Tag Archives: race

One needed a handle, a lever, a means of inspiring fear

Letter from a Region in My Mind by James Baldwin for The New Yorker, 1962:

It was a summer of dreadful speculations and discoveries, of which these were not the worst. Crime became real, for example—for the first time—not as a possibility but as the possibility. One would never defeat one’s circumstances by working and saving one’s pennies; one would never, by working, acquire that many pennies, and, besides, the social treatment accorded even the most successful Negroes proved that one needed, in order to be free, something more than a bank account. One needed a handle, a lever, a means of inspiring fear. It was absolutely clear that the police would whip you and take you in as long as they could get away with it, and that everyone else—housewives, taxi-drivers, elevator boys, dishwashers, bartenders, lawyers, judges, doctors, and grocers—would never, by the operation of any generous human feeling, cease to use you as an outlet for his frustrations and hostilities. Neither civilized reason nor Christian love would cause any of those people to treat you as they presumably wanted to be treated; only the fear of your power to retaliate would cause them to do that, or to seem to do it, which was (and is) good enough.

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If God cannot do this…

Letter from a Region in My Mind by James Baldwin for The New Yorker, 1962:

If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.

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Disrupting racism and sexism

Sarah Jeong of The Guardian on the anonymous nature if Uber:

It’s doubtful that Uber specifically set out to improve the lives of African-Americans. But the company accidentally did something that anti-discrimination statutes and awareness-raising campaigns were unlikely to ever achieve. It’s not exactly a huge blow to racism, but still: technology is changing how people of color experience and are represented in the world, and it’s all the more remarkable that much of this was never intended in the first place.

A very interesting read on technology’s inadvertent effects on racial and gender discrimination.

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Ethnicity in film is to sexuality in games

Jagger Gravning, Kill Screen:

While there is no modern Hays Code equivalent in contemporary American video games (the ESRB rates but does not censor) the manner that LGBT characters are being introduced to a broader audience in major games is through this same blowback-wary method of diligent self-policing. The writers allow space for an audience member to overlook or deny the homosexuality of a particular character if that’s the way they would prefer to see things.

Game writers like Rhianna Pratchett, who has stated that part of her would have loved Lara Croft to be gay, are instead artfully presenting these characters in a manner that is more aesthetically palatable to players (and likely their concerned parents) who might find explicit same-sex love too lurid or off-putting a subject to handle with frankness in a video game.

Gravning continues:

For many years, if a film did focus on a black character, the story would generally be about that character’s experience being black, like The Jackie Robinson Story or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and many blacksploitation films. It took time for producers, and perhaps audiences, to realize there could be stories involving non-white characters that didn’t have to revolve around their ethnicity.

I wish I had read this prior to Harper’s post. A brilliant contextualization of today’s human rights issues displayed on a canvas of modern media; ethnic tip-toeing in early 20th century filmmaking vs. LGBT tip-toeing in early 21st century video game making.

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