A few days before winning an Oscar, Lupita Nyong’o spoke at the Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, where she delivered these powerful remarks about skin color:
"I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty. Black beauty. Dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: ‘Dear Lupita, it reads, ‘I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.’"
Lupita herself went through a period of intense self-hate, because of her dark skin. Read the rest of her remarks here.

A few days before winning an Oscar, Lupita Nyong’o spoke at the Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, where she delivered these powerful remarks about skin color:

"I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty. Black beauty. Dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: ‘Dear Lupita, it reads, ‘I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.’"

Lupita herself went through a period of intense self-hate, because of her dark skin. Read the rest of her remarks here.

That’s African pop star Dencia on the left… and on the right. 
Her new skin-lightening cream, WHITENICIOUS, is apparently making some SERIOUS CA$H. 
In her interview this week with Ebony, she says 80% of her customers are African-American, not African. And strangely, 10% of her customers are white. 
On the name:

You know, I was coming up with all these glamorous things and my best friend was like “Nah, ‘Whitenicious’ is good.” And when she gave me the name, I was looking up definitions of white. Ok let me define how I see white. (reads) “The color white affects the mind and the body by aiding in mental clarity, promoting feelings of fresh beginnings and renewal assisting in cleansing, clearing obstacles and clutter and encouraging purification.” And guess what? Dark spots is obstacles. Hyperpigmenation is obstacles. 

Dencia also insists (wrongly) there’s no medical research on the link between skin whitening and cancer.
Read the rest of Ebony’s interview with Dencia.

That’s African pop star Dencia on the left… and on the right. 

Her new skin-lightening cream, WHITENICIOUS, is apparently making some SERIOUS CA$H. 

In her interview this week with Ebony, she says 80% of her customers are African-American, not African. And strangely, 10% of her customers are white. 

On the name:

You know, I was coming up with all these glamorous things and my best friend was like “Nah, ‘Whitenicious’ is good.” And when she gave me the name, I was looking up definitions of white. Ok let me define how I see white. (reads) “The color white affects the mind and the body by aiding in mental clarity, promoting feelings of fresh beginnings and renewal assisting in cleansing, clearing obstacles and clutter and encouraging purification.” And guess what? Dark spots is obstacles. Hyperpigmenation is obstacles. 

Dencia also insists (wrongly) there’s no medical research on the link between skin whitening and cancer.

Read the rest of Ebony’s interview with Dencia.

Maybe by now you’ve read this truly trashy yoga essay at XOJane, by a “skinny white girl” who’s suddenly overcome by racial guilt when a “fairly heavy black woman” enters her class. If not, here’s a taste:

"I thought about how that must feel: to be a heavyset black woman entering for the first time a system that by all accounts seems unable to accommodate her body. What could I do to help her? If I were her, I thought, I would want as little attention to be drawn to my despair as possible—I would not want anyone to look at me or notice me. And so I tried to very deliberately avoid looking in her direction each time I was in downward dog, but I could feel her hostility just the same."

For reasons that are completely unclear — I’m guessing it’s either intellectual laziness or fear of black yoginis — the author, Jen Caron, fails to approach the woman and actually ask her if she feels out of place. Instead, Caron runs home and collapses in tears… before realizing she could cash in on her own suffering and get a byline in the process. 
Apparently XOJane read some of the thousands of WTF responses to the essay. So they posted another piece today, by an actual black woman, Pia Glenn:

"Your experience, if we can possibly set aside the (non-)fan fiction of the imagined mindset of the woman behind you, starts a dialogue; sure. But not every conversation needs to be entertained without you doing some homework on your own first. I am taking the time to write this because as a black woman who shares this space, I won’t stand idly by and watch you use it as a platform to climb to the mountaintop of alleged racial progress by stepping on the humanity of another black woman."

Photo: Blonde Girls Doing Yoga Poses -7936 by Edson Hong on Flickr.

Maybe by now you’ve read this truly trashy yoga essay at XOJane, by a “skinny white girl” who’s suddenly overcome by racial guilt when a “fairly heavy black woman” enters her class. If not, here’s a taste:

"I thought about how that must feel: to be a heavyset black woman entering for the first time a system that by all accounts seems unable to accommodate her body. What could I do to help her? If I were her, I thought, I would want as little attention to be drawn to my despair as possible—I would not want anyone to look at me or notice me. And so I tried to very deliberately avoid looking in her direction each time I was in downward dog, but I could feel her hostility just the same."

For reasons that are completely unclear — I’m guessing it’s either intellectual laziness or fear of black yoginis — the author, Jen Caron, fails to approach the woman and actually ask her if she feels out of place. Instead, Caron runs home and collapses in tears… before realizing she could cash in on her own suffering and get a byline in the process. 

