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Friday, January 12, 2018

Maybe it is a good sign

Maybe it is a good sign
A cranky opinion for
CRANKY OPINION SATURDAY
The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with little expertise on the topic opined.  Opposing opinions are welcome, but are wrong.  As always, please no name calling, and that means you, you big stupid-head!
An apparel company recently got itself in hot water with a racist ad.  The company was advertising hooded sweatshirts.  One of their ads was a sweatshirt with a logo “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.”  This shirt was modeled by a young black child.
Racist?  You bet.
Outrageous? Maybe.
Why maybe?
I sincerely believe this company did not place an ad with a racist image on purpose.  If I am right, it could be a sign of progress.
How so?
Perhaps the world is not seeing black and white quite to the extent that it has in the past.  Perhaps young people are not seeing race the same as people of previous generations have seen race.  A clearly racist ad posted because the generation that produced it does not see race and therefore did not see the inherent racism is actually a good thing.
My children have black friends.  My step daughter’s roommate is African American.  I worked with and worked for African Americans.  My current neighbors on both sides of my town home are African American.
My mother, god bless her, was racist.  She did not wear a white hood, she did not hate black people, but she was raised in a southern city, lived in an all-white neighborhood, and went to an all-white school, and yeah, she was probably a little bit racist. 
I’d like to think that I am not the least bit racist, but yeah, I probably am not without prejudice. 
I remember when my son was 10 and we were watching the movie “Remember the Titans” which was about the integration of a high school football team in Virginia in the 70’s.  My son did not understand what all the friction was about and I had to explain how integrating whites and blacks in the 70’s south was a big deal.  He had trouble understanding that concept.
Yes, I know, racism is still a very big concern in this country, and we need to keep a spotlight on the issue, but while we aim to eradicate racism completely, we should at least acknowledge where we have improved.
From one generation to another racism has been less and less insidious.  Perhaps the fact that a clearly racist ad was allowed to pass censure is a result not of actual racism, but of a generation which no longer sees race and therefore does not see racism that is obvious to those of us that still think in terms of black and white.
Perhaps…  
The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man, and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.

15 comments:

  1. My second ex-husband is racist and I tell him off every time I hear a racist comment from him. I grew up playing with the local aboriginal kids at the beach each summer, primary school age, but I don't remember any of them going to school until a couple of girls came to the high school years later. They were only there for one year if I remember correctly.

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  2. You've made a good point.

    I know the South is guilty of horrible racism. I'm a Southerner and very aware of our past. I do feel concern that as a nation, we never acknowledge that racism is and was a national problem. Black people were not free to live anywhere and schools were not integrated until the 90s outside the South. Add to that the hyper de facto segregation in large Northern cities like Detroit. I say this in defense of African Americans and not out of regionalism. Racism is alive, well and downright sneaky.

    Integration was sticky in the South. But it depended on which county. Most of the rural counties were quite happy to consolidate schools. It was less expensive and everyone knew each other. We did have a lot of independent private schools to pop up that were founded on having a white school. I grew up in a military town and we were integrated before the court orders. Ironically, the black school in our county did not want to integrate with the other schools. They did have a good school and were proud of it. I was an 8th grader at the time and loved the sudden school holidays. But the court order was good. Living separate is not reasonable.

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  3. I get what you are saying here. The intent may not have been racist at all. (How often did I refer to my children as little monkeys? Probably a lot.) It's progress that the uproar came from not wanting to reinforce racist reaction because there are racist among us. If this gets each of us to examine our own hearts, that's a good thing.

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  4. I think the young generation is getting better at accepting different nationalities, skin colours and religions. I recall my daughter in public school struggling to point out her new friend in a crowd to me.....he has a stripped shirt etc etc.....she didn't mention he was the only african canadian child in the group. It's a good thing.

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  5. It may well be that younger people did not see the problem at first and are not outright racist. Little Girl, on her last day of high school when i went to pick her up, ran across the grounds and jumped into the arms of a fellow student, a large African American teen, and they hugged and danced in glee hat having finished school. It made me happy to watch.

    All of us make snap judgments, we can’t help it. Upon seeing a person, our brains come up with a judgment in under one second, subconsciously.. We must grab that thought consciously, suspend it (if it’s not a warming of real danger, which usually it is not), and replace it with openness and curiousity to learn more about the person without letting our preconceptions come into play.

    My Papa was very racist, and i remember being very sad hearing some of his comments when i was young.

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  6. Well reasoned opinion. We've made progress for sure, but we can't coast. I too find it hard to believe a company would willfully, knowingly place an ad that would instantly decrease its likely customer base by half. That would be beyond stupid.

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  7. You make a good point, but it's still hard for me to believe that a company that big didn't have someone over the age of 40 or so that saw that ad prior to print and didn't stop it.

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  8. I had one child (who climbed wooden rocking chairs from the side) I called a monkey. Often.
    (Now somebody will get all bent that I called him a monkey ...)
    Sigh ...

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  9. My dad was casually racist even though he lived all his life in a small town in North Dakota. My wife broke him of using the N word by just quietly telling him that we didn't use that word in our house. For what it's worth he was a conservative Republican too.

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    1. I don't believe any political party has a monopoly on racism, conservatives and liberals are equally guilty...liberals may be better at pointing the finger.

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  10. I like your take on this, and I think it's definitely a viewpoint that's worth considering. It's very hopeful to me that your son didn't get the big deal about integration. We still have a ways to go, in my opinion, but I think you're absolutely right that we also need to look at how far we've come. My mom went to segregated schools, and can tell you the name of her first non-white friend. My sister and I have no idea who our first non-white friends were. I think that's progress from one generation to the next.

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  11. This shirt was the topic of discussion at a radio show a few days ago. What the DJs didn't consider (or think of) was that the company who makes the hoodies is a Swedish company. Sweden is probably one of the least racist countries (generally speaking). Additionally, some English expressions don't translate easily. I truly believe that the marketing people at H&M were just not aware as to how racist the term "monkey in the jungle" is when used for black people.

    I, for one, believe it was one of those "lost in translation" things and nobody thought anything of it until it hit the U.S.

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  12. Racism is a tough subject to discuss because right now people are so sensitive to it, I'm not making light of the issue and I do believe that our country has taken a step backwards when it comes to racism, but racism is not prevalent in only one group of people nor in only one race. I grew up in South Carolina and I have witnessed a lot of acts of racism growing up, but not everybody in our community nor in our state were racists. I went to school throughout the 60's and 70's and every school I ever went to was mixed race and my friends were all colors, in spite of the fact that my dad is one of the worst racists I have ever known and I am so happy that gene wasn't passed down. I don't remember any black schools nor white schools we just went to school.

    I agree with you Joe the ad with the little boy wearing that particular shirt can be viewed as racist, although it shouldn't be, and I thank God that the generations coming up now are more accepting of each other and pray that one day we can stop degrading each other because of where you are from or what color you are.

    Excellent post Joe.

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  13. It does seem odd that NOBODY noticed this before it went out. Somebody had to know that it would be offensive.

    No matter which kid they use to model it, that's not a very good slogan. It's not funny, and it's just kind of asking for a kid to get teased for thinking he's the "coolest." Even if it was "Coolest Penguin on the Iceberg," it would still be stupid.

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