Lesson in Racism

This is 2012 and one would think that sixty-years after the beginning of the modern civil rights movement and all we’ve been through during these decades we’d be a little better at racism when it slaps us in the face. But, regrettably, such is not the case, and there are those among us who maybe need a refresher course.

So, let’s begin with this photo of President Obama holding an infant and making the kind of face men often make when trying to elicit a smile from a baby. This photo is easily found on the Internet and the caption reads, “Ugly Babies; Testing the will of politicians since FDR.” It appears to have been taken before a mainly black audience and since the baby’s face can’t be seen one has to question, why the title? None the less, other than the caption, it portrays a very human and non-offensive moment.

Now, let’s take the same photo, crop out the caption, and crudely insert a speech bubble as in a cartoon. And, in that bubble let’s pen the words, “Where’s my gummint check?”

So, now we have a photo portraying the first African-American elected to the office of President of the United States, holding a black baby, surrounded by a crowd of blacks, and a caption that directly plays to the racist stereotype that all blacks are lazy and waiting around for their welfare check, even as infants.

I’m not black so I don’t know what other, if any, racist insults this photo portrays but it didn’t take me an instant to recognize that if I were black I would be highly insulted by and angered at its creator or anyone who attempted to defend it. But defend it they are. This edited photo appeared on Facebook today and the person who posted it was immediately challenged about its propriety. The poster, just as quickly came to his own defense and damned if others didn’t begin backing him up. What followed was a rambling collection of posts that simply heaped one racial slur upon another.

I know most, if not all, the people making comments and I really doubt any of them meant to be making racist remarks. But, they were! One stated that if this had been Bill Clinton in the photo holding a white baby it would have been considered, “funny.” Well, yeah, and remove the bubble and the ugly baby crap and it is funny with Obama and the black child. It is our president with a goofy look on his face, it’s funny. Funny just like the photo of George W. Bush trying to pull open that locked door.

If a photo of Clinton and a white child had been modified with the white child saying it wanted its government check, it could be construed as a slur against poor whites, just not as blatant. It’s not the photo, it’s what was done to the photo and the intent of whoever did it.

Maybe I’ve said enough to have made my point. But, just in case, consider this. The edited version of the above photo laid beside a photo of Clinton holding a white infant. Let’s place a bubble over the head of each infant containing the words, “Are you my daddy?” Now, if you can’t see how one is racist and demeaning while the other is just demeaning, I need to revise and simplify my lesson plan. Better yet, if you can’t tell the difference, you’re just a freakin’ racist.

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