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My friend emails me and says, “I just came from a thread on BV and on there people were really bashing Cincy. Is it that bad there?”

I asked her for a link to the thread and went to see it myself. Someone asked what the worst city to live in was and the usual suspects popped up and Detroit seemed to be winning until a black Cincinnatian gave his explanation why Cincinnati was the worst because it was the most racist city in the U.S. The writer even claimed that there was a barn along a major interstate where Klansmen train their children for future membership.

I write her back. “There is no barn on I-71 with a confederate flag on it in Cincinnati. It’s not even in Hamilton County, but a different county about 15-20 minutes outside of the city. We don’t have any more problems with racial issues than any other major city.”

I then went about how some black Cincinnatians might have PTSD (Post Traumatic Slave Disorder) because too often many call into black radio seeing a Klansman on every corner and crying about the white boogieman who is keeping them down by shooing the dope boys off the corner.

“Some black Cincinnatians take an odd kind of pride in saying that it’s the most racist city in the U.S.*” I bluster in my letter. “But then, one must ask, why are they staying if the racism is that bad? This isn’t the plantation; we are now free to move about the country without manumission papers. So then why do they stay? White Cincinnatians aren’t any more racist than black Cincinnatians. Both are equally ignorant of each other and other ethnic/racial groups.”

As I waited for a reply I went onto a local group for mothers that sponsored by a local newspaper. On the board for Race and Diversity a mother posted how she bought a children’s movie that the NAACP has been able to have banned here. She purchased the movie from overseas and showed it to her children.

In explaining her decision she wrote:

(The black people) were not complaining, they were smiling, they were singing. We know this is fiction, and not a realistic depiction of slave life. But it is a Disney movie. Is Aladin (sp) representative of Muslims? And the movie was created in the forties, which was a way different time than now. 

  Yes, the movie is delightful. Upon further reading and study, I am not even sure they are slaves, as I think the stories in the movie post date slavery. They could have been share croppers, (not that there was much difference poverty wise). Uncle Remus can come and go as he pleases so that would indicate that he is a free man.

 How can you not hear Zippity Do Da, and not think delightful?

I explained to her why many people find it offensive and how viewing the movie in reference to that time shows subtle racism. I also explained how, like her, I didn’t think the movie should be banned although not because of happy singing Negroes. I thought the movie along with other negative images should be kept around and compared to similar current day media pictures of cooning like BET music videos and I Love New York. When my daughter watch shows with black images I find reprehensible I bring out a Stepin Fetchit scene or cartoon characters in black face and explain to her how those things made us feel and how it’s the same game, different names pulling the strings. I elucidated without incendiary language, without emotion and without resorting to name calling.

The women wrote back and said I was an angry racist.

I, in turn, emailed my friend, pondering whether I had taken the wrong side and wondered aloud if the BV black brigade wasn’t right after all.

In a time where race doesn’t seem to be playing a major role in a candidate’s qualifications for presidency the racial lines across the country seem to be drawn bolder. This past fall, the rash of noose sightings has been on the rise since the Jena 6 incident and the growing debate over immigration and Hispanics are helping to elevate the country’s already tense racial landscape. We are in what seems to be a never ending war and gas prices are on the rise. It’s seems right about the time when people start to get nostalgic for happier days. You know those days that Ronald Reagan used to talk about. It was right after WWII but right before the civil rights era, you know what I’m talking about. When life was easy and there were only three TV channels and no one was bargaining for more money. Gas cost .23 cents and a gallon of milk was under a dollar. A black man was more likely to knock on your door to deliver dairy products, not knock your daughter up. When there was only one other race and they knew their place. It was a time when men were men and women were women, nothing in between and nothing ungodly spoken like “same sex marriage’. People knew God then –they went to church. Everything was right. Everybody was happy and white and straight. We had just whooped the German’s ass proving to them we were the greatest country in the world and we didn’t know fully yet about the Korean War. And this is where we have to get back to, the American dream that was sold to us through Hollywood’s lenses. It’s what we have shown the world and what we pride ourselves on.

But those damn writers are on strike and they’ve been trying to color up the image for the last 30 year, anyway.

Perhaps when the writers come back they will bring with them more diverse stories, with more lead characters of color. Being out walking the picket lines might do them some good when they realize that not every one in the US is white and rich. Maybe we can get a black Ally McBeal or a Hispanic Thirtysomething. Or an Asian Seinfeld, starring Bobby Lee (I love Bobby Lee). Maybe some of these writers went home to other cities and found out that they have relatives whose jobs aren’t on the police force or solving crimes with CSI. There’s a whole world outside of LaLa Land. Maybe one of them can find it and write about it before we get subjected to Rock of Love III.

Perhaps even another show about the city I love and may never leave, or if I do I’d probably come back. Although it has problems Cincinnati like every other city it isn’t like every other city, it’s home.

*Actually, the most racist city is here

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by rentec

5 January, 2008 at 10:31 pm

Posted in community, diversity, race

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