Jade Goss, age 2, looks as if she just stepped out of the wildly popular “Doc McStuffins” cartoon.
“She has the Doc McStuffins sheets. She has the Doc McStuffins doll. She has the Doc McStuffins purse. She has Doc McStuffins clothes,” said Jade’s mother, Melissa Woods, of Lynwood, Calif.
“I think what attracts her is, ‘Hey, I look like her, and she looks like me,’ ” Ms. Woods said of the character, an African-American child who acts as a doctor to her stuffed animals.
With about $500 million in sales last year, Doc McStuffins merchandise seems to be setting a record as the best-selling toy line based on an African-American character, industry experts say.
Its blockbuster success reflects, in part, the country’s changing consumer demographics, experts say, with more children from minority backgrounds providing an expanding, less segregated marketplace for shoppers and toymakers.
But what also differentiates Doc — and Dora the Explorer, an exceptionally popular Latina character whose toy line has sold $12 billion worth of merchandise over the years, Nickelodeon executives say — is her crossover appeal.
“The kids who are of color see her as an African-American girl, and that’s really big for them,” said Chris Nee, the creator of Doc McStuffins. “And I think a lot of other kids don’t see her color, and that’s wonderful as well.”
Across sub-Saharan Africa, consumer demand is fueling the continent’s economies in new ways, driving hopes that Africa will emerge as a success story in the coming years comparable to the rise of the East Asian Tigers in the second half of the 20th century.
After seeing years of uninterrupted economic expansion across Africa, governments, analysts and investors are focusing on this fast-growing continent’s shoppers and workers rather than just the usual upswing in commodity prices that have driven past cycles of boom and bust.
The African Development Bank projected in its latest annual report in May that foreign investment in Africa would reach a record $80 billion this year, with a larger share of the money going to manufacturing and not just the strip-mining of resources.
“The development is real, and on the back of that, there’s a lot of commercial opportunity that’s emerging,” said Simon Freemantle, senior political economist at Standard Bank here.
At times messy and difficult to quantify, Africa’s economies give pessimists and optimists plenty of statistical ammunition to support their narratives of the future. Growth is uneven. Inequality is rising in many corners. Millions of people still live in extreme poverty. With violence simmering in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and elsewhere, it’s easy to fall back on the old pessimistic plotline for sub-Saharan Africa.
The middle class has expanded rapidly across the continent, but the population has grown so quickly that the absolute number of impoverished Africans has gone up at the same time. Sushi restaurants in Dakar, Senegal, and fancy coffee shops in Kigali, Rwanda, do not improve the lives of subsistence farmers in the hinterland.
This time around, I’ve found myself unable to go colonizer v. colonized, because it’s all so mixed up now anyway. How many on France’s team is of Algerian descent…and how many on Algeria’s team were born in France?
In her latest syndicated column right-wing troll and pundit Ann Coulter rails against the growing popularity of soccer in the U.S., which she blames on a pro-soccer liberal media and America’s millions of immigrants.
“Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation’s moral decay,” Coulter writes before listing all of the reasons why she thinks soccer sucks.
Among these reasons are:
- “Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer … There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child’s fragile self-esteem is bruised.”
- “Liberal moms like soccer because it’s a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys.”
- “No other ‘sport’ ends in as many scoreless ties as soccer.”
- “The prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required to count as a sport” and soccer doesn’t have it.
- “You can’t use your hands in soccer,” a fact that, Coulter believes, goes against “[w]hat sets man apart from the lesser beasts,” i.e., “we have opposable thumbs.”
- “The same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding that we love HBO’s ‘Girls,’ light-rail, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton.”
- ”It’s foreign.”
After this comprehensive list (and, believe it or not, there’s more than what we excerpted above), Coulter finally gets to the heart of the matter, which is that soccer is bad because it reminds her of non-white, non-native and non-conservative human beings, who are just the worst.
“If more ‘Americans’ are watching soccer today, it’s only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 immigration law,” Coulter writes. “I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer,” she continues. “One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.”
What’s the big deal?
Native American imagery in pop culture
By Migizi Pensoneau
“What’s the big deal?”
