Ever since moving to the U.S. I have realized how big of an issue racism is. Moreover, how talked about it is. Racism seems to be one of the most talked about issues in this country. As a young girl coming to the U.S., I was unaware of the presence of racism. To me, all people were the same no matter the skin color, even though I have not seen as big a variety in my home country as I see here. Then throughout the years I have heard more and more talk about how racism is a huge problem, and it made me think: Aren’t we making it into an even bigger issue by talking about it? Could it be that many things we see/hear that we assume are racist in fact were never intended to be so?
I know many people will say even if it is “accidental racism”, it is still racism. Personally I would have never think to discriminate, however since living in this country I feel as though I have to watch what I do or say around people of other ethic backgrounds because they may take something I do or say as racist. I found a video on YouTube which is a clip from a Melbourne news channel. The news reporter is discussing a new KFC commercial which was attacked by Americans as being racist. The reporter asks a couple of commentators if they think the commercial is offensive. The only guy who thinks that, yes this ad could be taken as racist, is the speaker from Los Angeles, but even he agrees that people overreacted over this commercial. Here is the video:
So the reason that Americans view this commercial as racist, is because it builds on an old stereotype, as the reporter said, that “all African Americans eat fried chicken.” He also later makes the point that: “You can’t assume that all black people are African Americans, and this ad wasn’t portraying African Americans, it was portraying West Indians.”
Honestly speaking when I first saw this commercial I thought it was very racist. However, this news report made me think about what I mentioned above: Are Americans more sensitive to racism than other nations? I remember when I went to visit my family in Hungary and my parents made a comment about Gypsies. I was kind of surprised by their comments and told them what they said was racist. They looked at me like I was talking nonsense. To them the word “racism” means discrimination against blacks, which is almost nonexistent in Hungary. Black Hungarians are looked at as just like any other people, sometimes, as I heard from a couple friends they are treated as “cooler” because they are unique. So blacks being a minority actually makes them exotic and looked upon in a positive light. I know that is actually still racism because they are still treated as different, so it is benevolent racism. This is when I think things get confusing. Is positive discrimination as problem?
I still do think this commercial was discriminatory, but mostly because of the wording used: “awkward situation.” And also the way the white guy puts his hands over his face. It is hard for me to watch this commercial and not think it is racist.
What do you guys think? Was this commercial racist or are Americans overreacting?