Tag Archives: Race

Quick Thoughts on HBO’s Confirmation

This past weekend, I had the chance to watch HBO’s Confirmation. It’s a dramatized version of Clarence Thomas’ confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States. I probably shouldn’t be wading into an issue like this, especially without a fully formulated opinion, but I wanted to put proverbial pen to pad to work out some of the things that came to mind during (and immediately following) my viewing of the film.

The first, and probably most important thing that came to mind was the undue hardship that society places onto the victims of sexual assault. I can’t imagine what it was like for Anita Hill (or her friend and family) to have to experience what she experienced, especially given that she was approached, rather than her seeking out someone to tell her story. This seems wrong. It’s unjust. Victims of sexual assault shouldn’t have to weigh the potential consequences to their lives should they come forward. It shouldn’t be part of the equation — at all. Just the fact that they’ve experienced sexual assault first hand is enough trauma for one lifetime and then to put them through the media circus… that doesn’t sound like justice to me.

Of course, most sexual assaults aren’t escalated to a high-profile nature like that of Thomas/Hill’s. That doesn’t make them any less painful or any less difficult for the victims to come forward in their communities. In fact, some might argue that it’s harder in these kinds of instances because there might not be the kind of support (i.e. skilled lawyers, etc.) for the cases that aren’t high-profile.

The second thing that came to mind was the timing of the confirmation hearing. It took place in the fall of 2011. About six months later, there were the Los Angeles riots. And about two short years after that, the OJ Simpson trial. I’m sure there were other key events that took place (as an elementary school student, I wasn’t really interested in national/world news, mainly whether or not the Blue Jays or the Leafs won). Any of these events taken on their own seem like touchstone moments for a country grappling with race relations, but then to have three like this grouped so closely together…

Some may quibble with my inclusion of the confirmation hearing with the LA riots and the Simpson trial, but to my mind, there’s a thread that links all three. I mean, I can’t know this for sure, but I bet that most people would agree that if Anita Hill were white, Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing may have gone very differently.

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I want to circle back to my point in the beginning. Injustice. It seems that there’s a perversion of justice when someone who has suffered harm has to then consider suffering more harm in the pursuit of justice. That’s not right. Given the structure of the justice system in the US, I don’t know what the solution would be, so that there’s protection for the victim, but that the accused is able to face their accuser. It seems like this is an area ripe for innovation.

Why Coke’s Super Bowl Ad Was Really Smart

By now, you’ve probably seen some of the coverage of Coke’s “controversial” Super Bowl ad. To be honest, I’m with Coke’s Ad Director on this one, “I don’t see any controversy here.” Don’t get me wrong, I can understand where some of the detractors are coming from, but I tend to side with the Ad Director. In case you haven’t yet seen the ad, take a look:

In a word, I thought the ad was beautiful. Maybe it’s because I was born and raised in Canada and I am used to (and appreciate) multiculturalism a bit more than the average American, who knows. Knowing that the Super Bowl has become an event that transcends the borders of the USA, maybe Coke was, surreptitiously, also trying to reach potential customers beyond its borders. Now, that hypothesis seems kind of silly given that the song that’s being sung in many languages is “America the Beautiful,” so let’s revise it and say that maybe Coke is trying to reach current (or potential) immigrants to the US.

Regardless of it’s initial aim, the controversy has stirred up so much discussion that the ad is being shared across the internet many times over. The last time I checked, the video had been viewed almost 8,000,000 times in 3+ days. I can’t think of many companies that don’t wish they made a video like this that’s been viewed this many times on social media (not to mention all the discussion that’s happened in print, TV, and online).

Then, there’s also the copycat-esque videos that extend (or poke fun) at the ad. I came across this one the other day and couldn’t help, but chuckle:

I haven’t seen anyone from Coke comment on it, but I’m sure that, at least off the record, they’d probably laugh at it, too.

Circling back to the original ad, I wanted to draw attention to the internationalist flavour to it. It’s still a few years off now, but folks are projecting that in the next 25-30 years, the majority of people living in the USA won’t be the same as it is today. Instead, there will be a majority of minorities. Meaning, adding up the population of all the minorities will mean that there are more people who identify as a minority than identify as white.

Tying this to the advertisement by Coke and I can’t help but think about how strategic it was for Coke to try and, if this was their strategy, attract younger immigrants to the brand.

The Audacity of Hope: Obama’s Impromptu Speech About Trayvon Martin and Race

This afternoon, President Obama surprised everyone by making an appearance in the White House press briefing room. He spoke for approximately 17 minutes about Trayvon Martin, race, the law, and some other things. Part of the specialness of this speech was that it was impromptu (at least it appeared that it was unplanned) and was unscripted. [I couldn’t embed the video, but you can see it here.]

There were a lot of key things that he addressed in his speech, but what I thought to be the most important was the last few minutes. In the last few minutes, President Obama said that the younger generations are doing it much better than previous generations. The implication here is that the younger generations are less racist (or less unapproving) than previous generations. He talked about how he would listen to Malia and Sasha (his kids) speak with their friends and hear how they interacted. As a result, he thinks that the younger generations are doing it better than the older generations.

As I heard him say that, it made me think about how our countries are governed. Right now, the people who run the country (and by extension, the world) are older. I wonder what it’d be like if we had younger people who ruled the world. Maybe younger people would “get us there faster.” As a way to temper the eagerness of young people, maybe it’d be important to have some people from older generations to be advisors.

I wonder… are there any countries, states, provinces, counties, cities, or towns that are run by “younger” people? Are they more successful? Could we map this onto bigger populations with the same success?

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For the first 14+ minutes, it seemed like there was an almost sombre tone to President Obama’s remarks. However, as he shifted to talking about the younger generations, I got the sense that he had hope for the future. I got the sense that he had hope for the future of the country because of the progress he sees in younger generations. While nothing is certain about the future nor are the implications, I’d like to think that it’s rather poetic that the leader of the United States believes in a brighter tomorrow. That President Obama believes that we are getting better as a society. As a people. That we are beginning to treat each other with more respect. More love. More kindness. And the hope is that this will continue with each succeeding generation. Hope.