Slog - The Stranger's Blog

Line Out

The Music Blog

« Send the Marines | More Pessimism »

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Condoleezza Rice Inspires Another Embarrassing Racial Incident

Posted by on April 13 at 9:59 AM

Just weeks after a St. Louis radio host was fired for accidentally using a racial slur in reference to Condoleezza Rice, the African-American Secretary of State has inadvertantly inspired another instance of racial insensitivity, this one at Bellevue Community College.

At the center of the controversy is a question included on a math exam, details of which come from the Seattle Times:

The question read, “Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300-foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second.” The question went on to ask when the watermelon will hit the ground, based on a formula provided.

Upon finding the question, several BCC students alerted school officials. When the students felt their concerns weren’t being taken seriously, they started an e-mail campaign, eventually inspiring an explanation and apology from Bellevue Community College President Jean Floten. Says the Times:

The test question was originally written with the name of a comedian, Gallagher, whose signature shtick was to smash a variety of objects, often watermelons. Later, the question was rewritten, and the name was changed to Condoleezza, Floten said.

Full story here.

CommentsRSS icon

How does one apply for the job of writing those questions?

"George dangles the charred remains of an Iraqi infant over the edge of the roof of the 300-foot Federal Building, and..."

at the risk of sounding like an idiot, i don't get it. i don't see what is so offensive. if there is anything racist here, i don't see the connection. how naive am i? if someone could please explain.

at the risk of sounding like an idiot, i don't get it. i don't see what is so offensive. if there is anything racist here, i don't see the connection. how naive am i? if someone could please explain.

hint: stereotipical associations of blacks and watermelons

black people + watermelons = racism? how? it just seems so silly.

it seems like this is one of those ancient stereotypes that will only go away if we stop paying attention to it.

I found this story on the watermelon stereotype:

i get it now. i just wish it didn't exist. the author has to second guess eating watermelon in front of others. that things have come to this is ridiculous.

It's still racism because it keeps turning up in racist contexts. Like here. There's no conceivable reason the name Gallagher could have been changed to Condeleeza except in the context of blacks-and-watermelons. It's stupid, retarded, even, and worthy of a fourth-grader at best, but that's why the joke is there.

It's not the PC Police who keep bringing it up, it's the dipshit racists.

what FNARF said, it's about context.

if he had stuck to his original idea and went with gallagher, he would have been making a really lame and outdated joke. instead he went the racist route and pulled out one of the most common reoccuring blackface jokes.

off topic, but, can the stranger upgrade their servers? I keep getting database errors of too many connections.

*Gallagher* standing on top of a Federal building, dropping watermelons?

Sounds like another B.S. explanation.

Sometimes context or timing is everything. I have a black male aquaintence who worked in a small high tech wiring installation company. One of the ways the racist harassment worked there for him began with his manager and immediate supervisors constantly talking about eating chicken. Then a subset of the coworkers took it up. But he really needed this reasonably well-paying job. They were using the fried chicken racist connection. At first I thought he was being paranoid but the prejudice eventually came out in other ways that showed they really were out to wear him down.

The Gallagher schtick from 20-25 years ago was to clobber a stationary watermelon with a sledge hammer. Throwing melons from rooftops was a recurring routine from the old "Late Night with David Letterman" show on NBC.

Sure, you can say that it's in bad taste because of the watermelon. Maybe instead of a watermelon, she could be dropping a pineapple instead?

It sounds to me that this guy had accidentally made something that could be inferred as racist and it wasn't intentional. It's like that south park episode where chef is fighting to change the flag because it shows 4 white people lynching a black man, but the children don't even make the race connection there and assume that chef is upset because of the image of killing in general.

or you could just follow the teacher's line of reasoning, where the claim is that the test was originally trying to make a joke about gallegher. but the teacher decided to go with a joke about condoleezza and watermelons instead... why is it funny to see condoleeza dropping a watermelon? where's the humor? unless you get the racist undertone, it's not funny, and if you find it funny you're probably a racist.

Instead of a racist joke where Condi Rice throws a watermelon, maybe they should have had her throwing a world globe over the side. If they absolutely had to make it racist, the scenario would end with her beating her breast like King Kong.

Sick Seattle's excremental Mike Webb started the melon rolling in early 2001 with his crap-rap about "Jemima Rice." Imagine, if you will, that Rush or Sean spewed in public about "Jemima Brazille," Democrat hired gun, or "Jemima McKinney," Democrat hit man. BCC & NBC & CNN & CBS & The Stranger & the Times (New York) & the Times (LA) & The Times (Seattle) & the Religious Left (the Reverend Al Sharpton & the Reverend Jesse Jackson) would be burning Limbaugh & Hannity in effigy or in person.

But, instead, the racism comes from left-wing academia in a blue state, so it's fashionable racism. Just like the fashionable left-wing anti-Semitism practiced in France.

Even more interesting than the question itself is JLO's comment - there has to be close to an entire generation of people who don't know the racist connections of a lot of imagery.

Is that good thing or a bad thing?

Maybe that's because nobody except Mike Webb's mom, and a bunch of mouth-breathers who listen to talk radio, have ever heard of him.

Besides, it wasn't Mike Webb; it was some boob named John Sylvester. And "anti-Semitic" France is by a wide margin the most Jewish state in Europe. So maybe, PB, you should just crawl back into bed with your Bill O'Reilly pacifier, and shut up.

So maybe, PB, you should just crawl back into bed with your Bill O'Reilly pacifier, and shut up.

O'Reilly is marketing branded pacifiers? Damn capitalists.

re: David Summerlin's question... there's no special requirement: the teachers of classes often write their own tests from scratch.

"(S)ome boob named John Sylvester" was fired in 2004 or 2005 for a "Jemima Rice" rant. Webb beat him to the rant by about 4 years, but kept his Lexus Liberal job until the Lexus got smacked.

Webb gave & gives the First Amendment a bad name. Alas, he also gives the Second Amendment a bad name. If douche bags like Webb are allowed to pack, guess I'll have to stop sending dues to the NRA.

(Crawling in bed with Big Bill O'Reilly? You must, alas, be thinking of Doorknob Dan Savage & Stormin' Norman Stamper.)

We can't expect to end racial stereotyping while simultaneously expecting everyone to know what all the old stereotypes are so they can't accidentally run afoul of them.

I had never heard of the stereotype until this whole incident happened. For days I was scratching my head wondering, "what exactly was wrong with that question?" Finally an article explained the old stereotype, which appears to have died out before the teacher was even born. I think the guy made an honest mistake. He's been teaching at BCC for over 25 years. He was probably going over an exam that he's used for decades, came across the Gallagher question, and decided to update it with a name that would be recognizable. "Condoleeza" would be convenient because she has been high-profile of late, and she's recognizable by her first name only. It was probably the first thing that popped into his head.

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).