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October 04, 2002

Jeff Foxworthy - hatemonger? Hardly.

If you caught the story back in June about the kid suspended from school for wearing a Jeff Foxworthy T-Shirt (I first read it on Best of the Web), there's more news. According to the school they were simply trying to stop racial disharmony arising from a loosely organized group of white students who had started a "White Power" club. The school initially banned the confederate flag, obviously oblivious to its cultural significance to Southerners, which has nothing to do with race. Some Black students had complained that seeing the Confederate flag made him "feel like" responding violently. And of course rather than address this student's irrational need for violence, the school punished his intended victims. Not satisfied with that, the school grabbed Thomas Sypniewski, who was wearing a Jeff Foxworthy T-shirt with one of his list of "you might be a red-neck if . . .." Obviously a veiled Nazi threat if there ever was one.

Thomas and his brothers sued the school to remove the ban (and for some money, too, but that's usually kinda thrown in to try to recoup legal fees. As far as I know they didn't get any financial settlement) and yesterday the Third District Court of Appeals, decided in favor of the boys, so the school's ban is removed. Hopefully the financial cost of defending the lawsuit will make the school actually try to use some brains next time, but I doubt it.

The most disturbing thing about the whole sordid mess is that the things the school was banning were mostly harmless items, deemed "harassing" by some Black kids. This idea of something is hate if anyone anywhere perceives it as hate is absolute nonsense. What in the world ever happened to giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Y'know Black people have as much right to be proud of their race and their heritage as any one else, and so do White people. I wish these Black people that get all in a tizzy any time anyone White makes any kind of gesture of pride in their heritage would take a long look at themselves, because they are what they claim to oppose, bigots.

I once attended a Chinese New Year party, and it seemed quite a few of the people there were a bit surprised that I attended. They didn't seem offended, but seemed to take my presence as a compliment. That I would show interest in their culture and heritage pleased them. Why the heck can't the rest of us behave like that?!? Why is it Black people get offended when a White person refers to something that's traditionally part of Black culture? Sure there are those White people who think Black culture is nothing but crime and drugs, but then those are the stupid people, and we really don't want to let stupid people run our lives do we? I have friends from all different cultures and I've always loved contrasting and comparing food, religion, lifestyles, architecture, etc. but for some reason such conversations make most Black people extremely uncomfortable, as if any comparison could only mean saying one is better than the other. Until Black people in the U.S. realize that their culture and history is something to be proud of and shared, we'll continue to have problems like this, because so many will see expressions of White culture as offensive and harassing, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Each person, each individual is the pinnacle of a giant pyramid made up of their ancestors, their heritage. For such a long time there were so many White people that attempted to make anything Black out to be inferior that most Black people learned to hide that part of who they are. The result is a lot of pseudo cultural things like rap and hip-hop and all the other shallow superficial things so many Black people have tried to make out to be "culture", when down beneath that were real things like family, faith, food, etc. that is and always has been a part of who each of us are. Those things in every culture are things to be proud of, and not something designed to insult or harass someone from another culture. Y'know if you're Black and you like poke greens, don't think it's something to be ashamed of. It's part of who you are. My family was always big on poke greens, although I personally can't stand the stuff. But it's part of that history that makes us who we are. If more Black people would share these parts of who they are, then maybe they wouldn't feel threatened when White people share the things that make them who they are.


Posted by Jack Lewis at October 4, 2002 06:59 PM