Tar Babies and Other Racist Statements

In the flurry of Mel Gibson’s very racist comments, I was made aware of a statement that Mitt Romney had recently made.

“The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can,” he told a crowd of about 100 supporters in Ames, Iowa.

This has been causing a lot of problems, especially because Romney is thought to be a likely Republican candidate for president in the next election. I honestly think that a)it may not have been a racist statement and b)people are over reacting. Before everyone jumps on me with both feet let me explain. For those not familiar with the term:

Black leaders were outraged at his use of the term, which dates to the 19th century Uncle Remus stories, referring to a doll made of tar that traps Br’er Rabbit. It has come to be known as a way of describing a sticky mess, and has also been used as a derogatory term for a black person.

The first time I heard the phrase was in kindergarten. I had gotten Disney story books with records and one of them was “Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby”. Br’er Rabbit got stuck in a little figure made of tar and couldn’t get free. That was it. I never heard the term in a racist way until high school. Well, that isn’t completely accurate. I heard a teacher talking about the fact that people say that.

We don’t want people to think in terms of race. Well, that is unless you are watching your every word. Now I am saying that as an excuse but a reality. There isn’t ever a situation in wich you would hear the “k” word in reference to Jews but “Tar Baby” does symbolize and actual situation. Are we so desiring for racists that we look under every rock? It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is trying to date an American Indian. It showed us that so many of our colloquialisms came from some slant on a variety of races but that isn’t any longer what they mean. Now, when you know you hurt someone’s feelings, regardless if you meant to hurt their feelings, you should apologize. This is exactly what Mitt Romney did. If you can’t develop a
slightly thicker skin maybe you should just take your toys and go home.

**A side note: I didn’t write this because I am a Romney supporter (because I am not) but because it is true.

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