Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nita Negrita: From an African-American Point of View

I'm an African-American that just returned from the Philippines. I had a chance to view 'Nita Negrita", and I was curious about other's reactions to the show - and I stumbled across this discussion.

First of all, I understand that the show is trying to expose some of the obstacles being faced by the afro-filipinos. What I don't get is the atrocious makeup used to accentuate the protagonist's 'blackness'. Even if they could not find a qualified actress that was half Filipino and Black (which I doubt), get it right with the look. The makeup does not even look realistic and borders on 'blackface' and caricature. I watched the show and I would not believe that the girl is the offspring of the actor that they cast as the father and mother.

I would say that my experience in the Philippines was 2 parts sweet and one part bitter. While I was there with my girlfriend and her family, we traveled to Manila, Bataan, Tagatay, and all over the Bicol region. While most Filipinos were curious where I came from and kind to me while I was there, I had my sore spots. I would get the occasional laugh and snicker when I passed by a group of people whether in a mall in Manila or a Market in the province. I am not fluent in Tagalog, but I know some terms and my girlfriend was my frequent translator. I know I am being talked about when I heard the word itim. When I would be stared or pointed at and hear the following:

"Oh my God, his skin is the color of coal." (followed by laughter)

"This is how dark they are in America."(followed by laughter)

When I would go out with my girlfriend who happened to be a Filipina, i would get mostly curious stares with a smattering of disapproving stares. For those that fell in the latter group, I would stare back only to have those individuals look away.

I understand that many Black people are not seen in the Philippines. I understand that I would stand out immediately. What hurt was that others saw me as an opportunity to mock/laugh at me because of the color of my skin.

While I was in the Philippines, I saw that many of the Whites did not have fingers pointed at them. They were not laughed at by others (from what I could see) and went about there business without a hitch.

In all honesty, I would return to the Philippines again because of the warmth of the people that I made connections with during my stay even though my bad experiences unnerved me at times.

During my stay in PH, I could not understand the entertainment industry's obsession with whiteness (the creams, the pills, skin treatments, the celebrities). I would read local entertainment magazines, and I noticed how they always wanted to accentuate the fact that a good-looking celebrity had porcelain-white skin or if they were half-white (aussie, brit, swiss, etc.). Does it matter? I was surprised to see that many of the dramas and romantics films had featured actors with very white skin and/or western features. If I did see an actor/actress of a browner hue, they were either the comedic relief or the friend/sidekick.

While I was in Manila, I happened to watch a program in which teenagers competed in dancing and singing for some type of recognition/contract. Towards the end of the competition, two boys stood out - a homegrown pinoy through and through and a half-white boy with western features and a western surname. In the competition, I thought the homegrown Pinoy was a better singer and dancer, but guess who they chose in the end?

Believe me, I have encountered racism in it's many incarnations. I lived all over the US (Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, etc.) and all over the world in Europe, Central America, South America, Africa, and Asia. Luckily, my experiences have been far and in between but an experience leaves a mark in your memory. I've experienced blatant racism and institutionalized racism. I experienced racism from whites, hispanics, asians, and even other blacks. Yes, black people can be very racist whether or not they wish to admit it - to whites, asians, and other black people. Since my parents originated from a country outside the US, many African-American students taunted me because of my darker features while I attended middle school.

In New York City, I've done some indie films and theater, and I am sometimes put off by some of the castings offered to minorities. In many of the castings offered to African-American men here, many perpetuate stereotypes. Some of the castings asked for a thug, drug dealer, rapper, basketball player, etc. Sometimes you get tired when the roll of the lawyer or doctor is never offered to you. Yes, there are castings with open ethnicity, but you would be surprised by the number of film roles offered that ask for you to play a two-dimensional stereotype.

One poster mentioned that all black people use the N-word all the time. That is not true. For those that do use it, they are heavily influenced by a rap culture that uses that word without abandon. I'm aware of America's history with slavery, and it baffles me when I see another African-American use the N-word as one of warmth and endearment considering it's derogatory meaning and past. My philosophy is that if you become enraged by a non-black person using the same term, you should not use it because you send the mixed message that it is okay for others to use. That's just me.

For Nita Negrita, the show carries the weight of a heavy message as well as mirroring the obstacles experienced by those who happen to be half black and filipino in the Philippines. So, they have to get everything right or have to suffer a constant wave of criticism. The subject matter of the show is very tricky and they should have got it right starting with casting. If they can't , they need to find a better make-up artist to make the character relatable and believable instead of a mockery.

I'm sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to share my point of view with everyone. Thanks.


The post is taken from PEX, for discussions on Nita Negrita please visit the PEX forum

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What Pinoys are Tweeting about Nita Negrita

Beyond the fan girls who would sell their soul to trade places with Barbie Forteza, who else is tweeting about Nita Negrita?

GMA should stop turning a blind eye and address the obvious... the show is smack offensive. I hope Nita Negrita starts trending tomorrow on twitter big time, so the whole world will know about this racist show on Philippine TV.

@SuperSenyorita it took a century for filipinos to consider being morena/moreno beautiful. now this shit happens! #nitanegrita #offensive

@fornicat Local media is sending horrible mixed msgs.

