Saturday, July 25, 2009

Train of Thought

I saw a commercial for a new cartoon today. At first I thought it was for Family Guy. There was a clip animated in the same obvious style, but there was a father and son, both black. I don’t watch Family Guy so I paid little attention, till the closing shot.
It closed with a family shot, an animated black family, and a “coming soon” sort of voice over.
My first thought, an instant thought, was, “why are they doing a black Family Guy” spin-off? That is some obvious pandering and I can hear the “age of Obama” complaints now.
Then it occurred to me that I never thought, “look, a white family” the first time I saw Family Guy. Why would I instantly think that an all black family on a cartoon would be pandering? Was it because it was from the same animators as the original?
That’s messed up that the image of a black family on TV would evoke any sort of knee jerk reaction, let alone such a cynical one. What does that say about our society? What does that say about me?
I wonder how many other white people had the same involuntary reaction at this commercial as I did? Worse question is how many of those white people later realized how sad and wrong such a reaction is…. even if the cartoon is in fact pandering.

This whole train of thought took about ten seconds. My wife in the kitchen, had she been watching me at the time, would have had no idea what was in my head, if anything at all. I’m sure I looked like an imitation of Al Bundy in front of the TV.


uglyblackjohn said...

Hand in the pants and all, huh?

I think that the recent influx of "Too much Black" is the issue.

Too many blacks are now being seen in ways and places that they had not before.

I think people are begining to feel that their social expectations are being challenged and redefined.
Most people become stressed when faced with a dramatic change.
This stress shows itself in different ways.
"Another Black guy?" is a common reaction.

This also happens when Black neighborhoods turn Asian or Hispanic.

People are just comfortable with what they know.

Jake the Snake said...

Speaking of knee jerk reactions. I was a little surprised by Pres. Obama's reaction to the Harvard professor being arrested and him calling the actions of the police "stupid". Having come from a family where my dad is a cop and having read the police report and read eye witness accounts, I have got to say....white or black, I think the guy would have gotten handcuffed and arrested either way, due to his actions. I was especially disappointed to see that the police department dropped the disorderly conduct charges, just because he was black. I don't think that is right either. I think that Pres. Obama obviously sided with the black professor, just because he was black, without even knowing the facts. I think that we all have knee jerk reactions, no matter what side of the issue we are looking from. What are your thoughts?

brohammas said...

Well Mr. The Sanke, I had not planned to deal with this on here. I havent been in the mood, but maybe a little.

What actions by Mr. Gates justified arrest? Is it unlawful to insult a police office on your own property? Now I do have some doubts how much race played here... not because race racism does not exist but because I have had and seen plenty of interractions of police with white people that I thought were wrong as well. I saw it as a case of a cop overstepping boundaries to protect his ego.

I don't care what SKip called the cop, or what he said about the cop's Momma, is any of that alone grounds to arrest him? ARREST?

In my opinion the cop was just doing his job by investigating. Fine. The cop asked for I.D. again, that makes sense. But once it is, and it was, proven that this man was in fact in hos own home and not breaking and enterring, the cops only option is to apologize and leave. It does not matter how Mr. Gates acted, this is his home. He can say as he pleases about anyone in his own home. If he got loud and dissorderly there would be an easy solution... for the cops to leave.

It is understandable that an African-American man would not trust the cops. The historical (not distant) interraction between the two has always been unequal. If this cop had no ill intentions or was not "profiling" than sure being misstreated or missrepresented sucks, but thats part of the job. You are a public servant and sometimes that means dealing with being abused, I think cops are underpaid. But in my book insult does not equal arrest. More like insult < arrest.

Anyone who knows anything about proffessor Gates, and maybe I am biased since three of his books are on my shelf, would know that he is the farthest thing from being a danger to society.

again, what in the report justifies his arrest? What did he do that you see as justification for pressing charges?
These questions are not rhetorical.

Jake the Snake said...

