ATR 124 – Anti-Asian bias, Top Model colorface, large black women, hair hatred

Since the implementation of affirmative action in the college admissions process, opponents of the policy have alleged that the changes reduce the chances of White and Asian high school students applying to elite colleges. Is that really true? Tyra Banks often tackles race on her talk show, so why did she get race oh-so-wrong in last week’s episode of America’s Next Top Model, in which contestants wore colorface to mimic different ethnic mixtures? Fat black women are often the butt of the joke in low-brow comedy films. But when a smart comedy like “Parks & Recreation” dabbles in it, what does that say about our biases against race and size? Newsweek writer Allison Samuels sparked furor around the ‘Net recently with an article taking Angelina Jolie to task for her daughter Zahara’s allegedly uncared for tresses. Does Samuels ultimately uphold Eurocentric beauty standards? Carmen Van Kerckhove and Tami Winfrey Harris discuss.

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2 thoughts on “ATR 124 – Anti-Asian bias, Top Model colorface, large black women, hair hatred”

  1. In listening to the recording of “Addicted to Race” I think a good point was made that because of our privilege, White and Asian students have an opportunity to go to many schools that it is not the end of their educational career if they are not admitted due to affirmative action. We do have the option of many educational opportunities. I think there is definitely some truth to that. I do believe that as a white student, I do not face description in the educational arena. White and Asian students are not underrepresented in our colleges. I think the real issue is in primary education however. If people of color are given the same educational advantages when they are growing up, the higher education issue becomes nonexistent. The schools in lower economic areas vs. privilege economic areas are definitely segmented according to race and quality of schools and teachers. As a society, we are ignoring the real issue. Standards testing where state funds are distributed by the test results of the students in the public schools continue to exasperate the problem. If a student body is already disadvantaged, they will suffer even more under this system. The allocation of funds will be much less, thus a continuation of lower quality education. Allocation of funds by percent of property tax has the same problem of providing a larger amount of funds to schools in good, predominately white neighborhood. The areas that have more latch key kids due to both parents in the labor force or single parent households should have more community programs and after school tutoring, etc. to promote advancement. I think we are not adequately addressing the true sociological issue by providing affirmative action at the university level rather than looking at the grade and high school level of education.
    Our book speaks of “normative” (text pp 189) identity as the bar to measure all our identities to in America. Whether someone is seeking social acceptance in business, education, hair, or social matters we have cultural norms that help us attain acceptance. These norms in general are white. Speech, fashion, etc. of white culture are held as the standard. I think that there is some minor loosening of these standards, but they are still fairly rigid. Our American society has expectations of a “desirable” look. This applies to whether you are considering weight, skin color, fashion, and hair styles. The more you deviate from what our society views as desirable the less desirable that look is seen to be. For instance, if you are white you can get away with having messy hair more and have to field less social pressure than if you are of color. We see outward sign of religion in the same light. (text pp 192) It is an acceptable norm to wear a cross but not to wear articles of religious clothing if you are Jewish or Sikh for example. We perpetuate a culture of submitting to the white culture norms. What are some of the other ways does society dictate beauty standard?

  2. With regard to issues of identity, we’ve been discussing normative race privilege of whites in the U.S. in my intercultural communication course. A comment, I believe made by Tami, in the podcast regarding the perceived anti-Asian bias of affirmative action policies in the college admissions process stood out to me.

    If I understood correctly, she mentioned that opposition based on the PERCEPTION that whites and Asians are not getting accepted to elite academic institutions might reflect “people not wanting to let go of their own privileges.” This made me wonder if affirmative action has created an expectation of “minority privilege” that Asian Americans, who are opposed to affirmative action, may have developed, leaving them with a sense that they are not getting their fair share.

    Does this mean that a sense of entitlement is not necessarily unique to normative groups?

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