Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Implied racism

I can't stand it anymore. When my Yahoo! AT&T page appeared on my screen with all its little newsblurbs, one of them said "First lady shines on Africa trip." I don't watch much TV but I kind of like "The Chicago Code," that Jennifer Beals makes for one hot police chief, go ahead call me sexist if you will, you think I watch it for its plot featuring corrupt politicians? I used to live in New Jersey. But I digress. The prime villain in "The Chicago Code" is one Alderman Gibbons, a black guy.
What's wrong with these pictures?
Sometimes people forget just how racist a country this is. Or maybe I remember too much, like when I was cutting my journalistic teeth (owch! ooch!) in the sports department of the New York Post circa 1745 (would you believe 1969?), and the wags on the sports copy desk would plunk two paragraph stories about Japanese baseball games into hot type holes on various pages with headlines that said "Toyo Carp nip Yomiuri Giants," at any rate, "nip" seemed to be a favorite verb of the oldtime copy editors until one day some pre politically correct editor came along and whacked that in the bud. Need I explicate why? No more nip headlines, the edict came down, although to this day hot type is alive and well, usually as police chiefs or coroners in crime shows. But I digress.
Not long after "nip" got whacked, similarly the verb "shine" was outlawed when describing a black athlete, although it was okay if the subject were caucasian. I  unwittingly used it a couple of times myself. Who knew that "shine" was a euphemism for a black person? Apparently a lot of racists did. Equally apparently a lot of the yahoos at Yahoo! don't. But if a headline like that risks eliciting one snicker from a racist, a different word should be used.
Oh, don't be such a namby pamby, I can hear the chorus sing. Now tell me that a gibbon isn't a monkey -- maybe it isn't, I'm not a biographer, but it sure looks like one -- and then tell me "monkey" isn't a demeaning term used to describe African-Americans. Then tell me there wasn't some probably unknown to the scriptwriter ingrained form of racism at play when he developed the character of Alderman Gibbon for the "Chicago Code."
This was going to be a short post. End of rant.

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