Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I guess I'm a racist.

This just in, the Senate has reached an agreement on Health Care Reform and it may still contain a public option. Unfortunately they aren't saying anything about it at this time. Will I get health care out of this? Your guess is as good as mine. Stay tuned.

Okay now I want you to go and watch this video. Hurry up, I'll wait.

Did you watch it? What did you think?

By making light of racism the video ultimately refutes the point it is trying to make. In between people staring at us and saying "I guess I'm a racist", we're provided with text and a narrator’s voice breaking down the issues at hand. Let's take a look at these issues.

1. 12% of voters believe that people who oppose Obama's health care plan are racist.

My first response to this data is to ask "why do so many people feel like this?" The video attempts to discredit the data with it's never ending refrain. At this point we are treated to a woman and her baby saying in a cutesy baby voice "Well I guess we're racist". This highlights the most shocking aspect of the video, the normalizing of the sentence "I'm a racist".

2. Even President Carter says that the "intense animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man."

The obvious response to this would be to say, wow not only do all of these people think that opponents of Health Care Reform are racist but the former president thinks that President Obama has been a target of racism, I wonder why this is? As the refrain continues we hear someone flat out say "I'm a racist". This serves to further normalize the language of claiming racism, while simultaneously trivializing it.

3. If people are racist for opposing Obama's health plan then, apparently a lot of people in this country are racist.

This statement is a conclusion made in response to the earlier points. The pattern of normalizing "being a racist" is continued when the text is split into two screens. With the second screen showing only "then, apparently a lot of people in this country are racist." It appears on the screen almost innocently, as if it isn't even offensive.

4. But, does that fact that Obama is black really have anything to do with it?

The video finally provides a pertinent question however it is prefaced by the word "But" implying that the answer is already known. Than we see one last person, the second black man in the video saying "I guess I'm a racist." He says it with what sounds like a tinge of regret in his voice. And we are left to assume the question has been answered.

5. Accusing us of being racist won't stop us from saying no to a total government takeover of our health care system.

This sentence asserts that the reasons for allegations of racism are to derail the resistance to a government takeover of Health Care. What this sentence fails to explain is why the producer feels that it is necessary to reclaim "being a racist" in order to prevent a health care "takeover".

To really understand the motivations behind this commercial, you have to read one more quote.

6. If opposing the Obama Administration’s big government policies is the new definition of racism, then BE A RACIST!

This quote is not on the video, it is on the website of the video's producer, Ray Griggs. Griggs makes this statement as an exclamation for his video, revealing what appears to be his own hidden racism. If he were against racism why would he ever ask people to "BE A RACIST"?

The video began by saying 12% of voters believe that people opposed to Obama's Health Care plan are racist. I asked, "Why do so many people feel like this?"

The answer is quite simple, it's because of people like Mr. Griggs and videos like "I guess I'm a racist."


  1. Tori,

    Thanks for your analysis... This video is a disturbing piece of no-means-yes, saying, "Yes! It's okay to be a racist!"

    Which makes me wonder if it isn't better to just ignore people like Ray Griggs. I remember in my high school, we had this one amazing class called "Prejudice and Persecution." One of the most enlightening things I remember from that class was when we watched two videos--the first, a very famous clip of some Nazi's on Geraldo, and the other, an interview by a documentarian with some white power folks, asking them, "why do you go onto shows like Donahue and Geraldo?" (I just dated myself, didn't I?)

    Anyway, the White Power guy explained that he knew that his movement would be ridiculed on television, vilified by the studio audience, that they would be demonized, attacked... but that it was worth it because
    "Our message is going out to millions of homes. And while millions may mock us, we can find a few hundred patriots from a television appearance."

    Are you going to write something about the health care bill as it now appears?