Aug 5, 2010

They all look alike to me.

For a few days now I've been debating about talking about race, especially since it's all over the news right now.  When I read the story of the Greta Van Susteren's show's screw up , I decided it was time.  So, here's the deal...they screwed up and showed a picture of Shirley Sherrod during a segment about Maxine Waters.  It was a stupid as hell mistake but now the show and Fox News is being accused of being racially prejudiced by confusing pictures of the two.  The whole "they all look the same to me" deal that seems to get people all  twisty-butted is being dragged into it. Let's really look at statement and talk about it honestly, shall we?  I mean, completely independent of this particular stupid screw up, since, as a new agency, Fox should have been more careful.   That said, is there not a lot of truth to the whole "they all look alike to me" phenomenon?  I'll own it. When I look to identify people, I start with hair color/texture/style and race.  Show me a picture of  *frantically tries to think of someone recognizable* Madonna and put me in a room full of people to find her and I'm going to search the room for a head of blonde, wavy hair first.  In a room full of middle aged, attractive blonde women, my first instinct is going to be that they all look alike and I'm going to have to work a bit to find Madonna. What about you?  Put me in a room of Asian women and ask me to pick out Margaret Cho and I'm going to flounder for a bit even though I really like Margaret Cho.  I'm of mixed race but if you put me in a room of medium-skinned brunettes and asked me to point out my cousin Susan quickly, I could probably do it *only because I know her so well and having seen her so many times in my life, I'd know to look for her unusual eyebrows and jawline.  Ask me to find Soledad O'Brien and it's going to take me some time. I have a dear online friend who is a pale-skinned, freckled redhead approaching 40.  She's beautiful and I think the world of her but put her in a lineup of other 40-ish redheads with freckles and I can't promise I could pick her out at all.  So, let's go back to Greta's show...both of these women, Shirley Sherrod and Maxine Waters, are middle aged, reasonably attractive black women in the news and with no unusual features such as a huge nose, scars or crossed eyes to set them apart from one another.  Is it possible that they were confused due to physical attributes of their race, but not due to racial *prejudices, as is being implied?  Of course it is and those are two very different things.  Want proof?  Let's say two somewhat well known young actresses, Kristen Bell and Elisha Cuthbert, are in the news this next week.  If, say, Robin Roberts was telling the story about Elisha and flashed the picture of Kristen instead, do you think anyone would screech about it, call it racist?  Or was it just an honest but careless mistake?  Take a look.

Yep, they both look alike to me until I start really analyzing features and then I realize they don't look anything alike but for general hair color and general paleness of skin.   But here's the big question - would Robin have to go on and on and on about how horribly, horribly sorry she was for this mix-up?  You tell me.  I'm betting not.  But Greta did. 

And with this post, I start.  Buckle up.  :-D


Margaret said...

Great post, AP!