Seriously, it surprises me that people still don’t get that “whitewashing” doesn’t just mean “taking a character of color and turning them white,” but also applies to “focusing disproportionately on the stories of white people,” “glossing over or altering parts of a story to make it more palatable or make white people look better,” and “treating ‘white’ as the default race”

The fact that Disney churns out film after film after film after film about white people with a maximum of one film per ethnicity that showcases a group other than white people is whitewashing.

The fact that the story of “Pocahontas” (not her real name) has been substantially altered so that some of the white people in that story don’t look like such villains, with John Smith younger and Pocahontas significantly older, as well as recounting a popular myth of her saving John Smith from near-execution (a story John Smith made up to make himself look brave, the real Pocahontas told him to stop telling and hated him for using her to make himself look good, and he started to spread like wildfire after she died because she could no longer object) is whitewashing.

The fact that the characters on “How I Met Your Mother” are all white, and they supposedly live in New York City, but apparently associate exclusively with other white people (with the exception of Wayne Brady, who occasionally visits from out of town, and a recurring taxi driver) is whitewashing.

The fact that the Doctor has now been a white man a full twelve times in a row is whitewashing even though the character’s always been white, because the idea that there’s a character whose entire appearance can change in a matter of seconds, yet ends up white twelve times in a row by pure random chance, implies that white is a neutral default and other races are a deviation from that norm. 

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Nailed it.

(via nonbinarymichelangelo)

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So, I’m a huge fan of the Ultimate Spider-Man tv show. Largely, it’s because they went out of their way to make a show about a middle class white male superhero inclusive. You get characters you don’t see in other cartoon. You have a black hero in Luke Cage and a woman of color in White Tiger.
So I was really excited when we took my daughter to Toys R Us and saw there were Ultimate SpiderMan action figures. I’ll admit to being excited about an Iron Fist action figure, but I couldn’t find Luke Cage or White Tiger. Eventually, I flipped the boxes over to check out the backs. Two series of Ultimate Spider-Man action figures, no Luke no Aya. Not even a Nick Fury. The lines are entirely devoid of color.

It strikes me again as one of those comics and cartoons self-fulfilling prophecies. Black characters don’t get marketed because they don’t sell supposedly. But what do you tell the girl who loves White Tiger or the boy who sees himself in Luke Cage when some exec has decided that their guy or girl is not worthy of getting the push over the SIXTH Spider-Man iteration from the same series? He sees his character isn’t important and eventually the marketing guys see that Luke Cage is unprofitable and they have him swapped for somebody that does sell - maybe somebody with a movie out.

This is not acceptable and we need to do better.

Wait, so… four major characters of color, and only one of them (Nova) has an action figure when the show’s in its second season already? Yikes. I’d say I’m shocked, but I’m not. Disappointed, but not shocked.

It is worth noting that the Nova on the series is a character of color and did get a figure. It may also be worth noting that that isn’t readily apparent from the figure nor does he get a character description beyond “human rocket” on the box.

Well, that’s a type example of “one step forward, two steps back” if I ever saw one.

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Need some ice there, asker?

Need some ice there, asker?

(Source: aimmyarrowshigh, via allikateor)

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you know, 21 is probably one of the biggest perpetrators of racebending in hollywood media

21 is based off of a book thats based off of a true story where the main character is a chinese-american named jeffrey ma

this guy


whereas in the movie, they decided to cast a white dude to play his part instead. jim sturgess.


the teacher is an asian-american man named john chang who morphed into kevin spacey. 

to add to that, while the main cast was originally mostly asian-americans, they were replaced with all white people except for two asians on the team, both exceedingly minor roles that were considered useless or incompetent.

aaron yoo and liza lapira respectively (whose characters also dont even receive last names)



however, my biggest issue with this was the explanation on why the racebending was ok or expected. whenever questions about this was brought up, the constant explanation was that asia male led movies didnt sell enough, that they wouldnt receive enough attention, interest, or a good response, or that (my favourite) theres no “access to any bankable Asian-American actors that [they] wanted”. with the concept of wanting “bankable” actors however, leads to the idea that they would want more popular or famous actors to be playing the roles. which is interesting considering that jim sturgess was more or less unknown before 21 had released. 

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Reblogging what I never reblogged seven months ago, for some reason.

Between 21 and Cloud Atlas, Jim Sturgess is forever cemented in my mind as “oh, that guy.” Unfair? Probably, but so is institutionalized racism. At least my brand of unfairness doesn’t affect anyone’s career or promote racial stereotypes.

(…Wait. Bahku, am I the friend you quoted? Those words sound very familiar, but I’m not entirely sure.)

"Beethoven was Black."


