Warning! Controversial Post Below. If You Are Easily Offended, Please Go Somewhere Else


I could just stop there, I suppose. My readers know me well enough to know what I’m going to say. But just in case you’re here for the very first time, I’ll elaborate.

First, let me say I am beyond thrilled that we finally (and I do mean finally) have a black president under our belt. Now, maybe we can vote/concentrate/fix the issues at hand rather than focus on the skin color of our elected officials.

Second, I adore the fact that, once again, we seem to have a stable, loving married couple in office. No matter what your politics, both the Obamas and the Bushs seem strong, united and committed to each other.

I saw this magazine cover at my local grocery store. Frankly, I was offended by the headline “Celebrate Black Love!” Whenever I see something that points to color of skin I insert “the opposite” and wonder who else might be offended.

So let’s try it. Let’s insert white for black.

“Celebrate White Love!”

What do you picture? The cover of a KKK magazine? And who would be the quintessential white couple? Now, who is offended?

Let’s skip the fact that this is a magazine geared toward the black community. (That’s a topic for another post) Let’s focus on the fact that the white population will soon be the minority. Let’s consider that everyone, including our president, craves to be recognized for their contributions to society, their strengths, their merits.

Not for the color of their skin. 

We live in a country where the concept of melting pot is becoming more and more real every single day. I love it that the US is a melting pot. This is something I want to celebrate. This is not a time to encourage distinction and division.  

Celebrate Black Love?

Why can’t we just celebrate love?


Filed under Soapbox

26 responses to “Warning! Controversial Post Below. If You Are Easily Offended, Please Go Somewhere Else

  1. Is black love more special than white love. Is one kind of love better than another? Does the color of a person’s skin matter when it comes to love? Obama is our first Black President but he is not the first black man to fall in love happily ever after.
    Perhaps Ebony is using the Obamas to highlight Ia beautiful black married couple with a stable life as an example to the black community–Ebony is a black magazine but why not chose a black family that offers that point of view more realistically.
    Its a curious headline. I will be interested in hearing what others have to say.

  2. You said it! I’ve heard the argument both ways… from all ethnicities. To “deny” or ignore the color of one’s skin appears to ignore the culture that goes along with that… is what I’ve heard. So, there’s a group of African Americans (or African Canadians if you live near me) who uncategorically WANT to be recognized for their skin color as a part of their identity and culture. So… what if you’re American? Isn’t America the culture? Why does being black (or white) have to matter so much?

    This is crucial for ME to understand because my almost-5-year-old son is learning some things right now that are going to be with him for a while. When he says (as you can imagine all little preschoolers might do if they’ve moved from a predominantly white rural area to a larger multicultural urban area), “Look, Mommy, a Black person!” right there, out loud, in front of the individual… what am I supposed to say? Do I talk about how the color of a person’s skin doesn’t matter? Or do I emphasize their differences now so as not to confuse him later? I’m not trying to be offensive here, either, but I really want to know! Haven’t we gotten past a person’s skin color? And if not, why not???

    • You tell him it doesn’t matter.

      A while back the son of a friend came home and was talking about his “white friend” from school. His Dad immediately said “Stop! Is he your friend?” his son responded in the affirmative. “Then that’s all we need. He’s not your white friend, or your Chinese friend, or your short friend…he’s just your friend.”

      Personally I was super impressed – my friend became a bigger and better person to me that day.

  3. Agh. I wish I was responding to this at nine in the morning instead of nine on a Friday night when I’m so close to brain dead I could practically be an organ donor (oops, that was probably offensive — see what I mean?). I see your point. I also see the point of the people who say “when you say you don’t see colour that means you don’t see me”. Here in the country where we spell colour with a ‘u’, we call ourselves a cultural mosaic rather than a melting pot — and don’t think I’m unaware that that has led to a whole bunch of issues that need to be addressed. You said let’s skip the fact that the magazine is geared towards the black community, but I don’t really think you can — it needs context. I think there are some pretty bleak statistics on African American paternal absenteeism, and in that paradigm, a strong, committed relationship between two black people is meant to be inspirational. In any case, I’m not the least bit offended — it definitely deserves some discussion.

