Friday, February 20, 2009

If the NY Post Doesn't Like Al Sharpton,

they shouldn't run racist depictions of black people. In the case of the now famous cartoon of the cops shooting the maniac chimp and commenting about rewriting the stimulus package, the cartoon is racist on two grounds. First, it associates Barack Obama with the pervasive stereotype of black people as "monkeys" or "chimps." Second, it represents blacks as targets of official violence and conveys a sense of being "shot by the police" as something natural for black people.

What does this have to do with Al Sharpton?

Since he acquitted himself well in his two presidential campaigns, Al Sharpton has become a go-to person and media arbiter on issues of racism. Sharpton himself had a highly questionable involvement in the Tawana Brawley case, but his strong media presence, articulateness, and smarts and definiteness about racism all combine to make him an ideally "controversial" spokesperson from the media point of view for the "black" or the "politically correct" side of the Don Imus, NY Post, and other controversies.

What makes Sharpton ideal from the mainstream media point of view is that he just oozes sleaze into the television screen and thus allows the media to project a prejudicial view of black people while representing the "black side."

But Sharpton also acts to overcome the effect of that prejudicial projection by representing the "black side" in a smart and articulate that drives the point home about racism.

Conservatives univerally despise Sharpton and conservative outlets like the NY Post consider him to be an enemy. But the best thing the NY Post can do to end Sharpton's career as a "racism arbiter" is to stop being putting out racist stuff like the chimp cartoon.

It's that simple.


Todd Mayo said...

This speaks to the institutional side of racism. Here we have a widely circulated media outlet equating President Obama as a "chimp". Prima Facie' racism This is beyond institutional. This is an open and notorious celebration of hate cloaked in the guise of protected speech when in fact it is a message of hate. I am especially incensed at this one because they have chosen to pick on Rev Sharpton, a personal hero/icon to me.
I don't quite agree with your view that Sharpton, "oozes sleaze into the television screen." I think he is simply very outspoken in an "in your face" way. For me, that is a good thing. His speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention combined the best of his religious oratory style with what to me, was and is common sense. The crowd loved him!!
I looked up Rev Sharpton's National Action Network ( and this issue with "The Post" is prominent.
This is a great/good man.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to PC Hell. You probably still force your students to suffer through Fanon, don't you?

Anonymous said...

BTW Al Sharpton is considered by many to be a raging anti-semite who incited a riot which caused death in NYC, aka Hymietown. Al is smart and glib, but his is an act bordering on extortion. His high profile in the Don Imus case was especially rich. Isn't it almost racist that in a nation of over 30 million African Americans, that so few of said group are always trotted out as class spokesmen?

Derek M. Brown said...

Don't you love the courage of right-wingers who lack the courage of their convictions to attach their names to their hate-speech?

Ric Caric said...

Pretty standard stuff. In the "Welcome to PC Hell" comment, the commenter is referring to my Intro to Political Theory class at Morehead State. He forgot to mention that I schedule the Fanon reading as part of a MLK/Malcolm X/Fanon package and that the previous assignment is a William Bennett essay. But, it's not like honesty is a big virtue on the right either.

Anonymous said...

Fanon and Bennett all at once? How many suicides do you have per semester?

Anonymous said...

Derek, hate-speech? Ric has trained you well. He probably supports speech codes, too.