Over the weekend there was a story running on CNN about a racially insensitive Barack Obama cartoon that really disturbed me. The story centered around a fake food stamp which had Obama’s face surrounded by a bucket of chicken, watermelon, ribs, and kool-aid.
The cartoon was put out in a newsletter by Diane Fedele, the president of the Republican women’s club in San Bernardino County. Here is what Diane had to say in her defense; “If I was racist, I would have looked at it through racist eyes,” she said. “I am not racist, which is why it probably didn’t register.” Club member Kristina Sandoval agreed. “None of us are racists,” she said. The use of watermelon, ribs and fried chicken was innocent, she said. “Everyone eats those foods, it’s not a racial thing.” Fedele’s daughter also came to her defense by saying her mother can’t be a racist because she married a Mexican man. Aaah the old marry a Mexican to hide your rampant hate for colored people trick. I’ve seen it a million times.
Unfortunately stories like this have become a very real part of this election. We all remember the whole Obama waffles fiasco, there have been bitter squabbles about Barack Obama’s religion (he is Christian, but we all know how he’s been portrayed as Muslim as if there is something wrong with that), and he has been repeatedly associated with terrorism because of his Arab descent (even though we have all heard McCain say by now that he is not Arab, “he is a decent family man.”). Now someone would have to be pretty naive for any of this to really surprise them. This is exactly the type of thing I envisioned (and worse) once Obama was declared the democratic candidate. Still somehow I am still amazed at people like Diane Fedele who are so blatantly and unabashedly racist and have the nerve to claim that they are in fact not.
Chicken, watermelon, ribs, kool-aid. These are all stereotypical images that have over time become associated with the word “nigga”. Niggas sure love them some fried chicken and watermelon. That is what black people hear when they see this cartoon. Nigga. I’ve seen a black dude I work with refuse to eat watermelon in front of white people because of this association. I ate the shit out of that watermelon, but I could see where he was coming from. Here’s the bottom line on this. Stereotypes are a big part of what fuels racism. Chicken, watermelon, ribs, and kool-aid are good examples of how ridiculous most stereotypes are. Once we are able to sit back and realize how ignorant adhering to these ridiculous stereotypes are we can take all the power from the people who keep them going.
I’ll leave you with this pearl of wisdom. Go forth and enjoy the shit out of that watermelon.