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Whitewashing: Stealing our stories from real life to fiction.

Just to build on that lovely post below by the original Angry Black Woman: Can the less knowledgeable among us netizens FINALLY get it through their skulls that the argument that anime characters are white is WRONG like a very wrong thing now? Please? I mean, seriously?

via: racebending:
Are anime characters caucasian or japanese

The description rebuts several of the more irritating comments made by those who are invested in the pale skin and multicolored hair are the sole province of white people. Frankly I have had to it with the fucking bullshit ignorance that so many people are showing.

Also, please note that Avatar: the Last Airbender is an American cartoon not an anime. Anime is animation from JAPAN. No where else on the planet. Wikipedia has got a damned informative article on it, please, please get thou to reading it. (And while you are at it, Wiki will even enlighten you about manwha which are comics of South Korea!)

And now that we’ve settled that ignorant argument, time to demolish the BS nonsense that there aren’t enough POC actors and actresses to take on those roles that they keep giving the white people. That too, is some old BULLSHIT. Here be the Master list of Chromatic Re/Casting Posts, which was made as response to the various conversations that have been taking place with regard to racebending and whitewashing and stereotyping and just plain not telling stories about chromatic Americans, or anyone else.

Aha, you say gleefully, but some of these actors i don’t know! Yeah? Well how the fuck do you think you are gonna get to knowing them if they do not get freaking cast in the films? Precisely HOW do new white actors get known? They got auditioned and cast, yes? Who knows much about this Andrew Garfield fellow that has been cast as the new white Spiderman guy from Britain? Who knew much about Zac Efron before High School musical? That Shia LaBeouf guy? Used to act in Malcolm in the Middle. Then he got cast into better and better parts, til he got Transformers and Indiana Jones and became a household name. Write good shit, put good PoC actors in them and hey presto! There will be more household POC names!

And don’t TELL ME this fucking NONSENSE that Hollywood does it because of profit-only, free market, blah blah blah ostrich-in-the-sand BULLSHIT.

Women buy more movie tickets than men

And yet, Women can’t vote with their dollars in film and TV because there is this fucking ridiculous myth that men won’t watch girl stuff but women will watch guy stuff. And Latinos buy more movie tickets per person than any other segment of the U.S. population but somehow its STILL a load of white people at the movieplex. And stop fucking pretending as if men don’t watch women’s movies, or people across the color spectrum won’t turn out for a good movie.

On top of that, the week would not be complete without this same kind of RACIST BULLSHIT coming from the direction of books. My dear readers. Meet Cindy Pon’s book The Silver Phoenix. Gorgeous cover, yes? With an actual Asian girl to boot. Ahhh. Take a look at the cover for the paperback version and the sequel Notice something different? Why yeeeessssss THERE BE WHITE PEOPLE ON THE COVER!!!!! Why? Well see. Barnes and Noble decided to take limited quantities of the book. And Borders decided not to stock it at ALL. So, naturally, the sales were not good. But the publishers like the story! So what do they do? They go the tried and true route…lets stick some whites on the cover and see if the bookstores will like it better THIS time. Oh yeah. You know, I am still unable to discuss this without having a rage blackout, but luckily, many people have written thoughtful and coherent posts on why this system is WRONG WRONG WRONGITY WRONG and so I give you the linkspam of the Silver Phoenix Whitewash affair.But! If you are frustrated like I am , there is something that you can do. A call to arms was made, requesting that since it is quite a good book, if you are so inclined, you can buy the original, gorgeously illustrated hardcover, review it, and link your review to the comments of this post. This organizing was successful in convincing Amazon to restock some few days later, so….

But then its not surprising that Hollywood and the book industries that steal and co-opt our fictional stories. Afterall, Western news media quite happily distorts and erases and places white saviours at the center of POC real-life stories quite often. Take for example, one Nicolas Kristof, famous columnist of the New York Times, self proclaimed crusader  for women’s rights.
Mr. Kristof, was recently tackled on the fact that he hinged his stories on white saviours and their herculean labors on behalf of those poor, downtrodden brown citizen majority countries that he reports from
Texas in Africa has the story in white man’s burden

Back in May, @viewfromthecave tweeted that The Kristof was taking questions from readers to be answered via YouTube. This is the question I asked:

Your columns about Africa almost always feature black Africans as victims, and white foreigners as their saviors.

