Saturday, January 23, 2010

Scott Baio: Black Friends Don’t Make You Immune To Racist Actions/Words

It seems Mr. Baio was fooling around on twitter when he decided to post the following image of the First Lady.

imageWOW He wakes up to this every morning,” were the words that accompanied the image.   This of course immediately caused an upset.  Many people tweeted about the racism of his actions and he even received death threats. 

First, let me say unequivocally, that threatening someone, or their family is never an acceptable response.  It is very understandable that his commentary enraged people, however violence is not an appropriate response.

Baio immediately went on the defence by tweeting:

"I'm NOT racist for posting a pic of M.O. My WIFE'S BEST FRD IS BLACK, HELLO."

Notice that he does not have a Black friend, it’s his wife.  Of course this alleged friendship supposedly makes him immune from all of the racism that is a systemic part of society.  Somehow, even slightly engaging with Black people erases White privilege.  To all of you supposed Black best friends, please tell White people that your life does not equal a get of racist charge.  Baio is so  racially privileged  that he did not even realize that his defence falls under the category of racist 101. 

First, Baio started out by putting up a clearly unpleasant picture of Michelle Obama and then he referred to her as “this” as though she isn’t a person.  The reason that this infuriated people so much is because Black women have historically been constructed as ugly and decidedly unfeminine.  For many, Michelle Obama represents the best of what Black women have to offer.  She is educated, a mother, beautiful and highly intelligent. 

From the moment that Barack Obama announced his intention to run for office, Michelle has continually been attacked.  She has been compared to apes, she has been called ugly, loud, aggressive and even angry.  These taunts have their foundation in sexism and racism.  They are based in the idea that the Black woman is the unwoman of the world.    So, it is without equivocation that I can state that when Baio posted that image of Michelle Obama, he was indeed being racist.  This is a man that cannot compete with Michelle on her worst day.  While he was busy trying to be Charles in Charge, Michelle was graduating Suma cum laude.  She exists as a threat to his privilege and it is this that spurred his desire to attack her.

There can be no doubt that Baio has long since imbibed White male privilege:

If YOU are born in AMERICA, U ARE AN AMERICAN. I don't insist on being called Italian-American. Therefore Black Amer are not Afr-Amer. Or that would mean people (white or black) born in Africa would be called African-Africans ... Just a thought to think about...

Are you following this?  Because Baio does not want to be called Italian-American he can declare that Blacks are not African-American.  Of course, there is no privilege and display of power in this statement.  White people certainly don’t have a history of re-naming Blacks and dismantling our culture to suit their designs.  It is not his place to tell people how to identify but lord knows you cannot tell a White man that.

Scott Baio is full of fail.  I doubt that he has learned anything from this incident.  Part of the problem is that men like him believe that racism only comes from people wearing white sheets who scream White power at every opportunity. Racism need not manifest in this manner to be harmful, it only need imply that someone is less than because of the colour of their skin. It is clear from his actions and words, that the only thing Baio should be in charge of is challenging his own unacknowledged privilege.

H/T Shakesville