03 March 2009

Moving forward (?) to whiteness

I have learned a lot of things today.

I'm afraid that I won't remember any of them tomorrow.

That's how I'll forever think about my first day of training to use Quark, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. I've used all but Illustrator before, but it's been a while.

Maybe I should mention now that I have earned the right to begin to learn page design (cue the cheers). I know my lack of exclamation points may be deceiving, but I really am very excited. This evening I spent a couple of hours watching Sandra design and asking her lots of questions.

It seems easy enough. I mean, besides the point that everything she could do, she did at breakneck speed, and had to stop every once in a while and undo what she had done so that I could see the process. Even then, holy canoli, there are so many keystrokes. Let's see...there's...AppleEKLOptionAltFunction48AppleApple Pear Fruitcake. Yes. Fruitcake.

Like I said, I'm afraid I'm not going to remember any of it tomorrow. Luckily, this doesn't seem to phase me. I know that no matter how many times someone tells me where to find the library of editorial templates, I'm never going to remember it alone until I'm sitting in front of my computer, staring into the abyss of the screen. Sometimes inspiration strikes, and I suddenly remember which database to search to find (ie.) the correct mug shots. Other times, I spend such silent moments contemplating the least plaintive way to ask for help.

But I am nearly thrilled for Thursday now, the day Sandra said I get to put together the obits page.
It doesn't sound nearly as interesting and cool when I type it out like that. The obits page is definitely a special page. It's the page seasoned designers feel safe giving to the intern, if that says anything else about it. If you're not familiar with what you're doing, it could take a very long time to do. You have to give different styles to each of the following: names, ages/residences, first paragraphs....etc. Other pages are easier to do; you only have a couple of stories to format. But the obits page can get up to five or six stories (depending on length), and that means you end up doing a lot of highlighting and clicking on formatting styles.

I didn't do a very good job of describing the monotony and difficulties, but they do exist, I promise you. It should be interesting to see how long it takes me to put together a page that takes Sandra about ten minutes to do. One hour? Half of an hour?
"Time for news!"

That's something my grandpa says when we're at my grandparents' apartment and my grandpa decides he's tired of watching Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends or What Not To Wear. I wish I could do the voice, but I can't. Just picture an 85-year old Dutch man trying to be mischievous and sneaky, and you can do without the voice.

And it is time for news. I've been doing research for a French project, which I'm presenting tomorrow afternoon, and I've discovered something very alarming. Currently in the class, we're reading Frantz Fanon's Peau noire, masques blancs (Black Skin, White Masks). The chapter I'm focusing on is titled "La femme de couleur et le blanc" (The Woman of Color and the White Man).

Fanon's objective was to see if real love can exist between a black woman and a white man, considering all the history that moves to keep them separate. I started my research with nearly the same objective, but I wanted to focus on how badly some black women wanted to be white.

I know most of you don't read or speak French, but here is one site that just amazes me. I unfortunately can only figure out how to translate it from the google.fr search page, but hopefully some of you others will be successful. The article even mentions Fanon and his book.

On another site, I found a statistic saying that today, 20% of people of African descent living in the Parisian area try to whiten their skin. Products used range from acne medication to steroids. Fanon says it stems from an inferiority complex, and all I can think about is Michael Jackson and plastic surgery.

The most interesting thing, for me, is that all I have to do to find information in French is enter (in French) the words "whiten the skin." Almost everything after that includes news sources, random blogs, articles... almost everything is directed at black women and the effort they put into lightening their skin.

On the other hand, when I do the search in English, I have to say "black women who whiten their skin" to get any results even minutely related to what I want. There were a few entries at first on yahoo.answers.com of fair-skinned women looking to have the classic translucent white skin, and I suppose that IS nearly what I was looking for, but I feel like it had less to do with inferiority and more to do with beauty images.

Maybe I'm wrong about that last statement, but it just makes me so sad that women would do this to themselves. Here's an article from the British paper The Guardian. I think this is probably the best English article I've found about the issue. It borders between a rant and a serious article, I feel, but I believe it's very pertinent.

Also, this video from ABC looks like it should be really good (I can't watch it with the sound on). I'll have to look at it tomorrow morning before my presentation.

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