First of all, let’s get this out of the way: Yes he was. By today’s standards, based on descriptions from people who met him, if you were shown a photograph of the real Beethoven and then asked to guess his race, I guarantee you 99% would say “black.” It’s a shame photography wasn’t really a thing back then. From a privilege standpoint, even if his ancestors had never set foot in Africa from the second the first humans branched out into other continents, his contemporaries often mistook him for being a member of the Moor society (anyone who tells you the Moors “weren’t black, they were more like Arabs” probably makes the same false assumption of the Ancient Egyptians). In all likelihood, he had a fair amount of African ancestry based not only on his general description, but because of the fact that his family came from Spanish-occupied Belgium when a large number of Spain’s occupying forces in that area were descended from the Moors. But yes, if Beethoven were alive today, ancestry aside, he would be treated as a black man by society. 

However, this post isn’t intended to convince you he definitely had African ancestry. Short of going back in time, swiping a DNA sample, and testing it against other people from the region, there’s no way of actually proving that, especially given how badly-kept, apocryphal, and easily-revised ancestral records were at that time. 

This post is meant to ask the question “Why not?” The only arguments that I’ve seen in favor of him not being black are either flimsy alternate explanations to the evidence in favor of him being black (usually called “rebuttals” even though they’re no more provable than the arguments they’re meant to refute), or “Prove to me he was.”

“You prove to me he wasn’t!” is my automatic response to this. 

Here’s the thing about history: It can’t be trusted. It’s written by the people with power, and people with power, believe it or not, generally do not care about lying if it means keeping that power. The contributions of People of Color in history are almost always marginalized when a white man can be given credit for them. This is why the ancient Egyptians are shown as being incredibly light-skinned and the Moors are barely mentioned in many academic historical discussions. 

Which brings me back to my oft-visited, favorite form of horrible sneaky racism: Thinking of white as a “default race.” The only evidence that Beethoven was white comes from paintings and busts, most of which were painted either after he died by people who’d never met him (destroying their credibility as historical evidence) or in a society where black people would often “present as” white (which, if someone were attempting such a presentation, it would make sense for them to commission portraits where they look as white as possible, also casting doubt onto their credibility). There’s the word of almost everyone who ever met the man describing him as black (in more detail than Rue and Thresh were described as being black in “The Hunger Games,” although of course, some people assumed they were white as well), and this portrait of Beethoven, which was his favorite, and he considered so accurate that he gave copies to his friends and family who wanted a picture of him:


The point here is that even though the evidence in favor of him being black is overwhelming and the evidence against is insignificant at best, people are eager to overlook the descriptions of people who met him face-to-face and the portrait he regarded as most accurate in favor of the assumption that he was a white man. 

It’s fair to say that many white Americans assume everyone is white until given direct indication otherwise. I’ve met many people to whom it had never occurred that Jesus might not be white until his birthplace was directly brought to their attention. Hell, I’ve met people who (having only heard his voice) were surprised to find out James Earl Jones was black.

So to assume Beethoven was white based on nothing but people coming up with possible other explanations for everything else is a little problematic, because at a certain point, it’s like you’re trying to look for reasons he can’t be black that aren’t there. 

If he has no African ancestry, then all of the following must be true:

  • His skin was so dark that, despite not being black, was often mistaken for being black.
  • The rhetoric used to describe him matched up perfectly to then-contemporary description matched that used to describe the Moors completely by coincidence.
  • Despite the following two things, his family came from Spanish-occupied Flanders (now Belgium) during the Moors’ reign over Spain without including any African genetics. 

Or, the following one answer to all points of evidence:

  • He was black. 

So basically, my problem here is that people are more willing to accept multiple coordinating outlandish explanations that reassure them Beethoven might not have been black (and, in their minds, the fact that we can’t empirically prove it means we should stop talking about it completely) than they are to accept one simple explanation that wraps everything up in a nice bow and changes nothing other than reveal historical whitewashing and increase awareness that yes, Africa was a major player in World history rather than (as it’s so often erroneously cast) a secondary character in a Eurocentric version of World history. The fact that people need empirical proof he was black but don’t even need a logical argument to convince them he was white is all kinds of problematic. I could write a book on how racist that is. 

Challenging Eurocentrism in history is going to uncover a lot of times when whitewashing has occurred (see: How just about everything good Abraham Lincoln did for black people was something Frederick Douglass told him to do). While yes, there is a chance Beethoven was completely white, that answer is less likely than “historians intentionally left out certain details to keep people from challenging the stereotypes about black people they were spreading to ensure their continued ability to oppress them,” or, as it’s more commonly known, a “dominant narrative.”

