OMG !

obamitas.jpg

I have already written about the innocent/ignorant brand of racism in Spain. Nevertheless, it continues to surprise me that people in Spain still haven’t gotten the message. For example, the depiction of black people as caricatures in blackface (this is commonly done in Spain with products from Cuba or Africa), directly alluding to the extremely racist minstrel shows, is beyond all measures of offensive conduct.

Nevertheless, a Spanish company with all the best intentions of praising Barack Obama can go ahead and market a blackfaced, ultra-racist cookie (called Obamitas) without anyone in the country blinking an eye. When will the new century begin?

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16 Comments

Filed under Essays, Living la vida española

16 responses to “OMG !

  1. ::chuckle::

    ::snicker::

    That’s just spectacular … LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL …

    There is no “new beginning” for humans. Get with the cognitive neuroscience train; we are genetically built to discriminate. It will never end.

    Still, stereotypes are just wildly entertaining … LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL …

  2. eric

    What I find truly amazing is that these guys who are making the cookies are 100% clueless that they are being offensive. I guess what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you, just other people 😉

  3. The fellows I work with have caught me tossing a few Italian words at a couple people moving through the business.

    I’ve already been called Dago and WOP … and I laugh, because at this point, it just isn’t offensive.

    Although, I understand your point in a certain context; more from a Sartrean perspective than a Kierkegaardian one. As my good friend Tabula Rasa says, “A loop: You became what you are because people treated you as if you already were, and the more they treat you as whatever that is, the more like it you will become.

    He and I have had very long conversations on this sort of scenario, more as genetic conventions and a homo sapien version of game theory …

    I guess it comes down to how much time you have in a day. If you’ve got time to burn, you’ll probably stop to mull it over and get offended.

    If your plate is already too full, you just shrug, laugh and walk away shaking your head.

  4. maybe they didn’t have budget for a detailed rendition of the president on the cookies.

    if that were the case, as an artist, i totally understand the chocolate cookie and the white smiley face for contrast. Also, they are small cookies…hence the diminutive obamitas. obamazos, obameros, obamaezes? don’t think so.

    Personally i would have added a cigarette to the cookie to narrow the similarity gap.

    how else would you have done the cookies?

  5. ede

    Eric

    It is you that do not get the point….just as happened with spanish national team last summer. It is not racist at all it is just another way of seeing life. Imagine that Zapatero is a Gitano and a US company made small cookies with human shape and called them “gitanitos”, do you think that gitanos would feel bad about it? do you think taht their feelings would be hurt?. Obama is black just as you are white, thats a fact not a racist comment.

    Cheers man

  6. eric

    Ede,

    This is exactly how black people were depicted and ridiculed during the past 200 years of “entertainment”. As black artists were often not allowed to perform in front of white audiences, white actors in “blackface” looking very much like the Obamita cookies played all of the black characters, kind of like how men played women in Shakespeare. Furthermore, these white men with black painted face and big white or red lips portrayed black people as jolly, subhuman halfwits. The bubble quotes seem to further that as well.

    I know it wasn’t ill-intentioned, but intentionality has nothing to do with racism.

  7. ReWrite

    Intention and “another way of seeing life” don’t matter when it comes to issues of racism and discrimination. It doesn’t matter how the perpetrator ‘sees it’ or what his/her ‘intent’ was regarding the product/statement/image/message/policy, but the effect it has on those offended.

    And I do think Gitanos would be upset if cookies (depicting a negative historical stereotype of Gitanos) were sold in the US (or anywhere).

    I have two examples of this from family court today. First, a Judge said to the lawyer for the child, “Isn’t the child’s name Aaliyah?” After a few mintues of back and forth, I told the Judge that “child’s name is ‘Allyah,’ not Aaliyah.” The Judge said, “I think you are all mistaken, she named her child after the icon of their people (referring to the R&B artist Aaliyah).” I then responded to the Judge that if he is so interested in the child’s name he could ask the mother (who was sitting next to me), the person who named the child. The Judge responded, “Nah, it doesn’t matter.” I shook my head and rolled my eyes and talked shit about the Judge to my client. The Judge asked me if I had a problem. To which I responded, “Your honor, with all due respect, I am not sure which statement of your was more offensive- the fact that you assumed that b/c my client is African-American she is going to name her daughter after what you call “the icon of her people,” or the fact that you decided to ask everyone in the room the name of this child, except for the person that named her.” The Judge, then asked me if I was finished and said, “this is coming from a lawyer that can neither enunciate nor pronounce his own name.” He is obsessed with names and he tells me every time I appear in front of him that I am either enunciating or pronouncing my own last name incorrectly. So I now spell it, hahaha.

