Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good God. I mean, really. Good God.

-Dennis York, responding to comments made on this post.

So let me get this straight. Dennis York writes a tongue-in-cheek post on the MPS proposal to provide all students with free wireless internet access. In his familiar fashion he makes a point so many others are making: this will not solve the educational issues facing students in the Milwaukee school system. And included in the post is an obviously Photoshopped picture of two young black boys looking at a picture of a scantily clad white woman on a computer monitor.

And somehow this was racist.

Nevermind that the picture and post had nothing to do with the race of the children but rather the silliness of the MPS proposal. Forget the fact that the majority of students attending MPS are black. Apparently we're now at a point in our society where the mere use of a minority in a photo can easily be interpreted as racism.

I'd hate to see what happens when a picture of Michael Redd appears in a story about the Bucks losing in the first round of the playoffs.

With all due respect to Dan Knauss, whose writing I've enjoyed in the Riverwest Currents over the years, this was a major over-reaction on his part. He invested a lot of time into deconstructing the reaction to the photo, and admirably so. But with so many race-related issues society faces today, this one wasn't even close to being on the radar.

Meanwhile, you've got a former Milwaukee alderman and radio personality, father of a current alderman, telling two jokes back-to-back on air that could easily be construed as racist. He used the BIG N multiple times, just to tell a joke. Tim Cuprisin, the MJS television and radio columnist doesn't think it's worth commenting on in spite of being all over Mark Belling's use of the phrase "wetback." Eugene Kane, who has repeatedly written on the detrimental effects of black youths' use of the BIG N in popular culture hasn't even touched it.

Bang up job on covering news that touches both of your specialties, boys.

I'm reminded of a post I did sometime back where I asked readers if I should have identified the race of an individual because I had no other way to describe her. People thought there would have been no problem in my doing so. And while I agree with them, it would appear that my fears weren't entirely unfounded.

Irrational and silly, yes. Unfounded, not at all.

So to everyone focusing on Dennis's picture, ignoring the point he wanted to make in the first place and once again focusing on race rather than the issue, I'll quote the man himself:

Good God. I mean, really. Good God.


At 3:58 PM, April 26, 2006, Blogger Cantankerous said...

Nicely done, Casper. You took the words right out of my mouth. This has just gotten ridiculous.

At 7:00 PM, April 26, 2006, Blogger dk said...

Actually, the only person to complain about Dennis and call him a racist (more on the level of odd innuendo) was the Art guy.

I merely tried to explain how some people (who, aside from Art, are most likely not reading Dennis's blog) could be offended by it--without being crazy. I mentioned several times, I'm not offended by Dennis's post. I can see the humor side, and I can see the feeling stepped-on side. It's not something I would want to publish and put my name on, but I'm not up in arms about it either. Maybe you and Dennis have such an audience attention deficit, the minimal amount you've gotten seems "ridiculous." It's nothing, and you are probably loving it. (Vicariously at least, on this blog.) My intention wasn't to help Dennis's ego/desire to be a "martyr" to free speech, but if it makes you happy...great.

In all seriousness, after the minor observations I made about Dennis's doctored-up image, he came up with the bizarre, baseless claim that I am against "interracial relationships." Then one of his steady commenters ranted about how Dennis's post has nothing to do with race because she (and Dennis) are "colorblind," everyone knows MPS is mostly used by blacks, and then she felt moved to denounce some local black politicians. Dennis declined to enter into the discussion--probably a good choice.

Every so often I have an encounter in or around Milwaukee that makes me think there is a hell of a lot of really counterproductive anger among a lot of white people toward blacks in the city. It's not about racism in the technical white supremacy sense. It's anger rooted in real and perceived problems and grievances, but it gets vented in shotgun-like ways that are simply ugly and dumb. This is one of those encounters.

At 7:08 PM, April 26, 2006, Blogger Casper said...

Dan, aside from the potential perceived perception (yeah, I know what I just said), do you honestly believe that what Dennis did was racist?

At 10:11 AM, April 27, 2006, Blogger dk said...

Good God, that's not the point, and what I think should be clear enough from the comments I made on Dennis's blog. Why reduce it all down to a question of whether or not someone is being accused of racism and fixate on that? I'm interested in how people think, communicate, relate, understand or fail to understand each other -- it's not a game of pinning the tail on the Bad Person. Why not ask what racism is, who gets to define it, and why?


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