If you're going to be a racist asshat, how about trying to be a little original with your hate? Depciting a Black man with a watermelon is racist, but it's also old and cliché as hell. You would think that with all of the time Whiteness has dedicated to hating POC that they would invest a little bit of time into originality.
It's almost 2013 and people are still alarmed about having a Black man in the house that Black people built. I know that it's called the White House, but isn't it about time to deal with the changing racial demographics in the states? Well, one man's crusade to enforce his freedom of speech includes putting up an Obama effigy on his front lawn complete with a watermelon. Of course he doesn't know the meaning behind the watermelon and simply believes that his racist lawn ornament might get hungry. Are you rolling your eyes yet?
Do I even need to say why this is racist? I do however find it interesting that in the entirely White neighbourhood, the NBC affiliate could only find one person who had a problem with the effigy.
"We don't have black people in this community but I'm sure they travel this road like everybody else does. They could be offended. I don't agree with it."Everyone should be offended but unsurprisingly, few are. What I did find interesting is that in the video, Danny Hafley denied that what he has done is racist and even more importantly, stated that the effigy would stay until he got into trouble for it.
Obviously, being Canadian, I have a deep belief in the distinction between hate speech and free speech. Speech is not limited by deciding that the right to attack marginalized people is harmful to society. Even more importantly, saying that someone is free to be an asshole, does not take into account that such language constitutes verbal violence and creates a hostile living environment for marginalized people. The fact that Hafley made it clear that the image would remain until he was forced to remove it underscores that hate continues to be socially acceptable because people refuse to challenge their privilege. One need not actively support Hafley, because silence on this issue speaks volumes.
Watching the video again reminded me of the importance of White allies in the anti-racist struggle. POC can continue to condemn this sort of action until the end of time, but this sort of behaviour will not change until White people stand together as a group and speak forcefully about hate speech aimed at POC. I often get email asking what White people can do in the anti-racist struggle if they are not allowed to lead and the answer really is simple, start policing your damn people.