Simple Racism

band-aid.jpg

I do a lot of posts on racism and its affects on the black community. I usually try to keep them focused on racism which affects education, housing, health care and employment. But I have been doing some shopping lately and noticing that racism can be very simple. This simple racism is found in our very lives daily from commercials for products to the products themselves.

I am sure that people are doing the big sigh right now wondering why I and people like me just don’t let it go. I am wondering why when I go to the book store to buy books for my child ALL the books that look like fun, interesting or not revolved around race are about and featuring a white character. The books featuring black characters are about being accepted, Kwanzaa or something else that deals with racial, ethnic or religious issues. Where are all the children books like the book “Where the wild things are,” or any Dr. Seuss book that has actual people which features black characters?

I would just like to go to the store one time and buy some Band Aides that say flesh colored and they aren’t pink or close to it. These are the small things that you go through life putting up with yet nobody thinks how these small acts of racism can show you that you nor people like you are important enough for my company to take you into account when making products. How many times has a white person walked into a Toys R Us and looked at little people ride on fire engine that have firemen driving and ALL the firemen are black? Not a chance! The two I looked at only one of them had one black character and the other everyone on the fire engine was white.

I am sure this does not seem to be a big deal except that what if it were your child that you could not find any toys to reflect who they are. You wouldn’t feel that it was OK that you child only had another race of people to look at, imagining themselves as while playing or admiring. Everyone wants to be able to instill a sense of self love, respect and worth. Yet if the only thing my child has to play with all have white characters on it he will inevitably begin to see, think and believe that people that look like these people are the ones who matter in life. Not people like himself and thus he will see himself as less than.

No one thinks that maybe the lack of interest, self esteem and success in the black community could be from all these small but racist messages of you don’t count that is why nothing you see looks like you. I don’t know if you have seen the experiment they did with the black children and the dolls. They gave a bunch of black children the choice between a black or white doll and they all chose the white doll. Because through television commercials and store displays among other things, this shows children which of the two dolls is more desirable. And thus telling the children which people in the world are most desirable and worthy of being respected and loved.

This is a seriously underhanded Machiavellian type of sinister little deed when you look at it. If I can destroy your self esteem, self love and love of your community before you ever reach puberty then I pretty much have ruined your chances of a normal happy life. These children are now in a chase for assimilation and to become as generically non black as possible. Barbie and other dolls as well as movies, television and advertising are teaching our young black girls that they are not good enough. To be considered normal they need to have hair as straight hanging to her waste as a black Barbie. Only look to your Beyonce’s, Tyra Banks and any other popular black artist. Our black men are being sold on the fact that this is what they need to find attractive in a woman. Since this is all they see that their black role models in movies are paired up with, if the woman is black at all. In most instances these black male movie stars are paired with Hispanic or bi-racial women of some mixture or another.

I am sure that a lot of people will guffaw at this so called truth and say that it is coincidental at best. Yet it is never coincidental that you don’t accidentally have anything such as this happening in the opposite direction. I have never seen commercials for Barbie or some other doll that utilizes blacks in the forefront or shows a black doll that isn’t a clone of the white doll just chocolate brown. Yet somehow I should be content with shoveling all the white dominant propaganda into my child and somehow expect that they grow up with a sense of self. Shut up and be happy to be an American, when we are being told at every turn that American is white. So how can I be happy to be something I am not nor can ever be? And yet we still want to deny the damage done to black children and adults from this totally Machiavellian type of simple racism.

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26 Comments

Filed under African American, Black community, Black Culture, Black Family, Black People, Integration, Minorities, Propaganda, Racism

26 responses to “Simple Racism

  1. Pingback: Simple Racism « Self esteem

  2. This post is deeep and speaks power to truth on many levels. I am finding it difficult to find appropriate, positive Black/Afrocentric toys and popular cultural images to expose my son to. He is 7 months old but I am already on a quest to build his self-esteem, self-love and love of his community. Even at this age he is very aware and interacts… and is therefore influenced with the stimuli that he is exposed to. I agree with you that it is the “sinister little deeds” of subtle racism that can have the most damaging effects on the psyche of our children.

