Friday, March 10, 2006

The Race Card

Do you ever get tired of the onslaught of "enlightened" television and movies that tell us what a bunch of bigots and homophobes we are? I do. I was sitting at work yesterday waiting on my next client when I happened to catch an article in People Magazine about the new reality series Black. White. which is similar to Wife Swap except that the families swap races rather than wives.

Apparently, two families each with a teenaged kid, one black, one white are made up to look like the opposite race and the cameras follow the families in different settings as they experience being a different race. The show is described as being about exposing the subtleties of racism:

Cutler, whose documentary films and TV series include the acclaimed “The War Room” and “American High,” was joined by Ice Cube, the rapper, actor and producer, on the project proposed by FX Networks President John Landgraf.

His hope for the project was to “expose the subtleties of racism, the layers of racism,” the musician told The Associated Press. “Everybody thinks of a Klan man standing with a shotgun, yelling, ‘Keep it white.’

“Everybody is worried about the guy with the black power, leather jacket on, Afro ... worried about those kind of people and not really knowing that racism is not just the obvious,” Cube said.

The series’ timing is notable, with race brought into renewed focus by Katrina and the disproportionate suffering it caused for blacks in New Orleans. But “Black.White.” was conceived before the hurricane, Landgraf said.

It is disappointing to me that the show seems to take the predictable road of how bigoted whites are:

In black makeup, Rose gets the brushoff when she applies for work at stores in a white area. One shopkeeper glances in a drawer and unconvincingly announces she’s out of job applications.

Sitting in as a white woman on a focus group discussion on race, Renee Sparks is shocked to hear a young college student relate how he was cautioned to wash off the handshake of a black person.

“I thought, here it is, 2005, and people are still teaching their kids this,” Sparks said in a recent interview with reporters.

In the People Magazine I read at work, the article on the show mentioned that the black father was angry with his son who did not realize how prejudiced the world was. The son commented that he did not see prejudice against him in his world with the father insisting that he did. Is this helpful? In what way? To prepare his son for all of the horrible things that are to come as a result of being black? I think the way that Condi Rice's parents prepared her for the world is a much better psychological tactic to take. In Dick Morris's book, Condi vs. Hillary : The Next Great Presidential Race,Rice told Ebony magazine, "Our parents really did have us convinced that even if I couldn't have a hamburger at Woolworths, I could be President of the United States." She was taught to "blast through the barriers." She adds: "What's the alternative? Decrying the barriers? I tend to think that societies move largely through the force of individuals breaking barriers."

Well, I don't see shows like Black. White. breaking barriers as much as decrying them. This does little to further race relations and emphasizes victimhood, rather than self-sufficiency. But if this emphasis makes producers and rappers feel better about themselves, then obviously, it is worth it.


Blogger Dave said...

How does one wash the handshake of another?

Shouldn't you wash your hands after shaking someone's hand anyway? The spread of germs is not dependent upon the race of the person with whom you shake hands...

9:37 AM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You read People magazine at work? Dang, I want your job!
Of course, I read people's blogs at work, but since I'm in front of a computer it looks like I might be working...

9:43 AM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I wonder if they have an episode where the "white" (used to be black) family visits a heavily black area, walks down the street there, eats in a popular black restuarant, etc. I bet it'd be an eye-opener.

I work across the street from a 12 story, 99.4% black (there seems to be one elderly Chinese couple) subsidized housing apartment building. Much of the parking for my company is in a lot behind this building which is partially shared by the residents of this building. Virtually every white person I work with has been experienced unprovoked, apparently racially motivated, verbal assualts from some of the residents of this building.

It is so bad that many of my co-workers have chosen to use more expensive, more distant parking garages. A VP of my company sent an email urging to not go into the parking lot alone. This parking lot is a half block from city hall.

For many on the left this behavior is excusable because of the wrongs done by someone else, at some other time, and, probably, to someone else.

10:52 AM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hollywood" has a vested interest in convincing blacks that they are the victims of continuous racism, so of it so subtle they can't even see it.

This makes blacks continue to seek shelter in the democratic party, for protection against the republicans who we all know are racist homophobes.

Nothing is an accident. Nothing is a coincidence.

10:55 AM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger KipEsquire said...

Given the substance of your post, why slide in the gratuitous "homophobe" remark? A bit apples and oranges, no?

Because every time another state constitutionalizes marriage discrimination, I indeed think to myself, "How unfair to call these people bigots and homophobes. They certainly don't deserve such labels."

If you walk the walk, then don't whine when we talk the talk.

10:57 AM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After seeing the "after makeup" photos I couldn't believe these families "passed" as the other race.