Disorderly conduct, ((n) disorderly conduct, disorderly behavior, disturbance of the peace, breach of the peace (any act of molesting, interrupting, hindering, agitating, or arousing from a state of repose or otherwise depriving inhabitants of the peace and quiet to which they are entitled) whether in public or on your own property is still breaking the law and worthy of arrest. The thing that bothers me about professor Gates's actions is that a professor of education, who apparently is an accomplished author as well, would act in such a way towards a public servant, no matter their race, culture, or background. I do not believe that every educated person is less capable of being disorderly than someone who is less educated, but this is Harvard, a symbol of class, education, and status. I do agree that I think both parties overreacted. I am sure the officer had his pride hurt and part of the motive for arrest may have been due to that, and I don't have a problem with your argument that Mr. Gates may not have been deserving of arrest, but at the same time, I wouldn't disagree with anyone who argued that the police officer was justified in arresting someone who was disturbing the peace of his neighborhood and preventing the officer from being able to communicate with his dispatcher. I think both people were probably somewhat in the wrong. My concern is that the President of the United States (not just any ordinary position or title mind you) the President of the United States...... would automatically jump to the conclusion that his friend and fellow black American was right and the police officer's actions were stupid. It is of consequence that our president is black, and I realize he comes from a background where he has probably seen and experienced racism, but....... a person in a position to ease the perception of most white americans that all black people in the country will automatically "play the race card".... did that very thing. I think this served to inhibit the cause and only further alienate the distances between white and black americans. My major concern is that the gap I thought might be closed by a black president, seems only to have widened. I must also note, I like President Obama and a lot of what he says(not everything, but I am not a rampant Obama hater). I just think that no matter our race, we all are very touchy about the subject in the first place, and no one is willing to openly discuss it because many people are afraid of being called racist, just like what has happened here, and on a very public stage. I think these type of knee jerk reactions, on both sides, serve to make the issue more difficult for all sides involved. - Sorry to make you discuss this when you didn't want to, but I value what you have to say, and you often help me to see things better and soften my heart a bit, so I appreciate the discussion.

brohammas said...

While I agree that this has become another dividing point I will not fault Obama, nor will I say his original stance has made things worse. Here is why.
Racial profiling IS an issue and us not talking baout it will not make it better. This may not have been an outright profiling case in the strictest sense, but as the President said, black men get arrested and incarcerated, at an extremely disspraportionate level. Studies have shown that in instances of arrest a white person gives the cop the benefit of the doubt. The result of this is you have more black people getting arrested than should and the general white populace thinks this is the way it should be. THAT is the divide. It is already there and Obama simply has us talking about it.
Dr. Gates is a perfect example.
problem 1) his nieghbor doesnt know him well enough to recognize him.
2)Gates lost his temper with a cop which is good for no-one.
3)the copp arrested him for dissorderly conduct. This is surely the part where I question the officer on a racial bassis. Gates was not being dissorderly till the cop came to HIS home and instigated the altercation. It was obvious that in order to resolve the issue... if that is what the cop wanted to do... all he had to do was leave. He did not and in my opinion abused his authority to punish.
A cops job is in no way to punish. In what way was arresting him protecting or serving anyone? It was not. These types of instances happen to black people far more than it does to white people. When it happens to a white guy it tends to upset that peson, when it happens to a black person, due to historical perception, it not only upsets bt solidifies the feeling of dissenfranchisment and oppression. It also makes them more likely to ys, pull the race card.
So really, if we think that card gets pulled to often and we think things should be done to stop that... the best way would be for that cop to have just walked away. Be the bigger man mr. public servant. Realize that you in fact disturbed Mr. Gates peace and in the racially charged world of law enforcement you should do the unexpected thing and not use your authority to teach a black man a lesson. In stead he went and demonstrated to black people how a cop can basically come to house and haul you in if thwy want to, and you can do nothing about it... even if you are one of the country's top scholars at its leading institution.

We white folk never really think about this. When we do its because a card has been thrown in our face and we get all in a tizzy rather than trying to understand the bigger issue. Just so happens this bigger issue is real and has lasting affects on the lives of black people more than it does whites...hence our apathy and defensiveness.
I applaud the pres for calling a spade a spade.

