Tag Archives: racism

Sadly, Racism is Not ‘Old’ News

I have been out of the loop for a while. Between school, sickness and two little children, it seems there never is enough time or energy. A few weeks ago, I wanted to write about the Serena Williams and Kanye West incidents. Now, those stories are old news. Sadly, as I perused comments about Williams and West, I found out that racism is anything but “old” news.

Now, I have not been a supporter of Barack Obama as President. This has nothing to do with the color of his skin and everything to do with his policies and attitude. While he did not receive my vote because of our divergent stance on many issues, part of me was happy to see America elect a black man president. I thought this proved that racism was becoming old news in America. I was so wrong.

Racism reared its ugly head again in the Williams and West debacles. I was completely blown away.

I read so many comments on Kanye West’s inane stunt at the Video Music Awards that seemed to indicate that his actions had something to do with him being black.

Kanye West is not an idiot because he is black. Kanye West is an idiot because he is an idiot. This has nothing to do with race. Every race has its share of them. If there is anything that is colorblind it is this — idiocy draws no color lines. Really, it is about as simple as that.

The Serena story is something else entirely. I am not a follower of tennis, so normally I would not care. But, I read the story about what happened at the U.S. Open and I watched the video. Then, I began to read the comments. I could not believe it.  Nearly half the people blamed her actions on her being black, while another 15 percent just posted blatantly racist comments. I was stunned by this.

Do I think Serena was wrong? Yes, I most definitely do. She acted in a totally inappropriate and unprofessional manner. Do I think it had anything to do with her being black? No, I do not. It has everything to do with her being a highly competitive individual who does not accept defeat easily.

In most things I do in life, I expect to win. I go in with the attitude that I am going to be the victor, even if it takes me 20 times. If I make a mistake, I get angry at myself. Do I sometimes take this anger out on others? Yes, I am sorry to say I do. I work on this and strive to not allow it to happen in the future, but sometimes it comes back, especially when I become frustrated with myself.

Luckily for me, I am not a professional star athlete like Serena Williams. My bouts of competitive anger are not international news. I honestly believe Serena was just so angry and frustrated at herself. She was not playing at a level of which she knows she is capable. She showed her frustration at her play when she broke her racket.

While I am in no way attempting to excuse what Serena said or did to that line judge, I do not think Serena’s anger was really with the official. Serena’s anger was with herself. The line judge was just unlucky enough to get in the way.

Competitive people play life with a fire and a passion that sometimes burns hot. It does not matter what color skin we have — the temperature is still the same.

‘Jungle Gym’ Called Racist Term

I have heard jungle gyms called by many other names. I have heard them called “play sets,” “swing sets” or even “playground equipment.” Monday, for the first time, I also heard them called “racist.”

A good friend of mine, Chris Bradley, said he was watching CNN when some woman they interviewed took umbrage at the use of the word “jungle gym” because she said that was a racist phrase. The woman said the preferred term for this piece of equipment is “Outdoor Activity Play Set.” I would like to not mince words and say that this woman is an absolute, no-doubt-about-it moron racist.

Which word in the phrase “jungle gym” is the racist one? Is it “jungle” or “gym?” If it is “jungle,” then how am I ever going to discuss the Amazonian rain forest again? Do I have to say, “You know that place with lots of water and vegetation, and really big bugs and animals?” That seems cumbersome and inefficient.

Can I no longer use the phrase, “It was a jungle out there?” Is that a racist comment as well? Am I supposed to say, “It was a hot, steamy, and hard-to-walk-through-without-a-machete place out there?” That is quite a mouthful.

If it is the word “gym,” then how will I ever say where the basketball game took place? Will I say, “The Panthers won the game in the large room with the court and the hoops at either end this evening?” Can I not say, “I am going to work out in the gym any more?” Do I have to say, “I am going to work out in the place with the row machines, stair climbers and sweaty people this evening?”

Chris Bradley said, “Most of us grew up playing on ‘Jungle Gyms.’ I never once thought anything racist. I only thought of monkeys, gorillas, lemurs, etc… playing in the trees. I never once, until today, thought it could ever remotely be considered a race thing.”

I am assuming this lady thought the word “jungle” was the problem. Let us analyze her statement to see what is going on in her closed and underdeveloped mind.

The only way it could be a “race thing” is if you are already a racist. In her mind, I believe this CNN interviewee associated the jungle with these animals, perhaps mainly thinking of monkeys and gorillas. She then extrapolated that to black people. In other words, she is equating monkeys and gorillas with black people. I am going to call a spade a spade when I see one, and say that the racist person here is the lady who made such a ridiculously outlandish comment (oh, I better watch out, the word “spade” might be considered racist!).

This blatantly racist woman was interviewed by CNN for a story about the Kennedy-Dodd bill authorizing President Obama’s new healthcare plan. The bill includes money for cities to improve infrastructure that will encourage people to exercise.

“The Kennedy-Dodd bill will pave sidewalks, build jungle gyms and open grocery stores, but it won’t bring down health care costs or make quality coverage more affordable,” U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) said. “In a time of record debt and deficits, how can Democrats justify the wasteful spending in this bill?” (http://enzi.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=NewsRoom.NewsReleases&ContentRecord_id=d1547d1a-802a-23ad-40ec-93ef483a62bc)

This part of the bill jibes with Obama’s call to “Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities” by reforming federal transportation grants so cities receive more money to “create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks.”  (http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/jilliansphar/CJHG

The main thought the female CNN interviewee had about this bill and plan was that she was offended by Enzi’s use of the phrase, “jungle gyms.” She went off on her tirade against a phrase that she believes should readily be perceived by all human beings as racially insensitive and demeaning.

We live in strange times. Four-year-olds are sued for sexual harassment; people steal your identity and wash your checks. And, now, jungle gyms are racist pieces of playground equipment.

That’s all for now. It’s time for me to go play on my Outdoor Activity Play Set Center with the Monkey Bars (aw, dang, I cannot avoid the racism). Type at you later.

John VanPelt

edited by Bre Bivens — Thanks to you for your assistance and support!