Tag Archives: race

Race and Fashion History

I’ve been researching a fashion history book. It’s so fun going through all these old books and magazines to learn what people wore when.

But pretty much all the people who appear in the big, official books and glossy magazines are white. Continue reading


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Is Ke$ha Bad News?

Kara, thanks for that rundown of excellent 90s sites. Thought we made up 90s discussion + internet! Who knew?

Now, I have a question: I know you love Ke$ha, and I know you love Bitch magazine, so I’m wondering what you think about Bitch’s recent post about Ke$ha’s American Idol performance of “Blah Blah Blah,” which I posted above.

This is not my favorite song (right now, this very non-90s woman song is) and I am not super into her whole trashy, drunk-party-girl vibe, although I totally get it (especially after a couple of drinks, and especially if we’re talking “Tik Tok”).

I like Ke$ha in the abstract because she is just unapologetic¬†trash. There is nothing upstanding, respectable or reliable about her. You would never want to hire her as your babysitter because she would make out with her boyfriend on your couch instead of playing board games with the kids. As someone who’s spent most of my life kind of compulsively “good,” she is a liberating force. At least in the abstract. In reality, she just seems like someone who would spill a beer on me at a concert. Continue reading

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What Did the 90s Teach Us About Feminism and Race?

Kara, I was recently on NPR’s “Tell Me More” for my new book (everyone, buy it here!), and Michel Martin asked me about talking to kids about race. She mentioned the great chapter of the new book NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, which says that not talking about race makes kids self-segregate.

Essentially, even if like us you live in a diverse neighborhood, in a diverse city and have a diverse group of friends, if you’re white and don’t explicitly tell your kids that people of other races are okay, they will resort to some kind of tribalism and only hang out with other white kids.

Now, the 90s were super weird about race. On one hand, because of all the consciousness raising, inside of the feminist movement I saw a weird fetishizing of outsider status, like in theory you had more credibility if you were of color, (or gay, or an abuse survivor, etc.). Identity politics got kind of weirdly competitive.

At the same time, it seemed like middle-class white feminists were kind of writing the script, and most of the books, and setting the agenda, often oblivious to the fact that women of color had issues that were not addressed by what was being called mainstream feminism.

This tension lives on in strange ways. Once I gave a lecture on theater at a super “progressive” college and got jumped in the question and answer period. They kept asking me about minstrelsy because I showed a video of the Wau Wau Sisters, a bawdy trapeze act, and they kept saying things like, “Would Kiki and Herb have performed at Carnegie Hall if they were BLACK?!” (First of all, lots of black people have performed at Carnegie Hall. Second of all, K &H were gay, poor and at least somewhat trans. Third, I was there just to show some videos of what was going on in the downtown NYC scene, not to justify it on a personal-is-political purity scale.) Continue reading


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