That’s the question that comes up most frequently when talking about Native American imagery and its role in greater society. Take the easy target recently dominating the news: the National Football League’s Washington Redskins. I could say the logo and name are racist. You could argue the team is an institution, and its name and logo have become sources of pride for many since the franchise was rebranded in 1933. Nothing’s changed in all that time and only recently has the debate resurfaced. So, what’s the big deal now?
Adding to that dismissive side of the debate is the fact that some Native Americans have come out in support of Washington, or at least shrugged off the entire issue. There are too many other things to fix in “Indian Country,” and the name of a football team should be the least of Native Americans’ worries. Drugs, alcoholism, political corruption, extreme rates of violence against Native American women, suicide, poverty, crime—the list goes on, nearly ad infinitum. That’s where the attention should be focused. And again the question gets asked: What’s the big deal?
The answer is that Native American imagery and those who control it only help to reinforce that long list of problems.
Professional sports teams like the Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, clockwise from top left, are some of the highest profile Native images in popular culture.
Critics accused Victoria’s Secret of “making a mockery of Native identity” after dressing one of its models in a full headdress during a 2012 fashion show. The lingerie maker later apologized.
My stepdad is a big ol’ Navajo. When I was 12, I remember watching Young Guns II for the umpteenth time. My stepdad stomped by when, onscreen, Lou Diamond Phillips said something about “ancient Navajo word…” My stepdad gave a small laugh and said, “Yeah. Ancient Navajo word, that’s a good one.”
I was struck: I never considered that Lou Diamond Phillips was representing any particular tribe, much less my stepdad’s. There was a huge disconnect between what I was seeing onscreen and what I was seeing at home.
Movies and television have fascinated me since childhood. I used to reenact scenes from Mel Brooks classics with my brother, and terrorize my mother with movie quotes. I’ve worked in film since 2004, and until only recently, I’ve struggled with that industry’s expectations and ideas of what makes an Indian authentic. Most of those ideas are informed by the same Westerns and antiquated portrayals that had my cousin and I fighting over who was going to be a cowboy all those years ago. Even worse, the relative success of some of the films I just described has served to encourage many that to make an Authentic Indian Movie, you have to set it in a bizarre alternate universe where Indian identity is a curiosity of paramount concern to Indians themselves.
The few exceptions to this rule are the fantastic independent films by the likes of Zacharias Kunuk, Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi. Kunuk made the excellent Atarnajuat: The Fast Runner, which I consider the only truly indigenous feature film out there, as its story structure is based on a traditional Inuit story, passed down for generations. But other than that, if you’re working in Hollywood, you’re stuck in the same old formula of Native American as a novel quirk.
A studio once hired me to write four drafts of an action movie. A producer gave me a basic outline of a road movie about a Native American detective chasing a serial killer across the country. As the notes started coming in, they got increasingly ridiculous.
“Could you have the detective have long hair? Maybe with a feather in it?”
“He should be dealing with the legacy of his father’s alcoholism, don’t you think?”
“He should have a quirky guy with him when he goes across country. Maybe a cousin or an uncle who rides in a sidecar, who gives him Indian wisdom as they travel?”
They basically wanted me to write Smoke Signals With Guns. That movie was never made. I can’t imagine why.
So here we are, 14 years into the new millennium, and it’s an age of hashtags and viral videos. There has never been a media outlet like the Internet. Native Americans can, for the first time ever, tell authentic, diverse stories to a global audience without being vetted, tampered with, or Indianed up. I find it empowering. It’s the first time since Columbus’s first contact that Indian people have been wholly in control of their own imagery on such a scale. Now any kid feeling like the cowboys always win can surf over to YouTube or Facebook and see a true and modern portrayal of his or her people out there in the world. This is a massive change from when I was a kid. And it’s 180 degrees from the start of America.
By the time you read this, it’s possible that every single person on the planet will know who Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior is. The image above is of Neymar from five days ago.
This is Neymar from one year ago:
This is Neymar from five years ago:
You could come to any number of conclusions from Neymar’s remarkable transformation. For instance, you could conclude that race doesn’t exist in Brazil, which is the favourite line of a specific tribe of Brazilians – impeccable liberals all, who just happen to be upper-class, white and at the top of the heap.
Or you could conclude that everyone in Brazil is indeed mixed – which is, incidentally, the second-favourite line of the selfsame tribe.
Or you could wonder what happened to this boy.
