Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Turning 'race obsession' into a Science

For those who wish the discussion on race to quiet down, well that is not going to happen any time soon. We already know that Harvard University now has extensive studies on racism. And now we have the bias detective that has taken the discussion on race to a scientific level. Jennifer Richeson has been named one of 37 American young Innovators under 36 by Smithsonian.

Following is a tribute to her work from the same magazine;

How does prejudice affect people? Psychologist Jennifer Richeson is on the case
By David Berreby. Full article here;

Jennifer Richeson has a sweet tooth. She likes jelly beans—especially green jelly beans. "I could eat them ad nauseam—and I do," she tells her students in the "Stereotyping and Prejudice" course she teaches at Northwestern University. If she were to pick only one jelly bean from a pack, it would probably be green. But if she were to scoop up a handful, she wouldn't put the other colors back. "Because it's rude, and because it just doesn't seem right. It's called a variety pack for a reason."

Taking jelly beans one at a time, you can easily fail to realize that you favor a single color. See all your green selections at once, though, and it's obvious. The anecdote relates to what she tells her students: if you want to understand prejudice, don't look only at conscious thoughts and spoken words. Look at what people feel and do without realizing it.

That's where the action is in today's research on discrimination, and Richeson, 35, is at its forefront. A social psychologist, she peers into the unconscious world of race relations, using computers to measure microsecond differences in reaction times, for example, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at how the brain reacts to interracial encounters. The methods allow her to examine the "they aren't like us" feeling—which can be about gender, age, religion, language, sexual orientation or even obesity. Richeson works on race relations, she says, because "race is particularly marked" for Americans—that is, we pay a lot of attention to it. But her true subject is not a particular kind of identity, but identity in general.

Richeson's tests indicate that everyone has measurable, often unconscious, preferences for some social groups over others. For example, a computer-based procedure called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT, measures the fraction-of-a-second differences in how quickly people associate stereotypically "white" names (such as "Chip") with positive words like "heaven" versus how quickly they associate "black" names (such as "Jamaal") with the same words. Most white Americans, despite their conscious beliefs, are measurably faster to pair the white names with the positive words—and that holds true even for some African-Americans.

In other words, prejudice is not a trait, like baldness or brown eyes, that some have and some don't. Rather, it is a state of mind to which nobody is immune. Forty years ago social psychologists tried to figure out what made prejudiced people tick. Nowadays, Richeson says, they try to understand prejudice itself, which is a part of what makes all of us tick.

Aside from not recognizing our own prejudice, we often aren't aware of the extra work we do to cope with it. For example, Richeson and her collaborators recently used an fMRI scanner to capture images of brain activity in white student volunteers as they looked at photographs of black men. Two brain regions were unusually active: the right prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex, both of which are known to be hard at work when people have to evaluate and shape their own behavior—a process some psychologists call "executive function" and the rest of us might call "self-control."

The brain scans help explain why whites did less well on a puzzle (sorting words flashed on a computer screen) after a brief encounter with a black interviewer than whites who had a similar encounter with a white interviewer. Richeson and a colleague, J. Nicole Shelton, found that the more strongly biased the white volunteer appeared—according to the Implicit Association Test—the worse he or she did on the puzzle after being interviewed by a black person. (In a later study, the same held true for black students who interacted with white interviewers.)

The reason, Richeson posits, is the laudable desire not to look like a bigot. Faced with someone of another race, the heavily biased person devotes more mental effort to self-control—to behaving in an unbiased way. That effort, unconscious though it may be, leaves the white volunteer with less mental capacity for the test.

Richeson even found—counterintuitively—that whites who scored high on a measure of racial prejudice tended to get more favorable ratings from black research volunteers they talked to than whites who were actually less biased. She thinks this is probably because people with greater bias work harder to conquer it, and thus come across, to the African-American volunteers, as more careful and polite.
For Richeson, the subject of identity and its effects has fascinated her since childhood. She grew up in Baltimore, where her father was a businessman and her mother was a school principal. In her predominantly white elementary school, she was content to be an average student, in the shadow of her older brother, David.

In middle school, though, she encountered a new set of teachers and a more diverse student body, and she gained confidence in herself. "My IQ didn't change," Richeson says. "Yet my trajectory was completely different—from a C student to an A student." She cites her own story as an example of how situation affects self-perception, which in turn affects performance. She also had a racially mixed group of friends, and "having a truly diverse space, not a token space, was incredibly important," she says. "All of my friends, black and white and Jewish and Asian, we all felt like we belonged."