Apparently XOJane read some of the thousands of WTF responses to the essay. So they posted another piece today, by an actual black woman, Pia Glenn:

"Your experience, if we can possibly set aside the (non-)fan fiction of the imagined mindset of the woman behind you, starts a dialogue; sure. But not every conversation needs to be entertained without you doing some homework on your own first. I am taking the time to write this because as a black woman who shares this space, I won’t stand idly by and watch you use it as a platform to climb to the mountaintop of alleged racial progress by stepping on the humanity of another black woman."

Photo: Blonde Girls Doing Yoga Poses -7936 by Edson Hong on Flickr.

historicaltimes
By now the story of Bushwick’s transformation from ‘hood to hipster haven has been told more than enough times. But what caused it to go up in flames in the first place? 
A City Journal article, “The Death and Life of Bushwick,” explains that it was a combination of race relations and bad policy.
The problems began in the mid-1960s, when race riots were hitting urban centers across America, and white residents were getting jittery. Homeowners would find messages in their mailbox — “Don’t wait until it’s too late!” — a reference not just to possible violence but to the imminent arrival of minorities moving up north. Sure enough…

…speculators bought homes from Bushwick residents for an average of $8,000 apiece, and then, using fraudulent appraisals and a Great Society federal mortgage program that insured home loans to low-income buyers, sold them to poor blacks and Puerto Ricans at prices that they couldn’t afford— on average, about $20,000 per home.

Many of those new homeowners defaulted, abandoning their homes and prompting property values to further plummet. By the early 70s, hundreds of buildings in the neighborhood were empty, and owners started setting fire to their own empty buildings in order to collect on fire insurance.

Gangs set fire to abandoned buildings, too, and then waited for the fire department to do the hard work of knocking down walls and floors, making valuable fixtures and copper wiring easier to steal. By the early seventies, infernos blazed nightly. The neighborhood’s wooden row houses, tightly packed together and often sharing attics, proved particularly vulnerable; a fire would erupt in one building and swiftly spread, sometimes consuming half a block.

Higher crime followed. In 1990, there were 77 murders in the 83rd precinct. Last year, there were just 7.
historicaltimes:

Bushwick, Brooklyn 1980

By now the story of Bushwick’s transformation from ‘hood to hipster haven has been told more than enough times. But what caused it to go up in flames in the first place? 

A City Journal article, “The Death and Life of Bushwick,” explains that it was a combination of race relations and bad policy.

The problems began in the mid-1960s, when race riots were hitting urban centers across America, and white residents were getting jittery. Homeowners would find messages in their mailbox — “Don’t wait until it’s too late!” — a reference not just to possible violence but to the imminent arrival of minorities moving up north. Sure enough…

…speculators bought homes from Bushwick residents for an average of $8,000 apiece, and then, using fraudulent appraisals and a Great Society federal mortgage program that insured home loans to low-income buyers, sold them to poor blacks and Puerto Ricans at prices that they couldn’t afford— on average, about $20,000 per home.

Many of those new homeowners defaulted, abandoning their homes and prompting property values to further plummet. By the early 70s, hundreds of buildings in the neighborhood were empty, and owners started setting fire to their own empty buildings in order to collect on fire insurance.

Gangs set fire to abandoned buildings, too, and then waited for the fire department to do the hard work of knocking down walls and floors, making valuable fixtures and copper wiring easier to steal. By the early seventies, infernos blazed nightly. The neighborhood’s wooden row houses, tightly packed together and often sharing attics, proved particularly vulnerable; a fire would erupt in one building and swiftly spread, sometimes consuming half a block.

Higher crime followed. In 1990, there were 77 murders in the 83rd precinct. Last year, there were just 7.

historicaltimes:

Bushwick, Brooklyn 1980

gabrielrobertflores
Will tech help lift New York City’s black and Hispanic communities? It’s certainly looking that way. 

Since 2010, the number of blacks working in computer and mathematical occupations — the Census Bureau’s term for tech-related jobs — in the city has risen by 19.7 percent, based on a preliminary analysis of new census data. Over the same stretch, the number of Hispanics in such occupations in New York City has risen by 25.4 percent. By comparison, non-Hispanic whites in computer and mathematical occupations experienced just a 6.4 percent gain since 2010. [NYT]

gabrielrobertflores:

Lower Manhattan, 4.5.2013

Will tech help lift New York City’s black and Hispanic communities? It’s certainly looking that way. 