Jake said...

Thanks for your comments and for taking up this discussion with me. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have anyone to discuss it with openly and therfore, would have a harder time seeing any side of the issue other than my own. While I don't completely agree with you, I was moved a great distance towards the middle and was able to look at both sides a little.... a lot better due to your comments and our discussion. I must say, that my stance has definitely softened and my perception of the incident has changed. I thank you for that. I only wish we could get the whole country discussing issues like this in the way we just did, without everyone pointing fingers and getting all bent out of shape when we happen to disagree. There usually is a middle ground, but we are too blinded by our own acreage to look up and find out where that ground might be. Again, thanks and keep up the posts.

brohammas said...

"acreage"? was that a comment about my waistline?

I wish we could all talk about these things as well. You are always welcome at my place.

Corbie said...

Wow - I don't even know where to jump in here. I was expecting you to do a post on the Gates' arrest but I wasn't anticipating it in the comment section :). I like the original post, though - we do all have knee jerk reactions and it seems the key is to make sure we examine their validity each and every time.

Coffy said...

Wow, I got so caught up in the comments that I forgot for a minute what the original post was about. Re: The Cleveland Show (the family-guy spin-off), if I'm not mistaking, this spin-off has been in the works for a little over a year now. I can't say for sure when they started planning of it, but I first heard about it maybe around this time last year. By that time, there were already sketches and descriptions about the cartoon. As a general fan of Family Guy, it would make more sense to do a spinoff on Quagmire, one of the other supporting characters and one who has a more colorful personality (he's a sex addict and pervert), so I'm still wondering myself why they decided to focus a whole show around Cleveland.

If you don't mind, I'd like to give you some of my first reactions to both my limited viewings of the Cleveland Show, and of seeing his wife Loretta on Family Guy:

-(upon seeing Loretta, a black woman, on Family Guy) Why is she the only loud character? Why does she have such a stereotypical speech pattern? (In one episode, everyone spoke to everyone else while Loretta went unacknowledged) Why couldn't they speak to the sista? (In one episode, Loretta has an affair with Quagmire) Why is Loretta the only wife having an affair?

-(upon seeing sketches from The Cleveland Show) Why is the daughter dressed liked that?

I don't know if you noticed any of these things, and I don't expect the creators of Family Guy to forgo such stereotypes (and issues race are only part of their problem), but these were some of the first things I thought upon observation of the only black characters on the Family Guy and its black-centered spin-off. It's disappointing to be notice that a show that you enjoy watching has so few qualms about portraying black women as loud-mouth, attitude-having jezebels.

Coffy said...

Brohammas and Jake, I hope you guys don't mind if I add my .02 in light of recent revelations regarding the initial call, police tapes, and police summary.

It took me a while to really start paying attention to the whole incident. My initial opinion was that both parties had overreacted. However, my interest was piqued earlier this week when the woman who placed the phone call announced that she never mentioned seeing "two black men with backpacks" breaking into a house. In fact, the woman said she was unsure of the races of the men, and upon further questioning said that one may have been hispanic. The woman went on to say that she wasn't sure if it was an actual break-in, and that it looked as if it may have been the home of one of the men.

To me, this new information begged more questions than it provided answers. The recent statments from the witness seem to directly contradict the police summary provided by Crowley. If the witness did not mention seeing two black men with backpacks, why would Crowley attribute this to her? Crowley has said that Gates's behavior was so disruptive, that he wasn't able to call his dispatcher. Crowley in fact did call his dispatcher, and AFTER receiving proof of Gates's identity, called for backup. Furthermore, the voice in the background on the tapes, assuming that it is Gates's, hardly disrupts the call.

