5 Hot New (Old) Racial Stereotypes
In the first 100 days of the Obama administration, our national conversation on race opened up and flourished, bringing about a discourse in which all voices are heard on equal terms, to discuss and dismantle the racial disparities in economics, health, education, law enforcement, the environment, etc., that hold our world society back from true justice.
I’m lying! The same crap kept happening as has always happened. Those in power, the people whose voices hold so much potential to effect change, largely talked about race only as far as it would get them something, like a continuation of their power. Some tried to hide it better, but most were too lazy to even do that, or maybe there was just no point in developing new memes when the old ones are still paying dividends.
So, that being the case, what are the hot new (old) racial stereotypes being (re)introduced this season that all the jet-setting racial-coding oppressive power elite are pushing? Why, they look weirdly similar to the oppressive racial-coding memes from last season, and the season before that! And the mere fact that I managed to put this list together without a single clip from Rush Limbaugh or Fox News should show how entrenched these ideas are. In no particular order, let’s check it out!
The Brown Man as Terrorist
Let’s get things started with an old favorite, not that any of these are new. GOP strategist Phil Musser says that those who oppose torture would rethink their position if they’d seen what he saw when he visited Gitmo. And what is it that he saw, at Gitmo, that made it plain that these detainees were all but asking to be hung from the ceiling until their feet swelled to twice their normal size and their legs were covered in blisters? He saw … their faces.
Yep. Musser is apparently possessed of the same superpower as many deep-South highway patrol officers: the ability to assess guilt based on … nobody in this clip ever says ‘racial profiling,’ but what else could Musser possibly mean? That the detainees gave him the stinkeye? In the clip’s second half, Lawrence O’Donnell puts Musser in his place for a few glorious minutes, but really, Musser was just unlucky enough to own the mouth this phrase finally came out of. (Democratic Underground by way of TPM)
The White Man as Trustworthy Hard-Working American
Remember this guy from the late-period McCain campaign? No? Lucky you! For the rest of us, here’s convenient morphogenic stereotype Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, doing what he does best, i.e. showing up to things and then making the mistake of talking. In this case, he’s shilling against the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would empower America’s unions and protect the jobs of workers in communities of color. The only well-informed individuals who have come out against it are the board of Wal-Mart, the Monopoly guy, and Joe here. Actually, take Joe off that list -- he’s definitely against it, but, as he says in this very clip, he doesn’t have all the facts. Joe’s against it because, uh, man, y’know, look, quit asking him, all right?
Look, the important thing is that he’s a white male, so therefore he’s not lazy or undeserving of a fair wage and safe working conditions, and therein lies his authority on the matter of EFCA’s impact on union jobs and their affected communities. He’s probably from a small town too. (The Plum Line)
The Non-White Man with a Non-European Name as Anti-American
Q: If an American president was in office during the passage of a budget that taxed the rich at a rate of greater than 35%, would a few protesters gather nationwide and call that president a fascist?
Black and Brown Families as Born Losers
As previously discussed on RaceWire, Rick Santelli became something of an astroturfed folk hero when he declared his unwillingness to see his hard-earned dollars go to bail out 'losers' who engaged in 'bad behavior.' The upper-class white male derivatives traders around him were terribly shamed, and tried to hide their faces behind their $2000 Brooks Brothers windbreakers, until Rick explained that he meant the lower- and middle-class families of color getting kicked out of their homes by sweeping foreclosures caused by the the unsustainable behavior of white male upper-class derivatives traders. Then they were totally on his side! Phew! Screw those black and brown kids! They must have been doing ... something wrong!
Above, I've embedded White House press secretary Robert Gibbs' response, in which he calls out some basic factual errors that undermine the already shouty validity of Santelli's rant. I've done this because I can't listen to Rick Santelli's voice anymore. (Huffington Post)
The Conversation about Race as Tarantulas
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Word - Ablacknophobia|
And finally, here's satirist Stephen Colbert, responding to Attorney General Eric Holder's speech on race relations in America, now unfortunately referred to as the "nation of cowards" speech. And sadly, this is one of the few pieces of TV news analysis I could find that attempted to dig any deeper than that line.
Colbert, the people's champion, starts with a strong pushback against the pushback ("This is an exact quote: 'Stephen Colbert is a coward.'"), but falls short of the full potential of the forum. Yes, I know, he's a comedian, but he's also Stephen Colbert -- he's got nobody but himself to blame for high expectations. And after watching the videos in this list, and noting the race-silent responses of Lawrence O'Donnell and Robert Gibbs to the purveyors of racial coding... Well, I wanted to see somebody knock it out of the park, by taking Holder's advice and addressing racial disparity, plainly and bravely, and with more depth than just apologizing for slavery until the tarantulas are removed.
And yes, that was a beautiful visual metaphor on Colbert's part. I still wanted, to quote a Racialicious commenter, "a bigger wink." Here's hoping Holder takes the offer to stop by.