Presidents and chimps

I’ve enrolled in a course called “Race, Rhetoric and Technology” this semester, and our very first course reading really got me thinking. (A good sign!) It was an article on race in America by Victor Villanueva. Although I certainly didn’t agree with everything in the article (especially the notion of “reverse discrimination,” which is a discriminatory term in itself), there were several good points to be had. Two of the narrative examples which stood out to me were:

  • The story of two young Latino children found covered in flour, saying they wanted to be white enough to go to school.
  • The example of a graduate student who appeared at a Halloween party in blackface, saying he was portraying black jazz musicians, who he admired.

While the reactions to these two situations were typical — very little reaction to the Latino children, university-wide outrage at the white student — the rhetorical tension between the two situations reminded me of the much-debated New York Post monkey cartoon.

the infamous cartoon depicting President Obama as a chimp

The infamous New York Post chimp cartoon

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