More fun in post-racial America

As we've seen this election cycle, there's a desperation seen in the MSM talking heads and newpaper columnists, even some blogs, to declare Barack Obama's success a post-racial triumph in this country -- that racism is rapidly becoming a distant memory.

First, take a look at this lovely T-shirt being sold at Mulligan's Bar and Grill in Marietta/Cobb County, Georgia (h/t Jeremy from Cobb).

Marietta tavern owner Mike Norman says the T-shirts he's peddling, featuring cartoon chimp Curious George peeling a banana, with "Obama in '08" scrolled underneath, are "cute." But to a coalition of critics, the shirts are an insulting exploitation of racial stereotypes from generations past.

"It's time to put an end to this," said Rich Pellegrino, a Mableton resident and director of the Cobb-Cherokee Immigrant Alliance. It was among the organizations planning to gather outside Mulligan's Bar and Grill Tuesday afternoon to protest the "racist and highly offensive" shirts.

Just down the street from Marietta's famous Big Chicken, Mulligan's has carved a provocative niche in an increasingly multicultural area, thanks to its owner's ultra-conservative political views. If you live in Marietta, it's impossible not to know what's on Norman's mind, as he posts his views on signs in front of Mulligan's. Among his recent musings: "I wish Hillary had married OJ," "No habla espanol — and never will" and the standard "I.N.S. Agents eat free."

"I'm saying out loud what everyone in this town whispers," Norman said.

...Norman said those offended are "hunting for a reason to be mad" and insisted he is "not a racist." Why picture Obama as Curious George? "Look at him . . . the hairline, the ears, he looks just like Curious George," Norman said.

Not a racist. I guess he doesn't do Klan night riding on the weekends, so in his mind he's free and clear of that label. Even sadder, he's donating the proceeds to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I wonder what the MDA thinks of this?

Today we will see an example, in West Virginia's primary, of how there are limitations to that fantasy. As I was driving in to work this AM I was listening to NPR and the report was on that state's primary. The reporter referred to the -- "older, less-educated, less affluent, white voters Clinton refers to as her base." At this point, there's little use in cloaking the fact that we're talking about people who will simply not vote for a black man for any reason. They are out there, and even in this PC-culture, they don't mind sharing. I think it's healthy for people to say exactly where these scared voters are coming from, so that all the kumbaya fantasists realize we have a lot of work to do, even as we see the unprecedented performance of Barack Obama.

There is an eye-opening piece in the WaPo, "Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause", about young canvassers, many of them white, getting their first taste of bold, in-your-face racism, as they went door to door in Indiana and Pennsylvania in advance of those primaries.

In Muncie, a factory town in the east-central part of Indiana, [volunteer Danielle] Ross and her cohorts were soliciting support for Obama at malls, on street corners and in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and they ran into "a horrible response," as Ross put it, a level of anti-black sentiment that none of them had anticipated.

"The first person I encountered was like, 'I'll never vote for a black person,' " recalled Ross, who is white and just turned 20. "People just weren't receptive."

For all the hope and excitement Obama's candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed -- and unreported -- this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They've been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they've endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can't fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

...Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, said she, too, came across "a lot of racism" when campaigning for Obama in Pennsylvania. One Pittsburgh union organizer told her he would not vote for Obama because he is black, and a white voter, she said, offered this frank reason for not backing Obama: "White people look out for white people, and black people look out for black people."

And it's not just bold declarations of fear of white privilege we're talking about. These young people are getting a terrible taste of the dark side of America, one that has been allowed to fester because we have trouble discussing color-arousal issues without escalating the conflict.

The bigotry has gone beyond words. In Vincennes, the Obama campaign office was vandalized at 2 a.m. on the eve of the primary, according to police. A large plate-glass window was smashed, an American flag stolen. Other windows were spray-painted with references to Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and other political messages: "Hamas votes BHO" and "We don't cling to guns or religion. Goddamn Wright."

This is going on even as Obama has won 30 of the 50 Democratic primaries and caucuses held so far. That achievement is remarkable and historic, and the feeling of optimism should not be quashed by such bigotry. On the other hand, this WaPo article is a rarity in that it dares to raise the issue of negative, race-based voting patterns and a resistance and fear that are very real.

Putting our heads in the sand is dangerous; I am glad that these people are gutsy enough to admit their prejudices aloud so that we are reminded that racism isn't relegated only to a region south of the Mason-Dixon line. It's more about class and a population that has a base fear of further displacement and denial of their American dream by the "other," a seemingly ascendant population -- blacks -- who are going to somehow exact retribution on them via Barack Obama as president. I hate to break it to them, but white privilege will not be erased with the election of Barack Obama, and the ones who hoodwinked them out of the American dream were BushCo and the GOP.

Comments

sigh - yet another wall to scale

Even as I am overjoyed at the historic nature of this election year, I'm saddened that for some, all that matters is the skin color you're born with.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

You must have missed the BBC report right afterwards.

They didn't sugarcoat it. The tease was something like

blah blah blah West Virginia Democratic Primary, where Barack Obama is finding out something he won't like:

Citizen: I won't vote for Obama.

Interviewer: Why Not?

Citizen: Because he's black.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

The Citizen should have said:

Because I'm stupid and racist.

That is the correct answer. The explanation is not that Obama is black. The explanation is that the citizen is an ignorant bigot.

