February 26, 2007
Dusty Plastic HELL: Hot Flash #96!

Hey all! In our obligatory annual dig at the February observance, here is Dusty Plastic HELL: Hot Flash #96. The sentiments expressed in the comic should be pretty clear, at least concerning panels 1-4, but given the ridiculous number of idiotic comments on last year's "That's So Raven" article (hell, a new one was just added yesterday!) I feel like I have to supply extra clarifying remarks.

First, and let me type this in boldface so that we're clear on this point, I do not mean to suggest that the contributions of the individuals honored during Black History Month should not be recognized. On the contrary, these persons should be recognized alongside others who have achieved similar things, regardless of the color of their skin. For example, Bessie Coleman -- at least insofar as her crowning achievements are concerned -- would more appropriately be mentioned in the company of Amelia Earhart or the Wright brothers than, say, George Washington Carver.

Therefore, with my criticisms of the observance, I do not mean to devalue these individuals' positive contributions to America and the world at large. I do, however, mean to suggest that the very institution of Black History Month itself devalues them by lumping their individual accomplishments together according to the skin color of the honorees, such that more emphasis is in fact placed on the color of their skin than their unique achievements. This effectively amounts to a kind of historical segregation on the basis of the agents' skin color -- or race, if you prefer (I do not; the concept is ultimately meaningless) -- which effectively makes it racist.

I do not think that this is difficult to grasp, and I apologize if my previous comments have been unclear on the matter. Mind you, I do not think that this is the case, but the nature of the comments that people continue to post on the Raven article seems to suggest that at least in some significant way I have failed to effectively articulate and drive my point home. On the other hand, perhaps my contrition regarding this matter is tantamount to apologizing for the stupidity of others. The comment that was posted yesterday is so ridiculous that I have to spotlight it here, with my own analysis to follow:

umm... 2 b honest i dnt think raven or her show iz racist ... i think the thingz in that black history episode waz pretty true... cuz i sure did go out 4 a job and a white man didnt hire me because of my skin color... i think ur just a hater and sum dumb ass that has nutin else 2 do but be a computer geek... r u even black home boi ... if ur not black and ur white or sumthin, u should my figure out UR racist not raven.... if u are black u should b ashamed 2 be puttin down other blacks they way black ppl have it hard in a socity build by white ppl......

bye cracker or if ur black wana b cracker
the portugese / jamaica ghurl NIKKI

Before I write more about that, however, here is another comment that I feel the need to boldface just so that I am not misunderstood on this point: I am not saying -- nor have I ever said -- that racism does not exist or that it does not remain a significant problem in modern day America. That seems to go without saying, given my singling out of certain observances and/or celebrities for criticism specifically because of their racist elements or comments, but I recognize full well that there is a lot of racism perpetuated by the American "majority", spanning all elements of society from the criminal justice system to schools to employment to politics (George Allen, anyone?) and the government. After all, these institutions are run by people, and -- as they apparently say in Avenue Q, which I have absolutely no desire to see -- everyone's a little bit racist. Except they're even more racist when they are unapologetically so and think that their racism is cute and funny when they should find it repugnant and revolting and do their best to rise above it. Honestly, I saw this video today and was appalled, yet the majority of people seem to be reacting to it with a "omfg how cute lol she is saying 'sparkling wiggles' but it sounds like something else!@#$!!" sort of response. I want to shake these people and say, "No, you fucking morons, these parents are clearly -- clearly -- coaching their little girl and using her to air their own racist attitudes in a cutesy disguised manner." How stupid do you have to be to not get that? Believe me, if this were not the case, they would not have recorded it at all, and they certainly would not have posted it on the Internet. Nor would they be telling the girl to say things like, "Get a job, sparkling wiggles!" Honestly, people. Honestly. And how about those MLK Day celebrations at Clemson University in South Carolina, Tarleton State University in Texas, and the University of Connecticut School of Law? This is just a very small selection of recent events that have kind of made me sad concerning the social direction of this country -- and the life that I will be forced to endure should I choose to remain -- but suffice it to say that racism is alive and kicking in the good ol' US of A.