There was more to it than that, but I can’t find the original post. At any rate, the gist of the question was, “Why not feature more of the work that Africans are doing to solve their countries’ problems?”

And, lo and behold, Kristof answered. NYT Picker thankfully has the transcript for those of us on dial-up connections:

This is a really important issue for a journalist. And it’s one I’ve thought a lot about.

I should, first of all, from my defensive crouch, say that I think you’re a little bit exaggerating the way I have reported. Indeed, recently, for example, among the Africans who I have emphasized, the people who are doing fantastic work are the extraordinary Dr. Dennis Mukwege in the Congo, Edna Adan in Somaliland, Valentino Deng in Sudan, Manute Bol in Sudan, and there are a lot of others.

But I do take your point. That very often I do go to developing countries where local people are doing extraordinary work, and instead I tend to focus on some foreigner, often some American, who’s doing something there.

And let me tell you why I do that. The problem that I face — my challenge as a writer — in trying to get readers to care about something like Eastern Congo, is that frankly, the moment a reader sees that I’m writing about Central Africa, for an awful lot of them, that’s the moment to turn the page. It’s very hard to get people to care about distant crises like that.

One way of getting people to read at least a few grafs in is to have some kind of a foreign protagonist, some American who they can identify with as a bridge character.

And so if this is a way I can get people to care about foreign countries, to read about them, ideally, to get a little bit more involved, then I plead guilty.

As NYT Picker aptly notes, the persons to whom Kristof refers have either not been mentioned in his print columns or are typically only mentioned briefly.Texas in Africa proceeds to fisk this white liberal racist BS as it deserves

The funny thing about Hollywood and journalists like Mr. Kristof is that they consider themselves liberal. Its just those middle of the country white people who won’t and cannot deal with minorities not being shown in a stereotypical manner without some white guy leading them, and saving them. The argument is usually something like this “We know that you all are people with lives and triumphs and shit, but its all those other white people. And you know, we gotta make a buck! And we are helping to fix your problems right? So it all works out in the end?” No. No, it doesn’t work out in the end. It’s exploitation. Its hurt. Its BULLSHIT. We don’t need no white intermediaries to make the story more palatable to your reasers, Mr. Kristof. we are quite interesting and compelling as human beings triumphing over fucked up circumstances all on our won. And I am going to continue the reclaiming process now.

Here is a small selection   from IPS News of women in their own societies, kicking ass and taking names, with not a bloody white American saving a one. Women in economics and politics around the world Want more? Go to IPS news’ main page and dedicated filter…Gender Wire

No more stealing.

No more lies.

No more erasing.

Everyone deserves to have their stories told correctly.

9 thoughts on “Whitewashing: Stealing our stories from real life to fiction.”

  1. Jennifer Kesler says:


    And now that we’ve settled that ignorant argument, time to demolish the BS nonsense that there aren’t enough POC actors and actresses to take on those roles that they keep giving the white people. That too, is some old BULLSHIT.

    In addition to that bullshit is something else worth noting: how many actors of color aren’t even obscure because they can’t even get their faces online? Once upon a time, a group of actors I knew did a reading of one of my screenplays for me. Somehow, an African-American woman ended up playing the narcissistic white guy. She’d never seen the script before, knew nothing about this complicated character, yet she blew us all away. Big time. I’m a fan of acting like some people are fans of sports – I watch it, I analyze it, I’m endlessly fascinated by the craft and people who do it well (or even interestingly). I will never forget her performance. And yet, she has no entry on IMDB. She never made it. Would she have made it if she were white and all else were equal? Possibly not – white people fail out all the time, too. But there’s no doubt in my mind her race was a factor against her, and that’s largely because we screenwriters were taught not to specify race in screenplays, not to focus “too much” on women.

  2. xgoestoinfinity says:

    Ahh. Nothing like a cup of race fail and ignorance in the evening, and the invisible pants of excuses to clothe its buttocks. Makes my soul turn Super Saiyan!

    “Write good shit, put good PoC actors in them and hey presto! There will be more household POC names!

    And don’t TELL ME this fucking NONSENSE that Hollywood does it because of profit-only, free market, blah blah blah ostrich-in-the-sand BULLSHIT.”