"Another" Lady Said

I can't vote for Obama because he's a Muslim and I don't like that Rev. Wright who was his pastor!

Go figure.

fhblack

I am interested in seeing

what, if any, fallout ensues for that establishment after this gets some copy.

The evidence of this persistent fear and hatred is itself pretty frightening. And of course, the gut reaction it inspires is pretty wicked, too.

For every person who reacts thoughtfully there are many, many more who will react in kind.

In North Carolina

we'll finally see the true nature of our culture in November. Will we discover that our state consists of a majority of racist bigots? We shall see.

I don't know, but I see something very promising in the

Union County returns. I honestly thought this county would go big for Hillary and she barely won. I think the votes Obama won't get are the votes he wasn't counting on getting. I think if Obama is our nominee, North Carolina will go blue.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Ditto in Person County. Clinton won by 12 votes

and that was the day after Bill Clinton spoke at our high school gym. If that's what it takes for Hillary to break even, Obama has a good shot at carrying Person Co., and if he can carry Person, he can carry the state.

Person County Democrats

You could have knocked me out of my chair

when Moore County went for Obama. Maybe folks were ticked we didn't get an ex-president to speak here, I don't know. I have a feeling it was more than that.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

But . . .

Not sure how to interpret this. What event in November would tell you whether our state consists of a majority of bigots?

It does seem a stretch to take one election

and base an opinion on whether or not an entire state is bigoted. I went to school in WV, and I know that there are people there who aren't as bigoted as the one Robert quoted above.

I would find it personally redeeming and gratifying if NC votes for the Democrat this fall. I'm just about counting on that Democrat being Obama. But if by some unforeseen circumstance Clinton winds up winning, I'll be just as gratified to see the state turn a nice deep shade of blue on the first Tues. of November.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Hope this wasn't a disrespectful question

I am genuinely curious.

I don't think it was disrespectful.

n/t

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

There's a whole different variety of racism...

...north of the Mason-Dixon line.

I grew up moving around a bit: GA to MI to MD back to MI to OH to NC to MO back to NC. Here are some differences.

In the south we have different neighborhoods for different ethnic groups - in the Detroit area: they have different CITIES for different ethnic groups. As a child, my first experience with a fully integrated class was in Maryland...not Michigan; and my Middle and High School in North Carolina was more so.

Also, the rhetoric is much more blunt. I remember moving to Missouri as a college student and being unnerved and taken aback that people of all ages and backgrounds would use racial epithets, in conversational volume, around me, after knowing me a little longer than the half-life of an unstable atom. Here in the South - when I did hear it - it was either from some octogenarian or idiot; but it was always done in hushed tones.

The point is that North Carolina has nothing on the Midwest in terms of racism. It is much more prevalent and accepted in most of the places I lived - including the dead-center of urban areas like Kansas City.

That being said, it'd be stupid to divine racism based on these election results. If Obama doesn't win North Carolina it doesn't mean we're racist no more than Bowles losing to Dole in '02 means we're sexist.

Cabarruscheapseats.com: Reasoned Discussion of Cabarrus County, NC News & Politics

Strange...

I thought Curious George was supposed to represent George W. Bush.

Oh, wait, that was Incurious George.

(click for bigger version)

--
relocating from Indianapolis, IN to RTP, NC soon; got any advice for me?

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

You beat me to it.

I can never remember which website this is from but I'd have posted it if you hadn't.

Progressive Democrats of North Carolina

Progressives are the true conservatives.

I was watching MSNBC tonight,

and was disturbed by a comment made by Tim Russert. I wonder if anyone else heard it and interpreted it similarly. I can't find video of it, and I can't quote it exactly, but he was talking about the superdelegates, the Democratic Convention in Denver, and what would happen if Obama won the popular vote, and indeed, the majority of the pledged mere mortal delegates, and the super-delegates gave the nomination to Clinton. He implied that because there would be an large amount of young people, particularly African American young people, at the Convention, that basically, the Party would be asking for a riot a la 1968.

I admit to being a tad over-sensitive these days to anything that seems off, so I don't know how to take his comments. I think there is some validity in the comment because of the passion involved in the primaries, and because there will be a record number of young people who might be willing to storm the barricades, as it were. (Yes, as a matter of fact, I have been listening to CSNY). I was so put off by that insinuation.

Of course, I could be totally off base. Did anyone else hear this, and was it troubling in the same way to you?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Curious George publisher hopping mad over Tshirt

Ha ha ha ha. The low-life bar owner who was selling the shirt, Marietta tavern owner Mike Norman, of Mulligan's Bar and Grill, has gotten a little shot across the bow from Houghton-Mifflin:

Rick Blake, a spokesman for publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which owns Curious George, said Wednesday that the company didn't authorize the use of the character's image, but hasn't been in touch with anybody selling or manufacturing the shirts.

"We find it offensive and obviously utterly out of keeping with the value Curious George represents," Blake said. "We're monitoring the situation and weighing our options with respect to legal action."

...Norman acknowledged the imagery's Jim Crow roots but said he sees nothing wrong with depicting a prominent African-American as a monkey.

"We're not living in the (19)40's," he said. "Look at him . . . the hairline, the ears -- he looks just like Curious George."

....Norman said he fielded calls throughout Tuesday about his T-shirts. An ajc.com story about the controversy was picked up on the Drudge Report. "One guy in New Jersey wanted me to send him 100 shirts," said Norman, 63.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com