Monday, December 21, 2009

Are HP computers racist?

Love this: "And the worst part is, I bought one for Christmas."

h/t Laine.

Vintage racist comedy: Oh, Buddy.


Via Egg City Radio.  Follow the link if you want to listen, but heed this disclaimer by the post's author: "I dare you to make it all the way through to the end of this record without hating me."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Vintage racist.

One of my favorite blogs is Vintage Ads, which is an excellent feed for nostalgia, inadvertent humor, and, of course, concepts both questionably and unquestionably racist.  Here are just a couple of recent examples:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Definitely worth adding to your RSS reader.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Was it racist?

Jenn shares this excellent tidbit from Gizmodo.  Apparently it's now fixed, but for a time this was up at

Good times.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Is the oil lobby racist?

Sheyda calls our attention to another Photoshop scandal.  Talking Points Memo reports that a recently distributed American Petroleum Institute pamphlet features some strategically placed "diverse" individuals (11 and 1 o'clock):

...who are actually black and Asian heads 'shopped onto white guys from the company stock photo:

Group of happy business people standing together against white background Royalty Free Stock Photo
Not creepy enough for you?  Well, an astute TPM reader noted that in the stock photo, "the two men who are now Asian and black are the same man in the photo twice.  Even the stock photo is doctored."  Is the oil lobby The Matrix?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What is up with this Palm Pre commercial, and is it racist?

Eons ago, Amy B. submitted the following ad for Palm Pre.  She wrote, "I saw this commercial, and though I don't have the chops to dissect it, I KNOW this is not ok.  Asian people as pixels? For a white lady's mp3 player?" 

Years ago, this guy hit on me at a coffee shop by saying, "You know, you are definitely some kind of culture."  To this ad, I say, "You know, you are definitely some kind of ... something."  But I leave it to you, readers, to explain to me what that something is.

Are "ethnic helpers" racist?

Amanda asks us about the curious case of "Asian Helper":

at first i thought it was just racist and now that i think about what i just saw in the grocery store i'm also annoyed because it's kind of semantically out of order too.  look, "hamburger helper" means stuff you add to your hamburger to stretch it into extra servings.  "tuna helper" means stuff you add to your tuna to stretch into extra servings. so is "asian helper" stuff you add to your asian?  oh wait, it does say "chicken" really small between the asian and the helper.  it's like betty crocker had the last minute thought that it might be racist.  eagerly awaiting "mexican helper" which is sure to come out any day now.
I think if Helper is going to go in this direction, it should go whole-heartedly and put the little glove guy in ethnic hats.

Are ads from the sixties...yes, yes they are.

Thanks to Laura for submitting (a long time ago—sorry for the delayed post!) this classic ad for our consideration.  Great Western Invention (spoon) Make Chinese Baby Velly Happy!  Oh, Jello.

Is "Couples Retreat" UK marketing racist?

Both Sheyda and Bernie call our attention to the brouhaha raised over Universal Studios' decision to edit out the black couple from the UK promotional poster of the film "Couples Retreat." 

The Huffington Post reported that "Universal changed 'Couples Retreat' marketing material for the film's UK release, and removed the black actors from both the poster's photo and the list of stars typed out ... The studio said it regretted causing offence and has abandoned plans to use the revised poster in other countries.... A Universal spokesman said the revised advert aimed 'to simplify the poster to actors who are most recognisable in international markets'."

So I guess what the studio is saying is, "We're not racist; international markets are racist."

Does that make it less racist??

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is this makeup racist?

Wendy submits the following find from Sephora:

China Doll Foundation

Napoleon Perdis "China Doll Foundation" is described as "a lightweight, long wearing luxe formula that combines the benefits of a self-setting foundation and powder in one.  Designed for ample playtime before setting to a soft-velvet finish that takes you from perfect to precious."

I have no idea what that last phrase means.

Wendy writes,
Given the name, I was surprised that the packaging is not "Chinese red." It also doesn't use that Chinese take-out carton font, and I'm surprised by the lack of Chinese characters and/or dragons. So is it still racist?
This is an excellent question.  Do things get points for being less racist than one can imagine them being?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Is racist praise racist?