Though her schools were 80 percent black, she found that students taking advanced classes with her were disproportionately non-African-American—a fact that led her to become a student activist and aspiring politico (when she wasn't going to ballet classes, another childhood passion).

After high school, Richeson traded her ballet dreams for Brown University. "Again, a flip-around," she recalls: now she was one of only a few minority students. A course in the psychology of race, class and gender turned her focus from politics to psychology.

In graduate school at Harvard, one of the faculty members in her department had written a book claiming that blacks were, on average, less intelligent than whites. "I was like, ‘Oh, man, I don't belong here. Look, even some of my own professors say I don't belong here,'" she says. Still, she was determined to stick it out. "I worked liked hell the first year."

In her office after class, Richeson makes it clear she's still working like hell, planning more experiments and deciding how to use a 2006 MacArthur Foundation grant. Her energy is a potent mix of a scientist's passion to know and an activist's passion to change the world. "We talk in class about Jim Crow, and my students sometimes say ‘that was so long ago.' I tell them look, my mother couldn't try on clothes in a Baltimore department store. This isn't ancient history. People who lived this are still alive."

David Berreby is the author of Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind. He lives in Brooklyn.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Mrs.Omokorede The Pushy Mum from the Lenny Henry Show UK.


In Britain the black wars are between West Africans and West Indians mainly Jamaicans.

They are not quite as intense as in America and are rich fodder for humourists.

The West Indians are much more represented in the media and so take the opportunity to take the mickey out of the West Africans.

This character is Nathaniel the Accountant from West Africa, played by Felix Dexter a West Indian in the Comedy Sketch Show, The Real McCoy.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Proof that we are all human

South Korean lawmakers fight in parliament Friday Dec 14 07

It is no secret that IR blogosphere has become brawl ridden.
The most reputed site for online IR brawls is Caesar's Palace aka C1's blog.

The comments section normally starts out with comments on topic but due to, among other reasons, discussion fatigue and boredom, an idle and disorderly poster always comes up with something real or imaginarily offensive. Enter the anonymous posters armed to the teeth firing aimlessly. And so starts an online brawl that will last on average a week.
God knows what would happen if indeed these posters were in the same room. Some of us would not come out alive. And to think that some of those involved are on a different continent! Technology does indeed bring us together.

So in true online tradition, I am posting a clip showing our legislative brothers in South Korea do their thing when someone says something disagreeable.

You go boys!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

African American Idol

This is a hillarious take on what it means to be black in America.
It is comedy at its best.


Friday, January 18, 2008

A Father's Pride


Oh, how I feel this man's joy. Brenda Kiconco just passed with high honors her Primary Leaving Examinations, PLEs as they are known in former British colonies in East Africa. She scored a 4 in all 4 subjects Math, Science, Social studies and English. A distinction is 1 and a failure is a 9 and the rest are in between.

PLEs are the most important exam in this system of education because they map out your academic future. The grade you get determines whether you go to a first rate secondary school or a third world school meaning you will not get very far in life. These exams are taken at the end of one's primary schooling which happens to be at around age 12. At that point you are tested on everything you have been taught since you were 6. An unfair system in a way, because the kids are under such intense pressure to get it right the first time.

(On my part I was severely sick from a drug resistant malaria the whole year before the exams that happen in the month of November. I was lucky to survive and better yet pass the exams and made it to the top school. A pure miracle! Though not for the nuns that had to deal with me for the next four years.)

After one passes they go to the earned secondary school to do their O levels (ranging between 15-20 subjects) and after 4 years are severely tested again to determine which high school they go to. The high school one goes to ( where one specializes again in about 4 subjects) also determines whether you make it to University or not. In a country that is not wealthy, the only resource people have are their brains, so education is a ride or die matter.

I see Brenda's face and her supportive father and I am over joyed and hopeful for all those kids that made it this year.( She looks too young to be 12 though). She reminds me of kids I was in school with and she has the look of a very brilliant young girl and future leader. I am also guessing she is the top student in the country otherwise she wouldn't have made front page news in the dailies.

She most definitely is going to a top girls school where she will continue to thrive. I am guessing this particular one because she did her primary education in its junior version.

Over all there were surprises this year. The top schools in the country were previously third world schools, and previously unheard of. My own urban Primary that used to be top rated does not appear on the radar instead the village schools have taken over. (My own village was 4th in the country. A far cry from my parents generation when it used to be the #1 consistently).

This however is a good sign that strides in education are being made.

