Racism, Insensitivity, Chicken, Watermelon and “Our Blacks”

Racial profiling has become a major issue again over the past few days and it is going to be huge news after today.  This is really a growing problem in both the media and politics particularly for the Republican party for the past few years.

Today’s news hinges on the shooting case of Trayvon Martin (a Florida teenager that was gunned down last month that has raised many questions about racial profiling on several levels including the media)

Today, the point was made by Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) who wore a hooded sweater this morning on the House floor.  He then informed the House that “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.”

He was asked to leave by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) the presiding officer.  Rush continued to speak while Harper continued to ask him to leave the chambers and  Rush ended up being escorted out (hopefully not because he looked like a hoodlum).

I looked at a site named BlackDemographics.com and ran into these numbers:

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010 there were 42,020,743 African Americans in the USA or 13.6% of the total population of 308.7 million. The black population exceeded 500,000 in 15 states. Blacks were the largest minority group in 24 states, compared with 20 states in which Hispanics were the largest minority group..

When I see these numbers I have to wonder how so many people in important positions specifically politics and in the media have no idea what will make this big chunk of the population uncomfortable or angry.  

I can only think back to Ann Coulter a while back and her “our blacks” vs. “their blacks” rant:  5min.com coverage of the comments.  Coulter is promoting a book that supposedly clears up how the Left is rewriting history and how the Right is the ones who stand up for the blacks.  Now this self-proclaimed expert on African American needs goes into a rant that clearly shows the world that she is clueless about anything about the current African American culture. 

There have been several slips like this since the 2008 election – Check out this report from TruthDig about a news report about the Obama Bucks (You may remember that this was an image of a food stamp with then Candidate Obama’s picture a bucket of chicken, ribs and a slice of watermelon which appeared on a newsletter for Republican Women in Inland Empire, California – CNN Video).

 

Over the paste few years little slip ups like this have been occurring and reoccurring yet politicians and people in some media outlets persist in saying that the African American population (and other minority groups) are simply overreacting and getting bent out of shape for nothing.  

I do not feel I can really declare somebody a racist or a group racist over a slip here and there.  I do feel that there is however, a pattern of behavior that shows that some of the media and many in politics (particularly those calling themselves Republican) have an insensitivity to what the African American community is put off by and an insensitivity to the unresolved issues of the past.

In my lifetime, people were segregated in schools and public places, people were beaten, arrested, raped and killed for being persons of color.  There are people alive today who lived through these things, experienced these things, saw these things done to their loved ones and on and on.  They were called somebody’s property as a vicious attack to degrade and demoralize them, they watched and listened as people of power debated if African American people were to be considered as human or as intelligent as others and on and on.  To just use the language and the images that these people and their children find offensive will put them off.  

For people who find it puzzling because somebody offended somebody “but they didn’t mean to” there is a rule of communication to keep in mind.  Communication is not what you think you are saying, communication is what the other person thinks you are saying.  How much more true this is when you are seeking election.  

There are those who are okay with being one of Ann Coulter’s blacks and see nothing wrong with political images with buckets of chicken, watermelon, ribs, Kool-Aid and Barack Obama’s picture and that is all fine and dandy, but understand that a large majority of African Americans will be put off by such things for a very long time and seeing as they a big block of the population you might try to tick them off less and get their votes more.

Some days I wear a dress shirt and slacks and some days (like today) a wear a hooded sweater and jeans, I sure hope that nobody assumes I am a hoodlum and shoots me and I hope that nobody escorts me out of anywhere for wearing my sweater.  By the way, it is raining out and the sweater is simply a good idea.

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