Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nothing and Everything On My Mind

It has rained all weekend and the latest weather forecast predicts that the rain will become snow before the night ends. You would think that with all this dreary weather that I would have managed to catch up with reading the blogs that I follow and perhaps post an entry of my own. I've been fixin' to do that all weekend, but it has taken me until Sunday night to gather enough mental energy to do anything other than watch movies on the Sci-Fi channel. (Note: Fixin' is southern for getting ready to do something. Ex: I'm fixin' to go to the store.)

I enjoy my work at the state legislature, but session is in full swing and my hours are long and busy. I spend my days reading and analyzing proposed legislation, and then writing a digest of each bill that I've reviewed for daily publication. When I get home, I don't have enough brain cells remaining to do anything that requires any thought.

I really appreciate the honest and thoughtful responses y'all have left regarding my last entry. I shared my personal journey publicly because I hope that maybe my story will help someone else who is in emotional pain, feeling suffocated by societal expectations and norms about appearance. I'm no expert on moving beyond the pain, but I've made some pretty big strides. I'm not done yet, I think that it's an ongoing journey.

There are many things to write about, but that's the problem. There's that dumb NY Post cartoon with the dead chimpanzee and the reference to the stimulus package. In the cartoon, a cop is holding a smoking gun and, with another officer, looking at a bullet-riddled body of a chimpanzee. The caption reads: They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.
My initial response was that the cartoon was racist. However, then I stepped back and I realized that the person who created the cartoon may not have been familiar with the history of race in this country. (For a good historical overview, click here.) May not have known that black people were commonly referred to as monkeys, apes, gorillas, and other members of the simian family as a form of insult in newspapers and magazines across the U.S., not just in southern publications. I've concluded that the cartoonist and the editorial staff of the Post that authorized the publication of the offensive cartoon were just insensitive, stupid, and ignorant of history, but not racist. Besides, President Obama didn't write the stimulus policy. I do wonder what the real-life shooting of the rabid monkey had to do with the stimulus package.

Then there was the Los Alamitos mayor that forwarded an email picturing the White House lawn covered with watermelons with the caption, No Easter egg hunt this year. I like watermelons. If President Obama and the First Lady invited me to the White House and served watermelon, I'd be pleased. However, I find it a bit disingenuous for the mayor to claim not to be aware that this image wasn't really about a love of watermelons but a commentary reinforcing a not very flattering stereotype of the happy Negro with his watermelon patch.

I really didn't plan to write a word about this nonsense, nor the fool Greenwich Village baker who made the offensive "Drunken Negro Face" cookies to honor President Obama (that's what he said), but I read one too many comments on these stories in which some white people asserted that black people were overly sensitive and that they were tired of us being so touchy. I thought about it and realized that perhaps, they had a point. So, for future reference, if you are one of those people who don't get why we would be upset with these racist stereotypes, here is something that you should know: most black people do not appreciate having stereotypical images of ourselves reinforced in the media or by elected officials. I would suggest that newspapers hire more reporters of color and run things by them before publishing anything that might be questionable. As for politicians, find yourself a person of color whom you can count on to be truthful and before you send out an email with potentially offensive material in it, ask that person if it's a good idea.

Well, I can't settle my mind on any one topic, so I'm fixin' to watch some more television.


Miss Ginger Grant said...

I LOVE that you say "fixin'"! I say it all the time, and here in Texas sometimes people look at me kinda strange!
You can also use it to mean "preparing", as in "fixing dinner!" So, I'm fixin' to fix dinner!
I truly respect you for trying to understand other people's ignorance! On the monkey thing, I truly think they were commenting on the "current event" of that monkey that was in the news at the same time. But those cookies! That's just not right. And the watermelon/white house thing is just kinda dumb. I mean, I LOVE watermelon, and this girl is about as white as they come!

Leigh said...

(((Sheria))) Have a good evening, hope you find something relaxing to watch.
I guess blogging would be like a busman's(sp) holiday for you.

:) Leigh

Beth said...

Of course, then there's "I'm fixin' to go get the fixins for the jambalaya I'm making tonight." :)

I'm currently struggling with trying to figure out if I'M becoming overly sensitive about racist comments. I sense an undercurrent (although sometimes it's quite obvious) that is very subtle, but I think it's there. Especially in those that preface their comments with, "First off, let me just say that I'm not a racist." That's a red flag to me.

I really want us to get beyond this and have it become a non-issue. I'm not sure if I'll see that happen in my lifetime, and that makes me sad. Kind of pisses me off, too.

Hugs, Beth

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


kelly said...

Sheria, you said it best "ignorant of history" as most people can be.. there are times that I myself am guilty of this.. but that's where there's a difference.. I do not run my mouth off at things that I am unsure of.. I'm with Beth on tired of it all..but sad to say it's been like this for as long as I can remember and probably will still be the same after I am gone..I hope you can find time for yourself .. to relax and enjoy..

ADB said...

I'm just staggered at the daftness of some people - but then you can't please everybody at the same time.

Gerry said...

I don't blame you a bit for whatever reaction you had as I found all three offensive to my radar for offensive racists remark I would object to if given the chance. Gerry

Indigo said...

I commented on Miss Ginger's entry about this one and one of the things I said was:

you can try to hid racism under vieled humor, but you can still spot the racist a mile away...

People just don't use common sense or else are truly as ignorant as the words they color their language with. (Hugs)Indigo

Yasmin said...

Sometimes I just veg out in front of the TV to give my fevered brain a rest lol nothing wrong with that.

I'm finding these type of cartoons that you have highlighted here offensive, as you say ignorant of history which is no excuse really,and shame on them.

Take care


Alan said...

Seems like your problem is you have too much on your mind. All of it takes energy to think about, write about, carry around. YOU can't fix all the stupid people in the world. You wouldn't like them if you could. Kind of like bitters, you need the contrast some times. So, let go, breath, listen to some nice music, dance, laugh, read a good book that doesn't ask to much of you (I'd recommend Terry Pratchett's Truth), and if that doesn't clear your mind, I just posted a little bit of Franny running again. Watch her go and smile.

Cheers, Alan

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I am fixin to get ready to prepare to organize for our taxes :o)

Shame that public people are making such inflamatory comments and such. It shows how shallow we are as a nation at times.

Joy said...

I think all of those examples you mentioned are racist. You're more charitable than I am.

I understand about reading blogs after doing your job all day. If I were still teaching English and creative writing, there is no way I could do it. I can barely keep up now!

Char said...

Fixin' and y'all are the very staples of my vocabulary. Only in the last decade did I quit becoming embarrassed to have it pointed out to me. (there are some benefits to aging, I guess). We are all products of our own enviornment, its what makes us unique.
The monkey cartoon is just lame and stupid. I would not have thought it was racial until you pointed out why, (forgive MY ignorance). Like Beth, I wish this stuff would go away, AND in my lifetime.
Y'all go and have yourself a good day, I'm fixin' to go to the airport to pick an old friend, visiting for the next week.

Rebecca Anne said...

Feigned ignorance. That could be the only explanation they could hide behind. I've always found it rather odd that humor provides the exception to the rule of common decency. I'd love to figure that oddity out.
It sounds like you have a lot on your plate, I'd say, take it easy, visit here when you damn well feel like it and take care of yourself.

warrior scout said...

a lovely post. rather like a sample plate with several tasty tidbits. i loved the "fixin" verb as well. it feels comfortable to me. my coworkers use that term often- although they say "fittin", but mean the same thing.