Um, yes.  Sheyda sent this story in a while ago, and I'm only now getting around to posting it, but it's still worth doing so.  The Huffington Post reports that two members of the GOP attracted criticism for their suggestion that Senator Jim DeMint watches over money "like a Jew":

The two South Carolina Republican chairmen who compared Sen. Jim DeMint to a penny-watching Jew have apologized for the remark. DeMint himself called it thoughtless and hurtful.

Ulmer, the Orangeburg County chairman, said the remark was "truly in admiration for a method of bettering one's lot in life" and he meant nothing derogatory.

Added Merwin, the Bamberg County chair: "I have always abhorred in the past, and shall continue to do so in the future, anti-Semitism in any form whatsoever. I ... beg that any and all who were offended will accept my deep felt apology."

* * * * *

Two South Carolina County Republican Party chairmen stepped up to rebut criticism of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in a newspaper editorial Sunday. But their defense of the senator might be overshadowed by their use of an anti-Semitic stereotype to praise him.

After a Democratic state senator wrote in The State that DeMint didn't bring enough money back home, Bamberg County GOP Chairman Edwin Merwin and Orangeburg County GOP Chairman James Ulmer responded that he was just looking after the nation's pennies -- like a Jew would.

"There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves," Ulmer and Merwin wrote in a joint letter published by The Times and Democrat. "By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation's pennies and trying to preserve our country's wealth and our economy's viability to give all an opportunity to succeed."

"It's people like Ulmer and Merwin that make many folks fear for the future of the once Grand Ole Party," wrote the conservative Palmetto Scoop.

Even if it's coming from a place of "admiration," it's really not okay, guys.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Racist or tacky?

Mariana writes:
is it racist to have a faux prehispanic destination wedding about 500 years AFTER prehispanic people were decimated after mexico was conquered???  or is it just tacky???

It is so hard to go right with destination weddings.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is United first class racist? reports that Armando Alvarez, vice president of Best Buy, had his first class upgrade revoked by a United Airlines agent at the gate because he was wearing a tracksuit:

MyFox Atlanta says that Best Buy vice president Armando Alavarez's first class upgrade was revoked last week, after the gate agent saw he was wearing a Puma running outfit. He said he frequently checks his suits and wears more comfortable clothes for the flight. You can see by the photo or the video clip below that his Puma running outfit was in excellent shape.

For those who don't want to watch the video (are you sure? you'll miss Alvarez talking about his Puma running outfit!), MyFox Atlanta says Alvarez wrote a letter to United to complain about having his upgrade revoked, but he hasn't heard back from them. The network says it contacted their customer service department three times but never heard back, either.

I have a hard time believing someone who looked like Paris Hilton would have faced the same shit.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Can the BNP not be racist?

Thanks to ever-vigilant Sheyda for the tip. The Guardian reports that the British National Party has just agreed to amend its constitution to allow non-white people to join:

The far-right British National party has agreed to change its constitution to allow non-white people to join, it emerged today.

The BNP confirmed it would consider changes to its rules and membership criteria after the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched county court proceedings against the party's leader, Nick Griffin, and two other party officials: Simon Darby and Tanya Jane Lumby.

Robin Allen QC, counsel for the commission, said Griffin had agreed to present members with a revised constitution at its general meeting next month.

He added that the party had agreed not to accept any new members until the new constitution was in place.

John Wadham, group director legal at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "We are pleased that the party has conceded this case and agreed to all of the commission's requirements. Political parties, like any other organisation are obliged to respect the law and not discriminate against people.

"It is unfortunate that the BNP spent several months before conceding and dealing properly with our legal requirements. We will be monitoring the BNP's compliance with this court order on membership, and its other legal obligations, including to its constituents."

The Central London county court heard Griffin would be given 10 days to submit a signed undertaking confirming the proposed changes.

Somehow, the fact that the BNP had to be legally forced to be less racist only makes it more racist, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is this guy racist against New York?

