Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Here we go again, as Ronald Reagan famously said.

For the umpteenth time – and quite frankly, I’ve lost count – someone says or does something that is historically contextual in-your-face-racism and then -– after days of denying that they've done anything wrong –- issues a weak apology to anyone who “. . .was offended by my action” along with an excuse such as "at the time I received and forwarded the email, I didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive.”

Yes, yes, I’m talking about 74 year old Marilyn Davenport, elected official of the California Orange County Republican Central Committee, self-described “Christian” Sunday school teacher, and a woman who is now claiming that –- at 74 years old -– she is somehow clueless to the “. . . historic implications and other examples of how this” –- and by “this” she meant sending out an e-mail depicting President Obama and his family as chimps -- “. . . could be offensive.”

Well, I don’t buy what she is trying to sell and neither should you.

Depicting African Americans as monkeys has a long history in the popular culture of this country. Examples abound, including and especially from two sources that consciously, systematically, and “benignly” inculcates Americans into cultural thought: popular entertainment and the media. From the 1933 “classic” King Kong; the ubiquitous Disney machine’s offerings, such as a 1948 Mickey Mouse book, “Mickey Mouse and Boy Thursday” (where Mickey the Mouse receives a crate full or West African bananas only to find an sub-humanly drawn African in the crate instead) and a 1967 film, “The Jungle Book”, showing a Black ape-like King Louie; to countless European and American pictures, texts, and other images, America has a long and despicable history of depicting African Descendants as monkeys, chimps, gorillas, and apes.**

For SEVENTY-FOUR year old Marilyn Davenport to claim that she did not think about the implications of her e-mail is ludicrous.

The LA Times reported this written message from her (emphasis is mine):

“I’m sorry if my email offended anyone, I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth.” In no way did I even consider the fact he’s half black when I sent out the email. In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race. We all know a double standard applies regarding this president. I received plenty of emails about George Bush that I didn’t particularly like, yet there was no ‘cry’ in the media about them.”

Now come one!!! Isn’t it funny – and not in a “ha ha” way – how President Obama all of a sudden becomes “half black” when people are trying to back their way out of a charge of racism? As if American history is not replete with examples of “half black” people and other people of African descent being enslaved, lynched, raped, AND being depicted as monkeys. Because in this society – and correct me if I am wrong here – “half black” has meant “all Black and we are asking no other questions, Nigger” if one did not hold white skin privilege.

For Ms. Davenport –- at 74 years of age, and with all the historical perspective of that –- to claim that race did not enter in this shows, more than any words can say, the arrogance with which she holds her own white privilege at the expense of the historical oppression of others.

Scott Baugh, Orange County’s Republican chairman, rightly said that he condemned her actions despite her apology and he believed that she should resign. But do he and others believe that enough to mount an intra-party campaign for her to do so?

Because in the industry of “racism repentance” what does an “I’m sorry” mean if you –- or your party or your government or your businesses or your country –- continue to do it again and again?

Moving Forward,


** For more information on the depictions of African Descendants by Europeans and white Americans, see Winthrop Jordan’s study “White Over Black.”


  1. When I saw that photograph, a sense of sadness came over me for those white folk who have so much hatred embedded in their spirit that they attempt to make themselves feel better...the hate for themselves to me is far greater and will someday consume them. We need to speak up for ourselves...our representatives (you know whom I speak of) do not speak for us...they want to keep their jobs...when we speak up, it's not about material's about respect and dignity...and to the white folk...when will even find that most chimps are even smarter than most of you and capable of learning

  2. Remember when the GOP stood for balanced budgets, individual freedom and isolationism.
    The Republican Party has run up these deficits, we want the federal government to be in our bedrooms and between our women and their doctors, we started two wars instead of ending them like the Korean War and were supposed to stop the Vietnam War the Democrats started. We have lost our way!

    So why waste our time with these fools who use their racist rhetoric, like this Marilyn Davenport and Donald Trump with his birther unproven myth, why do we allow our Fox news people to keep talking down our country. Don’t they know we can win the next election with optimism and hope instead of the current rhetoric, that the sky is falling, if we are not careful we will end up like chicken little where no one will listen to us.

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