Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Do you think this is racist?

Asked by JLeslie (60525points) December 29th, 2011

I saw this video and the parents on Dr. Phil today. When I saw it I did not think it was racist, but almost the entire Dr. Phil audience did. I just think if the guy was a racist, why would he tease his daughter about becoming black? I don’t get it. Dr. Phil pointed out the dad calls his daughter a racist at the end. But, it seemed to me he was joking, like how ridiculous for a 3 year old to be a racist, it sounded completely sarcastic to me. Dr. Phil and the audience seem to interpret it as though the dad was proud of his racist daughter. Maybe I am completely naive?

I think it is in bad taste, and I don’t like teasing or playing jokes on children.

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29 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

No, I don’t. I don’t even get the impression that it started out as having anything to do with race, it just seemed like he was teasing her. It’s really hard to say without knowing the parents, or knowing their feelings on the subject, or even knowing how this whole thing started. For all we know this had nothing to do with race, and dad’s comment at the end (and the way it sounds) just turned it into that. If he was saying she was going to turn red, everyone would assume they were just teasing her, not being racist.
I don’t know. It’s really hard to tell without knowing more about the video or the people in it. My gut reaction was not “this video/child/family is racist.”
She would have gotten just as worked up if he told her she was going to turn blue or grow flowers out of her ears.

Fly's avatar

There is no indication of racism in this video. To me, it just reads as a silly joke that he played on his daughter, just like when you tell a child “I’ve got your nose!”. She clearly doesn’t understand the concept of race/ethnicity, and I don’t think the father tried to make it about that at all. She seemed to be talking about literally turning into the color black. That just happens to be a common name for a race, but I think this was the same to the child as turning green or purple. And it seemed to me that he was jokingly calling her “his little racist” because of her lack of understanding of the subject matter, to poke fun at the whole situation.

After watching the video, I also read the details, which clearly state that she was asking about the colors of her Barbies. First off, I doubt that she would even have black Barbies were they a racist family. But secondly, although we cannot confirm that the details given are true, they only reinforced the impression that I originally got from the video.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Oh, I didn’t even read the details. Then, no, I absolutely did not find it racist. Nothing like a cranky baby before bedtime to get people in an uproar.

digitalimpression's avatar

We really would need to see the 5 minutes leading up to that video to make that determination. As is, it’s not racist at all. It’s just a dad teasing his daughter.

Aethelflaed's avatar

It’s hard to tell without the lead-up. I can totally see it being both racist and not racist (with black alongside purple and green). And young kids pick up on things like racism and ethnicity and segregation real fast; they might not see it in the same complex and defined way adults do, but they’re hardly immune to it, either. As such, it is currently Schrödinger’s Racist: it is both racist and not racist until more info has been obtained.

But, it is a massive amount of white privilege to tease your daughter with “turning black”, call her a “little racist” (jokingly or otherwise), film the episode, put it up on YouTube, and then get defensive when people. If there’s more footage that helps contextualize it, now would be the time for them to release it.

flutherother's avatar

I felt a little uncomfortable watching this video. The daughter is too young and innocent to be racist but her father is leading her in this direction whether he knows it or not.

SuperMouse's avatar

I don’t think the video is racist, but I do think the father is a complete jerk.

zenvelo's avatar

Geez, that guy is a total douchebag. He’s obviously proud of teasing his daughter way beyond any fun stage, as evidenced by his filming it.

There isn’t direct racism shown, but he has raised a question in the girl’s mind that introduces “black” as equated with “inferior”. His statement “we’ll still love you even though you are black” is a backhanded implication of black as a negative.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo I did not see that as backhanded, but I see how it could be interpreted that way now that you point it out.

@all On the show they had a couple who is friends with the family. The couple is bi-racial, man black, wife white, and their daughter is black. They did the same thing in the reverse to prove a point, filmed their daughter being told she would turn white, and their daughter was not happy about the idea either. When Dr.Phil asked if they thought it was raist what the original dad did, they hesitated and then said yes, amd the wife said she is friends with the wife, not the dad egging on his daughter. Honestly, I felt like the audience was reacting to peer pressure, that if someone said, “I don’t think it is racist,” they were afraid they would be called racist themselves.

The wife regrets she taped the event, it was her idea to tape it. The husband was the one who put it on the internet months later to show friends or family, can’t remember which.

Dr. Phil did bring up that no matter what he thinks taunting the child so she is crying, and then makin her laugh, and then purposely bring her back down to anger and tears again is horrible parenting. The dad admitted to teasing his daughter, playing a joke, which he thought was ok. I never understand that type of joking with kids or adults. When I was a teen girl, boys seem to like to lie like that a lot, they would call us girls gullable. We have one friend now who is full of shit all the time, extremely sarcastic. He is also one of the nicest people we know, but his joking has gotten to the point I don’t know when he is serious, kind of that cry wolf syndrome, and even though he is one of the most reliable people I know, sometimes I can’t rely on him, because if he starts off with, “nah, we can’t do that, it’s not important anyway, why you stressing over it” and then switches, “don’t worry about it, we will take care of it,” I don’t completely trust he will do it.

filmfann's avatar

I remember when my daughter had a loose tooth. She was wiggling it with a finger, saying that she was gonna get her adult tooth. I reached out and wiggled her nose with my finger, and said that it was loose too, and that she was gonna lose her baby nose, and get an adult nose.
Well, she went around telling that to people for a week or so. She is 32 now, and still remembers buying into that shit.
Parents sometimes are jerks. Sure, it’s playful and fun, but that doesn’t change that.
Mea culpa.
Is this guy a racist? Well, it isn’t evidenced by this video.

