to pretend that just because you have people from different backgrounds they’re going to interact—they’re not,” Toope says. “We have to actually create mechanisms, programs and opportunities for people to interact. A university is one of the places that has the greatest capacity to work through demographic change.”
Toope points us in the right direction. It’s unfair to change the meritocratic entry system, so all universities can do—all they should do—is encourage groups to mingle. Though it’s true that universities—U of T and Waterloo included—do have diversity programs and policies for students, newer, fresher ways are needed to help pry the ethnic ghettos open so everyone hangs out together. Or at least they have the chance to. The white kids may not ﬁnd it’s too Asian after all. Alexandra, who chose to go to Western for the party scene, found she “hated being away from home” and moved back to Toronto. In retrospect, she didn’t like the vibe. “Some people just want to drink 23 hours a day.” Alexandra says she still has friends at Western who live in an “all-blond house” and are “stick thin.” Rachel, Alexandra’s friend, says Western suits them—“they work hard, get good grades, then slap on their clubbing clothes.” But it didn’t suit Alexandra. She now studies at U of T.
CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien should have her sisterhood card revoked immediately and never returned! She has damaged, betrayed, and disrespected the entire black female community with her negative, short-sighted, half-assed, stereotypical, and repetitive “investigative reporting” on black women in America.
Her program Black In America: The Black Woman And The Family was a complete and total fraud! This program did not address the lives and experiences of black women in America at all! It was two hours of of the same negative racist and sexist stereotypes that the majority of white America believes about black people, particularly black women.
Ms. O’Brien’s documentary stripped black women in America down to nothing but unwed, single mothers with multiple children, they can not properly raise or control to lonely, but educated black women that can’t find a man to broken down old black women that can’t take care of themselves. I was never so distressed or disgusted watching an investigative news report on African American women.
Ms. O’Brien’s program was so awful that it made MSNBC’s past program, African-American Women: Where They Stand series look like ground-breaking and interesting television. And black women universally hated that complete series. I cannot believe that Soledad O’Brien spent 18 months investigating black women in America, only to come up with the same old tired crap that has already been covered BADLY by someone else.
Where was the expression of pride of being a a black woman in America in the 21st century? Where were the positive stories? Where were the stories that expressed the uniqueness of black womanhood? Our humor? Our passion? Our beliefs? Our dreams? Where were the black mother/daughter relationships? Where were the successful programs that changed the lives of black women for the better? Where was the celebration of black women? Where were the voices of black women period?
Please my sistas, this travesty of journalism cannot be allowed to stand. E-mail Ms. Soledad O’Brien and tell her what you think. Here is the link. If I had the choice of black women in America being completely ignored by mainstream news and “investigative” reports like CNN and MSNBC has produced, I would much rather have black women in America completely ignored!
CNN’s anchor Soledad O’Brien, you know the one who keeps doing those Black In America let’s-explain-to-white-people-how-weird-and-totally-f—ked-up-black-people-are CNN investigative reports, claims in her upcoming new book The Next Big Story that Rev. Jesse Jackson told her that she “didn’t count” as a black anchor on the network.
O’Brien, who is bi-racial having a black mother and white father, claims that in 2007 she met with Jackson privately when he complained about the lack of black anchors on the network. According to her, Jackson told her that there were no black anchors on the networks and writes that:
Does he mean covering the campaign, I wonder to myself? The man has been a guest on my show… I interrupt to remind him I’m the anchor of American Morning. He knows that. He looks me in the eye and reaches his fingers over to tap a spot of skin on my right hand. He shakes his head. “You don’t count,” he says.
O’Brien says that she was ”confused and angry” and that Jackson “managed to make me ashamed of my skin color which even white people had never been able to do.” She later claims that when she called Jackson about what he said he claimed that he did not know about her background. OOPS!
41 comments to Soledad O’Brien not black enough for Jesse
If this story is true Jesse should be ashamed. He’s old school from the South. He knew damn well Soledad has Black ancestry, and I am sure he worked with Black people as light or even lighter than Soledad during the civil rights movement. It’s a shame he keeps marking his legacy like this because he really has accomplished a lot.
o/t I like Soledad and wonder if she has ever asked CNN if they are ever going to put White America under a microscope.
