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In Today's Crazy - Vote with your wallet

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27 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

I mean, what're we supposed to conclude from that face; that black women are friendly and generous with their maple syrup? 

The image originates from a sense that black people are bad or scary, and that it's something like "the only good black person is one who looks and acts like a house slave." It's a positive stereotype because although it sounds nice, there is still a racist premise involved. You know, like the stereotype that Asian people are good at math. Yeah, it's good to see somebody is good at math, but it's also racist. 

Besides, logos change over time anyway because images gain different meanings and connotations over time. As far as business goes, if you can make a better logo, then do it. If stereotypes are involved, more the reason to change it. 

Edited by Eiuol
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On 6/19/2020 at 12:57 PM, Eiuol said:

Yes, she is a cook. But she is not primarily a cook. She is primarily the mammy stereotype. There is no such person, she is not an aspect of black culture, she is not representative of black culture. She is a slave. I don't see how you can claim it is not about race if the entire stereotype is about race. 

Please forgive me if you've since changed your mind about this (I haven't finished reading the entire thread yet and it was originally posted almost a year ago) but there are a few things I'd like to point out.

 

First of all, what's the relevance of "black culture" to Aunt Jemima?  The people who portrayed her, and the company that paid them to do so and continues to pay to slap those pictures on bottles of syrup; I don't think the subject of "black culture" ever came up in their attempts to sell syrup.  Aunt Jemima's picture is not for or against anybody's culture, really; her only purpose and function is to sell maple syrup.

It's very weird to me how every corporation nowadays has to publicly take a stand on various sociopolitical issues.  It demonstrates that the people working at those places aren't nearly as concerned with making a profit as they are with "that headless monster - prestige" and I think it's a very unhealthy sign.

On 6/18/2020 at 4:00 PM, MisterSwig said:

Give a different, less spineless, producer a try. If you trade with cowards you'll get more cowards.

Exactly.  Monster is the only brand of energy drink I've bought for the past year or so, specifically because of how the CEO responded to his marketing team's efforts to appeal to minorities: he fired every single one of them on the spot, precisely as he should've.  Because THE PURPOSE OF MONSTER ENERGY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS!!!

And the same goes for whatever damn company owns Aunt Jemima.  They are not there to say anything at all about any racial group whatsoever; they are there to make a good product and a nice profit, and nothing else.

 

Secondly, your distinction between someone's having been a slave and their involvement in black culture is somewhat confusing.  Surely, if we can speak meaningfully at all about a "black culture" in America (which I think we can, as long as we're aware of what a slippery kind of concept "culture" can be and are accordingly careful about it) then the historical fact that slavery existed must play a fairly central role in that culture.

In the Wikipedia article you linked to explained that the "Mammy" stereotype of a black woman became a stereotype in the first place because there were, in fact, enslaved black women who were tasked with babysitting duties, and were also treated much better than their counterparts in the fields.  So how could that stereotype possibly fail to be a part of modern-day "black culture"?  Without some sort of mass amnesia I don't think it could.

 

Thirdly, let's say Aunt Jemima is a slave.  The lady you see on your bottle of syrup; if the camera had panned out just a bit you'd be able to see her massa coming to put the chains back on her and punish her severely for taking them off; let's just assume that's the case.  What would be wrong with that?  I mean, from the perspective of the syrup company it'd be awful for profits, but aside from that what would be immoral about depicting actual slavery itself?

It happened.  It's a fact.  It's not the most pleasant thing to contemplate but it is a fact.

 

If you're looking at it from the standpoint of race relations (and what you said on page 1 definitely sounded that way) then shouldn't our goal there be to have a calmer, more open and rational discussion about such facts, rather than shying away from them?

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39 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

You know, like the stereotype that Asian people are good at math. Yeah, it's good to see somebody is good at math, but it's also racist.

It CAN be, depending on why you think they're good at math.  If you think it's genetic then you believe that your genes and chemicals dictate the functioning of your own mind and you are a racist.  What if you think it's cultural and that any baby, from any race, would also be good at math if raised in the parenting style that many asian parents share?

The slang term Tiger Mother refers primarily to just such a parenting style (the kind of mom who's disappointed if her children aren't virtuosos by six years old) and I believe it does encourage a wide variety of skills, and also the possibility of later suicide.

 

The distinction between race and culture isn't always straightforward (and, yes, if you lose track of it then you risk thinking something that's actually racist) but it is of particular importance here.  And if you recall that terms like "kamikaze pilot" and "suicide bomber" are also cultural generalizations you'll see how these issues relate to certain narrower and much more important ones.

 

54 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

The image originates from a sense that black people are bad or scary, and that it's something like "the only good black person is one who looks and acts like a house slave."

I question whether Aunt Jemima (or even the Mammy stereotype) come from a sense that's anything like that one.  You retreat from a scary gang of dark-skinned people, if you're racist in that way; you don't hand over your children for them to care for, unsupervised.  I don't think there was any fear or hatred involved even in the original stereotype.

 

Have you ever seen the Song of the South?

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It's an old thread so I don't exactly want to go over arguments, but if there's another topic on your mind related to this, make a thread about that and we can focus on that.