From Sheyda, via The Awl: An ad for this guy who's running for Governor of Virginia on the platform of "defending Virginia's freedom from whoever tries to take it away, even if it's the New York mayor and his cronies."  And by "cronies," he means those good ol' fashioned mamma mia mob bosses who are followed by the strains of trattoria background music everywhere they go.

Racist, or just idiotic?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is this dress code racist?

Amy B. asks if Fayetteville bar Willy D.'s official dress restrictions are racist:

Image084 by dinosaurhouse.

She also correctly takes issue with the use of Comic Sans in public signage.  But my question is this: "no towels"??  The only way I can possibly understand that prohibition is definitely racist.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Glenn Beck is racist, and he knows it.

Thanks to Tyrel for directing my attention to this outstanding clip of Katie Couric's recent interview with Glenn Beck, in which she asks him to clarify what he meant by "white culture" in his statement that "Barack Obama has a deep-seated hatred for white culture." As James Hibbard ingeniously points out, "The scene plays a bit like Steve Carell's Michael Scott in "The Office" when he's put on the spot about some over-the-top statement." No, really, it does.

Dear lord.

Is the BNP racist against American crayfish?

Sheyda calls our attention to this story from the Guardian on the British National Party's inflammatory contribution to the discourse on Britain's ecological crayfish problem.  After Guardian writer George Monbiot published a story about how the American red signal crayfish was wreaking havoc on the British aquatic ecosystem, BNP legal officer Lee John Barnes credited Monbiot on his blog, 21st Century British Nationalism, with lending a voice to the xenophobic cause.  Barnes writes:
The North American Crayfish is the Mike Tyson of crayfish.

It is a diseased, psychotic, evil, illegal immigrant colonist who displaces the indigenous crayfish, colonises their territory and then reproduces until it totally devastates the indigenous environment and indigenous crayfish.

I am saying nothing governor.

But theres a phrase of his that I believe should be the motto of the Eco-Xenophobes everywhere.

I intend to use it more and when I do I will accredit it to George Monbiot ;


Monbiot is understandably chagrined at being appropriated to the BNP cause; he comments, "Mr Barnes appears to be comparing the American red signal crayfish to human immigrants, whom he apparently wishes to put to death. 'I'm saying nothing governor' means: you know exactly what I'm saying, but if you do your worst I can't be held responsible."  Must those committed to the protection of native non-human species be concerned about their unwitting participation in "eco-xenophobia"?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Let the Halloween season begin! Is Colonel Sanders racist?

Specifically, Sheyda asks, is dressing your young, white child up as Colonel Sanders racist?  Exhibit A, courtesy of Serious Eats:

20090928-colonelsanderscostume.jpgSerious Eats writes, "Somehow a kid posed as a geriatric chicken icon is really adorable and not creepy at all in this scenario."  Even when the geriatric icon in question is also a symbol of Confederate patriarchal power?  Or about to, like, sacrifice that stuffed chicken to the cause of crispy goodness?  Mmmmm, fried chicken.  What was I saying?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Are virtual fortune cookies racist?

Alert reader Amy calls our attention to the new iPhone app LuckyFortune, flagged by Jennifer 8. Lee and Gawker.  Funvid Apps, the creator of LuckyFortune, says,

LuckyFortune is an inspiring app for you and your friends.  Simply shake your iPhone or iPod touch and you will soon be greeted with a message that will enlighten.

After you shake your device an actual Fortune Cookie will bounce around the screen until it ultimately breaks.  As the fortune is revealed a Chinese music jingle is played and a wise Chinese man delivers your fortune. 

This is a must have application if you enjoy uplifting themes, creative applications, or if you just like fortune cookies.

As the video demonstration shows, by "Chinese music jingle" they mean that ubiquitous "ching-chong Chinaman" motif, and by "wise Chinese man" they mean some computer geek half-assedly affecting a "Chinese-y" accent.  Uplifting...or racist?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is this sandwich racist?

Thanks to Sheyda for directing us to this vintage ad, via The Footnotes of Mad Men:

Oh dear. It looks as though Duck has gone native at the Jewish advertising firm. This is a campaign done by Very Important Ad Man Bill Bernbach of “Think Small” fame. It came out in 1970 but I could not possibly keep it from you! Let us nosh to celebrate the return of Duck!  (But let’s never forget about Chauncy.) 

