Saying Something Stupid as Opposed to Believing It
As a black American, I can understand the tumult over First Lady Jill Biden associating Latin culture with “bogades”(sic) and ‘breakfast tacos.” Talking in part before the UnidosUS annual conference, she said “ —as distinct as the bogades [bodegas] of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami, and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio — is your strength.” Hangouts, flowers, and foods are routinely ascribed to cultures; the unfortunate part was her saying ‘is your strength.’ That would be like going before the NAACP and using the stereotype of chicken and watermelon and saying it is your strength.
Sure, what Jill Biden said was stupid but using her words as a comparative and comforting alibi for the embrace of racism by Republicans is beyond disingenuous. Her immediate apology showed she knew she had said something stupid but not malicious. “The First Lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community,” her spokesperson Michael LaRosa wrote on Twitter Tuesday. Although a Twitter apology is a pale substitute for a personal and public apology, I have no reason to doubt her sincerity. I hope in the future; her team takes the advice of The National Association of Hispanic Journalists [The] “NAHJ encourages Dr. Biden and her speech writing team to take the time in the future to better understand the complexities of our people and communities. We are not tacos. Our heritage as Latinos is shaped by a variety of diasporas, cultures, and food traditions, and should not be reduced to a stereotype.”
It is fair to say—privately—a lot of us hold unfounded and often ridiculous stereotypical, if not racist, notions about cultures we either refuse to or do not care enough about to learn. An enormously popular hit movie was based on such misplaced theory, “ White Men Can’t Jump.” Some people missed that the joke of the title was to poke a hole in that perception. White people were willing to accept the concept, maybe out of some sense of reducing black people to only athletes and black people holding onto even a stereotypical superiority. Yes, we have all heard the sexual prowess jokes as well. We laugh, we giggle in our heads—not revealing our thoughts— because most of us are sane enough to realize that believing in stupidity is not a flattering trait and confine them to the prison of our minds.
I have no delusions that the Democratic Party has been all sweetness and light, but since the late sixties, they have burned their hoods but still say stupid things. What people used to say behind hoods has become mainstream in the GOP. Conservative stupidity escalated dramatically when Donald Trump took over Republican politics—accusing Mexicans of being rapists and murderers, Muslims as rooftop celebrants and enemies of America, and blacks and Africans as either SOB(s) or living in “sh*thole countries.” Critical Race Theory has become the new fire for White Supremacists to warm their hands and those living in fear of being ‘replaced.’ That fire exploded into a raging inferno on January 6. The yearning for some white Americans to return to the good ole days are not fond memories for blacks of age in America. I have lived through the state’s rights era and wondered if I would live long enough to see a black President (Yes I Did). Maybe we should stop trying to burn down the library of history, acknowledge the fiction and embrace the realism of America.
Continue to Vote for Change.