Friday, February 12, 2010

Free advertising!

OK, we admit it. This one’s our fault.

Yesterday, when she learned that Gustavo “Ask a Mexican” Arellano was among the three names forwarded to Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore for selection as the 2010 commencement speaker—Rebel Girl nominates the fellow every year, and this is the first year in which he made the finals—she quickly emailed him to tell ‘im the good news.

Seconds earlier, the Reb had been mocking—in a lighthearted way—the curious fact that the recently-distributed flier for IVC’s celebration of Black History Month sported images of various Africans and African-Americans, like — Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi?

The Mockery of Gaffery (—of gaffery that seems to reveal racial insensitivity or cluelessness) is one of the Reb’s favorite things. Sometimes, she choreographs mock-a-thons as though they were necessary, like praying to Mecca, or, in Orange County, invoking the memory of St. Ronald.

In truth, however, this goof was pretty dang funny. Gandhi a black man? Gandhi?! So I joined in the fun. Others did too. T’wern’t just me. (And we weren't mocking any people—we had no idea who created this thing; we focused on the flier.)

I suppose that the flier was sent out by Diane Oaks (Director of Public Info & Marketing). She and her crew, I know, are good, professional and hard-working people, and so I don’t want to point fingers and cause ‘em any grief. It would take a lot to bring us to do that—a truly egregious flub—and this isn’t that at all.

A few minutes later, while the Reb was composing an email to Gustavo for a second time, we received a spam email from Roquemore that announced that one of the other two nominees had been selected. The State Chancellor, I think. Dang!

“I bet he’s a Republican,” I said.

Earlier, the Reb had hatched a plan: first, to expect the big shot State Chancellor* to be selected right out of the gate. That's a lead pipe cinch. But surely he’d turn down this little speaking gig. Then Roquemore would move down to choice #2, an acquaintance of the Reb's. (We knew that Roquemore would never willingly choose Gustavo, who is so manifestly unRepublican, what with his fixation on suppressed and forgotten unfluffy facts.)

The Reb’s plan: to get #2 on the horn before Roquemore did and tell 'em, “Hey, could you wait until next year? When the Prez calls, say you can't do it!”

“Sure, girlfriend!”

That would leave Gustavo as the unavoidable choice. Bingo!

Nice, eh?

“We can ask ‘im to be especially obnoxious!” I said.

Just then, Francisco walked by. “You won’t have to!” he joked. Yup, Gustavo is a pretty edgy guy, by Republican standards. I mean, he knows local history and he's in the habit of tellin' it like it was.

That's seriously unRepublican, dude.

“Maybe he could talk about the Orange Diocese and their pedophile priests!” offered the Reb, laughing.

“Tom Fuentes wouldn't even show up, would he?”

“No f*cking way!”

Har har har!

—It was all in good fun. Really it was. Just having a few yucks.

So the Reb was in the middle of her second email to Gustavo, and we were still joking around. I said: “Gosh, didn’t you just write him about being a finalist? And ten minutes later, you’re gonna lower the boom on ‘im?”

Well, if anybody can take a joke, it’s Gustavo. Rebel Girl said something. I got distracted by a bug or a carpet stain or mold or something.

At some point, not really thinking, I said, “Tell ‘im about that goofy flier!”

We both laughed. Har har har.

Now, who’d o’ thunk that the darned guy would follow up on this dinky “Afro-Gandhi” anecdote?

—Well, um, he's done just that.

Irvine Valley College Celebrates Black History Month with Gandhi, Graffiti Wall, Double Obamas!
Oh, the racialist merriment of the South Orange County Community College District never end[s]! We've previously written about Saddleback College's gaucho-masquerading-as-bandito, and now Irvine Valley College has gotten into the simplistic-approach-to-race game so endemic in Orange County. IVC spokesperson Diane Oaks sent out a campus-wide email yesterday advertising the juco's Feb. 24 Black History Month celebration. Attached was a flyer (above) that is...interesting.

For starters: exactly how is Mahatma Gandhi black?

Yes, Gandhi inspired the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, but there are hundreds of other African-Americans that most folks would put on a poster of notables before the martyr for a Black History Month poster. Whoever made this flyer didn't even have to look far for another face.
. . .
What's worst about these efforts, though, is the urging of students to leave their thoughts about Black History Month on a "graffiti wall." You can make the argument such a move stereotypes blacks as criminals, but my bigger concern is that dumbass coeds will leave nasty remarks about African-American students on it—such harassment has happened at Saddleback College in the not-so-distant past, with less of an invitation.

But the one part of the flyer that's not foolish? Soul food for the IVC celebration. Drudge and his pals might've tried to make a big scandal of NBC serving such grub for their Black History Month celebration, but come on: you're not going to eat pizza for St. Patrick's Day, or kielbasa on Cinco de Mayo. Now, let's see if IVC can sneak in Jackie Robinson into the flyer...
OK, Diane, et al. Gustavo isn’t really being mean here. He gets lots meaner. Really. This is practically nothing. It's practically less than nothing, almost.

And did you notice he praised the "soul food" idea? And you guys used such great fonts! The whole thing really pops!

(I don't think any of us found the "graffiti wall" idea troubling at all. And why not use two images of Obama? These darned kids won't recognize anybody else anyway. Maybe next time add Will Smith and Kobe Bryant. Yeah.)


And, yes, it’s all my fault. I’ll take the hit. Loose lips sink ships.

But look on the bright side!

Free advertising!

*I looked him up. State Chancellor Jack Scott is actually a Democrat!


Anonymous said...

I bet in this case Diane was only the messenger and had nothing to do with the creation of the flyer. It was likely initiated by whoever is organizing the event, and that person should have had the wherewithal to have it done correctly.

Anonymous said...

This is a joke right? How racially insensitive. That’s the paradox of political correctness, no surprise here. The intent to not offend often gets so obscured in the process, the end product often resembles the opposite, like it was deliberately intended to offend! If I was black, you bet I’d take offense to the soul food and graffiti wall.

Anonymous said...

I too was thought that the soul food was a sterotypical example of folks who are not Black organizing an "Black history" event.

JasmineDT said...

Wow, as a Black Student at IVC this is an embarrassment. Who's idea was this, my peers? Back to the drawing board! AME Church... check, Soul Food.... check. Does anyone have a brain? I guess anything goes in this area.I think its time to form a Black Student Union. Bauer, would you care to sponsor?

BTW, I'm sure we will have nifty Obama Waffle Makers to shape the mold for the soul food feast!
I Can't Wait.

Anonymous said...

Don’t forget to bring a bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup!

Trust teachers. We know.

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