Tag Archives: culture

Commentary on the Oscars: Diversity in Film 2014

23 Feb

Guest Post by Jonathan Scott Chee

Looking through the nominations for this year’s Oscars, you’d be forgiven for thinking Hollywood had outsourced the entire American film industry to some parallel universe, populated almost entirely by white men.

The Oscars have long been a biting reminder of just how ubiquitously white the film industry truly is, but is the Academy itself purposefully excluding non-white artists, or are they simply taking their pick from an already white-dominated industry?

Analysis of the top grossing films of 2014 paints a troubling picture of exclusion and underrepresentation. People of colour and women make up a woefully small percentage of the principal cast, and behind the cameras white men also make up the vast majority of directors and screenwriters.

As alarming as the statistics in the infographic may be, they fail to tackle an important, yet subtle, element of the structural inequality within the film industry: the kind of roles minority actors and women get. While people of colour may only make up 16% of the total cast of 2014’s biggest blockbusters, they end up playing similar characters time and again: the sassy black sidekick, the tough-yet-warm-hearted convict, the swag drug dealer, the goofy immigrant with a hilariously poor grasp of the English language, the math nerd virgin – these are the roles our minority ethnic actors are relegated to, rarely getting to tackle a role with real depth and therefore rarely getting the opportunity to showcase their talents.

For women, too, the story is much the same – a blockbuster film led by a female protagonist is still very much an anomaly in movie theatres. Worryingly, the industry seems to be becoming even more exclusionary over time, with fewer women than ever involved both in front of, and behind, the camera.

For women of colour, the outlook gets even bleaker as they made up just 3% of all the speaking roles in 2014’s biggest blockbusters. Once again, this statistic doesn’t quite paint the full picture, as that 3% is overwhelmingly made up of black, or mixed race black/white women. If you are an East Asian woman, roles outside of the sultry, accented “dragon lady” or “comedy immigrant” are practically non-existent. South Asian actresses hunting for work in Hollywood may as well be hunting unicorns.

The effects of Hollywood white-washing go far beyond out of work actors, however. As people of colour, our children grow up in an environment where they see no reflection of themselves in mainstream culture. Personally, I don’t want my children to grow up in a society where the only representation of themselves they see on screen are as nerds, sultry objects of white male fetishism or kung-fu geniuses, because as much as art may attempt to represent reality, conversely, it’s clear that it works to shape perceptions of it as well.

Sisters Talking Back (Challenging Dominant Narratives)

23 Jun

Sisters of Resistance have recently read some powerful sisters talking back, challenging racist, sexist stereotypes of the dominant white male power structure. 


Lauryn Hill has spoken back against the poisonous nature of the music industry in a powerful statement available here.

Erykah Badu has directly addressed those who seek to badmouth her because of her third child here. 

Lastly, this in depth article analyses “respectability politics” and how they can be oppressive for black women in particular, making reference to the racist film The Help and Erykah Badu. 

El Dia – Pilipina Poems

23 Feb

El Dia of the Sisters of Resistance today published a collection of her poetry, entitled PilipinaPoems. Written during or after extended stays in her family home in Manila, Philippines, the poems are socio-economic and political commentaries on the neo-colonial situation of the Philippines and Filipino/as worldwide.  The collection is both record and reflection of her evolution as a Filipina-Amerikan writer and cultural activist, and a map of her path to decolonization. She presents it in solidarity with the Global South and diasporic peoples across the globe fighting for social, economic, and spiritual liberation.

Click to download

Getting Ready for V-Day

10 Feb

Sisters of Resistance held an art-making workshop tonight to prep for our V-Day campaign, to be  launched citywide on February 13th with the intention of subverting the commercialized, hetero/sexist and hypersexualized institution that is Valentine’s Day. We created feminist street art celebrating respect, consent and the female body, joining feminists worldwide in calling for the smashing of patriarchy and an end to violence against women.

Some samples of this evening’s work:

Some other slogans we came up with but didn’t show here:




and of course (we don’t take credit for this one):

If you’re inspired, grab some printer labels and permanent markers, organize a team if you can and get a local campaign going in your area. Feel free to use any of our slogans or come up with your own.

got some colored sharpies, oh yeah

Check out more art of cultural resistance here, and leave your thoughts about Valentine’s Day in the comments!

Why White People Talk Shit about “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”

16 Jan

“Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls,” parts 1 and 2, by actress and comedian Franchesca Ramsey are recently released YouTube parodies of the “Shit Girls Say” series that have gone viral. Predictably, the videos are causing an uproar amongst white people attacking what they see as Ramsey’s “racism”, when in fact what she is doing is illustrating, in no uncertain terms, some of the many ways racism continues to be inflicted on people of color.

Sisters of Resistance read an excellent article over at New Black Woman critiquing these kinds of responses, some of which we would like to share with you here. In it, she explains why white people have reacted so vehemently to what Ramsey has brought to the surface with her videos, which are the”microaggressive” forms of racism experienced by people of color on a daily basis. She also reminds those who took offense of the historical and structural context that makes it impossible for Black people and other people of color to commit racism against white people. We encourage you to read the whole article for its insightful analysis.

And for further info on the topic, check out this article by Jamilah King, over at one of our favorite anti-racist news sources, Colorlines.com, and hear what Franchesca Ramsey herself had to say about the reactions.

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