    Blessings

  3. As you say, it’s important for children to look around themselves and see toys in their own image. And a lack of toys and children’s products showing Black characters is one of the reasons why the Doll Report had the exact heartbreaking results in 2006 as in the 1940s.

    To that end, http://www.ethidolls.com® launched their company in the hopes of changing the ubiquitous, negative images of Africa and by extension, Black people. Through dolls, books and CDs based on historic African women leaders, the company hopes to awaken a spirit of leadership in our young girls, their multicultural playmates and the world at large. The first offering is Makeda,® The Queen of Sheba Doll, who represents the first female leader of Ethiopia. The second doll due out in May 2008 will be Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Mother of Ghana. EthiDolls® will be criss-crossing the continent of Africa choosing female leaders from history and creating a doll with the educational components of a book and CD to celebrate the iconic and singular lives of some of the world’s most extraordinary women, women who are African. So visit http://www.ethidolls.com to see products which are fun, educational, and inspirational.

  4. Asa,

    I know exactly what you mean. I have been trying to buy things for my one year old and having the same issues. He notices differences and things that are just like him. Kids are smart and need things to stimulate their self esteem early. It is too late to wait until they are older since the negative propaganda has already taken effect.

    Patti,

    Thanks for the site. This is something that we as black people need to be aware of as mainstream America doesn’t want to take us into account when supplying entertainment for our children.

    Thanks for the reply

  5. YYOL is aware of the importance of teaching children to respect people of various sizes, abilities, ethnicities and ages. When children respect themselves and others, they feel good about who they are. When children learn to value people who are different from themselves, they are better prepared to live peacefully in a diverse world.

  6. lifeisannoying

    sad, isn’t it. the strides forward the community (worldwide) thought we had made in the 60’s ,70’s and 80’s, that momentum we had to make things happen for ourselves, gone.

    simplicity can be phenomenal.

  7. Politcaly Inncorrect Black Woman

    No, I really disagee with this. If a White person makes Barbie dolls and they want the Barbies to be white, how is that racist? THEY MADE IT! Look I AM BLACK but I disagree with many of the things said here. If we want Black dolls, how about we come together and get some people and make them? Why keep getting mad at White people, of course their going to make White barbie because they are White. It’s not fair to label people as racist just because they do what they want with their product. This victum mentality is what’s holding Us back. “Ohh white man won’t make Black band-aids he is racist”. That makes no sense what so ever. If you look at movies made by Black people, there are going to be Black people in the movie. If a Black person writes a book, there is going to be a Black person in the book. If a Black person came out with bandages, they would match our skin. How can you force White people to change their products to fit the needs of Black people that is unfair. If I was White I wouldn’t like Blacks too much if they protested against something I made. If Mattel never made Black barbie, they would have been labeled racist. Again, how about we come together and make dolls because we are Black and we understand Blacks so we can make beautiful dolls that show out heratage. Demanding Whites to make Black stuff is as unfair as making a camal swim in the sea and a fish walk in a dessert. Think about it. WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION AND NOT BLAME ALL WHITE PEOPLE!!!

  8. Politically incorrect black lady,

    Are you for real? It is totally unfair for blacks to actually want companies that make products for ALL people to think that they should make them for ALL people not just ones with white skin. OK I get you now. By your logic then these “white owned and operated” businesses are only making products for its white customers and blacks can take it or leave it. So basically blacks don’t get to be equally represented by companies that take our money as fast as they do their white customers money.

    So I guess you will now tell me that blacks don’t run these fortune 500 conglomerations because….. What the companies can hire who they want since it is their companies, right? I guess you are now going to tell me that blacks have equal opportunities to start these companies that you talk about. Not to mention companies that will be able to compete with Hasbro, Fisher Price and Mattel. You have got to be joking. They don’t just welcome in new competition. These companies may not be making products geared for its’ other than white population but they damn sure want that money. And I guess that is also OK with you.

