Thursday, January 19, 2006

Willie Wonka Ray Nagin Chocolate City T-Shirt

If these guys (here and here) profiting from the racial animosity created by Nagin's "chocolate city" remark don't contribute something to promote greater racial harmony (e.g., ERACE), or to help rebuild the city, then shame on them, and shame on everyone who buys from them.


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14 Comments:

At 1/20/2006 07:03:00 AM, Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

C'mon. Since when have New Orelanians notbeen able to laugh at some of the most absurd satire around. That's what we do!

If anything things like this DO show the absurdity of the remarks, it is only the reader of the message that will determine if such an outward show of satire is divisive by supporting the absurdities, or inclusive by pointing out the ludicrousness of the whole thing. Maybe it's shame on whomever reads the logo in the first way?

 
At 1/20/2006 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Yeah, those guys are laughing all the way to the bank.

Was Nagin's statement laughable? Sure. Did he intend it to be? No. It wasn't intended as "satire." That's the problem. It was indicative of a deep undercurrent of racial problems in New Orleans which are being honed to a very sharp edge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Is there a danger of further dividing the community by disseminating the "chocolate city" language without encouraging an intelligent dialog about race? Is it morally defensible to profit from the dissemination of Nagin's blunderously divisive language? What will it cost the city and residents in recovery dollars?

Make no mistake about it -- there are a lot of depraved individuals around the country who are not just mocking Nagin's comments (like myself), but who are using his comments to justify and promote white supremacist views. To profit from that is indefensible.

 
At 1/20/2006 08:27:00 AM, Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

Indefensible by what measuring stick? By my way of thinking it is completely defensible because of one overriding right... Free Speech.

Now I may not agree with white supremecist, or any otherracial supremecist, views in the least. But I don't see that profiting from those views, or freely associating with others with those views, will in any way prevent the "dialog" about racial views in New Orleans, or anywhere else, from occuring. Indeed to want to supress those views only makes them less open, more entrenched and even less likely to be a part of that dialog, a part that obvioulsy needs ot be seen an heard in order to be properly addressed with the light of reason shone upon it.

You may see those who profit form these kinds of things as reprehensible in some way, because you feel they are somehow supporting a position that you oppose, but my argument is that while it is possible these profiteers might be those who would agree with a racist position, I feel that it is more likely they are doing something very, very New Orlenian in nature. They bring forth satire.

To me these logos make people laugh and think at the same time, something I think so many New Orleans satarists have done so very well, particularly in the political arena. It's more than a pastime, it's a downright regional hobby! It's an exercise of free speech that might make some think of racial division and others think it shows a need for racial harony. Either way, though, it makes you think about it and isn;t that what this "dialog" is supposed to be about?

 
At 1/20/2006 08:31:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Clio said...

What pisses me off is that Nagin saying that has shifted attention from the real racism issues. There really ARE people in metro NOLA who want New Orleans to be ethnically cleansed.

Also, the nature of your post reminds me that Ashley told me that THE TERRORISTS BLEW UP THE LEVEES!

 
At 1/20/2006 08:51:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

I'm not completely opposed to your position lenny, but consider the following: What would you think of people profiting from the sale of white hoods, or the degrading cartoons of Jews that were prevalent in Nazi Germany, or the sales of books containing Polish jokes. There are just some things which, although they may be found to exist, I find terribly disheartening in our society, and as such, I will continue to express my right to free speech to combat. I'm not just going to relinquish my moral position and chalk it up to harmless laughs.

 
At 1/20/2006 10:04:00 AM, Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

I wouldn't expect you to not express your sentiments, especially since it's your blog. (And I pretty decent one, now that I've found it at that, mind you. :)) Of course I don't think these t-shirts really compare to being a degrading cartoon of any particular race. Then again I wouldn't begrudge someone their right to present hateful images as I expect them ot to begrudge my right to express disgust at them. Personally I just don't this particular image really compares and, if anything, does the opposite by suggesting there are issues on both sides of the racial divide.

Then again I also think, as mentioned previously, we're mostly talking about a socio-economic position far more than a really racial one in the case of New Orleans anyway. Even some of the more bigoted folks I know tend to be far more bigoted towards the lower-calss white folks in Chalmette, for example.

Then again at the end of the day I'm a fairly left-libertarian kinda guy. Live and let live and all.

