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Friday, January 11, 2008

Shades of Grey

posted by on January 11 at 12:31 PM

An email:

From: a.howellchicago@REDACTED
Subject: Erroneous Race Statements in Lupe Fiasco Article…
Date: January 9, 2008 4:13:20 PM PST

Hello Jonathan,

I love your piece on Lupe Fiasco, but you purveyed a false statement. Matthew Santos is of filipino/Spanish decent, not a so-called “white-boy”. Please, check your facts.

It’s funny how prevalent of a role race has in todays media relations, no?

Thank You,


Andrew Howell
Director of Marketing
Soltis Arts, Inc.
2940 N. Allen Av
Chicago, IL 6061

My response:

Hey Andrew, thanks for writing.

Apologies for misrepresenting Santos’ ethnicity. It’s an assumption I made based on appearance (and the sound of his voice, to be totally honest); I never considered the ramifications of that assumption being wrong. My guess is that Santos gets that pretty often, but perhaps not. To be safe I should’ve said something like “non-black soul singer,” which sounds totally dumb, but would’ve covered my ass. I wanted to make the point of the black/white crossover, which is clearly part of a larger trend as noted in the story, so I decided it was important to mention some aspect of race. I checked out a bunch of articles about and pictures of Matt Santos and none of them gave me any indication he was anything other than white. Again, that’s an assumption made on my own white-boy behalf, and it’s not fair.

As far as the role of race in today’s media relations, sure it’s prevalent. It will always be prevalent. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just how it is. Race is real and differences are real and assumptions are real, if misleading. The point is not to make excuses but to see the meaning behind the roles as clearly as possible.

l_680a22036f6c07ce9c9c3178546bb799.jpgMatthew Santos, from his MySpace

A similar error was perpetrated by this staff before.

We are, somewhat apologetically, white folks over here in the music department. As a so-called “white boy” myself, I have no qualms with the term, even if I could be more specifically described as a “Jew boy.” That doesn’t excuse the error, and Santos and his people have every right to set the record straight. Apologies to Matthew Santos and non-white, non-black people everywhere.

RSS icon Comments

1

This isn't directed at you, Jonathan, but I just wanted to say that I've always found it reductive the way some people see the world as white and non-white. As you say, it's more complicated than that. Though the term isn't used much anymore, distinctions also used to be drawn between whites and ethnic whites, i.e. anyone not WASP. Consequently, you would qualify, as would I, as someone of Irish/Italian/Catholic descent. Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there since "non-white" often indicates diversity, while "white" often indicates the opposite. And now I suppose it's time to cue up the Monkees. :-)

Posted by Kathy Fennessy | January 11, 2008 4:44 PM
2

but im jewish! am i still an ethnic white? or am a non-ethnic non-white?


Posted by jz | January 11, 2008 4:59 PM
3

As a person of Jewish descent, you qualify as an "ethnic white." As person of Catholic descent--even though I'm a non-practitioner--I do, too. It's all part of "whiteness studies." Personally, I find that phrase a real turn-off. Why not "ethnic studies"? Books like How the Irish Became White and How Jews Became White Folks explore the topic from a historical perspective.

Posted by Kathy Fennessy | January 11, 2008 11:18 PM
4

Fact: Race is a social construct... and that's real.

Posted by Rachael F. | January 12, 2008 10:44 AM

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