Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beauty is in the eyes of the witchdoctor and the state.

Tonight I am thinking about Tanzanian Albinos and little Chinese children. What do the two have in common you ask? Well, it's all about "lookism". Yes my friends, in our visual obsessed world (sorry Stevie) you better have the look.

In Tanzania, Albinos are being stalked and killed for their body parts by witchdoctors. And in China, a cute little girl was dissed and her voice used for a cuter little girl, (or so they think) because,to the folks in China, she wasn't cute enough. (There is something really fucked up about that culture over there)

Why kill the Albinos? Well, because of how they look, that's why. I guess we could call this an extreme type of discrimination based on looks. No matter how fucked up things get here in A-merry-ca, I really don't think that really dark people stand the risk of getting shot to death because they are dark.....or, wait...okay, I take that back. Well at least they wouldn't get shot to death by witchdoctors.

The shit that happened in China is troubling and sad. Apparently the cute little girl who actually sang the song, "Ode To The Motherland" (That title alone should tell you something), wasn't cute enough, so they had another girl lip sync the song. (See what you started Milli Vanilli?). I always thought there was something really creepy about that society. Which is why--- even though I will be watching my "yawdies" when they hit the track-- I am not feeling these games. Pretending that all is honey roses in one of the most repressive societies on earth just reeks of hypocrisy to me. And let's not forget about their Darfur problem. Maybe this is why I didn't get too mad at the Spanish Basketball team for their little photo stunt. I know, I know, it was racist, and if someone had done that to some black folks, blah blah blah. The field is not worthy. Besides, what they did strikes me more as "lookism" than racism. The Spanish basketball team have no control or power over the Chinese; so a dumb case of "lookism" maybe; but not racism. But field, you are such a hypocrite, weren't you all over Don Imus because of what he said about the Rutgers women? Wasn't that just a case of "lookism"? What kind of power did he have over their lives? That's a fair point. But some things can't be explained. Maybe I felt that with all his power and influence, Imus had the potential to turn average A-merry-cans into witchdoctors. Or average police officer into wrong look exterminators.

But in the end; "lookism" only becomes a problem when it leads to racism or real discrimination down the line. See the Jews in Hitler's Germany; black folks in Reagan's A-merry-ca; or the poor Albinos in Tanzania.


? said...

Well Field, when your the biggest ally of North Korea, chances are your gonna be pulling some 1936 Olympics type of stuff. The Chinese people are by no means terrible people but they are saddled with one of the worst governments on Earth and that includes our current regime.

Anonymous said...

Hey Field, Enjoyed listening to you and the other guests on NPR's bloggers' roundtable.

Anonymous said...

There was a story in NPR several weeks about the albinos and how witch doctors were killing them for their bodies and what other superstitious belief have about albinos. That is horrible.

Now the story in China about them substituting the singing little girl for another who was more attractive is not necessarily a tragedy, but the question becomes we really in the position of calling China shallow. Aren't we the pot calling the kettle black, no pun intended. There is a reality that appearance is important. No one will hire me if I walk into the office wearing my PJs, it gives the impression that I am sloppy and possibly lazy. However, that is different than saying someone is not physically attractive. Personally, I didn't think the little girl was ugly and it's just terrible to treat child in that manner. Now she going be self-conscious about her looks and that will have impact on her self-confidence.

However, we do some very strange things in the US when it comes to looks. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who did not think that Morgan Freeman isn't handsome because he's old and has beard and mustache. She also doesn't believe that Michelle Obama is not beautiful and hated some hairstyle that had a little flip curl to it. My friend is obsessive with other people's appearance. She doesn't think older women should have long hair when it really depends on the shape of the woman's face than age and I think has something to do with jealousy because suffers from pattern baldness and doesn't have any hair. I want to say to her, but you do not have any hair, so why we are even having this discussion. However, that would rude and hurt her feelings. I just need to figure out way of saying that you do not exactly a beauty queen, but that is okay. I'm on the fence with this one because we all have value judgements about physical appearance, intelligently it's not a good thing, but let's face I wouldn't want to be seen with Flava Fav and no one else either man or woman.

NSangoma said...

epicanthic folds ... it is normal for the majority of certain people of African descent (ex. the Khoisan and the Dinka) as well as Asian descended peoples (particularly East and Southeast Asians) to express this trait.

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Anonymous said...

Albinos are not being killed because of the way they look- though the way they look makes them easy to spot. They are being killed because of the belief that their lack of color translates to a concentration of power. Also, note that albinos (like in the Matrix,) are used as "powerful evil" or symbols of mystical evil. Many cultures used that to explain the differences at birth- that's why they were put to death.

