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On Yellow Face, Racial Parody, and White Denial

The fight over the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society production of The Mikado, that just closed it’s summer run, has been noisy and contentious. So noisy and contentious that it earned a special segment on the MSNBC show, Melissa Harris-Perry, this past weekend.

What’s all the noise about? Yellow face. Yellow face refers to a form of racist caricature wherein non-Asian actors wear stereotypically Asian costumes and styles, and speak in ridiculous accents for laughs. Yellow face is the anti-Asian version of black face.

The controversy went wide when Seattle Times columnist Sharon Pian Chan went after the …

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Why “Racist” Is Such a Powerful Word

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the term “racist.” Cognitive psychologists, political pollsters, and communications consultants have weighed in about how to talk about racism and advance an equity agenda while not alienating white people by labeling them racists.  Many advise never using the term to describe people, instead suggesting we only criticize actions. Some have gone so far as to argue against using terms like racism and racist at all, calling it a losing strategy and directing us to focus on actions and outcomes that result in unintentional inequities instead.

All of that is …

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Why “Redistribution” is a Dirty Word to Republicans

Sorry, I couldn’t resist this bit of right wing propaganda. I wish this was an indication that they’re totally out of touch, but, alas, no. In fact, they’re just about in touch with control of the presidency and both houses of Congress.

“Redistributionist,” according to Merriam-Webster, is a term coined in 1961 specifically to refer to one who believes in or advocates a welfare state. If that resource is accurate, then being a redistributionist means being exactly the sort of person who conservatives have no use for.

But, the question remains, why does the term seem to have special power …

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Dog Whistle Racism

Liberal pundits are buzzing over Mitt Romney’s latest strategy of playing the old, “I know you are, but what am I?” game. In response to criticism that he’s too out of touch, not to mention odd, to relate to working class voters, Romney is accusing President Obama of being “out of touch.

Romney has even gone so far as to suggest that the President spent too many years (three) at Harvard, Romney’s own alma mater (which, BTW, he attended for four years), sharpening the point being made by other Republican candidates in the race that Obama …