    Is there a name for a personality complex in which one thinks everything looks like them and everything was and should be made for them and them alone and should be about them and “to-Hell-with-you-go-watch-Tyler-Perry” if you disagree? This is just too crazy to be just narcissism. *shrug*

    Maybe there’s a name. Just too tired and enraged to think =/

  3. PlusSizedWomanist says:

    CHURCH!!! Seriously. I tire of the same old bullshit that Hollywood puts out, and the apologia of those who would support the status quo. Why aren’t we seeing Asian men in romantic roles instead of being cast as nerdy/asexual kung fu bad ass? Why aren’t we seeing more women of color as universally beautiful and not just tropes? Because the white supremacy would be weakened if we didn’t.

    And then there’s Tyler Perry, who pisses me off with his “tragic mulatto” stories and perpetuation of the Jezebel/Mammy/Sapphire stereotypes in his movies. Seriously. I watch his movies and see he must REALLY hate black women with their portrayals.

  4. dianne says:

    I often think that Hollywood thinks we are all stupid – or rather, the folks making these decisions are stupid racists and assume all of the rest of us are too. It ticks me off as a consumer.

    As to ANYONE making the argument that POC don’t make money, I would challenge them that there are very few women *of ANY color* in my age group who wouldn’t pay good money to watch Denzel Washington BREATHE.

  5. ga-du-gi says:

    This reminded me of an article I saw on destructoid the other day about how eerily similar video game protagonists are trending.

  6. rhonda says:

    This issue has been around a LONG time, i.e., David Carradine as Kung Fu.

  7. Duncan says:

    Erm, Nicholas Kristof does not consider himself a liberal. He’s far right-wing even in the US political spectrum.

    rhonda, whites cast as non-whites is a lot older than Kung Fu. In American movies whites were cast as non-whites from the beginning, and earlier than that in the theater. Othello was played by white actors since the play was written — when Desdemona was played by a boy.

    xgoestoinfinity: “Is there a name for a personality complex in which one thinks everything looks like them and everything was and should be made for them and them alone and should be about them and “to-Hell-with-you-go-watch-Tyler-Perry” if you disagree? This is just too crazy to be just narcissism.” “Ethnocentrism” might be the word for it. It’s not a “personality complex”, though, it’s cultural, and it’s not limited to white Americans. Which doesn’t excuse it, of course.

  8. L. Tolbert says:

    As to the Asian actors in romantic roles, I was watching a Doc. of Jet Li a few weeks ago on Bio. channel and he was talking about how when he made Romeo Must Die with Aaliyah. How that role was written to be more romantic and that the two were definately meant to be a couple, but then he said that in China the poeople there are very, Conservative and if the film showed there (being Jet, it would) the people there would be turned off by too much intimacy (i.e. kissing) between Aaliyah and Jet.

    When I saw the movie, I remember how lackluster and unbelievable the romance was between these two characters and how I was not invested in it emotionally and I find it hard to believe that that is what Jet wanted for the film as it was to be his great American breakout movie. The mpvie did not do well at the Box Office either and I wonder if that was part of the reason why, as it had a good Af-Am cast.

    I also find his reasoning a little harder to believe because I’d seen his earlier films (Once Upon A Time In China) and he managed to be far more of a romantic character in them then he was in Romeo Must Die. (He was also more funny and charming then in any of the American films he’s made to date.) To be fair however Chinese movies do tend to have a lot less sex in them and Japanese films have a lot of men acting like brutes. (Maybe these are the only Japanese films that get released in America or I just need to pick better movies.)

    It makes me wonder if he was right about Chinese society or if he was pressured by Hollywood to tone down the relationship between the two characters in the film.

    That said, I see no reason why an American born Asian can’t be seen in romantic roles. That people in Asia won’t like it certainly can’t be used as an excuse with Asian actors born in this country. I have yet to see John Cho, Daniel Dae Kim and a host of other Asian actors (who do not do martial arts) as anything other than nerds and comedy relief and in the case of Lost an oppressive husband whose wife seems to hate and fear him.

  9. Sylvie says:

    Thank you. So much. At least as far as the anime/manga/manwha/etc question, I’ve been asked that (Not because I’m Asian. I’m white. Because I’m nerdy.). And every time I’m asked that I’m like ‘Um. Why would they all be white? Most of these stories are set in Japan. If a character’s from Europe, a BIG DEAL is made of it. I’m going to say that they’re the author nationality, you know?’
    ‘But they’re white!Look at their faces!’
    ‘Yes, because my eyes are totally that ginormous. Realism, after all.’

    I’m obviously still working on my own privelege, but even from an ignoring-race-utterly viewpoint, that question is just so STUPID.

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