Man. Being post-racial is great, right? We’ve got a black president. Eminem’s been in the rap game for like 30 years. Things are looking up!
Now there are some out there who say that the biggest con to this idea of a post-racial America is the life it breathes to the dangerous idea that racism is no longer a problem or a thing. And while yes, that does suck, the bigger problem, in my opinion, is all these completely uncomfortable commercials featuring occasionally heavyset, always sassy black women doing everything from selling chicken to being angry about not getting Las Vegas show tickets. Or something.
The Pine Sol Lady was already around making us uncomfortable, but after America proved it totally wasn’t racist anymore by electing a black president, a new, thoroughly modern Mammy-esque figure has been slowly creeping back into the media. Popeye’s Annie the Chicken Queen made more than a few enemies when she made her debut back in 2009. Something about a black woman selling fried chicken, patting her hair, rolling her neck, and calling herself “the chicken queen” just didn’t sit right with folks (go figure!). Popeye’s has been persistent and unwavering in their championing of their spokesmodel, and by now, the nation seems to have succeeded in tolerating her.
But now, two more commercials are stirring the pot, and I openly admit to hating them both. First, there’s the LasVegas.com commercial featuring a bamboo earring-wearing, neck-rolling black woman angry because “didn’t nobody tell her” about all the fun things she could have done in Las Vegas. She then calls her coworker over to hold her back because she’s about to “go over this counter” on the LasVegas.com representative. Loud. Rude. Confrontational. Uncomfortable.
And then there’s the Discover Card commercial, in which one sassy black woman calls customer service and another sassy black woman aswers. Their conversation basically goes like this:
Lady 1: Discover, how can I help you?
Lady 2: Oh, you’re a real person?
Lady 1: Yes, girl!
Lady 2: Oh, Laaaawd have mercy Jesus! Praise God because I hate talkin’ to them machines, honeychile!
Lady 1: Amen, sister girl!
Lady 2: Mmm-hmm!
Lady 1: Mmmmmm-hmm!
Are these commercials and depictions racist? How can they be in post-racial America?! Surely someone out there knows someone who reminds them of Annie and the Pine Sol Lady and the girlfriend sistagirls in the Discover card video, right? I mean, I sure do. Will there ever be a day that (once?) stereotypical images can be evoked without the painful feelings associated with them? Will there ever be a day that Mary J. Blige can sing about chicken for Burger King and not get any backlash for it? Or that Summer’s Eve can use an Afroed vagina to sell its products to black women? I think the answer is absolutely yes–one day. But not now, not yet. We really aren’t as post-racial as some would like to believe.
So, until that day comes, keep these commercials off my screen, please. Thank you in advance.