    This just shows that you are the one with a victim mentality. We blacks shouldn’t expect equal representation we should continue buying our children whatever the white replicated products are until we get enough money, backing and equal access to markets to make our own. How pathetic. I guess since the overwhelming majority of companies in America are run and operated by whites we as blacks shouldn’t expect anything that would be remotely geared towards us.

    And if you are a black lady like you say. Then you would know that whites own and operate almost all of the black beauty industry. So we should let them know that they don’t “have” to make products for blacks they can just continue to make white products and blacks like you will buy them since they have the right to do what they want with their products, right.

    P.S. Also, your theory about blacks making movies and television etc. Grey’s Anatomy is made by a black lady and how many blacks do you see in that show? You should really rethink your position.

    Thanks for the reply.

  9. Mrs. Davis

    I know how you feel. I’ve raised three children dealing with the issues you’ve raised. I sat on a white Santa’s lap when I was a child, but it bothered me when my own children got this age. I didn’t want them thinking that everything that was wonderful came from white men. It’s amazing that my church had a picture up of a white Jesus. When a young minister took over and changed the picture to a darker-hued Jesus, long-term church families were upset because their relatives had donated the white Jesus picture.

  10. Osiris

    You know, the most damaging element in our socieity today toward our people is the media. We’ve entered a whole new realm of racial oppression, and I don’t think many of our people recognize it. I think the old minstrel Al Jolson would look today at Flavor Flav and say, “Wait a minute. We’re taking this demeaning, degrading, imagery of Negroes a little too far”. Since quite a few of us are making money in the realm of the media, I think we as a people stand silent about the damage that it does. But EVERY demeaning, degrading, gangsterous, sexist, shallow image of our people in the media is carefully selected by some white man. I know folks like Politically Incorrect will say, “Why blame whites when we’re the ones choosing the degrading images, music, and characters”. What you don’t realize, is that ANY group can dumb-down another group if they control the primary means of diseminating information. I hate to say this, but many of our (black) youth are less able to critically analyse various elements of life than other youth. I’m not blaming the youth, I’m blaming us. Like that episode of Boondocks, can you imagine what Dr. King would think today (and Malcolm) if they saw Flavor of Love, I Love New York, Maury Povich, and the countless number of other shows that show black men AND women acting like complete fools for a little coin and 15 minutes of infamy? The blatant materialism of our people is shameful, and we’ve let it happen. Don’t buy the hype that racism has decreased, it’s just evolved. They don’t have to turn fire hoses and police dogs on us to keep us from trying to go to certain schools or live in certain neighborhoods. They brainwash us with images of ourselves that cause us to reject knowledge, character, and social and political activism in favor of THINGS. I see Bono from U2 going to Africa regularly in order to improve the plight of our brothers and sisters in the Motherland, while Ludakris goes to Africa to make, “Pimpin All Over the World”. The NAACP awards R. Kelly some kind of honor. Labron James avoids political and social consciousness in the manner Michael Jordan made popular, and the same white press rewards him mightily for it. We won’t even mention the percentage of fatherless children in the African American community, or the incarceration rates of black men, and increasingly, black women. While many whites are as diabolical as ever, we’ve dropped the ball big time about 40 years ago, and haven’t picked it up. Don’t let the Obama hype fool you. A black person can go far in America today as long as you keep whites from focusing on the fact that you’re black. All the years we’ve been trying to get white America to deal with race, isn’t it ironic that now we are trying to avoid it, because we all now that if America wakes up and realizes they may elect a BLACK MAN as president, there will be a severe backlash. Obama knows it, and the media know it. Turn to MSNBC, CNN, FOX, or almost any of the cable news channels. Have you noticed all the talk about race that’s coming up? They’re doing specials about “The Black Church”, “Being Black in America”, and others. They realize all they have to do is wake white America up and get them to remember that this IS America. How ironic that we are avoiding the racial conversation on a national level, and its all white America wants to talk about. You all know there isn’t much that Reverend Wright said that most black people strongly disagree with. But the ultimate act of racism and white privilege is to smack us upside the head for daring to express our true feelings on race publicly, when America has granted those like Obama, Oprah, and many others with the opportunities to do what they’re doing. It’s no different in theory than it was 200 years ago. Just remember your place, and we’ll reward you. Forget, and we’ll severely punish you.