    • “a strong, committed relationship between two black people is meant to be inspirational” – I agree with you, 110%! And I think it’s wonderful that the Obama couple is on the cover. I take issue with “Celebrate Black Love!” It’s Ebony magazine – a magazine already geared specifically to black people. I think “Celebrate Love!” would have gotten the point across just as well, without implying that somehow “Black Love” is different from any other kind of love.

  4. charmstep

    Your post could be considered a tad controversial. Race and skin color are American issues and have been since this country became populated by people other than Native Americans. I have to ask, though, what is unrealistic about the Obama family? Why do they have to be ‘quintessential’? Are all other black couples in a committed, successful relationship less worthy of acknowledgment? And who is to say that the black community needs an example of a black married couple with a stable life? Perhaps [white] America does not see or know about stable, loving, black married couples because the media choose not to report about them.

    After a perusal of even one issue of Ebony, one would realize that the magazine does not encourage division; Ebony does, however, celebrate distinction and positivity in the black community because those attributes are celebrated in so few other mainstream American media outlets. And why is the headline curious? I am somewhat uneasy that you’re offended by the headline. It may be curious to some outside of the black community perhaps, but not to the black community.

    What is curious to me is the last part of the post title – please go somewhere else. Can we not disagree with you? I am not easily offended, but I am annoyed (as perhaps any other ethnicity might be) that someone outside of the community is suggesting how we should see and represent ourselves.

    America is a country where race is still a contentious issue, and race will continue to be an issue until we all decide to look past it. Skin color is an inextricable part of some groups’ ethnicity/identity. I agree that it would be wonderful to celebrate love without attaching a color, but that’s just not the way this country sees things right now. America still judges people by the color of their skin, not by the content of their character, and I can see that that is slowly changing. But for now, America still sees color.

    • Of course you can disagree with me! I encourage disagreement. Which is why I said, “if you’re easily offended” (because surely people are going to disagree about this topic – my opinion and yours ) you need to go somewhere else. I expected people to disagree with me (as you have) and I didn’t want anyone with thin skin (regardless of color) commenting here – so as not to incite a racial riot on my blog. Thanks for your thoughts – and for continuing this discussion on your blog. I think we can both agree that open discussion is a positive step.

  5. Sigh. I so understand.

    Every time some little urchin at a playground asks, without hesitation, “Is she adopted? (Miss D),” I want to throttle someone.

    Miss D. is making a special valentine for her current crush. The kid is the shortest, whitest kid in the class. So in the spirit of Miss D., I say, “Celebrate Oreo Love!”

  6. Excellent post! I do the same thing of switching out the adjective. What image would “Celebrating Asian Love” invoke? We have Black History Month and a Black Miss America pagent. What sort of up roar would White History Month and White Miss America cause?

    Btw, I’ve always believed that love is colorblind.

  7. I grew up in East London, England, with a huge variety of races all mixed together. I had friends called Paul, Gregory, Olu, and Balraj. Mixed relationships were so common they wasn’t even noticed.

    After living in the U.S. for about six months I found myself staring at a mixed couple in a bar. The reason? I hadn’t seen a mixed couple since I arrived. I was sitting there thinking “Wow! This is interesting. And good for them for just getting on with things.” Then I overheard a snip of their conversation and realized they were English

    That was 15 years ago. Things have come a long way since then. I cheered when Obama was elected – what a huge leap forward for the country to see beyond skin color. The U.K. has had a Women Prime Minister – so it will be interesting to see which country will be the first to have a black woman as the countries head?

    But one question remains…what do you mean by “Let’s skip the fact that this is a magazine geared toward the black community”? Since the proliferation of media means that there is something geared specifically for everyone (and surely blogging is part of that) I’m interested to hear what you have to say there…

    • “…what do you mean by “Let’s skip the fact that this is a magazine geared toward the black community”? ” I agree that print media is geared towards certain groups – people that enjoy sports, health, cooking, even NASCAR (though, I still don’t get why). What I have an issue with is a print mag geared towards a particular group of people of a particular skin color. If a white person celebrates their differences as a white American he is labeled a racist and excluding others. But if a someone of a different skin color does it – it’s considered…well, celebrating their differences. And somehow, that’s ok.