For here, I'm just going to clarify different phrases that I used. I'm not trying to make an argument in this post, only clarifying what I said or meant.

2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

First of all, what's the relevance of "black culture" to Aunt Jemima?

This has to do with the meaning of the logo, not the intentions of the people who use the logo. The relevance was that we can't interpret the logo as an example of a black person in America, or some way representative of real people within black culture. Nor does it represent desirable characteristics. 

2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Secondly, your distinction between someone's having been a slave and their involvement in black culture is somewhat confusing. 

Yes, (the history of) slavery is an aspect of that culture in the sense of it being a historical fact. But this is different than saying a specific character or portrayal of slavery is part of black culture. Or we could say that the portrayal of a specific kind of slave in a positive light is worth rejecting because that mentality expressed by the portrayal or meaning is not accepted by that culture at large. 

1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

What if you think it's cultural and that any baby, from any race, would also be good at math if raised in the parenting style that many asian parents share?

I disagree. This is racist in a different way. It's focusing on race as an essential factor about explaining behavior. This is different than using culture as an essential factor about explaining behavior, because we can talk about culture without any reference to the race (and we only need to do so to the extent that other people insist on categorizing people by race as fundamental or essential). It isn't Asian-ness or Chinese-ness that might make a lot of Asian people good at math. The Tiger mom phenomena is real, but the value of that concept is that it isn't culturally unique to China. We might ask why immigrant mothers from China tend to obsess about the grades of their children, but that is actually common across many immigrant mothers. 

You seem to agree, my point is more that it's improper to say something like "Asian people are good at math". Better to say something like "Asian people who are good at math are probably raised by Tiger moms". It might sound insufferable in conversation that I care about that precise raising - but that's why I never even bother talking about trying to rephrase race categories in more rational ways. 

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20 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I disagree. This is racist in a different way. It's focusing on race as an essential factor about explaining behavior. This is different than using culture as an essential factor about explaining behavior, because we can talk about culture without any reference to the race (and we only need to do so to the extent that other people insist on categorizing people by race as fundamental or essential). It isn't Asian-ness or Chinese-ness that might make a lot of Asian people good at math. The Tiger mom phenomena is real, but the value of that concept is that it isn't culturally unique to China. We might ask why immigrant mothers from China tend to obsess about the grades of their children, but that is actually common across many immigrant mothers. 

You seem to agree, my point is more that it's improper to say something like "Asian people are good at math". Better to say something like "Asian people who are good at math are probably raised by Tiger moms". It might sound insufferable in conversation that I care about that precise raising - but that's why I never even bother talking about trying to rephrase race categories in more rational ways. 

I do agree on that point, except that "Asian people who are good at math were probably raised by Tiger moms" is a sentence I could only see using in conversation with an actual racist (although I don't really make a habit out of saying that "Asians are good at math" without any qualifications either).

 

I guess the primary point I'd like to make (having now read the rest of the thread) is simply about what actually constitutes racism and what the appropriate response to it is.

Racism is specifically the attribution of someone's mental content to their ancestry.  It's not just anything unpleasant, or ignorant, or even any generalization about some group of people (like those whose mothers were Tigers); it's that specific sort of generalization.  I once heard a child declare the statement "black people have dark skin" to be racist, regardless of the fact that such quirks of biology (as well as average height, facial features or susceptibility to Sickle Cell Anemia) have nothing to do with any individual's free will.

And that's specifically what the fundamental problem with racism is: free will.  Everything else that's bad about it is only a symptom of its underlying determinism.

And although it does deserve our condemnation and relentless mockery, I've noticed a certain sort of hysteria about it (which your prior posts do, unfortunately, seem like a convenient example of) which is totally out of proportion and which really is not helping anything.  I personally know and have to deal with a number of actual racists (towards white people) at my work; it's annoying, and I take great delight in poking holes in their ill-conceived worldview, but beyond that their stupidity is not a threat to me.

 

In fact, since I've shown them just how easy it is to poke holes in and ridicule their racism WITHOUT getting unhinged about it, I've managed to chat with several of them about free will and the irrationality of any attempt to deny it.  I can't say what effect it'll have (if any) but I believe I can say that such conversations will be necessary if we want to do something about the tribalism that's running rampant through our larger culture.

 

I do realize the irony of ME trying to take such a stand against excessive, unhinged moralizing, but I do think it's the right stand to take.

 

Also, for anyone who missed it: the number of potatoes required to kill an Irishman is zero.

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21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Or we could say that the portrayal of a specific kind of slave in a positive light is worth rejecting because that mentality expressed by the portrayal or meaning is not accepted by that culture at large. 

We could, but if we said it that way then we might as well be saying that fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong.  If we wanted to say anything at all about racism or slavery (and I don't think that's the prerogative of a freaking syrup company) we'd do much better to just dive into the ethics of racism and slavery, themselves, which don't take much time or effort to enumerate anyway.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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I don't know what hysteria you are talking about with regard to me. I'm perfectly happy to talk about it. A lot of what I said apparently from my memory had to do with the notion that a smiling label is not used to judge people but to make sales. I wouldn't have said anything if it weren't for the strange notion that it is always moral to make money if trade is voluntary and there is no immoral way to make money if trade is voluntary. That's the kind of thing I respond to. But I'm not trying to "cancel" anyone when I talk about race. 