Since 2010, the number of blacks working in computer and mathematical occupations — the Census Bureau’s term for tech-related jobs — in the city has risen by 19.7 percent, based on a preliminary analysis of new census data. Over the same stretch, the number of Hispanics in such occupations in New York City has risen by 25.4 percent. By comparison, non-Hispanic whites in computer and mathematical occupations experienced just a 6.4 percent gain since 2010. [NYT]

gabrielrobertflores:

Lower Manhattan, 4.5.2013

Questlove just responded at length to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
But in his new book, “Mo Meta Blues,” the musician gives us a window into what it’s like to drive while black, no matter how accomplished one is.
On the very first day he drives his new car around — a Scion, the first car he’d ever owned — he was stopped by the police not once, not twice, but three times. Here’s what went down when the third cop stopped him, and recognized him.
p. 258.
"Tell me something," I said. "What’s the matter? Why am I a magnet for you guys tonight?"
"Oh," he said. "That’s easy. We’re in the Temple University neighborhood."
"Right," I said.
"And you’re in this car."
"And me in this car what?" I loved my Scion. It was part of my identity. I thought anything more lavish was the kind of thing a drug dealer would drive. This was the car of a thoughtful artist, a man who didn’t live through his material possessions.
"It’s the wrong car for you," he said. "It just doesn’t look right. If you were driving an SUV, you’d look like a professional football player. But this little thing sets off alarms. It looks like you took it from a college student."
Image from Flickr/Naoharu

Questlove just responded at length to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

But in his new book, “Mo Meta Blues,” the musician gives us a window into what it’s like to drive while black, no matter how accomplished one is.

On the very first day he drives his new car around — a Scion, the first car he’d ever owned — he was stopped by the police not once, not twice, but three times. Here’s what went down when the third cop stopped him, and recognized him.

p. 258.

"Tell me something," I said. "What’s the matter? Why am I a magnet for you guys tonight?"

"Oh," he said. "That’s easy. We’re in the Temple University neighborhood."

"Right," I said.

"And you’re in this car."

"And me in this car what?" I loved my Scion. It was part of my identity. I thought anything more lavish was the kind of thing a drug dealer would drive. This was the car of a thoughtful artist, a man who didn’t live through his material possessions.

"It’s the wrong car for you," he said. "It just doesn’t look right. If you were driving an SUV, you’d look like a professional football player. But this little thing sets off alarms. It looks like you took it from a college student."

Image from Flickr/Naoharu

In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, we ask: Is it possible for black men to avoid being profiled?
Tony Award-winning choreographer and MacArthur Genius Bill T Jones says he makes it a point to be extra-polite to the police, something he learned from watching his father while growing up in the South. 
In the mid-90s, Jones was pulled out of his car by a police officer and accused of being an armed robber. It was only when he and his partner produced a recent issue of Time magazine that the cop relented: there was Jones, on the cover. The headline was “Black Renaissance: African-American artists are truly free at last.”
Still, when Jones was about to leave, he turned to the police officer and, remembering what he’d been taught by his parents, thanked him. 
"It felt like it was almost in our DNA, as black Americans," said Jones. "You have to be careful, because they are looking for a reason to shoot you."
Listen to what other black men have to say on the matter, and why the very notion of modifying one’s behavior or clothing is reprehensible to others: "Trayvon Martin and the Threat of Black Manhood"

In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, we ask: Is it possible for black men to avoid being profiled?

Tony Award-winning choreographer and MacArthur Genius Bill T Jones says he makes it a point to be extra-polite to the police, something he learned from watching his father while growing up in the South. 

In the mid-90s, Jones was pulled out of his car by a police officer and accused of being an armed robber. It was only when he and his partner produced a recent issue of Time magazine that the cop relented: there was Jones, on the cover. The headline was “Black Renaissance: African-American artists are truly free at last.”

Still, when Jones was about to leave, he turned to the police officer and, remembering what he’d been taught by his parents, thanked him. 

"It felt like it was almost in our DNA, as black Americans," said Jones. "You have to be careful, because they are looking for a reason to shoot you."

Listen to what other black men have to say on the matter, and why the very notion of modifying one’s behavior or clothing is reprehensible to others: "Trayvon Martin and the Threat of Black Manhood"

There’s a growing black surf scene in the Rockaways. Guys like Louis Harris, above, or Brian James, aka “the Nautical Negro.” 
When James started surfing here in 1997, he said it was tough.
“Lot of racial epithets hurled out in water. Lot of arguing. But me personally, I let them know I wasn’t going for it. They got a problem, we can settle it on the beach.”
But now, it’s other black people who insist that “black people don’t surf.” 
Check out Stephen Nessen’s story at WNYC.