So maybe Beethoven wasn’t black. Maybe he was. The evidence presented wasn’t an attempt to convince you one way or another. It was intended to show you that while someone who says “I believe Beethoven may have been black, and not, as previously assumed, white” can answer the follow-up question of “why do you believe that,” a person who says “I don’t believe Beethoven was black” can’t. There’s nothing to suggest he couldn’t have been black. They could argue “I believe Beethoven might not have been black” and present alternate lines of reasoning, but since that’s the dominant narrative already, you’re not challenging a well-established assumption, and you’re not going to get any disputes because “might not” is implied in the “might” argument. 

(via racebending)

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Your PoC-excluding setting is a Choice and you should Own It.


OK so a lot of people are rightfully criticizing recent movies like Brave and the Hobbit and the upcoming Snow Queen for having no or apparently no PoC characters in them.

The apologists will say that it’s “not realistic” because of the setting. We rightfully point out that A) that’s just not true, because there were PoC in those times and places and B) having things like magic and faeries and dragons in your stories, and then turning around and complaining that PoC would be “unrealistic,” is more than a little bit hypocritical.

But I think it really needs to be brought to the forefront for those “It’s not realistic because of the setting” people, that even if we granted their assertion for the sake of argument, it wouldn’t matter, because the setting wasn’t dictated to the movie makers (or original authors) from on high. The setting is a choice just like everything else in the narrative is someone’s conscious choice, and if someone chose a setting that (supposedly) excludes PoC, then that’s not an accident outside of their control, that is a thing that they actively did and they deserve criticism for that as well.

(via racebending)

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Not only did a Latino actor not play Tony, who clearly in real life looks like a Chicano, but his ethnicity is stolen from the Latino community at a time when Latinos have been demonized. Our real Latino national heroes if acknowledged would dramatize our patriotism and contribution to the United States…

In “Argo” we have yet another instance where the public has been denied of an opportunity for all Americans to learn of an American Latino’s valor, talent and patriotism. This occurs because there has been no consequence to this behavior. It is time for a change.


Moctesuma Esparza on Ben Affleck’s Argo and the White-Washing of the Mexican-American.  Esparza says:

The film actually goes out of its way to obscure Tony Mendez’ ethnicity. His name (Mendez) is mentioned only once and the character says he is from New York (Tony was born in Nevada from a mining family with six generations in Nevada and raised in Colorado). Nowhere in the movie does the viewer get that the hero is Mexican American. 

Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Antonio “Tony” Mendez was very contained and had very little range, I don’t know what Tony personality is like to judge the portrayal but this did not impact the movie’s success or failure. It was an excellent role that would have elevated a Latino actor like Benjamin Bratt or Michael Peña.

 Instead, like with the story of Guy Gabaldon, whose extraordinary achievements in the WWII Battle of Saipan,  capturing, by himself, 1800 enemy soldiers, more than any other  American soldier in the history of our country, was similarly white-washed as Jeffrey Hunter played him in the 1960 film, “Hell to Eternity.”  But that was more than half a century ago, Argo is now

In the closing credits, the photos of the real people portrayed are presented side-b- side with the actors’ photos showing the very close resemblance and care that was taken in the casting process to cast actors who looked like the real people. Yet, for the key role of Tony Mendez, the director/producer Ben Affleck chose a single long shot of Tony with President Carter where his image was not distinct or recognizable, breaking the pattern he had chosen for all the other real people depicted. 

(via racebending)

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Counterarguing the iffy portrayals in Rise of the Guardians


Getting a lot of submissions/asks defending how two characters are portrayed in Rise of the Guardians based on posts from earlier this week (see our tag). The two most common explanations given to defend the depictions of these characters are not true, according to the “The Art of Rise of the Guardians” book I skimmed today at the bookstore.

“The book about the tooth fairy just came out so the filmmakers did not know she was South Asian when they were making the movie.”

Not true.  The filmmakers knew that Tooth was supposed to be South and Southeast Asian. According to the book, her design was “inspired by the half bird, half human gods of ancient Buddhist and Hindu cultures.”   She is inspired by the Thai mythical creature called the kinnaris.    Her headpiece is also inspired by birds in Buddhist artwork.    

Based on the book, it seems like every color was considered for the character’s skin tone before they settled for the final pale white tone—every color except for brown!   In discussing how they settled upon Tooth’s skin color: “We experimented with a variety of colors and shapes.  We couldn’t make her skin too bluish or greenish…yellow would be too much like a canary and blue would remind viewers of Mystique or the Navi.”

The book also says that the Tooth Palace is based on Chinese mountains and Indian and Thai architecture.  It states, “although they movie doesn’t delve into the fairy’s parentage, some of the images (in the palace) hint at a romantic love between an Indian maharaja and a magical bird.”

“The markings on the Bunny are Easter egg markings, not based on aboriginal markings.”

