Wednesday, September 5, 2018
The Whiteness Narrative (Side B)
Q: Why is it racist to present an image of black people as liking fried chicken and watermelon? How did this stereotype come to be? How is it different than Japanese people liking udon and sushi, or French liking crepes and wine?
Muhammad Rasheed - In white-controlled media and marketing, Black caricatures were created to force a propaganda narrative to support certain agendas. These agendas form the common structure of the anti-Black systemic racism the west uses as its foundational economic system.
Inside of that narrative, you find what to some whites may naively seem to be quaint and innocent caricatures—such as the stereotype that all Blacks are addicted to fried chicken, watermelon, etc.—but these are tied to the greater propaganda structure designed to present Blacks as child-like, unable to control their lusts, and needing to be supervised by a dominant, more mature class.
Inside of an anti-Black racist society, there is no “innocent” messaging coming from white media traditions about Black people. It is all trash and unworthy of giving any kind of benefit of the doubt.
Kenneth Andre Brown Sr. - You on the money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m one of your fans.
Muhammad Rasheed - I appreciate you!
Jo P. Lindsey - Well put. The images for Uncle Ben's rice and Aunt Jemina pancake mix are far from innocent of racist thought.
Brian Riley - Sadly I recognize a lot of those stereotypes, and in its time, the guy on the extreme right was played by a white person in black face. Somebody needs to be in an Afro though :P Probably need a dreadlocks/Jamaican stereotype to bring it up to date too...
Muhammad Rasheed - The natural "afro" hairstyle developed organically in the Black Empowerment Movement when the people started rejecting the trends that represented trying to look white as a sad, sad, sad effort to achieve mainstream acceptance. The idea that the most high-profile symbol of the "Black is Beautiful!" campaign was a white-invented stereotype sounds more like a weak attempt at appropriation than humor.
The dreadlocks hairstyle of the Jamaican peoples is actually a tenet of the Rastafarian religion's sacred belief system. The attempt to appropriate that as 'humor' falls flat on me, too, bud.
Brian Riley - I was thinking more of the blacksploitaiton genre Muhammad which pretty much always featured Afros. I realize there is a serious undertone to all your work, I tend to stay more on the goofy side with my humor, no disrespect intended. That the afro hairstyle was exploited though rather fits in well with the narrative you are making though. The 1970's were an interesting period of time.
Michael Johnson - @Brian... M. Rasheed based his imagery on stereotypes that some white Americans find to be acceptable of black Americans for comfort or a sense of superiority. From my guess, they are (from left): the assimilationist, the servant, the bitter black woman, the thug, the hoodrat, the corporate/political sellout and the coon.
Dreadlocks and Afros would not serve the purpose of this image based on "white America's definition of acceptable black people." If anything, that group tends to associate those hairstyles as "too ethnic" or "threatening." They certainly are not hairstyles for someone who wants to assimilate.
Muhammad Rasheed - One would think that the fact that Black children are being harassed and kicked out of white-controlled institutions for wearing their natural hairstyles--that whites pointedly reject in these scenarios--would be a clue.
The afro isn't a white racist stereotype, but a symbol of rebellion against the anti-Black racist system. The 'blaxploitation' era of film represented greed-fueled, predatory white people seeing opportunity to both sabotage the Black Empowerment message, and plunder Black wealth in one blow.
Brian Riley - Hmmm, couple of things. I originally was reacting to the cartoon as a cartoon and not as a serious discussion. I realize there are elements of both in it, but that is what the comment about the extra hairstyles was meant as. And of course I am most likely a lot older than you and was reacting to how my generation saw a couple of those, and it is not pleasant to thing about the fact that we didn't have any problem with them at the time. IE - Aunt Jemima on a Syrup bottle (that would be the second one from the left). or Al Jolson (who as admittedly even before my time), who made a career portraying the one on the end right. I am also looking at it from the perspective of being a white person because that is what I am, and while I've had black friends and coworkers who have discussed some of this with me over the years, I of course haven't lived it myself, and there is a huge difference.
Michael Johnson - Brian wrote: "I originally was reacting to the cartoon as a cartoon and not as a serious discussion."
It's a political editorial cartoon, which is meant to take combine artistic skill, hyperbole and satire in order to question authority and draw attention to social ills. In this case, the cartoon is talking about white America's insistence on accepting black Americans only in certain terms.
Brian wrote: "it is not pleasant to think about the fact that we didn't have any problem with them at the time. IE - Aunt Jemima on a Syrup bottle (that would be the second one from the left). or Al Jolson (who as admittedly even before my time), who made a career portraying the one on the end right."