So when "Nikki" writes that she wasn't hired because of the color of her skin, I am not at all saying that this is ludicrous. It's entirely possible. Granted, it's also possible that she wasn't hired because she is clearly none too bright (or is only 12; many establishments require employees to be at least 16 or even 18), but I don't know the particulars of the situation so I cannot say what really happened either way. I can, however, say that her comment is ridiculous. Grammar and poor writing skills aside -- and I had to clear an enormous space to dispense with them, because they are bloody atrocious -- the most salient feature of this comment is that "Nikki" thinks herself equipped to say what is and is not racist when the bulk of her criticisms of me are explicitly dependent upon the color of my skin! Note the form that they essentially take: "If you are A, then B; if you are C, then D," where A and C are "racial" designations and B and D are different opinions regarding my personal flaws. She also claims that -- though again, this directive is dependent upon the color of my skin -- I should be ashamed of criticizing certain people on the basis of the color of their skin (nor is she the only commenter to do so). All of this is pretty much the definition of racism, and her comment is dripping with it.

Hell, even though another commenter, "Barbie", appears to support me here and here, these remarks are also pretty disgustingly racist and clearly miss the point of my articles. So here as well, to clarify, I do not mean to suggest that Black History Month is to be criticized because it constitutes an attempt on the part of so-called "African-Americans" to gain some sort of recompense from the government that enslaved them and denied them equal rights (and often, in practice, continues to do so). I do, however, think that everyone owes it to everyone to not be a moron and to stop judging, grouping, and defining individuals with respect to the color of their skin.

Have I been thorough enough for this entry? I hope so -- but if not, please tell me where I have been unclear so that I can spell my views out for you in even more detail. My e-mail address is linked in every article and at the bottom of every Scary-Crayon blog entry (and, if you miss it in any of these places, click here), and the comments threads are always open. You will note that even when comments thoroughly upset and depress me, I do not remove them.

And finally, should you find yourself confused by the fifth and sixth panels of the comic, I certainly do not mean to say that the history of a fictional alien race is more important than the accomplishments of actual individuals of any background, though I admit that I would rather talk about Daleks than almost anything that one would find in a World History curriculum. Sec's comments here are rooted in a particularly memorable scene from the 36th Doctor Who serial, The Evil of the Daleks, in which a human who is working for the Daleks takes issue with a Dalek for killing another human being. "You've destroyed a human life!" the man shouts. "Don't you understand that?" "That is of no consequence," rasps the Dalek. When the man protests, the Dalek delivers the classic line: "There is only one form of life that matters... DALEK LIFE!" So yeah, that's the explanation for the latter panels.

All for now, then. As always, comments are appreciated -- even more so when they are thought-out and mostly resemble proper English. Ja.

-posted by Wes | 3:08 am | Comments (7)
7 Comments »
  • Spoodles says:

    I think you made yourself crystal clear here, but I have a bad feeling that the wonders of the Internet will lead misguided individuals here anyway. Here's hoping they're a little more educated than the Raven commenters.

  • Anonymous says:

    Here in Argentina, we DON'T have such a thing as a "Black History Month".

    If Argentinian want to celebrate the historical significance of a particular person, they give him/her his/her own holiday, regardless of his/her skin color.

    And such a thing as the Raven Black History Month wouldprobably be banned in Argentina, and the people in charge would pressure an apology for showing it in the first place.

    Mkes me proud of my country.

  • It's sad that even in this day and age so many people place such a misguided importance on the pigmentation of a human being's epidermis. But, such will not be the case for long. Everyone will stop caring about skin color once mutants start appearing. Then we'll all be segregated due to having kickass superpowers.

  • Anonymous says:

    I wonder what does Wes think about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers...

  • dave says:

    Wes, Congrats on the over a year long comment thread!

    I just skimmed it, and I think at least some people were winding you up there.

  • wes.. - just saw the full-length TMNT trailer.. - looked incredible.. - i had my doubts, and was hoping it'd be fun if nothing else after seeing the teasres.. BUT.. after seeing the full-length i think it's going to be this generation's answer to ours being tim burton's first Batman film.. - it looked kind of dark and epic.. and the animation really is top-notch..

  • Wes says:

    Dave: I wouldn't bet on it -- people can be notoriously stupid, especially when it comes to this subject. Not that that's anything new, of course, seeing as how a good chunk of the worst atrocities in human history had something to do with this or similar issues.

    Brian: Looking forward to it! However, given all of the press concerning Mako doing Splinter's voice, I find myself preferring the soft-spoken Splinter of the original films than this more irritable-sounding one.

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