    The second offensive thing I heard today was when the gov’t asked for continued random drug tests of my client. Client has been tested at least twice a month for over a year and each test has come up negative. When I pointed that out to the Judge, the gov’t responded that “the family has excess money in the home and they don’t know where it is going.” I immediately stood up and asked if they had checked to see if they had invested, saved or spent this money like any other family. The gov’t simply replied “we have not, but just don’t know where the money is going.” I, of course, said, “that is the most classist thing I have heard in my life.” To which the Judge responded that it was not classist at all and that the gov’t was doing its job. I said, “well if the Court doesn’t find it classist then it is racist. How many white families on the Upper West Side or Park Slope have ‘excess money’ in the home. To which the Judge interrupted, “This isn’t a race thing either Mr. Napoli.” To which I responded, “At first your honor, I thought it was just a class thing, but I am now convinced it is both.” I have had white clients with drug or alcohol allegations in the petition and ‘excess money in the home’ and not only are their children home, but they are no longer being drug tested and it is has been less than 3 months. Here however, there are no allegations in the Petition or in any of the discovery received to date that would indicate that Ms. Peterson has ever used drugs and yet the gov’t continues to force her to go to drug tests. This clearly a violation of her constitutional rights, a waste of the taxpayers money, overtly racist and highly offensive. During all of this, the Judge kept telling me to sit down and to save my speech for closing arguments at trial. (I really wanted to say that if that if Barack Obama made it to the white house, then my clients should be able to make it their house with a little ‘excess money.’ But it had already gotten ugly (as such statements are ill-advised in such a forum) and the Court ultimately ordered my client to continue the random drug tests and even added on alcohol screens to spite me. Woops.

    The point is (don’t hire me as your lawyer), that neither the intent nor viewpoint of the messenger matter, what matters is how it is received by the (intended and unintended) audience. If I use the “N” word around a bunch of white folk that doesn’t make its usage acceptable.

    I could go on and on, but is time for bed.

    Holla

  8. The point is (don’t hire me as your lawyer), that neither the intent nor viewpoint of the messenger matter, what matters is how it is received by the (intended and unintended) audience. If I use the “N” word around a bunch of white folk that doesn’t make its usage acceptable.

    LMMFAO, I love you Rewrite, I really do. But, this is the worst philosophical position ever heard, no apologies.

    OH WAIT … it has no philosophy behind it, because it is puritanical social BS.

    It’s all well and good if you want to play the “intentions” game with language. How far down do you want to go? Linguistic philosophy? Semantics and history? Semiotics maybe? Phonemes, graphemes and allomorphs?

    To say that only the speaker is responsible for message is to say that the listener can construe anything in any manner, regardless of context or historicity of linguistics; and have no responsibility, as such.

    That’s ludicrous, and you need to rethink or rewrite your statement, run through a reasoning sequence. You’ll quickly see, your position invalidates the entire process of language.

    We are discriminators by effect. Because we are also automatons, unwitting slaves of biochemistry; summarily, game over.

    Wait for it …

    It
    will
    never
    end.

    Until homo sapien meets with extinction.

  9. ReWrite

    We have had this convo before on Eric’s blog (I think 2x)re: what is or isn’t PC. I think the conclusion was that we mostly disagree.

    Here, to be clear I am neither concerned w/ the intentions of the messenger, nor am I particularly concerned with how the message is received by a particular person. Yes, there will always be egg-shell skinned receivers. I take issue with the message(s) that is offensive on its own.

  10. I take issue with the message(s) that is offensive on its own.

    That is the PC BS to which I am speaking.

    No message is “offensive on its own”, linguistics do not, and because of historicity of the society and culture that promelgate the “meanings”, can not, exist in a vacuum.

    But, that is what your statement attempts to assert.

    Read Sartre.
    Read Russell.
    Find a solid book on cognitive neuroscience; preferably circa 2003 or later.
    Read everything from Michio Kaku.
    Add in a sprinkling of semiotics for a full flavored brain meat dish, suitable for anyone … well, who is at least literate.

    Mix to creamy intellectual smoothness, chill with a Heineken, and digest with a solid meal from Il Mulino’s …

    Then get back to me.

  11. eric

    Interesting, hmmm. I will have to think about that one, cuz.

    Let’s see. There are “fighting words”, in other words, words that we have attributed meaning to that are offensive. Those words would imply “intent” or an “intent” assumed over time through usage. So they are not “offensive on their own”.