48 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

we'd do much better to just dive into the ethics of racism and slavery, themselves, which don't take much time or effort to enumerate anyway.

Don't know what you're talking about. I was just rephrasing what I meant. I was distinguishing between historical facts versus historical portrayals/characters. But as I was trying to say, I don't think this topic is much up-to-date anymore for race. And I don't think it's very interesting anymore. I mean, is there another race related topic you're interested in?

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On a slight tangent:

Idiot of the Week: Quaker Oats

"What’s next, that Coca-Cola might change its name because it is cocaine-based and could be accused of drug abuse? That Lacoste might be associated with animal cruelty because crocodile skin is used to make handbags and shoes? Or perhaps Quaker Oats itself should consider changing its name because it is related to the Quaker religious community, potentially offending other religions or atheists?

"What is clear is that the dictatorship of political correctness, promoted and used by the left to silence its critics, only succeeds in sweeping history under the rug, trying to sweep away anything they find annoying, trivializing the underlying debate on issues such as, in this case, racism.

Gotta love the rabbit holes.

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On 2/12/2021 at 6:38 PM, Eiuol said:

Don't know what you're talking about. I was just rephrasing what I meant. I was distinguishing between historical facts versus historical portrayals/characters. But as I was trying to say, I don't think this topic is much up-to-date anymore for race.

Well, the way you phrased it was an appeal to popularity.  I'm sure it was just a poor choice of words (if you were going to try and seriously make that point I think it would've gotten more than one portion of one sentence) and the poorness of that choice is all I was trying to point out about it.

On 2/12/2021 at 6:38 PM, Eiuol said:

And I don't think it's very interesting anymore.

Me either.

On 2/12/2021 at 6:38 PM, Eiuol said:

I don't know what hysteria you are talking about with regard to me. I'm perfectly happy to talk about it. A lot of what I said apparently from my memory had to do with the notion that a smiling label is not used to judge people but to make sales. I wouldn't have said anything if it weren't for the strange notion that it is always moral to make money if trade is voluntary and there is no immoral way to make money if trade is voluntary. That's the kind of thing I respond to. But I'm not trying to "cancel" anyone when I talk about race. 

Don't know what you're talking about. I was just rephrasing what I meant. I was distinguishing between historical facts versus historical portrayals/characters. But as I was trying to say, I don't think this topic is much up-to-date anymore for race. And I don't think it's very interesting anymore. I mean, is there another race related topic you're interested in?

I know you're not trying to cancel anyone and (although it is the right word for the broader phenomenon I had in mind) the word "hysteria" doesn't really apply to your earlier posts.  The idea that Aunt Jemima is an example of the racist "mammy stereotype" (and general discussion in terms of various stereotypes) is the main similarity I see between your posts and the broader phenomenon.

 

Until I read that Wikipedia article I had no idea there was such a thing as a "mammy stereotype" and I sincerely doubt anyone else (including the marketing people and right up to the CEO of Quaker's) knew it besides yourself, a handful of rednecks off in some backwoods somewhere and of course our modern-day racial warriors.  One of the great things about not being in a society full of racists is that such racist terminology (to whatever extent it had probably once been commonplace) has been largely forgotten.  So I don't think it's even fair to say that Aunt Jemima "refers to" such stereotypes because, with the few aforementioned exceptions, no normal person has thought of it in such terms for many years now.

I don't agree that the question is whether or not it's moral for a syrup company to make money using a racist stereotype because I don't even agree that Aunt Jemima is a racist stereotype.  Whatever else she was once based on, in modern American parlance she is a fictional character whose image exists exclusively to sell bottles of syrup.  She doesn't even have a backstory; just a face that's always wearing the warmest and most inviting smile possible, because that's what helps to separate your average consumer from a few more of their dollars.

And like the term "selfishness" I think this is another realm where conceptualization matters.

 

Frankly, I find this whole issue very reminiscent of a few years ago when the "okay" hand gesture 👌 suddenly became a symbol of white supremacy because a couple of white supremacist dumbasses had used it once or twice, just like everybody else in the entire world has - because it's an extremely commonplace gesture which means nothing more sinister than "okay".  And now I am also a white supremacist because I used the symbol in order to indicate which damn hand gesture I meant.

I don't know the proper philosophical way to identify that manner of thinking at the moment, but it's the thing that seemed to be present in your posts about the "mammy stereotype".

On 2/12/2021 at 6:38 PM, Eiuol said:

I mean, is there another race related topic you're interested in?

A few.  I'll probably start a new thread when I have a clearer idea of precisely what they are.

 

PostScript:  OO is also White Supremacy now for even giving me the option to use the "okay" hand gesture.  And if any alien species happens to use an analogous sort of gesture to symbolize anything whatsoever then they are also white supremacists who happen to lack any knowledge of humanity or what we even consider as races.  Such is our modern logic.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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