Blackness isn’t based on skin color, blackness is a state of mind. Watching Soledad anchor CNN’s newstory on The King assassination and her co-anchoring of the Obama Inauguration with Roland Martin, even some of the Black in America series, I question that “state of mind”. She can come off as an “outsider looking in.” Her response to comments about the King incident reflected those I’d expect of a white journalist, at times, somewhat insensitive to the factors of racism taking part in the investigation. There was also a visible difference to the way she responded to the inauguration crowd (often, mostly Black at their particular location) versus Roland, as she condescendingly told them to hush or be quiet when they were rallying with excitement at the inauguration. And, whenever Roland began to pontificate on the meaningfulness of Obama’s election to Black America, she’d interrupt and introduce another subject. Jesse’s “you don’t count” was, indeed, insensitive. For someone grounded in my blackness, his comment would tick me off, but never would it make me “ashamed of my skin color.” I’m just sayin’.
We should consider that the meeting and the comment from Jesse might be taken out of context. When Jesse tapped her on the hand and said that she didn’t count, I believe that he was referring to obvious visual cues of Blackness. If his goal was to point out the dearth of African-Americans on television as anchors, then I agree with him that she doesn’t count VISUALLY. If Soledad doesn’t understand that, then she should not be on the airwaves doing exposes on African-Americans; she doesn’t have the requisite cultural understanding. I believe, this time, that Jesse should not be attacked. But of course he will be and the right will make hay out of this and claim racism (as if they have ever been the defenders of the notion of an equal and just society.) Oh, the hypocrisy!!
Oh, and by the way, the attention that this incident will attract will probably sell a lot of books that would other wise be placed on the remainder table within 2 months. I don’t mean to belittle Ms. Soledad’s feelings, but I am calling it as I see it.
What are you talking about? Jesse Jackson and all Black people know that blacks come in all hues. That’s his point. Soledad’s dumb a** is distorting that and making this about her instead of acknowledging the color prejudice Jesse was hinting at.
Save your colorism rant and tell it to the media who for decades have overwhelmingly selected hues like Soledad’s to represent black people.
Come on Zeus, your whole argument is a failed attempt to cloud the issue. Who’s talking skin… color except you?
Have you been reading the other comments by Anthony and whispeak? If not, I suggest you do. Then you might get a better understanding of the issue. It appears that you simply have no love for Jesse. I could be wrong but your comments are not passing the smell test.
The foolishness is that you think Roland Martin is an anchor. He isn’t. He’s an occasional commentator who should have been given his own regular show on CNN a long time ago. If his occassional sideline work is enough for you then I don’t know what to say. This is Jesse’s point.
Go ahead and list the few black anchors on CNN: T.J Holmes and Don LEmons –whose phenotypes are so similar they can be mistaken for the same people. But even if you went through all the network and cable news lists, the black people you find still will be meager — which was Jesse’s point.
Neither T.J., Don, nor Roland are as ambiguous looking as Soledad who looks more Italian or Latin (she has IRish and Cuban ancestry). TV is a visual medium and media has for years been strategic in what type of blackness they put on display. You make easy for them with your unnecessary outrage.
Get caught up in the color argument that Soledad has created as a straw man to distract from the central issue that Jesse stated. It still won’t change the fact that their are too few black anchors on TV.
Doesn’t matter if he is an anchor, the point is he gets face time in front of the camera on a regular basis and as well as online.
Again, saying she “doesn’t count” was rude and screams of colorism. Listing black news anchors or part-time commentators (or lack of)is a different issue.
She does count. Her daddy was an AFRICAN. Just like President Obama. Rememebr all the “he ain’t black enough” garbarge we heard (and still hear) from other black folk even though his daddy was a full blooded African? What foolishness is that?
Same here with Soledad. It was a foolish thing to say and ol Jesse has put his feet in his mouth so many times, I’m not giving him the benefit of the doubt.
Talking out his behind is why he now has as much chance of getting into the White House to talk to the president as Osama Bin Laden.
Yes, but she said when she called Jackson afterwards he said he wasn’t aware of her racial makeup. If that’s the case, then why would he be making a point about her complexion? And not trying to be all team Soledad because I don’t know her, but even if Jackson knew she is part Black–tapping her hand like that and saying ‘you don’t count’ is very rude. No disputing there is shade favoritism at all, but imo he might as well called her house ni66er. He could have addressed the issue differently.
I’m not moved and I feel no sympathy for Soledad. Jesse Jackson was not trying to make her “feel ashamed” of her color. She’s weak for even suggesting she felt that way.
I’m not sure why people are pretending to misunderstand Jesse or devalue the work he’s done for generations.
