Posted by: JanF | August 12, 2013

“Show Me” Your Racism

At the Missouri State Fair last Saturday night, a rodeo clown dressed up as President Obama to entertain the crowd. The story was posted on a progressive blog site, ShowMeProgress.com. The report:

“Just prior to the start of the bull riding event, one of the clowns came out dressed in this,” the post says, referring to the photo. “The announcer wanted to know if anyone would like to see Obama run down by a bull. The crowd went wild. He asked it again and again, louder each time, whipping the audience into a lather. One of the clowns ran up and started bobbling the lips on the mask and the people went crazy.”

According to the post, a bull then charged the clown, forcing him to run away “to the delight of the onlookers hooting and hollering from the stands.”

Oh, I am sure it was just a rogue announcer, some guy filling in for the official announcer. What????

The announcer in question has been identified as Mark Ficken, president of the Missouri Cowboy Rodeo Association and Boonville School Superintendent.

But the Missouri Cowboy Rodeo Association wants to apologize in case you were offended (subtext “if you were not offended then ‘HAHAHAHAHA, isn’t that hilarious?’). And the clown? “I never meant to offend anyone”, he posted on his Facebook page.

Okay, so someone went out and bought a Barack Obama mask and gave it to the clown to wear. The announcer, a man charged with educating children in Boonville, Missouri, got on his microphone and whipped up the crowd which was in turn delighted to see a clown depicting the President of the United States running from a bull and having his lips “bobbled”.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO):

The young Missourians who witnessed this stunt learned exactly the wrong lesson about political discourse – that somehow it’s ever acceptable to, in a public event, disrespect, taunt, and joke about harming the President of our great nation. Missouri is better than this and I expect someone to be held accountable.

Emphasis mine. I advise my readers to NOT hold your breath waiting for this to happen … because I would miss you!

St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones took to Twitter:

Let me repeat that as it is lost among the Tweeting stuff:

Since November 2008, racism has been masked under the guise of ‘anti-Obama sentiment’

Protesters singing “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in Arizona. Oh, just ‘anti-Obama sentiment’.

Signs in Orlando where the president was speaking saying “Kenyan Go Home” … ‘anti-Obama (pro-Kenyan?) sentiment’, for sure

Emails sent by California politicians showing watermelons growing on the White House lawn. There’s that ‘anti-Obama sentiment’ again!

President Obama depicted as an African witch doctor complete with bones through his nose … on emails, posters at teaparty rallies. Wow, that ‘anti-Obama sentiment’ sure is strong!

I call bull. Ms. Jones is right. It is racism. The good news is that it is dying with the generation of Americans who know no people of color. From a Reuters/Ipsos poll:

About 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of non-white Americans are surrounded exclusively by friends of their own race, according to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Looking at a broader circle of acquaintances to include coworkers as well as friends and relatives, 30 percent of Americans are not mixing with others of a different race, the poll showed.

President Obama spoke of race in the wake of the Zimmerman acquittal and said that while we certainly are not post-racial, his daughter’s generation has a better chance. From the Reuters poll:

About one third of Americans under the age of 30 who have a partner or spouse are in a relationship with someone of a different race, compared to one tenth of Americans over 30. And only one in 10 adults under 30 say no one among their families, friends or coworkers is of a different race, less than half the rate for Americans as a whole.

If people’s racism is based on fear of The Other: someone who does not look like the people they work with or the people they go to school or church with, then the next generation of adults will have a better chance of making racism completely unacceptable. It will never go away but there is certainly room between “school superintendent running a Klan rally at the state funded Missouri State Fair” and “Kumbaya”.

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