As for the dad, he now has bragging rights for the next 4 years at his local pub. A smart boozer would follow him around for the next month because he will be in a generous mood.

To Brenda Kiconco and all those that made the first grade, CONGRATULATIONS and may you continue to succeed in life.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Warning White Women About Black Women

A black man's view on BW dating IR.

I came across this guy a while back and found his views quite interesting on why BW are dating IR.
Considering that some of us in the IR Blogosphere are having some serious questions about our's and others' intentions, I think it would be quite enlightening to see the views of those outside of this community and if some of them hold merit.

So simply take it as food for thougt.
His website shows more of the type of person that he is. Whether you like him or not he does raise some interesting questions and assumptions.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


OK, this is a post about us, the chatterers. Apparently we have become the most undesirable group in IR blogoshere. We all know it started at C1's and now some bloggers in the IR environment are expressing concern about our unbecoming and embarrassing behaviour as it pertains to black women.

We are being equated to a gang that has sly ways of getting other posters to join our little evil group. Here s the list of accusations being slapped at us. We need to take time and contemplate on them:-

1) Already mentioned, we are embarrassing black women on an international stage that is the Internet.

2) We are not more than 19 years old. Other than Falone I don't know any one else that is under 21.

3) We use gang behavior and techniques on C1's blog to include or exclude people.

4) We are jealous of the popularity of some long standing successful IR bloggers. And are still very bitter over not accessing certain pay per read blogs.

5) We claim to be going to college.

6) Some of us are drooling over C1. (Falone own up!)

7) We have no money to afford weaves that is why we hate on those that wear them.

8) We talk about non related topics like Chicken. (OK, I am guilty)

9) Among us are spies of the pay per read blogs that spill info into open blogosphere ( I didn't know that the info in there was classified)

10) We are lesbians ( TBT are you? )
11) We are all Africans and hate AAs. ( Ok all you AA impostors, its time to come clean now. Yan I know which tribe you belong, no need to keep denying!)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

What is wrong with the weave?

I think it is actually her hair


At the encouragement of my dear friend Yan I am going the direction other bloggers are running from, Black Hair. ( thanks Yan, only a true friend could send some one on the path to hell).
Salutations aside, What is wrong with the weave ? In my humble opinion, everything. When I see the weave I see denial, lack of self acceptance, confusion and a crisis of identity. And oh yes, I have paid for voicing such scandalous opinions.
Many have come to the defence of the weave and have almost been convincing because their arguments are so eloquently formed. I will reprint some of the arguments presented on C1's blog to show you how far the weave madness can go, thereafter I will state my reasons why these arguments are just an advanced form of a yet to be studied abnormal mental state.

In defence of the weave #1
"To my undertsanding hairstyles or just hairstyles, but we carry the same face day in and day out and when that's being tampered with ( changing noses,lips, etc) YES something is trying to be achieved, but not changing hairstyles. That's stupid."

This argument discards history on how some hairstyles came about. In this history, women were trying to be less "African looking" and beginning to follow the white standard of beauty, way before the media came in. I have even heard some people being described as just having gotten off the boat. So is the present day hair style, just a hair style? Why divorce history from it?

In defence of the Weave #2
"Sometimes I feel maybe it's pro-black women like you who are really jealous of these women from other cultures and their hair, so when you see a black women with spanish wavy in her hair it strickes a nerve, is that what it is?? "

This was a clever and courageous attempt to turn the argument against those of us that hate the whole idea behind the weave. People of my persuasion recognize the beauty of the other races of women and are able to distinguish it from our own. Theirs is theirs not ours. Very simple. What the weave does whether we want to admit it or not is take a part of those women to 'enhance' the black woman. How self degrading is that? And if you are especially dark skinned and more "African looking" your appearance is quite dodgy and screams of self delusion not a confident black woman.
I don't intend to go into the details of the weave industry but as you all know, the black hair industry runs in the billions. That is, the blacks are spending the money and someone else is receiving it. Something is not right with that whole picture. Shouldn't black people be as concerned about the waste of such resources as they are of the oppressive system under which we live?

In defence of the Weave #3
"Afro-American/Caribbean women wear weaves as an accessory to play up their hair. It's no longer about conformity fueled by self-hate, from what I understand".
This is the unsure defence. So when did that transition happen, from wearing a weave as a result of self hate to wearing a weave simply as an accessory?
And after all these years people are still lamenting the effects of slavery but the hair issue was magically resolved. Maybe the weave wearers are onto something, they may teach the black community on how to get over the past and move on.

