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This Week in Racism

Is This Casting Call for the NWA Biopic Actually Racist?

A casting call for the upcoming NWA biopic, Straight Outta Compton, has people riled up due to its favoring of light-skinned black actresses over darker skinned blacks. Why is light skin still seen as somehow better?
July 18, 2014, 6:36pm

Welcome to another edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking news stories on a scale of one to RACIST, with “one” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.

–The upcoming NWA biopic—cleverly titled Straight Outta Compton—is one of the most hotly anticipated film releases of the next year in the black community. NWA is a seminal group in hip-hop history, and exposed the overwhelming tension between LA's black underclass and the police, which would eventually come to a head in the 1992 Rodney King riot. The story of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella, and Eazy E is one that is intrinsically linked with racial animosity and mistrust. It's a uniquely black story about black cultural icons. That's why a recently released casting call for black female actors caused such a disturbance this week.


The casting call is broken up into four distinct types, or levels of perceived beauty. Being light-skinned is preferred, and synonymous with attractiveness. The lowest group requires women to be darker, and specifically, "poor, not in good shape." I think it's safe to say that the casting office that prepared this call was not intending to be prejudiced. That said, it illuminates a very complicated, rarely discussed issue within the black community: the lighter your skin, the more capable you are of being accepted into the upper classes. Alternatively, dark skin is associated with poverty and ignorance. It's telling that Beyonce is referenced as an avatar for black female sexuality, because she's been dogged by controversy over her skin seemingly getting lighter for the past few years.

The perception is that the lighter you are, the more you can assimilate into the white ruling class. This isn't just an African-American problem, either. This goes on in India, Mexico, and Japan too. The light-skinned "ideal" dominates pop culture in these countries. Models, actors, TV personalities, and politicians overwhelmly tend to be lighter. Ultimately, Straight Outta Compton is a film about real people and real situations, and that world discriminates against dark-skinned people. Instead of specifically targeting this film, ask yourself why this scenario even exists in the first place.

–The Ku Klux Klan knows that in the 21st century, marketing has to be truly be clever in order to be successful. It's not enough to just burn a cross or shout racial slurs into a bullhorn. This is the era of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Grindr, and countless other networking tools. What newfangled techniques are the Klan using to get their message across to impressionable white youth? Candy, of course. Delicious, sweet candy. This is apparently an initiative designed to soften the image of the Klan, whose reputation suffered when they publically announced their hatred of just about everyone who isn't white. It's been a tough 200 years for the KKK, folks. Hopefully, a chocolate bar will help you forget.

Robert Jones, who holds the prestigious office of "Imperial Klaliff of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan," (try fitting that on a standard-sized business card) told VICE News, "It’s one of our recruitment techniques, and it’s also to let everyone know that the Klan is still out there and still active." This reminds me of going to my grandma's house for the weekend. She'll jabber on about how she's "not dead yet" or something, and then placate me with a Werther's Original when my blood sugar starts to get too low. That might be a good slogan for the KKK, actually: "The Ku Klux Klan—Kinda Like Your Grandma, But Racist." RACIST

–The co-creator of a new Canadian sitcom put his weiner in the chow mein when he decided to tweet a few clumsy jokes about Chinese people during a flight from Los Angeles to Calgary. Brent Piaskoski, executive producer of CTV's Spun Out, starring Dave Foley, tweeted the above in what he subsequently called a "hasty attempt to be funny."

I know when I'm desperate to tweet something funny (because, you know, if you aren't tweeting every two to three minutes, you might DIE), I immediately go for the "Chinaman" material. My grandma loves that stuff! Piaskoski deleted the tweets, but not before the intrepid folks at the Toronto Star screencapped his "jokes." On the bright side for Piaskoski, America now knows he exists. 8


The Most Racist Tweets of the Week:

Some faggot ass dune coon hacked my debit card and bought 8k worth of fucking air line tickets !!!

— the legend (@JonnyHuck69) July 17, 2014

Why do people shop at nigger garage sales? To get all there stuff back

— niggers jokes (@niggers___suck) July 18, 2014


— Niko the Don (@Niko1Don) July 18, 2014

Keep fucking staring at me you fucking sand nigger! Watch what fucking happens!!

— david henderson (@D_henderson24) July 15, 2014

Fucking grass cutting ass Wetback ass Messican ass Taco Bell ass Mexicans MAKING ALL THIS DAMN NOISE

— Tone Reigns (@FatherTone) July 17, 2014

Follow Dave Schilling on Twitter.