Archive - 2010

January 18th

I Can Has Dream?

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Memo to America and a bit of Australia: KEEP WORKING ON THAT RACE THING.

It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which means it's time for the YAD annual tradition of plugging the word "racism" into Google News and seeing what pops up. Of course, this year, I had to break a bit from tradition, and in order to retain my sanity, changed this year's search term to "racism -Reid". So, what's the state of racism these days?

Apparently, Tennessee football coaching doesn't just inspire fire and riots when a coach leaves. They can't even get hiring a replacement right. In something called a "Bleacher Report", someone named Kevin Scott pointed out the tiny percentage of black coaches in college football, points out that one white guy and one black guy were up for the riot-inducing Tennessee coaching vacancy, and Tennessee picked the white guy. He claimed the black guy's resume was superior - I have no way of judging college football's coaching resumes, so I'll have to take his word for it.

This led to the usual array of enlightened, post-racial comments, my favorite of which was the following:

"I think you need to look up the definition of racist. You seriously 'think they showed they are racist by telling a black coach with a superior resume he was a viable candidate and would be given a fair shot, then not giving him a fair shot?' That doesn't come close to the definition of racism." - One "Stephen Matthews".

In his defense, that doesn't come close to the TENNESSEE definition of racism, which as a general rule involves fire, hoods, and rope. In more enlightened parts of the world, when that happens, not only is it considered the definition of racism, but is actually kind of illegal.

Since this is Tennessee, Mr. Scott then recanted the next day, saying that he was misunderstood, and of course he wasn't impugning any of the specific actors in the case he was discussing, but was instead addressing, clumsily, the larger issue of racism in college football, which may or may not exist. Way to stick it to 'em, Scott.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia's state legislature, a Republican called for drug testing of all welfare recipients. A Democrat called the policy racist. The Republican got pissed off, and offered the following defense.

"I would predict [the racial makeup] is mainly white in West Virginia but I don’t know. What difference does it make? I couldn’t care less." - Craig Blair, who also mentioned his black father-in-law in his defense.

It is true that Craig Blair couldn't care less about welfare recipients. They're poor, he's a Republican, and I think we can all do the math there. Blair isn't necessarily racist per se, but he is furthering a racist and classist policy based on a generally racist and classist philosophy, which is that poor people, who are still in this day and age disproportionally minority people, have to live up to ridiculous standards to receive their pittance of government assistance that no other segment of society has to live up to.

Considering we can't even impose standards of behavior on wealthy banks that will keep them from doing the same things that made them need the government help in the first place, it's a blatantly hypocritical dick move to require expensive, invasive drug testing to make people qualify for their three hundred bucks a month. And it's a dick move that, from a historical perspective, has certainly been inspired by a general hatred of minorities over the years. So I think someone owes his father-in-law an apology.

In Georgia, a guy shot up the workplace that laid him off, killing three people, and friends said he was angered by the fact that he was laid off before the Hispanic employees. That's fairly classic. Oh, hey, remember that swim club in Pennsylvania that kicked all the black kids out, then went bankrupt after the story broke wide and they were rightfully made a national laughingstock? Well, the Justice Department has just gotten around to charging them with discrimination. Not sure what good it'll do, months later, with the club closed, but on the other hand, it's probably not a good idea to let people off the hook for racism just because they close their business rather than let black people patronize it.

Meanwhile, down in Australia, Kentucky Fried Chicken has been forced to pull an ad due to accusations of racism. In the ad, a white cricket fan, cheering for the opposing team, angers the fans around him, who are all from the West Indies. He appeases them with a bucket of fried chicken. And the clip is labeled "KFC Cricket Survival Guide".

Now, I will admit a lack of knowledge of cross-cultural signifiers. And I will also freely admit that globalism means the same product can be seen differently by different regional arms of the same multinational corporation. But if any company's marketing departments should be well aware of - or even hypersensitive to - the cultural overtones of its product, it's KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN.

Apparently, KFC is aware of them, they just think they only have to worry about it in the US. Here's their excuse: "The ad was reproduced online in the U.S. without KFC's permission, where we are told a culturally based stereotype exists, leading to the incorrect assertion of racism."

Um, no. Even if you discount the American stereotype of black people loving fried chicken, the ad STILL has a white guy appeasing a large group of hostile "natives" with a simple gift. And that's a culturally-based stereotype all over the world. Don't blame the Internet for you being called racists, KFC. Blame the Internet for you getting caught.