My main concern is why did Crowley introduce the issue of race in his police report, especially when it was a blatently fabricated account? I am no expert in law enforcement, but IMO this is irresponsible. And if Crowley so carelessly lied in his statement and thought it was no big deal to use incorrect race-based accounts, is it too far of a stretch to question his conduct and handeling of Gates? And could this possibly be the reason for Gates's response, instead of this sudden, irrational outburst that is being attributed to him (note: most black men, and I'd wager a decorated scholar on race, have been taught in some way how to properly behave in initial interactions with the police). Whether it is more an issue of abuse of authority or race is still unclear, but to me it seems to be an abuse of authority influenced somehow by race/racial bias.

Jake, I noticed in your comments regarding Obama's stance on the issue, you were quick to the jump to the conclusion that Obama stuck up for his black friend? I question why you assume it was his friends color, and not his character, that prompted Obama to make his "acting stupidly" comment? Within the time that Obama won the election to now, there have been several incidences of police brutality/abuse of authority with racial implications (some, unfortunately, were fatal) that have made national headlines. Obama has not spoken out on one of them. I hardly think that a black man being arrested for disordely conduct and later having the charges dropped (more on that in a bit) would incite such reaction in Obama that he would all of a sudden use a formal healthcare platform to denounce the practice of racial profiling. IMO, the fact that two professional, highly regarded, impeccably successful, Harvard affiliated men with an established friendship and knowledge of each other's characters, and who both happen to be black, made Obama voice his opinion. I'm not saying you are wrong to disagree with Obama's opinion, but I urge you to question why you were as quick to assume that this was an act of black solidarity as Obama was quick to assume that the police overreacted more than Gates.

Coffy said...

Furthermore, Jake, I'd like to address your comments about Obama's presidency and its role in race relations in this country. You mentioned that Obama's actions only furthered the opinion of non-blacks that blacks always pull the race card. How many times can you recall Obama "pulling the race card"? Now, compare this to the number and magnitude of speeches he's made that have called for racial unity and tolerance for diversity. Why would this one comment, made as a tail-end to a rally for healthcare (in other words, not even the focus of his speech) discount his previous, focused attempts to encourage racial dialogue, reconcilation and understanding? I'm asking you these questions because I don't want you to allow this one incident to overshadow what Obama's has already done for the gap you mentioned, and for what he could do in the next 3.5 years. I'd also like for you to examine why you think this burden befalls the shoulders of this one biracial black man, rather than this nation of colors and ethnicities aplenty? Again, IMO, Obama has done the bulk of the job already by becoming the first biracial black president. The rest is up to society to instigate (done by calling out this and similar incidents) and perpetuate discussions regarding these issues until we achieve real progress, not to accuse someone (no matter his rank) of "throwing the race card" and dismissing his previous work. I hope you don't think I'm calling you out and take this as a lashing; instead, I hope I've given you some things to consider that could lead to greater insight about yourself and how YOU can close the gap that you look to Obama to fix.

Regarding the charges being dropped, I was passing through CNN one day when two well-respected black journalists were discussing Gates's arrest and the resulting fallout when one made a point that has stuck with me (and Jake, this is something else I'd like you to consider): If the police department maintains that the arrest was justified, why drop the charges? Jake, I have NEVER heard of charges against a black person being dropped because they are black. Never. Not once. More than anything, I've heard of numerous cases of black men and women being convicted based on fabricated evidence and forced confessions. I'd like to know why you think the charges were dropped because of Gates's race. What evidence do you have for this? Do you feel justified in making these comments without all of the evidence? If so, does this now excuse the president's comments that he made without having all the evidence? Again, I'm not trying to attack you. But you sounded concerned about the state of race relations in this country, and then proceeded to exhibit the type of thoughts and behavior that inhibit the progression this society needs. I do it, too. So does Brohammas (which was one of the points of the original post, if I'm not mistaken). So does Obama, Gates, and Crowley. We all do it. But reacting in a manner that accuses, blames, and ultimately widens the race gap is counterproductive to what you seem to want. If you (general you, not just you specifically) want change, YOU must initiate change. The most successful way to do it is to start with yourself. And judging from your very civil discussion with Brohammas, you seem to be on the right track.

Sorry for my essay.

brohammas said...