This isn't lookism. It is ableism.

The tacky girl switch in China is nothing new. As Americans, let's be honest- how many "ugly" girls get to have their own TV show or time to shine?

Let's not be so hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

Well call me shallow, but the lip synching girl is a lot cuter. The Chinese know what they are doing. As for Albinos--they are really creepy, but don't deserve to be harmed. But they really are creepy looking.

field negro said...

annon 9:42PM, thanks for the kind words. I actually got to the studio right before they went on the air. They weren't pleased. I am not sure if the NPR folks will have me back :)

"The Chinese people are by no means terrible people but they are saddled with one of the worst governments on Earth and that includes our current regime."

Classical one, I co-sign with that.

"but let's face I wouldn't want to be seen with Flava Fav ...

hennasplace, aren't you practicing "lookism"?....ahh hell, it's FLAV. You get a pass with this one :)

evita and hennasplace, let's be clear; I agree with you both that we do the very same thing that the Chinese are guilty of. If you read my post again, I was trying to say that in my own way. I guess I wasn't very clear. But yes, we are a very looks conscious ourselves here in A-merry-ca.

"Albinos are not being killed because of the way they look- though the way they look makes them easy to spot."

Thus they are killed because of the way they look no? I guess this is what we call circular reasoning.

neil, I got you, and thanks for linking me.

Jody said...

Any barrier that prevents us from seeing the fullness of any human being needs to be checked....

Truth is, by limiting relations with the "other" whoever that "other" may be, only makes our own world smaller and less interesting.

I tend to be cynical whenever I hear anyone describe a whole group of people as anything.... and I think there is so much I dont know about the Chinese people, so I would not ascribe any trait to a country of millions.

Governments use the propoganda of the "Other" to prepare for war. All of the sudden, "they" are less than human and their leaders become "evil," "monsters" etc. so that it makes killing them easier.

Government policies often are not a reflection of the people's will. We, here in the good ol USA should know that better than anyone.


Hey there Field Negro!

We have to be mindful of the fact that "the Darfur problem" is OUR problem... just start tracing which corporations are profiting from the massacre...a lot of that green trail of money points BACK to the good ole U.S. of A....the country that never exploits any nations ( least THAT is what they want their citizens to believe)!!

And we have to be careful not to call acts of racism...acts of lookism...

There are some comments that are made (Imus' for example) because they are BLACK women...not because they were unattractive women.

He called them "nappy headed hoes" and THAT references their hair texture and connects them to being prostitutes.

That is hardly LOOKISM, my friend.

And this country is no LESS obsessed with looks than China...

May I ask a question? Which country has the largest cosmetic surgery industry in the ENTIRE WORLD??

bzzzzzzzzzz... time's up!

It "ain't" China, my friend.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!


Hey FN,

Hey wait a sec...where's the link on your blog to the NPR show??

I demand a refund!! Oh...that's right...I didn't pay to get in here! *LOL*


Grata said...

This albino problem is big in South Africa. There are mythical beliefs and real albino phobias in many African cultures.

Field, have you been following the the whole Chinese gov't order to Chinese bars not to serve blacks and Mongolians?

Anonymous said...


Actually, you did make it clear and it's fault my for skimming your post and forgot that you wrote that last paragraph. I was having a senior memory and self-absorbed in my own thoughts.

szechuanpork said...

The spain angle was really weak. It's hard to not find real hooligans in Europe, not sure these guys are.

szechuanpork said...

Do you have a good news source for the Darfur comment? Trumpet? Not doubting you at all, just curious. I thought the US was pursuing UN action and was stopped by China and Middle East interests.

rainywalker said...

There is no reason to kill people of any race, or disability for sport, fun or power. You kill people because they are your enemy.

Anonymous said...

Hey FN,

You should read up on Francis Cress Welsing and her work on the origins of racism. It is truly profound work.

In a nutshell, her theory is it was based on color. Since genetically whites cannot have a black child but blacks can have a white child... albinos.

And historically in Africa, those children were banished after reaching a certain age and forced north. they kept being pushed farther and farther north until they ended up in the Caucasus Mountains. And swore to get even. Ta-Da!

Anonymous said...

Hi Field,
Long time reader, first time to comment- I really enjoy the blog.
The Spanish Team-I think it is racism, because they do have immigrants and people of asian decent living in Spain- so it's not like they are just making fun of/percecuting the country of China, they are making fun of/othering their countrymen also for looking different than the "norm".
They also have been known to throw bananas and make monkey noises (YUCK I HATE TYPING THAT) at black soccer players on visiting teams.
And Spaniards claim to not understand why there is anything wrong with it.