  11. Erin

    Honestly, I’m just trying to be a smart-ass this time, I don’t mean to undermine your post… I actually did find some darker shaded Band-Aids once. Then I later saw a TV commercial for them specifically. I thought, “Holy crap, finally!!” Haha! It wasn’t too long ago, either.

    But truth be told, it’s like I have to go on a crusade to find them again. *sigh* Go figure…

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  13. Jay

    Politically Black Woman has a valid point. We expect too much from white companies when it comes to representation. These companies only care about money. If there is money to be made then they will usually create the product. The downside is they will create anything without regard to it’s quality or effect. Why would they spend more money to create a specific black doll when they exploiting labor overseas in the first place? Of course, they are just going to paint a black doll. It’s cheaper. That’s not racism. That’s just being real.

    This is a classic problem. Black people need their own companies to create the products for our community and black people have to support those companies without thinking someone else’s water is colder. Some black people have taken these opportunities to create things and just perpetuated more negative stereotypes. Later on, we hear that some invisible hand prevented them from doing what they intended. The blacks with the know-how need to establish their own companies and share the knowledge how to shift from idea to production.

    It’s becoming increasingly difficult to enter the market as an upstart with major corporations using scale and predatory pricing to shut down competition. There are some companies that recognize the purchasing power of blacks but it’s usually to the detriment of the black community. We get targeted for alcohol and and usurious arrangements to buy personal goods.

    I don’t think this is “all” racism. It’s just the reality of the cold nature of capitalism, which has an unintended racist effect.

    There is never going to be a black Superman, black James Bond, black Wonder Woman, black McGyver, or black Johnny Quest if black people don’t create them, find a way to produce them at cost, and find a way market them. You cannot expect white people with minimal contact with black people that view the world from the perspective of being the majority to consistently create products for the diverse preferences of black people. After enough fuss, they will create them undoubtedly. They will never understand why, because they have never been the invisible man.

  14. Jay,

    The problem is NOT that blacks don’t want to create these products etc. The problem is that they are shut OUT of the market. We already see that blacks are least likely to be given business loans etc. So like I keep saying HOW are these people supposed to jump in and compete with these companies?

    And it actually IS racist to target one people with all your negative products but not others. Blacks are no more fond of booze than any other race so why is it that we are being singled out for the cheap make you crazy crap, instead of the benign wines etc.? That should raise some eyebrows.

    Like I said these companies want black dollars yet don’t want to cater to the black people. I am saying that we should send them a message. That my dollars don’t flow just because you feel they should. The old saying “what have you done for me lately” should be on all of our black lips.

    Thanks for the reply.

  15. Asian Lady

    I think Jay was trying to say that the intentions of the companies weren’t meant to be racist but rather to be capitalistic, and that the outcomes of their products could be portrayed as racist. I don’t think there’s any disagreement that the product itself could be depicted as racist. It would be interesting to see dolls of all ethnicities. But then again, I was more of a teddy bear child than a doll child.

  16. Asian Lady,

    I understand perfectly what Jay is saying. And what we should all be taking from this is that large corporations white owned and operated are obviously companies for white people. And blacks or other minorities have no expectations of representation from these companies.

    Now as soon as blacks separate themselves from these companies they will undoubtedly be told to stop being separatists as they always are told. And that we are ALL Americans and that is all that matters. We can’t have it both ways.

    You can’t tell blacks that they should consider themselves Americans and then tell them that they have no expectation of representation from anyone else in this country. So basically we are being told that everything that is owned by white people is FOR white people only and if we want something we should do it ourselves. Then the minute we do, we are separating ourselves from America.

    Yes, I think I have it now. I think I know exactly what is being said here.

    Thanks for the reply.

