About this Blog

The title of this blog, "I'm About to do My Thing," was inspired by Jill Scott's introduction to her poem "The Thickness" from her live album Experience: Jill Scott 826+. In this intro, she warns that the content to follow is "real" and proceeds to deliver a beautiful message about self-esteem in young black girls, what can influence and damage that self-esteem, and the entire village's responsibility--"it takes a village"--to elevate its children.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Seriously? We're Still Playing the "Black" Card?

Photo via yFrog
 When I read about the heavily tweeted, racist McDonald's photo that turned out to be a hoax, I didn't have the same gut reaction as most others that I saw posted/blogged--essentially, "Whoever believed this was real is an idiot." Instead, I thought, If the goal is to make McD's look bad, why does it have to involve racist sentiments against African-Americans? Is that the way to stick it to them?

It reminded me of Susan's Smith's 1994 (false) claim that a black man car-jacked her and abducted her children, whom she of course killed. It reminded me of Ashley Todd's pre-2008 election (false) claim that a black male Obama supporter robbed her at knifepoint and carved a B into her face. And then we come to find that she mutilated herself for political purposes. The idea that there's something a bit sinister about black people still plays. Hey, as silly as each of these lies were, people believed them.

These examples aren't identical to the McD's hoax. After all, the prankster's goal was to make the company, not African-Americans, look bad. Yet, that end involved the well established caricatures of black people as untrustworthy, potentially criminal, roguish--exactly the ideas Smith and Todd relied on when hiding their own demons. More than anything, it reminded me that, even in 2011, people out there still believe that they can get over on the next guy simply by vilifying black folks, whether that hope is realistic or not. Yes, these pitiful people are found out, but the attempt apparently hasn't gotten stale. To channel novice criminal Linus Caldwell's refrain from Ocean's 13, "The 'black' card plays." Dang.


  1. wow!!! WOOOWWW!! So that was my first and second reaction....When I first read the sign i was shocked...then when I read it was a hoax, I was horrified! That is insane!
    I am speechless in the face of such ignorance.
    -yours in the struggle,

  2. It seemed to me that the person who created the photo was purposefully/knowingly using those stereotypes to show how evil McDs is -- that its employees bought into the idea that black people are thugs. If the sign had said "we're charging African Americans an extra 1.50 because they use a lot of ketchup," it wouldn't have had the same effect because, although it's discriminatory, it's not rooted in false stereotypes.

    The other two examples were and are simply racist. However, maybe Susan Smith said it was black car jackers because she knew people would believe that . . precisely because of racist expectations. And, for a while, people did believe it.

  3. @ Carrie: I see your point. My thing is this: if the point is to show that McD's is evil, then distribute evidence of that evil, as opposed to fabricating it. Know what I mean?

    @ Sunshine: Solidarity in the struggle!

  4. Oh yeah, I'm with you all the way -- it's stupid. And there are plenty of ways to portray McDullard's as evil that are based in reality. But maybe people pay more attention to this kind of evil than food-related evils? I don't want to defend, just to understand why it was done and why it was done in this particular way.