Anonymous said...

I find it very irritating when people want to give an opposing view of a comment by asking for a link instead of DOING THEIR OWN RESEARCH. Do a basic Google search of Darfur, oil, wood, cobalt, gold etc and look up public records of companies that trade. It's there. And yes let's not trivialize racist and sexist comments by using pretty terms that detract from the ugliness. What I would like to know is how much money has the US gov't borrowed from the Chinese? What percentage of this country is owned by foreign gov'ts and multi-national corporations?

Anonymous said...

Field -
interesting questions raised. I think it's of course sad and disturbing what's happening in Tz with the albinos. However, if you see that 26 people have been killed in total (compare that to your Philly murder stats!), i would still say it's not quite the major issue it's made out to be. I think most Tanzanians do not share those beliefs; and you can see that the government (president Kikwete for example) is acting with some determination to stamp this out - and there's an albino special seats MP now. Compare this with the numbers of old women killed as 'witches' in the same region - according to this source about 1000 a year and the lack of government action.
Tanzania is currently in a major political crisis with Zanzibar wanting to separate from the rest of the Union - on this issue i've not noticed any articles in the international news! There is a famine threat to an "unspecified" number of people over the next few months. Probably on average 20 people die in bus accidents every week.
Again, I'm not saying this is not an issue. But to me the way this is reported in the international media smells of at gloating at "how primitive those Africans are".
It seems issues like bizarre killings and driving out whites (Zimbabwe, a few years ago) somehow fit what the ignorant majority wants to read about Africa (because everyone who's never been interested in Tanzania is talking about the albino issue), while problems which affect a lot more people are ignored.

Bob said...

In the Olympics they put little girls in a sport called "Women's Gymnastics."

rikyrah said...


got an OT for you.

Black and BLACKER:The RACIAL Politics of the Obama Marriage

I kid you not. THIS is an actual title of an actual article.

A racist anti-Black woman piece of tripe.

Malcolm said...

I was watching PTI yesterday evening when they discussed the switcheroo that occurred when the real girl singer was deemed not cute enough. I wouldn't be surprised if the actual singer gets a lot of offers for TV appearances because of the snub. Good for her if she does because what they did to her was ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Milli Vanilli, C & C Music Factory, Britneys 1.0 and 2.0, Shania Twain.....I don't think the US has any standing to point out that the less cute singer wasn't photgenic enough.


field negro said...

"Field, have you been following the the whole Chinese gov't order to Chinese bars not to serve blacks and Mongolians?"

Yes I have Grata, and it's one of the reasons for my iissues with that country.

Mary, you are right about the Spaniards. But honestly, we could say that about damn near any country in Europe.

sickupandfed, I will check out that book.

rikyrah, thanks for that link.

kristina, thanks for the insights. Question: Do you live in Tanzania or East Africa? You seem to know a lot about that part of the world.

Thanks again for your perspective.

"Hey wait a sec...where's the link on your blog to the NPR show??"

LOL! I will try to get that up for you.

Anonymous said...

the ban on black folks in bars was found to be false. see a story about it by Beijing Boyce in china, including an informal tour of local bars, here

Quote from blog:
Final results: 10 bars checked, 8 bars with blacks. I also saw black patrons pretty much everywhere I walked. In fact, while I stood with my black friend in front of Tongli Studio, I saw black people go by, which is observing blacks to the second degree. (Unfortunately, my friend wasn’t in the spirit of my research, given that the contestants for a Club China Doll bikini contest were pouring out of the building.)


Anonymous said...

Other cultures are not so PC. If you want an honest opinion, don't ask an American. I notice even the die-hards here pepper their opinions with colorful language like "well, I'm gonna be honest with you...", red flag! One thing about it, they weren't going to lie to this little girl. She is probably told from the outset by her parents, "you work harder, not as pretty". They tend to take things are as a reality of life then try to sugar coat in the name of emotion. Ever been to a nail shop?

Anonymous said...

@Field: "Pretending that all is honey roses in one of the most repressive societies on earth just reeks of hypocrisy to me."

We here, in the US, may have our problems with "lookism," but it's not sanctioned (at least not openly) by the government.

What's disturbing is that the girl switch was instigated by government officials, and not by Olympic planners.

No government should wield that kind of power over its people!

Many in China, I'm told, once they learned of the switch, were equally outraged.

It's late. I'll have to comment on the other issues later on today.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

What happened to that girl is similar to what happened to Martha Wash (sp?) twice.

I still don't have a TV (will be getting one soon) so that is one reason I haven't been following the Olympics. I could follow online but like you I'm not feeling it.

