Disclaimer/Important Things to Keep in Mind
Let us start things off with the basics:
Ethnic Notions (video): A truly classic and fundamental documentary on the development of stereotypes of African Americans and the problems that arise from it. Brings up several good points on black face and modern uses of these stereotypes. The ideas brought up in this documentary are universal for other stereotypes and media representations of all people of color.
The Soul of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois (online book): More specifically, the first two sections, but the rest of the book bring up very important issues. This serves as the most fundamental written analysis and description of the problems facing African Americans and the development of white privelege within the “Us v. them” mentality. Concepts such as “double consciousness” are very closely integrated with African American history, but can be found in common with other American people of color.
White Like Me by Tim Wise (book): Also, everything by Tim Wise are excellent reads on racism and white privilege. This book specifically is about his personal experience with racism and white privilege and is an essential read for anyone, white or not, to begin understanding these themes.
The Problem with Colorblindness (online article): This Racebending essay written by a guest contributor is one of the most simplified written sources to discuss colorblindness.
What is Racebending? (online article): This is a great general overview of “racebending” and “whitewashing” and why race is such a complicated issue in American media.
“Whitewashing, a Hisotry” by Aasif Mandvi (online article): One of the most important and essential articles you need to read to even begin understanding white washing itself. It starts off as a satire in the true The Daily Show style, but goes into a slideshow of historical examples of whitewashing.
More Specific Things
Colorblind by Tim Wise (book): This book unravels the myths regarding “colorblindness” and how that mindset actually causes more racial problems in society than they solve.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (book): This book really evalauted the development of systematic racism after the end of the Civil Rights Movement. This specifically focuses on the criminal justice system and mass incarceration. An excellent read for anyone wanting to learn how African Americans still suffer from racism within our government’s systems.
The History of Yellowface (online article): A very interesting read on how Yellowface has evolved and continues to be a problem in modern media when portraying Asian characters.
Reel Bad Arabs (video) Based off of the book, this documentary takes an concise look at stereotypes about Arabs and how they have influenced our media, our politics, and our society. From discussing the problems in Aladdin, which was meant to be a positive representation of Arabs, to the demonizing of Palestinians, this is an excellent overview of the harmful stereotypes that have been in place both before 9/11 and after.
Orientalism by Edward W. Said (book): More specifically the Introduction, which can be found online. The book itself is a very in-depth historical look at the relationship between the west and the “Orient.” Reading the Introduction gives a very good overview on how “Orientalism” is was created and why it is problematic. This is one of the key books in understanding the Middle East and the West’s relationship with it.
This Tumblr post on how Anime-style characters are almost never white. I am including this for one main purpose, so that people understand that anime and shows based off of the anime-style of animation do not reflect white characters. Period. End of story.
Important Fictional Works (Mostly dealing with African Americans)
Quicksand by Nella Larsen:This is a very good fictional work that I find to be a real testament to the problems facing biracial/mixed race Americans, spefically biracial African American women. In order to even begin to understand the unique and complex problems facing biracial and mixed raced Americans, you need to understand the complete seclusion from all cultures that they feel. This book represents that feeling of loneliness and seclusion from both white and black cultures for the heroine of this story.
Anything by Alice Walker, specifically In Search of Our Mother’s Garden, which is one of the most beautiful pieces ever written. No one better portrays the lives of African American women than Alice Walker.
I also recommend looking up poetry written during the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts movement because they provide a varied look at the lives of African Americans.
General Helpful Sources and Links
- Racebending: Their website and their tumblr are very good, easy to read sources for understanding whitewashing and race problems. They provide excellent summaries on the history of certain topics as well as discussing problems within the media.TheirHistory and Conceptspage is extremely helpful and informative.
- Racelicious: A very nicely done blog about media and pop culture, seen through the lens of people of color.
- Feminist Frequency: This is not a race-related blog as stated by the title. However, she does frequently discuss race in her evaluation of women in media and pop culture, especially talking about women of color and major racial controversies. I recommend her to anyone interested in learning more about sexism in the media.
- Aang Ain’t White: One of the first blogs that got me into studying about race and whitewashing in the media. It really headstarted the whole “racebending” movement after the casting problems of The Last Airbender movie.
- Katniss Is Olive-Skin, Deal With It: This tumblr is dedicated to the race problems with the The Hunger Games film series and its relation to the racial themes presented in the original books. I recommend this tumblr because it really does an excellent job of providing information and commentary on the problems in The Hunger Games casting and what that means for Hollywood in general.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. I encourage you to keep reading and keep studying about all these themes.
If you have suggestions or additions, then feel free to add them or message me about them.
An excellent primer.