Obama said something on Friday that I hoped I wouldn’t hear from him. It wasn’t about foreign policy or the American economy; it was about race.
On Friday, a reporter asked him what kind of dog he was bringing to the White House and he lightheartedly said that all the family would find at an animal shelter would be “mutts like me.” Obama avoided almost all talk of race during his campaign, running as an American rather than the first serious black candidate and I’m disappointed that I’m hearing quips about it within days of his election.
Jokes about race are funny. I make them all the time and in the same self-deprecating way. I can name a host of general Hispanic characteristics and laugh about them, but when I laugh about them, I’m allowing others to laugh about them too. I’m validating something in my race as undesirable and simultaneously telling others that it is okay to make the same association. I’ve never liked when friends jokingly dismiss my opinions or behavior as “Mexican” (a term that can tragically inspire both pride and shame), and I’ve been the only minority in a white room where inadvertently racist comments got out of control and made me feel not so good. But I created that situation by bringing negative attention to myself. And because of this, I’ve made people feel comfortable enough to insult my culture. They don’t know that it bothers me. How could they? I’m the one that brought it up in the first place. I’m making myself different from them. I’m setting the tone. I’m perpetuating racism.
Obama should have never called himself a mutt.
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5 weeks ago