Racist Bitch Session

I've been seeing and hearing more arguments over the "Hillary Clinton: the Psycho Ex-Girlfriend of the Democratic Party" sexism issue, so it's time for me to see if they actually change my mind. This time, I'm going to slightly modify some of the arguments I'm seeing/hearing about whether or not that particular portrayal of Hillary Clinton is sexist to see if they can convince me that this particular portrayal of Barack Obama isn't racist. We'll find out if it works.

Argument 1: That shirt isn't racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

Argument 3: If you say that shirt is racist, I'm going to laugh at you.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

Argument 4:
My best friend is black, and he says that shirt isn't racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

Argument 5: What's the problem? That's just how Barack Obama looks. It doesn't say that all black people look like that. Just Obama. So, it's not racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

Argument 6: There are plenty of white people that look like monkeys too. In fact, there are a ton of sites on the internet that show George W Bush looking like a chimp. So, obviously, portraying Obama as a monkey isn't racist since it's done to white people too.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

Argument 7: That shirt is just funny. You have no sense of humor.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

Argument 8: OK. I could see that if that shirt said, "I hate black people" or "black people look like monkeys and are, therefore, an inferior race," then it would be racist. But it doesn't; so it isn't.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

Argument 9: I don't think the person who designed that shirt even knew that there is a cultural stereotype about black people looking like monkeys. He just thinks that's how Obama looks. Clearly, that makes it not racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

Argument 10: I don't believe that whole cultural stereotype about black people looking like monkeys actually exists. You're making it up because you're just too sensitive about these things. Therefore, that shirt isn't racist.
My Conclusion: Dude, that shirt is racist.

Obviously, this argument is going nowhere. I still think that portrayal of Obama is racist. Which means that I still think that portrayal of Clinton is sexist. Ironically, the dictionary definitions of racism aren't as encompassing as those of sexism, so technically, Argument 8 should have swayed me more toward the idea that that portrayal of Obama isn't racist. But it shouldn't have even made a dent in my conclusion that the psycho ex-girlfriend portrayal of Clinton is sexist. Nonetheless, the cultural constructs of racism and sexism are so systemic and deeply connected, that I see no practical reason for me to be less sensitive to one than I am the other. But then, what do I know? I'm just an overly sensitive feminazi with no sense of humor.

So, my conclusions remain: Dude, that shirt is racist. And dude, that blog post is sexist.

This tiny snippet about the argument over the shirt is worth reading and is something I'm going to keep in mind to help me question my own judgments on these kinds of issues.

PS I'm not in the habit of posting offensive material on this blog (unless the offensive material is my writing style, in which case, it's all over), so my apologies for doing so now. If only you didn't make me so mad, I wouldn't have to hit you like this. (oh wait...that's a different kind of sexism)

UPDATE: I notice that Chicago Tribune article, which I linked to, includes this image of a black man as a link-through to a photo series of "mug shots of the rich and infamous":I find it interesting that the link-through image and the first three images in the series are of black men even though images of African-Americans (both men and women) only comprise about 1/4th of the entire mugshot series. So, in an article about a racist shirt, the folks at the Chicago Tribune choose to disproportionally use black men to represent celebrity criminality. Is that racist? Why are those men shown in the front of that series and on this page? And notice the "Forever young" images of Melanie Griffith(?) right below it linking to a photo series of mostly women and their plastic surgery. I wonder why, in our society, women are more likely to get plastic surgery than men are? Either way, white males are tragically underrepresented in both criminality and insecurity in this article. I think they should protest.

UPDATE 2: I really appreciate this Scientific American Mind article on "Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain". It's not the newest of information, but I think it's a timely, interesting, and somewhat comprehensive (at least on a theoretical level) explanation of how bias deviously inhabits the inner minds of all of us. One of the upshots of the article:

[P]eople who report a strong personal motivation to be nonprejudiced tend to harbor less implicit bias. And some studies indicate that people who are good at using logic and willpower to control their more primitive urges, such as trained meditators, exhibit less implicit bias. Brain research suggests that the people who are best at inhibiting implicit stereotypes are those who are especially skilled at detecting mismatches between their intentions and their actions.
I enjoy having this knowledge because it means that, even though I sometimes make destructive snap judgments based on stereotypes, I can willfully control them and become smarter at the same time. I can choose to be defensive and ignorant, or I can choose to be introspective and intelligent. That's power.

(Also, if you get the paper copy of the magazine, within the article is an interesting call-out box that talks about the bigotry of the likes of Michael Richards, Mel Gibson, and Jerry Lewis.)

Add to del.icio.us | DiggIt! | Reddit | Stumble This | Add to Technorati Faves

Nothing New byslag at 7:19 AM

4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here):

WNG said...

Once again you bring the funny AND the smart. We've been talking about this over at Big Man's blog, too if you want to check it out :)

slag said...

Thanks, wng...Great post recommendation!

Gye Greene said...

I love the various arguments! :)

The tavern owner's argument that "Obama looks like Curious George" just doesn't fly; C. George has a round face; Obama's is long and narrow.

Unless, the tavern guy is saying that to him, all black folks look alike...


slag said...

gg: I agree. Racism isn't just an expression of what we see but actually effects what we see. I think that the guy can't see how Obama looks to others because his vision is influenced by racist stereotyping.

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds