Yelp Reviewers’ Authenticity Fetish Is White Supremacy in Action

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When reviewers picture authenticity in ethnic food, they mentally reference all the experiences they’ve had before with that cuisine and the people who make it — and most of the time, reviewers view those experiences, whether from personal interaction or from interacting with media, as not positive. Reviews tend to reflect the racism already existing in the world; people’s biases come into play.

According to my data, the average Yelp reviewer connotes “authentic” with characteristics such as dirt floors, plastic stools, and other patrons who are non-white when reviewing non-European restaurants. This happens approximately 85 percent of the time. But when talking about cuisines from Europe, the word “authentic” instead gets associated with more positive characteristics. This quote from a reviewer commenting on popular Korean barbecue restaurant Jongro illustrates the bias: “we went for this authentic spot with its kitschy hut decor much like those found in Korea”

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In Amazon Go, no one thinks I’m stealing

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This isn’t paranoia: shopping while black is real. We get profiled as soon as the door chimes and announces our arrival in a store. Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker was once falsely accused of shoplifting and patted down in a store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A store associate in Switzerland wouldn’t let Oprah, the billionaire media mogul, see a handbag because she thought Oprah wouldn’t be able to afford it. Ninety-two percent of African-Americans said discrimination against black Americans exists today, according to a 2017 study commissioned by NPR.

Once the plastic bottle hit the bottom of my reusable bag, I glanced around to see if anyone noticed. The Amazon employees shuffled around the small store and restocked shelves…

No one cared what I was doing. Is this what it feels like to shop when you’re not black?

 

How Women of Color Face Racism on Online Dating Apps

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“If you accept the premise that most people are people of goodwill, which I think is reasonable, I don’t think people are adopting these preferences because they really dislike other races or out of a racial thing,” says Rudder. “But it’s just a thing that happens because of the way the culture is set up—the way whiteness or blonde-ness, or whatever, is glorified in the media, for example, and entertainment—and they’ve absorbed it, consciously or otherwise.”

It feels a bit simplistic to conclude that men racially profile more openly than women based on a handful of interviews, and, indeed, Tessler confirms that. “I think men and women are equally superficial about race and about other things,” she says. “Men care a ton about women’s weight. Women care a ton about men’s height. They both care a ton about how white you are.”

Tessler suggests we approach racism in the dating world in the same way that Bumble focused on the harassment of women. “They built an app especially around that problem,” she says. “I don’t think that this is going to be fixed without someone doing something like that, specifically starting a dating app or a dating company addressing it.”

Rudder is less optimistic. “There is no way to change racism in dating without changing it outright in every way,” he says. “This is depressing, but it shouldn’t be a revelation.”

We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs

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If you’ve never heard of the term before, “digital blackface” is used to describe various types of minstrel performance that become available in cyberspace. Blackface minstrelsy is a theatrical tradition dating back to the early 19th century, in which performers “blacken” themselves up with costume and behaviors to act as black caricatures. The performances put society’s most racist sensibilities on display and in turn fed them back to audiences to intensify these feelings and disperse them across culture.

 

… For while reaction GIFs can and do every feeling under the sun, white and nonblack users seem to especially prefer GIFs with black people when it comes to emitting their most exaggerated emotions. Extreme joy, annoyance, anger and occasions for drama and gossip are a magnet for images of black people, especially black femmes.

Now, I’m not suggesting that white and nonblack people refrain from ever circulating a black person’s image for amusement or otherwise (except maybe lynching photos, Emmett Till’s casket, and videos of cops killing us, y’all can stop cycling those, thanks). There’s no prescriptive or proscriptive step-by-step rulebook to follow, nobody’s coming to take GIFs away. But no digital behavior exists in a deracialized vacuum. We all need to be cognizant of what we share, how we share, and to what extent that sharing dramatizes preexisting racial formulas inherited from “real life.” The Internet isn’t a fantasy — it’s real life.

The Strangers Nextdoor

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Gone, mostly, are the days of asking your neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar… Now, irritation generally characterizes my relationship with my neighbors. Why would you wear heels when you have hardwood floors and a downstairs neighbor? Who still listens to the Barenaked Ladies, much less on repeat? But I also have intense curiosity, and in the absence of peeking through my neighbors’ windows as I walk by, which is hard to do in a high-rise, I have Nextdoor.

Nextdoor, for the sane and detached among you, is a social media platform that’s locality-driven, an alternative to meetings you actually have to show up for, neighborhood Facebook groups that might give away a little too much information about you, or listservs that clog your inbox. When you sign up, you give your address, which the company verifies by credit card billing address, phone billing address, or postcard. You have access only to your neighborhood and a few surrounding hoods. It’s a place to post about a lost dog or found kittens, advertise an estate sale, or ask for recommendations for a handyman from fellow residents…

“Community building” is usually more of a buzzword or phrase on social media, but in this case, it’s quite literal. The idea is that Nextdoor promotes community engagement with the people in your actual, geographic community, and that it would build social capital and better citizens. Instead, it’s been heavily criticized for contributing to fear, distrust, and racist behavior. There are also coyote sightings, warnings about the Starbucks Unicorn drink, and requests to borrow someone’s kombucha scoby.

The Crime category is where the ugliness of Nextdoor is most obvious. The coded language of “hip-hop types” and “thugs” (translation: black or brown), “suspicious” people and the homeless.

The most racist places in America, according to Google

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For the PLOS ONE paper, researchers looked at searches containing the N-word. People search frequently for it, roughly as often as searches for  “migraine(s),” “economist,” “sweater,” “Daily Show,” and “Lakers.” (The authors attempted to control for variants of the N-word not necessarily intended as pejoratives, excluding the “a” version of the word that analysis revealed was often used “in different contexts compared to searches of the term ending in ‘-er’.”)