We're all worried about seeming racist. Some advice: just relax.
By Raina Kelley | NEWSWEEK
Published Feb 28, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Mar 9, 2009
Dear fellow journalists (especially the ones on TV): can I offer you a bit of unsolicited advice? Be brave. Listening to you talk (and talk and talk) around the subject of Barack Obama and race has been downright painful. Yes, our new president is black, and most of you are white, and judging by the way you excruciatingly measure every word you say about him, it's pretty clear that you are worried that you'll inadvertently say something insensitive and you'll wind up being accused of racism and it will ruin your career. I understand your fear. But seriously, it makes for some pretty painful watching.
An example: presidents dance at inaugural balls; that's what they do. Yes, it's a racial stereotype that all black people have rhythm. It is not racist to say that Barack and Michelle Obama looked good dancing together. Trust me on this.
I know there are plenty of Internet sheriffs trolling the airwaves for the next Imus-style outrage. Ignore them. Of course, if you send an e-mail cartoon depicting the front lawn of the White House as a watermelon patch, as the mayor of Los Alamitos, Calif., did last week, you're on your own. But there is simply nothing racist about saying that adorable little Sasha Obama is "sassy." The Huffington Post got clobbered for pointing out a "sassy" pair of sunglasses the president's daughter was sporting. You know, cute, sporty, fresh. If we're all sounding the alarm for that kind of thing, it's going to be a long four (possibly eight) years. I don't remember any indignation when the Huffington Post ran a story about Sarah Palin's daughter called "Piper's Sassiest Moments."
Here are some of the articles criticizing HuffingtonPost.com from What About Our Daughters and Michelle Obama Watch:
Chicanery and Foolishness: Huffington Post Calls Sasha Obama “SASSY”
Updated)Huffington Post Takes Another Swipe at Sasha Obama- Why doe Sasha Scare Arianna?
January 23rd, 2009
Why don't you call out Michelle Obama Watch and What About Our Daughters by name, Ms. Kelley? Instead of snidely writing about them in the anonymous sense, why didn't you bother to call up Gina McCauley at What About Our Daughters and have a DIALOGUE with her on WHY she believed labeling a seven-year-old Sasha Obama ' Sassy', could be seen as a slippery slope to pigeonholing this child with the straightjackets and boxes that they have been trying to place her 45 year old Black mother in since the beginning of this campaign? But, you absolve HuffingtonPost, and deride What About Our Daughters and Michelle Obama Watch. Even after being written to, and explained the context of what's wrong with labeling Sasha Obama like that, HuffingtonPost continued to do so. I'm glad WAOD and MOW haven't backed down. Haven't backed away. I have appreciated a blog like What About Our Daughters, because in reading it, over time, you see that nothing is in isolation. The images, and consequences of the images of Black girls and Black Women have real life consequences, from employment, to treatment within the law, to how we live our everyday lives. I am thankful that there are blogs like WAOD, Field Negro, Skeptical Brotha, Pam's House Blend, that speak to the concerns of African-Americans -unfiltered and honest. And, why when they see something that offends them, even in the so-called ' liberal' media, they call it out.