The American Current
The euphoria from the most recent election has finally begun to die down. After nearly two years of one of the most exciting presidential campaigns in American history, the country has now slowed to a quiet anticipation. Some antagonizers have anticipated downfall and challenge, while President Obama has remained steadfast, and impressive to date. While his election is still too recent to gain a popular poll about his acceptance and or disapproval, generally the country has remained attentive.
Popular culture is captivated by two realities, the economic challenges that seem to have had the greatest impact since the Depression, hitting closer to most homes than comfortable, and second, a fanaticism with entertainment culture: domestic disputes poorly handled in public, sports stars falling to woes of substance abuses and ensuing discipline.
Amidst the framing around the superficiality of pop culture and seriousness of poverty is an underlying sensitivity associated with none other than race and racism. Now that the “Obama-mania” has died down, the real scrutiny has begun. Naysayers have been better behaved than would have been suspected. However, the uproar of one of the world’s most powerful nations electing its first African-American president has led to an underlying current of suspicion. It seems the grooming of acceptable behavior, especially in reference to African Americans has been deleted as of late. Quips attacking Black groups have quickly become routine news updates. New Yorkers were outraged by the racial slur against our President posted in the gossip column of the New York Post, one of the most internationally renowned and widespread printings. The promotion showed two officers having shot a chimpanzee dead, under the tagline “they’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill”.
Authors may not have intended to offend, nor compare the President to the likeness of a chimp, and the posting may have even been in connection to the killing of an attacker chimp the day prior or simply denouncing the economic plan altogether as claimed. The clip, however, reawakened one of the most offensive racial slurs used toward Blacks: a comparison to monkeys, gorillas, chimps, and other arm swinging bestials, a stab over an already tender wound without much of a sincere apology from the printing press. Protests began immediately following its publication and news of the offensive image was widespread within a few hours.
More recently, Barnes & Nobles, one of the most popular bookstore chains in the country has been attacked for yet another clip with the President’s pic posted just above none other than, another chimpanzee. Has this become a popular theme in American media or a biting response to recent media news? This during the time where a local bakery begins to promote “drunken negro cookies”, a signature at the store, with misshapen, dark chocolate figures with wide lips in red cake gel.
It appears that Blacks have yet again been under siege of racial slurs and insensitive attacks but the response has been enlightening. Impatience has brewed, especially among American Blacks around the recurrence of classic themes of racism which were thought to have died decades ago. Organizers quickly mobilize groups to protest, ban and boycott, and others raise the awareness of such injustices with a fervor similar to that of the 1960s. The pride in the election of such a qualified leader who also so happens to be African-American has equipped common Americans, African-Americans, liberals and so on to voice their opinions, especially during this media frenzy. Powerfully, Black groups are combating the culture’s return toward the acceptance and widespread use of racial epithets, empowered by their increased participation in social-political culture.