However Andrew Howe a black American and Italian athlete representing Italy...I am feeling. I saw the brother on the cover of Italian Vanity Fair and had to stop in my tracks. Who is that?!

Anonymous said...

I agree with black diaspora that the government should wield that kind of power over its people.

@Anon 757a. As if the government telling the little girl about the switch because she was not pretty does not make it right. China was attempting to bring forth a certain facade before the world that we are not so bad, but did it miserably. In addition, the people of China had a problem with what the government did. The native people objected to what the government did. It has nothing to do about being politically correct. You use the most talented person not the prettiest.

I have a problem with lookism because like any other prejudice, we make judgement based upon someone's look than abilities or character. It's about perception and people believe perception is truth.

A2daK said...

C'mon Field. "Lookism"?? Gees.....

Let's not make up any new types of discrimination. This is insane.

Human beings have and will always be attracted to beauty. Everyone has their own standards. But, whatever it is, we're attracted to what's visably pleasing.

How about your little crushes on Condi and that other cute girl? Are you showing "lookism" against Rosie O'Donnell?

Let's not keep digging and searching around for new "victims" to feel sorry for.

Gimme a break. We're rapidly becoming a country of PC whimps and whiners.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Sullivan brilliant surmise on the how this could be the end of america as we know it.

Mena said...

I mean this is just one more thing in a long list of things that has gone wrong since the Olympics started, nevermind all of the shadiness before the games began.

It was this switcheroo with the little girls, it was the special effects in place of the actual fireworks, and those clearly tween girls on the gymnastics team.

Also the coverup about the american couple being stabbed and it not being admitted that its some sort of protest act. They want us to believe this is some lone dude, acting on his own. Im not buying it.

The Chinese government is the worst.

Anonymous said...

Let us recall the Spanish, and other Europeans, have a history with the Moors. To them, this is payback for the less than pleasant rule they suffered under. They are also not thrilled to have so many illegal immigrants. The French had problems recently and I was amazed that the causes weren't shipped to another country.

Oh, football hooligans are simply their version of Bush supporters. They aren't stupid enough to allow dullards access to power.


? said...


Unfortunately Obama has not learned these lessons either as he wants to expand the military and increase their budget! We spend almost as much on our military than the rest of the world combined already, where does this nonsense end?

The Minority Militant said...

"Field, have you been following the the whole Chinese gov't order to Chinese bars not to serve blacks and Mongolians?"


That article was unfounded and it was meant to stir up this thing we call China-bashing -- or Asian-bashing as we call it in "A-merry-ca". There are Blacks all over the place in Shanghai and Beijing. If it's discrimination, it's a social class thing (not that it's any better).

On the Spanish Basketball Team, that's fucked up what they did. The Chinese in China are the sole majority and they could do that shit to themselves and no one would give a care. But Asian peeps around the world in Europe and here know that they've had to put up with that racist shit through school and beyond. We just gave the go ahead for your kids and other kids to run around the playground and cock their eyes back because it's a friendly gesture to those Chinese people. Now as an Asian American, I take that shit seriously. Just as you would take some racial issues to heart, most of which I fully understand cause I grew up a minority even though our experiences may have been vastly different.

Just trying to get some love on the minority side of the fence, you know? A show of support would be nice, Field. Thanks.

p.s. did you see the female version yet?

Anonymous said...

"annon 9:42PM, thanks for the kind words. I actually got to the studio right before they went on the air. They weren't pleased. I am not sure if the NPR folks will have me back:)"

What, NPR has never heard of CP's time? Oh well, it'll be their loss.

Anonymous said...

"Albinos are not being killed because of the way they look- though the way they look makes them easy to spot."

Thus they are killed because of the way they look no? I guess this is what we call circular reasoning.

NO Field, hang with me here. They are not being killed and thrown in a dumpster- only because of the way they look. They are being killed because of what their disability is being construed for/ representative for.

Anonymous said...

ALBINOS in the San Blas Islands, Republic of Panama

Children of the Moon

In a quirk of genetics, the Kuna Yala (one of the 4 indigeneous tribes in Panama) have one of the highest rates of albinism in the world. In the US and Western Europe, albinism occurs on a rate of about 1 in 35,000. In the Kuna community, the rate is 1 in 165. Given the tropical setting, one would think these pale, easily sunburned individuals would face serious discrimination but in fact they are revered and considered 'children of the moon'. Their reverence stems from Kuna creation tales, which describes God sending his albino son into the world to teach humans how to live. Thus, the Kuna believe albinos are endowed with inordinate wisdom, and may even have supernatural powers, such as the gift of healing or the ability to foretell the future. Albinos often grow up to play a pivotal role in the community, becoming political leaders, shamans or entrepreneurs.

field negro said...

