Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stereotypes And Racism

Over the past few days, Whallah! has been on McBride's case about her post regarding the death of two young people in Milwaukee. It was pointed out that she was immediately dismissive of the murders because the people who were murdered had a recording studio in their home, and quipped that she wondered if they were recording gangsta rap. It turned out that the young woman was actually an up and coming R&B singer.

Instead of offering an apology, McBride threw this update on her post:

Update: Guess they didn't. R and B. Later stories now show it might be a burglary of the studio that led to the deaths of two up-and coming individuals, one of whom was going places in the R and B music world. Yes, Milwaukee's in a crisis. How many young people like this are we going to lose before we stop tolerating it as a community?

When I hear about these somewhat makeshift recording studios, the "Funkhouse" is usually what comes to my mind first. Sounds like these young people were far removed from that world.

Instead of a mea culpa, we have a spin trying to deflect the attention from her error in making the original statement. Then she compounds the error, by linking to an article she wrote for MSJ several years ago, about a gang of kids that were eventually brought up on murder, and their relationship with an innercity house/recording studio.

Some people could perceive her defense as a racist statement: That is when she learns of a house in the inner city, with a recording studio in it, she automatically thinks of a gang of murderous thugs.

I don't believe that it necessarily does. defines racism as "the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others". The same website (via American Heritage Dictionary) defines stereotype as "a conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image".

Some people could very well argue that racism is just another word for ethnic stereotyping, and be correct in that argument. But I seriously doubt McBride has a white robe and hood in her closet. Nor have I ever heard or seen her to come out and directly say that the crisis is due to the racial make-up of the inner city.

I think that McBride is making some very broad generalizations and is using racial stereotyping to make these statements, which do border on the verge of being racist. I don't know whether she is making these statement out of maliciousness, which would definitely make it racism, or out of general ignorance, which would be more like stereotyping, or latent racism, if you will.

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