@ericaparedes Seriously @nitanegrita, as if pinays don't have enough issues and self loathing bec of their skin color.

@ESPJoven It's not bcoz you turned a tisay starlet "black" that you can pass it as a half african-american. That Nita Negrita of GMA s really stupid!

@guiengarma @waybeyondfear 's tweet on GMA's Nita Negrita has inspired me to do an essay on prejudice against different people and the mass media.

@_the_cab How can MTRCB allow a show so racist like Nita Negrita? It's straight up discrimination and a "blackface" actress as the lead? C'mon.

@jumpnjoey16 I don't understand why we still have shows like "Nita Negrita". It's politically incorrect. No ... let me correct that - it's racist.

@jumpnjoey16 You know what's going to be horrible? If the show Nita Negrita is filled with commercials of Whitening creams.

@breathofreshair Just saw the trailer. So distasteful! #nitanegrita

@apester71 #nitanegrita. No need to know the show's premise. The title alone is awful

@manilamommy its racist to use a #blackface. Haven't this show's researchers looked up its history?

@SuperSenyorita My Filipino pride went into hiding after seeing @iamnitanegrita's poster! #gma7isstupid #nitanegrita #offensive

@sjborgueta wonder how long it'd take for #nitanegrita to go trending. :)) racist comments all over. surprising we'd react to the show this way, really

@alaparedes #nitanegrita Let me guess, at the end of the series, she becomes white?

@katwhoa Really GMA7? #NitaNegrita is one of the most offensive things to put on TV. Bunch of racists.

@deansavoy 'Blackface' as Entertainment on Philippine Islands TV show called Nita Negrita - translated as Little Nigger Girl :(

@biancaconsunji It's official: Philippine television is back in the stone ages. #nitanegrita

@pitradactyl: Nita Negrita. Everything I hate about Filipino media, rolled into one teleserye.

@joannazuniga it's black history month and GMA is releasing a blackface character named nita negrita. #fail

@atheista Nita Negrita makes me ashamed to be a Filipino. SHAME ON YOU GMA7

@candicequimpo Just saw the HORRENDOUS #nitanegrita billboard (via @carlosceldran) -- it's so offensive!!! Pull the plug!

@corkescrews Now little dark kids will have a new moniker with which to be teased—"Nita Negrita". Thanks for your contribution to society @iamnitanegrita

@ayliya I was teased "sunog mong balat" in my childhood so this Nita Negrita is really insulting. Way to damage kids with stupid beauty standards.

@acejmnz racist daw masyado yung new soap ng GMA na Nita Negrita. hahahahahaha!!! --- totoo yun. nagreact din yung kulay ng balat ko!!!

@_psychoCOW_ Everybody, may Twitter account ang Nita Negrita! We can tell them what an offensive, stupid, racist show they're planning! @iamnitanegrita

@manilamommy Nita Negrita reinforces our mentality that fair is beautiful and those who are not are kawawa. Ay nako.

@ganns Not that I'm joining the bandwagon, but yes, I, too, am offended by the premise of Nita Negrita. Yes, I will join the product boycott.

@matthewutitco yeah, just when we are moving towards equality and non-discrimination, here comes a soap such as nita negrita.

@RAndRat Wow. Nita negrita? And here I thought we pinoys are so racially sensitive, what with all the whining about remarks made by foreign celebs.

@Urooooo They gave the role of Nita Negrita to someone with fair complexion. Actually kahit yung idea ng tv show ay very racist. :|

@Jacs_Will_Rule I don't understand kung papaano, sa dami ng tao sa GMA, walang (o walang may say na) tumutol sa Nita Negrita? SRSLY?!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nita Negrita: The Light Skin versus Dark Skin Divide

We have nothing against teen actress Barbie Forteza. We don't HATE her. We DISLIKE the concept of the show Nita Negrita- it brings on the "HATE" and discrimination towards dark-skinned pinoys. 

Nita Negrita: Blackface on Philippine Television

The last part of the video with the kiddie hands is part of the actual trailer for the Nita Negrita. Please note the visuals used to promote this Blackface TV show. So if we all stick to watching Nita Negrita, we would eventualy find some redemption in its storyline, ganun ba? But to what end? the idea of discrmination alone made by these visuals are damaging enough. 

Another comment on the youtube video (well put BTW)

@dramacap The premise of the show denotes a considerable lack of sensitivity in portraying races. Blackface, the method of applying black makeup to a fair-skinned actor to portray a black-skinned character, is historically loaded with racist overtones. Furthermore, it may reinforce already existing stereotypes against black-skinned people. Barbie Forteza is very talented, but I do not agree with how she is forced to "fit" into her character via makeup. Why not cast a dark-skinned artist? by DonMichael 

Nita Negrita: Blatant Racism and Insensitivity on Philippine Television

This show Nita Negrita is one of the most offensive things you can see on Philippine TV. It's very insensitive and demeaning. I wonder how many pinoy children with dark-skinned will go through this school year being taunted endlessly as "Nita Negrita."

Pinoys have enough self-image issues with skin tone already and passing this racist stereotype to the younger set is just deplorable. Where's your heart, kapuso?