Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Stereotypes are Untrue?


I've heard from a couple of people that are concerned I could be racist. Why? In my March OUT column (see above) I wrote a bit on stereotypes, including the phrase "Black people enjoy fried chicken." Apparently, because I am not black, I cannot notice blacks enjoy fried chicken.

Is this really up for debate? I live in on Avenue D, and I've often been to Harlem--both of these black neighborhoods have fried chicken joints that outnumber churches 2 to 1. In Atlantic City, there's a beach called "Chicken Bone Beach" which (during segregation) used to be a black beach, and got its name from the chicken bones they left behind.

Chinese people enjoy rice, Argentines enjoy squiggly cow glands, Gay People enjoy truffles. And yes, black people enjoy fried chicken. This means as a group, a generalization, not every individual. There are black people who don't like fried chicken, Vegetarian Argentines, and Chinese who don't enjoy rice. Personally, I've never had a truffle.

The column was about gays and irreverence. In the same vein, free speech is not free speech if it pleases everyone. That doesn't make me racist.

3 comments:

Rick Vaughn said...

Jesse, you aren't a racist. You were just comparing. Black people DO love fried chicken. Not all, but a huge majority. I prefer baked or grilled. I'm Black and when I read your article, I wasn't offended at all. (I read it before this blog entry...I'm a fan.) Anyway, America is so fuckin' sensitive. We really need to get over it.

Dop said...

Agreed. We are so afraid of offending someone that we never really say what we want. I spend more time talking in circles than a straight (shudder) line.

And thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I'm a fan.

Janetta said...

I think it's extremely sensitive to make stereotypical generalizations about any group of people, especially when those stereotypes are rooted in a painful and violent history. The first amendment allows for freedom of speech, but even the Supreme Court has placed several restriction on that freedom. Similarly, as a Catholic, my faith places several more restrictions on that freedom. As a human being, my compassion for others places more restrictions on that freedom. And one of those restrictions is to not make insensitive and hurtful comments to or about others, whether or not I feel that person or group is justified in being upset by the comment. This country will be better and stronger when its citizens decide to stop using their freedoms to hurt or offend, and start using those freedoms to build up and unify this country. There's a verse that reads "I become all things to all people so that I may effectively relay the Gospel." Paul understood that the only way to gain the support of people and to effectively relay a message was to validate the dignity and worth of a person. If someone finds something offensive and hurtful, who am I to tell them they have no right to feel that way and/or that I will not respect that feeling. The freedom that our forefathers fought for demand that I respect that sentiment. My freedom should never serve to hold someone else hostage. The only way for this country to be cohesive and integrated is for people to become sensitive to diversity issues.