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Racism With A Side Of Fries


Ever wonder how a post-racial America might look? Well, keep wondering. Not only is racism a perpetual human flaw common to all races, but some people will find it when it needn’t be sought. They’ll look where it’s least expected, where no normal person would notice, where Burger King filmed a commercial with Mary J. Blige.

Burger King hired Blige to hawk their chicken tenders, and judging from the hostile reception the ad received you’d have thought the script called for Blige to sing Massa’s in de Cold, Cold Ground. The indignation flowed like honey mustard.

Madame Noire, a website dedicated to black women, called the ad “unsettling” and stereotypical buffoonery. One pundit charged Burger King with manipulating a black woman to sell chicken: “Because God knows black folk won’t buy anything unless there’s a song, and preferably a dance, attached to it.” Another wrote, “To see her (Blige) sing for chicken is jarring.”

The second claim is utter nonsense. Only an idiot would believe Mary J. Blige sang for chicken. I’ll bet she sang for money, and lots of it. Good for her. But the “unsettling” affect, the stereotyping, the idea of “black folk” shunning any product not tied to a song or dance, that’s a little trickier.

Granted, the comment about singing and dancing was offered in sarcasm, which I can appreciate to a point. But the days when a blackface minstrel chowing on chicken and watermelon was considered an accurate portrayal of the average black person are long gone. While BK’s ad was silly, silliness isn’t racism. The only thing the BK-Blige combo should insult is our intelligence.

Had Mary uttered a line such as, “Dis’ here chicken sho’ do taste mighty fine,” the outrage among Madame Noire bloggers might be understandable. But for Pete’s sake, take a walk on the real side. Today’s black Americans are multi-millionaire athletes, actors and actresses, and performers of various kinds, like Mary J. Blige. They’re business leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and — dare I say? — President. Blige simply used her status and stardom to make a buck. Big deal! Why, in 21st Century America, can’t a black woman advertise chicken, or anything else, without self-serving hacks taking umbrage?

Not all Madam Noire bloggers found offense in the ad. Yet the ad remained racist. Just the anticipation of racism, it would seem, causes fear of racism among blacks. But if merely anticipating the possibility of racism constitutes racism, how then can any person interact with another race? Whatever is said or done becomes racism if an aggrieved party perceives it so. Harmony can’t exist under such circumstances. But resentment can, and it will.

Both Burger King and Blige have since apologized for the ad, which Burger King has pulled. But the people who should apologize are those who created this issue from nothing. Racial divisiveness won’t end as long as publicity hogs profit from stirring up strife.

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