In defence of the weave #4

And here my friends we get to see the Johnnie Cochran effect on the pro weave side.
"And it seems that there are so many different definitions of what "natural" means. Some black people scream for other black folks to be "natural," but they're not natural themselves--and a long way from natural at that.
I have a very broad, less simplistic view of what "natural" means compared to many other folks. "Natural" is not an absolute concept to me. There are extenuating circumstances in most situations. I mean, how far do we want to go with this?"

Ah, the magical wonders of philosophy. So no doubt the weave is going no where. Meaning simply that long straight hair is a beauty ideal that will continually be pursued by black women. How sad! I would not have too much of a problem with it if the same women defending the weave did not complain about the European standard of beauty and hound the corporations for upholding it while themselves are slowly evolving themselves into it. The hypocrisy!

My hair history goes way back to Africa. And yes I believe every little African girl that gets bombarded by the Western image wishes to have long straight hair. The images of white women flicking their hair has a universally appreciated appeal. I don't know why, may be its just the nature of things that at first sight or encounter, the white woman is easy on the eyes. And yes, even for young African girls they sense the different kind of femininity and through out their youth some (especially in urban areas) will adjust themselves to that image.
Because it is in contrast with traditional cultures the older generations will beat this aspiration out of them by reminding them that they are African and will never be white. Thus it doesn't take a young woman very long to accept what God gave them. I attribute this final acceptance to the fact that one can not continue to aspire to be something else in a cultural setting that disregards foreign values.
It also helps that whiteness is demystified by travelled Africans that come and reinforce the importance of traditional values over western values.
Before travelling to the west the average African too suffers from the "all white is right" mentality. On arrival in a western country that perception is almost immediately reversed due to the exposure to vices like racism among other things. Cultural pride instantly kicks in and thus the rejection of many things western that are in conflict with one's culture. ( Note, this applies to Africans with brains).

So going back to the weave, the genesis of the weave definitely has to do with aspiring to the euro standard of beauty and as some are trying to convince us (unsuccessfully), this is supposedly no longer the case today.
In my opinion I would imagine that many BW with in their life time would eventually get over the western image of beauty and embrace their natural selves. And the first thing one gets rid of should be the WEAVE! (This may be a naive expectation considering the dominant images out there). The only people excusable for wearing the weave are the models who are basically just canvas for the fashion industry. At least they are making money wearing the ridiculous things.
My conclusion on this whole 'to weave or not to weave' debate is that as black women we are all affected by euro femininity regardless of origins. Should we be looking to it to define our own woman hood? I say not.
And finally, isn't it possible too that weaves help reinforce white supremacy the same way in which black men dating white women does?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The History of Chicken talk

Alright! I have attempted to put together a brief history of the chicken talk that brought chaos in the IRR blogging world on C1's blog. So many people have been asking about it and since they were not following the events at C1's blog I have put together the first posts in which the chicken talk started inorder to give all those asking questions an idea.
The whole post can be found here:

After reading the post and some previous ones I realized that in the prior posts there was a series of wars among which where black wars, AA women Vs Foreign Black women. I now realize that chicken talk was born out of battle fatigue. Its Ironic because the alternative route taken ended up causing the current Chicken Wars that have seen even more serious casualties than the black wars among whom is the famous blogger C1.

Following are a few excerpts
nana said...
....was going to share my own african 'village' story, but then again I guess we have one to many offenders, eeh?? ;-)to the two villagers - grata and soila :-)...when are you guys going to get it??...not EVERYONE comes from the village you know!! :-)..keep the stories to yourselves...eish, these africans ;-)
Grata said...
Eeeeh! Nana,Which village are you from?
Tell me, did you ever have to chase the chicken for dinner especially when you had an important guest?

Anonymous said...
yan said:Mmmmmmmmm sounds like you are miffed that people are not talking about what YOU want to read about. Please try getting over yourself, dear.December 5, 2007 5:19 PM

Likewise dear. I just don't find it too interesting to read people's back and forth hook up banter. Like a teen chat site or something. Be grown men and women and get each others e-mail addys if you're really interested. I'm interested in African life generally but Some of the mzungu stuff got to be a bit repetative after awhile. People should know when to take it to email or chat is all I'm saying.I guess I'll have to spring the bucks for Evia's blog. Bye.

Grata said...
"People should know when to take it to email or chat is all I'm saying.I guess I'll have to spring the bucks for Evia's blog. Bye".We will miss you.