Racist or not, I could totally go for a pastrami on rye right about now.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is Smokey the Bear Racist?

Thanks to Sheyda for sharing this post from Think Progress:

U.S. Forest Service warns against campers drinking Tecate beer, eating tortillas, and playing Spanish music.

smokeyThe Wonk Room reports that the US Forest Service issued and then retracted a Labor Day warning advising hikers to beware of campers in national forests speaking Spanish, drinking Tecate beer, eating tortillas, spam or tuna, and playing Spanish music because “they could be armed marijuana growers.” Polly Baca of the Colorado Latino Forum accused the U.S. Forest Service of racial profiling and said the warning is discriminatory. Julien Ross, Executive Director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, added:

All Coloradans, and in particular elected lawmakers, should restrain from blaming entire communities for the acts of a few individuals…lawmakers concerned about the drug trade would be better served focusing on lessening the demand for drugs in their local district than scapegoating immigrants.

Hank Kashdan, associate chief of the U.S. Forest Service, later apologized on behalf of his colleagues.

Oh, Smokey.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is this soda racist?

Via Google Reader sharebro Will:

The woman who says, " makes me uncomfortable," really nails the general "is it racist?" moment for me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is Mr. James racist?

Sheyda submits the following for our consideration, via Eat Me Daily:

McDonald's is running an ad campaign in Japan that uses Mr. James, a bumbling white guy who speaks broken katakana (i.e. accented) Japanese. Basically a gaijin, a derogatory term for a foreigner in Japan, he's even got his own blog while he tours McDonald's locations across Japan. People are upset because he's perpetuating racist stereotypes, and comparisons to Stepin Fetchit being made. Even stern letters are being written to McDonald's by FRANCA, a human rights group concerned with the rights of non-Japanese residents in Japan.

Here are a couple of commercials we dug up:

I don't really know enough about Japanese racial politics to know how offensive this is.  I mean, white guys are kind of lovably stupid, right?  (Kidding, kidding...kind of.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Is any image circulated by a "conservative activist" racist?

I mean, part of the point of asking the "Is It Racist?" question is to avoid such blanket accusations of hard-wired ideological ignorance.  But really, guys.  Sheyda submits the following, via TPM:

Apparently, "On Sunday night, Dr. David McKalip forwarded to fellow members of a Google listserv affiliated with the Tea Party movement the image below. Above it, he wrote: 'Funny stuff.'"  If by "funny," you mean "RACIST," then yes, Dr. McKalip, yes it is.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Is Photoshopped diversity racist?

As I'm moving to the greater Toronto area in exactly six days, I take a personal interest in the kinds of FUN available to Torontonians this summer.  Apparently, the city wants you to know that Fun in Toronto involves this black guy, who was photoshopped into the cover of the Toronto summer guidebook:


As astute reader Amy notes, he himself looks kind of uncomfortable with the whole thing.  Understandably, I'd say.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Is using the wrong racist stereotype racist?

Talking Points Memo has a piece on the National Review's weird cover depicting Sonia Sotomayor as a caricatured Buddhist monk.  As far as I'm concerned, depicting a Latina as an Oriental is just as confusedly racist as depicting a Puerto Rican as a Mexican piƱata.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Are "Africentric schools" racist?

Reader Jacqueline submits the following:

Toronto District School Board opens an Africentric elementary school.  Following months of debate, the TDSB decided Tuesday to go ahead with the controversial plan.  Macleans reports:
Amid the hoopla following Tuesday's decision, many questions remain about how such a program will address deep-rooted problems inside the TDSB, including the oft-cited statistic that 40 per cent of the city’s black students aren’t graduating (compared with roughly 25 per cent of students overall). Is a black-focused school—which would be open to students of all backgrounds, and draw heavily on African experience and knowledge—really the answer to these problems?
I'm honestly torn on this one, folks.  I mean, on the one hand, it's an imperfect solution to a serious problem—as are all desperate measures.  On the other, if I had kids, I'd kind of want to send them to this school.  I think it would make them awesome.