  17. bananarama

    Dammit- I got so excited when your earth-toned spectrum of bandages turned up during a Google Image search. I searched for years for a brand offering different flesh-toned bandages before I finally concluded that the only sensible option available was the Sparkle brand manufactured by (I think) Proctor & Gamble. Unfortunately for the serious adults among us, these sport rainbow hues, but at least there are no cartoon characters.

    I disagree with Politically Incorrect Black Woman and Jay: it is not too much to expect companies to cater to our expectations. Do you remember when Crayola had a “flesh”-colored crayon? Look for it now and you’ll find it’s called “peach.” Was this the result of a flash of enlightened corporate thinking? Doubt it; more likely a lot of people (many of them teachers, I’d wager) called and demanded that it be changed.

    Granted, that was a simple matter of changing one word of text. Jay is correct in pointing out that huge companies traditionally place expediency and profit before social conscience. But Jay, let’s not take our realists’ resignation too far. Sure, we’re all going to DIE someday, too, but that’s no reason not to live NOW, and to expect to be allowed to do so with some dignity.

    BlackSentinel is right: Johnson & Johnson will accept his (black) dollar just as readily as they’ll accept my (white) dollar. How is it that my dollar can buy me what I need without my even having to articulate that need, while his dollar can only buy him incongruence? Personally, I think this is something more than an inadvertant oversight, something other than merely an “unintended racist effect.”

    Old-school racism probably got the ball rolling, and inertia has kept it in motion. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson employ enough market research analysts that we can dispense with the “Invisible Man” scenario as an excuse. At this point, it is simply that qui tacet consentet.

    Call the Johnson & Johnson Questions and Comments line at 1.800.526.3967. Tell them to get their butts in gear and start producing either multihued packs or varied packs of single tones.

    As far as children’s literature goes, I know what you’re talking about. Pop culture and mass media rarely find their way into my home- it’s ALL trash- but kids need good books. Many’s the time I’ve whipped out my trusty brown colored pencils to bring a book’s demographics more into true with the world around us. All I can say to you parents is: keep looking, keep filtering, keep sorting. An interesting illustrator to consider is Trina Schart Hyman (sp?). Her artwork resembles less a mixing pot than a chunky ethnic stew, presented without explanation or any commentary at all.

    Patti- thanks for the tip re: ethidolls.com. I’m curious- do their body shapes vary?

    In case anyone is wondering; no- I am not the white mother of a biracial child. I am the white half-sister of an older biracial half-brother. Yup, our mother was Another Trashy Little White Girl For Progress. :) And let me tell y’all, growing up in central Virginia during the seventies lent itself to some interesting perspectives.

    Thanks for the blog, BlackSentinel. I’m thrilled that these conversations are taking place. It’s painful and messy and absolutely necessary.

  18. Bananarama,

    You are right there with me in thinking. I don’t think it is too much to ask for companies to make an assortment of things since all people are not one shade or color. And yes this is such a messy and upsetting topic for many but I will continue to put it out there. Hopefully people will be able take something from it and put themselves on the other side of the fence. You have already done that by having your brother and seeing things with your own eyes.

    Thank you very much for your comment.

  19. bananarama

    BlackSentinel,

    I apologize for not checking out your bio before rushing to throw in my two cents. I was still coming down from the adrenaline surge I’d experienced upon seeing the bandage image. :)

  20. Bananarama,

    No problem as it happens quite often. I think the name somehow conjures images of a male. Every time I go and make a comment on other people’s blogs they always call me an angry black man. So I have learned to overlook it and just go with it. Unless the person is being overly facetious.

    Thanks though for the apology.

  21. Thank you for the image. These exist now don’t they. Here they are on a shelf

    http://aznliu.wordpress.com/2006/11/21/different-skin-color-bandaidfinally/

    And please see this blog for a mexican bandaid package and a picture of a “flesh” coloured crayon.

    http://textmex.blogspot.com/search/label/bandaid

    I can’t find the black and brown bandaid on the Johnson & Johnson Web site though. This is their whole list of bandaid products and all of them pink.

    http://bandaid.com/shoppingList.do?command=listProducts

    In one edition of the popular drama “24” the black CTU staff member, “Curtis Manning” played by Roger Cross, wore a pink bandaid on his face at his temple. The only image I can find is in the Google cache

    http://tinyurl.com/av3mtp

    If anyone has a link to a larger screen grab then please let me know.

