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New Orleans Mayor calls for director's ouster over "tar baby" comment

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funkybutt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:15 PM
Original message
New Orleans Mayor calls for director's ouster over "tar baby" comment
Director of City Planning aparently made this comment at his first meeting in the position:

Verl Emrick talked about wanting to hit the ground running by using an analogy to grabbing a tar baby by the ears and jumping right in.

http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/WWL040704nagin.101d5...
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LuminousX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
1. Do they even know what that means?
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Ravy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:19 PM
Response to Original message
2. The tar baby story deals with
Edited on Wed Apr-07-04 04:22 PM by Ravy
the need to proceed with caution, not mindless abandon... and the obvious racial overtones involved, that makes this analogy stupid, and well, stupid!
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BiggJawn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:21 PM
Response to Original message
3. Must be a Southern Thing.
Edited on Wed Apr-07-04 04:21 PM by BiggJawn
OK, I know the story about Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby.

Is Br're Rabbit considered Racist? Is the idea of a tar baby also Racist?

Gee... should I go post a "I'm SORRY I was so insensitive as to refer to the mess in Iraq as 'Bush's Tar-Baby'..." thread in the lounge?
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carolinayellowdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Br'er Rabbit symbolizes slaves surviving in a hostile world
According to most commentary. Here's a link to an analysis of the tale:
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/remus/anatar.html
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BiggJawn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Oh! Like some of us in today's society?
That was an attempt at irony. It may fall flat, i'm better at sarcasm...

I can relate to surviving in a hostile world. I'm a working-poor Democrat in a land of ReTHUG McMansions.
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Liberal Veteran Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:05 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I am southern and I have used the same comment...
..and never been acused of being racist.

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BiggJawn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Yeah, I'm just waiting for Br'er Kerry to come out...
...and tell Br'er Bush "You really went and did it that time, didn't you, George? The harder you smack that tar-baby, the more mess you're in. now go home and let me try to straighten it out."

When you read the story, and TRY not to anaylyze it to death, that's what we got here and now. Iraq is the tar-baby, and Bush just could NOT let his pride leave it alone (having Rumsferatu and the Whole PNAC Gang whispering "Do it! Do it!" didn't help either) so he smacked it. And he smacked it again, and tried to wrestle with it and now he is just covered in tar and can't let go of that Iraq tar-baby, no matter how much he wants to.

But if that''s offensive to some people, well, guess I need a new anology....
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juajen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Me neither and I, also, am a Southernor
BTW, love your kitty-cats. I have six. Wonderful animals.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 06:43 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. I was raised to Uncle Remus stories ...
... read to me as a child at bedtime. I have never viewed them as racist and have never bought into the 'symbolism.' I regard them as much a part of our cultural literature as Aesop is of Greek culture. They generally speak to human behavior and the conundrums we all face, imho. The 'Tar Baby' metaphor is an extraordinarily useful one, rich in its literary underpinning. It has never occurred to me that any racial stereotypes were involved in the slightest. I don't buy it.
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LeftofU Donating Member (421 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 05:43 PM
Response to Original message
9. hey where y'at N'awlins?...
welcome
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bigmonkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 07:13 PM
Response to Original message
11. I've always felt the tar baby story was very meaningful.
I _really_ didn't get the reference to racism in the story when I first heard it. I read the Br'er Rabbit stories as a kid, and I heard the criticism as an adult. I had to mentally take a cold-blooded inventory of the elements of the story to find out what the racist condemnation refers to. The blackness of the tar baby had no racist overtones for me at all until I was confronted with that. For me the story was about letting your foolish anger get you in terrible trouble, thereby losing any ability to respond to real dangers. Kind of like swinging at a sticky mirage. I feel badly that I can't use it as an example; it's so clear.
Of course I don't, for fear someone will take offense. I had a professor who told a similar story about the word "niggardly". It comes from a Norwegian word, nigart (sp?), which means a miser. So, it has no etymological connection to the n-word. But, she pointed out, she never uses it any more (and neither do her colleagues) because it sounds like the n-word.
This kind of thing is, I guess, my only touchstone for even vaguely comprehending the right-wing anger over PC language. At least with the n-word, I find it helpful to have a word I can't use. As a New England white guy (mostly), it reminds me of a long history of oppression I still effortlessly benefit from. 3-400 years of slavery vs. a word I can't use - I have it easy.
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Randomthought Donating Member (388 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-08-04 12:25 AM
Response to Original message
12. The Uncle Remus stories
are very offensive to my African-American friends. It's the use of dialect that offends them the most.
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murielm99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-08-04 02:09 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. How about Little Black Sambo?
I read that story when I was a kid, and it never occurred to me that it was racist. There were African-Americans in my classes at school, so I thought it was just a story about someone who lived where there were tigers, and looked like my darker classmates.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-08-04 04:23 AM
Response to Original message
14. Update, the guy's gone
Official Can't Shake 'Tar Baby' Remark, Resigns
Nagin Sticks It To New Director Of City Planning Commission

POSTED: 5:00 pm CDT April 7, 2004
UPDATED: 7:15 pm CDT April 7, 2004

NEW ORLEANS -- The new director of the City Planning Commission resigned Wednesday after being accused of making a racially insensitive remark during his first day on the job.

Verl Emrick, who is white, was hired last week as the commission's new executive director. He said during an introductory meeting on Monday that he intended "to grab the tar baby by the ears and jump right in" on his new work.

Some staff members reportedly notified Mayor Ray Nagin's office that they found Emrick's use of the term "tar baby" offensive.

"My initial reaction was one of amazement and outrage," Nagin said. "Here we are in 2004 and we have someone addressing a new group of employees and making comments about tar babies in a 67 percent African-American city. I think it's just totally unacceptable."
(snip/...)

http://www.theneworleanschannel.com/news/2983994/detail...

It could be that if you don't grasp why some people have such strong feelings about something, you simply don't have the mental or spiritual ability to understand yet. Don't assume they are fools just because you can't understand what they're upset about.

At some point in your life, you just may become enlightened.
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