Flat White

What’s woke this week (or racist)?

18 August 2020

2:18 PM

18 August 2020

2:18 PM

Another week, more rounds of ‘Ring a ring a racist’. Pick a subject, any subject and it’s probably made an appearance on the past week’s racist hit parade. We’ve had everything from camping to bras, with a sweet layer of ice cream in between so chow down on this week’s racist sandwich.  

Black camping matters

The LA Times this week ran with a heartwarming piece about the racism of campingWe are introduced to Mo Jackson (pronoun ‘they’) who in a moment of nature-induced revelation decided to combat camping’s ‘systemic racism’ against BIPOC (for your education: black, indigenous, people of colourby supplying them with free camping kits, no questions asked. 

The article cites some interesting statistics: 

A 2018 study by the Society of American Foresters found that between 2010 and 2014, 94.6% of visitors to national forests identified as white. People who identified as Latino made up 5.7%, and those who identified as Black made up 1.2%.

Which in my book adds up to a very generous 101.5 %.  2 + 2 = racism once again 

Jackson’s personal experiences bear out those numbers. They grew up camping and hiking but noticed at an early age that not many other families resembled theirs. “My dad and I would almost always be the only Black people at any camp we went to,” Jackson said.

Even though the last time I looked the cost of entry-level tents and sleeping bags wasn’t too astronomical the article concentrates on the cost of camping gear as a major impediment to black people enjoying nature.  You might think that would also apply to poor white people, but thankfully we have Jackson’s friend Hayley Harris to set you straight about those old chestnuts 

“Tents are hundreds of dollars, sleeping bags are super expensive, and if you’re really going camping, you can’t scrimp on gear. You could end up freezing at night,” she said.

The disparity in access to the outdoors is particularly frustrating to Harris, who pointed out that those who could most benefit from being in a rural environment have often felt excluded. “Being in nature is healing,” she said. “People who need that healing most are Black and Indigenous people, and the idea that it’s inaccessible … it’s just not right.”  

Donations to Jackson’s GoFundMe page have skyrocketed in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests so iyour white guilt needs some assuaging you can donate here  

Storm in a D cup 

According to The Mirror woke warrior Kusi Kimani has taken on British clothing giant Marks and Spencer over covert racism in the names of its bra colours:  

 [S]he discovered a brown bra on the retailer’s website was called ‘tobacco’.

The lighter colours of the £12 Marks & Spencer Collection padded bras are described as ‘cinnamon’ and ‘fudge”.’

Clearly, being a ‘person of colour’ doesn’t disqualify you from being a snowflake:  

“I saw it about two weeks after George Floyd’s death and it was particularly raw to see at that time. Why not call it cocoa, caramel or chocolate – sweet dessert items? But they used tobacco. I was shocked when I saw it”.

As any black activist worth their woke salt would be. And there’s no hint of hyperbole in her other remarks: 

“It’s hurtful to me and my friends. If a young girl who is already uncomfortable with the colour of her skin (sees it) she will be feeling even more alienated.

Each week that website is showing that racism is another week a young girl may come across it and feel bad for the rest of her life.

To see that ‘tobacco’ is for their skin tone will make them feel unwanted by society. Tobacco is referred to in society as bad, unhealthy, and highly likely to kill – ‘smoking kills’.

Instead of explaining that having a range of colours for bras is more about coordinating with outfits than skin tone, or suggesting that the tobacco-coloured bra is actually the only one of their offerings that remotely resembles the colour name it’s been saddled with, or that the name comes from a colour palette used in the industry, or any number of other reasonable ‘bugger off’ responses it could have offered, Marks and Spencer predictably caved after the intervention of the hyper-woke Mirror.  

You’ll be relieved to learn that a representative from Marks & Spencer has apologized to Ms Kimani and is removing “tobacco” as a colour name from its range.  

No word has been given on whether M & S bras will in the future carry a ‘bras kill’ warning label. 

The ice cream van cometh

 The LA Times was clearly on a racism roll this week as it’s responsible for another one of our feel-good racist stories.  

The classic ice cream truck doing the rounds of suburbia and being swamped by armies of kids lured by its siren song has long been a symbol of more innocent times. All that came crashing down recently when Good Humor, the originators of the ice cream truck, came clean about its signature tune’s disturbingly racist past.  

‘Turkey in the Straw’s’ melody originated from British and Irish folk songs, which had no racial connotations. But the song itself was first performed (and gained popularity) in American minstrel shows in the 1800s.

Throughout the 19th century, minstrel songs like ‘Turkey in the Straw’ were commonly played in ice cream parlors, and later, adapted as ice cream truck jingles. While these associations of ‘Turkey in the Straw’ are not the only part of its legacy, it is undeniable that this melody conjures memories of its racist iterations.

Of course, that would be the first thing that would pop into the heads of properlyeducated woke poppets in the 21st century. 

Good Humor didn’t stop at a quick mea culpa and hollow gestures of woke conciliation, though. They are made of sterner, and far more woke, stuff. In their search for a more inclusive and family-friendly tune they enlisted the help of rapper Robert Diggs, once known as Prince Rakeem, and now recognized as RZA (that’s Rizza, for all you unwoke folk).  

I have to say that the new melody, which will be made available to all ice cream van drivers, is an uninspiring, dare I say boring, composition that belies its rapper roots, which is probably a good thing.  

You and I would probably recognize Turkey in the Straw as the tune behind that old Playschool favouriteDo Your Ears Hang Low?, whose rather more salty original lyrics would seem to be the perfect accompaniment to a melody by RZA.   

Illustration: Hanna Barbera.

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