Friday, August 05, 2011
With Obama Hip Hop BBQ headline FOX proudly shows dog whistle racists how its done, take notes!
By John V. Moore @johnvmoore
Dog whistle racists throughout America, step the fuck aside, FOX NEWS has out classed all of you with today’s headline “Obama's Hip-Hop BBQ Didn't Create Jobs” which is an article on the President Obama’s 50th Birthday celebration that was held at the White House on Thursday, August 4.
For the unenlightened, “dog whistle racism” as defined by the Center for Social Inclusion is “also known as symbolic racism – is political campaigning or policy-making that uses coded words and themes that appeal to conscious or subconscious racist concepts and frames.”
Given the demographics of the FOX NEWS audience and their perceived attitudes on race you can imagine the reaction that this dog whistle will elicit from that crowd.
This headline and accompanying photo are blatant examples of dog whistle racism. “Hip-Hop” is code for “Black people” even though many white folks like hip-hop music and many Black folks don’t. “BBQ” is another great code, which when used in combination with “Hip-Hop,” implies that there were bunch of Black folks doing what you’d expect Black folks to do and that the leads to a reinforcement of the “othering” tactic which has been used multiple times against President Obama.
By my estimation (based upon a pool report and my assumption that the President’s immediate family, including mother-in-law, attended) there were at least 49 guests and only 20 of them, less than 50%, were African American. However the photo accompanying the article featured four African American men, Charles Barkley, President Obama, Chris Rock and Jay-Z.
Yeah, there were at least 21 Black folks there, including some bonafide hip hop stars, but this was hardly a “hip hop BBQ.” Jay-Z was not working the grill, holding a 40 ounce and smoking a blunt as Barack and his boys (don’t get it twisted Pat Buchanan) were holding red plastic cups of gin and juice, while looking at the ladies in their Daisy Dukes dropping it like it was hot with Ice Cube’s “You can do it” blaring over the speakers in the Rose Garden. But with its framing, that is what FOX NEWS wants you to believe.
A more appropriate headline would have been “Diverse group of friends join President Obama for White House 50th Birthday Cook Out.” A more appropriate accompanying photo would have included Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, Robert Gibbs and Gayle King.
But as long as FOX NEWS is telling the story that is not going to happen.
Even the reporting of the music played undermines the frame that FOX introduces with its headline.
“ … with dinner in the Rose Garden, accompanied by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Then the First Lady and his daughters presented POTUS with a cake, and everyone moved into the East Room for performances that included R&B singer Ledisi, and Herbie Hancock. Stevie Wonder came up at the end and sang a medley ending in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” DJ Cassidy played Motown, hip hop, and ’70s and ’80s R&B.”
Hip hop was played but so R&B, Motown and even given the presence of the Marine Band, I would dare suggest there was some John Philip Sousa bumping (hip hop term). Which prompts me to revise my headline one more time to “President Obama celebrates 50th Birthday Day with friends to the tunes of John Philip Sousa.”
Since FOX NEWS is making shit up let me join them in doing so. I decided to give this party a 2.52 rating on the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air Hip Hop (FPBAHH)” scale (which I just made up). A 5 rating equals the "Fresh Prince" himself (Will Smith) and 1 point equals "Carlton Banks" (Alfonso Ribeiro). A 2.52 FPBAHH ranking equals the father on the show, “Uncle Phil” (James Avery), who was a judge, lived in Bel Air but when he needed to knew how to get down.
My methodology (see guest list below): I gave each African American who attended a FPBAHH ranking, totaled them up and divided that figure by the number of reported/assumed AA attendees (minus Reggie Love who I assume was there but did not include). I gave careful thought (I really did) to each persons’ ranking. For example while Grant Hill is a Black male who has played in the NBA he went to Duke, so there is no way I could have ranked him higher than a 3. When it comes to the President’s daughters the Sidwell Friends/University of Chicago Lab School education really undermines their hip hop credentials as well. Even though Hill Harper graduated form Harvard Law with the President his 4 rating just feels right. POTUS gets a 5 just because as the first African American President he deserves it.
While my FPBAHH ranking is bullshit, so is FOX NEWS’s headline, accompanying graphic and the racist frame they are attempting and succeeding in introducing.
In a week that saw the President referred to as a “tar baby” and a “boy” FOX NEWS wins the week with its clever use of dog whistle racism. I do believe that Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Pat Buchanan need to be taken to task for their comments but in my book its easier to give them the benefit of the doubt. FOX NEWS knew what it was doing and sadly the damage they have done will be much worse than the other two offenses.
Guest List Black folk in bold
1. Al Sharpton FPBAHH Rating 3
2. Patrick Gaspard FPBAHH Rating 3
3. Robert Wold
4. Julius Genachowski
5. Nancy Pelosi
6. Paul Pelosi
7. Tim Geithner
8. Arne Ducan
9. Ron Kirk FPBAHH Rating1
10. Hillary Clinton
11. Eric Holder FPBAHH Rating 1
12. Katheleen Sebelius
13. Debbie Wasserman Shutlz
14. TIm Kaine
15. Anita Dunn
16. Bob Bauer
17. Robert Gibbs
18. Davd Axelrod
19. David Plouffe
20. Valerie Jarett FPBAHH Rating 1
21. Michael Stratumanis
22. Pete Rouse
23. Bill Daley
24. Alyssa Mastromonaco
25. Denis McDonough
26. John Brennan
27. Rahm Emanuel
28. Tina Tchen
29. Sam Kass
30. Julianna Smoot
31. Marty Nesbitt FPBAHH Rating 2
32. Eric Whitaker FPBAHH Rating 2
33. Linda Douglass
34. Jay-Z FPBAHH Rating 5
35. Hill Harper FPBAHH Rating 4
36. Charles Barkley FPBAHH Rating 3
37. Steve Harvey FPBAHH Rating 2
38. Tom Hanks
39. Rita Wilson
40. Grant Hill FPBAHH Rating 3
41. Gayle King FPBAHH Rating 1
42. Stevie Wonder FPBAHH Rating 3
43. Ledisi FPBAHH Rating 3
44. Barack Obama FPBAHH Rating 5
45. Michelle Obama FPBAHH Rating 3
46. Sasha Obama FPBAHH Rating 3
47. Malia Obama FPBAHH Rating 3
48. Marian Robinson FPBAHH Rating 1
49. Eleanor “Mama Kaye” Wilson FPBAHH Rating 1