It’s too easy to condemn Neymar for pretending to be white: judging by the images, he is partly white. It’s silly to accuse him of denying his mixed-race ancestry, because the simplest search throws up hundreds of images of him as a child, none of which he seems to be ashamed of. There is this: when asked if he had ever been a victim of racism, he said, “Never. Neither inside nor outside the field. Because I’m not black right?”
Actually, the word he used was preto, which is significant, since, in Brazil, when used as a colour ascribed to people – rather than things, like rice or beans – it is the equivalent of the n-word; negro and negra being the acceptable ways of describing someone who is truly black. (And moreno or morena being standard descriptors for someone dark-skinned, as well as, occasionally, euphemisms for blackness). Technically speaking, however, his logic was faultless – and even kind of interestingly honest: the Neymar who made that statement was an unworldly eighteen-year-old who had never lived outside Brazil. And in Brazil, Neymar is not black.
Great socio-historical overview of racial classifications in Brazil.
Europe is resounding with cries of ‘immigrants, go home!’ Here’s what would happen to the World Cup if they did.
The favorite in the real Group E, France can hardly field a team without its immigrants. It retains a shot at getting out of the group with Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud. It drops Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna and Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho, whose parents were born in Senegal, and Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, who was born there himself. It also loses Paris St.-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi, whose father was born in Angola; and Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, whose parents were born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. France also gives up Lille OSC midfielder Rio Mavuba, whose father was born in Zaire and mother in Angola; Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko, whose parents were born in Mali; and Marseille midfielder Matthieu Valbuena, whose father was born in Spain. And don’t look for as much flash without Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, whose father was born in Algeria. France also loses Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, whose parents were born in Guinea. Topping off all that, they’ve lost Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery because of an injury.
Big Loser: Switzerland
“No more immigrants” Switzerland loses about two-thirds of its players if it goes all-Swiss, all but erasing its chances of getting out of Group E. It keeps Grasshopper Club Zurich defender Michael Lang, FC Basel defender Fabian Schär, and Juventus defender Stephan Lichtsteiner. But it loses a lot more. Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta is of Italian descent and holds dual citizenship. Napoli midfielder Gokhan Inler’s parents were born in Turkey. Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka, Napoli midfielder Blerim Dzemaili and Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri were all born in the former Yugoslavia, while Real Sociedad striker Haris Seferovic and FC Zurich striker Mario Gavranovic are of Bosnian descent.
A heavy favorite in their real-world group, Brazil retains all of its star players in the no-immigrants-allowed version. Better still, Brazil picks up a few more of its nationals from other country’s teams: Shakhtar Donetsk striker Eduardo Alves da Silva and Getafe midfielder Jorge Sammir Cruz Campos from Croatia, and Real Madrid defender Kepler Laveran Lima Ferreira and Fenerbahce S.K. Defender Bruno Alves from Portugal.
Ghana keeps Al Ain striker Asamoah Gyan, Rubin Kazan midfielder Wakaso Mubarak, Vitesse Arnhem striker Christian Twasam Atsu, AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari and Juventus midfielder Khadwo Asamoah, and Rennes defender John Boye, not to mention AC Milan midfielder Michael Essien. The team also keeps Schalke midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng and gets back Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng from Germany — their father was born in Ghana, though the brothers were born in Berlin. The same goes for Marseille striker Jordan Ayew, whose parents were born in Ghana though he was born in France. As a final bonus, Ghana picks up AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, whose biological parents were born in Ghana, from Italy. It also gets Danny Welbeck, whose parents were born in Ghana, from England.
Just because: US
Team USA gets to keep San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski — half Native American, with a grandfather from Poland — as well as Seattle Sounders midfielder Clint Dempsey and Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron. However, the melting-pot nation loses Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore, whose parents were born in Haiti; Tim Howard, whose mother is Hungarian; AZ striker Aron Johannsson, who was born to Icelandic parents in Alabama; and Rosenborg midfielder Mix Diskerud, who was born in Norway. We’ll also take away LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, whose parents were born in Mexico, and Nantes midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, whose father was born in Colombia. Finally, we’ll take back Hertha defender John Brooks, Nurnberg defender Timmy Chandler, Bayern Munich winger Julian Green, Besiktas midfielder Jermaine Jones, and 1899 Hoffenheim defender Fabian Johnson — all of whom were born in Germany or have a German parent.