      • OK…that’s what I thought.

        But might I suggest that what you have an issue with is NOT that a magazine can be geared towards a particular group, but rather that it is unfair for a magazine to be geared towards one particular group (e.g. Black) but not another (e.g. White). And I am completely in agreement with you on that.

        History plays a huge part in perceptions and, unfortunately, people that celebrated being white in the past often were racist. That creates sensitivity and, as we all know, if people are looking for something they will usually find it.

        Maybe when the whites are in the minority they can have their own magazine and the tables will be turned 🙂

        Don’t stop being controversial! When apathy sets in all is lost.

  8. This is a very interesting post. One that leaves me feeling just a tiny bit conflicted, I think.

    If the Obamas are a couple that is really in love, then I say good for them. Love is a good thing. The color of their skin is irrelevant to that. If a magazine wants to come along and categorize their love, I say, “So what?” That has nothing to do with them or their love.

    Is there a bit of discrepancy that “black” love can be celebrated but doing the same thing for “white” love would be awkward? Perhaps. But I think the reason that discrepancy is something I’m personally willing to live with is history.

    I really appreciated the thoughtful comments. They gave me a lot to think about.

  9. You are so right. We all want to be recognized for our contributions, accomplishments, etc. How in the world did they get our first family to agree to this cover?

  10. As a nation, we have not gotten past the color of someone’s skin yet. Although I also do not quite understand why it’s okay to have a magazine geared to those who are black, but would not be okay to have one geared to those who are white, perhaps it’s because oftentimes the blacks do not get featured like whites do. Perhaps it’s because, historically, the blacks have been a matriarchal race and for many reasons both within their control and out of their control, a loving, successful black family has not been as prevalent as loving, successful white families. We still have aways to go before we’ve reached acceptance and see only people, not color.

  11. Jayne

    A brave subject to address because as the comments above touch on, everything that we say now is shaped by politcal correctness so I understand entirely the inclusion of your second sentence in the title.

    As a child of an enlightened environment in the 60s and 70s I can honestly say that what colour,or religion you are doesn’t matter to me a jot. I’m more interested in: Are you a good and decent person? Do I identify with your hopes and aspirations? Do you hold the same core values as me: equality in *all* aspects (including what sex you are), fairness, freedom of expression, caring for those less fortunate etc. etc?

    That being said, I have no problem in referring to physical differences during conversation (e.g. ‘the guy over there with the flame red hair’) because alighting on someone’s most distinguishing natural feature to highlight one particular person in a crowd is only natural. PC madness (at least over here) dictates that I should not use the word ‘black’ at all. Sorry, but if dark skin is your most distinguishing feature amongst a crowd of ‘white’ people then I will refer to you as ‘black’. What is *wrong* with having black skin (in all its many shades …same as ‘white) that I must defer to a PC namby pamby phrase? Reverse the situation and I will surely point out the ‘white’ guy. I’m not interested in pussy-footing around with PC phrases like ‘of colour’ and ‘pink’.

    The magazine cover you highlighted? Doesn’t bother me at all. I get your point *entirely* – if we wanted to make an issue over the inclusion of the word ‘black’ we *could* justifiably do so. I’ve not read Ebony Magazine but yes, missing out that one word out would have conveyed exactly the same message. Some whites could no doubt subonscously perceive this as fodder for the fires of their hatred. I just think we all need to stop a bit and celebrate the differences, rejoice in our similarities.

    This is a huge, *huge* subject here and only one small comment box… kudos for going there Jane.

  12. I’ve found you via Rumbley Cottage and this is the first post of yours I’ve ever read. I was a little apprehensive when I read your title and saw the picture that followed. Oh no, what am I getting into? Some crazed conservative flamer? But how could Rumbley love it so much? Well I was pleasantly surprised and not offended at all. Totally agree. I’ll be curious to read more of your posts. I’m over at Another Stir of the Spoon ( jlheuer.wordpress.com) if you want to take a peak, I’m mostly food, art and general rambling. Jeanne

  13. I love you, Jane. I truly do. This is the kind of magazine cover that would have me cringing if I saw it. I completely agree with you – the United States is a melting pot, and I know that there are many people living here who are of mixed race and don’t consider themselves anything at all because it’s too complicated to explain their entire background! Frankly, I think that the Obamas would be offended if they saw that cover, too.