There’s a growing black surf scene in the Rockaways. Guys like Louis Harris, above, or Brian James, aka “the Nautical Negro.” 

When James started surfing here in 1997, he said it was tough.

“Lot of racial epithets hurled out in water. Lot of arguing. But me personally, I let them know I wasn’t going for it. They got a problem, we can settle it on the beach.”

But now, it’s other black people who insist that “black people don’t surf.” 

Check out Stephen Nessen’s story at WNYC.

"There are more black men in jail than in college."
True or false?
For years, it’s been an article of faith that an African-American man was more likely to end up in prison than in an institute of higher education.
Even President Obama, in his first campaign, said, “We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.”
Charles Barkley said the same thing to Bob Costas.
But the statement is wildly off the mark. An urban legend.
"Today there are approximately 600,000 more black men in college than in jail, and the best research evidence suggests that the line was never true to begin with," wrote Ivory A. Toldson, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Negro Education, in an article for The Root, last week.
The original myth, which he called “arguably the most frequently quoted statistic about black men in the United States,” was created by the Justice Policy Institute in a report called “Cellblocks or Classrooms.” It came out in 2002.
Toldson wrote that today, “black male representation in higher education is proportional to black male representation in the adult population.” The problem is that most of those students are under-represented at competitive colleges and over-represented at community colleges and online institutions.
In New York, where the overall prison population has dramatically come down — along with crime levels — Toldson told me the numbers reflected the changing scenario across the nation.
"In 2009, the total (all race) male prison population in New York state was 57,177. (DOJ) In 2010, the number of Black male college students in New York state was 90,558. (American Community Survey, U.S. Census)"
-Photo from the Gates Foundation via Flickr

"There are more black men in jail than in college."

True or false?

For years, it’s been an article of faith that an African-American man was more likely to end up in prison than in an institute of higher education.

Even President Obama, in his first campaign, said, “We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.”

Charles Barkley said the same thing to Bob Costas.

But the statement is wildly off the mark. An urban legend.

"Today there are approximately 600,000 more black men in college than in jail, and the best research evidence suggests that the line was never true to begin with," wrote Ivory A. Toldson, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Negro Education, in an article for The Root, last week.

The original myth, which he called “arguably the most frequently quoted statistic about black men in the United States,” was created by the Justice Policy Institute in a report called “Cellblocks or Classrooms.” It came out in 2002.

Toldson wrote that today, “black male representation in higher education is proportional to black male representation in the adult population.” The problem is that most of those students are under-represented at competitive colleges and over-represented at community colleges and online institutions.

In New York, where the overall prison population has dramatically come down — along with crime levels — Toldson told me the numbers reflected the changing scenario across the nation.

"In 2009, the total (all race) male prison population in New York state was 57,177. (DOJ) In 2010, the number of Black male college students in New York state was 90,558. (American Community Survey, U.S. Census)"

-Photo from the Gates Foundation via Flickr

Jewish politician does blackface, gets into trouble. 
Dov Hikind, a state assemblyman from Brooklyn, was celebrating the Jewish festival of Purim, and decided to wear an afro, sunglasses and orange jersey to a party he was throwing. Oh, and dark makeup.
“Someone gave me a uniform, someone gave me the hair of the actual, you know, sort of a black basketball player.”
Hikind is now catching heat from other New York politicos but says the reaction is overblown and that it was all in “good fun.”
"This is political correctness to the absurd," he wrote on his blog, even going so far as to say, “I would do it again in a minute.”

Jewish politician does blackface, gets into trouble.

Dov Hikind, a state assemblyman from Brooklyn, was celebrating the Jewish festival of Purim, and decided to wear an afro, sunglasses and orange jersey to a party he was throwing. Oh, and dark makeup.

“Someone gave me a uniform, someone gave me the hair of the actual, you know, sort of a black basketball player.”

Hikind is now catching heat from other New York politicos but says the reaction is overblown and that it was all in “good fun.”

"This is political correctness to the absurd," he wrote on his blog, even going so far as to say, “I would do it again in a minute.”

Despite consistent opposition to New York City’s stop-n-frisk policy, police commissioner Ray Kelly’s popularity is at an all-time high.
A Quinnipiac poll notes that 75 percent of city voters approve of Kelly’s performance, with just 18 percent voicing disapproval.
It’s not just white voters (80 percent approval) who support Kelly. Black voters back him by 63-to-27 percent. Hispanic voters are even more enthusiastic, with 76 percent approval. 
While Quinnipiac didn’t confirm why voters are so enthusiastic about Kelly, pollsters cite the city’s record low murder rate. 
Fifty percent of the electorate opposes stop-n-frisk, with 46 percent supporting the policy.
Photo credit Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Despite consistent opposition to New York City’s stop-n-frisk policy, police commissioner Ray Kelly’s popularity is at an all-time high.

