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Black people in America held back by hip-hop and short shorts

February 26th, 2009     by Cate Simpson     Comments

A few months ago I got a free digital subscription to Macleans. I don’t know why I keep reading it though, since my day is almost always worse for the experience.

Today’s salient piece of racist nonsense, which unfortunately isn’t online yet but if it does surface on the website I’ll update this post with a link, is Andrew Potter’s column, “Sometimes a primate is just a primate, Reverend” in which he defends the New York Post’s dead chimp cartoon that sparked so much discussion last week.

First of all, I just don’t buy the headline. I don’t believe that a political cartoonist would draw a chimp and use it to comment on the recent actions of the President, without knowing what he was doing. I don’t believe it never entered that cartoonists’ head that people were going to assume he’d drawn the President as a chimpanzee and filled him full of bullets. And the fact that he went ahead and did it anyway means that this primate is not just a primate.

That’s just the beginning. According to Potter, the “real” race scandal in America last week was Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna. Because it’s only a matter of time, when a woman of colour gets beaten up by a man of colour, until somebody claims that it isn’t a story about domestic violence, but a story about race.

What makes it a story about race, according to Andrew Potter, is that

“what is really holding a new generations of blacks back is the ghetto cult of black ‘authenticity,’ familiar to everyone who has seen a hip-hop video in the last decade, that promotes the idea that the ideal woman wears short shorts and waves her ass in the air, while the ideal man cares about little more than Glocks and grillz. It’s the same culture that teaches a 19-year-old kid that keepin’ it real means driving a rented Lamborghini and beating up your girlfriend in a fit of jealousy.”

Where to begin. With the tired contention that all that is keeping black people back is themselves? With the fact that Potter thinks everything there is to know about black culture can be gleaned from MTV? Or with his failure to account for the fact that white people are similarly assailed with images of scantily clad women, with the message that men should be tough, possessive, and ready to assert themselves with physical force?

For some reason, I keep expecting better, more nuanced analysis from Macleans. But sometimes a racist right-wing rag is just a racist right-wing rag.

Tags: race and racism

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