How Black am I?

We love to take pictures of ourselves.  We love youth.  So, its only a matter of time that we get an app that looks at our selfies and answers the age old question: do I look old?  How-Old.net is a simple site that allows you to choose a picture and, using facial recognition software, it will guess your age.  While trying to find a picture that would tell me I looked young, I found something interesting.  The site told me I was not-so-old (great!) but at least it could see me–my Ghanian husband: not so much.

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The site had a hard time seeing dark-skinned black faces, whether in the bright sun with plenty of light

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Or sipping cappuccinos with pinkies up, the app couldn’t recognize my fabulous husband or his friend.

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It’s bad enough that black lives have to demand that they matter to be visible.  Now they are erasing us from our selfies?

Summer Smokes

I was out getting summer plants and beach chairs when I happened on this old school summer favorite:

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Candy cigarettes! Yup they still make that.  I’m old enough to recall puffing these flavorless sticks of sugar after our trips to the candy store in Orleans on Cape Cod.  That was long ago enough to suprise me when I saw they still make these gateway snacks.

taffy-turtles-fudge signSure the work cigarettes is gone, but the box, complete with european union style tax stamp at the top let’s kids know its still cool to smoke ’em if you got ’em.

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Maz Kanatamima: From Pretty to Pirate

If you’re a Star Wars fan at all, then you’ve probably already watch ed the trailer for JJ Abrams directed reboot Star Wars VII The Force Awakens.  And if you haven’t watched the trailer with Matthew Mc Conaughey, then you haven’t seen the trailer at all.

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I’ve been waiting to see the reveal of Lupita Nyong’o’s character.  Sure we have already seen Han, Chewie, and even John Boyega, as a black storm trooper, but we had yet to place Lupita’s lovely face in space. Here she is!

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Yep, that’s right, for all those black girls who rock looking forward to seeing a darks skinned sister traveling the stars, you’ll have to keep waiting.  Early reports had cast Lupita as Ventress, super-assassin and stylish shade throwing villain.

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But alas, we’ll hear her voice coming from the face of CGI created space-pirate.  According to wookipedia–experts in all things Star Wars–Maz Kanata is a pirate, and according to a Vanity Fair article, she can also tell fortunes by touching objects.  Okay–I don’t want to jump to conclusions about an old ugly creature with a rag on its head who can can tell fortunes *cough cough magical negro cough*.  By all reports, Maz Kanata is in charge of a sprawling castle and space outpost, so she’s sure to have some juice…. But in the looks department? Meh.

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The Star Wars series plays host to some strong and interesting women, but also a whole universe of racial stereotypes.  Most notably, West Space Indian Jar Jar Binks.

Don’t forget from the Asian-like traders to the animal like jungle creatures, lots of characters in the stars look suspiciously like stereotypes here on earth.

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J.J. Abrams is known for updating the Star Trek series, envisioning a multicultural mecca with strong characters of every stripe.  Creator Gene Rodenberry  designed Star Trek to be that way from the beginning.  Star Wars, on the other hand, traded in stereotypes to simplify a complex galaxy, so there’s a bit more heavy lifting to make the galaxy a post-racialtopia.  Let’s hope Maz Kanata is more than a do-rag-wearing-fortune-telling-Aunt-Jemima-looking African pirate.

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