A Quinnipiac poll notes that 75 percent of city voters approve of Kelly’s performance, with just 18 percent voicing disapproval.

It’s not just white voters (80 percent approval) who support Kelly. Black voters back him by 63-to-27 percent. Hispanic voters are even more enthusiastic, with 76 percent approval. 

While Quinnipiac didn’t confirm why voters are so enthusiastic about Kelly, pollsters cite the city’s record low murder rate.

Fifty percent of the electorate opposes stop-n-frisk, with 46 percent supporting the policy.

Photo credit Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Why aren’t there more minority models in the pages of fashion magazines?
The answers are often disturbing, and speak to a form of racial bigotry found in the fashion centers of New York and London — as well as a deep-rooted aesthetic that equates prestige and elitism with stereotypical whiteness (and thin-ness).
Here are a few highly-revealing quotes from fashion industry employees, from an analysis of the industry by Ashley Mears, a sociologist and former model. Her article is called “Size zero high-end ethnic: Cultural production and the reproduction of culture in fashion modeling,” and was published in 2009. Mears kept the identities of her sources private.
“A lot of black girls have got very wide noses… The rest of her face is flat, therefore, in a flat image, your nose, it broadens in a photograph. It’s already wide, it looks humongous in the photograph. I think that’s, there’s an element of that, a lot of very beautiful black girls are moved out by their noses, some of them.” —H, London Agency Director
"But it’s also really hard to scout a good black girl. Because they have to have the right nose and the right bottom. Most black girls have wide noses and big bottoms so if you can find that right body and that right face, but it’s hard.” —A, NYC Agency Scout
"Okay let’s say Prada. You don’t have a huge amount of black people buying Prada. They can’t afford it. Okay so that’s economics there. So why put a black face? They put a white face, because those are the ones that buy the clothes.” —L, NYC Stylist
"We don’t like using the same model too often, but it’s harder to find ethnic girls. And…well, I don’t want to sound racist, but— well for Asians, it’s hard to find tall girls that will fit the clothes because most of them are very petit. For black girls, I guess—black girls have a harder edge kind of look, like if I’m shooting something really edgy, I’ll use a black girl, it always just depends on the clothes.” —A, NYC Magazine Editor
“Me personally, in my opinion, there really is no good, good, black girl around. The really good, good black girl around are still the same, and are still the one that everybody wants… It’s very difficult to find one. The agency don’t deliver enough choice to make happy the client [sic].” —O, NYC Casting Director

Why aren’t there more minority models in the pages of fashion magazines?

The answers are often disturbing, and speak to a form of racial bigotry found in the fashion centers of New York and London — as well as a deep-rooted aesthetic that equates prestige and elitism with stereotypical whiteness (and thin-ness).

Here are a few highly-revealing quotes from fashion industry employees, from an analysis of the industry by Ashley Mears, a sociologist and former model. Her article is called “Size zero high-end ethnic: Cultural production and the reproduction of culture in fashion modeling,” and was published in 2009. Mears kept the identities of her sources private.

A lot of black girls have got very wide noses… The rest of her face is flat, therefore, in a flat image, your nose, it broadens in a photograph. It’s already wide, it looks humongous in the photograph. I think that’s, there’s an element of that, a lot of very beautiful black girls are moved out by their noses, some of them.” —H, London Agency Director

"But it’s also really hard to scout a good black girl. Because they have to have the right nose and the right bottom. Most black girls have wide noses and big bottoms so if you can find that right body and that right face, but it’s hard.” —A, NYC Agency Scout

"Okay let’s say Prada. You don’t have a huge amount of black people buying Prada. They can’t afford it. Okay so that’s economics there. So why put a black face? They put a white face, because those are the ones that buy the clothes.” —L, NYC Stylist

"We don’t like using the same model too often, but it’s harder to find ethnic girls. And…well, I don’t want to sound racist, but— well for Asians, it’s hard to find tall girls that will fit the clothes because most of them are very petit. For black girls, I guess—black girls have a harder edge kind of look, like if I’m shooting something really edgy, I’ll use a black girl, it always just depends on the clothes.” —A, NYC Magazine Editor

Me personally, in my opinion, there really is no good, good, black girl around. The really good, good black girl around are still the same, and are still the one that everybody wants… It’s very difficult to find one. The agency don’t deliver enough choice to make happy the client [sic].” —O, NYC Casting Director