 
At 1/20/2006 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

"We're mostly talking about a socio-economic position far more than a really racial one." I agree, but I wonder if poor blacks would so easily concede that they're discriminated against because of their class, not their race.

I hope you don't get the impression that I don't appreciate your contribution to the discussion lenny. It's very good to air out these ideas, and I might even be persuaded to change my mind. ;-)

 
At 1/20/2006 11:16:00 AM, Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

Well, since the debate is often framed in the concept of race I certainly don't doubt that a poor African-American family will see any injustices brought upon them as being caused by someone who is white. Conversely a white person in a better socio-econimic position is more likely to "color" thier views of those few hoodlums on the lower classes as being particularly respresentative of that which is "black" for them.

Being color-blind is something we should really all attain to work towards, IMHO. Each individual should be considered individually for thier deeds regardless of other affiliations which might bias opinion towards them. In this light the Mayor's remarks were offensive precisely because they try to place a racial bias, and these t-shirts seems to want to blatantly point out that bias. It's hard for me to assign a specific connotation to them, however, that points to a definitively anti-African-American bias, although "ImNotChocolate.com" does come pretty darned close I'll admit. Instead I see a pointing out of the fallacy of racially segmenting out the repopulation of the city, as opposed to trying to encourage all citizens to return.

In other words I'm having a hard time considering these t-shirts as being particularly hateful speech. Especially some of the cafe-press ones. Heck while some of them are blatant about "Fire Nagin" there are also "Nagin for Pres" designs there. And the "New Orleans is Like a Box of Chocolates" one speaks to me of the more true integration of racial make-up in the city. In all I'm just not too willing to claim shame on those folks or those who buy them.

Now if they want to buy a pointed white hat... well that's a pretty blatant statement there and I'd be happy to say shame on them for it, but then again thsoe folks could care less about my statements and certainly wouldn't feel any shame over it, I would think.

(And, no, I don't at all feel unwelcome. I'm all for rational discourse wherever I can get it! :))

 
At 1/20/2006 12:59:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

I'll point out that the guys behind imnotchocolate.com don't appear to be concerned about any possible impact from what they're doing -- to them it's just $20 a shirt.

http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/wwl011906jbshirts.1d7fc2a5.html

I'll admit that I'm not bothered by people profiting from "New Orleans is Like a Box of Chocolates" T-Shirts because, as you said, that's a slogan which promotes a spirit of racial harmony.

 
At 1/20/2006 06:35:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I can see where Lenny is coming from, but I have to agree with Schroeder. Having worked in punk rock clubs for a 7 year period of my life, I've met my fair share of Nazis, and this is exactly the kind of thing they use to defend their tactics methods and their ideology/idiotology.

Just because Nagin was crass enough to say something so ignorant doent make it fair game to profit off of. I mean, they can, sure, but it's neither ethically nor morally sound.

Especially the second of the two vendors, he really was below the limbo line for poor taste with some of those shirts.

But honestly, do you really think these yay-hoos are going to make THAT much money off of this? In all honesty, I cant see this being a viable, profit making scheme for more than a few weeks, unless Ray makes it a point to keep proving to everyone he's three cans short of a six pack.

I'm more concerned about his remarks than some doofus trying to turn a quick buck.

 
At 1/20/2006 07:27:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

imnotchocolate.com:

3000 shirts * $20 = $60,000

For one week? I'd say that's a pretty nice gross.

http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/wwl011906jbshirts.1d7fc2a5.html

 
At 1/20/2006 10:32:00 PM, Anonymous ashley said...

To me, this is just like the profiteers who tried to steal Tulane athletes and profs; the people who hiked up the gasoline prices, the fwads on Airline hwy that charged me $70 for a fleabag hotel.

They better pour that money into rebuilding NOLA, or they better not let me find out who they are.

 
At 1/21/2006 07:43:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

I didnt think of it that way Scroeder. Do you really think that many people would want those shirts though? It seems like a really stupid idea, but then again, Rimbaud did say "the Mind of the populace is an abominable itch of idiocy".

Nice idea with the google bomb btw, it still pops you up as the #1 choice.

 
At 2/03/2006 09:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ERACISM is the way to go but don't forget your sense of humor :)

Humor helps me cope with stress. Chocolate City shirts don't offend me.

 

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