Coffy, and I know Jake personally so I think I could actually speak for him here...
Fell free to write an essay here any time you want. In fact I, we, like it. I wish we got more of it...
to anyone still reading the comments, "more essays please."

Siditty said...

I have got to say....white or black, I think the guy would have gotten handcuffed and arrested either way, due to his actions. I was especially disappointed to see that the police department dropped the disorderly conduct charges, just because he was black. I don't think that is right either. I think that Pres. Obama obviously sided with the black professor, just because he was black, without even knowing the facts.

This is what I think of when I think of racism in America today. I know that sounds harsh, but having the experienced of being questioned about where I live because I don't look like I belong there is downright insulting, degrading, and something I think I wouldn't have to worry about if I were another color. They dropped the disorderly conduct charge because Gates account is vastly different from the cops, and last I checked it wasn't illegal to be upset someone is questioning your right to be in your own home. Obama didn't side with Gates because he was black, but because him and Gates are friends, and because Obama is familiar with police and their attitudes towards people of color.

No offense, but black people don't necessarily think cops are out to serve and protect, sometimes they harass. I wonder how many times you have been pulled over for a traffic ticket and just instinctively put your hands on the dash just so the cop can't shoot you in the face because you fidget too much. Or due to fear of a cop trying to arrest you for driving while black. Or had to fear a cop putting you in jail for driving in a "white" town after dark.

Has it ever taken four police cars to pull you over for going seven miles over the speed limit? Do they look around for drugs in broad daylight around your car?

On a side note in regards to the woman who called the police, she probably referred to Skip Gates as hispanic, because technically, per DNA analysis, Skip is literally only 50% black even though he comes from two "black" parents.


Back to the topic at hand. What you're talking about is the "Cleveland Show" my husband is a huge fan of "Family Guy" so I have seen more than my fair share of the show. I think fans will be appreciative and not even go there with the race of the black family because they will be familiar with Cleveland. He's a funny character and one cool thing about "Family Guy" is that Cleveland isn't a "stereotype", and they don't pretend his race doesn't exist. Now his ex-wife Loretta is a completely different story, of course I am used to black women being stereotyped in the media, it's the norm and accepted with open arms. There was a whole show on Peter finding out he was black and going to Cleveland to ask him how to be black, in which Cleveland promptly took him to a "black people meeting" to discuss reparations. It was a funny episodes.

. As a general fan of Family Guy, it would make more sense to do a spinoff on Quagmire, one of the other supporting characters and one who has a more colorful personality (he's a sex addict and pervert), so I'm still wondering myself why they decided to focus a whole show around Cleveland.

I think they made the right choice, Quagmire would get old as all get out. I can only take so much "Giggity, Giggity, Giggity!" Joe or Cleveland would make awesome spin offs though.

brohammas said...

Hey Sid, welcome back to the party,
In Jake's defense... sort of... while cops harass black people, unfortunately they do not ONLY harass black people. If you live in a place without minority populations all that powerhungry intimidation gets directed to teenage boys.
So I would bet Jake instinctively puts both hands on the wheel (just like I was taught). I'll bet he calls the cop "sir", and does his best to not argue or seam in any way defiant.
I have had plenty of negative experience with the police in situations and geographies comletely lacking the racial element. That is one of the misscommunications on this issue.
In general black people do not realize that even if you were white, the cops might still harass you. In general white people simply don't appreciate how often this happens to black people.

I sould say the predominant issue in the Gates case, and many others, is egotistic policing rather than race.

Lady-Cracker said...

Brohammas said... "In Jake's defense... sort of... while cops harass black people, unfortunately they do not ONLY harass black people. If you live in a place without minority populations all that power hungry intimidation gets directed to teenage boys."

As a woman that had three teen aged boys, you bet I was all over it with them and how try and keep them from getting hurt. Cops are dangerous to all kinds of people; seems to be the "best" we can do for now, though.

Part of the problem is that if in any situation where there is a difference in color the "knee jerk" is to assume the problem is racism. Imagine that whole thing going down where everyone was of one color or ethnicity? Professor, cop and president? Jerkiness is color blind.