Chicago Sun-Times
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Monkeys, watermelons and black people

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watermelon_white_house.jpgU.S. Attorney Eric Holder stepped on some toes when he said we need to talk more. But he was absolutely right.

Within short span, we have two examples of racial ignorance----one from the nation's largest city and another from a city that is only 2-1/4 square miles.

Let's start with the mayor of Los Alamitos, CA., a tiny town in Orange County.

Mayor Dean Grose was forced to apologize after it was reported he sent an e-mail out to colleagues and business people--including a black woman who serves on a committee with the mayor--that depicts the White House lawn planted with watermelons.

I'm not sure how Grose expected people to respond, but African Americans don't find watermelon jokes funny. All you have to do is research racial stereotypes to understand why. The smiling "darkey" eating watermelon was a popular image during America's racist past, and was the one of the stereotypes used by Obama-haters during the presidential campaign .

Grose claims he was "unaware of the stereotype that black people like watermelon," and didn't mean to "offend" African Americans.

But you don't have to be from a small town to be ignorant about offensive stereotypes.

New York Post owner Rupert Murdoch was forced to give a rare apology after a racially offensive political cartoon sparked daily protests outside the newspaper's offices. The cartoon depicted two New York cops shooting a chimpanzee. The cartoonist linked the rampage of a chimp that tore off a woman's face to the creation of the stimulus package.

Murdoch and the cartoonist both claimed not to know the monkey has long been used as to disparage the intellect and humanity of African-Americans.

Just about any black person on the street could have told these white males they were about to set off a firestorm.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on February 26, 2009 1:00 PM.

Attorney General Eric Holder's race speech stirs debate was the previous entry in this blog.

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