Monday, February 22, 2016

Core #3: How Long Have You Been A Racist?

Jennifer Esposito in her article on race and Ugly Betty starts by defining races and postracial. It’s believed that the US is now a postracial society but we can all agree that is a lie. If you don’t agree, then you’re probably a racist.  Race continues to be a topic that many people tip toe around but as Esposito mentions, “by pretending it is not a part of the national discourse, we do people of color more disservice” (522). Even though people don’t always want to have conversations about race and are uncomfortable about the topic, television is a medium that continues to take on the issue among others. Gray notes in his article “in order for television to produce cultural effects and meet its economic imperatives…it has to operate on the basis of popular awareness and general common sense about the currents adrift in the society” (58). Race is a topic that has remained popular with society over decades.

In the new show Superstore, starring America Ferrera, there’s an episode focused on racism at the store. America Ferrera’s character, Amy, is asked by her boss to be the one giving out free samples for salsa. Amy asks why she specifically is the one being asked to give out the free samples. Her boss doesn’t directly say it’s because she’s Latina but says, “you just have a certain natural spiciness.” It doesn’t get more stereotypical than that when referring to Latinas. When she turns down the assignment her boss asks the other Latina employee to do the job instead. The icing on the cake is the person is tossed a “Mexico hat.” Finding the situation to be racist and stereotyping, Amy works to denounce the racism associated with Latinos and salsa through the episode. All her antics lead to an employee conversation and company video on racism. As usual the conversation goes south when Amy tries to explain to her boss and coworkers that she wasn’t being racist but instead trying to explain how their comments were racist. Instead of trying to understand her point of view Amy is made to look like a racist and the white characters that are being racist look good. Throughout the episode, Amy is seen as the oppressor when in reality she’s the victim. When people of color call out racist comments they’re always portrayed as angry while whites are put in the position of the victim. Esposito makes this same point with Marc trying to play the victim but forgetting his whiteness gives him an advantage. People of color are almost never seen as the victim in popular culture but always having to defend themselves while whites get to play the victim. For once it’d be nice to see a white person actually own up to their racism and not play the victim.

Here's the clip from Superstore when the conversation goes south

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