    Next, there is the inherent problem of communicating a message (ie, why women are always so mad at everything we say or do). The message we intend to convey is not always the one that is received. And generally, from a strictly pragmatic (non-poetic) standpoint the message should be judged by its reception, not its intention. Those words are also not “offensive on their own”.

    Now in terms of whether contemporary linguistic theory, which I am completely unqualified to talk about, would completely deny some inherent meaning in a word I am just not so sure about. Our grammar and vocabulary must certainly, to some extent, determine how we understand our surroundings, and therefore have some basis upon which to exist. I am sure that words are not completely void of some underlying meaning. Thus, there must be something “offensive on its own” in language, though not anything that we can link to those words that are offensive in a historical context.

    I don’t mean to get all religious. But think about the entire notion of the word or verb of God (logos) creating the world. Better yet, think even about Buddhism and the value of simply repeating a word. Buddhism gives such great importance to the skillful use of words, to parsing one’s speech and measuring one’s actions. The thoughtless, random use of words without contemplating their precision is what holds us back.

  12. Let’s see. There are “fighting words”, in other words, words that we have attributed meaning to that are offensive. Those words would imply “intent” or an “intent” assumed over time through usage. So they are not “offensive on their own”.

    Thank you for validating my claim, precisely. It must become lexical, and class/group specific, through historical exercise … ergo, it isn’t offsensive of its own, or on its own.

    Next, there is the inherent problem of communicating a message (ie, why women are always so mad at everything we say or do). The message we intend to convey is not always the one that is received. And generally, from a strictly pragmatic (non-poetic) standpoint the message should be judged by its reception, not its intention. Those words are also not “offensive on their own”.

    Bare assertion fallacy, sorry, no dice. Pragmatics would demand a purely semantic and syntactic determination of the value of a phrase. Emotion has no place in pragmatics, that’s two logical errors. The third error of logic is your assumption that intention of the speaker is obviated, but not so for the receiver. That simply isn’t how linguistics work, else there can be no meaning to utterance or authorship. Linguistic philosophy and semiotics in particular say that isn’t the case ~ and cognitive neuroscience will back those disciplines.

    Thus, there must be something “offensive on its own” in language, though not anything that we can link to those words that are offensive in a historical context.

    petitio principii and cum hoc ergo propter hoc, both fallacies.

    Language, outside of society and culture has no meanings, no values. All values are assigned within the society, as seen from semiotics, whereby the creation of symbology itself, is indicative of specific geography and demography.

    There can be nothing “in” language, that represents offensiveness. It takes an orator and an auditor to derive value; the value is conjoined social meaning, as tested against base value systems of the inclusive individuals.

    I don’t mean to get all religious. But think about the entire notion of the word or verb of God (logos) creating the world. Better yet, think even about Buddhism and the value of simply repeating a word. Buddhism gives such great importance to the skillful use of words, to parsing one’s speech and measuring one’s actions. The thoughtless, random use of words without contemplating their precision is what holds us back.

    There is nothing empirical or verifiable about these statements. Religion is borne of emotionalism, exclusionism, and quasi-elitism based on non-verifiable “authority”.

    That Buddhism gives great importance to anything is irrelevant; Matayama Sakla Gautama was a crown prince of India, a man, a weak pathetic man, who abandoned a wife and a child to be a bum. Thoughtless, is most descriptive of him and his vacuous ideologies.

    All language is socio-culturally bound. The orator places meaning, (intended meaning) into the word choice and word use, to convey a message indicating specific and understood social values. The auditor receives the words, does a base value check, and reassigns an individual specific value to the meaning.

    It takes both; linguistics doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it requires more than one person to operate ~ equal responsibility.

  13. ReWrite

    You guys are both so pretentious that you end up having debates void of any substance.

  14. eric

    ReWrite,

    Without a doubt 😉

  15. anyway, the real challenge here would be to admit that you’d all take a bite out of that cookie if given a chance or zomzin…

  16. You guys are both so pretentious that you end up having debates void of any substance.

    –adjective 1. full of pretense or pretension.
    2. characterized by assumption of dignity or importance.
    3. making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious.

    Philosophy, is not pretension. It is precision, especially where language is concerned. Which leads to precision of critical thought; logic, reasoning, validity, and veracity.

    Unfortunately, this attitude displayed here is indicative of the failure of America; to view the exercise of intelligent debate as pretention.

    laff.

    Digressions, objections, delight in mockery, and carefree mistrust are signs of health; everything unconditional belongs in pathology.

    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

    Only through the cognition of the Overman, is life properly apprehended … all else, is the ingloriousness of perpetuated mediocrity.

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