"How about your little crushes on Condi and that other cute girl? Are you showing "lookism" against Rosie O'Donnell?"

That "little cute girl" is LARK sir, and I wouldn't characterize my crush as "little"; it is huge!

And am I showing "lookism" against Rosie? Yes.

the minority militant, thanks for your perspective my Asian brother/sister. Believe me, I understand where you are coming from. I have issues with the Chinese government, not with its people. Hell some of my best friends are Chinese Jamaicans :)

Okay evita, I like your logic. This round goes to you :)

Damn anon 6:15PM, thanks for the knowledge. Who needs books or school when you have blogs?

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...


If you want to understand what Chinese people think about the girl then read what they think. I argued on here as Longma (it means Dragon Horse in Mandarin).

The culture is different, people did not take it as offensive as leftist and insecure women did here.

field negro said...

Thanks DH,I will check it out.

BTW, aren't most Chinese leftist in their social politics?

Anonymous said...

@dragon horse "The culture is different, people did not take it as offensive as leftist and insecure women did here."

Thanks for the link. Some on the site were offended. Some weren't. Some believed that it was immoral; and some didn't.

That more weren't offended is owing not to "leftist" and "insecure women," but perhaps to years of governmental brainwashing--placing national interest above that of the individual.

The glaring difference between this country and China is the emphasis we place on "individual rights," versus "collective rights."

We don't always get it "right" here, but it is how the country leans.

How could the Chinese be offended if they've never had a choice in the beginning?

Where there's "no choice," you embrace whatever "choice" is given.

I would say that the Chinese government will do almost anything to maintain the status quo.

The government's very existence depends on dictating it's own set of values, and having the whole nation subscribe to them.

By saying that China is "different" does not exonerate them, when the rest of the world perceive their acts as stupid.

Honor killing is practiced in many countries, and has government saction. Don't ask me to accept it because those in those societies do.

There are equally cruel, backward, and medieval practices occurring around the planet. If we don't show our displeasure, we give our tacit approval.

Organizations such as Amnesty International (protecting human rights worldwide) would be out of business tomorrow, if it believed that "silence is golden," and stay out of other countries' business, because what they do is culturally and governmentally sanctioned.

Although, I don't believe that the little girl switch rises to the level of of oversight by Amnesty International, I do believe that China has it's human right abuses, some of which are cultural, and some of which have government sponsorship.

And as members of the world society, we have a duty to speak out, as do they when they see abuses around the world.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Trickle down racism! Shaking my head. That is awful.

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...


Good point, most Chinese are leftist. Actually from a Republican point of view most Asians are, that is why when they come here they vote Democrat (well but for Indians...Indian Americans trend Republican, but almost all East and Southeast Asian Americans vote heavily Democrat).

IN any case what I was talking about was American leftist who (especially in education) always hype self-esteem. Oh kids would be all Einsteins if it was just that they had higher self esteem if society just accepted them. LOL

My wife grew up in rural Japan. She has told me many stories of how her and her two sisters were slapped, kicked, berated, screamed at by their teachers.

My wife was also doing Pre-Cal in 10th grade. When she came here as an exchange student she was shocked to find her school didn't offer Calculus.

My wife graduated with honors (in America) with an engineering degree. Her other sister went to school here and also graduated with honors in International Trade. The youngest one (the one they say is not that bright) as an HR manager for the largest insurance company in Japan.

My wife has told me stories of how her 6th grade teacher would take the class average test score and if it feel below the standard set by the teacher he would call out all grades in front of the class and make every student line up and he would smack them in the face or hit them with a ruler on their knuckles.

Since you knew who brought down the class average you can imagine what they did to those kids after class. :-)

If you announced grades and held students out as excellent and condemned others for not studying, not seeking help, etc. many teachers could get sued in America...and you know that. Parents would be at the schools screaming all types of 'isms and threatening to beat down the teacher.

Point at hand is this little girl lives in a different country where people are pussified yet. I would bet big money her parents were proud that they could serve their nation (as nationalism is huge in China and always has been).

They aren't some weak American sissified kids who would need 10 years of therapy if they are told they aren't perfect. LOL That’s one of many reasons this country is going down the drain, need to stop listening to Oprah tell fat people they are normal and everyone else is wrong for thinking they are not normal and everyone is beautiful and other lies to set people up for failure and put some testicles back on America public before it is too late.

East Asia, India, and Russia ain't playin' with us, they are hungary and they will take theirs and AMerica will be crying about their loss of collective self esteem.

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