11:03 AM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


I had the same experience in D.C. years ago when I was applying for a job as a psychologist in an all-black area. After the interview, I was really tired and thirsty and stopped at a small diner to get a diet coke--I sat at the counter and no one would wait on me. Finally, after all the African Americans were served, I received my diet drink and asked for a lemon, the waiter threw it at me. I stared him down, sat for an hour reading my book and annoying everyone with my presence and left. I never said anything about it until one day at a meeting of academics who were talking about prejudice. I related my story about the poor treatment I had gotten. One of the women academics just looked at me and said, "You deserved it, you are privileged all the time!" Wow, this is what serves as an excuse for rude and racist behavior. I wonder if this is how people treated the blacks at Denny's who were not waited on?

11:20 AM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger ronin1516 said...

Dr Helen - it is more hollywood, political-correctness at its worse. I experienced something similar to your experience last term at my place of work. Seems, Al Sharpton was making a speech on campus, so, the group appropriately names " BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY" or BAMN showed up on campus with about 30 busloads of Detroit Public School District kids, mostly in the 12 to 18 yr old age group. Seems the visit to hear Al Sharpton's speech, and a BAMN consciousness raising session was a "educational field trip". Anywasy, these bunch of a few hundred black kids landed on campus. They stormed and looted a couple of hot-dog and taco vendors, threatned them with violence, pelted Asian-American students passing by with all manner of racist verbal abuse. They formed into gangs and wandered around campus trying to pick fights by making racist comments, and engaging in many minor assaults. The PC Univ cops of course did nothing. At my business, they asked me if " I was a Indian n-----", and if my business was "owned by a white-devil". everyone, except the most PC people on campus were glad to see them go.
I am very worried that not just Hollywood, by mainstream media and even worse, teachers and admins in public schools actually teach kids to accept that they are perpetual victims, and that doing violence, or misbehaving, or engaging in criminal behavior is OK, since thy are the "oppressed".

12:14 PM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger Richard P. said...

Quick point: I live in Eastern Europe. They have a cultural tendency to complain. Most Americans hate complainers for one simple fact; complaining takes away time from getting to work. Success is created not given.

1:06 PM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since I'm assumed to be prejudiced, I'll operate according to that stereotype and pre-judge this program without watching it. I'll pass, thank you very much. I don't watch much TV as it is...and this'll give me another excuse to stay away. Besides, when I want to see what an insensitive bigot I am for being white, I can just read my local rag sheet (the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which never misses a chance to find a racial angle to aany story).

It's a natural human tendency to seek out and interact with people who are similar to us. And that naturally causes an in-group/out-group situation. But it doesn't follow that it's always bad. And you sure won't make things better by rubbing someone's nose in the fact that they belong to one group or the other...and by insinuating that they're bad because their skin is the wrong color.
Yes, there's racism in the world. But it's from ALL races.

But I'm a lucky guy. I developed a wonderful immunity to preaching at a very young age and it's only gotten stronger now that I've reached a ripe old age!

1:34 PM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A person comes in, covered head to toe in makeup, wearing a wig, and probably giving off all sorts of weird "things aren't quite right" vibes... I might be out of applications, too.

Which may have been the truth. When I was an employer, policy was to give out apps to everyone who asked, and file them forever. Public relations combined with EEOC fears.

I get lousy service at Denny's, too. I expect it. It's part of the Dennys' experience. Surly, unmotivated hired help, plastic food, questionable hygiene. And Cracker Barrel, and Waffle House. McD's, BK, Taco Bell. At this level of mass feeding, you expected what else? Who do I blame and where do I sue?

3:09 PM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, you white privileged Americans are so oppressed. My sympathy goes out to you. I bet I too could come up with some scary story. Geez, oh but what if I was black. I guess then I would be a crybaby. White Americans Unite! Stop the oppression!

4:40 PM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bigotry exists in most if not all cultures. Nobody corners the market in racism. No one is saying that that privileged whites are oppressed, the point is that all races have biases and to constantly point at whites as the only ones that are racist is silly.

5:07 PM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure bigotry exists in most cultures. But to denigrate someone for discussing our society's (the old US of A) oppression of the African-American population by giving their pitiful little examples of bad service or bad parking choices is ridiculous.

5:20 PM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Funny blacks in the 1950's didn't consider it "bad service," nor more recently at Denny's, etc. So it's my fault that someone says insulting things to me due to the color of my skin and where I park? Blacks wouldn't get hassled if they stayed out of the rich white neighborhoods either. Hmm.

You're working hard at trolling but you use the same flimsy, liberal "logic" I referred to in my earlier post. I actually wonder if you're serious or just that lacking in intellectual capacity.

I simply wonder how "equally" the TV show will cover the subject. But I won't waste my time watching it. From the examples given and previews, the show takes the same old worn-out approach.

What we need are more Morgan Freemans.

7:21 PM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:40 "Wow, you white privileged Americans are so oppressed. My sympathy goes out to you...."

Life sucks. Deal. Other people are always against you. Other people always hate you. Still, for the most part, life is what you make it. If you let other people determine how you live your live, you deserve your lot.