Soila go catch the chicken to give to our guest to take home.
Grata sd:
Soila go catch the chicken to give to our guest to take home.

Soila. said...
OMG, You are an absolute bloody fool!!! I cant deal with your level of madness!! Someone dropped you on your head as a child or it's all those gunpoints you were held @ taking toll on you....I laughed so much @ that one, I almost pee'd my pants.Should I put it in a plastic bag or should I put it in a carton and make holes for it so be able to breathe???
Soila said:
Should I put it in a plastic bag or should I put it in a carton and make holes for it so be able to breathe???
brett said:
don't forget to tie its legs together! And anyone who can't wring its neck isn't getting any dinner

Anonymous said...
The I.Q of this blog has dropped significantly. It's become a place for black American women to be put on the defensive and the west indian/african/haitian contingent has taken over. It's no wonder wm hardly give us a second look. Look no further than the immature tone of this blog and you'll cease wondering. Seems as though even TBT has been run off by you.

Anon sd:
The I.Q of this blog has dropped significantly. It's become a place for black American women to be put on the defensive and the west indian/african/haitian contingent has taken over. It's no wonder wm hardly give us a second look.
Soila. said...
@ Anon, Quit starting crap. You need to chill coz your brain is over thinking matters. Are you trying to imply Haitians, WI's and African women are not welcome to comment on this blog?? GET IT TOGETHER!!! Quit being a hater to the love going on here. We all love one another regardless of the heated arguments so if you don’t like it, WALK!!!You just need to relax and give your brains a break coz you obviously aint thinking of anything positive. Think good thoughts and it shall be well with you. Now, go in peace my dear :-)BTW Anon, Haiti is a COUNTRY and West Indies is a group of many ISLANDS!!!@ Brett, Yebo! Ninjani?Yes of course dear I won’t forget to tie the legs together LOL... That's not fair, I can’t wring chicken’s neck. I have to have some dinner. I am part of the family too....Salakahle

@ Yan, you can’t keep the goat as a pet. That's the dinner we are going to cook for you when you come down by the bush! Grata will provide a monkey (herself) for you to keep as a pet and be reminded of the Motherland whenever you look @ it!Grata don’t chew me up! You know we are considered monkeys and are only too happy to accept names that we are given.
Soila said...
"OMG, You are an absolute bloody fool!!! I cant deal with your level of madness!! Someone dropped you on your head as a child or it's all those gunpoints you were held @ taking toll on you....

Grata said...

"Oh Soila,How did you know?. It was my sister. She hated carrying me on her back. One day she was forced to, unfortunately for me, then the most meal resistant chicken passed her. She had a choice, to stay put or chase the chicken. In that pursuit she could not keep both of us, she chose the chicken and to the hard ground I fell. My head still hurts.

Grata said:
Eeeh BBuretti! Is that what you do in SA?

Brett said:
No, sis' Grata, I am causing unnecessary confusion, only thieves do that! Rightful owners generally use a sharp implement, which is more humane and definitely more functional .... no offence to non-animal eaters here, please be cool, this is a technical issue ... (who will I offend next I wonder, perhaps I'll post some total silence on why I like BW, will that be acceptable?).
So I am assuming the get-together is happening sometime in 2008, right? I will have to persuade certain parties to sober up before we can muster a decent band, something to work towards anyway...
Anon said...
It must be easier to delude yourselves that there's only one "Anonymous" than to believe the deliberately ongoing & scatterbrained chicken, goat & monkey conversations which now pass for commentary are out of place. Carry on driving away new readers to Classical One's great blog; I sure he appreciates it even if he doesn't say so.

Yan said...
Get your blog on TV and all of a sudden you have folks showing up finna to run sh*t!As soon as you get yourself a name, perhaps we will believe there is more than one of you, anonymous. Soila, I think you need to get to work with that chicken b/c it is running around like it's lost its head and posting on this blog!

Yan sd:
As soon as you get yourself a name, perhaps we will believe there is more than one of you, anonymous. Soila, I think you need to get to work with that chicken b/c it is running around like it's lost its head and posting on this blog!

Soila. said...
@ Yan, hehe hehe... I have actually seen a chicken run around headless. It's the scariest thing ever!!! Picture it in your head…I am on the chicken though. You, Grata and Brett need to relax... These lil' fuckers can run and flap their wings you know!

Yan said...
Soila, Grata, NottingHillChick,LMBAO!!! If the chicken is still flapping about he/she must be in the death throes now!