I watched Soledad O’Brien for years and didn’t know she was black until she did those wince-worthy “Black in America” specials.
It is very easy — too easy– for media to hire people who look like Soledad and pretend they are being diverse when what they are doing is delivering the most palatable form of diversity that won’t be too jolting for viewers and overlooking people with more distinctively ethnic phenotypes.
God help those whose skin color and features aren’t so ambiguous.
Doesn’t take away the fact that Jesse was being an ass when he said she didn’t count as being black.
Like all black folk gotta look like Wesley Snipes and Grace Jones to be REALLY BLACK.
Jesse should have a march against the news media then for the purpose of hiring more darker skinned black folk if that was his point, which I’m not convinced it was. Saying she “doesn’t count” made him sound like a colorist jackass and it has nothing to do with lack of different hues in news media.
If she had to call him later about it to tell him what he apparently didn’t know during the interview, that she was part-black, then it was a genuine mistake on his part.
I watch CNN from the UK and certainly didn’t realise at first that she was black. She looks like she could be a white person of Latin/South American/Mediterranean heritage or something, so he might have thought that she was trying to identify with him as a “person of color” in which case, not knowing she was actually part black, tapping her hand to indicate her swarthy (for a white person) but not black complexion, he wasn’t being an ass at all.
In fact, her admission that he says he didn’t know about her background makes this a non-story and a publicity ploy on her part.
OK, us not knowing Soledad’s ethnic background (I didn’t know at first sight either) is one thing, but maybe Jesse Jackson, who, ass or not, has TONS of experience in the media, might want to know what he’s walking into. What he walked into, BTW, is his foot in his mouth.
I am willing to (maybe) believe that he honestly didn’t know O’Brien’s background, but just- SHUT UP! I read the quote and story again and it seems that Soledad gave him a strong hint that she considers herself to be black, but he didn’t put 2 and 2 together.
When you’ve been part of the media for SO LONG and you don’t realize that anyone who has the ability to speak or write might make your words public, chances are you are an ass.
It seems that you are convinced that Jesse had a malevolent intent, so there is no debating this issue with you. I do respect your opinion even if I do not agree with it.
But why go to extremes? Why mention Wesley and Grace and use the word “all” as if we are so simplistic as to demand that their hue be the litmus test for representation. Racism is simple and easy to perpetrate. Institutional racism is subtle and pervasive in all facets of American life. Being able to see that is the first step in self-preservation.
Television is a visual media and you can’t see Soledad’s DNA on it. I had no idea she was black until someone told me. I know Gwen Ifill id black. I know Lester Holt is black; Robin Roberts and none of these folk are Wesley Snips
It depends on our working definition of “black”. Soledad is a 1st generation American of Afro-Cuban and Australian (by way of Ireland) descent. She is married to and raising children with a white man. These facts alone place her “outside” of what most would consider the “authentic” African American experience.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she “didn’t count” as black, but culturally, her personal narrative clearly isn’t consistent with major institutions and traditions in the community (the Church, the Political sphere, etc.)
I don’t dislike her, but it seems that she could stand to educate herself on the historical context of black culture, or at least express a bit more humility, if she is going to continue to report on it at the level that she does.
Great points. Playing Devil’s advocate for a minute, is it possible that her specials on being “Black in America” are an attempt to reframe her (assumed) lack of ‘historical context’? A sort of personal catharsis or self examination? I’m not familiar with her work, so I don’t know the specifics of her pov.
From the description of the incident, it does seem brash of Jesse Jackson and somewhat dismissive to tap her hand and say “You don’t count.” We only have her side of the story — meaning the anecdote is incomplete.
I don’t know if it’s fair to speculate on her intentions, but it does seem that she’s either pressuring herself, being pressed by her higher up’s, to “brand” herself as the resident “n*ggerologist” @ CNN, when it may not be her place to represent that.
@ NothingButaMan, my man, my man, if I ever need a team good defence lawyers, I’m coming for you, Anthony and Cythia. I might get that brother who got Blago off the hook, but with my slim money, yawl are elected. You did a fine job of laying it right on the line. What right mind could argue against your claims? You shut the door.
Cry me a river Soledad. Wake me up when women who look like her don’t represent the vast majority of women in music videos, commercials and the standard of AA beauty even though they are only a small percentage of the population. What Jesse Jackson did to her is just a small taste of what AA women with browner skin, curlier hair and more ethnic features have to deal with all the time and it was less harsh.