4:04 AM, March 11, 2006  
Blogger Mercurior said...

the MOST racist person i know was a i hestitate now to use the word black, i cant use african british as if doesnt sound right.

she expects the world to owe her a living, as her grt grt grt grt grandparents were slaves, who were sold at that time by arabs and by other black people.

everything thats said to her is filtered through the racist card. even talking bout sweets it all has to be a race thing.

there is an appeasement mentality now, with feminists, people of ethnic minorities, disabled etc etc etc.. we have to appease this group, but most of the groups that are now Discriminated against are white males. its hard to get jobs due to pro woman bias, there are councils in the UK that only hire black people, which contravenes the race religions act, but they have a get out of jail free card, so called abuse equality.

the sooner people start treating people like people and not inclusive groups, the better, but it wont happen, theres too much power in being these groups, and thats all it is, POWER rather that rights

6:41 AM, March 11, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


I agree that the "victims groups" the PC crowd touts these days have more to do with political power than equality. The PC crowd talks a good game of open discussion of race, sex or whatever which means, "agree with us or we will call you a racist, sexist, whatever." One of the best psychological ways to deal with this is not to be afraid to be called these names. People are made to feel so guilty that they often overlook the truth and give in to any manipulation out of fear of being labled. I think if more of us would speak up and show others that we are not afraid, it will go a long way in working towards real equality, not the fake type where victims prevail and all others are held as oppressors.

6:58 AM, March 11, 2006  
Blogger Mercurior said...

exactly, but its so difficult to do, what with all the indoctrination by these councils. there is even a story a few months ago about trevor philips the head of the Commission for Racial Equality saying black boys should be segregated, who himself is black. can we say walking backwards into ignorance

i have been indoctrinated into watching every word i say, for the pc police to come and get me, this is a deplorable state.

4:00 PM, March 11, 2006  
Blogger said...

I watched it, and while the producers of the show are obviously aiming for that viewpoint, the Dad from the white family is strongly presenting the opposite view - telling the Dad from the black family that he's seeing racism where it isn't there, that he only gets a negative attitude from people because he's putting one out to others, etc. They both go out on a shopping trip as blacks to see if the black Dad can point out the racist reactions to him. A lot of it verges on paranoid - people step out of the way when walking past and the black guy says they're doing it to avoid him, the white guy says they did it to be polite to let them pass. Clerks in a store come up to serve them, the white guy says they're giving him the same service he usually gets and the black guy says they're sizing them up to see if they're shoplifting. It's also interesting to see how the black guy's actions change the way people respond to him when he's white. He thinks people suddenly like him more because of his skin color - but it looked to me like he was just a lot more confident and outgoing, randomly going up to white people and starting friendly conversations. They catch a couple of vaguely racist moments at points in the show, but nowhere near what you'd expect from the hyping of it. They can try to put a spin on it all they want, but it's still interesting to watch.

11:37 PM, March 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Come and see the violence inherent in the system.

Help, help, I'm being repressed!"

2:31 AM, March 12, 2006  
Blogger pst314 said...

"he was cautioned to wash off the handshake of a black person"

Undoubtedly their "research" consisted of endless interviews until they found that one-in-a-million person who would give them such a soundbite, while ignoring anything that did not support their agenda. (Or more likely they made it known that they were looking for such stories.) For that matter, how do we know that the student was telling the truth? His story sounds more like something from several generations ago.

2:11 PM, March 12, 2006  
Blogger Mercurior said...

i hate the touch of a persons skin, regardless or colour, race whatever, i find it gross to actually shake anyones hand, i remember an episode of monk, when he shakes hands with someone, and he being as he is had to wipe it off, it just so happened this person was black, so they assumed he was being racist. when there could have been other reasons.

3:37 PM, March 12, 2006  
Blogger said...

Actually, the magazine just got it wrong about the handshaking thing. It was a guy in a focus group of 10-15 people, and he said that HE felt like washing his hands when he shook hands with black people, not that anyone told him that. He was also saying it in an apologetic tone - acknowledging that he had racist beliefs beyond his control and that he was ashamed of them.

4:09 PM, March 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody before me said it but there's always an audience for this crap and the media is always ready to exploit it. Recently in the city I live in they had some kind of community forum to have kids 'tell their side' of the reasons why there is so much gang violence. In the reports they had a number of the kids saying that the reason was disrespect from and for the police. Not one article or TV newscast I saw asked the obvious question what disrespect for the police had to do with shooting people for no apparent reason. Also none of the reports mentioned one of the kids saying that these kids were thugs and needed to be locked up so the streets would be safe. Go figure.

3:59 PM, March 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For an historical perspective, find a copy of John Howard Griffin's "Black Like Me," New York: Penguin Putnam (Signet), 1960 (1962).

10:14 PM, March 17, 2006  
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