    Thank you also for the link to

    http://www.ethidolls.com/

    Here in Japan there are a lot of products that are pink and otherwised caucasian influenced.

    http://flickr.com/photos/nihonbunka/sets/72157603512664997/

  22. Wow, I’ve been to the US a couple of times and I am latina so I know what it feels like to be kind of looked down upon when going out.

    Anyhow sometimes I’m kinda happy that I live here because we don’t have such abyss beetween races here, sure we have a very small population of indigenous people but most of us are very “standard” looking, white (and I mean european or “US white”),african or asian population is not very common here yet when they come most people look at them with curiosity or will charge them more not because of the race but because they’re considered tourists many times and many don’t know prices hehe ( I’m not saying it’s correct just explaining it happens and you can be latin but if accent says you’re a tourist you’re considered a tourist).

    My point is… if you african americans feel the big fishes dont think of you, hehe, try living down here: you wont find any other “barbie race” wich is not the blonde, white, blue eyed stereotype and that goes all the way to makeup (I know girls who buy powders two tones lighter than their skin color because they think they’ll look prettier), fashion, TV (‘cuz most TV spots are featuring very “white” skinned people, I mean white in comparison to all of us, lol”) and pretty much anything.

    As for me, I’m glad of my skintone, since I have very particular traces I could almost pass as Indian hehe.

    I grew up in this environment and yeah, you are right: having only things for “whites” shown to you can influence the way you think about beauty, yet you have to remember there are always exceptions and the most part of it is accepting yourself for what you are and who you are and I think that is precisely what you should teach your kids.

    Have a good day.
    .//.Grace.//.

  23. Jill Stock

    What about the damage done to white children. All my life I’ve been given the message that because I’m fair skinned that makes me bad and racist. I’ve come to loathe being referred to as white because of insensitve rants with poorly chosen words like this one about “simple racism”. The worst of it is that I had just barely come to terms with the color of my own skin (and the fact that I can’t tan). Then I read this inferring that anyone of European descent is in on some sort of conspiracy. No wonder that so many fair skinned girls feel that must tan their skin. It’s that or be considered racist because your skin just isn’t dark enough.

  24. Really Jill? I guess you either don’t read very well or read what you wanted into it, because not one place in my post did I say “ALL WHITE PEOPLE DO…” So just by showing a little snippet of racism that minorities goes through on a daily basis somehow hurts your little sensibilities? Give me a freaking break. You got it so bad because you hate your race based on some fairytale mumbo jumbo that minorities are giving you a guilt trip.

    You really need to check your whiny white privilege bags at the door before entering here with that crap. I can’t even begin to tell you what the hell is wrong with what you say. It is so ridiculous that I am just going to let it go and ask that you refrain from speaking to me if this is the only logic you can use.

    Thanks but no thanks to your white privileged whiny talk.

  25. Nowhere in the article does it say that the source of the pro white propaganda is white people. As mentioned in my comment above, it seems to me that there is strong white dominant propaganda that is perpetuated in Japan by Asians. I was looking at a Indian pop video recently and producers seemed to have the same disease.

    At the same time, I am white, and I don’t like this white dominant propaganda. If someone lives in a racist state rife with claims that one race is superior to all others, even members of that “master race” might object, find the claim offensive and painful, due to the alienation that is created between themselves and the other races. I am sure it is a lot more painful to be on the recieving end, but at least, there is a downside to being on the agrandized, the er propaganderized side.

    Alas, Jill does not seem to be seeing the problem, but criticising the author for pointing it out.

  26. Timothy Takemoto,

    I agree with you on this. Pro white propaganda is perpetrated by everyone, even blacks themselves. It is programming and once in place it operates on cruise control (thanks brotherP).

    Thanks for the reply.

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