We are required to always accept new information because we never know when we’ll find out what we thought we always knew was true, never was. I am still amazed to learn that in Southern pockets of the United States that many people viciously, and wrongly, believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim when he is not and never was.
An entire generation of Southern children are being raised to believe their president is a liar even though the facts that construct the context of his alleged Muslim life have been repeatedly proven false.
How do we fight these mistaken memes that are given life beyond reality and into a harmful fantasy?
Confronting the liars only makes the accused part of the cover up.
Ignoring the lies only propagates a misbegotten myth.
When I was a youngster growing up in the Midwest in a 100% Caucasian elementary school, one playground rumor that took hard root was the notion that “All Black people smelled like watermelon.”
I have no idea how that meme started, but it became a general “fact” on the playground and the sandlots that Blacks “smelled good” like the watermelon Jolly Rancher candy we would consume by the mouthful.
It was only much later, decades later, really — that I realized the Racism embedded in that “they smell like watermelon” playground “fact” — because it directly played into the pickaninny meme of a shufflin’, smilin’, chicken-eatin’ and watermelon-smellin’ “darkie” defined by a bowl of nigger toes.
I was shocked to learn the power of the watermelon meme is still in political play today:
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.
If the “Blacks smell like watermelon” meme is still growing strong across the arc of the last 100 years in America, I wonder if we’ll ever be rid of the purposefully mistaken “Obama is a Muslim” meme that seeks to mark him as foreign and distant and as un-American as bean pie.