Race Matters

Race and Sex

Yesterday, End Racism This Generation went to Manchester to discuss Race and Sex. In case you missed it, here are some thoughts from our speakers on the topic. Think of it as a Valentines treat from us, to you.

Joy Goh-Mah

The fetishisation of Asian women is a topic that I am very passionate about, and one, which I feel, is important to highlight and discuss. In films, TV, books, the Internet, and everywhere around us, Asian women are portrayed as meek and submissive sexual objects, in need of a white male hero to please and to serve. This perception feeds into the way Asian women are treated in our day-to-day lives, and informs the way we see ourselves, impacting our ideas of self-worth, our behavior, our expectations and ambitions.

We know that sexual objectification is harmful to girls and women. For Asian girls in particular, it creates a society where they grow up seeing themselves through the eyes of white men, where their identity as a sexual fantasy is above all else. This moulds them to fit the demands of a white supremacist, patriarchal society.

The Last Samurai

Asian girls and women deserve better than this. We will not be silent, we will not be submissive, we will not be content to be lovable dolls and playthings. We have a voice, and we will be heard.

Joy Goh-Mah is a writer. She blogs at Crates and RibbonsHuffington Post and Media Diversified. See her full presentation here.

Dr. Ornette Clennon

It is important to debate issues around race and sex because we need to
highlight the contested nature of these factors, which affect all areas
 of our lives.

Race and sex, as concepts are only really problematised
when they are used to view and explore minority positions (of whatever
cultural/sexual/gender identification). However, my position paper seeks
 to uncover the hidden reality that race and sex are not neutral concepts
 as wielded by the dominant power structure.

In other words the white
 male position, which is universally accepted as a neutral and universal
prism through which to examine "Other" positions, is fraught with its own
contradictions and misuse of power and privilege. My paper, attempts to
describe and define this un-neutral de facto starting point as a 'racial
patriarchy' (which, we all play into in some shape or form as Cornel West
honestly admits to himself) and to examine this modus operandi using bell hooks'
 expression of "patriarchal terrorism".

Black Masculinity

Let's think about Brownian motion, taking our minds back to O-level physics where under a
microscope we were invited to observe the buffeted motion of a smoke
particle in the air, where the 'invisible' air molecules were colliding
 with the visible smoke particle, affecting its path. I
 like to hold the phenomenon of Brownian motion as an image for our
 discourse. For us in our discourses about race and sex, we need to begin to focus
 on the 'invisible'; those defining issues that comprise the structural
 inequalities that exist. Making the invisible, visible will help us to
 be better able combat it.

Dr Ornette Clennon is a Visiting Enterprise Fellow and Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. He writes for Media Diversified.

Christina Fonthes

In my presentation I spoke about Black women’s bodies being intolerable to society and to themselves.  I begin by sharing two reoccurring experiences from my childhood; the first is the painful experience of having my hair ‘relaxed’ (relaxing is the use of chemicals on Afro-textured hair to transform it into a more appealing European-texture) from the age of seven; and the second is comparing skin shades with other black children. The two accounts are used to illustrate that Western ideals of beauty and light-skinned privilege are ingrained into Black children from an early age.

Just for me! Hair Relaxer

 I went on to speak about discovering Black American Feminists writers (Alice Walker et al) whilst studying at a plate glass university. It is at this time in my life that I understand racism and patriarchy to be the systematic oppression of Black women’s bodies.

I spoke about the danger of stereotyping Black women by referencing Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi’s Ted Talk The Danger of a Single Story; and I emphasize the need for wider representations of Black women within popular culture and the media.

I used images of Black women that aren’t normally seen in the media (dark skinned, visibly queer etc) on rotation. There is also an image of the Just For Me relaxer brand, which features a smiley, light-skinned girl with kink-free hair.

Christina Fonthes is a writer. She blogs for Media Diversified and Black Feminists Manchester. She is a LGBTQ activist and is the co-founder of Rainbow Noir. See her full presentation here.

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