A few days ago, I posted a picture of all the presidents of the United States. At the end of the lineup was a man with a big ol' sombrero and a brightly coloured poncho. As I related, the picture was sent in an email with the words, "We are next in line." What I didn't tell you at the time was that it was sent 'round about by people of Mexican descent and eventually found its way into Catherine's inbox. (And Catherine, why did you delete your blog just now? I wanted to link!)
Is something racist just because the person telling the joke is a racist? Or is it NOT racist because it's endorsed by a gen-u-ine member of that minority group?
I'd tend to think of the picture as being racist. Then again, I've been wrong *so* many times and need a friend to tell me, um, the chicken thing? That's racist. Maybe better not post that next time... And I appreciate that!
But I posted the last picture of the presidents to get some discussion going. It's a very touchy topic. How do you know if something's racist? Is it only when presented with some level of hate? Ridicule?
Recently, I was reading on the news where people are supposed to call in "gay" to work. Could you imagine the conversations that would ensue?
"Hi, Madge. It's Joey. I can't come to work today because I'm gaaaaaay."
"Um, Joey...? What does being gay have to do with selling shoes? Because I'm bisexual. Should I take just half a day off, and listen to show tunes only in the afternoon?"
OK, anyway. I think, despite my differences of opinion with members of the "gay community," that doggone it, they can sell shoes or whatever as well as anyone else. And you know what? I don't know any gay people to back this up, but I'm thinking the lisping and great decorating thing is probably a stereotype, too. Or maybe gay men don't go 'round having 18 kids and just have more time to blow dry their hair. Maybe all men like that, and just the gay guys have time for that. I dunno. Just guessing. All 94 of you gay guys who read my blog every day for the snarky homeschool humour feel free to comment. :p
But there have been times where I have needed some explanation on "why" things are offensive, or the symbols behind stuff. I think all of us are not above correction. But I also think passing around a pic of some dude in a sombrero as being "next in line" for the presidency might be pushing it a little. Am I allowed an opinion if I'm white?
I think a while back I posted a horrible rap video. It had black ladies writhing about in slinky outfits, all smeared up with makeup. Black men in chains and doing those jerky hand motions. BIG gold things all over their hands. Grills on the teeth. I wrote that surely, surely this must be some awful joke against the Obama campaign that the singers would be "votin' Obama way." But wow. I got comments informing me that no, people really mean that. Bad grammar and all.
So do we get the stereotype from people like that? I can't imagine that such gyrations are indicative of "the black experience." I have known black folks in college with *perfect* diction who do things like play lacrosse and drive BMWs. Well, sure, some of them were adopted into white families and didn't get along with the militant black folks on campus, but still. You *can't* play the stereotype game with anyone and expect to win. Everyone is different. :]
I guess I'm writing that I don't know when to get outraged. I know how upset a certain man I knew from Africa would get at Kwanzaa and black people dressing up as though they were from Africa. They are NOT FROM AFRICA, he would vehemently declare. They are AMERICANS, pretending to come from Africa.
Well, you go ahead and have that opinion, but I don't think I'd have been brave enough to march down to the "Black Culture House" on campus and proclaim it.
And as for the picture of the obviously Mexican guy "next in line" for the presidency? I just wrote Catherine that I'd vote for him if his politics are right. I suppose that's all that comes down to when I'm selecting a politician. What do you think?