race relations on Mad Men.
White people awkwardly hugging black secretaries.
White people awkwardly hugging black secretaries.
So what are you? I mean, what's your background
Half-white, half black.
I thought so! You look like a light-skinned black man, all your features. I thought it when we were introduced, but that's kinda rude to say right off the bat.
I was actually timing you. Knowing we recognize our own, I was wondering how long it would take.
I knew it right away.
Of course. Everyone does. But I'm always curious to see how long it takes people to get over their initial fear of asking.
Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy—white supremacy. The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.
Obama’s first term has coincided with a strategy of massive resistance on the part of his Republican opposition in the House, and a record number of filibuster threats in the Senate. It would be nice if this were merely a reaction to Obama’s politics or his policies—if this resistance truly were, as it is generally described, merely one more sign of our growing “polarization” as a nation. But the greatest abiding challenge to Obama’s national political standing has always rested on the existential fact that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin.
Read more. [Image: Bill Sanderson]
The best long read I’ve tackled in a long time.
Sigh. The Easter egg Weiner includes is also necessary:
Marketing Campaign of the Day: As if it weren’t enough that North Carolina already doesn’t recognize same-sex unions, the state votes next Tuesday on a ballot measure that reads: “Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized by this State.”
This ad campaign, by Winston-Salem agency The Variable, plays on segregation-era discrimination to shock voters into voting down the offensive legislation, called Amendment 1: “On May 8th, make history. Don’t repeat it.”
And this is the type of campaign that makes some people spit blood.
Listen, I understand the metaphorical value of comparing discrimination of gay people today to black people under Jim Crow laws — even though black people were supposed to be equal under the law, states put laws in place that did everything but allow that. I get it.
I fully support marriage equality and think what N.C.’s doing is repulsive — BUT IT’S NOT LIKE YOU ACTUALLY HAD TO USE SEPARATE RESTROOMS OR DRINKING FOUNTAINS. YOU COULD HIDE BEING GAY. IT WAS FUCKING AWFUL AND NOT ANYTHING ANYONE SHOULD GO THROUGH, BUT YOU COULD PASS THROUGH SOCIETY BEING GAY OR LESBIAN. YOU COULDN’T HIDE BEING BLACK. YOU COULDN’T HIDE THE THING THAT MADE WHITE PEOPLE FORCE YOU OUT OF RESTAURANTS, HOTEL ROOMS, AND SHUNTED OFF BY REALTORS WHO WOULDN’T SELL A HOME TO YOU IN A CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOOD. YOU CAN’T FUCKING HIDE THE SKIN COLOR THAT DROVE WHITE MEN TO PUT ALL SORT OF ONEROUS GRANDFATHER CLAUSES, POLL TAXES, AND LITERACY TESTS IN PLACE TO DENY YOU A RIGHT TO VOTE.
Was there a black person working on this ad campaign at all? Because I understand the point they’re trying to make — it’s just clumsily done and with no respect to what my family members and many others actually went through decades ago.
(P.S. never mind that there could be a sizable number of people who really do agree with the image above and want to see it put in place.)
Cord Jefferson in Gawker on the Girls kerfuffle and what whitewashing in television really adds up to.
Charlie Pierce weaves a central theme on the story of a woman who’s suing the former employer who fired her after the former donated a kidney to the latter and an African couple wrongly arrested after the people in the neighborhood they’d bought a house in thought they were breaking into it.
From this lengthy but worth reading NYT piece on the Martin case. As Ta-Nehisi Coates noted, it’s amazing how much at ease Frank Taaffe is with casual racism, but that would not make him the first nor the last. It is why I remember my mother telling me I was lucky to have my father’s complexion when I would complain about not looking more like her.
Situations like these remind you that it’s not even been 50 years since black folks became full people in the eyes of the law (the Voting Rights Act), never mind the unspoken and de facto discrimination that still goes on.
Charles P. Pierce.
Juan Cole reiterates the obvious.
One of my big things about Poynter is that their folks seem to have spent so much time teaching journalism and media ethics that it’s been too long since they practiced it — and this bit in its latest column for ESPN.com on the Jeremy Lin headline incident proves it.
Never mind that ESPN traffics in cliché in general — please see all those anchor catchphrases we knew and loved from Patrick, Olbermann, Levy, Steiner, Mayne, Kilborn, Eisen among others (and in Berman’s case, loathed) — but obviously the Poynter folks have not sat in on a television news consultant meeting or a writers’ workshop (one usually led by management) in a long, long time.
The first thing consultants and many managers will drill out of a writer is interesting vocabulary because we are writing for people who are not our peers and thus do not traffic in our vocabulary and/or references. This is actually useful advice: it helps the writer to write like someone would speak, but the flip side is that new and interesting turns of phrase are actively discouraged while cliché is disdained at the same time. (I have received a list of suggested “phrases to avoid” or outright banned terms at every place I’ve worked at, and at past stations, I’ve even been told I’m writing for children.)
This leads to mordant jokes about trying to work in words with more the four syllables. (One of my co-workers and I had one of them yesterday: I joked about using “audacious” while he wanted to use “cavalcade.”) In essence, you go back on tired phrases and writing two sentences when one is perfectly fine because you don’t want to lose the viewer. So on a deadline when time is tight, you’re going to churn out the first phrase you can — and the temptation is even worse on the graveyard shift. (This is not to defend Anthony Federico or Max Bretos: that alarm bell about “chink” ought to ring loudly, though Bretos’ case seems very harsh because there are good odds he’s ad-libbing.)
N.B. I really, really wish the Poynter contributors listed on the right would assign bylines for the individual column or blog. It really seems even more distant and institutional for a royal “we” without any idea of who’s really talking here and why he or she has come to the conclusions he or she has.
When the Daily Show posts the clips from tonight’s show, you all ought to watch it again because it’s a brilliant slaughtering of PETA’s silliness.
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A vagabond who's made his home in the Pacific Northwest.×