A couple of weeks ago a (white) friend of mine asked me if, as a black woman, I’d be offended if he used ‘gorilla’ as a term of endearment towards me. I said I most probably would be. He was surprised. He said that he had, intending to be friendly, called one of his black friends “gorilla” and she was (unsuprisingly in my opinion) pretty upset, to say the least.
I explained to him that since he was a redhead, if I referred to him as a ‘carrot top’ or ‘ginger nut’ it’s likely he would believe that my term of endearment for him was based on his hair colour or his red freckles. Similarly, if he called me or his black friend a gorilla it would not be unreasonable to presume that, for some reason, our being black reminded him of a primate.
Now, there is a guy somewhere in Georgia who is peddling the t-shirts of Obama pictured above. Apparently, to him, Obama looks like ‘Curious George’, the cartoon monkey who is featured in the t shirt. This guy says that he can’t see what’s wrong with the comparison. When asked by news reporter Manuel Bojorquez why he chose a monkey image, the man said “I thought, man, look at those ears and his hair line and that’s what I saw. I didn’t see anything offensive.”
Now, do we really need to explain that the comparison of a black person to a monkey is offensive? It has always been used as a racist, derogatory and offensive stereotype against black people. I don’t think it takes a genius to work that out.
Is the Curious George comparison really the only one that this man felt Obama was worth of?! Honestly? …. That’s very, very sad.