JLeslie's avatar

@filmfann Great example. My grandpa used to say things like that and my sister would take him seriously and cry. My grandma would have to comfort her and tell her it wasn’t true.

filmfann's avatar

@JLeslie Well, my daughter didn’t cry about it. I don’t know what I would have said if she did.

whitetigress's avatar

I haven’t even watched the video. Just from the description alone, I can tell you have never been on the other side of racism. So how could you know the feeling?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@whitetigress Watch the video, then comment.

JLeslie's avatar

@filmfann I think my grandfather would have reassured my sister he was lying if my grandmother had not rushed in to stop him. I am the older sibling, and I never became upset like that, so I think he did not expect her to be more sensitive. He did it a few times, but it was not a constant thing. He usually talked about imaginery cakes to bake and eat when he was doing imaginery things.

Pandora's avatar

I think the guy was joking. Some people just don’t know when the joke was taken to far. I don’t think it was rasist. Kids can cry at the drop of a hat and so I guess its easy to ignore their hurt feelings. I remember some cub scout boys trying to sell me cookies. I was taking a shower and my daughter (4 at the time) answering the door came to tell me their were some boys selling cookies and she wanted me to buy some. I told her to send them away because I wasn’t going to buy any. She came back crying and saying I was a mean mommy because I made the boys go away and they said she was cute. My point is they cry at the drop of a hat when you tell them anything they don’t agree with. My daughter once cried because she wanted blond hair and I told her she could never be blond. She was 5 then too. They just don’t like to feel things are beyond their control.

JLeslie's avatar

I just went to @whitetigress’ profile page and it says he is no longer here?

@Pandora My father says he had trouble with that too when we were young. That young children cry so easily, and now my sister as an adult still hates him for ignoring when she was upset, but he says he couldn’t tell when she was really in pain or just doing the little girl cry thing. He feels badly about it, but I can understand why it is difficult for parents.

Blackberry's avatar

Slow news day. If she said african american, the world would literally explode. Lol.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry Hahaha. I am not even sure that would mean anything to a 3 year old. I remember when I was little my mom saying in some sentence while watching Sanford and Son that Fred Sanford was black, and I said, “no he isn’t.” He just did not look like he had black skin to me, he was too light. Kids perceive the world differently than adults.

Blackberry's avatar

@JLeslie I thought the same thing. I wondered why people called us black, when I am clearly brown.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Geez….that guy is flat mean. How can anyone continue to tease their little girl when she’s so very, very upset? It’s no different, IMO, than tickling a defenseless little kid long after the point where it isn’t fun or funny for them. I mean, I’d tease my kids sometimes, just to see the look on their face, but I’d quickly reassure them that I was joking. I wouldn’t drag it on and and ignoring the fact that they’re getting more and more upset.

You know…he finally calmed her down by telling her she would be chocolate…then turned around and told her he was lying, she’d be “8-ball black.” Baby bursts into tears. Yes. That is just freaking hilarious.

Having said that, I don’t think racism entered into it, but cruelty did.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hmmm. You know…that’s actually something I’d poke my kids with for a minute….“You know, your birthday is tomorrow, and when a kid turns 4 they turn purple!” If they became distressed I’d quickly back down and tell them I’m joking.

As I was thinking about it I asked, “Why would I choose purple and not black….” Well because the intimation would be that turning black would be a bad thing…so there is that. I don’t think he meant to be deliberately racist but something negative about color was there, whether he meant it or not.

lloydbird's avatar

Ill advised. I think.
But innocent. Likely.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m with @Dutchess_III and the others who said this guy is a jerk of the first order. The word, “asshole,” comes to my mind. He was clearly relishing his power to really disturb his four year old daughter. I know that sometimes you get into something and then it gets carried away before you realize what you are doing, but this was just plain mean. I hope it was a one time thing, and not an indication of a mentality.

I don’t think it’s about racism at all. It’s about our instinctual need to maintain our continuity of self and identity. It’s hard enough being a kid. No one wants to add some apparently random changes in physiognomy. It really has nothing to do with social connotations of any particular kind of change. It has everything to do with the fact of change itself.

You all do know that that after you hit 50K lurve, your legs fall off, right? Just thought I’d give you fair warning. And all ya’ll who decide not to get 50K know you’re ablists, right?

Dutchess_III's avatar

What’s keeping your butt up @wundayatta???

wundayatta's avatar

@Dutchess_III you really don’t want to know, but it does have something to do with the amount of hot air I manage to produce. Here. Come sit next to me. I’ll “tell” you all about it ;-)

OpryLeigh's avatar

Not racist.

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