The book says nothing about Easter egg markings.  Instead it says, “We also added some tribal-motif patterns on his body to emphasize the general timeless aura about him.”

The book states that the Easter Bunny’s design is a “mixture of Australian and Japanese influences.”  Initially conceptualized as a professorial British scientist, the casting of Hugh Jackman led the design team to make him an “Austalian Ranger who uses magical boomerangs as weapons.”

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A Post About: The Easter Bunny’s design from Rise of the Guardians



The Easter Bunny is bringing up a lot of controversy (apparently) because of his ostensibly offensive Australian bent (try saying that five times fast). The complaints that have been put forth are thus:

  1. The markings on the Easter Bunny are stereotypically Aboriginal in origin
  2. Rabbits are an invasive species to Australia and he should not be in mentioned markings as a result
  3. He is voiced by a white actor, and he should not be because of aforementioned invasive status and Aboriginal markings.

I will refute them all right here and make my stance clear;

Firstly, the Markings on the Easter Bunny are NOT Aboriginal in origin. They are stylized angular markings that are meant to evoke the designs of Easter Eggs. An Easter Egg is often designed with lines of color. When shifted to fit his angular design, the Easter Egg markings as well will become angular.

Secondly, the reason the Easter Bunny is Australian and has such an Australian bent to his design is because in the book series which the film is based, the Easter Bunny assisted in the creation of Australia while reshaping the planet Earth. Because of this, he evokes Australia in his design (which is mentioned in the film when Jack Frost calls him the Easter Kangaroo).

Thirdly, he is voiced by Hugh Jackman because, again, he practically invented Australia in the original books which the film is based, and so it was deemed a good idea for him to have an Australian accent. Hugh Jackman was chosen because he has a natural Australian accent. Similarly, the sharks from Finding Nemo have Australian Accents. Because they are Australian.

So yeah, I think that in the case of the Easter Bunny, people are just grasping at straws and misinterpreting his design. I’m also a bit confused as to why these complaints only became prominent after the film came out, and weren’t prominent before. Hmm…

So…a rabbit…created Australia
Even though rabbits are not a native species of Australia
And are in fact an invasive pest species that decimated the native animal populations of Australia.

But the story credits the rabbit for “creating” Australia
And that isn’t political
Because the author didn’t mean for it to be political
Or perhaps because people are too sensitive
or don’t understand the context of the story.

A little white rabbit with a cotton tail
The body markings are just Easter egg paint
from the rich Australian tradition of Christianity
We’ll tell this story to children
He’ll speak a dialect called Australian English
He will sound like Hugh Jackman and carry a boomerang
Because the rabbit created Australia

It’s not rabbit Hugh Jackman’s fault
that white Australians continue to tell Native Australians
that they civilized them, that they made them
That they’re ungrateful
That’s not the story here.
We’re just talking bunnies.
A bunny that happens to know Tai Chi.

It was not until 1992 that they said
that aborigines existed in Australia
before the rabbits came.
The rabbits brought Easter to Australia
knocked away other traditions with boomerangs
But that’s another story.
Not a holiday movie I want to defend.

If I explain why the rabbit created Australia
Because you haven’t read the book
Then it is no longer political
And just a movie, just a story.
And we’re supposed to accept this depiction
Accept this story and the accent it is told in
Retell that story to children
Because in this story, the rabbit is the Easter Rabbit.
The Rabbit is Australian.
He created it.


My father told me, “Don’t do anything that would bring shame to the family.” I was always mindful of that. When I told him I wanted to pursue a career as an actor, my father said, “Look at what you see on television at the movies, is that what you want to be doing? Do you want to make a life out of that?” And I said, “Daddy, I’m going to change it.”

It’s that image that created the perception that made it easier for the government to incarcerate a whole group of people. At that time, in comic books and radio dramas, we were depicted as cutthroat and coldhearted and cruel—unfeeling—or we were wily or suspicious or the buffoon. That was the general perception of Japanese Americans. We weren’t seen as Americans. If someone spoke without an accent, we were exotically Americanized foreigners.

My father knew the importance of the image of Asians in the media and how that shapes perceptions. We were complicit in it at that time: We went out there and rented our faces out and played cruel Japanese soldiers or bumbling Chinese waiters.


George Takei in an interview with Mother Jones discussing how media representation impacted cultural perceptions of Asian Americans in the United States during World War II, fueling racist attitudes that lead to the Japanese American internment.

Takei is premiering Allegiance: A New American Musical, at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego this month.  The show tells the story of a Japanese American family that experiences incarceration in a concentration camp in Wyoming during World War II, and also co-stars Lea Salonga and Telly Leung.

(via racebending)

(via racebending)

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