White society embraced those concepts because they reinforced the concept of black Americans being inferior to them (a heavyset black maid in a plantation-era outfit; a white man in blackface extracting African-American music and popularizing it for white American audiences).
I'm not seeing how do you think Afros and dreadlocks fit into this narrative, considering they are the total opposite of how white Americans perceive them. White Americans see those hairstyles as "pro-black," "too ethnic" and "threatening."
As M. Rasheed has said, there have legal cases involving predominantly white schools and workplaces in the past 10 years singling out black people for wearing these hairstyles. More particularly, children being suspended from school to applicants not getting hired or employees getting fired. There is nothing I have seen where those hairstyles are seen as "acceptable" by white Americans.
Brian Riley - I think you are stuck on a basic throw away comment I made on the cartoon. You need to get past that. No, dreadlocks and afro's don't fit. Frankly though, I have never found either hairstyle threatening. I'm really not trying to argue with you, I'm trying to learn, and I am going to get some things wrong. And I remember the establishment doing similar things when I was going to school to guys with long hair. And don't start up with "this is different" because, yes, I know, it's different. As far as what white society did at the time, yeah, it did. We also had an education system that didn't bother to mention that we all but wiped out a whole continent of indigenous people starting from when we first set foot in Virginia, and extending over every square mile of the original 13 colonies and eventually to the Pacific Ocean. We were told that Slavery ended with the civil war when in fact it was extended will into the 20th century by peonage. And it was brought to a complete halt only by the upheaval in the 1960's. And we still have an economic system that is still vastly tilted against minorities, and frankly curling back at this point to benefit only the top 1.6% which by "mere coincidence" is the exact same percentage of people that owned slaves back in the day. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Michael Johnson - @Brian... " I think you are stuck on a basic throwaway comment I made on the cartoon."
You made a comment on the Afro and dreadlock hairstyles on more than one occasion, so I hardly would call what you say as a "throwaway comment." If anything, your subsequent comments come across as the proverbial "wannabe white expert on black phenomena," except you don't know about what you're talking.
Brian Riley - Not that I can recall Michael, that's the only comment I can think about I made on black hairstyles. And as far as the "wannabe white expert on black phenomena" I just admitted in the previous quote that there is no such thing as a "white expert on black phenomena", let alone that I am one. I am just a person that understands that the problem has always existed and am trying to learn more about it. I also understand the mistrust but it can get in your way if your intention is to educate people on the issues.
Michael Johnson - @Brian... In addition to your initial post, your second post included statements such as "I was thinking more of the blacksploitaiton genre Muhammad which pretty much always featured Afros ... That the afro hairstyle was exploited though rather fits in well with the narrative you are making though" as a reinforcement to your initial post.
You were attempting to use the blaxploitation era as a reinforcement that the depiction of an Afro would fall in line with M. Rasheed's concept for his editorial cartoon.
It's not an issue of "mistrust" (don't flatter yourself), but an assessment that for some reason you think hairstyles such as Afros and dreadlocks are symbols of acceptable black assimilation by white society. When someone corrects you on it (including the person who created the cartoon), you try to change the tone of the response, first by an authoritative "I know more than you" tone and now by making an unfounded judgment on the person correcting you.
It's one thing to try to find information about things about which you may be unfamiliar. It's another thing to act like you know more than the person who created the concept and you don't have a clue about which you're talking.
Brian Riley - Honestly Micheal, all I am trying to do is engage in a dialog. I don't know how to be any less confrontational. If it isn't possible to have a conversation about the subject then it just isn't. I'm really sorry about that, and I'm sorry that conditions in society and discourse have gotten to that point.
Michael Johnson - @Brian... You're not being "confrontational" as much as you're acting like the proverbial smartest guy in the room and doubled down on the approach when two people corrected you.
I don't have a problem talking about the subject. But you may want to kill the passive-aggressive tone when someone clarifies a misconception you clearly had.
Brian Riley - Duly noted. It was a misconception I had, and I'll try to work on how I can better signal I understood the correction being made. As far as "sounding like I think I am the smartest guy in the room", yeah, I've been told before I sound like that. I don't mean to, and I know very well I am not.
Jay Kelley - You're killing it, Rasheed! People may not be mature enough to recognize it now. But it's still true. The day will come when the revelation hits them.
Kevan Scruffmouth - i don't trust those red bowties....
Muhammad Rasheed - (that's racist)
Jay Kelley - Couldn't you get a strip syndicated to black owned papers like New Amsterdam? Your work is reminiscent of the early Boondocks strip
Muhammad Rasheed - Considering I was kicked out of yet another FB Black Artist Group just yesterday, I think that may be one of those "sounds better than it will translate into reality" advice items. lol