Saturday, October 28, 2006

Negro, Please.

I'm so tired of people playing the race card every dang day. It's like there are people paid to sit in an office and find any thing that they could imply racist intent to and get a press release out immediately. Recently I heard about an ad run against Michael Dukakis in '88 about a man named Willie Horton. Apparently it was considered by some to be racist. Check it out for yourself.


I don't know about you, I just don't see it. Sure, you could stretch this to say that it's saying "black people are bad, and Dukakis likes them." Or, you could see it for what it is...a statement of fact. Horton was serving a life-sentence w/o parole for 1st degree murder. But he got to leave for the weekend.

Now we have the Harold Ford ad, which is considered racist because it shows a white woman who is interested in this African-American man. First of all, she was supposed to be one of the girls from a playboy party. If you think of a stereotypical playboy bunny, you have to envision a white, blonde woman. That's a given. So why not use one in your ad, as a stereotype? See this one for yourself.

I don't know about you, but I don't see any racist sentiment there. And, as a black man who is married to a white woman, I have dealt with the issue of race in this context more than most will even see through a friend. You don't have to tell me that the sentiment still exists. But I don't see any racism here. I see a ridiculously outlandish and corny commercial that is destined to affect no one (the only part I like is the face the guy makes after he talks about the porn producer thing). It probably speaks the truth about the guy, but I can't say for sure. But the DNCC and the NAACP are 1)afraid it might be effective, and 2)willing to take any opportunity to discredit the opponents statements.

I have a question...why can't these networks and newspapers, and bloggers seem to find any black people who don't think these ads were racist? Am I the only one? I couldn't possibly be. But you know what, it wouldn't even matter. Because as soon as one of us speaks up, we'll be called Uncle Tom, or "token", or people will say we want to be white, or something like that. Basically we aren't black enough to speak as black people. We wouldn't be counted in the Black Census.

Well, I'm sick of it. Black people need to stand up and take the reigns of their own lives. Instead of playing the race card, a la Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Cynthia McKinney, and the like, we need to do something with our lives. We need to stop idolizing rappers and basketball players and start looking up to entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, scientists, philosophers, and statesmen. We need to stop looking for handouts and start earning our rewards. Don't blame white people for our problems, just fix them.

People say that blacks are born into poverty and are doomed by the system to stay there because they can't get an education and get held down by society. But immigrants keep coming here from Europe, Asia, and India, starting out with pennies to their name and in the second or third generation are successful doctors. Sure, the Europeans might "have it easier" because they're white, but what about the Pakistanis and the Cambodians? It can be done, so let's do it.

4 Comments:

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Matt W. said...

You said:

I have a question...why can't these networks and newspapers, and bloggers seem to find any black people who don't think these ads were racist? Am I the only one? I couldn't possibly be. But you know what, it wouldn't even matter. Because as soon as one of us speaks up, we'll be called Uncle Tom, or "token", or people will say we want to be white, or something like that. Basically we aren't black enough to speak as black people. We wouldn't be counted in the Black Census.

I would argue, as a white person who has done some study in American race relations, that I don't believe that anyone should ask you whether this ad is racist or not and leave the conclusion in your hands just because you are black. There are a number of reasons for this. First among them is that no one should ask a single black person to speak for his entire race (or a woman to speak for women, etc.). Some people of color will find the ad racist and some won't. But this is only part of the problem anyway.

An equally important problem is the responsibility white people have to deal with their racial attitutdes. I have a moral responsibility at least somewhat independent of whether you think something is racist or not to deal with my own racism and the racism of my white (and black) brothers and sisters. Having said that, miscegeny has been a serious point of conflict in race relations in the US historically, especially in the south, and especially (but by no means exclusively, Jefferson was one huge example, for instance) among the white conservative establishment. The literature is overwhelming. Therefore, to play this commercial is to play to racial stereotypes. There are plenty of black playboy bunnies (despite your insistence that playboy bunnies are stereotypically white) and if the makers of the commercial had a) any race sensitivity and b) non ulterior motives they could have easily substituted a black playboy bunny actress and achieved their (misleading) purposes to the same effect. But since there is no evidence that Ford had any sort of sexual contact with the bunnies, only that he took money from them and visited the mansion, the overtly sexual theme in the commercial AND the white actress point to something more sinister, playing on deep racial fears.

That's why I call it racist and, please understand, I don't need a black man's permission to deal with my own races' moral responsibilities. Jesus told us sin is a matter of the heart. This type of racism is also a matter of the heart, not just social structures, and white people need to call each other into account over this.

Thanks for listening.

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Elmo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3:41 PM, Blogger Elmo said...

Matt, thanks for the comment.

I know the views of miscegeny, especially in the south, so you don't have to worry about explaining it to me. Perhaps you missed the part about me being having gone through it (with Texans, no less). And I'm sure there are black Playboy girls, but that isn't the stereotype (that's why it's a stereotype, and not the truth).

I'm not suggesting that you need a black man's opinion to decide that something is racist, but members of the "offended group" should carry more weight in a discussion like this. But you're right, to leave the decision in the hands of one person isn't a good idea. I do know that the second half of the statement you quoted, and subsequently ignored, is correct.

One of the main problems with uproars like this, is it takes the focus of off more serious incidents, such as those involving Michael Steele being called "token" and "Uncle Tom", and being said to "slavishly" work for Republicans. There has been little news about these incidents, which are overtly racist.

And here's a question...what if all of the bunnies at the party were white? Should they still have thought to use a black actress?

Finally, I totally agree with your last paragraph.

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger Matt W. said...

Thanks for the response, Elmo. I certainly did hear through the media about comments against Michael Steele. And I agree, they are racist. Or, using the same application I did in my response, if his opponent was sensitive to racial issues he would have certianly not used a term like "slavish" (which, I might point out, he did apologize for). So we agree.

As for whether all of the Playboy bunnies at the particular party that Harold was at were white, how could we know? You don't actually suppose that the people who ran the ad wanted "factual" accuracy to the extent that they looked into that, do you? I seriously doubt that. So I can't buy that part of your argument.

Thanks for the discussion.

 

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