  14. Well hell — I thought this post was going to be controversial. I was all geared up to argue and protest — and it’s kinda’ hard to do when I pretty much agree with your sentiments.

  15. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for saying this. It is the same reason a “White Entertainment Television” channel would be deemed outdated and ugly but BET is a considered a celebration of culture. I think skintone needs to stop being a topic. It’s become more of an argument than a movement!

  16. Rushed for time, so this comment may not be as detailed and thoughtful as I might like. I will take a stab at it though.

    While I agree with the implicit double standard you cite, I wonder if this magazine cover doesn’t deserve a pass. That is, numeric majority/minority aside, the power balance in this country is still very skewed. Additionally, my (anecdotal) understanding is that strong and enduring relationships in the black community are rare. Black men represent a much higher percentage of the prison population than the national population. And single black mothers are far too common. Our whole country benefits from a strong and stable black community. And if a magazine cover like this one moves the needle in that direction even a little bit, then I say it’s a good thing.

    I hope that some day the races in this country are viewed equally enough that we can take a hard line about “if it’s not fair for me then it’s not fair for you.” But we’re not there yet. And until that day comes I’m more than happy to let blacks (and other minority races) play catch-up.

  17. I totally agree with your post Jane. As you so rightly said swop “Black” for “White” and it would be called racist.

    Let’s just celebrate love, oblivious of colour, gender, age etc.

  18. I still remember my fourth grade music teacher lecturing us about how the United States is NOT a melting pot. We are more like a mixed salad. All ingredients comingling while retaining their own distinct flavor. He was a wonderful man with long, thinning hair, glasses, and a passion to share his love of music with us. Sorry, now to the point.

    Having learned what I have learned and experienced what I have in my few years on Earth I cannot agree. Perhaps leaving out the word “black” on the magazine cover would not have conveyed the same message…to the readers. Or the writers, editors, publishers.

    There are things that are acceptable for people to do or say when part of a group that is in the minority or one that has historically not had the voice or power of the majority. It is a similar situation with men and women. The way women can joke about men and, yet, if the situation were turned around it would be completely unacceptable.

    There is so too much more for me to say. I don’t have the time or thought capacity to try and put it into words right now. But it saddens me, the race situation. African Americans in this country were so broken for so many years in ways that will take many more decades to repair. This fact must be taken into consideration when we use our white, priveleged (yes, priveleged) minds to form opinions. Any white person who does not think he/she is priveleged should look at a “skin-colored” Band-Aid.

    Regardless of my disagreement, I have missed your blog Jane! I have been away but now I am back. Great work as always getting me thinking.

    • Kirsten

      I realize I’m late to this conversation, but I just saw this and had to say thank you to Celeste for her comment. Is it “fair” that minorities may celebrate their diversity by laying claim to the color of their skin? No, I guess not. But neither is assuming that the argument would be equally racist were the colors reversed. “Celebrate White Love!” would of course be offensive, but that’s because the history of this country decries that we not forget how Whites have treated minorities since the Mayflower showed up. You’re assuming the playing field is even. It’s not. If minorities (of any color, creed, or orientation) are not allowed to celebrate the beauty and culture unique to them, who will? Certainly not popular culture. Certainly not the education system. Will you?

      My daughter is Black, I am White. Ask her about “fair” as she navigates a world filled with white privilege. That privilege today is subtle and insidious, but still exists. The world is not colorblind, nor should it be.

      We ARE a salad bowl. Please don’t deny the existence of my daughter’s beauty. It is as valid and precious as your own.

      • In just a few short years the playing field will be even. In fact, it will be skewed in the opposite direction for most of us “whites.” I encourage all people to “celebrate their beauty and unique culture.” I just don’t think it should be inferred that somehow love (a shared and common link to us all) is somehow black or white or purple or blue.

        (Btw, I am white. My daughter is Asian. Her best friend is black. And I live in a part of the country where racism is alive and well. I suppose it’s a bit Pollyanna of me, but I would love for the world to see us as individuals rather than color of skin.)

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